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29th Annual Mt. Lemmon Hill Climb – Mt. Lemmon. Road bike ride, followed by an optional lunch at Summerhaven, includes four sag stops, round trip to Ski Valley is 59.6 miles, with 6,600 feet of elevation gain and 4.5% average grade. $15-45. https://www.bikegaba.org/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=307669&module_id=264634
(According to John Summerson, "The Complete Guide to Climbing By Bike", Mt Lemmon is 33rd on the list of 100 toughest road bike climbs in the US, with a rating of either "hors category" or "category 1" on the scale used to rank the climbs in European stage racing.)
Yes, Mt Lemmon is right up there with the famous passes in the European tours: hardly anywhere else in the US can you climb so high for so many miles in succession. That's why, every winter, Tucson sees packs of riders in matching jerseys, many of them speaking languages other than English, booking up the mountain.
But because the road is so long, it's also very forgiving: the grade averages only 4.5% for 6600 feet of elevation gain over the 56-mile round trip, and the almost continuous 21-mile descent at the end is exciting without ever being terrifying.
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