Cycling Devil’s Staircase, Wales.
Ride Ride 7/10’s of a mile gaining 463’ at 12.5% average grade.
The devil’s staircase is as memorable to ride as the name suggests. A narrow, one-lane road cuts through a valley to take you to the base of the Devil’s Staircase which starts at an intersection with a small scenic creek. There is a decent sized dirt lot near the base of the incline for parking. The imposing route to the top is visible from the bottom and gives an intimidating look at the pain to come. The toughest section is in the beginning. Once you round the second switchback, you’re nearly home free. If you're in a good state of mind still, despite the double digit gradients, look out into the valley for a postcard view of Wales. Although very remote, the Devil’s Staircase is a must-do on any proper cycling trip through Wales.
Simon Warren puts Devil’s Staircase at #93 of his 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs of Great Britain. He writes of this climb, “Deep in the Welsh wilderness, far from civilization, lies a hill that needs little introduction. There seems little reason to build a road out here, never mind one this steep. But here it is: The Devil’s Staircase” (100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, A Road Cyclists Guide to Britain’s Hills, Simon Warren, 2010, pp. 158-159).
Well, on this day there was no question where the start was. 👍👍
Seven-tenths of a mile on a very narrow road.
This is an extremely steep climb for the first 650 meters, averaging 16% grade. The initial pitch is followed by 300 meters at 10%, with the final segment being the easiest at 5% for 200 meters.
We are bordered by thick forest much of the climb.
This climb is through the thickest forest of any other of Britain’s 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs.
Two hairpins at 220 meters: The famous Devil’s Staircase.
Two-tenths of a mile at 18%!
Article in Le Bidon by Nick Livermore (April 9, 2015):
“There are a few words that come to mind when talking about The Devil’s Staircase; none of which are appropriate to repeat in present company.
It is a climb famous among cyclists across the UK, often voted as one of the best and most difficult. Stories of people getting off to push outnumber those that have been successful.
An average of 12% (getting up to above 25%), climbing nearly 500ft over the course of 0.7 miles, you’ll need your easiest granny gears and very best mountain legs to get safely to the summit.
Perhaps the most difficult stretch I’ve ever ridden, the mountain road connecting Beulah and Tregaron in West Wales is not to be trifled with. Even if you take The Devil’s Staircase out of the equation, the other climbs on the road provide a hefty challenge.
In the direction of Tregaron, there are two climbs of almost comparable difficulty to the Devil’s Staircase, in addition to plenty of other ascents besides.
But with difficult climbing comes exhilarating descents. And as each pedal stroke guides you further along your paths, you’ll realise that all the pain is worth it for the landscapes on offer.
This is one beautiful road, encompassing the impressive spectacle of bare mountains and the rock formations they have to offer, and areas of new and old forest, almost alpine in feel.
The beginning of the road is actually fairly straightforward, with stunning vistas the reward for shallow ascents. But before long you come across two low lying bridges. Across the other side? A gradient sign. Your day is about to get more difficult.”
Dangerous Roads writes:
“Abergwesyn Road is a narrow strip of worn tarmac crossing the Cambrian Mountains, in Wales. It’s an old drover's track stretching for about 20 miles between the small hamlet of Abergwesyn and the town of Tregar. The Devil’s Staircase is so called with good reason – a short but hellishly steep ascent in Powys, south Wales.
The road still remains an adrenaline-pumping journey and is definitely not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs. Traversing a ledge in the hillside, the road climbs from Abergwesyn, soon becoming incredibly steep and windy - a 1 in 4 gradient over an seemingly endless series of hairpin bends, the aptly named Devil's Staircase - through thick forests. The road is extremely narrow and twisty!
It is narrow, really twisty and very scenic. The road climbs up the Abergwesyn Pass – up the perilous Devil’s Staircase and through dense conifer forests to miles of wide, desolate valleys where sheep graze unhurriedly. Devil’s Staircase is a set of bends with some 25 per cent gradients thrown in to keep interest, before a fairly level section across some empty hillside and forest sections, where another steep descent reveals the other side of the hill.”
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