Anyone heading to the Andes is in for a tough time, but there are some options closer to home
Why not take a look at taking on some of the toughest Strava segments that the world can offer, with insanely tough climbs in all sorts of places from Colombia to Cumbria via Costa Rica. And the good news is that the leaderboards on some of these ascents are nowhere near as stacked as some of the well-known climbs in mainland Europe.
Col Punta Callán, Peru
A climb so brutal that it appears that no one has actually ridden up it to create a segment, the Col Punta Callán starts on Peru’s Pacific coast, starting off near sea level and rising to a height of more than 4,000m over its 113km length.
Alto de Letras, Colombia
Certainly the hardest climb in the world with a professional race going up it on a regular basis, the 88km-long Alto de Letras is so hard that when the Vuelta a Colombia first tackled it in 1951 it was divided into two stages.
Mauna Kea, USA
For many Hawaii and bikes might mean the flat coastal roads tackled by triathletes in the Ironman World Championships, but this long climb to the Big Island’s summit is seriously tough, with the final 25km averaging almost 10 per cent.
Taiwan KOM Challenge, Taiwan
Climbing from the coast to the summit of Mt He Huan, this climb is tackled each year by a mass start race, and comes with a brutal sting in the tail with gradients of up to 27 per cent near the summit.
Hardknott Pass, UK
Our plucky Brit can’t come close to matching the length of its more exotic competitors, but with the road rising well over 30 per cent and wet tarmac common, you’ll do well to reach the top without walking.
Ticlio Pass, Peru
Another brutal Peruvian climb that seems so hard that no one on Strava has actually ridden it, the Ticlio Pass starts off in the capital of Lima, rising to a height of nearly 5,000m.
Fargo Street, USA
We can guarantee that this Los Angeles climb will be the longest 100m of your life with its average (yes, average) gradient of 34 per cent.
Le Maido, Réunion (France)
You’ll need to take your mountain bike to the French Indian Ocean island of Réunion to tackle this one, but we’re sure the views from the top will be worth the two hours of suffering.
Alto de l’Angliru, Spain
A regular feature of the Vuelta a España, the Angliru is a climb that strikes fear into the hearts of professional riders, especially the 3km Cueña les Cabres section which averages 23.6 per cent.
Cerro de la Muerte, Costa Rica
With a name translating as “The Mountain of Death” you can guess that this is going to be hard. We just wonder whether anyone has done both sides in a day?
Pico Basilé, Equatorial Guinea
Another island paradise that is home to an absolute brute of a climb, this ascent starts on the cliffs on the north of Bioko, making its way all the way to the volcanic ceiling of the island.
Dante’s Pass, USA
The stats really don’t do this climb justice: 37km at 4 per cent sound pretty hard, but in the context of this list, not too bad. But what you’ve got to consider is that this climb rises out of the heart of Death Valley.
Pozza San Glisente, Italy
The only alpine climb to make our list, this little known climb that rises south out of the village of Esine has sketch tarmac, a tough average gradient of 15 per cent, and an even tougher maximum gradient of 35 per cent.
Baldwin Street, New Zealand
Officially recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the the world’s steepest residential street (for now), Baldwin Street in Dunedin starts gently before getting steeper and steeper and steeper in a sight that will strike fear into the hearts of riders.
Mount Evans, USA
The site of an annual hill climb since 1962, Mount Evans is the highest paved road in North America, and the race is often hit by terrible weather with even the professionals taking nearly two hours to reach the summit.
Castle Hill, UK
Known locally under the Welsh name of Ffordd Pen Llech, Castle Hill in Harlech is one of the steepest roads in the UK (although Vale Road in Bristol very briefly hits 41 per cent) and comes with a “40 per cent – unsuitable for motors” warning sign at the bottom that just invites cyclists to take on the challenge.