The climbs

Peaks Challenge Cradle Mountain promises to test your determination and resolve as you battle burning legs to conquer these unpredictable climbs.

Climb 1: Melrose Road

A fitting entree for the day's climbing to come

As you roll inland from the Devonport foreshore, you will be gradually and almost imperceptibly climbing – until you hit the first climb of the day at 16km from the start line, where the climbing starts for real.

Known as the Back of Buster (on Strava), this climb begins as you take a left into Melrose Road. Rated a category 3 climb at 2.7km in length and averaging 6% it's a good heart starter, and an opportunity to find your rhythm and get your legs pumping for what's to come.

Over the first 1km the gradient just slowly rises but doesn’t get over 4% as you pedal through peaceful farm land.  After you pass Paloona Rd on your right the climb starts increasing in gradient. 

At the 1.5km mark, just as you’re passing the beautiful Melrose Retreat B&B and Gallery, the gradient kicks up to 10%+ for 300m or so. This pinch lasts for about 300m – until the end of the tall trees – and is followed by a 200m false. 

Then as you take the sweeping left it starts ramping back up where you’ll ‘enjoy’ the last 500m with a gradient averaging 10%, with points exceeding 16%. You’ll know you’ve reached the top when you make the right-hand bend over the crest.

With its variable (and at times, very nasty) gradients, this climb is a fitting entrée to the day ahead. Don’t go out too hard – remember you still have 220km to go!

Strava Segment

Climb 2: Cethana Road

Steady, steep but consistent

By the numbers, the Cethana Rd climb looks pretty nasty – 5.2km averaging 8%, making it a Category 2 climb.  Well, the good news is that it’s probably the nicest climb of the day, and is also quite consistent in gradient.

The climb starts as soon as you cross the bridge over the Forth River.  It’s a steady climb on a good road surface that winds its way out from the bridge with great views of the Cethana Dam, one of the largest rock-fill dams in the Southern Hemisphere.

 After climbing for 200m you get your first and only reprieve as it flattens out before hitting your first of four hairpins in the opening 3km.  As you hit the first hairpin it basically puts you straight into an 8% gradient for the remaining 4.8km. Yummy!

There are some minor changes in gradient to shuffle things up – hairpins tend to increase in gradient either during or just after. Just after the second hairpin the gradient nudges up to 10% for around 800m; the third hairpin is a bit kinder, and the fourth is relatively sharp. It’s also the point where the climb opens up for views.  You might be able to score yourself a sneaky view of the dam. 

With 600m to go it feels like the trees close in on you before making a near 90 degree right with a nasty pinch before it opens back up. A few pedal strokes later you see the 70km Moina sign and it starts to flatten out as you reach the top and the well-deserved rest stop.

Strava segment

*This Strava segment is the closest available relating to this climb and should be used as a guide only. 

Climb 3: Cradle Mountain

Technical and tricky with a view to remember

After the rest stop at Moina, it’s a long steady grind on rolling roads to Cradle Mountain. Whilst the profile doesn’t look like much, what you need to confront is a series of cat. 4 climbs over 20.9km, as you head out onto the high plains of the Cradle Mountain area. The tarmac here is very slow at times so although the climb peaks and troughs, you need to keep pedalling the whole way just to keep momentum.

Cradle Mountain is an otherworldly, jagged thing softened by the still waters of the Dove Lake nestling at its base, and you’ll be catching glimpses of it to your left as you ride toward the Dove Lake turnoff, entering a world of pencil pines and wildlife blithely going about its business without a care in the world. The final 6km into Dove Lake is technical and tricky and only one lane wide with two way cyclist traffic, so keep an eye on you and those around you and ride within your abilities. This is a time to settle in to the zen of the surroundings and take it a little bit easy – you’ve got a stunning view to enjoy.  

Strava segment

*This Strava segment is the closest available relating to this climb and should be used as a guide only. Due to the remoteness of the area, at this stage an exact Strava segment is unavailable

Climb 4: Spellmans Road

The WTF corner of Peaks Challenge Cradle Mountain

Spellmans Road is arguably the toughest climb of Peaks Challenge Cradle Mountain. Again, the profile is deceptive – it reads 4.2km in length at 7% making it a Category 3 climb. These figures do not capture the hellish nature of this climb. Here’s why:

You have 155km in your legs. You’ve just come up a 2km climb at 6%, immediately followed by a technical descent to the Wilmot River bridge. You can’t carry any speed in, because of a sharp corner at the bottom. And then the climb starts. 

Straight out of the bridge, you hit a wall of almost 20% gradient within the first 50m. It doesn’t stop! This is the WTF Corner of Peaks Challenge Cradle Mountain, and your muscles will be screaming all the way to the top.

Although the whole climb averages out at 7%, the first km alone is mostly around 20%, only occasionally slipping back to the low 10s. The road grinds about this way and that, but always, always upwards and at an uncomfortable gradient. After an eternity (1.2km) the worst is behind you.

Enjoy, relax and recover over the next 500m as it averages around 4%, before hitting the next pinch – a 300m stretch averaging over 15%. This is followed by a brief respite, as you descend for 300m. Celebrations are in order – there’s just 2km of this climb to go and it only averages just over 5%. 

Immediately after the descent, the climbing starts again with 200m at about 10%. After it swings back left, the landscape opens up – you should start seeing hay bales in the fields, farm houses, the odd sheep or cow and gorgeous rolling hills to the horizon. For the final 1.5km of the Spellmans Road climb, you’ve got a gentle 4-5% gradient and these beautiful views as your reward. You’ll know you’ve reached the summit when you see two massive trees on your left at the entrance to a farm property.  

Strava segment

*This Strava segment is the closest available relating to this climb and should be used as a guide only. Due to the remoteness of the area, at this stage an exact Strava segment is unavailable

Climb 5: Gunns Plains Road

The last big one of the day

This is a gem of a climb even if your legs are hating you at this point after 185km.  The climb is 3.5km in length at 6%, making it a Category 3 climb, but with no serious pinches or surprises along the way – just pick your favorite gear and lock it in for the next 3.5km.

After riding alongside the River Leven for 3km, the climb starts as the trees engulf you at Bannons Road. For the first 600m you climb with the river beside you and if you’re not breathing too hard you should be able to hear it too.  From there you start to climb out of the valley, with tall trees either side.

The road surface is pretty good through the entire climb as you pass through alternating densely forested sections and clearings. If it’s clear and you get the chance, have a look behind you as well, as the views are amazing.

From those beautiful views, the trees engulf you again.  It opens right up to beautiful farm land for the last 400m, and then it’s over – the final official climb of Peaks Challenge Cradle Mountain.

Strava segment