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During various Critical Mass Rides, or the commute to or from them or in other travels, I've now conquered some notorious hills in town on my bikes. Nearly all of them more notable since all I use now is a pair of fixed gear bikes at different ratios. Obviously San Diego is quite varied in its terrain, and hardly anything is flat for long. I won't count the rolling hills one encounters generally going from here to there. But there are some that are notorious for bike riders. Infamous hills that get my heart beating out of my chest include:

  • Soledad Mountain Road on my old 21 speed, now given away and gone. Since my church was on Soledad, I had a few experiences with the short distance to Beryl St., which itself makes a pretty wicked incline for a small section. But one ride took us up to the cross memorial on the mountain. It wasn't even a pleasant ride. I almost would have preferred one of the single speed bikes. That was the bike and the ride with the straight bars that ended my tolerance for straight bars. Now both remaining bikes have bullhorn style which provide a few hand positions.
  • Moraga Avenue into Clairemont. Used the bike that was converted to my lower geared fixie later on. I prefer to use:
  • Avati Drive. Alternative to Moraga that isn't so trafficked. Ascends in various shifts of grade. Used each bike at various times.
  • Regents Road into Clairemont. Not much use to me but once did it on the geared bike when I lived in the neighborhood.
  • Ariane Avenue. The northern most point on Morena Boulevard going into Clairemont. Actually, Ariane goes straight up for a ways, but I took a secret bunch of side streets that peel off that road so that I could go to my old house there. Used the lower geared bike before the fixie conversion.
  • Illion Street, one of the most steep hills in San Diego, at a 24% grade for about a block, and then tapering off. A friend of mine lives at the top of the hill. Sometimes it was easier to ride up Milton Street. Only ridden this on the lower geared of the fixies and even that was with some wild switchbacks.
  • Milton Street, somewhat gentler than Illion, but a bit longer. An acceptable way into Clairemont from Morena Boulevard. Ascends in stages. Ridden with the lower geared fixie.

Various roads into Mission Hills, University Heights, Banker's Hill, and up onto the mesa of the classic neighborhoods:

  • Washington Street. The kindest of the hills going to that area, except for the wicked fast traffic. Generous bike lane.
  • Pringle Street. Steep mofo but with evenly spaced cross streets to do breather laps in if need be. Real narrow though and traffic is kind of reckless. Used each bike at one time or another.
  • California Street. Fairly steep and perfectly straight, but the concrete is old and broken and patched a lot so it's a rough ride.
  • Bandini Street. Near Old Town. Wicked steep section nearly identical to Illion Street. This one took some massive switching back and forth on the higher geared fixie. I have no idea why I used that bike to ride that street. I couldn't even stay clipped into my pedals.
  • Juan Street out of Old Town. Same thing with the concrete, only worse. Ascends in a few stages. Used all three bikes at one time or another.
  • Bachman Street out of Mission Valley. Sort of long and mildly steep but it's not even a general thoroughfare so the traffic is not zooming. Feeds the UCSD medical center parking area. Ridden each bike at one time or another.
  • Laurel Street. One of the most notorious of them all. I just got back from conquering that one on the Torelli, the rougher geared of my fixies. That was exhilarating. I tried that one once, coming from about half way up, starting just below the wicked steep part, and lost it and had to walk. It is the only of these hills that I have resorted to walking! But then once the last half of that wicked block was traversed on foot, then I was back in the saddle. Tonight I just did it block by block, taking breather laps at the cross streets, and hammered the steep section in one shot. Lung buster.
  • The grandpappy of them all for notoriety, Texas Street. Rode this in one shot, no breather breaks or walking or even putting my foot down. Bottom to top in one shot. Was quite proud. Used the low gear fixie.
  • Zoo Place out of the canyon in the shadow of Balboa Hospital near the park. Actually, I did part of the road itself but then we broke off and rode our road bikes up the dirt walkway to the desert garden at Park.

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