Bike climbs can be rated using different methods. TourOfCalifornia.org follows a popular method that originated in the Tour de France, using four plus one categories. However, the site solely considers the elevation gain of a climb. Altitude, average grade, grade variability, and road surface are not considered in the rating, to keep it practical.
Any of these variables could bump a climb with less elevation gain into a higher category, as could a position of the climb late in a route. In California, another variable that can significantly impact the difficulty of a climb is temperature, which is also not considered here.
Category 4: Climbs of 250 to 500 feet in elevation gain
Category 3: Climbs of 500 to 1,500 feet in elevation gain
Category 2: Climbs of 1,500 to 3,000 feet in elevation gain
Category 1: Climbs of 3,000 to 5,000 feet in elevation gain
Hors Catégorie (HC) or Above/Beyond Category: Climbs of 5,000+ feet in elevation gain
By: Bernd Straehle