A site about the Nifty Ten Fifty bicycle ride in the Berkeley/Oakland Hills
Friday, March 27, 2015
Nifty Ten Fifty New Ride Description 2015 and Beyond
The Nifty Ten fiftyThe Nifty Ten Fifty is a difficult bicycle climbing route in the
East Bay Hills, primarily in Berkeley, and Oakland, California. The goal was to
fashion a ride with 10,000’ of climbing in 50 miles. The finished route comes
close to that goal, with 10,050’ of climbing in just 54 miles. There have been
other attempts at this sort of madness. Grizzly Peak Cyclists did a similar
route annually back in the late 70’s and 80’s. I understand they may still be
doing a similar route called “Vicious Hills”. And there is “The Berkeley Hills
Death Ride” consisting of 5 very difficult climbs in Berkeley. All 5 of those
climbs are included in the Nifty Ten Fifty, but there are, in addition, 5 more
climbs! Part of the appeal of the ride besides the suffering on the climbs is
the bay views, the nice roads through the parks, and the incredible tour of bay
area architecture, from old Berkeley homes, to the new, modern, post fire
Oakland hills homes.
Climb #1 Moeser Lane
The route starts at the corner of Moeser Lane and Pomona Ave. in
El Cerrito. If you are a cyclist that needs a warm-up, then a couple of trips
back and forth on Richmond Ave. (3 blocks east of San Pablo Ave.) will do the
trick. The cyclist heads straight up Moeser Ave to Arlington. It’s a 700’ climb
with grades up to 20%. The average grade for the final .8 mile is about 15%.
The route then descends through El Cerrito neighborhoods going mostly down
Climb #2 Marin Ave
This is the big daddy. Absurd. Ridiculous. No matter how strong
you are or what your gearing, you will suffer on this climb. It is, by far, the
most difficult climb on the ride. It climbs city blocks one by one, with a flat
section at each block where it meets a cross street. The first block is about
14%, then there are some “easy” blocks of 10%. Then it kicks up again to about
15%+. Once you cross Euclid you are in for a real treat. 3 blocks averaging 22%
with sections of approximately 25%-26%. Fortunately, you have the luxury of
catching your breath by circling the flat area at each intersection, thereby
possibly avoiding the dreaded “topple”. The route then descends the East side
of the hills through Tilden Park, down Canon Dr. and up Central Park Drive,
which doesn’t actually count as a climb… but it does have a short steep section
that hits 16%.
Climb #3 El Toyonal/Lomas Cantadas
This a long climb on twisty, wooded, narrow, residential roads.
It’s quiet and beautiful. This is a manageable climb, with a few steeper
sections on the lower part. However, near the top, by Grizzly Peak Stables, the
cyclist encounters some extended 17%. It’s difficult, but everything will seem
easy after Marin Ave! The ride then descends Claremont Ave. Take note, we'll be back here to climb Claremont at the end of the day.
Climb #4 Centennial Drive
The route descends Claremont Ave (please be careful and watch your
speed), then takes a secret route through Clark Kerr and around the football
stadium to catch Centennial Drive. Watch your navigation here, we take a paved
path! Centennial starts off gradual then steepens to about 11%. It goes for
quite a distance at this pitch, then flattens out at Lawrence Hall of Science,
then finishes with a less steep section, perhaps 9% or so. The route then
descends through Tilden Park via Golf Course Drive and Shasta..
Climb #5 South Park
South Park is a beautiful road through the Park that is closed to
vehicle traffic in winter (Save the Salamanders)! It has some extended
stretches of 12-15%. The route then heads South on Grizzly Peak and Skyline
Drive into the Oakland Hills. The cyclist gets a break from climbing for a
while. Snake Rd. is the descent.
Climb #6 Shepherd Canyon
ShepherdCanyon is the next climb. It starts off gradual, then has
a slight downhill. From there it’s a false flat for a bit, then kicks up
strongly with some hairpin turns at the top. Fun climb, with the steepest
sections at about 13%.
Climb #7 AscotT
his is a brand new climb for me, just added it this year and just
rode it for the first time in 2015. This climb is tough, it starts steep and
stays steep all the way to the top. It rarely dips below 10%, and has pitches
as steep as 15%. Good, hard climb through the Oakland neighborhood.
Climb #8 Broadway Terrace/Thorndale
Broadway Terrace to Pinehaven. This is a nice climb through the
Oakland Hills. The 1991 fire destroyed most of the homes on this road so the
cyclist is treated to some new and interesting architecture along the way.
These are luxury homes with splendid views. Some are quite nice. The pitch on
Broadway Terrace varies, and there are some steep sections, especially at the
bottom, but it’s mostly pleasant. Then we descend Pinehaven, and head up
Sobrante/Thorndale. This was a descent on the old course and I’ve always wanted
it to be a climb. It’s awesome, steep and tough, and this will be our second
Strava timed KOM. Hit this one hard!
Climb #9 Hiller Ave/ Norfolk
At the bottom of Tunnel road, the rider cannot miss Hiller. Tunnel
is a very popular cycling route, however most cyclists avoid Hiller Ave like
the plague. It’s pretty ugly to look at, sporting a straight-up .2 mile section
of 20%. Fortunately, it’s relatively short, but tired legs will be a factor at
this point. The route then winds through residential streets with a short
descent on Charring Cross and some more short steep climbing sections. The ride
then descends again through hilly residential streets to the Claremont Hotel.
Next is the only mandatory rest stop. Peets Coffee on Domingo Ave
!Climb #10 Claremont/Grizzly Peak/Vollmer Peak
This is the longest climb of the ride with the most ascent. It’s
actually three climbs but there are no breaks between the climbs. Claremont has
some extended sections that are about 10% or so. Then Grizzly Peak is a
relatively sane pitch of about 7%. The final climb is up Vollmer Peak on a foot
path. This much discussed climb sports a 28% kicker at the top. It’s difficult,
but the recently paved path is much easier than it used to be when it was
horribly pot-holed and full of gravel. The Peets caffeine should be in full
effect now. Just grunt it out for a short section and you’re done! Though the
ride officially ends here, you have to coast back to the start (about 7 miles),
and there are a few short rises, but if you’ve gotten this far, you’ll make it