Sunshine Hill Climb, Boulder

Make this a quickie out of Boulder or turn it into an all out epic ride. Sunshine Canyon starts where Mapleton street in Boulder ends and pretty quickly things turn upwards fast. You can cheat out early and make a left turn on Poorman which will return you back into Boulder. The first 5 miles are difficult but kindly this road changes a lot afterwards with some descents and some climbing but all with varying pitch. Many stop at the pavement but the brave continue on up to the town of Gold Hill. This section of gravel is steep so be prepared to melt your lungs. Once at Gold hill you have a ton of choices, go west and you end up on the peak to peak Hwy, go North and end up in Left hand canyon, go South and end up back in Boulder and turn around and return to Boulder. I personally recommend going South but you have to feel comfortable on gravel because you will have a lot of miles of it.

Map and elevation only show the ride to the pavements end, some, including the race, continue on further towards Gold Hill

– Difficulty:
– Average Ascent Grade: 7.6%
– Maximum Ascent Grade: 23.1%
– Start Elevation: 5471 feet
– 6.1 miles to pavement end, 9.1 miles for the race
– 1892ft elevation gain to pavement end, 3226ft feet to race finish
– Course Record Trent Lowe 41:19 Mara Abbott 47:31
2010 Race Coverage
2011 Race Coverage
2013 Sunshine Hill Climb

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  1. ELA

    There are major inconsistencies with max gradients of different rides; I have not taken readings on Sunshine, but there is no comparison in steepness to upper Flagstaff, from 21-24%, Magnolia, or Sugarloaf similar knee-breaking, barely able to stay upright steepness. Bike computers seem to be extremely variable, and have different means of calculating steepness; mine almost always shows a steeper max after the ride, than while riding that very same section. It is calculating based on altimeter fluctuation/gain during a certain rolling distance, and recalibrates every 20 vertical feet or so, not less, so it fails to see short peaks of several yards. It seems to read in steps, where more distance lowers the apparent percentage, then jumps as the next vertical gain is instantly incorporated. Consequently the momentary peak readings are the most accurate, then dropping until the next peak is recalculated.

  2. James Barnes

    On an Mtb going to the Switzerland train in a great option. What a great ride!

    • James Barnes


  3. juan

    Makes the Deer Creek Canyon Rd climb seem like a mole hill.

  4. Kevin Curry

    Continue through Gold Hill, up to Ward then on up to Brainard Lake. Start at 5500 feet and end at 10500.


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