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The Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day (RAMROD) is a one-day ultra-marathon cycling event in the Pacific Northwest. It circumnavigates Mount Rainier National Park on a course that features 10,000 feet of climbing over 150 miles.

If RAMROD were a stage in the Tour de France how would the climbs be categoriezed? There are rules for the categories, but they are a little subjective. At 150 miles, I think RAMROD is longer than any mountain stage in the TdF, but in terms of the climbing portion of the ride inside Mount Rainier National Park how would the climbs be categorized?

Also, are there any mountain stages in the Tour de France that are the equivalent of RAMROD? I ask because I'm writing an article about and would like to be able to compare the climbing in RAMROD to a TdF stage that readers might be familiar with.

There are two big climbs, Inspiration Point and Cayuse Pass. Between those climbs is one small climb up Backbone Ridge. For more information about RAMROD, please see the Course Information page on the Redmond Cycling Club's website.

In the book CLIMB! Conquer Hills, Get Lean, and Elevate Every Ride, author Selene Yeager describes the Tour de France climb categorizations as follows:

  • Category 4: These are relatively short and not too steep. This would include a climb that’s about a mile to a mile-and-a-quarter long at a 5-percent grade or one that is twice that long at a 2- to 3-percent grade.
  • Category 3: These are a little steeper or a little longer. For instance, it could be a mile-long climb that includes pitches at 10 percent or a 5- to 6-mile climb that grinds away at 4 to 5 percent.
  • Category 2: Here’s where stuff gets pretty hard. You’re looking at a 9- to 10-mile climb at about 4 percent or a climb that’s a third of the distance but twice as steep.
  • Category 1: Formerly known as the highest category of climb, Cat 1s include anything from 5 miles at a leg-buckling 8 percent to a dozen miles of soul-sucking 5 percent.
  • Hors Catégorie: French for stupid hard, or “above category,” these behemoths are a quad-searing mix of long and steep, which could be a 6-mile climb with an average grade of 7 to 8 percent or a 15-mile monster that turns the screws at 6 percent or steeper.

In the 2022 edition of the Tour de France, Stage 16, Carcassonne to Foix, seems to be the closest analogy to RAMROD. It’s one hundred twelve miles long and has two major climbs, Port de Lers and the Mur de Péguère, with a total elevation gain of around ten thousand feet. But, it is considered a hilly stage as opposed to a mountain stage. Are there any mountain stages from any year of the Tour de France that are comparable to RAMROD?

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    The categories are for single climbs, not whole rides, so unless the climbing portion goes up and up with no real break (which would easily be HC), there's no like-for-like comparison to be made
    – Chris H
    Mar 12 at 19:38
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    @ChrisH I updated my questions to say climbs (plural). My goal is to define the major RAMROD climbs in TdF terms and see if anyone has suggestions for what would be a comparable mountain stage of the TdF to use as a comparison.
    – Scribbler
    Mar 13 at 18:30
  • I have looked at a number of the climb category questions here. Although it is far from perfect, a first cut is just by elevation gain. 125m is cat 3, 250m is cat 2, 500m is cat 1 and 1000m is HC. I did a commercial bike tour in Spain that had a "cat 1 climb" from the Vuelta, which came in just over 500m. I assume they picked an "easy" cat 1 climb to satisfy the customers. It was a very steady 5% for 10km. Mar 14 at 2:14
  • Totally off topic, but I followed the 'course information link'. I REALLY wouldn't want a breakfast of mass produced sausage, eggs and hash browns before taking on a 38 mile climb!
    – Andy P
    Mar 14 at 9:29
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    @AndyP a perfectly sensible randonneur's breakfast, not a racer's breakfast
    – Chris H
    Mar 17 at 16:56

2 Answers 2

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The TdF mountain stage I know best is stage 18 from 2017. It was that year's Etape du Tour, and I rode it* solo the next year.

Strava rates the main climbs and some sections of them. For those that appear on the official TdF materials, the categories are the same.

The first big climb of RAMROD certainly comes in a lot less than the Cat 1 Col de Vars by any measure, taking nearly twice as far to climb a similar amount. It's a big long climb, but the roads in the Alps are considerably steeper. Strava has a a couple of segments that are pretty close to that one. The long one, "Alder Lake to Paradise" isn't categorised, because there's too much gentle stuff included. There's a shorter "Longmire to Paradise turn" that's Cat 2. Inspiration point is near enough Paradise for our purposes.

The little one in the middle, according to Strava, is cat 4 "Backbone Ridge to '13 rest stop".

The final climb is apparently Cat 1 "Ramrod Ohanapecosh to Cayuse Pass". This is still a little less than the Cat1 I linked above (752m in 17km, instead of 781m in 15km) but not massively different.

* You need to be logged in to Strava to view, but you don't have to be following me

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  • When not logged in I got a generic 'follow Chris' page. When logged in, it takes me to your profile page with a 'This account is private. You'll need to follow Chris to see their profile'
    – Andy P
    Mar 14 at 9:44
  • I can elaborate a bit further with a bit more testing at my end. If you click the link and THEN log in, you get the 'follow Chris' page. If you log in and then click the link you do indeed see the ride
    – Andy P
    Mar 22 at 13:59
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Based on your link, the steepest climb appears to be Park Entrance to Inspiration point, a difference of 2790 feet over 16 miles, or 850 metres in 27 km. This calculates to 3.3% gradient or 1.4 degrees on average.

Based on gradient, it would probably be a cat 4 climb, but the excessively long distance would increase that to a cat 3 climb.

If there was a clearly defined section inside that climb, that was steeper, it would have its own climb rank.

For example, the last switchbacks near Ruby Falls and Inspiration Point are only 1.6 miles/2.5 km long but have an average grade of 4.3% and peaks of 8.8% Given that comes at the end of a long steady climb, it would be an ideal place to push hard and use up some reserves you've husbanded up the long climb, and then use the downhill ahead for some recovery. This presumes you're going for racing more-so than completion.


Starting at mile 100 (161 km) there's a 7.8 mile long climb (12.5 km) that rises 2309 feet (700 metres) giving a gradient of 5.6% That should be a cat 2 climb, BUT given its the last big climb of the route, and comes after the previous big climb, it could be classed as a cat 1 climb for the purposes of this route.

If you're racing, then you'll need to pace the previous climb, and hope others go too deep and don't recover in time for this climb.


Try clicking-and-dragging on the elevation map in your ridewithgps link to investigate specific sections of the route.

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    This bicycles.stackexchange question may be relevant to your answer: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/1210/…. One of the answers includes data from the 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2012 Tours.
    – R. Chung
    Mar 13 at 17:15
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    @Criggie I think you are correct that the last climb to Cayuse Pass would be Cat 1. Looking at the link that R. Chung shared it does appear that the TdF planners will bump up the difficulty when the climb is at the end of the stage.
    – Scribbler
    Mar 15 at 14:57

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