#268 Fargo Hill Climb Attempt 1

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There is a street in LA called Fargo Street. It’s the steepest street in LA at a 32% grade. I’d heard of a “race” where bikers see how many times they can bike up it. But I’ve also heard that most people can’t get up the damn thing at all. Being the idiot that I am, I decided today that I was going to climb Fargo on my bike.

A 32% grade is hard to comprehend. I offer this video to give you an idea of what it looks like:

You’ll also see in this video that everyone is on a mountain bike. I probably should’ve taken this as a warning but I get very cocky about certain physical challenges and I’d never met a hill I didn’t like. So I figured I would climb Fargo on my road bike. Granted, my mountain bike hasn’t been touched in years and needed a lot of work, I could’ve waited until it was fixed. But I just knew I would be able to do this on almost any bike.

The problem with road bikes is the gear ratios are different than a mountain bike. Mountain bikes were made to, well, climb mountains. Road bikes not so much. Thus in its lowest gear, a road bike is probably similar to a mountain bike in the middle gear range. In short, road bikes are a lot tougher to climb hills on.

A fifteen minute drive was all it took to get me to Fargo Street. There is no way to describe how steep this street is but when I saw it, I immediately thought there was no way in Hell I could do this. I mean, look at this comparison of a photo from Google Maps and when I rotate it so the house is level:

My palms started to sweat just looking up the thing:

If I fell off my bike, I could really hurt myself by rolling down the hill.

I gave it three tries. The first time I got 1/3 of the way up. I’d never had to zig zag up a hill like the riders in the video were. But there really was no choice. At a certain point, the force required to turn over the pedals was just too much and I had to jump off my bike. After I stopped, I started to walk down the street and almost killed myself. The road was that steep and my bike shoes have no traction. I had to hold on to a fence to make it down safely.

The second and third time I got 2/3’s of the way up. But the last 1/3 was the steepest part.

I was surprised and humbled by Fargo Street. Unfortunately, I failed this time but I’m coming back with my mountain bike and I have no doubts I’m going to climb this thing.

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