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A cycling climb to go straight to the top of your bucket list

Hairpin heaven

The epic climb klaxon has sounded, there's a new bonkers berg to be ridden...

This one has shot to notoriety after doing the rounds on social media but, from what we can tell, you'll have to plan an awfully long spin to get there as it's in China.

Despite a couple of accounts sharing the mind-boggling video evidence and saying it is in Argentina, those claims were quickly disproved by others who shared pictures of the supposed Argentinian hairpin-packed ascent (which is actually in Chile) and compared it to the much more similar Panlong Ancient Road in China. Confused? Don't be. The short of it is we've now got (at least) two impressive switchback-laden routes to share...

Panlong Ancient Road, China

Not in Argentina but the Kashgar region of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region this magnificent feat of engineering must have been designed by a cyclist. With 208 bends over the longer 36km (22 miles) route and climbing to 4,269m (13,989 ft) this one will need some training.

According to PJAMM Cycling, the actual climbing part of the road is 20.4km (12.7 miles) long and averages 5.2 per cent, probably helped by the design not following the British handbook of 'build those roads straight and steep'.

Panlong Ancient Road (Twitter video screenshot)

You'll be gasping before you hit the official slopes though... the climb proper starts at 3,197m (10,491 ft) and peaks with 12 per cent ramps.

Route 60, Chile

As a bonus we thought we'd chuck in the South American climb everyone thought was actually the Panlong Ancient Road. I say 'South American' because rather than Argentina, it's actually on the Chilean side of the border (just).

The Chilean Stelvio is on Route 60 in the Valparaíso Region and continues on to Argentina, although from this video the heavy traffic makes it slightly less appealing...

To make things even more confusing, if you continue towards the border and then slip onto the Acceso al Monumento Cristo Redentor (road E-773) you also have this climb on the Chilean side of the border...

Chile climb

And down the other side in Argentina... 

Argentina climb

In short, there are lots of hairpins in the area.

If however, Chile, Argentina and China are a touch outside your budget, you could always head to North Wales and Stwlan Dam for a taste of the action on a slightly smaller scale...

There's our Sunday dive down a hairpin rabbit hole complete. Now it's your turn. Get your favourite hairpin-heavy climbs in the comments so we can all create a bucket list longer than the Stelvio... (just don't say Box Hill)...

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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Dicklexic | 1 year ago

I'm sure it looked worse because of the sped up nature of the footage, but the overtaking lorries on that video of Route 60 in Chile looked crazy! Whilst on paper it might look like a decent challenge to cycle up/down, there is no way I would want to share that road with those drivers!

Velophaart_95 | 1 year ago

Climb? Get a lift to the top, and enjoy the descent. Not everything has to be about climbing.....

Might improve some people's skills....

Pub bike | 1 year ago
1 like

For me it has to be the car free bit of Col de Tende, on the French side of the French-Italian border.  Plenty of hairpins.

NickJP | 1 year ago

While visiting Wollongong to watch the recent UCI road world championships, I went for a ride up Jamberoo Mountain Road. Not particularly hairpinned, or particularly long, but very pleasant as locked gates prevented motorised vehicles from using the road:

I've also come across passes in Switzerland that are closed to motorised traffic on Sundays, and they are very pleasant riding with the total absence of cars.

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