Getting ready for the 140km with Observatory Hill Climb repeats

It’s not part of the Tour de Victoria, but it’s a pretty sweet view. And it’s a great way to pack in a lot of climbing in a short time frame.

On Tuesday night I headed up to West Saanich to attack the Observatory Hill Climb on Little Saanich Mountain.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m Travis Paterson, new to long distance cycling, formerly of long days drinking in the sun, not long days on a bike. Training time is starting to run out and if I’m going to be able to finish the Harbour Air Seaplanes 140km route on Aug. 18 without suffering greatly, I need to get my legs under me. Again, 140km is 40km longer than any ride I’ve done and is twice as long as my biggest ride so far in 2018.

Hence the Observatory Hill Climb.

It’s about 2.2 kilometres up with an average of about six per cent grade (sometimes a bit steeper but not much). It’s also great as the road is often closed to drivers, including nights and weekends.

As an up-and-back, the Observatory doesn’t quite fit into the Tour de Victoria route criteria but as a training ride it falls smack in between Prospect Lake and Elk Lake which are both major parts of the TdV 90, 140 and 160 km rides.

A couple of local hotshots made the Observatory Hill Climb kinda famous in 2015 when they climbed it 68 times in one day. And while that’s just ridiculous, one of them almost finished first on the Tour de Victoria 140km Epic that year (even though it’s not a race) and I’ve been inspired ever since.

Every time I hit it the last few years to prepare for the Tour de Victoria there’s always been some other cyclists there. This time there was a few people and there was this kid in yellow.

It’s common among the more ambitious cyclists in town to do hill repeats on the Observatory. I attempted what’s known as the Observatory Hat Trick.   

The kid in yellow did five repeats while I did three, and he did six in total. Honestly, I was a bit slower than normal because I was trying to be cool and shoot video of my evening at various stages. Either way the kid in yellow was going to slay me, and he did, but he was very nice.

My climb is here on Strava for anyone to see.

I always entertain the idea that at the end of the summer, after I’ve completed the Tour de Victoria and I’m in my best cycling shape of the year, I’ll go back and attack the Observatory for a personal best.


-Travis Paterson is a community reporter for the Saanich News and local Black Press papers. At night and on the weekend, he is a spandex-loving poser on a bike.

Leave a Comment