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Stage 563 – Ridge Valley to Valleyview

563 doesn’t quite have the same straight line impact of its predecessor – it’s more of a bunch of straight roads joined by bends kind of a stage – but what there is, in abundance, is lumpy stuff. This isn’t a particularly flat stage. It would have been an easterly run if it wasn’t for the fact that Sturgeon Lake is in the way: so the route is actually south east to the lake, then east around the southern shore of it.

In terms of scenery, there’s not a lot going on apart from Range Road junctions, of which there are many. The first mile is flat and the second rises. The third mile descends then the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh are lumpy flat. But then there’s a nasty shock heading your way. For no apparent reason, other than the fact that it’s there, the run up to Range Road 253 rises over two hundred feet in a mile. That will hurt. The summit is the highest elevation of the stage, which I guess is good news, but the ‘descent’ is hardly a proper descent: just more lumpy stuff but with smaller lumps.

The descent off the summit runs to nine miles where Highway 43 hangs a slight left: that’s where the highway meets the south western corner of Lake Sturgeon. As the road negotiates the ten miles to the other side of the lake, it undulates wildly, gaining and losing a hundred feet of elevation on repeat.

Once the road rids itself of the lake, it straightens out to start heading due east again and the road climbs for three miles from sixteen miles. The gentle climbing finishes a mile from the finish which allows the run in just enough time to descend sharply then start rising again before the line: just carry the speed into the final approach is the best plan.

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Ascent: 735 feet / 224 metres

RGT Magic Road: mZVtN437nVCH

Total distance: 20.49 mi
Max elevation: 2452 ft
Min elevation: 2199 ft
Total climbing: 717 ft
Total descent: -622 ft

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