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Old 05-09-08, 06:04 AM   #1
coasting 
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hill gradients

I've seen a few posts mentioning monster steep hills of 20%. This really confuses me because I once found a hill that was so steep (but thankfully short) it was hard even to walk up. The road sign said 10% so I can't imagine 20%. Is this a bit of BF exaggeration?

Can someone post some pics of steep hills and state their gradients?

Thanks
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Old 05-09-08, 06:23 AM   #2
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I can't post a Pic, but there is a hill over near SeaTac, in Wa State that has a very short 21% grade on it.

There are sections of some of the secondary road climbs throughout the various Mountain areas that had short sections of 20+%.
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Old 05-09-08, 06:51 AM   #3
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It can be really hard to tell the gradient from a photo. On a bike (particularly when it is loaded) 10% or more is steep and anyone that says otherwise is lying. There are very hills / mountains that have gradients of more than 10% for any great distance.

Anyway, have posted photo which has a good sideways view of a road. The stretch going from right to left is 15%. This came after cycling 4 miles at 10%....I was in pain.
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Old 05-09-08, 07:18 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe View Post
I can't post a Pic, but there is a hill over near SeaTac, in Wa State that has a very short 21% grade on it.

There are sections of some of the secondary road climbs throughout the various Mountain areas that had short sections of 20+%.
Downtown Seattle coming off the ferry docks, try heading up Marion St. or Yesler Way, sections of 30%+ grade.

IIRC:
10% = 1.2" rise per 1' of run
20% = 2.4" rise per 1' of run
30% = 3.6" rise per 1' of run
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Old 05-09-08, 07:30 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coasting View Post
I've seen a few posts mentioning monster steep hills of 20%. This really confuses me because I once found a hill that was so steep (but thankfully short) it was hard even to walk up. The road sign said 10% so I can't imagine 20%. Is this a bit of BF exaggeration?

Can someone post some pics of steep hills and state their gradients?

Thanks
A formula for grade calculations taken from somewhere on the Internet:

***
grade = vertical_climb / horizontal_distance

where both vertical_climb and horizontal_distance are both converted to
the same measurement units. So if a hill goes up 264 feet in 2 miles,
then we can first convert 2 miles to 10560 feet -- so the grade is then
0.025 = 264 feet / 10560 feet, which is 2.5%.
***
Keep in mind you can have more than a 100 per cent grade. The grade of a 90 degree angle is infinite. A 100 percent grade is a 45 degree angle, where one foot of horizontal distance climbs one foot.
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Old 05-09-08, 07:40 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thePig View Post
It can be really hard to tell the gradient from a photo. On a bike (particularly when it is loaded) 10% or more is steep and anyone that says otherwise is lying. There are very hills / mountains that have gradients of more than 10% for any great distance.

Anyway, have posted photo which has a good sideways view of a road. The stretch going from right to left is 15%. This came after cycling 4 miles at 10%....I was in pain.
Amen, brutha!

Quote:
Originally Posted by coasting View Post
I've seen a few posts mentioning monster steep hills of 20%. This really confuses me because I once found a hill that was so steep (but thankfully short) it was hard even to walk up. The road sign said 10% so I can't imagine 20%. Is this a bit of BF exaggeration?

Can someone post some pics of steep hills and state their gradients?

Thanks
There are quite a few of them around. Usually, though, anything approaching 20% is for a very short distance, especially here in the US. Like 20 yards or something. I have (somehow) ridden up a local climb here in SoCal, called May Canyon. It has a couple very short pitches of 22-21%, like maybe 10-yards or so. Most of the climbing is around 7% with shallow sections thrown in for an overall average of like 4-5%. I'm afraid I don't have any pics, as I was busy doing other things at the time.

Here's the hardest climb according to climbbybike.com: the Scanuppia - Malga Palazzo in Italy (7.5km, 17.6% avg):



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Old 05-09-08, 07:50 AM   #7
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The June 08 issue of Bicycling magazine listed the 5 hardest climbs in the US.
1. Canton Ave, Pittsburgh 35% grade for a tenth of a mile

2. Kingsley Hill Rd MA. 19.2% grade for a 1/2 mile
3. Lincoln Gap East VT 16% for 1 mile
4. Mt. Washington NH, 12.1% for 5 miles
5. Onion Valley Rd. CA, 8.3% for 10 miles

The most I have seen is 12% on a ride I did just the other night. Unless you are using a computer with an altimeter you would just be guessing.
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Old 05-09-08, 08:08 AM   #8
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Since I ride past this hill often, I measured the grade on this hill with a level, measuring the height on the low side with the 4 foot level horizontal. (See other discussions in BF: the difference between measuring along the slope or measuring the horizontal distance is minor) Grade = height / horizontal distance

This is Monastery Street in Cincinnati. The bottom section is a consistent 18% grade. I can climb it quite easily in my 34 - 26 gear, but I'm balancing on the bike, going about 3 mph, with only one pedal stroke a second (30 rpm).




It's really difficult to show the grade. I kept the camera horizontal.

* * * * * *
I posted this link recently in BF. I really like this picture:
Check out Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh. It's 37%

They include it on the Dirty Dozen hill climb. Youtube video --wow.

Last edited by rm -rf; 05-09-08 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 05-09-08, 08:24 AM   #9
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http://www.csgnetwork.com/inclinedeclinegradecalc.html

That's my favourite incline/decline calculator.


Hey, rm -rf if you ever get to the west side of Cincinnati try Grand Ave. in Delhi, from Queen City Blvd up to W. 8th St. 419 feet of gain in 1.5 miles, with a couple of 15% sections thrown in for fun.
In the summer my friends and I used to bike it, and when they'd close it down during the snow emergencies in the winter, we'd see if we could make our way up it in our Jeeps.
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Old 05-09-08, 08:30 AM   #10
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From the Cascade Bicycle Club:

Seattle's Highest Hills and Steepest Grades
  1. East Roy Street between 25th Avenue and 26th Avenue on the east side of Capitol Hill @ 26%
  2. East Boston Street between Harvard and Broadway on the west side of Capitol Hill @ 23.8%
  3. The Queen Anne Counterbalance (Queen Anne Avenue near Galer Street) @ 18.5%
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Old 05-09-08, 08:41 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
...the difference between measuring along the slope or measuring the horizontal distance is minor) Grade = height / horizontal distance
It's the difference between the sine of the angle and the tangent of the angle, and it is indeed minor for small angles. http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/airplane/sincos.html
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Old 05-09-08, 08:49 AM   #12
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Notable climbs in the Seattle area: http://www.bicycleclimbs.com/ClimbLists.aspx
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Old 05-09-08, 08:51 AM   #13
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I've been using this ride to train for a hilly century coming up. (check out the elevation profile!) Most of the ride is do-able, but there's one section that comes right after a tough 8-10% climb. It flattens out to 3-5% for about a mile, then as soon as I saw the next section, I said - "you've gotta be shiatting me." It looks like it goes straight up, but it varies between 12-15%, and tops out at 17%.

There's another section that's similar, but mercifully shorter. Again, a 13-15% climb. At least that's what the Garmin says.
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Old 05-09-08, 09:14 AM   #14
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Now I want to try these hills!
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Old 05-09-08, 09:14 AM   #15
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My policy is it's better NOT to know, until after you've climbed it.
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Old 05-09-08, 09:26 AM   #16
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Here's one of my training hills. 111 feet rise in 629.2 feet, or a 17.64% grade. It's nasty, believe me. Turn on the elevation.

http://www.mapmyride.com/ride/united...e/526734181563
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Old 05-09-08, 09:36 AM   #17
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Here's one of my training hills. 111 feet rise in 629.2 feet, or a 17.64% grade. It's nasty, believe me. Turn on the elevation.

http://www.mapmyride.com/ride/united...e/526734181563
The short hill on Lucas Road that troubled me so much last year is about 16-20 percent.
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Old 05-09-08, 09:40 AM   #18
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Here's one of my training hills. 111 feet rise in 629.2 feet, or a 17.64% grade. It's nasty, believe me. Turn on the elevation.
I just did a google street view of that ride, pretty nice looking.
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Old 05-09-08, 09:58 AM   #19
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This is one of my regular daily routes:

http://www.mapmyride.com/ride/united...auna/416793492

Their is two climbs that are 12% according to my Trek ACH and numerous climbs of 8-9%

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Old 05-09-08, 10:34 AM   #20
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Woa! Some seriously nasty looking hills especially Mkadam's. Remind me never to ride in seattle. I do have a friend there who asked me to visit but he's not a cyclist.

Those 15%+ pics look about the steepness of part of the hill i was on. Maybe the road sign was average for the hill because the early part looked less steep but half way up it looked like some of the pics. Thankfully there are no long hills that go on for miles round my routes. All the hills are less than a mile. But going up and down lots of short sharp hills for miles still knocks the stuffing out of me! I could avoid the steep ones by sticking to the main roads but thts not as scenic. I would rather go along the patchwork of country lanes through the villages and stop at the pub when it gets too much.

Have you ever felt that you just can't turn the pedal even standing? It happened to me when I first got clipless and panic set in when I realised what was about to happen...the crank stopped, desperately tried to get my foot out with no forward momentum and a 0 mph keeling over in slow motion. Right in front of the village pub with everyone outside enjoying the sun. Oh the shame of it.
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Old 05-09-08, 12:08 PM   #21
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My daily route home takes me up 4 of the better hills in Redmond, WA

Woodinville-Duvall Rd. from 522 to Avondale
128th from Avondale to Red-Wood Rd.
116th from Red-Wood Rd. to Avondale
finish with either 133rd St, Novelty Hill, or Union Hill to Redmond Ridge.

None of them are really steep killer-hills, but they're all 7-10% average for at least 1 mile with a short steep section thrown in for fun.
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Old 05-09-08, 12:13 PM   #22
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Actually, wouldn't a vertical grade be undefined? X/0=undefined, after all.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
A formula for grade calculations taken from somewhere on the Internet:

***
grade = vertical_climb / horizontal_distance

where both vertical_climb and horizontal_distance are both converted to
the same measurement units. So if a hill goes up 264 feet in 2 miles,
then we can first convert 2 miles to 10560 feet -- so the grade is then
0.025 = 264 feet / 10560 feet, which is 2.5%.
***
Keep in mind you can have more than a 100 per cent grade. The grade of a 90 degree angle is infinite. A 100 percent grade is a 45 degree angle, where one foot of horizontal distance climbs one foot.
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Old 05-09-08, 12:18 PM   #23
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I'm so thankful I don't live around some of these inclines as they kill me! I am planning on working some regular hill riding into my weekly ride. Doing a little poking around I found a good explanation of why they use gradient instead of just giving the angle of incline.

"The reason for using percent of incline instead of angle, is that percent gives a direct way to assess the
effort required to move forward against the grade, whereas the angle in degrees does not readily reveal
this information. For example; a 5% grade requires a forward force equal to 5% of the weight of the
object (above and beyond the force it takes to overcome surface resistance on flat ground at the same
speed)."

Source: http://www.geocities.com/sidestreetl...ade.html#table
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Old 05-09-08, 01:45 PM   #24
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Here is one of my regular rides. There is one climb that is 12%, you see it around mile 7. But the beginning of the ride hurts the most. It varies between 2-5% for the first 2+ miles.
http://www.mapmyride.com/view_route?r=11039584
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Old 05-09-08, 09:39 PM   #25
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Why can't they just rate hills by degrees?
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