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  1. #1
    Senior Member VA_Esquire's Avatar
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    Newbie hoping for some direction

    As I just told you I am very much a newbie when it comes to cycling, but I want to learn. Yes, I will never be racing in the Tour De France, but it never hurts to be knowledgable.

    I keep hearing hill percentages, but could not find a chart that describes percentages of hill climbs.

    I always feel my body positioning is wrong in every aspect such as when I am going through straightaways, hill climbing, and cornering. Is their a link someone could link me to that describes body positioning in detail?

    *warning very noob question* When do you know when to change gears on your bike? I have always been on a single gear or a fixed gear bike so have never had to really deal with gears that much.

  2. #2
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    Percentages: On a 1% slope for every 100 feet you move horizontally you go up 1 foot. 10% 10 feet up for 100 on the level. This is a fairly steep slope. At 20% it is possible to fall over backwards if you are careless. The steepest slopes ridden like Fargo Street in LA and Canton Street in Pittsburgh are in the mid 30% range.

    You shift gears when you start feeling stressed. This can be subjective. Using too high a gear can hurt your body. Using too low a gear can make you take too long to get somewhere. If you have to stand on the pedals to keep moving fast enough to not fall over you might want a lower gear. If you are pedalling so fast you start to bounce on the seat you might need a lower gear. See Sheldon Browns' web site for more details.
    This space open

  3. #3
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    When I started commuting, I shifted constantly probably more than I should have, but I was heavy and my legs were weak. Since then I have dropped a few pounds and built up the strength in my legs so I shift much less than Previously. So like Ken said it is going to depend on the rider. But if you can go without shifting I would recommend trying not to, I didn't see any real weight loss until I started building up some bigger muscle mass in my legs. Since then I started eating more and losing weight at the same time! Thats what I really wanted, to lose weight without changing my diet because I love to eat.

  4. #4
    Senior Member dbikingman's Avatar
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    Here is graph of degree's and percentages. http://www.1728.com/gradient.htm For me as an estimate gauge; less then 2% isn't much, you can see the rise, but not much effect required can ride this for miles. 4% if I look straight ahead while seated on the bike, I seem to be at the top of the grade, 6% the hill keeps going above my head, 9% I feel like I am looking into a wall,. As a side not for every percent of incline you have to increase your power by that percentage point to maintain you speed. But, it is strange if you do 20 mph then increase your speed 26 mph, you have to double your power output.

    A general rule for cycling is you want to do 80 to 100 pedal revolutions per minute, you shift gears to keep to this cadence. As Ken mentioned people have different ideas on pedaling. In general larger front ring/smaller rear cog faster you go, but required more power in your leg. AS you know riding a single speed. But, having the gears allows you more options. Spinning faster, to a point, is easier on your legs but tougher on your lungs.

  5. #5
    fishologist cohophysh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbikingman View Post
    Here is graph of degree's and percentages. http://www.1728.com/gradient.htm For me as an estimate gauge; less then 2% isn't much, you can see the rise, but not much effect required can ride this for miles. 4% if I look straight ahead while seated on the bike, I seem to be at the top of the grade, 6% the hill keeps going above my head, 9% I feel like I am looking into a wall,. As a side not for every percent of incline you have to increase your power by that percentage point to maintain you speed. But, it is strange if you do 20 mph then increase your speed 26 mph, you have to double your power output.

    A general rule for cycling is you want to do 80 to 100 pedal revolutions per minute, you shift gears to keep to this cadence. As Ken mentioned people have different ideas on pedaling. In general larger front ring/smaller rear cog faster you go, but required more power in your leg. AS you know riding a single speed. But, having the gears allows you more options. Spinning faster, to a point, is easier on your legs but tougher on your lungs.
    Agreed with dbm, however, it is okay to start at a slower cadence, I started at about 70-80 and then built up from there, if you are not in good shape you can even start at a lower cadence. If you don't know, you can get a cycling computer that mounts to your handlebars that will give you cadence. I actually had no clue until I took a riding class of how to, or when to shift, I was always mashing which is not good for the knees. What the instructor told me is to keep it in the middle chain ring (I have a triple) and just shift up or down the cassette to maintain cadence. It really made a huge difference. I could go alot farther without my legs feeling tired. Good luck and most of all have fun
    We cannot solve problems with the same level of consciousness that created them. A.E.

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  6. #6
    Wookie Fred chewybrian's Avatar
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    On this site you can map your routes and get an elevation chart:

    http://www.bikely.com/

    When you are shifting well, you get into the right gear just before you need it. It's better for you and the bike. You see the hill coming, you downshift just before you hit the hill. If you wait until you feel the hill, you're grinding gears or burning up your legs, or both.
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