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  1. #1
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    help me understand climbing

    I use runkeeper on my cellphone to track a lot of my rides but i don't really understand what all the data really means comparitively. I just did a 35 mile ride that had 5100 feet of climbing in it. where does this rank on the scale of difficulty?

    FWIW, there is probably a 8 mile stretch where at least 60% of that climbing occured! If i can segment just that part I will do so and see what the specifics are.

  2. #2
    Senior Member TomD77's Avatar
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    I live in Florida and hope to never see anything like that on a bike. That's the equivalent of a 8 mile stretch at a 7.3% grade. For perspective, 7% is the max allowable grade on an interstate, like climbing into the mountains out of Denver heading for ski territory if you've ever done that..

  3. #3
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    The rule of thumb is that 100 feet per mile over a full route is a lot of climbing. That doesn't sound like much, since 100 ft/mi is only 1.8% grade, but you have to go down, too, doubling the effective upward grade. And there's usually flat or almost flat sections on a ride, so the grade on climbs is steeper still.

    But, there's a difference between a ride with repeated small roller hills, and one with a long climb. Maybe your gps/cellphone is counting every little rise and fall in the road. I get this with routes on ridewithgps.com, where it reports a lot of elevation gain.

    For instance, this ride up and over Big Walker Mountain in NC: link to ridewithgps map has a 1150 foot climb, then a valley ride with small rollers, and a 700 foot climb back up. That's 1150+700=1850 feet, but ridewithgps reports 2356 feet. The valley section of the ride didn't feel like climbing to me. The first climb is 1150 feet in 4.0 miles, or 287 ft/mi (5.4%). That's steep but I can pace myself on a long climb of this grade, and handle it OK.


    Road grade is 100 * (elevation change) / (road distance * 5280)

    100 feet in 1 mile is 1.8% For me, a noticeable grade.
    200 feet in 1 mile is 3.8% Still sitting and pedaling.
    300 feet in 1 mile is 5.7% Mostly standing, alternating with sitting. (The amount of standing up depends on my lowest available gear, too)
    400 feet in 1 mile is 7.5% Working hard to keep moving.
    Last edited by rm -rf; 08-01-10 at 04:52 PM.

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    okay so i'll elaborate a bit. there were definately some rollers in some sections where i'm hauling ass at 30mph plus going downhill and getting back up the next hill pretty easily because of momentum. but there was a stretch on this ride that goes for 8 miles that is a lot of climbing. I wonder if there is a way i can share the runkeeper info on here to show you guys?

  5. #5
    Senior Member socalrider's Avatar
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    I know the cardiotrainer app gives me an elevation grid for my rides, you might want to give that app a try.. You can run 2 gps apps at the same time on a ride with no problems..

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    ahh, i do have both. i like some things about cardio trainer but like the other one better. it does give me info but its confusing. It gives info mile by mile which i guess is teh amount of total elevation change for that mile? I'm not really sure.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I would say the gps on your phone is way over stating the elevation gain. It's certainly possible to get 5100 ft of climbing in 35 miles but you'd have to be somewhere like the Sierra's to do that. Rides that have 10,000ft of climbing in 100 miles are considered extremely difficult. I know of only one ride where there is approximately 10,000ft of climbing in a 70mile section of it and it climbs straight from nearly sea level to almost 10,000ft.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

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    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
    ...For instance, this ride up and over Big Walker Mountain in NC: link to ridewithgps map has a 1150 foot climb, then a valley ride with small rollers, and a 700 foot climb back up. That's 1150+700=1850 feet, but ridewithgps reports 2356 feet. The valley section of the ride didn't feel like climbing to me. The first climb is 1150 feet in 4.0 miles, or 287 ft/mi (5.4%). That's steep but I can pace myself on a long climb of this grade, and handle it OK...
    I just got over riding through the Appellations in WV, Maryland and PA in June and there you go giving me nightmares again...
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

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    tried to post the data but it didn't format well.

  10. #10
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomD77 View Post
    I live in Florida and hope to never see anything like that on a bike. That's the equivalent of a 8 mile stretch at a 7.3% grade. For perspective, 7% is the max allowable grade on an interstate, like climbing into the mountains out of Denver heading for ski territory if you've ever done that..
    That's precisely what I did yesterday. WA SR-2 to the summit of Stevens Pass (4069'). The real climbing is all between Skykomish (920') and the summit, where it varies between 5 and 7%, getting steeper as it climbs.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    I would say the gps on your phone is way over stating the elevation gain. It's certainly possible to get 5100 ft of climbing in 35 miles but you'd have to be somewhere like the Sierra's to do that. Rides that have 10,000ft of climbing in 100 miles are considered extremely difficult. I know of only one ride where there is approximately 10,000ft of climbing in a 70mile section of it and it climbs straight from nearly sea level to almost 10,000ft.
    i hear what your saying, however, I'm guessing that everytime you go down a big hill and then come back up, it's counting that climb back up even though it's actually quite easy because your starting at the bottom of it at 30mph. I honestly think that I did go up 5000feet of hills, however much of it was after going downhill. I guess we are talking about the difference between true "climbing" vs simple elevation gain. obviously, I didn't end up 5000 feet above sea level on myride.

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    Senior Member kleinboogie's Avatar
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    Agree that the GPS, because of it's accuracy along the entire route, will likely be higher than the actual ascent/descent numbers. They never match in my 705 when I do a loop. I'd go with a good routing program/website. PerfPRO will grab elevation information and correct my GPS and it's dramatic more times than not. GL

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    try this link, i think it has the route and elevation

    http://runkeeper.com/user/cpfitness/route/100035

    Miles 12-18 are probably about where the largest hills are though there are a couple of spots in there with huge downhills but then you've got to struggle back up them. The last stretch at mile 18 is pretty brutal. (for a 235 lber)

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    I've ridden with folks with an altimeter built into their bike computer. As I recall, the altimeter would add a meter every time the bike would climb the three feet or so. No deduction for downhill. So a relatively flat appearing ride could rack up some significant climbing by ratcheting up every time the bike went up 3 feet or so. I would not be surprised if a GPS based application would do the math the same way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikealou View Post
    I've ridden with folks with an altimeter built into their bike computer. As I recall, the altimeter would add a meter every time the bike would climb the three feet or so. No deduction for downhill. So a relatively flat appearing ride could rack up some significant climbing by ratcheting up every time the bike went up 3 feet or so. I would not be surprised if a GPS based application would do the math the same way.
    exactly, although if you coast down a hill fast then it flattens out and then you have to climb back up that same hill, it's still pretty brutal. So let me rephrase my question. People are always saying things like "This hill was a 7% grade for 1 mile straight. how many vertical feet would that be?

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    disregard last post, somebody edited their post above and gave this information.

  17. #17
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikealou View Post
    I've ridden with folks with an altimeter built into their bike computer. As I recall, the altimeter would add a meter every time the bike would climb the three feet or so. No deduction for downhill. So a relatively flat appearing ride could rack up some significant climbing by ratcheting up every time the bike went up 3 feet or so. I would not be surprised if a GPS based application would do the math the same way.
    That is how elevation gain for a ride is calculated. Just because you descend doesn't mean you lose credit for any climbing you did. If a hill is 1000' in elevation, but halfway up the road dips by 250', the summit route gains 1250'.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
    The rule of thumb is that 100 feet per mile over a full route is a lot of climbing. That doesn't sound like much, since 100 ft/mi is only 1.8% grade, but you have to go down, too, doubling the effective upward grade. And there's usually flat or almost flat sections on a ride, so the grade on climbs is steeper still.

    But, there's a difference between a ride with repeated small roller hills, and one with a long climb. Maybe your gps/cellphone is counting every little rise and fall in the road. I get this with routes on ridewithgps.com, where it reports a lot of elevation gain.

    For instance, this ride up and over Big Walker Mountain in NC: link to ridewithgps map has a 1150 foot climb, then a valley ride with small rollers, and a 700 foot climb back up. That's 1150+700=1850 feet, but ridewithgps reports 2356 feet. The valley section of the ride didn't feel like climbing to me. The first climb is 1150 feet in 4.0 miles, or 287 ft/mi (5.4%). That's steep but I can pace myself on a long climb of this grade, and handle it OK.


    Road grade is 100 * (elevation change) / (road distance * 5280)

    100 feet in 1 mile is 1.8% For me, a noticeable grade.
    200 feet in 1 mile is 3.8% Still sitting and pedaling.
    300 feet in 1 mile is 5.7% Mostly standing, alternating with sitting. (The amount of standing up depends on my lowest available gear, too)
    400 feet in 1 mile is 7.5% Working hard to keep moving.

    This is great info. The last stretch of this section i went up a full 400 feet in pretty much exactly one mile. Lucky for me i have a 30 tooth granny with 34 tooth bailout on the back. it was tough but doable. I climb exclusively in the saddle because of a torn acl i don't want to risk a ghost shift

  19. #19
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigdaddy10028 View Post
    People are always saying things like "This hill was a 7% grade for 1 mile straight. how many vertical feet would that be?
    Find out here.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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    For simplicity assuming a mile is 5200' instead of the true 5280' so we don't have to split hairs


    7 * 52 = 364

    7% grade per hundred feet * (5200/100---or 52) = 364' rise
    7 foot rise per hundred feet times 52--which is one mile transposed into 100' increments = 364"

    6% grade * 5200' = 312
    5% grade * 5200' = 260

    These are approximates eliminating 80' per equation

  21. #21
    creaky old bones FZ1Tom's Avatar
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    Clifton,

    That calculator piqued my interest because I was browsing Wiki a while back about cliffs and such. It seems there's a ridge on the edge of the Kermadec Trench in the southern Pacific Ocean where at one point the water depth is only 6 meters, or about 19 feet. From that point the sea plunges down, at about 70 degrees (20 degrees from vertical) for 4250 meters horizontal distance (some sources say 5200 meters), at which point the water depth is 8006 meters (26,267'), or a 188% grade

    That's some climb (or dive!)

    Wonder what sorta gearing we need for that? Captain Nemo, help us out here please?

    Tom

  22. #22
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    That is how elevation gain for a ride is calculated. Just because you descend doesn't mean you lose credit for any climbing you did. If a hill is 1000' in elevation, but halfway up the road dips by 250', the summit route gains 1250'.
    Exactly. If you climb 250 feet in the first mile (less than 5% grade) then lose that height in the second, then climb 250 feet in the third, then lose it again....rinse and repeat until the end of the ride... you'll have climbed 5000 feet in 40 miles (actually, 39 miles) without ever being more than 250 feet higher than your start point.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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    this info helps a lot, I reviewed some of my other rides just for comparison sake and a 12 mile ride that I consider very flat had 700 feet of elevation so now i've got some comparitive data.

  24. #24
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    It probably varies by region, but for two clubs here in Seattle I'll give my interpretation of the climbing breakdown:

    Cascade Bike Club (century rides)
    < 2500 == flat
    2501 - 4500 == rolling hills
    4501 - 6500 == moderate hills
    6501 - 8000 == very hilly
    can't recall seeing CBC sponsored rides above 8000' that aren't part of their High Performace series.

    Seattle Int'l Randonneurs (200k rides)
    2500 - 3500 == flat
    3501 - 5000 == easy rollers
    5001 - 7000 == moderate hills
    7001 - 9000 == hilly, steep and/or long climbs likely
    9001+ == you know we made that route as an April Fool's joke, right?
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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  25. #25
    Senior Member jr59's Avatar
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    Thankfully I live in New Orleans. We don't even have overpasses to ride over. We are flatter than Fl. Yay for me.

    You guys can have all those hills.

    2500-3500==
    3501==5000==
    anything over 5001== YOU HAVE LOST YOUR MIND!
    LOL!

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