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  1. #1
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    San Francisco's steepest street kicked my butt!

    I have finally broken my clean track record of making it up every road climb I ever started. Technically, the road isn't a road, just a sidewalk, but it has a road sign.

    I took a trip to San Francisco yesterday in a rental car, so that meant taking my collapsible road bike-a Bike Friday Pocket Companion. It is sold as a touring bike, but I bought it for the low climbing gears. It has a triple, and I replaced the stock 30t small chainring with a 24t, which gives me a 16 inch low gear.

    Thanks to a cyclist on another forum, I got a list of the steepest streets in The City. Because of limited daylight, I decided to start with all the steepest climbs in the Nob Hill, Russian Hill, and Pacific Heights areas.

    I started with Filbert between Hyde and Leavenworth, a 31.5% grade. This is where I discovered that my waterbottle needed to be on the frame-mounted bottle cage, not the handlebar-mounted one. It kept poking me in the chest because I had to lean over so much.

    Next was Jones between Filbert and Union, a 29% grade. After that was Jones between Union and Green, a 26% grade. Then a ride down Broadway and up some more lesser hills before the next steep street-Webster between Broadway and Vallejo (26%). Next was Fillmore between Broadway and Vallejo at 24%.

    The next hill is where I met my match. Broderick between Broadway and Vallejo is a 38% grade. It is so steep there is no road, just a sidewalk on the left side of the street (facing uphill).

    I made it halfway up on my first attempt, then ran out of steam. Same thing 4 tries later, each time making less progress than the time before. By then it was dark and I decided to go back to Nob Hill and climb the last hill of the day, Jones between Pine and California (24.8%). Typical of the last hard climb of a ride, this one hurt near the top. Good stuff!

    My HR hit 202 on this ride. I saw it hit 200 at the top of the only climb where I remembered to look at the Garmin.

    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/130582283#

    I brought my GoPro with me and mounted it on the handlebars. There's no way my helmet-mounted ContourHD would have produced good footage with this ride. I had my head down for most of the climbs, so you would have had a lovely view of the pavement.

    I only had to use my lowest gear on Broderick. I did the second attempt in second gear, but all the rest were in the lowest gear.

    Here's the video. I left out the last climb up Jones because, like the ContourHD, the GoPro sucks at night video. You can see for yourself on the last attempt up Broderick.

    Be forewarned, the intensity of these efforts is very audible at times, so keep this in mind if you have anyone within earshot while watching this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cbc5iG3M1q0


    Here's some pics.

    Bottom of Filbert between Hyde and Leavenworth


    Top of Filbert


    Bottom of Jones between Union and Filbert


    Top of Jones between Union and Filbert


    Fillmore between Vallejo and Broadway


    Webster between Vallejo and Broadway


    Top of Broderick between Broadway and Vallejo


    Bottom of Broderick


    Top of Jones between California and Pine

  2. #2
    Carpet Pisser
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    You're tackling hills like those without clipless pedals?!?!

  3. #3
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Yup. To be honest, I would be afraid to ride such steep climbs with clipless. On Broderick, all I did was stall out. If I had clipless pedals I might have fallen and ended up rolling down the hill like a snowball, which wouldn't be too good!

  4. #4
    Senior Member rideorglide's Avatar
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    I want you on my Olympic hill climbing team! You're a farging animal. Your ability is not in question, but your strategy might be hindering you. [I wish I didn't have the physical issues I do now. I used to love challenging myself on "stupid steep" hills.]

    Hey after all that heavy climbing it's no surprise you struggled because you saved the hardest till last. You realize after one aborted try on Broderick, you were as good as done, right, unless you lost it for technical reasons?

    Try that one when you've got fresher legs, a bit warmed up but not already so burned and cardiac drifted.
    (Don't forget you are also subject to "cardiac drift" after so many preceding hard climbs/efforts earlier in your route, so your HR is going to be higher by that point than it would be earlier in the ride.)

    A guy who's as "determined" as you might just make it if you strategize it right.

    But to be fair 38% is kinda gravity defying. I realize they get something close to exponentially more difficult as you add degrees of grade.
    Last edited by rideorglide; 11-24-11 at 06:13 AM.
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  5. #5
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    You are great! I am saving this post to my hard drive to always remind me to try to ride up hills and not walk them unless its literally #$!@& impossible.. Also, I think you should check out the upper Mission (maybe 21st or 22nd st) and also - at least a couple of years ago, there was/is one humdinger on Potrero Hill.. its like Filbert, but even steeper and windier. (Shhh! big secret!)

    Also, 17th st.. from Market to Clayton... (not quite as steep but pretty long and a long climb up)

    Also, check out Marin Ave in Berkeley!

    Is that kind of bike the best for this? I am thinking your back wheel maybe should be farther back.. seat lower.. center of gravity, etc.

    I used my current bike in SF and even in the lowest gear, some of those hills are next to impossible to climb without being in tip-top shape. If you can't pedal fast enough - too slow to balance.

    I could never keep up the pace long enough to go all the way up any of those blocks, I would usually walk the last part.. just walk em or ride around em..

    Note: at one point I lived on Broderick! Good exercise every day!
    Last edited by christ0ph; 11-24-11 at 08:09 AM.

  6. #6
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    I love it. Great job!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    You didn't happen to see a dark green Mustang chasing a black Charger when you were doing those hills, did you?

  8. #8
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Thanks all! I thought about that too. I should definitely try that one again before tackling other steep climbs. If I can lose a litte more weight that will definitely help.

    For those who aren't familiar with me and my posts, I'm a female cyclist. I figured I'd throw that out there just so nobody thinks I'm a dude.

    Broderick was so steep I had to walk downhill after each failed attempt because there was no way I could safely get on my bike to ride back down.

    I think I experienced the "cardiac drift" thing, as I felt like I just didn't have the strength to make it up Broderick. I just stalled out every time.

    Thanks for those other hills! I will definitely tackle those on the next trip! I still have 22nd Street and a couple grades in the high 20's on Duboce to do next time. Marin Ave. is on my to-do list for a future trip too.

    This is probably not the ideal bike for this, but I was in a rental car and needed something that would fit in the trunk. My road bike also has ultra-low mtb-style climbing gears, but it would be a PITA to put it in a typical sedan.

    I saw two skinny women walk all the way up Broderick while I was recovering from one of the attempts to climb it. That's one thing I noticed about San Francisco-much less morbid obesity than Sacramento, where I live.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    You didn't happen to see a dark green Mustang chasing a black Charger when you were doing those hills, did you?
    Unfortunately, no. That would've made some awesome car chase footage, since the helmet-mounted ContourHD was recording continuously. All the ride video footage is from the handlebar-mounted GoPro HD Hero 960.
    Last edited by freighttraininguphill; 11-24-11 at 08:53 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member magohn's Avatar
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    I bow down to you Ms Freight. I have driven those hills many times in an old VW Bug and IT had a hard time getting up those hills. The trick was to time it so that I did not have to stop at the STOP sign at the top of one of the hills. If I did stop, the old Bug would really struggle to get going again.

    Very well done and thanks for the SF memories.

  10. #10
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by magohn View Post
    I bow down to you Ms Freight. I have driven those hills many times in an old VW Bug and IT had a hard time getting up those hills. The trick was to time it so that I did not have to stop at the STOP sign at the top of one of the hills. If I did stop, the old Bug would really struggle to get going again.

    Very well done and thanks for the SF memories.
    Thank you. As I was climbing these, I was thinking about what gear I would drive up them in. In most four-cylinder vehicles it would probably be first gear.

    I love riding in the Bay Area! I wish I could live there instead of this boring town.

  11. #11
    Senior Member magohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by freighttraininguphill View Post
    Thank you. As I was climbing these, I was thinking about what gear I would drive up them in. In most four-cylinder vehicles it would probably be first gear.

    I love riding in the Bay Area! I wish I could live there instead of this boring town.
    P.S Totally agree with not using clipless. My last fall was using clipless on a 17% grade, I slowed down to a crawl, lost my balance as I was going too slow and over I went. As i was "locked in" I couldnt get a foot underneath me.

    P.P.S The GoPro is funky at night as most cameras are. However, the early quality in your movie is very nice

  12. #12
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    You didn't happen to see a dark green Mustang chasing a black Charger when you were doing those hills, did you?
    ...........

    gets good at 3:00


  13. #13
    Macaws Rock! michaelnel's Avatar
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    Here's a list including one SF street with a 41% grade!

    http://www.datapointed.net/2010/02/m...san-francisco/
    ---

    San Francisco, California

  14. #14
    Senior Member iforgotmename's Avatar
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    Great job....once again

  15. #15
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by michaelnel View Post
    Here's a list including one SF street with a 41% grade!

    http://www.datapointed.net/2010/02/m...san-francisco/


    Thank you very much for that link! Looks like I have my work cut out for me!

  16. #16
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iforgotmename View Post
    Great job....once again
    Thanks! By the way, when are you going to make that sufferfest video you were talking about a few months ago?

  17. #17
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    ...........

    gets good at 3:00

    Hey, I think I climbed and descended the hill at 5:12 in that video. It was at night, so the views were very pretty with all the city lights.

    LOVE the sound of American Muscle!

  18. #18
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    For a slightly different perspective, here's the footage from the ContourHD helmet cam. I didn't look down as much as I thought I did, so I figured it was worth putting on Contour's video site with the rest of my ContourHD vids. You can hear a descending cyclist skidding down the 26% section of Jones between Union and Green on this one. On the GoPro video it sounded like I was applying my brakes while climbing!

    It won't embed even using Contour's embed code, so you have to click on the URL.

    http://contour.com/stories/climbing-...-bike-11-23-11

  19. #19
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    I sense a need for attention from the many places this got posted.
    No, I posted this in different subforums because not everyone reads every subforum here. If I only posted it in the NorCal regional subforum, the people from other states who may enjoy it wouldn't see it. If I only posted it in Clydesdale/Athena, then people who aren't struggling with weight loss won't see it. If I only posted it in the Road Cycling subforum, then people who are put off by some of the attitudes in there won't see it. Get the picture?

  20. #20
    Senior Member magohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by freighttraininguphill View Post
    No, I posted this in different subforums because not everyone reads every subforum here. If I only posted it in the NorCal regional subforum, the people from other states who may enjoy it wouldn't see it. If I only posted it in Clydesdale/Athena, then people who aren't struggling with weight loss won't see it. If I only posted it in the Road Cycling subforum, then people who are put off by some of the attitudes in there won't see it. Get the picture?
    I agree 100%. I spend 99% of my time in the Clyde forum. Please keep the vids coming...

  21. #21
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by magohn View Post
    I agree 100%. I spend 99% of my time in the Clyde forum. Please keep the vids coming...
    I will. This is the second time I've had to set someone straight regarding multiple postings. For the record, this is the only forum I have to do that in because it is the biggest and best cycling forum out there! On other smaller cycling forums I just post the videos in the ride report section.

  22. #22
    Bulky Bullet Sayre Kulp's Avatar
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    Holey Moley! Yo no quiero hills!
    "Obstacles don't like me very much. I make them look bad."

  23. #23
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sayre Kulp View Post
    Holey Moley! Yo no quiero hills!
    I had to put the bolded part into Google Translate. Hills are probably an acquired taste. I remember when I was 12 years old I used to get lazy sometimes and take the elevator to avoid climbing a short steep hill near the university when I lived in Iowa City, IA.

    I don't think I started to enjoy hills until 1990.

  24. #24
    Fat Guy Rolling dcrowell's Avatar
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    Wow. The sidewalks had stairs!

    Very nice climbing!

    When did you get the Bike Friday? I assume your Dahon just didn't have the gearing.
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  25. #25
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Thank you. You guessed right. There was no practical way to put mtb gearing on the Dahon, so I decided to get the Bike Friday Pocket Companion because of the gearing. It is sold as a touring bike, so that means a triple. After replacing the 30t small chainring with a 24t, the gearing is lower than my mtb at 16".

    I had to wait for my recumbent to sell before I could get this bike. I finally got it last week.

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