I've always felt that doing a ride that averages 100' of climbing per mile over the entire length of a ride is a pretty good measure. It's the baseline I've used to help determine a difficulty of a ride. Some factors that can increase the difficulty is the steepness of climbs. length of climbs or where they are in a route. A ride may be a little under the 100' per mile but if some of the grades are really steep that can balance it out. Putting all the climbs in the back half of a long ride always adds to the difficulty for me as well.
Yesterday's ride was 81 miles with about 8100 ft of climbing. Some grades were 18%-and there were several of them. Climbs were 1-5 miles. Fortunately most of the climbing was in the first 2/3 of the route but there was one 1 miler near the end that was pretty ugly. All in all it's a pretty tough route but an excellent one for training.
I averaged a whopping 15 mph. But the new 10 sp SRAM XX 11-32 worked flawlessly. I was in the 34-32 way more than I expected. I've done this ride on 34-27 before but yesterday there's no way I could have done it. I know I'm a little heavier but I'm seeing my ability to push a harder gear slip away-just like my former 290 yard drives!
I was also interested to see how my new shoes would hold up and didn't experience any discomfort so they passed the test again. I had also put on a new set of "wing" carbon bars on the bike the night before and I really like those for climbing. Much more comfortable for hands on the bars.
I got several questions from some of the other riders on my gearing. Many were ready to swap bikes on some of the steeper hills.
I also worked on not stopping so that made me a little slower from a mph perspective but just working on endurance right now. I only one quick stop to refill a water bottle. Fortunately I don't have Iber's problems just yet so didn't need any nature breaks.
Beautiful day to ride in the NC mountains-clear skies. Cool but perfect for the hills. The great thing about the NC mountains is you can be selective about the degree of difficulty of the rides you'd like to do. You just have to know the various roads and routes.