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Old 11-10-11, 08:52 AM   #1
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Power needed to complete a cat 1 climb

My cycling goal for 2012 is simple. I hope to complete a number of difficult climbs while on vacation in September.

I will vacation in Italy in September to visit my wife's parents. I'm going to do as much cycling as possible during my visit.

I'll be staying along the coast. However, the area is walled with a steep slope, traveling away from the sea is a 3500ft climb @ 6 to 15% over 10 miles.

Am I out-of-my-mind? I'm looking at the math and my power to weight ratio looks like an issue. Can I train myself into shape to meet this goal?
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Old 11-10-11, 08:58 AM   #2
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Get some low gears.
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Old 11-10-11, 09:00 AM   #3
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Yes, I'll have a triple and MTB cassette. I'm thinking 26t chainring and 32t cog at the bottom. But even at 4 mph, I'll need about 200 watts average over 90 minutes to make these climbs.
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Old 11-10-11, 09:01 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
My cycling goal for 2012 is simple. I hope to complete a number of difficult climbs while on vacation in September.

I will vacation in Italy in September to visit my wife's parents. I'm going to do as much cycling as possible during my visit.

I'll be staying along the coast. However, the area is walled with a steep slope, traveling away from the sea is a 3500ft climb @ 6 to 15% over 10 miles.

Am I out-of-my-mind? I'm looking at the math and my power to weight ratio looks like an issue. Can I train myself into shape to meet this goal?
I'd hazard a guess that as long as your power-to-weight achieves some minimal standard you'll get up the hill even if it does take you all day. Unless your power is sufficiently low that you can't counteract gravity (and hence roll backwards as you can't put enough power onto the pedals) then sooner or later you'll make it up the hill.

That said it's not a hill I'd care to attempt without some seriously low gears to play with. If you've got a GPS you can mount on the bike you can measure your progress up the hill (assuming you don't make it all the way to the top before getting off to push), failing that look for suitable markers you can aim for next time.
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Old 11-10-11, 09:29 AM   #5
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With some solid training, I don't see why not with the gearing you have available. Keep in mind, you can always put a foot on the ground to take the photos we will all insist on.
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Old 11-10-11, 09:31 AM   #6
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One of my local climbs is 9.8 miles and has 3450' of gain. It's a steady 6-7% grade the whole way though which will be very different than those European climbs with the steeper ramps. It takes about 1.5 hours for me to ride that hill. There are longer climbs with more climbing but because of distance or traffic I don't ride as much. Just take your time and enjoy the views. You're on vacation anyway!
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Old 11-10-11, 09:42 AM   #7
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I'm thinking 26t chainring and 32t cog at the bottom. But even at 4 mph, I'll need about 200 watts average over 90 minutes to make these climbs.
With those gears you should be able to continue riding at well under 4mph if necessary.
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Old 11-10-11, 09:47 AM   #8
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I'm excited about the prospect of completing some epic climbs, but I'm also concerned that it might be too much. Here are two routes.

The easiest route;

http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/57287270

This route was put together just to see how much vertical can be combined in one 150km loop;

http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/57295864
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Old 11-10-11, 09:52 AM   #9
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It can be done. Stapfam once went up one of those HC hills like Ventoux or Hautecam. He geared it very low and did a lot of hill work for a few months to get ready for it. Maybe he'll weigh in here in a bit with more details.
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Old 11-10-11, 11:04 AM   #10
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Here is a link to a hill climb simulator that calculates metrics based upon rider weight and power. http://www.coastsci.org/Power/ClimbCalc.html

The menu contains some European climbs but not all of them function. I think one has to load the data. Also, you can upload data from your local climbs. The default setting for drag coefficient and frontal area are probably close enough to get an idea. Bigger riders will have greater frontal areas however since the speeds are lower aerodynamics are not as important.

There are two climbs in the simulator worth looking at - Old La Honda and Mount Diablo. Old La Honda, which is 3.35 miles @7.3% average grade, is our local benchmark climb and most cyclists, who can climb it, know their time. Many recreational cyclists climb it in 40 minutes which for a 200 pound cyclist would be 175 watts climbing at 5 mph or 1900 feet/hour.

Mount Diablo, which is a good proxy for your Cat 1 climb, is 11.3 miles with an average grade of 5.8%. A 200 pound rider climbing at 175 watts would climb it in 1:51 at 6 mph or 1736 feet/hour.

I did the calcs and post for you so you could see that endurance is the key metric. You probably have enough power. If your ride a lot, your power will increase.

I cycled in Tuscany and on the Island of Elba. Climbing in Italy is just spectacular. However, the key is to have the endurance to climb over and over again day after day. So IMO, the way to prepare for Italy is to climb as much as you can. If your routes are flatter then try to put in some lower cadence work and focus on keeping the pressure on the pedals at all times. That is the biggest difference between climbing and riding on the flat. Climbs are relentless pressure on the legs and cardio. Riding on the flat terrain, one can take small breaks.

You will do great and have a lot of fun in Italy!
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Old 11-10-11, 11:33 AM   #11
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I'd hazard a guess that as long as your power-to-weight achieves some minimal standard you'll get up the hill even if it does take you all day. Unless your power is sufficiently low that you can't counteract gravity (and hence roll backwards as you can't put enough power onto the pedals) then sooner or later you'll make it up the hill.

That said it's not a hill I'd care to attempt without some seriously low gears to play with. If you've got a GPS you can mount on the bike you can measure your progress up the hill (assuming you don't make it all the way to the top before getting off to push), failing that look for suitable markers you can aim for next time.
Most of my riding is very flat, so I can spin at 90-100 rpm and hold 20mph for 3 to 4 hours.

I completed a power test at Vision Quest in Chicago and held 195 watt average for the first 20 minute test. After a 10 minute cool-down, I did another 20 minute test and held 185 watts. I could probably produce 180 watts for an hour. But at 200 lbs., that’s not a great number.

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With some solid training, I don't see why not with the gearing you have available. Keep in mind, you can always put a foot on the ground to take the photos we will all insist on.
Hi jdon,

Yes, It's a very beautiful area and I'll be sure to take pictures every time I grind to a halt.


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Originally Posted by BikeWNC View Post
One of my local climbs is 9.8 miles and has 3450' of gain. It's a steady 6-7% grade the whole way though which will be very different than those European climbs with the steeper ramps. It takes about 1.5 hours for me to ride that hill. There are longer climbs with more climbing but because of distance or traffic I don't ride as much. Just take your time and enjoy the views. You're on vacation anyway!
I need to train where you live!

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With those gears you should be able to continue riding at well under 4mph if necessary.
When I drove the route in my fathers 1600cc Alfa Romeo, I needed to downshift to 1st gear to get up the switch-backs. I'll need to do this at a walking pace, it's the only way.

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Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
It can be done. Stapfam once went up one of those HC hills like Ventoux or Hautecam. He geared it very low and did a lot of hill work for a few months to get ready for it. Maybe he'll weigh in here in a bit with more details.
I hope to hear about that.
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Last edited by Barrettscv; 11-10-11 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 11-10-11, 11:35 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
Here is a link to a hill climb simulator that calculates metrics based upon rider weight and power. http://www.coastsci.org/Power/ClimbCalc.html

The menu contains some European climbs but not all of them function. I think one has to load the data. Also, you can upload data from your local climbs. The default setting for drag coefficient and frontal area are probably close enough to get an idea. Bigger riders will have greater frontal areas however since the speeds are lower aerodynamics are not as important.

There are two climbs in the simulator worth looking at - Old La Honda and Mount Diablo. Old La Honda, which is 3.35 miles @7.3% average grade, is our local benchmark climb and most cyclists, who can climb it, know their time. Many recreational cyclists climb it in 40 minutes which for a 200 pound cyclist would be 175 watts climbing at 5 mph or 1900 feet/hour.

Mount Diablo, which is a good proxy for your Cat 1 climb, is 11.3 miles with an average grade of 5.8%. A 200 pound rider climbing at 175 watts would climb it in 1:51 at 6 mph or 1736 feet/hour.

I did the calcs and post for you so you could see that endurance is the key metric. You probably have enough power. If your ride a lot, your power will increase.

I cycled in Tuscany and on the Island of Elba. Climbing in Italy is just spectacular. However, the key is to have the endurance to climb over and over again day after day. So IMO, the way to prepare for Italy is to climb as much as you can. If your routes are flatter then try to put in some lower cadence work and focus on keeping the pressure on the pedals at all times. That is the biggest difference between climbing and riding on the flat. Climbs are relentless pressure on the legs and cardio. Riding on the flat terrain, one can take small breaks.

You will do great and have a lot of fun in Italy!
Thanks for the links. I'll need to become a masher this year. losing another 25 LBS. will help, too.
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Old 11-10-11, 11:50 AM   #13
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Thanks for the links. I'll need to become a masher this year. losing another 25 LBS. will help, too.
I am not sure the masher model is the best. I would suggest lower cadence and follow through at the bottom of the pedal stroke. If your pedal stroke is smooth at 90 to 100 rpm, then carry that over to a lower 75 to 80 rpm at the same speed. Losing 25 pounds will make a monster difference in performance. One of the differences between climbing and riding flat is the speed. Bigger riders have more difficulty rejecting heat. At higher speed, there is more cooling. In the mountains of Italy climbing at 5 to 6 mph will be hot. As one heats up, power production capability is limited. Skinny riders are less affected by heat.
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Old 11-10-11, 11:53 AM   #14
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The power you need depends on how fast you want to go. If you, your bike and gear weigh 100 kg, the energy necessary to climb 1000 m is 100kg X 1000m X 10g = 1,000,000 Joules. If you climb at 10 km/hr over 16km then the power (Joules/second) is 1,000,000/time = 1,000,000/((16/10)*3600)= ~175 watts. (please check my math)
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Old 11-10-11, 11:58 AM   #15
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I need to train where you live!
Come on down for a training camp! I'm sure NealH will join in too. I promise you will get your fill of climbing.
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Old 11-10-11, 01:48 PM   #16
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I think your biggest issue, given where you live, is to get enough long, sustained training hill climbs in. Find the biggest hills you can and do a lot of repeats! Clearly you'll be able to make the climb. The question is how much do you want to suffer?
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Old 11-10-11, 03:20 PM   #17
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Climbing with NealH and BikeWNC would be the equivalent of swimming with sharks.

When I cycled in Tuscany, my wife and I did it on our tandem and we were used to doing long climbs. We started our tour from Elba which is a mountainous Island. On the first day, we had to start from the beach and climb several hundred feet and then do another climb to a quaint town at the top of a mountain.

At dinner the night before, we met a couple and BF members who lived in Minnesota. They only rode on flat terrain. And they geared their tandem with a double with a nasty set of chain rings - 54 /42. It was set up for flatland.

I wondered how that was going to workout. They were monsters on the bike and ground those big gears up the mountains without a problem - similar age as my wife and me. We rode together the entire tour and had a fabulous time.

Their training was going hard on the flat terrain in big gears. The key aspect was sustained hard effort.
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Old 11-10-11, 08:14 PM   #18
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Yes, I'll have a triple and MTB cassette. I'm thinking 26t chainring and 32t cog at the bottom. But even at 4 mph, I'll need about 200 watts average over 90 minutes to make these climbs.
I have exactly that gearing on one of my favorite bikes, weigh about the same same as you, and am probably (er, definitely) not quite as strong. That gearing worked pretty well for me on long climbs in Montana last summer and it should work well for you. I did have to stop on some of those hills, but I never walked. Younger, lighter, riders than me were walking because they did not have the right gears. In part, I think it is a matter of skill and experience finding the right rhythm to be able to keep going on a really long hill, and that part is hard to train for. Keep in mind that you will not die if you have to stop once in awhile. (Oh, and watch out for the downhills!)

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Old 11-11-11, 10:02 AM   #19
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I have exactly that gearing on one of my favorite bikes, weigh about the same same as you, and am probably (er, definitely) not quite as strong. That gearing worked pretty well for me on long climbs in Montana last summer and it should work well for you. I did have to stop on some of those hills, but I never walked. Younger, lighter, riders than me were walking because they did not have the right gears. In part, I think it is a matter of skill and experience finding the right rhythm to be able to keep going on a really long hill, and that part is hard to train for. Keep in mind that you will not die if you have to stop once in awhile. (Oh, and watch out for the downhills!)
Hi B-D,

I think this will be my experience. I don’t mind going slowly but I hate walking. Stopping to get a drink, to enjoy the view, and maintain a positive attitude is all a part of the plan, too.

Having a deep gear range allows me to keep a faster and smoother cadence. It also gives the option of staying seated, even when the climb is steep.

Thanks for the encouragement.

MB
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Last edited by Barrettscv; 11-11-11 at 11:03 AM.
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Old 11-11-11, 04:42 PM   #20
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You can do it just find a steep hill and keep going up, IMO they never get any easier but you do get stronger over time and 6 to 15% over ten miles is not bad.
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Old 11-14-11, 07:57 PM   #21
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Hi B-D,

I think this will be my experience. I donít mind going slowly but I hate walking. Stopping to get a drink, to enjoy the view, and maintain a positive attitude is all a part of the plan, too.

Having a deep gear range allows me to keep a faster and smoother cadence. It also gives the option of staying seated, even when the climb is steep.

Thanks for the encouragement.

MB
Michael,
Stopping is a good time to take pictures too! I look forward to a report on your climbs... perhaps like this?
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