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Old 05-22-12, 05:03 PM   #1
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I Hate False Flats Sometimes

No...not tire flats

There is a 5mi long approach to a rather large 2mi hill that is on my training list. On that approach I notice that it doesnt seem to be as flat as it looks. So I click over to the elevation reading on the GPS to find that I'm gaining 1ft every 30ft of pavement.

Good thing I had the GPS readout or I'd been scratching my head and peddling at the same time. Of course, when I turned around at the top and made the ride back into town it becomes more obvious when suddenly it feels like a tailwind just booted you in butt. Click up a gear and get back on the horse for the ride back to town.
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Old 05-22-12, 05:16 PM   #2
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Much worse than a false flat is a false peak. Climb 6 miles to a nice vista and a downhill only to find out that you have 1 mile of brutal climbing ahead. On the tandem 1/2% is a false flat, more than that I can tell immediately. I wish the Garmin registered 10th of a percent below 1%
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Old 05-22-12, 07:40 PM   #3
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A 3% grade may not be anything to write home about, but it's still an honest grade; definitely not a false flat. Where is this hill?
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Old 05-22-12, 07:52 PM   #4
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3% grade is as steep as a railbed gets in most cases. There are some out there that are steeper but I don't think any are on the North American continent.
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Old 05-22-12, 08:16 PM   #5
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Eyes are horizontal, nose is vertical.
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Old 05-22-12, 08:36 PM   #6
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A 3% grade may not be anything to write home about, but it's still an honest grade; definitely not a false flat. Where is this hill?
Ever been near Boyne Falls? Heading south on 131 you'll encounter the false flat....it really doesnt look like a grade at all.....then 5mi out of Boyne Falls you will see the huge hill. It's nearly 2mi up to the top, once you crest the hill you will see the M32 turn-off that takes you to Gaylord.

You've probably been by there.
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Old 05-22-12, 08:40 PM   #7
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_gravity_hills

Kind of sucks until you realize what's going on, then it's okay.
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Old 05-22-12, 08:52 PM   #8
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_gravity_hills

Kind of sucks until you realize what's going on, then it's okay.
That's a strange phenomena when you experience it.

Sounds like our famed tourist trap in the Upper Peninsula called, The Mystery Spot.
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Old 05-22-12, 09:50 PM   #9
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3% grade is as steep as a railbed gets in most cases. There are some out there that are steeper but I don't think any are on the North American continent.
One of my favorite rides is the Elroy to Sparta trail in Wisconsin. It's basically up a hill, through a tunnel, and down a hill on the other side. You do that 3 times. As I remember, the grades are about 3%. At 3% your eyes are telling you that you're riding on the flat while your legs are telling you something else.
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Old 05-23-12, 12:29 AM   #10
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I know it is an optical illusion but one of our offroad rides has a slope that is a lot easier to ride than it should be. Visually it does go uphill and you fly along it for about 100 yards. The reverse trip and that dowhill is very hard. Never got the garmin on it but must be the same as your slope.
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Old 05-23-12, 07:23 AM   #11
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I know it is an optical illusion but one of our offroad rides has a slope that is a lot easier to ride than it should be. Visually it does go uphill and you fly along it for about 100 yards. The reverse trip and that dowhill is very hard. Never got the garmin on it but must be the same as your slope.
Sounds very similar.

On this hill where you have the 5mi false flat you will see what looks to be a big dip that could very well give some good speed before the base of the hill.....but alas, there is almost nothing there to be gained and before you know it you best have granny girl called up and in place.
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Old 05-23-12, 07:28 AM   #12
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3% grade is as steep as a railbed gets in most cases. There are some out there that are steeper but I don't think any are on the North American continent.
Back in the turn of the century (1900) there was a railroad called the Boyne City, Gaylord, Alpena line. There are old stories about what it was like to ride the train out of Boyne Falls. The grade ran at a traverse angle to the hill but still had a decent grade to overcome. You can still see where the abandoned grade crosses the highway and is the starting point for the Strava challenge at the base of the hill.
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Old 05-23-12, 07:28 AM   #13
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Another illusion I've noticed happens when riding rolling hills. Sometimes at the crest it will look like the road goes down and then you've got another big climb coming up. But when you hit the bottom of the hill, you find that what looked like another uphill is actually flat and it was just the perspective from the top that fooled you.

And sometimes it really is another big hill!
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Old 05-24-12, 04:08 AM   #14
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Another illusion I've noticed happens when riding rolling hills. Sometimes at the crest it will look like the road goes down and then you've got another big climb coming up. But when you hit the bottom of the hill, you find that what looked like another uphill is actually flat and it was just the perspective from the top that fooled you.

And sometimes it really is another big hill!
Pretty much commensurate with miles travelled or how hot it is.
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Old 05-24-12, 04:09 AM   #15
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The gain on the big hill is 332ft over a 1.6mi climb (8448ft).
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Old 05-24-12, 11:51 AM   #16
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Pics do not always show a slope to be steep as it is. On the South Downs Way which is full of hills there is one called Amberly Mount. It is a basket but you approach it from another hill that seems to be just as tall. You have just climbed that one and it was not too bad. Fast downhill and you start climbing----Hold on- it didn't look this steep from the other hill. It is a 15% over very rough ground that may be making it tougher but it does go on---and on-- and never seems to finish. You get to the top of the mount and look at what you have just climbed and you can't see the trail- it disappears below the crest of the hill you have climbed and there in the distance about 1 mile away is the hill that where first saw Amberly Mount. And it appears to be about 1/2 the height it was.

So it is not just pics that show the wrong perspective--Your eyes can make the same mistake.
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Old 05-25-12, 10:32 PM   #17
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8448 feet in Michigan?!
Rode enough in lower and upper Mich. to know that is a misprint . . .
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Old 05-25-12, 10:54 PM   #18
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I live in a place where the terrain was formed by ancient glaciers so rather than things being flat, you always seem to be going up and down on what can be some very gradual climbs that go off and on for 20-30 km before you find yourself on gradual descents that can be just as long.

My long commute is 50 km with 25 km of that being mostly climbing and then 15 km of gradual descent, a 10 km flat section and then the next 5 becomes a more noticeable stretch of climbing.

Mercifully... the morning winds usually come out of the west to give you a push and in the evening come out of the east to push you back.

Usually.

None of the climbing is particularly hard save for the back way to my mom's house as it seems like 60 km of nearly endless, soul sucking climbing with very few flats and only a couple of short steep descents which are a brief reprieve before you have to start climbing again.
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Old 05-26-12, 06:24 AM   #19
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Ever been near Boyne Falls? Heading south on 131 you'll encounter the false flat....it really doesnt look like a grade at all.....then 5mi out of Boyne Falls you will see the huge hill. It's nearly 2mi up to the top, once you crest the hill you will see the M32 turn-off that takes you to Gaylord.

You've probably been by there.
I think Huron River Drive near Ann Arbor has false flats.
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Old 05-26-12, 06:30 AM   #20
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8448 feet in Michigan?!
Rode enough in lower and upper Mich. to know that is a misprint . . .
I think the rise is 332 feet, and the run is 8448 feet. It's not a climb with a rise of 8448 feet. Triangle has an opposite side of 332 and a hypotenuse (distance travelled) of 8448. Angle is 2.25 degrees, and the grade is (tangent of the angle) 3.9%.
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Old 05-26-12, 06:39 AM   #21
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Texas has some interesting false flats.
This one was for 26 miles from Presidio to Marfa.

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Old 05-26-12, 06:49 AM   #22
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The gain on the big hill is 332ft over a 1.6mi climb (8448ft).
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8448 feet in Michigan?!
Rode enough in lower and upper Mich. to know that is a misprint . . .
No, it's not a misprint. 1.6mi distance with a fairly steady grade until you get to the big hill.

It's a total gain of 600+ when it's all in. That is, from Boyne Falls to the top of the big hill. The hill is almost like the one in the Ontonagon gorge if you've been there.

ETA: but we all know that some of the 1ft per 30ft climb is going to vary more or less in some places. I didnt keep my elevation page up the whole stretch.
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Old 05-26-12, 06:50 AM   #23
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I think the rise is 332 feet, and the run is 8448 feet. It's not a climb with a rise of 8448 feet. Triangle has an opposite side of 332 and a hypotenuse (distance travelled) of 8448. Angle is 2.25 degrees, and the grade is (tangent of the angle) 3.9%.
Very good.
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