As you may know, stage 20 of the Vuelta a Espana is tomorrow and Chris Horner of Bend, Oregon is holding a three second lead over Vincenzo Nibali.
Horner made history early in the Vuelta as the oldest man to ever win a Grand Tour stage, and later in the race as the oldest man man to ever lead a Grand Tour. If he can hold on to his lead in the next two stages, he will set a new record as the oldest man to ever win a Grand Tour.
"Old" here is almost 42 y/o. Hey, he's fighting a rival (Nibali) who is only 28 y/o. Let's cut Horner some slack and make him an honorary 50+ member!
Now, the thing is, that stage 20 finishes on an infamous climb, the vicious Angliru, which steepens to 24% at the final leg-crushing ramps.
This got me thinking. What would it be like to ride a 24% grade? I have no idea. Have I ever actually climbed a 24% grade on a road bike? I don't think so.
Maybe climbing out of a parking garage or something, but even then, I'm pretty sure modern building standards won't permit a ramp or roadway that steep. I looked up the steepest climbs I've done on the veloroutes site, and was disappointed to find that none were much over 10%, although I kind of question the accuracy of that site when it comes to measuring short bits of road. Here in Portland there are reportedly some climbs of 23% and an annual ride that tries to hit them all (Ronde de PDX) but I'm kind of scared to go on it, as my lowest gear is 39 x 26 (on the road bikes).
So that is my question. Have you ridden a 24% grade? Do you do it regularly? What gear are you in, how fast are you pedaling, are you moving at running or walking speed? Are you a flyweight, or a Clyde?