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  1. #1
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Climbing the steepest streets in San Francisco on a Bike Friday Pocket Companion

    I took a trip to San Francisco yesterday in a rental car, so that meant taking my Bike Friday Pocket Companion. 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 do just 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 HD Hero 960 camera 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
    Senior Member badrad's Avatar
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    you rock!!!

  3. #3
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Here, the block that had a stepped sidewalk slid again, now the stairs have a slope .
    a landslide with pavement on it.

  4. #4
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    A cyclist on another forum posted a link to a new, revised list of SF's steepest streets. Looks like I have my work cut out for me!

  5. #5
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    Nice video. You should post this to the Northern California forum, too.

    Here's another video of the San Francisco hills that someone did: http://vimeo.com/18492862
    His list looks easier than yours.

    Some of the hills around Fisherman's Wharf are steep, but the steepest hills in the city really are in the southern part of the city around Bernal Heights and Portrero Hill.
    Last edited by johnny99; 11-24-11 at 02:47 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by freighttraininguphill View Post
    A cyclist on another forum posted a link to a new, revised list of SF's steepest streets. Looks like I have my work cut out for me!
    Where's your weight loss tracker?? Are you now svelte with no need for tracking anymore?? Great job on the SF streets .. I like the road along Ocean Beach myself ..

  7. #7
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceMetras View Post
    Where's your weight loss tracker?? Are you now svelte with no need for tracking anymore?? Great job on the SF streets .. I like the road along Ocean Beach myself ..
    Unfortunately, I reached a weight loss plateau during the summer. It lasted so long I decided to ditch the ticker. I still would like to lose another 20 pounds though.

  8. #8
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by freighttraininguphill View Post
    A cyclist on another forum posted a link to a new, revised list of SF's steepest streets. Looks like I have my work cut out for me!
    Wow, the one in the pic there looks fun! Steep and Rough!

    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  9. #9
    jur
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    Good climbing! One has to be very fit to be able to do this sort of thing. Plus technique so as not to fall off. I have done a 30% and only just reached the top, couple years ago when I was fitter. Recently I tried a short hill in Sydney; I was seated at first but the front wheel lifted immediately. I panicked a bit as I was clicked into the pedals, so I stood up and then the back wheel lost traction. Crash. I don't know how steep that one was, I estimate around 25-30%, and I had a hard time walking back down, a little crestfallen.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  10. #10
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
    Wow, the one in the pic there looks fun! Steep and Rough!

    Looks like a lesser version of Canton Ave in Pittsburgh, PA (37% grade), doesn't it? After my failure on a non-cobbled 38% grade, I seriously doubt I would be able to make it up Canton. Major Kudos to those racers in the Dirty Dozen videos I've seen on YouTube! Some of them make it look almost effortless!

    Quote Originally Posted by jur View Post
    Good climbing! One has to be very fit to be able to do this sort of thing. Plus technique so as not to fall off. I have done a 30% and only just reached the top, couple years ago when I was fitter. Recently I tried a short hill in Sydney; I was seated at first but the front wheel lifted immediately. I panicked a bit as I was clicked into the pedals, so I stood up and then the back wheel lost traction. Crash. I don't know how steep that one was, I estimate around 25-30%, and I had a hard time walking back down, a little crestfallen.
    I noticed tiny wheelies on the 29% section of Jones, so I got out of the saddle. On the 31.5% Filbert and the 38% Broderick, I had no choice. There was no way those could be climbed in the saddle. Heck, Broderick couldn't be climbed out of the saddle!

    This is another reason why I refuse to use clipless pedals while attempting such steep climbs. I can just picture myself falling over because I was unable to clip out in time, then rolling down the hill like a snowball.

  11. #11
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    that's a real workout. you sure is having fun with your bike friday. looking forward to more videos.....HAPPY THANKSGIVING...

  12. #12
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    It sure was! It was probably some of the best strength training there is. Now that I have a new list of SF's steepest streets, plus Marin Ave. in Berkeley, there will definitely be more videos.

  13. #13
    jur
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    Listening to your attempt of Broderick, I noticed much faster cadence. From my armchair POV, you could try climb as slow as possible without falling over so as to reduce your vertical speed to being equal to the 30% climbs you did earlier. Above all else, it is vertical speed that completely dominates effort. You weren't able to reach the top because of your vertical speed exceeding your body maximum, requiring more power output than what you can do over the time required to reach the top. All needs to be orchestrated.

    [end armchair advice]
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  14. #14
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
    Nice video. You should post this to the Northern California forum, too.

    Here's another video of the San Francisco hills that someone did: http://vimeo.com/18492862
    His list looks easier than yours.

    Some of the hills around Fisherman's Wharf are steep, but the steepest hills in the city really are in the southern part of the city around Bernal Heights and Portrero Hill.
    I did.

    That video is a classic! That was the second climbing video I saved to my hard drive when I started the climbing rides again. I watched it before and after my climb, and I am in awe of his almost effortless speed up those hills!

    I also watched this guy's climb up the 33% Fargo Street in LA before and after my climbs. Like my videos, his is raw footage so you get the full experience of the effort and intensity of climbing such a steep grade.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jer7KsZQApo

  15. #15
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jur View Post
    Listening to your attempt of Broderick, I noticed much faster cadence. From my armchair POV, you could try climb as slow as possible without falling over so as to reduce your vertical speed to being equal to the 30% climbs you did earlier. Above all else, it is vertical speed that completely dominates effort. You weren't able to reach the top because of your vertical speed exceeding your body maximum, requiring more power output than what you can do over the time required to reach the top. All needs to be orchestrated.

    [end armchair advice]
    I thought that might be a problem too, so I did one attempt in the next higher gear. I stalled out even earlier, so I did the rest of the attempts in the lowest gear like I did the first time. Maybe I didn't go slow enough. I will definitely be attempting this one again and again until I make it.

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    Good one!

    I think someone devised a bike with an even lower gear and was able to do a climb like yours sitting down. Still, it's too difficult for me.

  17. #17
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    Good one!

    I think someone devised a bike with an even lower gear and was able to do a climb like yours sitting down. Still, it's too difficult for me.
    Was it this one? He used it on the 33% Fargo Street in LA.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgIL6eHHgZU

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    Quote Originally Posted by freighttraininguphill View Post
    It sure was! It was probably some of the best strength training there is. Now that I have a new list of SF's steepest streets, plus Marin Ave. in Berkeley, there will definitely be more videos.
    Marin Ave. is a nasty one.. back in the day, my buddy and I would train by running up it.. if you do Marin Ave., give yourself a little treat and take a right at the top of the hill and ride along the skyline for awhile and then drop into Tilden Park and then out Wildcat canyon.. terrific riding..

    Bruce
    Last edited by BruceMetras; 11-24-11 at 06:41 PM.

  19. #19
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceMetras View Post
    Marin Ave. is a nasty one.. back in the day, my buddy and I would train by running up it.. if you do Marin Ave., give yourself a little treat and take a right at the top of the hill and ride along the skyline for awhile and then drop into Tilden Park and then out Wildcat canyon.. terrific riding..

    Bruce
    I believe it! I read posts from other cyclists on other forums and/or blogs describing how hard it was to climb it. I think it reaches 28 or 30%, and maybe even for several blocks? I forgot. Anyway, it will make for a GREAT video!

  20. #20
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Great riding! Next time you do this, post here ahead of time. Maybe some of us are crazy enough to join you.

  21. #21
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    I think someone devised a bike with an even lower gear and was able to do a climb like yours sitting down. Still, it's too difficult for me.
    Mountain Tamer Quad Plus, perhaps.

    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by freighttraininguphill View Post
    Was it this one? He used it on the 33% Fargo Street in LA.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgIL6eHHgZU
    That's the one! It's a shame you can't have a low gear like that without having to use two cranks.

  23. #23
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Mountain Tamer could get you a 12.4" with a 16 little ring and 34 big cog on 700x25 tires.

    11.5" on 26x1.25" tires.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  24. #24
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SesameCrunch View Post
    Great riding! Next time you do this, post here ahead of time. Maybe some of us are crazy enough to join you.
    Will do.

    Quote Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
    Mountain Tamer Quad Plus, perhaps.

    Dayum! I've seen pictures of those with four chainrings, but FIVE? Needless to say, you need a wide-range friction shifting front derailleur with that.

    It looks like it uses a cassette cog for the smallest chainring, judging by the visible splines on the crankset.

    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

  25. #25
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I put a mountain drive crank on my Brompton, 2.5 :1 reduction gear.
    so as if a 50t-20t double , the 3 speed is used twice, pick the big ring
    and the planetary little one gets silly low, if that is your desire.

    I tried a quad in the 80s, achieved silly low, could not restart on a hill
    because the momentum went a way in a half crank rotation
    Before I could get my foot on the other pedal

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