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  1. #1
    Career Cyclist threadend's Avatar
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    Feet of climbing?

    Does "climbing" 1000 feet mean I have been ascending for 1000 linear feet or that I have ascended 1000 feet in elevation?

    If a ride starts and ends at the same elevation point has the rider done any "climbing" at all or must the rider start at a point lower in elevation than the ride's finish elevation to have "climbed"?

    If (10) hills with an elevation of 100 feet above sea level are ridden over with a descent back to sea level after each hill, have I "climbed" 1000 feet or 100 feet? :confused:
    2003 Iceman Challenge - 2:34:55 - 897 / 2,000*
    2002 Iceman Challenge - 2:39:23 - 1093 / 2,186
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  2. #2
    Sophomoric Member UncaStuart's Avatar
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    You ask three questions, and I believe the consensus answers would be:

    1. Elevation
    2. The ride does not have to start at a lower elevation
    3. 1000 feet

  3. #3
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by threadend
    Does "climbing" 1000 feet mean I have been ascending for 1000 linear feet or that I have ascended 1000 feet in elevation?
    It really depends who you are talking to. When I use the expression, it mens 1,000 feet in elevation. However, many people use the 1,000 linear feet term.

    Originally posted by threadend
    If (10) hills with an elevation of 100 feet above sea level are ridden over with a descent back to sea level after each hill, have I "climbed" 1000 feet or 100 feet?
    To me, it means you have just climbed 100 feet ten times over. However, as I said before, it all depends on who you are talking to. I hope this is as clear as mud to you.
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  4. #4
    The clock's run out kewlrunningz's Avatar
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    If you are talking to someone who knows a fair amount about cycling, they should be able to figure out that if u did 15,000 ft of climbing, you didnt just climb a 15,000 ft mountain. Basically, most people refering to the amount they have climbed, have added up all of the climbs into one. So 10, 100ft climbs would indeed be 1000ft of climb"ing" so to speak rather than "A" 1000 ft climb which one might be thinking of when refering to the amount of climbing. Thats kinda clear as mud as said before.
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  5. #5
    We drive on the left. Dutchy's Avatar
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    I sometimes wonder are people calculating every little hill on the road to get a "feet gained" figure, or just guessing. I figure they are guessing, especially when I read their average speed. ie.

    Ride length: 100 miles
    Feet gained: 16,000 feet
    Ave speed: 22mph/35.2kph

    Even the pro's "only averaged" 19.3mph/30.9kph on stage 16 of the Tour de France.

    I haven't seen these claims made at this site but I have seen them at other sites.

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  6. #6
    Huachuca Rider webist's Avatar
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    What information are you trying to convey?

    A single climb shoudl be expressed in terms of the length of the climb. "1000 feet in 1 mile" for example. A ride climbing 1000 feet over 100 miles is nearly flat. While a 1000 foot climb in 1 mile is pretty steep. Then I'd want to know your time and/or speed.

    Need more info.

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  7. #7
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    To me 'i climbed 1000 feet' means i ascended 1000 feet, plain and simple. This issue is just a peripheral aspect of a broader debate, as to what is meant by the 'grade' of your ascent. Tour-de-francers/tour-de-drugs advocates are prone to making ridiculous claims about the grades of various passes in the tour de france and elsewhere, forgetting that the "20% grades" [which is ridiculous on its face] they refer to are over extremely short distances, sometimes only a few tens of feet. I remember having a major discussion of this near a information booth in California's Mt. Shasta region. Some math skill dumbed down high school kid working part time that summer at the tourist info booth INSISTED that the road up shasta was a "25% grade for 10 miles!" Never mind that meant the total vertical climb was 2.5 miles, or nearly 13,000 feet; which was quite odd, since the campground at the end of the road was less than 10000 feet up.

    The one about the rolling hills---10 hills of 100 feet-- is another issue. One of the reasons why the appalachians are far, far more challenging than the rockies is that, over the course of a full day riding in Kentucky, or Tennessee, or Vermont, one may ascend and descend ten, twenty, maybe thirty hills varying in local relief of 100 or even 200 feet. That easily adds up to thousands of feet of climbing, which easily exceeds the local relief of the vast majority of rocky mountain passes. And to boot, the grades on these "short hills" is often in excess of 5%, so its not surprising you end up bagged out at the end of the day! Arf.

    By the way, my beloved state of Massachusetts is considering a bill to ban Segways from sidewalks! So not all is dark!

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  8. #8
    xc AND road WoodyUpstate's Avatar
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    Also, just because you "ascended" a 100' hill doesn't mean you climbed it. Sometimes you can carry enough speed to roll over it without a lot of effort, or the 100' gain is such an easy gradient that you really didn't feel like it was a climb.

  9. #9
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    i agree with the comments here:

    "x feet (or meters) of climbing" means you cycled UP that much in CUMULATIVE elevation difference. it doesn't matter if you climbed one mountain or a little hill 50 times...

    it is also often stated as "x vertical feet (or meters) of climbing"

    as i now live near the Alps vertical meters climbed is one of the basic statistics i record from every ride -- to record this i have 2 nice altimeters (one Sunto wristwatch mostly used for mountain climbing which records both elevation gained and elevation lost - and a Cyclomaster C414M bike computer w/ speed, distance, average, percent grade, elevation and elevation gained. i have found that some cheaper altimeters do a poor job of "counting" elevation gained --- for example, my Cateye, which I like otherwise, counts far more elevation "climbed" that what i actually do.

    as to the comments about percent grade: usually when people quote such numbers, they are referring to the MAXIMUM percent grade of a climb or pass (although as stated, many people will incorrectly say this is for the WHOLE distance). i frequently ride climbs with short passages of 20-25% grade, and sustained grades of 10-15%.

    a common mountain bike ride for me in the Alps is 1500-2000 vertical meters (4950-6600ft) and 50-120km (31-75 miles) with an average speed anywhere from 10km/h to 30km/h depending on the amount of climbing --- in a race recently i had an average of 26km/h for 90km and 1600 vertical meters of climbing.

    for the AlpCrossing or TransAlp rides of which there are many routes (i'm doing one in 7 days in September) vary from 50-100km and 1500-3000 vertical meters per day for a total of 9000-20000 vertical meters and 500-700km. For a tour like this, the ELEVATION CLIMBED is a better measure of how strenuos and how long the tour will take than distance (since there are few flat sections) but of course, both together is best.
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  10. #10
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    originally posted by Roughstuff
    The one about the rolling hills---10 hills of 100 feet-- is another issue. One of the reasons why the appalachians are far, far more challenging than the rockies is that, over the course of a full day riding in Kentucky, or Tennessee, or Vermont, one may ascend and descend ten, twenty, maybe thirty hills varying in local relief of 100 or even 200 feet. That easily adds up to thousands of feet of climbing, which easily exceeds the local relief of the vast majority of rocky mountain passes. And to boot, the grades on these "short hills" is often in excess of 5%, so its not surprising you end up bagged out at the end of the day! Arf.
    i'm not sure that i agree with you completely... of course it depends on the specifics of the ride and the total distance and total vertical climbed...

    there are many differences:: for shorter climbs typical of rolling hills like what you have in much of the Northeast U.S., you can use momentum to ride up a large portion of the hill and then sprint to the top --- you climb very quickly and use a lot of energy sprinting. This is strenuos BECAUSE you sprint up the hill!

    for areas with long climbs like the Rockies or the Alps, where you often climb continuously up for 1000m (3300ft) or more (e.g. i did a climb last spring in Italy with 2150 vertical meters (7095ft) CONTINUOUSLY UPHILL). you obviously cannot sprint the whole time as these climbs require 30 minutes or more. it is a different type of riding and uses your muscles and body differently (thus "climbing specialists" that are usually light with less mass to push up the mountain).

    and i find on a typical 3-5 hour (roughly 45-100km ride) i usually accumulate no more than 1000 meters of vertical on rolling hills (like Massachusetts where i lived for 9 months in 2000/2001) when i often get 1600-2500meters vertical for a ride in the Alps. So i don't agree that the vertical accumulates as quickly...

    That easily adds up to thousands of feet of climbing, which easily exceeds the local relief of the vast majority of rocky mountain passes.
    i disagree: i think the TOTAL ELEVATION gained is typically LOWER for a roughly equal amount of time spent riding rolling hills verses riding steep mountains

    so its not surprising you end up bagged out at the end of the day!
    I agree: b/c you can average a higher speed b/c you can sprint up every short climb, the rides with rolling hills and rides with steep climbs are roughly comparably "strenuous" or difficult...
    why drive when you can ride?
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  11. #11
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Thanks Nathank....a couple good points there, you can use disciplined riding to get yourself out of some of those dips. Hard to say overall, I have had very mixed results depending on the hills and terrain. Nonetheless, in general, 'washboard terrain' (as a friend of mine in Oregon calls it) drives me bonkers. I'd much rather climb for many hours to a pass than spend a comparable stretch of rolling hills.

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  12. #12
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Help me out here - I never thought about grades before.

    Does a 25% grade mean that you go up 1 foot/meter for every 4 feet/meters forward?

    Is grade usually measured in % rather than degrees?

    What is a good but low tech way of estimating grade?
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  13. #13
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    For me, bicycling is more poetic and less mathematic. If I do a long circle ride with a lot of hills and arrive back at the starting point feeling the glow of a ride well done, no one will convince me that I did no climbing.

  14. #14
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Originally posted by MikeR
    Help me out here - I never thought about grades before.

    Does a 25% grade mean that you go up 1 foot/meter for every 4 feet/meters forward?

    Is grade usually measured in % rather than degrees?

    What is a good but low tech way of estimating grade?
    Oh my my my...the math techies would have alot of fun with this one, but i'll try and keep my answers humorous as well as informative.

    YES: a 25% grade means 1 foot up for each 4 feet FORWARD...but that means 4 feet horizontally; not four feet as measured on the grade that you are actually climbing. For most roadway grades, the distinction between these two numbers would be very small/insignificant. Trigonometrically, the GRADE is supposed to be the opposite (your vertical climb) over the adjacent (your horizontal component)and is thus the TANGENT of your angle of ascent. If you you measure it the other way (the wrong way) you are taking the opposite over the hypotenuse, which is the SINE of your angle of ascent; for very small angles, the tangent and the sine are very close to one another. Booger eating beer drinking highway engineers don't care about it very much!

    YES: the grade is usually in percent.

    Now, about estimating grade. No, there is no quick and dirty way that I know of (others might...i'd love to hear some of 'em!). But as a general matter most people drastically OVERESTIMATE the grade they are on, which is why you often hear claims of 10, 15, 20% grades for sustained distances, which is usually incorrect. A seven percent grade is a bastard..and it gets worse from there. You can make some rough calculations if you can keep your head level. I am 6'3" so I assume (roughly) that my eyes are 6' above the ground. Looking straight ahead see how far it is to where the road reaches up to eye level, and pace it off. Keep in mind that curves in the road make the grade look steeper because you are riding a greater distance horizontally (weaving back and forth) even though it does not appear to be the case. That being said, if you are on a road with switchbacks, try and stay out of the inside curve of the switchback (clockwise if you are ascending and on the right hand side of the road) or you can easily get stuck in the "well" and have an absurd grade for a few brief, agonizing meters.


    roughstuff
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