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  1. #1
    Drop Master slyjackson's Avatar
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    Another Hill related Question.

    I'm just collecting some info on what gears on the cassette and chainring do "YOU" use "standing on the pedals" going up hills with 15-18 % grade inclines ? I know it depends a lot on the rider and their condition, but Im just trying to get a "baseline" to work from.

    Question explained in more detail for those who mis-understood

    This question is about a very steep hill in my area and its about a football field long. It looks like it goes up to the sky.I dont know the actual percentage of the grade, it may only be 10% or maybe more or maybe less. I have no means to measure the grade angle at my disposal. I just grab the 15-18 % number. I have not tried to climb it yet because it's so steep. I saw a guy yesterday "standing on the pedals" and he made it all the way to the top and I just wondered what gears he was using so I could possibly get a base line on what gear range I should try to "stand on the pedals" and tackle this thing.

    So I will ask this question again, since some thought I was asking for information on what gears I should use which was not what I was asking, On the steepest hill that "YOU" climb by "standing on the pedals", what chainring/cassette gear combo do "YOU" use ?
    Last edited by slyjackson; 08-02-07 at 10:16 AM.

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    Senior Member geraldatwork's Avatar
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    No matter the hill, I find when I go from a sitting position to a standing I drop the gear down (harder to pedal) one gear. After I do that for a while and want to sit again I go to the gear I was in before. As stated above different riders will use different gear ranges on the same hill.

  3. #3
    Keep on climbing
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    A lot depends on how long the hill is. There was a time-trial race here in Massachusetts last week. 500 feet up an 18% grade, so it's an all-out sprint. Most people were in something like a 39x26, 39x23 (i.e., a low normal gear). Those who ran out of "sprint" after 400 feet had a cadence of around 30 as they tried to drag themselves up the last bit.

    There are some other hill-climb races here in New England (Mt. Washington and Mt. Ascutney) that have extended stretches (i.e., mile+) of 15% or so, and the prospect of that causes most mortals to get extremely low gears (i.e., MTB type gears, with a less then 1:1 ratio).

    Once you're looking at a 15% grade -- well, you're well into what anybody would call "steep", and it will be a suffer-fest. Riding over that will hurt regardless of your gearing.
    "There is more to life than increasing its speed" -- Mahatma Gandhi

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    Quote Originally Posted by slyjackson View Post
    I'm just collecting some info on what gears on the cassette and chainring do "YOU" use "standing on the pedals" going up hills with 15-18 % grade inclines ? I know it depends a lot on the rider and their condition, but Im just trying to get a "baseline" to work from.

    Question explained in more detail for those who mis-understood

    This question is about a very steep hill in my area and its about a football field long. It looks like it goes up to the sky.I dont know the actual percentage of the grade, it may only be 10% or maybe more or maybe less. I have no means to measure the grade angle at my disposal. I just grab the 15-18 % number. I have not tried to climb it yet because it's so steep. I saw a guy yesterday "standing on the pedals" and he made it all the way to the top and I just wondered what gears he was using so I could possibly get a base line on what gear range I should try to "stand on the pedals" and tackle this thing.

    So I will ask this question again, since some thought I was asking for information on what gears I should use which was not what I was asking, On the steepest hill that "YOU" climb by "standing on the pedals", what chainring/cassette gear combo do "YOU" use ?
    Generally, most riders stand up when they don't have a lower gear to go into, when they want to stretch their legs, or they want to generate more power to go faster.

    The downside of standing is that it requires more effort than sitting.

    My advice to you is to approach the hill in the lowest gear you have and riding slowly. Unless you have a lot of experience standing, you probably don't have the legs to do it for very long, so standing probably won't be a big help for you. If you run out of breath at your lowest speed, you need to train more, work on your leg strength, or learn to ride more slowly (I used to ride some hills at around 4MPH).

    Hills that are above 10% are pretty rare in most areas.
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  5. #5
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    This is really interesting for me also. When posting, please could you state what cadence your ussually using your preffered gearing at? I am more of a spinner than a masher and I am finding my new bikes 53-39 and 12-25 setup quite agressive. Perhaps I will grow into it in 6 months time? Or would I be better off switching to 50-36 now to make spinning more practical?

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    Since I have a fixed gear I can only do 44x12 (with 20" wheels) no matter what grades the hills are

  7. #7
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    The steepest hills I ride (occasionally) find me in a 39-32 gear and with my butt firmly settled into the seat. That's riding a recumbent with 20" wheels.
    The same hills on my hybrid would find me in 38-34, (700c wheels), mostly seated.
    Either bike = breathing hard.

  8. #8
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    I have one hill I do on my commute every day that I drop down into 26/26(first ring,3rd gear) for. It's at an intersection and I usually get caught at the light,so there's no run-up. I could prolly do it in 36/26,but it's too hot out. I had to do it in 26/34 once last winter when it snowed.

    edit: this is seated with 26" wheels

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  9. #9
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    In case it isn't clear a 10% grade means you climb 10 feet for every 100 feet you move horizontally. I drop into my 22/34 low much past 10% and always stay seated. When it gets past 15% I look to see if the road is clear and start doing switch-backs (extremely non VC). At 20% I get off and walk.
    This space open

  10. #10
    Cries on hills supton's Avatar
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    I've been playing around on mapmyride.com, and the elevation measurements are pretty wild on that--which is to say, somewhat inaccurate (ascents where I don't see them on the bike, and vice versa). But in lieu of anything else, I dragged the csv data into Works, and got some crazy numbers for my one big hill: spikes all over the place. One datapoint indicated 31%!

    I picked a couple of points, and in the span of about a kilometer (or 0.6 miles), I found about 6%--but plenty datapoints indicating numbers like 12% or worse. So, for that hill I'll call it a 10% grade. I use 40/30 to climb that. I kinda just shift down early, as it's at the end of my ride, and I just spin for like a mile (or what feels like that). OTOH, this is my fast hill: 40mph (67km/hr) in 52/13!

    As I pick up some strength, and if the wind isn't in my face, I'm finding that I might climb lesser hills (5 or 6% I'd guess) in something like 40/25 or even 40/21, if I have some speed going into it. I don't have a way to measure cadence on the bike, but I'll guess I'm at 70rpm (I verified once a couple speeds versus gears at 90rpm, so it's a reasonable guess) when cranking up the hills in the higher gears.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    One small tidbit: many cities do know the slope of their streets. You may have to contact the city department of roads or transporation, and they would know.

  12. #12
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    I don't stand. I use my 42 ring for basically all hills, though I suppose it helps to have a wide range Sram cassette in back.

    I tend to attack hills, perhaps because they remind me of running, and how much harder and less fun that is than biking...most of the time.

  13. #13
    Member sswartzl's Avatar
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    On the steepest hill I've ever climbed, I was in 30x25, standing, pulling on the handlebars for all I was worth, thanking God I had a triple crankset for those Pittsburgh hills, and made it to the top with my heart pounding enough to fly out of my chest.

    After turning onto another street right after the climb, a woman in a van saw me in my sorry state and said brightly "You made it!" I thought that was cool.

    The hill was a 25% grade, not sure how long though. The sidewalk has stairs built into it periodically. It was Logan St., one of the steeper streets in Pittsburgh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by geraldatwork View Post
    No matter the hill, I find when I go from a sitting position to a standing I drop the gear down (harder to pedal) one gear. After I do that for a while and want to sit again I go to the gear I was in before. As stated above different riders will use different gear ranges on the same hill.
    + 1. Sometimes 2 higher...

  15. #15
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Thought I was in the road racing forum with the 39/23's used up these steep hills.

    I live in a hilly area with 1 mile hills at 10, 12, 15and the Basket that is 15% with a 20% finish. I ride them regularly with a triple and 30/26 is my gear and I ride them all seated---Except for when a head wind hits. Then it is 30/26 and stand.

    Just recently got a new bike with compact double and 50/36 and 12/27 cassette. Have made the 12% seated but will need more practice for the Basket.

    What I have found though is the slopes at 10%- I can't be bothered to change gear on so if it gets tough- I just ride out of the saddle. When I go to sit down again- Normally at the top- I have to raise cadence when I sit down to get the legs working right.

    Riding out of the saddle takes practice if you want to do it for any length of time. I normally change up a couple gears on the hills and just ride to the top out of the saddle for training, or until I get bored. So try 1/2 mile slopes- or hills- standing and you will soon find the cadence and gear to ride it in.

    And for someone who asked- I like to ride at a cadence of around 90 to 95. The longer I can keep that up- the easier it is on the legs. Steep parts of hills- where I have run out of gears and I will slow to not less than 75. That is where I start standing- If I have not done so before.

    Funny thing is that If I use the mountain bike- Most of theses hills are done in 22/28, leaving the 32 as an emergency gear.
    Last edited by stapfam; 08-10-07 at 03:09 PM.
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  16. #16
    Squirrel solveg's Avatar
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    So, help me figure out how to determine grades.

    If I do a map of my ride, and find out I go up 80 feet in 1/2 mile, how do I figure out the grade?

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    Senior Member SaiKaiTai's Avatar
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    Roughly, it's "rise" over "run"... not 100% accurate but more than close enough.
    "Rise" would be your highest point minus your lowest point.
    Divided by
    "Run" which is how far you rode in going from the lowest point to the highest point.

    edit: for your example, I came up with about 3% ( 80' / (5280' / 2) )
    Last edited by SaiKaiTai; 08-10-07 at 04:43 PM.
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    Squirrel solveg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaiKaiTai View Post
    Roughly, it's "rise" over "run"... not 100% accurate but more than close enough.
    "Rise" would be your highest point minus your lowest point.
    Divided by
    "Run" which is how far you rode in going from the lowest point to the highest point.

    edit: for your example, I came up with about 3% ( 80' / (5280' / 2) )

    3%? I hate that hill.

    Well that equation is easy. Thanks!

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    Sly, how about plotting that run on bikely or Gmaps pedometer?

    That way we can get a better idea of the slope.
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  20. #20
    Squirrel solveg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by solveg View Post
    3%? I hate that hill.

    Well that equation is easy. Thanks!
    Can you take a look at this? It looks so much steeper than 3%... but I guess the percentage number is fairly vague in my mind. I look at a hill and I visualize degrees....

    http://www.mapitpronto.com/index.cfm...ide&rideID=682

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    ex-everything. soze's Avatar
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    mapmyride gives crazy person altitudes. That's all I have to add to this discussion.

  22. #22
    Keep on climbing
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    Quote Originally Posted by solveg View Post
    Can you take a look at this? It looks so much steeper than 3%... but I guess the percentage number is fairly vague in my mind. I look at a hill and I visualize degrees....

    http://www.mapitpronto.com/index.cfm...ide&rideID=682
    That hill looks much steeper then 3% due to the scale being used. i.e., on the horizontal scale, one inch is about a half-mile. On the vertical scale, the same inch is about 20 feet. That makes any vertical change look much steeper then it really is. Depending on how you plot the graph, you could make any route look impossibly hilly or dead flat.
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  23. #23
    Squirrel solveg's Avatar
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    Well, I kinda meant it looks that way in real life. It just towers. I'll take a photo. I guess I'm not real convinced about the accuracy of some of these mapping sites, then.

  24. #24
    Senior Member SaiKaiTai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinF View Post
    That hill looks much steeper then 3% due to the scale being used. i.e., on the horizontal scale, one inch is about a half-mile. On the vertical scale, the same inch is about 20 feet. That makes any vertical change look much steeper then it really is. Depending on how you plot the graph, you could make any route look impossibly hilly or dead flat.
    Yep. Couldn't agree more and that's one big problem I have with the profiles these sites give.
    The horizontal scale is kind of unusable. Going by the numbers, it's a 3% grade..
    Beyond that, it's between you, the hill and your abilities.

    edit: I just took a look at it on Google Earth.
    Doesn't look too bad. Just a long gentle slope.

    This is a hill. Roughly 10-11%. A problem for me but others probably find it laughably easy. It's all about perspective.
    Last edited by SaiKaiTai; 08-14-07 at 10:11 AM.
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  25. #25
    i like mud discosaurus's Avatar
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    I figure hills using Gmaps pedometer, a pencil, and paper. The topo feature uses the standard USGS topo maps, which are easy to read (or maybe just easy for geologists. eh.) Each contour (red/brown squiggly) line represents 10 feet in elevation. You don't necessarily have to use the contour index lines (thicker, every 10th contour marked with sea level elevation) if you just count the lines as tens of feet along the distance you're grading.

    Here's an example of a hill I ride all the time. It rises 30 feet over a distance of 0.11 miles. So, 30/(0.11x5280) ~ 0.05xxxx which makes it a 5% grade.

    I was shocked the first few times I crunched these numbers--most of the hills that intimidate me are no more than 6-7% grade! There was a 3% along my school commute in STL that I couldn't ever make without walking the last 2 blocks (link here). Now I do it like it's my job. It's all relative. Numbers don't really mean much.

    But I do like to geek out on the numbers, occasionally. And it doesn't help that i study geology.

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