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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 10-04-05, 11:37 PM   #1
dragonflybikes
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Cat 1, 2, 3, 4 hill climb? How do you determine what catagory a climb is?

Here in Phoenix there is a hill climb South Mountain. I want to see if it would be considered a Cat 4 climb or maybee even a Cat 3 climb. Does anyone know exactly what the numbers are for figuring out a climb catagory. I know it has to do with the length of the climb and how much altitude is gained.
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Old 10-05-05, 07:37 AM   #2
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There aren't any hard and fast "rules," I don't think. There are many variables like length, steepness, where it occurs in a stage (a climb that occurs early in a tough mountain stage would likely be categorized easier than if the exact same climb occurred late in the stage, after a lot of other climbing). Also, I think it varies from race to race with no real exact consistency.

But I'm no expert...let's see how they weigh in on this...
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Old 10-05-05, 08:39 AM   #3
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here's a link with some info for the TDF. http://www.torelli.com/kom/tdf/rating_climbs.htm

It's up to the organizers, and it does vary with factors such as road quality, placement in the race, history etc. Typically a category 4 climb would be 1 to 2k, and 4-5% grade.
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Old 10-05-05, 09:03 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
here's a link with some info for the TDF. http://www.torelli.com/kom/tdf/rating_climbs.htm

It's up to the organizers, and it does vary with factors such as road quality, placement in the race, history etc. Typically a category 4 climb would be 1 to 2k, and 4-5% grade.
Great source merlin. I do feel, however, that altitude may not have been given enough importance. For example, in our ACA stage race, The Dead Dog Classic, our long climb is "only" 2100 feet in 9 miles. But, the start is at 8700 feet and the finish at 10800 feet with one four mile section averaging 7%. Even though it is not very steep over the last 3 miles, that three miles is really high. So not sure what it would be rated. By the way that torelli site has lots of great info.
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Old 10-05-05, 09:15 AM   #5
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Just curious - aren't the mountain roads in south america (colombia in paticular) considered the hardest in the world? I recall reading a few articles about some of the race courses there (one in particular sounded insanely steep and long, as well as high in altitude) and I was getting sick just thinking about it....basically the writer claimed the climbs there put the european courses to shame.

any truth to this, or info on these climbs?
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Old 10-05-05, 09:19 AM   #6
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I have an easy rating system. I go by feel. Thus, anything I'm climbing, at that moment, instantly becomes an "HC", regardless of grade.
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Old 10-05-05, 09:33 AM   #7
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One more to add, lack of breaks in the climb. If there is a flatish of low percent section, E.g. a place to recover a bit, then the rating is not as high as a climb where there is no such recovery chance.
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Old 10-05-05, 10:04 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pgoat
Just curious - aren't the mountain roads in south america (colombia in paticular) considered the hardest in the world? I recall reading a few articles about some of the race courses there (one in particular sounded insanely steep and long, as well as high in altitude) and I was getting sick just thinking about it....basically the writer claimed the climbs there put the european courses to shame.

any truth to this, or info on these climbs?
Paul, Phil and Bob are always talkking about how tough the climbs are in Colombia (and hence why some of the best climbers in the peloton are from there). Not much about it on the web though. There is a site for the Vuelta a Colombia but it does not seems to show profiles of the stages.
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Old 10-05-05, 10:30 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
here's a link with some info for the TDF. http://www.torelli.com/kom/tdf/rating_climbs.htm
From that link:

"I am often asked how climbs in the United States compare to those in Europe. Most of the US climbs are either steep enough by European standards (6-8% grade), but are short (5-10km) so they fall into the 3rd Category or 2nd possibly; or the climbs gain enough altitude, but are too long (they average <5%) so again they would fail to break the 1st Category barrier and end up most likely a 2nd or 3rd Category."

There are several climbs in the US that are 1st categorie -- and a few are definitely hors categorie. The biggest climbs in the US put the biggest climbs in the Alps to shame. The real killer climbs are in the Eastern Sierra, starting around 4000' and topping out over 10,000' -- over a vertical mile of climbing.
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Old 10-05-05, 11:10 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dragonflybikes
Here in Phoenix there is a hill climb South Mountain. I want to see if it would be considered a Cat 4 climb or maybee even a Cat 3 climb. Does anyone know exactly what the numbers are for figuring out a climb catagory. I know it has to do with the length of the climb and how much altitude is gained.
Hmm... my suggestion is try climbing it. Why bother intimidating yourself by finding out it's a HC climb?

Have Fun!
-Peter
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Old 10-05-05, 12:50 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by simplyred
Hmm... my suggestion is try climbing it. Why bother intimidating yourself by finding out it's a HC climb?

Have Fun!
-Peter

I have/do climb it. That is why I want to know what it would be. I am mentally prepared for it not to be even ranked, but would be stoked if it were a Cat 3 climb. Mostly I want to have some basis to know what the climbs in the tours are.
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Old 10-05-05, 01:27 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terrymorse
From that link:

"I am often asked how climbs in the United States compare to those in Europe. Most of the US climbs are either steep enough by European standards (6-8% grade), but are short (5-10km) so they fall into the 3rd Category or 2nd possibly; or the climbs gain enough altitude, but are too long (they average <5%) so again they would fail to break the 1st Category barrier and end up most likely a 2nd or 3rd Category."

There are several climbs in the US that are 1st categorie -- and a few are definitely hors categorie. The biggest climbs in the US put the biggest climbs in the Alps to shame. The real killer climbs are in the Eastern Sierra, starting around 4000' and topping out over 10,000' -- over a vertical mile of climbing.
Somebody was telling me the other day that "they" (whoever rates the climbs) came up with 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. by the lowest gear of a Citroën needed to climb the hill. So if it could make it all the way in 3rd gear, it's a 3rd category . I listened to the story rather skeptically, but by the end I was curious to know where this fantasy may have started, and how many people actually believe and perpetuate it.
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Old 10-05-05, 02:06 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by 'nother
Somebody was telling me the other day that "they" (whoever rates the climbs) came up with 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. by the lowest gear of a Citroën needed to climb the hill. So if it could make it all the way in 3rd gear, it's a 3rd category . I listened to the story rather skeptically, but by the end I was curious to know where this fantasy may have started, and how many people actually believe and perpetuate it.
So for hors categorie climbs it couldn't make it up at all? That's one hell of a bonk...
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Old 10-05-05, 02:19 PM   #14
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In the early years of European cycling they indeed traveled the course by car as they selected the routes. If they used 1st gear it became a cat 1. HC came about because reverse was even lower than 1st in the vehicles of the day and was used for extremely steep sections. It was mentioned during coverage of the tour this year by the team on Eurosport.
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Old 10-05-05, 02:55 PM   #15
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a humorous explanation that I heard was that they would have a cat 5 rider ride it. If he got all the way up, it was a 5th catagory, if he got 80% up before dying, it was a cat 4, 60%=3rd categor, and so on. If he looked at it and said "FU", then it was an HC.

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Old 10-05-05, 04:02 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Mentor58
a humorous explanation that I heard was that they would have a cat 5 rider ride it. If he got all the way up, it was a 5th catagory, if he got 80% up before dying, it was a cat 4, 60%=3rd categor, and so on. If he looked at it and said "FU", then it was an HC.
HC climbs are not that hard unless you are riding at a race pace (and have several mountain climbs in the same day). I heard that Lance Armstrong made Sheryl Crow ride up Alpe d'Huez last year. She had to use a granny gear, but never said "FU".
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Old 10-05-05, 04:35 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khackney
In the early years of European cycling they indeed traveled the course by car as they selected the routes. If they used 1st gear it became a cat 1. HC came about because reverse was even lower than 1st in the vehicles of the day and was used for extremely steep sections.
Can you please point out some resources to back up this claim? I remain extremely skeptical.


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It was mentioned during coverage of the tour this year by the team on Eurosport.
Oh, well then it must be true.
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Old 10-05-05, 07:58 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dragonflybikes
I have/do climb it. That is why I want to know what it would be. I am mentally prepared for it not to be even ranked, but would be stoked if it were a Cat 3 climb. Mostly I want to have some basis to know what the climbs in the tours are.
Mmm... I see
You gotta get those topo programs - I have no idea how they work.
Or you could try borrowing an altimeter [speeling?] to find out how high you've climbed.

If you have a power meter - is there a mathematical way of calculating how much the gradient is with data of watts, velocity & distance?

Just throwing some ideas in your head - for an approximation approach.

Good Luck!
-Peter
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Old 10-05-05, 08:07 PM   #19
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examples of gradients and lengths, from tdf2005.

I think it's pretty obvious what 1 and HC climbs are, but 3rd categories can vary a lot..

Some 3rd category are, for example, 5.8k at 4.1% (from stage 14). Other 3rd cat. climbs could be much shorter than 5.8k, but with a steeper grade like 6.0 to 7.0%.


stages 11, 14 and 15





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Old 10-05-05, 09:48 PM   #20
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[QUOTE=johnny99]HC climbs are not that hard unless you are riding at a race pace [QUOTE]


speak for yourself!!!
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Old 10-05-05, 09:50 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cydewaze
I have an easy rating system. I go by feel. Thus, anything I'm climbing, at that moment, instantly becomes an "HC", regardless of grade.
that's about my grading system as well. When gravity enters the picture my cycling experience becomes....shall we say ...... compromised.
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Old 10-05-05, 10:05 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RockyMtnMerlin
Paul, Phil and Bob are always talkking about how tough the climbs are in Colombia (and hence why some of the best climbers in the peloton are from there). Not much about it on the web though. There is a site for the Vuelta a Colombia but it does not seems to show profiles of the stages.

I goofed - the article I rememebered (just dug it out, alf asleep as I am) referred to the Angliru in the Vuelta (spain). Racers using triple cranksets and whatnot.

I do recalling hearing about the south american climbs elsewhere but i'll need more time and braincells to recall......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
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