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What's considered a steep hill?

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What's considered a steep hill?

Old 12-15-04, 02:51 PM
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super-douper
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What's considered a steep hill?

how steep is steep? or how long of a climb is long? I read in the touring forum about sharp inclines or long climbs and such, and just wondering what you all consider steep.

Last night I climbed a hill for 2 miles, 500 feet of elevation gain. It didn't seem that bad to me. I rode it to test out the new bike's gearing for climbing, and it did rather well. I didn't have to stop for a rest or anything!
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Old 12-15-04, 02:57 PM
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nice ride!
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Old 12-15-04, 02:58 PM
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This article may answer your question:

http://www.lancearmstrong.com/hill.html
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Old 12-15-04, 03:15 PM
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For me, steep is neither long or vertical, it's not the physical measure of the hill,
it's the thought process it forces me into.
If I have to psych myself up, and feel an accomplishment when I've reached the crown, then it's steep.
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Old 12-15-04, 04:54 PM
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It's a good hill, I guess I probably wouldn't call it steep or long, but it's as good as I've got around here.

500' in 2 miles ~ 4.7% grade?
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Old 12-15-04, 05:41 PM
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I commute across relatively flat San Jose, so this question is interesting to me.

I recently gave hill-climbing a try: I rode up the nearest hill I could think of, which was Sierra Rd (east from Piedmont) in San Jose. That was murder! It feels a whole lot steeper on a bike than on a car.

I asked a competitive cyclist how a human could possibly sustain climbs like that, and basically they said "you get used to it". Like many things, I suppose, it just takes practice.

My take-away from the whole experience was that, despite commuting all Summer, I'll be mostly useless on steep hills unless I specifically start practicing on them.

Stayin' low,

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Old 12-15-04, 05:48 PM
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I agree that you adapt to hill climbing... Knoxville is very hilly and some of the hills that were kicking my butt a month ago aren't so bad now. Once your legs get used to pushing harder to climb, it's not so bad. That's not to say you'll get to the point of just cruising up hills without any strain, but you'll be able to deal with the strain better.
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Old 12-15-04, 05:54 PM
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Hills are hills...I ALWAYS notice hills...some I can get up easier than others, steep? those are the ones I can't even begin to ride up....
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Old 12-15-04, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by jab
I recently gave hill-climbing a try: I rode up the nearest hill I could think of, which was Sierra Rd (east from Piedmont) in San Jose. That was murder! It feels a whole lot steeper on a bike than on a car.

JAB
Hrm...I'll have to check that one out. I don't have a topo map of that area but from the map on maps.yahoo.com it looks like it's got lots of winds and stuff. Usually indicitave of climbing.

The road I took was bernal rd. Up to Santa Teresa park and to IBM. From a map on parkhere.org I counted approx 500' of elevation gain.

With the bigger gears on my new bike I noticed that my quads were burning a little more, but I found that when I needed a break (a leg break, the lungs were fine ) I'd just slow down to about 4mph for a bit and that would suffice. I get more of a feeling of accomplishment when I rest in the saddle instead of stopping and standing for a bit.
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Old 12-15-04, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by super-douper
Hrm...I'll have to check that one out. I don't have a topo map of that area...
I happened to pack a GPS unit along and marked what it said was the highest point, at UTM 10 0606097 4140936.

If you go, be careful; there are many blind turns, and the occasional car. The road gets quite narrow across the top of the hill, and there is no guard rail. It's a beautiful view, though.
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Old 12-15-04, 06:50 PM
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Anything over 10% is steep.

CHEERS.

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Old 12-15-04, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by super-douper
how steep is steep?
A hill you can't climb? (I'm not sure I can climb 10%, since I'm not sure how steep that is.)
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Old 12-15-04, 08:14 PM
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Some of the switchbacks on a local road route require standing to get enough torque, in the granny gear of a triple. Cars' bumpers scrape the road when making the turns. It's crazy. I'm not sure of the exact distance to the top of the ridge, but elevation gain is about 3000 ft.
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Old 12-15-04, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by jab
I happened to pack a GPS unit along and marked what it said was the highest point, at UTM 10 0606097 4140936.

If you go, be careful; there are many blind turns, and the occasional car. The road gets quite narrow across the top of the hill, and there is no guard rail. It's a beautiful view, though.
I've done Sierra/Felter just once. I mainly ride on the Peninsula. Sierra Rd. gains about 1800 ft in 3.5 miles for an average grade of 9.75% According to Grant Peterson's "Roads to Ride" the first miles or so is an average of 10%. BigFloppyLlama would love it!
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Old 12-15-04, 11:08 PM
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"Steep" depends on conditioning, gearing, and finally, grade. Most of us in hilly territory get used to highway-grade hills of 6% of so. Hills of 8%-10% can feel steep if your conditioning or gearing are not quite right, particularly if the hills drag on a bit. 12% and over feels pretty steep for almost everyone, I bet. I had a long hill climb this summer on my fixed gear with short pitches of 12%, and a nasty one of 14%. That felt steep...
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Old 12-15-04, 11:26 PM
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If my speed falls to 6 mph or below, I consider that steep. That happens somewhere around a 9 or 10% grade, depending on how I'm feeling at the time.
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Old 12-16-04, 04:30 AM
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On a recent touring holiday in the Alpes, I considered steep to start at 12%, a tough climb at around 15% and killer steep at about 18%. In the UK Ive done one over 20%, up and down. The down was even more difficult than the up.
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Old 12-16-04, 08:15 AM
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Depends on how far I have ridden. If I'm 60 or 70 miles into a ride, a freeway overpass looks like mount Everest.
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Old 12-16-04, 02:00 PM
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I live at the top of a common driveway that's 1/3 - 1/2 mile long. According to my neighbor, it's a 10% grade (Now I'm thinking that I want to measure it). At least, it's steep enough that it will never be declared a public road that the town will take over maintenance on.

I can make it up, but I'm not sure I could imagine doing it for a longer distance at this point.
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Old 12-16-04, 03:36 PM
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Any thing I have to use my granny gear for...
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Old 12-16-04, 06:45 PM
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Check out these topology maps. Just enter the city etc and scroll along your route.
The street info is a bit dated but elevations seldom change.

Topographical Maps - http://www.topozone.com

Last edited by vrkelley; 12-16-04 at 07:01 PM.
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Old 12-16-04, 06:46 PM
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A hill where the state posts a sign: "Warning, steep hill, dismount and walk bicycle."

Part of my daily commute. Short, but mean.

BTW. Of course not. I do granny it, though
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Old 12-16-04, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by PainTrain
A hill where the state posts a sign: "Warning, steep hill, dismount and walk bicycle."

Part of my daily commute. Short, but mean.

BTW. Of course not. I do granny it, though
No shame there...whatever gets you there!
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Old 12-16-04, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by PainTrain
A hill where the state posts a sign: "Warning, steep hill, dismount and walk bicycle."

Part of my daily commute. Short, but mean.

BTW. Of course not. I do granny it, though
Crap, i was in my granny all the way up that hill that wasn't even 5%!

I need to build my leg strenght more. My quads have grown in the last couple months, but not much....it's mostly flat around here.
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Old 12-16-04, 09:53 PM
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My definition of steep ...

Bopple Hill in New York's Finger Lakes region ... rises 750 ft in 0.8 miles. 22% grade in places. I've done it twice and it sucked both times.

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