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50+ MTBers -- Max. Grade?

Old 07-27-17, 11:45 AM
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FrenchFit 
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50+ MTBers -- Max. Grade?

I've been tuning up my MTB doing hill intervals. I seem to conclude a sustained 14% grade is about my practical max., beyond that and I lose my line and have to really work to keep the front end in contact with the hill. I could slam the stem and move forward, but I predict endo adventures coming back down the hill.

Assuming your MTB is rigged for general cross country, what grade can you sustain and remain in control?
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Old 07-27-17, 01:11 PM
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woodway
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Well over 20 percent for short bursts. Keeping the front wheel in contact is not the problem for stuff that steep, keeping my heart from exploding is.

When it get's steep slide forward on your seat. On really, really steep stuff I am sitting on the nose of the seat (not comfortable) with my chest over the handlebars. It takes some practice.
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Old 07-27-17, 02:41 PM
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Wow, even doing 'nose and chest' I couldn't sustain 20% on a trail for more than a few seconds. I'd be standing, or flat on my back for sure....
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Old 07-27-17, 03:12 PM
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I don't know percentages. I only know it's too steep if I:
a) spin out (lots of loose rocks and roots on steeps around here)
b) can't keep my front wheel on the ground (despite my position); &
c) fall over backwards.
Fortunately, a or b usually get me before c!
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Old 07-27-17, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Mountain Mitch View Post
I don't know percentages. I only know it's too steep if I:
a) spin out (lots of loose rocks and roots on steeps around here)
b) can't keep my front wheel on the ground (despite my position); &
c) fall over backwards.
Fortunately, a or b usually get me before c!
Yeah, a is about it for me too.
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Old 07-27-17, 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
I've been tuning up my MTB doing hill intervals. I seem to conclude a sustained 14% grade is about my practical max., beyond that and I lose my line and have to really work to keep the front end in contact with the hill. I could slam the stem and move forward, but I predict endo adventures coming back down the hill.

Assuming your MTB is rigged for general cross country, what grade can you sustain and remain in control?
On a dirt road, I can ride a 20%+ grade and stay in control to the top, for at least a couple hundred yards. I have found very few hills that steep that travel any great distance.
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Old 07-28-17, 02:08 AM
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I don't know percentages other than what local Strava segments say about what I climb (steepest listed at 11% to 13%) but my bike is set up for general XC riding (I race XC, too). It's much more upright than a pro's set up so I'm not hunched over on the descents (mine feels very secure). I guess my saddle is only about one inch higher than the top of my bar. This all said, I can still climb some very technical, steep stuff that's loose over hard or just hard pack. It's mostly technique--on the saddle tip and chest down, rowing/pulling the bars. I do have some leg power for these slow grinds but again, it's mostly technique--and shutting out pain. I never have the front wheel pop up--climbing failure is a rear wheel spin on something loose or my legs just fry, not my lungs. For practicality, most of my hill repeat intervals are on 7%-10%.
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Old 07-28-17, 07:23 AM
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14% doesn't seem all that steep for a mtb climb. I've done sustained 15% grades and even short 20% grades on the road bike.
I don't know the steepest grade I can climb on the dirt but the rear wheel spinning is a limit, for sure. I've also been on a long steep climb when I just had to stop from running out of leg power.
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Old 07-28-17, 10:41 AM
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Road is entirely different, you are not managing with sideways fall-off, gravel, rocks and ruts. It really sucks it out of your legs..my legs anyway.

After dropping my stem a few spacers I did get 2:30 min done spinning up what seems to be about a 15% grade this morning, in a straight line. But that was at my limit. I'm thinking I need one lower gear, and 40 year younger legs. Pretty happy it was not cardio failure, just muscle failure.

I think I am going to practice this twice a week; practice makes perfect... and I have lots of room for improvement.
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Old 07-29-17, 10:44 PM
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What low gear do you have? My mtb has a 22x34 low gear. I can get up a steeper pitch, even with some rough stuff, than I would try on the road bike which has a 34x29 low.

I also have a fork I can lower a bit on my mtb, and I lower the saddle from where I like it on the road bike for steep climbs. These adjustments seem to help climbing technical trails.
Also, I run the front tire softer when climbing trails, seems to help keep it from bouncing off rocks and makes it easier to hold a line.
Sometimes I get to where I can't seem to make the front wheel go where I want it to go on a climb and this problem gets worse when I get tired.
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Old 08-05-17, 10:11 PM
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I've done 22% grades for about 50 yards, with rock step-ups. At 53 and a recovering meth addict with an enlarged heart.... that's about my max.

My gearing is 30/44t...
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Old 08-05-17, 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Wileyrat View Post
Yeah, a is about it for me too.
Ditto!
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Old 08-06-17, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Dilberto View Post
I've done 22% grades for about 50 yards, with rock step-ups. At 53 and a recovering meth addict with an enlarged heart.... that's about my max.

My gearing is 30/44t...
Good job with the recovery! My drug of choice to get addicted to was alcohol, quit in my 30s after getting pretty sick.
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Old 08-07-17, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
What low gear do you have? My mtb has a 22x34 low gear. I can get up a steeper pitch, even with some rough stuff, than I would try on the road bike which has a 34x29 low.

I also have a fork I can lower a bit on my mtb, and I lower the saddle from where I like it on the road bike for steep climbs. These adjustments seem to help climbing technical trails.
Also, I run the front tire softer when climbing trails, seems to help keep it from bouncing off rocks and makes it easier to hold a line.
Sometimes I get to where I can't seem to make the front wheel go where I want it to go on a climb and this problem gets worse when I get tired.
Late chiming in here but I have a 1x, 11-spd set up on the mtb: 32 x 11-46 and a compact 50/34 x 11-28 on the road. And congrats on your recovery!
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Old 08-07-17, 11:18 AM
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I use my 2 foot gear on steep hills.
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Old 08-08-17, 09:00 AM
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We have a local trail up the back of an old ski hill that involves a nice 10-15% for the approach and just when you think the top is near, POW...a 20+% killer grade. Most of the time I'm dismounted and walking quickly to drop my pulse a little but within 150ft I'm saddled and mashing again. This is where a granny gear is necessary, useful and appreciated.
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Old 08-11-17, 06:10 PM
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D minus
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Old 09-22-17, 10:22 AM
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I can hit 18-20% for short climbs. I find that putting the rear suspension in the softest mode gives me more traction in sketchy, technical climbs and keeps the tire rolling better.
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Old 09-23-17, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
I'm thinking I need one lower gear, and 40 year younger legs. Pretty happy it was not cardio failure, just muscle failure.
Yes, if you had one lower gear you probably would have run out of cardio before muscle, running at the same speed.
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