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One million vertical feet per year!

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One million vertical feet per year!

Old 07-03-23, 01:46 PM
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No mountains around here, mostly roller coaster terrain. Strava says I'm just shy of one million feet of elevation gain since 2016, but 75% of that occurred in three years: 2017, 2019, 2020. I rode about 6,000 miles each of those years, about 250,000 feet gain per year. I had to cut back on riding by late 2021 due to chronic neck pain from old injuries. In 2022 I rode less than a thousand miles and about 26,000 feet elevation gain. I might improve on that slightly this year. I've mostly switched to running, so mileage is way down although total hours of activity are about the same.

I've never been a strong climber and can't imagine racking up a million feet of elevation gain per year. That's impressive.
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Old 07-03-23, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
You can do an elevation correction in Strava and RideWithGPS.
Yes you can. My limited experience with the RWGPS correction is that they have known waypoints and just skip any intermediate points coming out of your cycle computer. I could be wrong, but I think that's what I experienced.
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Old 07-03-23, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat
I've never been a strong climber and can't imagine racking up a million feet of elevation gain per year. That's impressive.
It is impressive, but it takes a certain kind of individual. Both physically and mentally. When I was 36 I took 3 months off and went touring. When I got back to town I was doing long rides with a friend, like 400 miles per week with lots of climbing. Probably as much as I would ever want to do but it wasn't a million feet pace.

I always thought when I retired I would go back to that much riding but it's not in the cards.
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Old 07-03-23, 07:45 PM
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last year i was able to do just over 500k of climbing. i had 500 as a goal and i made it. it was not easy and at times became a chore. what really helped was the added climbing i did on my way home from work. 9 miles to work and 40+ on the way home with about 2200 feet. 4 days a week in the warmer months sure did add up. i thought about a million feet this year but decided to be without a goal this year, too much life in the way this year.
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Old 07-03-23, 09:01 PM
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Here in Minnesota, it's usually about 20 to 30 feet/mile for most terrane - so that would require 30,000-50,000 miles/year or thereabouts.
Go over to Wisconsin where it's a little hilly, and you can get maybe 40-60 feel/mile. So 15,000-25,000 miles a year needed.
When I ride in the Bay Area (CA), it's more like 80-100 feet /mile, so then we're talking about 10,000-12,500 miles/year.

Mind you, 100 feet/mile, assuming that you are doing as much descending as ascending, is an average grade of about 5%

I'm sure there are places where the terrane averages more than 100 feet/mile- the Alps, western mountain passes, probably some of the mountainous parts of the east (North Carolina?).

Yes, in each of these places you can design rides that are greater than my generalized averages, - and give it some macho sufferfest name for your century event, but over the course of a year, one is probably not doing that for every ride unless one's got an obsession.

In sum, anybody who is not a pro who is climbing 1,000,000 feet a year is a total beast.
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Old 07-03-23, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan
Mind you, 100 feet/mile, assuming that you are doing as much descending as ascending, is an average grade of about 5%
.
We did a ride in the local mountains which was an 80 mile out and back with 8K feet of gain. Nothing steep, lots of 5 and 6%. We loved that route for years but when race car drivers discovered it some of the allure was lost. There was a washout that we could get through and once that was fixed car traffic increased.

In the Santa Monica mountains there is nothing above 3800? feet but most of the riding is 100 feet per mile. Most of the mountain ranges in Southern California can easily provide 10K foot centuries.

I did an organized ride once with 12K feet in 75 miles. Wanted to quit that one but I suffered through. Topped out at 8300 ft elevation which bothered me that day.
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Old 07-04-23, 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by big john
We did a ride in the local mountains which was an 80 mile out and back with 8K feet of gain. Nothing steep, lots of 5 and 6%. We loved that route for years but when race car drivers discovered it some of the allure was lost. There was a washout that we could get through and once that was fixed car traffic increased.

In the Santa Monica mountains there is nothing above 3800? feet but most of the riding is 100 feet per mile. Most of the mountain ranges in Southern California can easily provide 10K foot centuries.

I did an organized ride once with 12K feet in 75 miles. Wanted to quit that one but I suffered through. Topped out at 8300 ft elevation which bothered me that day.
The Rockies are known for generally easy grades, not exceeding 6%. The climbing is relentless, but not extreme. My big day every year is an attempt at Mt Evans from my house, which, if successful, gets me 11,000' in 100 miles (and a max altitude of 14,100'). The "beast" I met the other day one-upped me--a similar big day for him starts in a Denver suburb near me, climbs Mt Evans, then some more bonus miles, for 140 miles, 14,000' vertical, and climbing a 14'er. Sheesh.
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Old 07-04-23, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus
The Rockies are known for generally easy grades, not exceeding 6%. The climbing is relentless, but not extreme. My big day every year is an attempt at Mt Evans from my house, which, if successful, gets me 11,000' in 100 miles (and a max altitude of 14,100'). The "beast" I met the other day one-upped me--a similar big day for him starts in a Denver suburb near me, climbs Mt Evans, then some more bonus miles, for 140 miles, 14,000' vertical, and climbing a 14'er. Sheesh.
I've never ridden over about 10K foot elevation so that would be a whole new factor for me. I used to regularly go up to 9K on a mtb ride but I lived at 6K then. Altitude of 8 to 9K rarely bothers me, but I think it was a factor a couple times when I felt bad on long days in the mountains.
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Old 07-04-23, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan
Here in Minnesota, it's usually about 20 to 30 feet/mile for most terrane - so that would require 30,000-50,000 miles/year or thereabouts.
Go over to Wisconsin where it's a little hilly, and you can get maybe 40-60 feel/mile. So 15,000-25,000 miles a year needed.
When I ride in the Bay Area (CA), it's more like 80-100 feet /mile, so then we're talking about 10,000-12,500 miles/year.

Mind you, 100 feet/mile, assuming that you are doing as much descending as ascending, is an average grade of about 5%

I'm sure there are places where the terrane averages more than 100 feet/mile- the Alps, western mountain passes, probably some of the mountainous parts of the east (North Carolina?).

Yes, in each of these places you can design rides that are greater than my generalized averages, - and give it some macho sufferfest name for your century event, but over the course of a year, one is probably not doing that for every ride unless one's got an obsession.

In sum, anybody who is not a pro who is climbing 1,000,000 feet a year is a total beast.
maybe i am calculating incorrectly but 100ft/mi is just under 2%
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Old 07-04-23, 08:30 AM
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Riding in the Wall Street area with it's tall glass buildings and narrow streets, I got a weird GPS bounce and my route showed a 1,200' elevation change, totally vertical.
I wish I hadn't corrected it!

A million feet in a year? Yeah, no.
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Old 07-04-23, 08:37 AM
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That is quite a bit of climbing. I never tracked my climbing so I don't know what my yearly totals were in my high mileage years were. I think I read that the Trans America was about 220,000' of climbing. I rode that in 73 days during my heavily loaded touring days. Not sure what the rest of that year looked like climbing wise though.

If I were to make a best guess of what my usual climbing totals were based on the terrain and annual miles for my bigger years back when I was in my early 40s I'd guess 600,000' might have been normal. There is a remote possibility that one year or another I may have even done a million some year in the early 90s. A million no way now. If I had set it as a goal back in the day I probably would have. I was pretty driven.

These days, much much less unless I do something like the TA again. Heck if I stay near home in Tallahassee it is hard to gain much at all.

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Old 07-04-23, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by big john
I've never ridden over about 10K foot elevation so that would be a whole new factor for me. I used to regularly go up to 9K on a mtb ride but I lived at 6K then. Altitude of 8 to 9K rarely bothers me, but I think it was a factor a couple times when I felt bad on long days in the mountains.
Yeah, it takes me several acclimating rides up to tree line (11K'+) to go any farther. Living at 6K helps.

As I get old, the high alpine descents are starting to worry me a bit. Fatigue and hypothermia can be factors, not to mention the occasional marmot, and less wind resistance. And I think about a maxim from dabbling in mountaineering, "Getting up is optional. Getting down is not." I sometimes ride with a slightly younger group, still in their 50s, and I'm the first one up, but usually the last one down.
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Old 07-04-23, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus
Yeah, it takes me several acclimating rides up to tree line (11K'+) to go any farther. Living at 6K helps.

As I get old, the high alpine descents are starting to worry me a bit. Fatigue and hypothermia can be factors, not to mention the occasional marmot, and less wind resistance. And I think about a maxim from dabbling in mountaineering, "Getting up is optional. Getting down is not." I sometimes ride with a slightly younger group, still in their 50s, and I'm the first one up, but usually the last one down.
I was fine riding to 11k when I started riding from sea level and took 40 days to get there.

Flying in to Denver and almost immediately riding to 10k when it was really hot and there was wild fire smoke was a huge mistake. I wound up with HAPE. It was scarey. I won't do that again.

I have done better on backpacking trips where I drove out and took my time with stops along the way to acclimate. Taking some time and seeing the sights at lower and medium elevations is more fun and allows some time to acclimate. Being retired it is not a big hardship to take the time to drive across the country.
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Old 07-04-23, 11:07 AM
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I look for rides with rollers. They're fun and it's a better work out. That said, you have to search for them in central Iowa. I just finished a 36 mile ride and it has 1300 ft of climbing and almost all of that is lumped together over 16 or so miles.
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Old 07-04-23, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger
maybe i am calculating incorrectly but 100ft/mi is just under 2%
Partial good catch. I should have written 4%, rather than 5% - I was guestimating instead of calculating.

If on average you descend as much as you climb, then 100/(5280/2)=3.8%. You only get 2% (or 1.9%) if your rides always finish at greater elevation than they start because you never descend.
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Old 07-04-23, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan
Partial good catch. I should have written 4%, rather than 5% - I was guestimating instead of calculating.

If on average you descend as much as you climb, then 100/(5280/2)=3.8%. You only get 2% (or 1.9%) if your rides always finish at greater elevation than they start because you never descend.
4%? you have an odd way of calculating grade.
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Old 07-06-23, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by smontanaro
I suspect geography helps.
Sure can. Decades ago I ran distance. In the place where I lived there were forests with logging trails and hiking paths galore. Lots of hills. Even long stretches of beach with miles of big sand dunes. Made for a lot of elevation gains, when running or cycling. Merely doing one's thing in that spot meant a person would have to become hill capable. Made for quick races when heading down to "the flats," of course ... training with serious elevations but "racing" in simpler conditions.
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Old 07-06-23, 09:11 AM
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Sounds like another example of the tyranny of numbers. Have you noticed that human experiences in general go somewhat unnoticed until someone interprets them through numbers. If I said I ride every other day over somewhat hilly terrain and most of my rides are about two hours, no one really takes notice. But if I translate that into some numerical data, then that data becomes a new way to interpret the experience and will generate interest and comment. Strange, don't you think.
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Old 07-17-23, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by spelger
4%? you have an odd way of calculating grade.
I would say that it is your method that is odd. Doing it your way, any ride that begins and ends in the same place has an average grade of 0%, whether you are riding in pancake-flat Florida or in the Alps. So your average grade would not be particularly informative, would it?
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Old 07-17-23, 11:18 AM
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Numbers make me numb. More numb goes from number to numbest. 2700 vertical feet every day, no off days, that gives me a million per year. If I cut myself a break and only ride 5% gradients, that means ... about 11 miles per day on a 5% hill, every damn day. I doubt I would still enjoy cycling after a year of that. Dubious victory.
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Old 07-17-23, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan
I would say that it is your method that is odd. Doing it your way, any ride that begins and ends in the same place has an average grade of 0%, whether you are riding in pancake-flat Florida or in the Alps. So your average grade would not be particularly informative, would it?
i guess what i find is odd is that grade is just rise over run. but you are calculating it as rise over half of the run. i'm not sure what the half part pertains to.

but i agree for sure average grade does not make much sense, not to me anyway. sometimes when looking for a good ride using Rouvy it can be a little tough since they show average grade. were it not for the profile that they show it'd be even harder.
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Old 07-17-23, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger
i guess what i find is odd is that grade is just rise over run. but you are calculating it as rise over half of the run. i'm not sure what the half part pertains to..
It just means that the average grade over X miles includes the descending and the flats in the calculation. So, yes, it doesn't really tell you what grades to expect.
The total climbing in a given ride can also be deceptive, it could be front loaded, back loaded, or spread throughout the ride.

Although if I hear there is going to be 10,000 feet in a century, I know it's going to be difficult. But it could be easier if the climbs are gradual and there isn't high elevation, or harder if there is a long, steep climb at high elevation.
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Old 07-17-23, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger
i guess what i find is odd is that grade is just rise over run. but you are calculating it as rise over half of the run. i'm not sure what the half part pertains to..
I've explained this already. You can go back and read it if you like. Or not.

Enjoy your ride.
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Old 07-17-23, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by big john
It just means that the average grade over X miles includes the descending and the flats in the calculation. So, yes, it doesn't really tell you what grades to expect.
The total climbing in a given ride can also be deceptive, it could be front loaded, back loaded, or spread throughout the ride.

Although if I hear there is going to be 10,000 feet in a century, I know it's going to be difficult. But it could be easier if the climbs are gradual and there isn't high elevation, or harder if there is a long, steep climb at high elevation.
but dividing by 2 is an arbitrary amount to divide by, no? why not 3, why not 4, &c?
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Old 07-17-23, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger
but dividing by 2 is an arbitrary amount to divide by, no? why not 3, why not 4, &c?
I never divided by 2. The poster who did was saying half of a ride would be climbing and half descending, which is oversimplifying.
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