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One million vertical feet per year!

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One million vertical feet per year!

Old 07-01-23, 06:27 PM
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One million vertical feet per year!

On a fun ride with some friends in the mountains the other day, we were passed by a strong, younger (probably 50+ still) cyclist. I sprinted a mile or so to chat with him, and it was interesting. I asked him how far up he was going. He said he was "just" shooting for 8,000', but went on to say he routinely rides a million feet per year.

Does anyone here do that? Hats off to you if you do.

I got a little obsessed about it, and tried to figure out how much I climb a year. I don't have anything to track it, and I don't log rides. I do a lot of climbing, including some big days on Mt Evans (11K'), and Mt Lemmon (7-8K'). But I doubt I ever exceed 250K/year. I cycled the Northern Tier route at age 55, and the ACA says that climbs 200K, not including a lot of mountain training before the ride.

In an amazing coincidence, I saw the same guy again the next day on another route, down in the foothills.
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Old 07-01-23, 09:41 PM
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Strava can track your elevation gain. Last year I climbed similar to you, 300,000’. So far this year, 115,000.

The man you met was an animal, so to speak.
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Old 07-01-23, 10:11 PM
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My best year was 348,000 in 2018, where I logged only 2,654 miles.
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Old 07-02-23, 05:16 AM
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I suspect geography helps. Thus far, I've gained a whopping 23,664 feet in 2308 miles of riding. But then, I live in the Chicago area, where a typical ride can include 100ft of gain over 10 miles. Tollway overpasses count as "hills."

We have a little excursion on Sheridan Rd called "the Ravine" which is closed to bikes as "unsafe." I'm just guessing that it might as an extra 100ft of gain. I used to ride it occasionally, until I got a ticket once. *sigh*
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Old 07-02-23, 05:26 AM
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Originally Posted by smontanaro
I suspect geography helps. Thus far, I've gained a whopping 23,664 feet in 2308 miles of riding. But then, I live in the Chicago area, where a typical ride can include 100ft of gain over 10 miles. Tollway overpasses count as "hills."

We have a little excursion on Sheridan Rd called "the Ravine" which is closed to bikes as "unsafe." I'm just guessing that it might as an extra 100ft of gain. I used to ride it occasionally, until I got a ticket once. *sigh*
I grew up in Downers Grove. I would ride around Waterfall Glen park for some hills. 200' in ten miles!
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Old 07-02-23, 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus
I grew up in Downers Grove. I would ride around Waterfall Glen park for some hills. 200' in ten miles!
Yeah, 200 in 10 is a steep ride.
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Old 07-02-23, 08:13 AM
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Some forum members have done 1 million feet in a year. One of them was going to try for 2 million but said it became like a job, it wasn't fun anymore so he stopped.

I routinely do around 300K feet, some years more. It's really not that much if you ride all year. I have a friend who did 600K+ every year for at least 15 years.
If you think about doing 10K per week, which isn't hard if you have the time, that's 520K in a year. It sounds more daunting when you think about doing it every week.

20K a week would be too much for most of us to do for a year, it seems.
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Old 07-02-23, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by big john
Some forum members have done 1 million feet in a year. One of them was going to try for 2 million but said it became like a job, it wasn't fun anymore so he stopped.

I routinely do around 300K feet, some years more. It's really not that much if you ride all year. I have a friend who did 600K+ every year for at least 15 years.
If you think about doing 10K per week, which isn't hard if you have the time, that's 520K in a year. It sounds more daunting when you think about doing it every week.

20K a week would be too much for most of us to do for a year, it seems.
The 300-350K you and others mention above sounds reasonable. I agree, tripling that, or even doubling it, would be more like a job. I don't know about everyone else here, but I'm an amateur.

In the bit of research I did before posting, I saw mention of someone going for a million meters in a year.
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Old 07-02-23, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus
The 300-350K you and others mention above sounds reasonable. I agree, tripling that, or even doubling it, would be more like a job. I don't know about everyone else here, but I'm an amateur.

In the bit of research I did before posting, I saw mention of someone going for a million meters in a year.
A million meters would be absurd. You'd have to be a light climber with nothing else to do. And the question is why?

We've seen people set ridiculous records with mileage, climbing, Everesting, etc. Extreme stuff. Keep it.
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Old 07-02-23, 09:05 AM
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I used to ride with a guy who'd ride 25k-30k miles/year. He got tired of that, decided to do a million feet. He hit that so quickly, he went for 2 million but it don't think he made it. The next year he got divorced. Now he's happily remarried, lovely daughter, doesn't ride so much. Anyway, that's how all that seems to me.
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Old 07-02-23, 09:34 AM
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Do we count all the vertical distance change from when the road goes up and down a foot ? Or does it have to be a steady climb for some particular length of time.

If I calculated correctly, then on a road that went up for 1 foot then back down then up again every 40', then I'd only have to ride 7,575.7 miles to have climbed a 1,000,000 feet of gain. But that 1 foot of gain will be on a 5% slope.
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Old 07-02-23, 12:03 PM
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Vertical feet measured with a high tech GPS bike computer is different than in the old days of using a typo map. Back then we measured from the bottom of the climb to the top. Now the computer counts every dip in the road.
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Old 07-02-23, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by big john
Some forum members have done 1 million feet in a year. One of them was going to try for 2 million but said it became like a job, it wasn't fun anymore so he stopped.

I routinely do around 300K feet, some years more. It's really not that much if you ride all year. I have a friend who did 600K+ every year for at least 15 years.
If you think about doing 10K per week, which isn't hard if you have the time, that's 520K in a year. It sounds more daunting when you think about doing it every week.

20K a week would be too much for most of us to do for a year, it seems.
If you have time and… if you have anything resembling a hill within 100 miles.

The highest elevation in my general area - 102’
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Old 07-02-23, 02:27 PM
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This is about 7 miles, (and close to 2500 feet) from my door.

This is within riding distance but it would be a tough ride round trip.

To go into the mountains I rode yesterday I like to drive the 25 miles from home and start away from traffic and cityscape.

Last edited by big john; 07-02-23 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 07-02-23, 02:32 PM
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^^I have to drive 10 hours to get anything above 5k. 3 hours for 3k.
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Old 07-02-23, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
^^I have to drive 10 hours to get anything above 5k. 3 hours for 3k.
I live right at the base of the 3800 foot hill in the first pic. Here is a pic of the fire road going up there.

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Old 07-02-23, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Speedskater
Vertical feet measured with a high tech GPS bike computer is different than in the old days of using a typo map. Back then we measured from the bottom of the climb to the top. Now the computer counts every dip in the road.
Actually, not what I've found as expected from consumer GPS...
Here's what GOV says:
How precise is consumer GPS?

GPS satellites broadcast their signals in space with a certain accuracy, but what you receive depends on additional factors, including satellite geometry, signal blockage, atmospheric conditions, and receiver design features/quality. For example, GPS-enabled smartphones are typically accurate to within a 4.9 m (16 ft.)Mar 3, 2022
https://www.gps.gov/systems/gps/performance/accuracy/

so changes under 4.9 m, there abouts, will prolly not register...

Ride On
Yuri - let the games begin...
EDIT: and if you're thinking the 'device' determines accuracy, don;t bother - GOV determines and controls the allowed accuracy of consumer (non-GOV/Military).

Last edited by cyclezen; 07-02-23 at 06:40 PM.
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Old 07-02-23, 09:54 PM
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Last week did 1800’ in 5.5 miles and 800’ in 3.5 miles. The picture below is from my heavy day doing 4200’ over 51 miles, but the majority of the climb was 2500 in 8 miles. Oof


Seattle, looking over Mercer Island, Lk Wa
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Old 07-03-23, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by cyclezen
Actually, not what I've found as expected from consumer GPS...
Here's what GOV says:
How precise is consumer GPS?

GPS satellites broadcast their signals in space with a certain accuracy, but what you receive depends on additional factors, including satellite geometry, signal blockage, atmospheric conditions, and receiver design features/quality. For example, GPS-enabled smartphones are typically accurate to within a 4.9 m (16 ft.)Mar 3, 2022
https://www.gps.gov/systems/gps/performance/accuracy/

so changes under 4.9 m, there abouts, will prolly not register...

Ride On
Yuri - let the games begin...
EDIT: and if you're thinking the 'device' determines accuracy, don;t bother - GOV determines and controls the allowed accuracy of consumer (non-GOV/Military).
Most of the popular mid to higher end GPS cyclometers have a barometric sensor that provides gain/loss information and for elevation.
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Old 07-03-23, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01
Most of the popular mid to higher end GPS cyclometers have a barometric sensor that provides gain/loss information and for elevation.
From Garmin:
"

Factors that Impact Barometric Altimeter Measurements

  • Rapid changes in weather
    • The watch will resume accurate altimeter readings when weather conditions settle.
    • If experiencing rapidly changing weather, consider calibrating the sensor after conditions have settled.
  • Extended periods of time in a fixed location
    • For best accuracy, +/- 50 ft (~15 m), calibrate the pressure sensor to a known elevation on a regular basis.
  • Moving to and from climate controlled or pressurized environments (indoors to outdoors)
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Old 07-03-23, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by cyclezen
From Garmin:
"

Factors that Impact Barometric Altimeter Measurements

  • Rapid changes in weather
    • The watch will resume accurate altimeter readings when weather conditions settle.
    • If experiencing rapidly changing weather, consider calibrating the sensor after conditions have settled.
  • Extended periods of time in a fixed location
    • For best accuracy, +/- 50 ft (~15 m), calibrate the pressure sensor to a known elevation on a regular basis.
  • Moving to and from climate controlled or pressurized environments (indoors to outdoors)
You are a little confused about the difference between elevation and elevation gain/loss.

For elevation to be correct, you need apply corrections.

Elevation gain/lose is relative. So it doesn't need to be remotely close to the real elevation.

The million feet of vertical gain being discussed in this thread only requires relative measure.

Last edited by Iride01; 07-03-23 at 09:07 AM.
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Old 07-03-23, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01
You are a little confused about the difference between elevation and elevation gain/loss.

For elevation to be correct, you need apply corrections.

Elevation gain/lose is relative. So it doesn't need to be remotely close to the real elevation.

The million feet of vertical gain being discussed in this thread only requires relative measure.
Not confused... yes, relative...
so regardless of 'calibration', if the accuracy is around 50 ft of 'change' (gain/loss) the unit prolly may not register any difference, depending on the amount of change under 50 ft... and if it does, it may be way off, depending on the conditions when the unit WAS calibrated... the 'relativity' is defined by the original setting & the accuracy of the unit, which for Garmin units is +- 50 ft.
50 ft is significant change for many cycling routes and yet, may not register. take the Midwest, Florida, even around here. There are roads here with lots of rollers, most of which are steep little bumps of 50 ft or less.
doing 200+ ft changes will register of course, but thinking that every little 'roller' registers on a unit is misconception. They register on your legs, especially if you're struggling to not get shelled, but likely not on your computer. So accumulated bumps are not really 'climbing' anyway.
That's ok, because under 100 ft of uphill change - it's not really any climbing...
done
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Old 07-03-23, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by cyclezen
Not confused... yes, relative...
so regardless of 'calibration', if the accuracy is around 50 ft of 'change' (gain/loss) the unit prolly may not register any difference, depending on the amount of change under 50 ft... and if it does, it may be way off, depending on the conditions when the unit WAS calibrated... the 'relativity' is defined by the original setting & the accuracy of the unit, which for Garmin units is +- 50 ft.
50 ft is significant change for many cycling routes and yet, may not register. take the Midwest, Florida, even around here. There are roads here with lots of rollers, most of which are steep little bumps of 50 ft or less.
doing 200+ ft changes will register of course, but thinking that every little 'roller' registers on a unit is misconception. They register on your legs, especially if you're struggling to not get shelled, but likely not on your computer. So accumulated bumps are not really 'climbing' anyway.
That's ok, because under 100 ft of uphill change - it's not really any climbing...
done
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The accuracy number you are quoting for Garmin is the accuracy of the elevation reading you get with the device. And that is because of the reasons they give for it being off by that much. However the sensor itself is capable of reading relative measurements to within 1 - 5 feet depending on the device. Maybe less. Of course in the programming minor changes are probably filtered out programmatically as noise. So do they count 1 foot up and 1 foot down as noise or a gain/loss of 1 foot. I don't know. This might be a good place for njkayaker to step in as they seem to understand or actually know better what Garmin does despite the many feuds we've had together.

I will say that on one of my 23 mile short ride that I do a lot, my device usually tells me I did about 1080 - 1120 feet of gain/loss. Few hills are more than 20 feet of vertical climbing. There is only one section I traverse twice that has a 95 foot change of elevation.
So just because you want it to be 100 feet of continuous climbing, doesn't make that what everyone else is wanting, nor what the device is telling you for gain/loss.
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Old 07-03-23, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01
Elevation gain/lose is relative. So it doesn't need to be remotely close to the real elevation.
OTOH, if a weather front is passing by (or maybe just breezy), you can get some real bizarre "elevation gains." This is particularly easy to see in a flat place like Chicagoland. You know from experience that you're riding on a flat chunk of road or path, but see your election gain increase.
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Old 07-03-23, 01:20 PM
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You can do an elevation correction in Strava and RideWithGPS.
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