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Mt. Diablo & Alpe d'Huez?

Old 07-10-12, 02:47 PM
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neeb
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Mt. Diablo & Alpe d'Huez?

Just wondering if any of you guys have done Mt. Diablo South Gate (from Athenian School) and also done Alpe d'Huez. The stats show that they should be fairly comparable in terms of the time it should take to do the ascent. Specifically, if you can do Mt. Diablo in an hour you should be able to do Alpe d'Huez in an hour - the Alpe is steeper but Diablo is longer, and in theory approximately the same power/weight ratio should be required.

I did Diablo a couple of times when I was in Berkeley recently but haven't done Alpe d'Huez (yet). I'd be really interested to know if you have done both what times you got on each.
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Old 07-10-12, 04:11 PM
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l'Alpe is considerably tougher, although the total climb is about the same.
I haven't done it.
South Gate is the easy side.


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Old 07-10-12, 04:19 PM
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Base on DiabloScott's chart, that's an average gradient of 7.3% for the Alpe vs. a 6.0% gradient for North Gate/Summit Road. That is not an insignificant difference.
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Old 07-10-12, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by bikingshearer View Post
Base on DiabloScott's chart, that's an average gradient of 7.3% for the Alpe vs. a 6.0% gradient for North Gate/Summit Road. That is not an insignificant difference.
That will have a substantial effect on the speed but shouldn't change the total time by much since the elevation gain is almost the same. For the fastest climbers I'd expect Diablo to take slightly longer since they'd have sections where they're going fast enough for air resistance to play a role. The Alpe puts the steepest climb near the start whereas Diablo saves it for the end.

Edit: noticed that Scott's chart is of the north side of Diablo. The climb on the south side has a little less elevation gain since Athenian is a few hundred feet higher than the north gate entrance.

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Old 07-10-12, 04:39 PM
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Yup, no doubt that the Alpe is the tougher climb, but because Diablo is longer I seem to remember that when I once plugged the numbers into an online calculator somewhere the actual power to weight ratio required to do them both in 1 hour is very close.
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Old 07-10-12, 04:49 PM
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At some point, my experience says this logic becomes faulty. To my legs, lungs and brain, a 10% climb is more than twice as hard as a 5% climb and a 15% climb os orders of magnitude harder than either. It is entirely possible you and I could climb 6% over 11 miles inj about the same amount of time as we could climb 7.3% over 9 miles, but I would not just assume that. Certainly not for this large, slow-climbing Clydesdale.
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Old 07-10-12, 05:12 PM
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Record for Alpe d'Huez is 37m35s. Diablo Challenge record is 43m33s.
Now Nate English isn't Marco Pantani, and the Alpe record came after a hundred mountainous miles earlier in the stage.

So, how fast could Pantani do the Challenge - OR - how fast could English do the Alpe?
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Old 07-10-12, 05:18 PM
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Yes, I like your fancy chart and all, but does the Alpe have a 100F headwind going up the hill?
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Old 07-10-12, 06:49 PM
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Given that the total climbing is about the same, it will be quicker to climb Alpe d'Huez than Mt Diablo, as long as you have the proper gearing. A given power to weight ratio determines the vertical ascent rate as long as the grade stays steep enough. Mt Diablo has some flattish sections at the start and in the middle, where you will be losing time against the theoretical ascent rate, basically working against air friction instead of gravity. Now, when on a casual ride these flat sections offer recovery and make the climb feel easier, but you don't get that break working against the time.
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Old 07-10-12, 09:42 PM
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I did Alpe d'Huez in May and I think that it's a lot harder than either side of Diablo. As others have said, its average grade is significantly steeper. Plus it starts off with two miles of 11-12%. Diablo has only short stretches of 10%. The only thing hard about Diablo is the last 200 meters.

BTW, I also did Mt. Ventoux and it's a lot harder than AdH. Basically, the same average grade, but 50% longer (13 miles, 5145 feet of climbing).

You can read my blog if you like some nice pics of the Alps.

http://robocheme.blogspot.com/
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Old 07-10-12, 10:41 PM
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I think "harder" is a subjective term. I still maintain that if you can do Mt Diablo in under an hour, you can climb AdH faster.
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Old 07-11-12, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by MetinUz View Post
I think "harder" is a subjective term. I still maintain that if you can do Mt Diablo in under an hour, you can climb AdH faster.
Agreed. If your goal is to climb a specified elevation gain in a minimum time then it's best to find a relatively steep but short course on which do that as long as you can equip your bike with appropriate gearing for the grade and go fast enough to maintain your balance. That way essentially all of your effort is going into lifting your bike and body up to that elevation and very little is fighting against air resistance.

It may feel "harder" since you'll be going slower, but you should be able to get up the steeper, but shorter, grade in less time.
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Old 07-11-12, 12:54 AM
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Originally Posted by RoboCheme View Post

BTW, I also did Mt. Ventoux and it's a lot harder than AdH. Basically, the same average grade, but 50% longer (13 miles, 5145 feet of climbing).
The route from Bedoin is the most common TdF approach to Ventoux.

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Old 07-11-12, 01:28 AM
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Originally Posted by MetinUz View Post
Given that the total climbing is about the same, it will be quicker to climb Alpe d'Huez than Mt Diablo, as long as you have the proper gearing. A given power to weight ratio determines the vertical ascent rate as long as the grade stays steep enough. Mt Diablo has some flattish sections at the start and in the middle, where you will be losing time against the theoretical ascent rate, basically working against air friction instead of gravity. Now, when on a casual ride these flat sections offer recovery and make the climb feel easier, but you don't get that break working against the time.
Yes, I wondered something along those lines. I think a lot of people go under-geared to the more difficult climbs. You might be able to make it up by stomping away on a 39-25 or whatever, but if you want to maintain the same power/weight you need to be able to keep up the same cadence as feels right on the less steep climbs.
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Old 07-11-12, 10:24 AM
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The owner (mgr?) of Chain Reaction in Redwood City did AdH a couple of years back -- on a folding bike, no less. If you feel like getting a dose of stories about it, I'm sure he'd oblige
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Old 07-11-12, 11:10 AM
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My wife and I did the AdH on folding bikes back in 08. The beginning section is steep, and it eases somewhat near the top.

We did not go for a PR or anything, we stopped and took pictures, etc... But I would say the time for AdH vs Diablo would be similar. It depends on how good you are at the steep stuff. If you are a super light climber, the AdH time will be relatively less. If you are a little heavier and maybe have more power, then The Diablo time will be relatively less.
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Old 07-11-12, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by MetinUz View Post
I think "harder" is a subjective term. I still maintain that if you can do Mt Diablo in under an hour, you can climb AdH faster.
There are vastly different answers to the original question depending on whether this premise is correct for you. I do not live on that planet. I do not live in the same galaxy as that planet. I am, as bigbossman likes to put it, freakishly large. For people like me, increases in gradient make a much bigger difference than they do for what I like to call spindly-legged climbing farts because the effect of the change mass is exponential, not linear. Something to do with physics and inclined planes. It has the opposite effect going back down, which is why, if we both coast, I will pull away from you. But I digress.

The point is, if you are a slow climber (like me) and weigh close to 20 stone (again, like me ), nine miles of Alpe d'Huez is going to be noticeably harder and almost certainly slower than eleven miles of Diablo.

As for the Ventoux, I drove up the south side once. It's steep, it's long, and it is baby's-butt bald on top. It is also hot (sometimes), windy (very often) or both. There is no vegetation, and I mean none, on the upper half other than occasional scraggly ground cover no more than two inches tall - there is no shelter from the sun or the wind. The main color is a grayish white from what looks like crushed rock. Calling it a "moonscape" is pretty accurate. I can understand how, on a day well over 100 degrees, Tom Simpson could ride himself to death on it. (His monument, a couple kms short of the summit, is worth stopping at; it's an altar at which cyclists literally leave offerings, things like old water bottles, old tires, hats - there was even a cracked frame there when I saw it - but very little general garbage.)

There is a tale told of how, in the 1950s, the Tour went over the Ventoux. Ferdi Kubler, a good Swiss rider (and the TdF winner in 1950 or 1951) who tended to be something of a cowboy, started setting a hard pace early on in the climb where there are still trees. Someone told him, "Careful, Ferdi, the Ventoux is not like other mountains." Kubler reportedly replied that "Ferdi is not like other riders." (The conversation took place in French, with which Kubler was not particularly fluent.) He kept up the pace, ultimately cracked like Humpty-Dumpty, lost beaucoup time and arrived at the top looking like he had been baked in an oven.

Mt. Ventoux truly is not like other mountains.
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Old 07-11-12, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by bikingshearer View Post
At some point, my experience says this logic becomes faulty. To my legs, lungs and brain, a 10% climb is more than twice as hard as a 5% climb and a 15% climb os orders of magnitude harder than either. It is entirely possible you and I could climb 6% over 11 miles inj about the same amount of time as we could climb 7.3% over 9 miles, but I would not just assume that. Certainly not for this large, slow-climbing Clydesdale.
Totally...I'd rather climb Mt. Hamilton twice (from SJ) than Sierra Road twice. I don't care if it takes 3x as long to do Hamilton, 10% vs 5% is a massive difference in effort, forget all the math and power/weight ratio blah blah.
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Old 07-11-12, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by cthenn View Post
Totally...I'd rather climb Mt. Hamilton twice (from SJ) than Sierra Road twice. I don't care if it takes 3x as long to do Hamilton, 10% vs 5% is a massive difference in effort, forget all the math and power/weight ratio blah blah.
What you are describing is perceived level of exertion while climbing 5% grade versus 10% grade. If this were a time trial with your choice of climb, which would you choose? I can climb Sierra Road twice before I can get to top of Mt Hamilton, while turning the cranks at the same cadence and applying the same power. If I did not have low enough gearing, or if climbing Sierra Road was so slow that I could not balance the bike, this would be a different story.

This is not theoretical stuff, it's just common sense. Most people don't have low enough gearing. If Chris Horner climbs Sierra Rd on 39x25, I need to compare my power/weight ratio (assume mine is half as good as his) and come up with something ridiculous like 34x40 to replicate his cadence. It turns out I can spin up on 34x34, and need to stand up on just a couple spots.
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