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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Extreme hills

Old 07-20-15, 03:54 PM
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Onuris
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Extreme hills

Recently I was visiting my cousins in SW PA, about an hour south of Pittsburgh. The area is all hills. Not just little rolling hills, but extremely steep hills. Place makes San Fran look flat. It seems like every street has a 45% grade. Seriously though would be surprise if any were less steep than 30%. I brought a recently purchased Bianchi Volpe Disc with me to ride while I was there. It was an exercise in futility. Even in the easiest gear it was impossible to keep up enough momentum to go up most of these hills, and going down was zero pedaling and constantly on the brakes. Anyone on here live in areas like this? How do you get in any time cycling, either to commute or for fitness? So glad to be back in MI where there are long stretches of fairly flat roads with gentle rolling hills.
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Old 07-20-15, 04:14 PM
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If you lived there and rode, you'd adapt. You would get really good at hitting the bottom fast, slamming into the right gear and charging up. Over and over again. You'd develop a rhythm in sync with those hills. You might even get to like them. Start thinking about how boring flat ground and long steady climbs would be.

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Old 07-20-15, 04:20 PM
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The steepest pavement in Seattle is 26 %, according to S-DOT. It's a kick in the ass at one block. Especially since you wind up going up a few blocks at 20+ % to get to it.
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Old 07-20-15, 04:35 PM
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Do you have an example?

I poked around the map of southern PA with RideWithGPS, and couldn't find a road steeper than 10%, although I'm not convinced of the RWGPS accuracy.

I hit about 17% every day with wicked high gearing. Stand up and pull hard. But it is only for a short stretch, and total length of the hill is only about 1/8 mile. The really steep spot is only 50 feet or so. The biggest problem is traction when wet.

I do find that I am highly susceptible to weight. So pull a 50 pound trailer and I'm dropping gears quickly. Pull a few hundred pound trailer, and I can neither pull it up the hill with the bike nor walking (trying to fix that).

I suppose I should hunt for a bit longer 20 to 25% hill
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Old 07-20-15, 04:36 PM
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Once you get terrain that's too far away from what bikes were designed for, you're basically SOL. Seems that if you had crazy low enough gears like 24T in the front, 32, 36, or even 42 in the rear, you could probably do it. Makes me wonder why anyone would build roads like that as that would cause plenty of trouble for vehicle traffic and would be super dangerous when slimy or wet.

30% is stupid steep. I've ridden stuff like that before, but don't do it anymore simply because it's no fun. Just because you can doesn't make it a good idea. I personally do not enjoy climbing grades over 15% (for sustained sections, much over 8-10% isn't that fun) and prefer grades around 8% coming down (steep enough to be fun, not so steep that all you do is burn your brakes up)
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Old 07-20-15, 04:44 PM
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Meh. You get by with low gears. All my bikes save one have low gears below 30".

I suffered an inferiority complex for years before I realized I lived in an extreme place (relatively).

It's all relative.
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Old 07-20-15, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Onuris View Post
So glad to be back in MI where there are long stretches of fairly flat roads with gentle rolling hills.
Boyne City has a nice selection of hills. I live atop one of them. Hills are my friends.
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Old 07-20-15, 05:11 PM
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Canton Avenue is 37%



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cK8MhLihFlg

Riding Pittsburgh?s Dirty Dozen | Bicycle Times Magazine



Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Do you have an example?

I poked around the map of southern PA with RideWithGPS, and couldn't find a road steeper than 10%, although I'm not convinced of the RWGPS accuracy.

I hit about 17% every day with wicked high gearing. Stand up and pull hard. But it is only for a short stretch, and total length of the hill is only about 1/8 mile. The really steep spot is only 50 feet or so. The biggest problem is traction when wet.

I do find that I am highly susceptible to weight. So pull a 50 pound trailer and I'm dropping gears quickly. Pull a few hundred pound trailer, and I can neither pull it up the hill with the bike nor walking (trying to fix that).

I suppose I should hunt for a bit longer 20 to 25% hill
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Old 07-20-15, 05:58 PM
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That dirty dozen video is great. Hill 9 (at 18:30min) is brutal.

BTW every ride I have to go up my driveway and street before I can continue. 24 metres elevation gain in 150 metres of road.
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Old 07-20-15, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by RR3 View Post
Canton Avenue is 37%
More Steeps Of San Francisco ? A New Steepest Street Is Born
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Old 07-20-15, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Onuris View Post
So glad to be back in MI where there are long stretches of fairly flat roads with gentle rolling hills.

There's lot of steep stuff in Michigan. This is a paved path that goes straight over Schuss Mountain and hits an actual 36%, it's ridiculous
Strava Segment | Heideldorf Ln Climb
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Old 07-20-15, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by RR3 View Post
Canton Avenue is 37%
I'd have to put out 700 watts to climb that in a 34x28. That's a hard hill.
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Old 07-20-15, 08:15 PM
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Here's a few more, though Canton Ave leads the list.

More yet

Last edited by FBinNY; 07-20-15 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 07-20-15, 08:15 PM
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I have no desire to climb stuff that steep. We have one road that gets to 22% and I hate it, but it is on one of my regular routes. It's not super long and the trick to doing it is keeping your speed up and cranking, but by the top it's just a nightmare. You never get better at it, it just always sucks. 8% stuff and below is good for me.
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Old 07-20-15, 08:27 PM
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I've climbed a few short walls in my day and my takeaway is that I'd rather go up than down.
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Old 07-20-15, 08:33 PM
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We cannot take the steepest hill bragging rights in Seattle, but one article alone noted 20 hills in Seattle between 18% and 22%. So, maybe we have the quantity???
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Old 07-21-15, 01:18 AM
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The Seven Hells ride covers a few of these. That 40%+ kicker on Bradford is beyond ridiculous... my legs have never wobbled so much after an effort before, but I did clean it all, with a 34/32. And kind of want to do it again, once the memories of pain subside a bit more.
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Old 07-21-15, 03:09 AM
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there are a bunch of short, steep hills in the metro san diego area that are a good challenge to ride when you group 12-20 of them together. a bunch of them hit 16+% with several hitting 20+%. steepest one clocks in around 28%. most are about a block-2 blocks in length with groupings (3-5 climbs of adjacent streets or at least very close by). some days, you start motivated to hit them all but start the first climb and realize that it won't be that day. other days, you can't get enough. i credit a steady diet of the short punchy climbs with helping me perform (slightly) better on longer climbs in the 5-7% grade/2-7 mile range mentally and physically.
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Old 07-21-15, 05:41 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Do you have an example?

I poked around the map of southern PA with RideWithGPS, and couldn't find a road steeper than 10%, although I'm not convinced of the RWGPS accuracy.
While there are certainly PA hills steeper than 10% (there are hills in NJ with ruling grades in the high teens to low 20s), I think the OP is overestimating the grade, probably due to the fact that he doesn't seem to ride big hills often.
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Old 07-21-15, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Kindaslow View Post
We cannot take the steepest hill bragging rights in Seattle, but one article alone noted 20 hills in Seattle between 18% and 22%. So, maybe we have the quantity???
Northwest 60th Street - 28%
East Roy Street - 26.04%
East Boston Street - 23.8%
East Highland Drive - 23.6%
Mercer Street - 22.6%
East Boston Street - 22.5%
Mercer Street - 22.4%
East Prospect Street - 22.3%
Helen Street - 22.0%
Ward Street - 21.5%
South Grahm Street - 21.5%
Madison Street - 19%
Queen Anne Avenue (Counter Balance) - 18.5%
James Street - 18.3%
Cherry Street - 17.1%

(There are many blocks in town with 18% to 21% grades.)

SDOT - Steep Streets in Seattle
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Old 07-21-15, 02:26 PM
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You get lower gearing (~34x28) and learn to take longer routes so that the grades are more manageable. Spread the 37% grade across 4x times the distance, and you're at 10% average which is painful but doable. You rarely see people cycling on hills like that. For example, in SF you can get around a large fraction of the city with only modest hills, plenty of people get by on fixies. There's always the mountain bike approach, which is to just get off and walk the bike. On a hill that steep, it's probably faster anyway.
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Old 07-21-15, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Northwest 60th Street - 28%
East Roy Street - 26.04%
East Boston Street - 23.8%
East Highland Drive - 23.6%
Mercer Street - 22.6%
East Boston Street - 22.5%
Mercer Street - 22.4%
East Prospect Street - 22.3%
Helen Street - 22.0%
Ward Street - 21.5%
South Grahm Street - 21.5%
Madison Street - 19%
Queen Anne Avenue (Counter Balance) - 18.5%
James Street - 18.3%
Cherry Street - 17.1%

(There are many blocks in town with 18% to 21% grades.)

SDOT - Steep Streets in Seattle

Foul - right at the top of the SDOT page:

"Based on survey data, 1969
Please note: We continue to make this page available due to public interest although the information is more than 40 years old and obsolete in some cases."
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Old 07-21-15, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Gyrine View Post

Foul - right at the top of the SDOT page:

"Based on survey data, 1969
Please note: We continue to make this page available due to public interest although the information is more than 40 years old and obsolete in some cases."
So, what do you think happened in the meantime? Earthquakes, landslides, or did the DOT shave those hills down, leaving the houses alongside stranded? I'm sure there have been changes, but I'll venture that, by and large, they haven't been that significant in terms of the slopes.
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Old 07-21-15, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Onuris View Post
It seems like every street has a 45% grade. Seriously though would be surprise if any were less steep than 30%.
Wow, 45% is pretty steep.
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Old 07-21-15, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by dtrain View Post
Wow, 45% is pretty steep.
It is. For a basis of comparison, the typical residential staircase usually has a 63% "grade" (7"/11" rise/run)
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