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So what do you consider a "hilly" ride?

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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

So what do you consider a "hilly" ride?

Old 09-10-15, 01:29 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
I'm going to take a regional stance with this. Up here in Minnesota we don't have extended climbs, so, if a ride falls under my definition of 50ft/mile = "hilly" that ride will be hilly regardless of it being a 30 mile ride with 1500+ feet from multiple hills or a 5 mile ride with one 300 ft hill.
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Old 09-10-15, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by sakau2007 View Post
I suppose this varies a lot by where you live and where you cycle... but I've noticed that I tend to get a lot more elevation change according to Strava than riders in other areas, including areas that I thought were pretty hilly.

Obviously, I don't expect people riding around Nebraska to get the same elevation change as people in a ski town, but I just thought I'd ask what your averages were and where you live.

Since I got my bike about 2 weeks ago I've ridden 88.5 miles and am at 9,967 feet of elevation gain. I live near Birmingham, AL.
OP,
What are you trying to ascertain with your question on what is considered hilly?

I would say it is all relative to where you live. When I think of hilly, I think of rolling hills. A single climb (long or short) is just a climb and could be a part of a hilly ride.
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Old 09-10-15, 02:30 PM
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By how much time I spend in the small chainring.
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Old 09-10-15, 02:55 PM
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Living in SE Michigan, we have to search out elevation changes, especially long hills. I average in a 25 mile ride about 300' of elevation change. But there a few steeper sections and those can be a challenge for my 58 year old body and arthritic right knee. I used to be quite strong out of the saddle but now I am unable to climb that way due to the fear of causing more damage in that unstable area so 23, 24 and larger cogs are my friends.
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Old 09-10-15, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
It's such an easy, simple distinction to make, and doing so lets you understand different impacts on rider performance. I mean, the "one hill" ride is a climber's ride; a hilly ride can favor a power rider if the hills are not too long. Descending is not really an issue on hilly rides, but takes on whole new dimensions on the "one hill" ride.
For me a lot of the difference is mental. When there's one big climb and the ride is built around it, I get to the top, usually the halfway point, and I feel like I'm done working if I want to be. Using the first ride I posted a graph from, I probably did 400 feet of rollers over the 10 miles leading up to the climb; not too much but not trivial either. I felt them on the way up, but not the way down, because the one long hill resets my sense of perspective. Rolling hills give your body time to recover but there's no telling when it's going to end. Also, for the same total elevation, people are a lot more impressed when you go over some mountain pass than when you do a cliffy coastline.
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Old 09-10-15, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by series1811 View Post
Are you riding in a mountainous area for the 88.5 miles you mentioned? That is a significant amount of elevation gain for that distance.

For example, I rode 20 miles yesterday for an elevation gain of about 2000 feet. That involved two climbs through mountainous terrain with grades ranging between 3-7% for 10 miles (the return trip was of course downhill - yay!). If you were riding in similar terrain, 9,967 feet seems correct. If you were just on rolling hills and flats, you might want to check whatever device you are using for errors. Look at what terrain you were on and elevation changes on a topographic map, and compare.
I guess I'm trying to determine if I'm in a mountainous area. I've never thought of Birmingham as being "mountainous" though it does sit at the base of the Appalachian Mountains I suppose. The terrain I ride is certainly not anything close to flat. I live on a ridgetop that is maybe 250 feet above a river and I ride primarily around that area, going up the hills and then back down towards the river. There are also "mountains" that I've always just thought of as hills that are hardly unique to Birmingham. They aren't extraordinarily steep but I really don't have much of a basis for comparison because I have lived almost my entire life in the same metropolitan area.
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Old 09-10-15, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Fly2High View Post
OP,
What are you trying to ascertain with your question on what is considered hilly?

I would say it is all relative to where you live. When I think of hilly, I think of rolling hills. A single climb (long or short) is just a climb and could be a part of a hilly ride.
I guess I'm just trying to figure out if my riding has been a little more difficult than the average beginner faces. Because I see people ramping up quickly to 50+ miles and it is just hard for me to do a 50 mile route without hitting 5000 feet of elevation increase which is pretty demanding for a newbie like myself. I never thought of Birmingham as a particularly hilly place but maybe it is.
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Old 09-10-15, 05:34 PM
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750ft/10 miles is hilly. over that is climby. 400-750ft /10 miles is rolly. below that is pancake.
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Old 09-10-15, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by sakau2007 View Post
I suppose this varies a lot by where you live and where you cycle... but I've noticed that I tend to get a lot more elevation change according to Strava than riders in other areas, including areas that I thought were pretty hilly.

Obviously, I don't expect people riding around Nebraska to get the same elevation change as people in a ski town, but I just thought I'd ask what your averages were and where you live.

Since I got my bike about 2 weeks ago I've ridden 88.5 miles and am at 9,967 feet of elevation gain. I live near Birmingham, AL.
Roll Tide!

You've got plenty of hills down there in the B'ham. We've got some good climbing up here in Huntsville, and a charity ride on 9-19 where you can climb Skyline mt. or Grant mt.

I'd say you've done some nice climbing since you got your bike. That's pretty much all you've been doing.
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Old 09-10-15, 06:18 PM
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I have the pleasure/curse of living in the foothills of the tallest mountain range in Southern California, so I only know hilly. My morning loops are 22-32 miles, and will generally end up with 1400-2200 feet of climbing-- and that's not going out of my way to find them. That's just how it is-- I average around 500 miles a month, and just under 25,000ft^ a month. Now on those weird days when I do go out of my way to find hills...



I sure find 'em. The part that goes beyond "hilly" to "stupid" is the fact that 2,022 of those feet came in a 5.9 mile stretch-- about 343ft/mi.
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Old 09-10-15, 07:17 PM
  #36  
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A hilly ride here in CT is 3500 ct or so in 57 miles. Thats the Sunday ride. A couple of weeks ago we rode 200 miles up in Vermont, and did 10,000 feet in 2 1/2 days. That was a good workout.
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Old 09-10-15, 07:31 PM
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Where I live you can't escape an average of 100 to 110 ft a mile. It keeps me busy. Not epic. But yeah, I call it hilly.
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Old 09-10-15, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by r0gue View Post
Where I live you can't escape an average of 100 to 110 ft a mile. It keeps me busy. Not epic. But yeah, I call it hilly.
Just curious, where do you live? I think 100' per mile is pretty decent.
I never much thought about it, but I just did a quick calculation on Strava and my average is 63 ft of elevation gain/ mile. I've always considered 100'/ mile the standard for a "hilly ride".

Last edited by BarryJo; 09-10-15 at 07:46 PM. Reason: punctuation sucks
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Old 09-10-15, 08:03 PM
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Follow Toone on strava. He will quickly redefine what you now call hilly
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Old 09-10-15, 08:11 PM
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For what I'd call hilly, well, one big hill somewhere in the ride certainly doesn't make for a 'hilly' one, but neither does a bunch of up and down if there is no extended or difficult climbing involved. That's just rolling. Also, if it's one big slog, with only a few descents and brief flats thrown in, I'd just call that a slog. A hilly ride is nice. A number of distinct hills, not just dips or bumps you can crest in a single hard spin-up, but not something that's totally exhausting, either.
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Old 09-10-15, 09:58 PM
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I live at the base of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah. Here is a ride from a few weeks ago.



Not all rides in our area have this much climbing, but 3,000 - 6,000 feet is common in 50 - 100 miles.

I've learned to like climbing.
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Old 09-10-15, 10:46 PM
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100' per mile is hilly, but I live in the foothills of the San Gabriels and the ~9 mile round trip to work gets me about 400' of climbing...

Unless I do one of the river trails (which is about 1500' in 72 miles) or go out of my way to ride flat, high traffic areas, it's hard to get much less than about 50' per mile on a ride.
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Old 09-10-15, 11:04 PM
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I got yer hilly right here.
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Old 09-10-15, 11:43 PM
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I live in the middle of Texas where a hilly ride would be 35ft/mile. I recently rode in Colorado up Vail and that was 150ft/mile over 15 miles in altitude and I thought I was gonna die. The last little bit is a 15% grade and I was out of gears and breath but made it to the top.

I couldn't believe we averaged 12mph up the mountain and the descent was amazing. Seriously, the best ride of my life.
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Old 09-10-15, 11:56 PM
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I can't ride hills worth a darn. But from seeing a lot of decent cycling friends (200+ weekly miles) I would say that 1000 feet of elevation for each 10 miles is common. 50 miles and 5000 feet of elevation. In the bay area, a lot of the rides are similar to a lot of hikes: going up into the mountains and returning down to civilization.
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Old 09-11-15, 02:42 AM
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If you can descent at 50+ mph it was a good hill.
Having lived south of Chicago where a highway crossover was a hill, moving back to southern Germany close to the alps has redefined what I call a hilly ride.
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Old 09-11-15, 04:14 AM
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Originally Posted by sakau2007 View Post
I suppose this varies a lot by where you live and where you cycle... but I've noticed that I tend to get a lot more elevation change according to Strava than riders in other areas, including areas that I thought were pretty hilly.

Obviously, I don't expect people riding around Nebraska to get the same elevation change as people in a ski town, but I just thought I'd ask what your averages were and where you live.

Since I got my bike about 2 weeks ago I've ridden 88.5 miles and am at 9,967 feet of elevation gain. I live near Birmingham, AL.
Birmingham is no joke, my wife is from Hoover and I take my bike when we visit family. I find the hills there if you're in the wrong (or right depending perspective) area to be VERY steep. For me I can't get up them without being well above FTP. That over 30-40-50 miles gets very taxing. Where as I can ride in N GA Mtns and climb a couple of gaps where the grade is not as steep (avoiding Hogpen) and not feel as torched after the ride

Some of the stuff in Hoover (Verdure Dr) is crazy. It's hard to keep your front wheel on the ground when climbing it
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Old 09-11-15, 04:24 AM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by opie View Post
Birmingham is no joke, my wife is from Hoover and I take my bike when we visit family. I find the hills there if you're in the wrong (or right depending perspective) area to be VERY steep. For me I can't get up them without being well above FTP. That over 30-40-50 miles gets very taxing. Where as I can ride in N GA Mtns and climb a couple of gaps where the grade is not as steep (avoiding Hogpen) and not feel as torched after the ride

Some of the stuff in Hoover (Verdure Dr) is crazy. It's hard to keep your front wheel on the ground when climbing it
I'm from Hoover as well, though I haven't actually gone over to the Bluff Park side and attacked Shades Mountain yet. Yes, Verdure is going to be a heck of a hill when I try it! The majority of my riding has been on the other side of Hoover down closer to the Cahaba River. But even still, 4 of my 5 rides have exceeded 100' per mile. If I were to seek out those hills, I think it wouldn't be tough to hit 200' feet per mile. There are quite a few hills over there in the 7-12% range over a half mile long.
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Old 09-11-15, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by sakau2007 View Post
I guess I'm just trying to figure out if my riding has been a little more difficult than the average beginner faces. Because I see people ramping up quickly to 50+ miles and it is just hard for me to do a 50 mile route without hitting 5000 feet of elevation increase which is pretty demanding for a newbie like myself. I never thought of Birmingham as a particularly hilly place but maybe it is.
Count yourself lucky. Living on flat Long Island, I would welcome the fun and challenge of more hills or even long mountainous climbs. I have nothing like that and I am sure this sentiment is shared by many who live in a flatter area.
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Old 09-11-15, 07:43 AM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by bbattle View Post
Roll Tide!

You've got plenty of hills down there in the B'ham. We've got some good climbing up here in Huntsville, and a charity ride on 9-19 where you can climb Skyline mt. or Grant mt.

I'd say you've done some nice climbing since you got your bike. That's pretty much all you've been doing.


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