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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

Average elevation gain

Old 07-28-16, 10:27 AM
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bakes1
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Average elevation gain

I am curious how hilly the average ride is for other recreational cyclists.
My usual road routes average around 20 miles with an elevation gain of around 800 ft.
I can ofc choose alternate routes that would be less hilly or more hilly but that seems to be where I have settled in.
I get my data from Strava and am also wondering how accurate it is concerning elevation?
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Old 07-28-16, 10:33 AM
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About the same for me. 600-1000 ever 20 miles, unless I'm looking for hills.

Just saw your question about strava accuracy -- it's pretty good. I don't notice much difference (ON THE ROAD) when using my device with an altimeter and my device that doesn't have one.
Where I do notice a difference is bike paths that follow road ways *can be* WAY off on Strava.
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Old 07-28-16, 10:34 AM
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My 60-km route that I've been enjoying this summer is around 350 m of elevation. This is one of the hillier routes around here. There's one descent where I might reach 65 km/h, and to be frank, it's a bit scary.
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Old 07-28-16, 10:36 AM
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I am averaging about 80ft of climbing per mile (15m per km) this year. I mainly do climbs, so my average might be higher than most. Most rides tend to be about 100ft of climbing per mile.

Strava is only as reliable as the data it is given and elevation is inconsistent. Many lower-end Android phones report far higher than average elevation. The same for dedicated GPS devices such as watches. Even Garmin devices report bad data.

iPhones tend to be correct as well as most modern and higher-end Android phones.

Last edited by Tycho Brahe; 07-28-16 at 11:11 AM.
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Old 07-28-16, 10:41 AM
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No climbing for me ever...except the odd overpass.
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Old 07-28-16, 10:52 AM
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about 1k per 15 miles for me.
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Old 07-28-16, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by bakes1 View Post
I am curious how hilly the average ride is for other recreational cyclists.
My usual road routes average around 20 miles with an elevation gain of around 800 ft.
I can ofc choose alternate routes that would be less hilly or more hilly but that seems to be where I have settled in.
I get my data from Strava and am also wondering how accurate it is concerning elevation?
That's similar to my usual routes. I live right on the eastern escarpment of the Texas Hill Country, so if I leave my house and head west, I gain more. But even heading east I get a fair amount of gain just heading back home. South is nice when I want a variety of hills and flats. I chose the part of Austin where I live partly so I could have great rides right from my doorstep. I rarely drive somewhere to ride unless it's a charity ride.

Last edited by Gasser5.2; 07-28-16 at 11:02 AM.
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Old 07-28-16, 11:14 AM
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I consider 60'/mile moderately hilly. 100'/mile is quite hilly.
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Old 07-28-16, 11:42 AM
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My recreational cycling club has regular rides with 100 feet of climbing per mile of a loop ride (eg 6000 feet of climbing on a 60 mile ride). We consider this to be a hilly ride. We also have easier rides.
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Old 07-28-16, 12:18 PM
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100' per mile on anything over 10 miles would probably kill me or I would need to greatly reduce my overall average speed.
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Old 07-28-16, 12:44 PM
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I did Loup Loup Pass from the valley floor this weekend. It was about 3,500 of vert and a 32 mile loop. Of course half of that was the way back down. I enjoyed the ride up a lot more than the ride down, mostly because the road was awful for the descent.

On average, though, I got about 60 feet of gain per mile the last time I checked. Across all rides, the fun ones on weekends and the after work loop.
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Old 07-28-16, 12:50 PM
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It all depends on where you live. I'm in the middle of a giant river valley. I can ride 100 miles with 100 feet of elevation gain, all of that levee roads and overpasses.
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Old 07-28-16, 01:10 PM
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Average solo ride 65-75km & 600-800m excluding neighborhood rollout distance

Average group ride 75-110 & 600-1200m depending on who leads it

Convert that to your bizarre units
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Old 07-28-16, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I consider 60'/mile moderately hilly. 100'/mile is quite hilly.
This is typical for my area of the Catskills and depending on my mood (okay, ambition) my rides are similar to what you posted.
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Old 07-28-16, 01:15 PM
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I don't have a typical ride because there's so much mixed terrain in Los Angeles, where I live, and in California in general. Hill climbs are just a few miles north and south of my mid-town home.

I like to cram as much uphill as I can into as short a distance as possible. I want to put in 2,000 to 3,000 feet in 15 miles or so.

Below is a typical ride with hills from two days ago, in the Santa Monica Mountains. Of course, the start and finish were flat, so most of the climbing – 2,200 feet – took place in a little under 8 miles. That's about 280 feet or so a mile. The uphill part of those miles averaged about 10%, with some sections going to 15%.





I think these types of rides are part of the reason I wake up each morning with a heartbeat in the low 40s.
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Last edited by icyclist; 07-28-16 at 01:19 PM.
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Old 07-28-16, 01:17 PM
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I am not sure why it matters how much climbing other people have done, you will get answers from 0 to 30,000 ft.
Do what you want to do.
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Old 07-28-16, 01:26 PM
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1200-1500 feet over 20-25 miles tends to be my average. Trying to start working in more hills and bump that up once in a while.
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Old 07-28-16, 01:44 PM
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"I get my data from Strava and am also wondering how accurate it is concerning elevation?"

As long as you're getting consistent readings from the same ride, don't worry about it.
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Old 07-28-16, 01:58 PM
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If you want to test out your Strava elevation readings, select "Create Route" from the tools menu and Strava will create a route with elevation based on its data. Obviously, it should match. This method works for anybody's ride, so you can also test if someone else's device is faulty. Use this technique on any of the leaders of the Strava climbing challenge, and you will find all of them have bad elevation data.
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Old 07-28-16, 02:01 PM
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To take your question literally: average elevation gain. Since most of my rides begin and end at my garage or to somewhere, then later back, almost exactly zero.

Most of my rides (by number) are in town and back. I record that as 550'. Recent months, I have been doing little in hills so I record my rides through the Tualitin valley as flat though little of it is actually. If I ride up to Skyline over Portland, getting to 1000' is easy. Bald Peak southwest of Portland is about 1600' so that's usually a 2000' day.

I do not have a computer with elevation function on any of my bikes. I count the elevation gained on specific hills, not gradual inclines or small stuff.

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Old 07-28-16, 02:08 PM
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This shouldn't be as hard as people are making it out to be. Look at your total distance and elevation. Divide by number of rides. If you have Veloviewer, it's right on the summary page.

Total Rides: 364
Avg. distance: 34.5 miles
Avg. elevation: 1,418ft

If I climbed the "average" amount some have claimed here, combined with the miles I log, I would do over 1 million vertical feet a year. People seem to ignore the descent that invariably follows the climb when giving their "averages." My climb to the Forest Falls campground yesterday logged 4,600ft in 20.6 miles-- so I guess my BF-standard climbing average is 223ft/mi.
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Old 07-28-16, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
This shouldn't be as hard as people are making it out to be. Look at your total distance and elevation. Divide by number of rides. If you have Veloviewer, it's right on the summary page.

Total Rides: 364
Avg. distance: 34.5 miles
Avg. elevation: 1,418ft

If I climbed the "average" amount some have claimed here, combined with the miles I log, I would do over 1 million vertical feet a year. People seem to ignore the descent that invariably follows the climb when giving their "averages." My climb to the Forest Falls campground yesterday logged 4,600ft in 20.6 miles-- so I guess my BF-standard climbing average is 223ft/mi.
You're missing the point. People don't finish at an altitude that's 3k ft higher than where they started. Elevation gain is one of the main metrics displayed by strava, veloviewer, etc.
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Old 07-28-16, 03:11 PM
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Yes, but the OP asked what is the "typical" elevation gain by folks on here, which is total ascent divided by number of rides. I've averaged 42ft/mi this year, which is based on total miles ridden, both ascending and descending. I can't sit and say, "Oh my real average is like double that, because I'm not going to count the miles going downhill." That's the equivalent of having the power meter ignore zeros.
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Old 07-28-16, 03:12 PM
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The ride I'm about to go out and do is around 850' over 27 miles. Not excessively hilly. Not super flat, either. But I like hills. I try to get out to the mountains when I can. A very hilly ride for me would be 3000' over a metric century. I've done more, but I would classify that as very, very hilly. Usually pretty darn wiped, as well. Actually a very hilly ride wipes me out, too. But what can I say, I like the pain
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Old 07-28-16, 03:40 PM
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It's a matter of choice for me. Do I want to do a hilly ride or a flatish ride. Road bike or mountain bike.


I, most of the time, live on a hill in So Cal so any ride involves climbing to finish the ride, and most often to start the ride as well. I can do a road ride that averages 19.3'/mile on a 41.5 mile ride and most of the climbing is in the first mile and last two miles. I can also do one that averages 77.7'/mile over 30.8 miles and I'm rolling all the time. My mountain bike rides are all over 100'/mile with most in the 130-150'/mile range. My commute is 21.3'/mile.


When I go to our house in No Cal, the average goes up on road rides. Largely because we seek out the climbing. We average closer to 100'/mile. The commute is 36.4'/mile.


I live in North Carolina for a few years. When at the coast, a road ride was ~5'/mile. In the mountains it was ~100'/mile. The commute in Raleigh was 50.5'/mile. Mountain bike showed similar variability.


So it's all numbers and what you seek. Best to just go ride.....

Last edited by PeregrineA1; 07-28-16 at 03:41 PM. Reason: content
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