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How does going up and down a bridge compare to real climbing?

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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

How does going up and down a bridge compare to real climbing?

Old 07-02-08, 08:31 AM
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New Orleans is flat as can be and the bridges aren't too much better. I've found the best climbing to be in parking garages. There's one in downtown that is at least a dozen stories of spiraling incline. The descent has really improved my downhill corning.

I'll agree that it's amazing what flatlander cyclists can call a hill. I'm not originally from here and get a good chuckle when the Garmin users talk about their 200 feet of 'climbing' during a ride.
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Old 07-02-08, 08:58 AM
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at least around here, the parking garages are not as steep as the bridges, and don't offer any more vertical.
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Old 07-02-08, 09:02 AM
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I did not mean to imply that only people in FL have winds. Yes, some people are fortunate to have hills around them regardless of your definition of "hills". Some others have wind with them too, and some have none. To be quite frank, I don't particularly salivate at the thought of grinding uphill as I suck at it (likely due to my lack of riding them) and I don't particularly enjoy pointless suffering. However, I do plan to go ride in Europe later this year and will try to prepare for it so I can actually enjoy more than just the scenery.
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Old 07-02-08, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by maddyfish
No. Not in any way at all.
I was just down in Miami in March. I took my single speed road bike geared 42-16. I was out riding, and picked up a group of roadies on a ride. I rode with them talking and generally having a good time. They kept talking about the big hill coming up. I was worried a little, I mean 42-16, me, and a big hill don't mix. They said "everybody get ready, here it comes!" and then I saw it. It was a bridge. One of those big hump bridges. I breezed over it. SOme of them (who looked to be in better shape than me) actually slowed down and had a little touble. I mean it was just a bridge. My 5 year old rides up a bigger hill to school.
I'm on vacation in Savannah, GA. Similar experience here. People were freaking out about upcoming "hills" once every 15 miles. Turns out they meant "overpass." Not even real "bridges."
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Old 07-02-08, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by umd
I think 1000 feet should be adequate to count as a mountain climb
You're kidding, right?

A 300m climb won't even be noted on many race profiles I've been handed.

Those are the poppers you go over to get to the climbs.

Anything under 1000m is just a hill.
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Old 07-02-08, 09:43 AM
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To the OP: It doesn't compare, but will help.

In general, I find people are comfortable with what they are used to. A guy who doesn't live near hills will have a hard time with hills, but a guy who rides hills may have a hard time with a long flat ride. My experience is that if you are in good shape, you will adapt quickly.
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Old 07-02-08, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina
.

Anything under 1000m is just a hill.
I think that's just a tad extreme. For example I'd call the Col de Marie Blanque (total elevation 1035m, with 705m elevation gain) a real climb. Cat 1 in the TDF, and grades up to 15%

Closer to home, almost all the significant climbs in the Appalachians are under 1000 meters, including Brasstown.

Of course we call bridges hills.
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Old 07-02-08, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina
You're kidding, right?

A 300m climb won't even be noted on many race profiles I've been handed.

Those are the poppers you go over to get to the climbs.

Anything under 1000m is just a hill.
Having ridden plenty of climbs that were well over 1000 meters, I stand by 1000 feet as the minimum for a climb to be considered a mountain climb rather than a "hill". I didn't say "epic climb" or that it would be a "hard climb", but a 1000 foot climb takes long enough that you are starting to have to use similar energy systems as a longer climb. I guess it also depends on the steepness. Around here climbs of that length are usually 8% or more.
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Old 07-02-08, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by big john
Hard to simulate the lack of oxygen on an 8400' mountain, or the steady, relentless effort of the 35 mile climb to get up there.
There is still plenty of oxygen at 8,400'. I just got back from a ride up Mt. Evans this morning, and topping out at 14,130', I really felt the lack of oxygen at that altitude. I got a bit hypoxic on my final sprint into the summit parking area. Tunnel vision and little sparkly lights everywhere
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Old 07-02-08, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
I think that's just a tad extreme. For example I'd call the Col de Marie Blanque (total elevation 1035m, with 705m elevation gain) a real climb. Cat 1 in the TDF, and grades up to 15%
Didn't you just make my point?

Cats for climbs look at more than elevation. They also consider things like grades, winds and road surfaces.

Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
Closer to home, almost all the significant climbs in the Appalachians are under 1000 meters, including Brasstown.

Of course we call bridges hills.
The Appalachians really push it in terms of what I would consider a mountain. They used to be mountains but now they are just some big-ass hills. That's not to say that they aren't good climbs.

Climbs like Brasstown, or the climbs in the spring classics, are tough because they are steep and they just keep coming. The thing is that they only take a few minutes to get over. A mountain can take hours.

Before I moved here (VERY mountainous) I had a different view on what a mountain was. That's not to say I wasn't climbing where I was but there just wasn't the 30 minute +, sustained climbs that you find in real mountains.

I'm sticking to my definition; There are hills, there are climbs and there are mountains.
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Old 07-02-08, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina
I'm sticking to my definition; There are hills, there are climbs and there are mountains.
Fair enough. 2,000 feet is about all I can sneak away from my office at lunchtime to do. Our mounatin range is 4,000 high here, so I still have opportunities to do "real mountains" by your definition, time permitting. Half an hour of sustained climbing like you just mentioned seems like a good place to draw the line.
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Old 07-02-08, 05:58 PM
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To simulate lack of oxygen, just put a straw in your mouth and breath through that. That is what they do to show people what it is like to have an asthma attack. Lack of oxygen to your body because you cant get as much in. They make different sized straws, try it out!
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Old 07-02-08, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by bikerboy869
To simulate lack of oxygen, just put a straw in your mouth and breath through that. That is what they do to show people what it is like to have an asthma attack. Lack of oxygen to your body because you cant get as much in. They make different sized straws, try it out!
It's different though. At altitude, there is plenty of "air" to breath, there just isn't enough oxygen in it. It is a strange feeling to get copious lungfuls of air, but to no effect.

I was thinking that it is more like breathing into a bag, but the high CO2 in that scenario causes different effects too.
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Old 07-02-08, 06:13 PM
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Sounds like in either "test" scenario the rider is libel to pass out... not so safe for a rider...
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Old 07-02-08, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by bikerboy869
Sounds like in either "test" scenario the rider is libel to pass out... not so safe for a rider...
Very true.
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Old 07-02-08, 06:19 PM
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the causeway is like a 4-6 gradient, thats rolling hills to most people. except us miami boys
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Old 07-02-08, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by cocoasprinkles
the causeway is like a 4-6 gradient, thats rolling hills to most people. except us miami boys
That's not a bad grade, for a ten mile hill
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Old 07-02-08, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by cocoasprinkles
the causeway is like a 4-6 gradient, thats rolling hills to most people. except us miami boys
That's what I have been curious about. Thank you much. Shame we don't have mountains.
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Old 07-02-08, 07:13 PM
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I'm surprised this thread is still going. The answer to the question (in the title) is simple: IT DOESN'T EVEN COME CLOSE.

Period.

</thread>
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Old 07-02-08, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by dgasmd
I did not mean to imply that only people in FL have winds. Yes, some people are fortunate to have hills around them regardless of your definition of "hills". Some others have wind with them too, and some have none. To be quite frank, I don't particularly salivate at the thought of grinding uphill as I suck at it (likely due to my lack of riding them) and I don't particularly enjoy pointless suffering. However, I do plan to go ride in Europe later this year and will try to prepare for it so I can actually enjoy more than just the scenery.
I wasn't taking a shot at you...just pointing out that you can have the wind on the climbs

You may suck at climbing but likely only because you don't get to do much of it....it's real fun. Suffering makes us stronger right
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Old 07-02-08, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by UGASkiDawg
I wasn't taking a shot at you...just pointing out that you can have the wind on the climbs
Just for the record, same here. I commented on your post, but meant no disrespect to folks on the flats. I just think that people who don't climb all the time often don't realize that we get both wind and climb. Sometimes it is worse going down in the wind though.
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Old 07-02-08, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by dark13star
Just for the record, same here. I commented on your post, but meant no disrespect to folks on the flats. I just think that people who don't climb all the time often don't realize that we get both wind and climb. Sometimes it is worse going down in the wind though.
Yeah I was riding down Vail Pass West side in late and almost got blown of the side of the trail when a sudden 30mph gust slammed from one side of the path to the other.
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Old 07-02-08, 09:57 PM
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I agree with the grade thing being the biggest difference to real climbing.

Around here, you can go from pretty much sea level to a little over 1000' in some places, and while that doesn't necessarily impact your breathing like REAL altitude would, we have plenty of steep climbs.

The key difference is that when the build a bridge, the engineers design it so that cars and trucks will be able to climb the incline relatively easily. Sometimes this includes long lead-ups to "flatten" the incline.

Hills and mountains, on the other hand, are designed by the land. So while an engineer might not be thrilled with putting his road down on a 10%+ grade, if the valley between two 15% hills climbs at 11%, that's where they'll put the road. Since nature is shaping the grade of the hill, you almost never find a hill that has an easy (and steady) incline as a bridge.

My inlaws live on the east end of Long Island, and I'll often bring my bike when I go visit. There are a couple of nice beach rides where the road is long and flat for miles. To get to this ride, you need to go over a very tall bridge (bridge is tall to allow for sailboats to transit beneath it). It's probably somewhere around 80-90 feet in climbing. Where I normally ride, there are a few hills with that amount of climbing that are wedged into short 12% grade climbs where you generally end up in your lowest gear grinding your way up at 6 mph or so. Meanwhile, the "big bridge" is usually something that I'll climb in the big ring, with my speed dropping from 20mph on the flats to about 16mph on the hill.

There's just no comparison since bridges are designed to be easy to get over.
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Old 07-03-08, 06:54 AM
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Go to the beach, fight a head wind... hold your breath

As for hill training.. I know what ya mean <houston>. When talking about hills in my area, with some local guys, I made the crack that they had just installed a new one in my area. Then I realized just how true it was (atleast it's an over-pass that goes over an overpass.. so it's TWICE the size of most ).... closest we have.
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Old 07-03-08, 07:25 AM
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An overpass is not the same as the Verrazano Narrows, and they are not the same as a thousand foot pass. Some of these things are bigger than other things.

Also, FWIW, most of these climbs have little to nothing to do with oxygen scarcity. Living in Denver is one thing, but at four or six thousand feet of elevation there is basically no impact. I've been up most of Mount Hood (definitely above 8 thousand) and didn't notice a major change in how much wind I was sucking...
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