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Six Gap Century Training

Old 07-14-19, 04:02 PM
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DaveLeeNC
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Six Gap Century Training

I have decided that riding the Six Gap Century ( https://www.6gap.com/ ) within 6 weeks of my 70th birthday would be a worth goal. I have ridden two other centuries so I am not completely out of my element here. OTOH, that was a couple years ago (I did keep riding) and (unavoidably) I am a couple years older.

I have one major concern here and that is the extent and type of the climbing. My lowest gear is going to be 34 (front) and 29 (rear). So issue #1 is that, on occasion, I am going to be forced to do some very high torque/low rpm pedaling.

Issue #2 is in the area that I ride, it is very up and down but the ups never last long and the downs never last long either (just like the flats also never last long). So an extended climb of 25 or more minutes without any kind of break is going to be something of a foreign effort for me. 5 minutes of up is about the max that I encounter on my rides. In principle you can just do a big shift and keep up the effort level on the down side after a climb, but that doesn't seem to work really well to me.

So the best that I can see doing here is the following

1) Do a lot of big gear climbing (at least on the things that we call climbs around here)

2) Do a lot of hill repeats (lots of big gear stuff mixed in)

3) Find areas that allow a constant effort (even gentle uphills would work using the proper gearing), as best as I can

4) This one is a bit off the wall. I have a spinner bike with Garmin Vector pedals that I could use to actually do some 20+ minute, 240 watt (to pick a number) pedaling.

Thoughts/comments on all this? Thanks.

dave

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Old 07-14-19, 04:46 PM
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Are lower gears not an option or is 34/29 the lowest you can go?


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Old 07-14-19, 05:05 PM
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Hmm, I thought that I just posted this. Going lower would require an RD change (or at least some kind of RD extender thingey). I don't really want to do this just for one ride. Heck, my 34/27 is pretty much unused right now (in the riding that I do in my area).

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Old 07-14-19, 06:40 PM
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Gearing
Is it Campagnolo 10 speed? Then the 29 is likely as low as you can go.

Campagnolo 11 now has 11-32 available.

Long climbs
15 years ago, in preparation for long Blue Ridge Parkway climbs, I climbed the local 300 foot hills, which can be quite steep. And I did some long, steady efforts for 30 minutes to an hour, trying to keep the same effort the whole time. So I had shorter but steep climbs to work on gearing and pace, and longer flat rides to work on long, steady efforts.

I used a heart rate monitor to keep me in a range that I knew I could maintain. I decided on the number just by observation on rides. At the time, I could do 145 bpm for hours, 150 for 5-10 minutes, and 160 for maybe a minute. The numbers are all lower now, that was 10 years ago.

Pinehurst to Asheville is 3.5 hours drive time. The Blue Ridge Parkway riding is very nice, worth the trip.
Here's my favorite ride, Pinnacle Ridge to Pisgah Inn, climbing up to Richland Balsam at 6050 feet, riding to get a carryout lunch at the Pisgah Inn, and return. It can be shortened by starting at an overlook near Richland Balsam. For instance, starting at Lone Bald Overlook, mile 6.7, is 48 miles, 5500 feet round trip.

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Old 07-14-19, 06:45 PM
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rm - thanks for the comments. I have 2014 Campy Chorus (11 sp). I was under the impression that my RD just couldn't handle anything bigger than a 29 (regardless of what you might put on the cassette). But maybe I need to verify. A 32 would really change things (IMHO).

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Old 07-14-19, 06:53 PM
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It's pretty likely that a 32 will fit. I have 11 speed Shimano now, and the 11-32 is way out of range of the manufacturer's specs. It works fine on my bike.

I googled and found this old thread on 11-32. It did work for the rider's bike. Comment 4 reminds to make sure the chain fits the big-big combo -- test it on the bike stand with hand cranking. If the small-small lets the top pulley chain rub on the bottom chain, that's no big deal.

And this weight weenies thread. It worked for them too.

When I was running 10 speed Campagnolo, the 12-29 was out of range for the derailleur, but almost everyone found that it worked fine.

I really the the 34F-32R low gear. I can stay seated on 10% grades, riding slowly at a quite low cadence, but the pedal pressure is moderate. I'm not "grinding" the low cadence. I keep the 11-32 on the bike all the time, unless I'm doing a long, very flat ride.


Sprocket size


From this sprocket radius chart,
28 sprocket is 2.233 inches, 56.7 mm
29 sprocket is 2.31 inches, 58.7 mm
32 sprocket is 2.55 inches, 64.8mm. That's just 6 mm larger than a 29. Use a 5mm hex wrench as a gauge, is the gap between the top pulley and the sprocket bigger than that?

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Old 07-14-19, 07:02 PM
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Very interesting - thanks again.

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Old 07-15-19, 09:57 AM
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Yeah, modify your drivetrain, whatever it takes. It's time. At 74, my lowest gear is 26 X 30, about 23 g.i.. That's actually too low, but it's good for a bailout. Best to have a gear you never expect to use! Did 114 miles, 8000' yesterday. Dropped into that low gear for maybe 5 minutes, but probably didn't need to. OTOH, max gradient was probably only 8%, nothing in the great scheme of things. We have an 11-40 cassette on our tandem. 4 years ago, my lowest gear was 26 X 27. When I was 60, it was 30 X 25. That's how it goes.

I did some large elevation gain rides before that, gradually increasing the gain. That won't be my hardest ride for the year. That's still to come. It's all about the gain, mileage not so much. Practice on climbs with similar duration and practice hydration/electrolytes and nutrition. What you put in your mouth is key. Only eat/drink stuff you've used in practice.

G.I calculator here: Bicycle Bike Gear Ratio Speed and Cadence Calculator
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Old 07-15-19, 01:21 PM
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Reading the title, and noting the forum, I expected the thread to be about how to train for 6 Gap. My smart-aleck answer was going to be start riding one gap, then two gaps, and keep on going until you can over six gaps.

While I haven't done that ride, the people I know who have done it report there's a lot of long, steep climbing (and it gets longer and steeper as the day goes on, or the more you re-tell the story). So my constructive contribution is to echo what others have said, see about lowering your gearing. Your knees will thank you!
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Old 07-15-19, 03:06 PM
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In another thread you started, I gave you the comment below before:

If I were to do the climb, I would use my current setup which is a 50/34 with 11/32 11 speed cassette. For a 20% grade, I would use the 34/32 and stand but position my body way over the handlebars with my quads almost hitting the handlebars and arms vertical and straight. I focus on staying on my toes and not collapsing the foot and push down while thinking to unweight the other foot - think running / sprinting. Keep the arms straight and do not colapse or pump them. This is the technique used in standing starts at the track where one needs a lot of torque from zero to low crank speed rpm. The goal is not to go fast just muscle up the grade. You may even be able to walk faster than you can climb on the bike.

The training for this technique is find a local steep hill and practice. Generally, my upper body fatigues before my legs. For me, climbing shorter steep stuff is a strength / technique versus aerobic matter.


And if all you have is rolling terrain, then use the power meter, (I think you have one), and hold constant power at lower cadence for 25 minutes. What that means in practice is that you will be in a big gear on the flats and a really big gear on any descents. You will need at least a 53/11. Or without a power meter, put the bike in the 53/11 or the biggest gear you have and muscle it around your typical rides. The proviso is that you work up to it so do not start out with 25 minutes of big gear work. Big gear strength work is hard on the back and knees but so will be the Six Gap Century.
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Old 07-15-19, 05:11 PM
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Just some general comments.

I had started a somewhat similar thread not long ago in the context of Brasstown Bald. It has a similar issue with Six Gaps but a more extreme max slope (and overall shorter). At that time I rejected that ride because the max slope was too far off the charts for me on my bike. I may end up in the same place on this one, BTW.

I did a sobering ride today. It was two hours and I spent the first hour kind of experimenting with simulating long/steep climbs via 'appropriately inappropriate" gear choices. Pretty much any kind of a descent tends to negate what you are doing as your are forced into relatively high RPM's (50/11 is my biggest gear). And over-all the ride was pretty sobering. I did a good bit of higher than normal power, 45 to 55 rpm riding of relatively short duration (see previous sentences). This is a very different kind of effort and I am not convinced that I will be ready for that by 9/29. Hermes called this 'more strength than aerobic'. My sense was that it added strength to something already aerobic. OTOH, I need a rest day (today was the 7th straight day of riding of some kind). So possibly not a good evaluation of current status against those kinds of efforts.And I guess that the short climb (no more than a minute) that I did at about 320 watts at 35 rpm was possibly excessive

I am not sure that I would go as far as Hermes when he said "Generally, my upper body fatigues before my legs. For me, climbing shorter steep stuff is a strength / technique versus aerobic matter", however I agree that this is very different.

I'll keep riding for another week or two and reassess, but right now I don't see myself taking on this ride with only a 34/29. And I already pretty much don't use my 34/27 here on local rides (much less a 29 or 32). Other than this ride having a 32 tooth dinner plate on my rear wheel brings little value. I am not giving up (and will at least explore the 34/32 option), right now I am glad that I booked cancel-able reservations and have not sent in my entry fee.

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Old 07-15-19, 05:37 PM
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It's actually several climbs of 6%-7% and one of 8%-10% with one pitch of 12%. There are apparently no 20% grades. I would climb all of those seated but try to stand for short periods every 10 minutes. Each of the 3 key climbs are ~1000'. I've ridden with 3 national caliber road riders who I'm sure could climb 1000' standing. None of them are 70. One of them was the fastest American RAAM rider one year. Another won National AG champ on his tandem and had several local LD records. The other was a 2 who was local crit champ for a couple years and still holds a local LD record.

If you go with gears than can't be turned seated, once you cramp, you're finished. Once you can't turn the cranks standing, you're finished. You have to have seated gearing.

The only way you can train for something like this is to experience gradually longer bits of it over several training rides. You need to be doing 1000' climbs, period. You have to learn the pacing, hydration, and nutrition that enable riders to repeat long, hard climbs. My last training ride started with a 3300' climb of 5%-7%. Went fine, but I've done a lot of that sort of thing. The issue with the 6 Gap is that there's almost no recovery between climbs.

I guess you have a Campy Chorus triple? Just put on a 26T in place of the 30 and experiment with cassettes to get the g.i. down to where you need them to be. A simple way to guess at where to start is to get on a 10% grade with your current setup and observe the speed you're making at the effort or power than you think you can use to climb 11,000'. Use this calculator: Bicycle Gear Calculator
to convert that speed into gearing you can turn. I find 78 cadence is as slow as I can go and hold up for many hours. My guess is that you'll want a 26 X 30 or 32 bottom. The reason for 26 is that the smaller your chainring, the closer spaced will be the cassette, which will matter on long climbs.

There's also 1 descent of 12%-13% for ~2.5 miles, another twisty one of 5%-8% with a hairpin at the bottom. You're going to need good brakes and some pretty unworn rims if you're using rim brakes..
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Old 07-15-19, 05:54 PM
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11,000 feet is a lot of climbing for most folks. You may want to map out a century with 7,000-8,000 and see how that goes.
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Old 07-15-19, 06:21 PM
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One thing that confuses me is the OP even thinking about not making equipment changes. Those changes are tiny investments compared to the necessary investments in training time and effort. I guess I don't get it. I'm on fixed income and make equipment changes all the time because cycling is important to me.
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Old 07-15-19, 07:18 PM
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To each their own, but maybe the OP should consider a different century. I have no experience with this particular event, but from the descriptions here, it sounds very tough.

When the OP states that he's done a couple of centuries before, though a few years ago, he doesn't say how much climbing those other centuries had.

I do centuries all the time - I've done one each of the last 3 Saturdays- but on relatively flat terrain. But I've done centuries with >10,000' of climbing only a few times. They are different animals.

A modestly hilly century, with say 5000 or 6000' of climbing seems like a sufficiently tough goal. If that goes well, then maybe next year for the 6 gap, and begin the training earlier in the season?
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Old 07-15-19, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
11,000 feet is a lot of climbing for most folks. You may want to map out a century with 7,000-8,000 and see how that goes.
Oh, I missed this before I wrote my last post. Yes, the same idea.
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Old 07-15-19, 08:06 PM
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I am not sure where Carbonfiberboy got his info regarding this climb. Just go to RideWithGPS ( https://ridewithgps.com/routes/15981808 ) and you will find short segments of 14+% all over the place.

I also don't understand his money vs time issue WRT equipment changes. Time spent training is not a cost (to me). And the results bring value far beyond just this one ride. OTOH, a 32 tooth cassette brings no value (to me) beyond this one ride. The only reason why I have an 11-27 on my two sets of wheels is so I can ride 50/25 (F/R) without being cross-chained. And I don't know how doable a 32t is on my bike (yet). If just a 29 were enough, I would be willing to do that.

And if it is true that "You need to be doing 1000' climbs, period.", then this discussion is over. These are not available to me (without a drive that I am not going to be making just for a handful of training rides). That is why I started this thread. That kind of training would answer my questions naturally.

Whether or not I am actually going to do this one - as I said, I am not sure. I have more doubts than I had a few days ago.

dave

ps. Renting a bike for a couple weeks has crossed my mind here.
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Old 07-15-19, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
ps. Renting a bike for a couple weeks has crossed my mind here.
Unless you are really knowledgable about your bike fit, this strikes me as a bad idea. Finding out that the fit isn't quite right in the middle of a tough century could make for a very painful day. A few weeks riding the bike in advance would help, but only if that included some very long rides. When I have minor issues with bike fit, I might not know it after 40 miles, but then suddenly at, say, 80 miles my (knee/hip/back/etc) might begin to hurt something awful.
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Old 07-15-19, 09:31 PM
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As far as terrain upon which to train for events, we have what we have. So we do the best we can. Locally, I have a 20 minute climb and I can always drive to Mount Palomar and get a couple of hours of climbing. Personally, I am not a long distance climb a lot rider. I was trying to help but I will shut up and sit quietly in the corner.
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Old 07-15-19, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
I am not sure where Carbonfiberboy got his info regarding this climb. Just go to RideWithGPS ( https://ridewithgps.com/routes/15981808 ) and you will find short segments of 14+% all over the place.

I also don't understand his money vs time issue WRT equipment changes. Time spent training is not a cost (to me). And the results bring value far beyond just this one ride. OTOH, a 32 tooth cassette brings no value (to me) beyond this one ride. The only reason why I have an 11-27 on my two sets of wheels is so I can ride 50/25 (F/R) without being cross-chained. And I don't know how doable a 32t is on my bike (yet). If just a 29 were enough, I would be willing to do that.

And if it is true that "You need to be doing 1000' climbs, period.", then this discussion is over. These are not available to me (without a drive that I am not going to be making just for a handful of training rides). That is why I started this thread. That kind of training would answer my questions naturally.

Whether or not I am actually going to do this one - as I said, I am not sure. I have more doubts than I had a few days ago.

dave

ps. Renting a bike for a couple weeks has crossed my mind here.
The 6 Gap link you posted is to a ride. Never take gradient values from a ride, only from a route. Go to your linked ride and hover over the max gradient figure. See where that is on the elevation profile. Go the the profile and greatly expand the profile right there. I can guarantee you that the road doesn't look like that. Next go to a 6 Gap route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/937985
and repeat the experiment. The difference between ride and route gradients is that a GPS-recorded route has recorded the elevation at either set or varying intervals, determined by the device's programming. Thus the gain "stutters.' How do you tell the difference? Drawn routes have cue sheets, rides don't, having segments instead.

I meant that assigning a value to dollars spent on minor equipment as being greater than the value of having this accomplishment wouldn't comport with my values system. For example, money spent on a plane ticket hopefully brings more value to one's life than the cost of the ticket, a one-time charge for a product which only exists for a few hours.

You're probably right that a 29 is it for your bike. I'm used to the Shimano world and its plethora of $40 large cassettes and RDs that go to 40+ teeth. I don't know if 24T and 36T chainrings would work with your crankset and FD, but probably a 26 X 29 rig would be good enough. Again, you'd have to experiment to see what gear-inches you need for your rig. Maybe 30 X 29 would be fine for you.

I see that you live in the flatland, maybe 170 miles to the Blue Ridge Mts. That is a long way. I drove 3 hours each way for this last Sunday ride, but I don't drive that far frequently, usually not more than 2 hours. Other than my 1000' climbs rec, if you could string together enough 200' - 500' climbs to get at least 6000' in 100 miles, that would for sure help. Not the same as doing 1000' hill repeats, but still a big help.

Big life experiences are nice, for sure. It's not just another ride IMO. We have people come from all over the world to participate in some of our local rides.
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Old 07-16-19, 04:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
As far as terrain upon which to train for events, we have what we have. So we do the best we can. Locally, I have a 20 minute climb and I can always drive to Mount Palomar and get a couple of hours of climbing. Personally, I am not a long distance climb a lot rider. I was trying to help but I will shut up and sit quietly in the corner.
Hopefully, this was clear. I thought your comments were pretty much 'spot on' (re: pointing out the 'muscular nature' of this effort).

dave

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Old 07-16-19, 05:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
The 6 Gap link you posted is to a ride. Never take gradient values from a ride, only from a route. Go to your linked ride and hover over the max gradient figure. See where that is on the elevation profile. Go the the profile and greatly expand the profile right there. I can guarantee you that the road doesn't look like that. Next go to a 6 Gap route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/937985
and repeat the experiment. The difference between ride and route gradients is that a GPS-recorded route has recorded the elevation at either set or varying intervals, determined by the device's programming. Thus the gain "stutters.' How do you tell the difference? Drawn routes have cue sheets, rides don't, having segments instead.

I meant that assigning a value to dollars spent on minor equipment as being greater than the value of having this accomplishment wouldn't comport with my values system. For example, money spent on a plane ticket hopefully brings more value to one's life than the cost of the ticket, a one-time charge for a product which only exists for a few hours.

You're probably right that a 29 is it for your bike. I'm used to the Shimano world and its plethora of $40 large cassettes and RDs that go to 40+ teeth. I don't know if 24T and 36T chainrings would work with your crankset and FD, but probably a 26 X 29 rig would be good enough. Again, you'd have to experiment to see what gear-inches you need for your rig. Maybe 30 X 29 would be fine for you.

I see that you live in the flatland, maybe 170 miles to the Blue Ridge Mts. That is a long way. I drove 3 hours each way for this last Sunday ride, but I don't drive that far frequently, usually not more than 2 hours. Other than my 1000' climbs rec, if you could string together enough 200' - 500' climbs to get at least 6000' in 100 miles, that would for sure help. Not the same as doing 1000' hill repeats, but still a big help.

Big life experiences are nice, for sure. It's not just another ride IMO. We have people come from all over the world to participate in some of our local rides.
Hmm, that is very interesting (re: route data). That does change my perspective somewhat. Do you have any idea what the interval is on a RideWithGPS 'route'? Thanks.

I do most of my riding in Moore, Richmond, Montgomery, and Hoke counties. The highest elevation that I have ever seen is 750' and the lowest is 210'. Those 1000' climbs are a bit tough to find :-)

dave

ps. True flatlands would actually make it easier to simulate a long climb, IMHO. In that case a steady, low RPM effort is doable. It is the descent side of rolling hills (like around here) that makes that hard. Around here, pretty much no matter where you ride it is about 1000' of gain every 25 miles.

Last edited by DaveLeeNC; 07-16-19 at 05:34 AM.
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Old 07-16-19, 05:45 AM
  #23  
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Hill repeats. Central Iowa is pretty flat but there are some rollers and a few hills with decent grades. There are rides that are tough like 6 gap that I like to do in Wisconsin. I do them later in the summer and early fall to give me time to get in shape. I find the toughest hills locally and repeat them thrown in with longish max efforts on the flats.
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Old 07-16-19, 09:26 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
Hmm, that is very interesting (re: route data). That does change my perspective somewhat. Do you have any idea what the interval is on a RideWithGPS 'route'? Thanks.

I do most of my riding in Moore, Richmond, Montgomery, and Hoke counties. The highest elevation that I have ever seen is 750' and the lowest is 210'. Those 1000' climbs are a bit tough to find :-)

dave

ps. True flatlands would actually make it easier to simulate a long climb, IMHO. In that case a steady, low RPM effort is doable. It is the descent side of rolling hills (like around here) that makes that hard. Around here, pretty much no matter where you ride it is about 1000' of gain every 25 miles.
Calculating grades

Basically, short steep pitches can be inaccurate. The overall climb is usually correct.

Locally, ridewithgps often misses the short, steep pitches on a climb. The overall elevation gain and average grade is quite accurate. I've seen climbs with "8% max" that are really 12% or more for a short section.

On the other hand, gps recordings can be quite incorrect too. The grade depends on road distance and elevation. And recorded data can be messy and noisy. All recording sites use different smoothing methods. I often see climbs online that go 8%-11%-7%-9%-10% where the road is actually a consistent grade.

The most accurate grades are from gps recordings using barometers for altitude and a rear wheel sensor for distance.
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Old 07-16-19, 09:51 AM
  #25  
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I've live in North Georgia and have ridden these roads.

I climbed Wolfpen in both directions three times since April.

Hogpen hits 12%. There are lots of short 10% sections on the route. The inside of hairpin turns can be much higher grade but these are not able to be shown on Ride with GPS and are avoidable by riding to the outside of the turn.

Not sure anyone mentioned it but a trainer could be used to simulate effort.


-Tim-

Last edited by TimothyH; 07-16-19 at 09:59 AM.
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