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20% hills and road bikes

feelfeel Posts: 800
edited December 2008 in Road beginners
Is it possible to cycle up a 20% hill (the ones with two little arrows on ordnance survey maps) on a road bike? At the weekend was in south london and cycled round Biggin hill, and from a tiny village called Down towards cudham? there was a super serious hill which killed me to get up, but i was on an old Raleigh bike whose lowest gear was F24-R28 on a 26" wheel. My road bike has a triple but it is still way taller than that and TBH 10% hills are a major struggle let alone steeper ones.
Just to put things in perspective i'm 51 and probs 2 stone over weight at thirteen and a half stone.
Any comments appreciated.
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  • redddraggonredddraggon Posts: 10,862
    feel wrote:
    Is it possible to cycle up a 20% hill (the ones with two little arrows on ordnance survey maps) on a road bike?

    Well they were getting 24% gravel tracks on road bikes in the Giro yesterday.
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  • feelfeel Posts: 800
    feel wrote:
    Is it possible to cycle up a 20% hill (the ones with two little arrows on ordnance survey maps) on a road bike?

    Well they were getting 24% gravel tracks on road bikes in the Giro yesterday.

    :shock:

    Mind I don't think there'd be many my age in that :lol: still sounds pretty impossible, did they all get up?
    We are born with the dead:
    See, they return, and bring us with them.
  • drenkromdrenkrom Posts: 1,062
    There is no easy way to get up a 20% incline. With a road triple, you should have a gear that permits it (in theory), but turning it up the hill is another story, as traction comes into play depending on surface. And I've never met any super-smooth 20% hills. The only way to know for sure is to have a go. If it won't go, you are entirely justified in strolling up part of the way and can do so with no shame. You tried, which is more than can be said for the vast majority of people.

    Have a good slog!
  • Jez monJez mon Posts: 3,809
    Well its possible, just need to get out of the saddle, and push the gear slowly. The main thing will be not falling off at such a slow speed. But apart from that you'll be able to get up it. of course it'll be quite hard but most hills are!
    You live and learn. At any rate, you live
  • thamacdaddythamacdaddy Posts: 590
    http://www.cyclosport.org/article.aspx? ... eventid=47

    Well Mow Cop is 25% and its more than possible....hurts though I believe.
  • ColinJColinJ Posts: 2,218
    feel wrote:
    Is it possible to cycle up a 20% hill (the ones with two little arrows on ordnance survey maps) on a road bike? At the weekend was in south london and cycled round Biggin hill, and from a tiny village called Down towards cudham? there was a super serious hill which killed me to get up, but i was on an old Raleigh bike whose lowest gear was F24-R28 on a 26" wheel. My road bike has a triple but it is still way taller than that and TBH 10% hills are a major struggle let alone steeper ones.
    Just to put things in perspective i'm 51 and probs 2 stone over weight at thirteen and a half stone.
    Any comments appreciated.
    Well I was 51 last year and 2 stone overweight at 14 and a bit stone and I got up a local climb called Mytholm Steeps which has a maximum gradient of 25%, so yes, it is possible. Pretty hard work though! I used a bottom gear of 30(F) 28(R). If you ride steep hills often enough, they do start to get easier after a while.

    620420865_cd3cef6bbb.jpg

    You can see a slideshow of the climb here. Note - I loaded the pictures in the wrong order so go to the last one and play it backwards.

    PS I know riders in their 70s who do these climbs so you can't use being 51 as an excuse :wink: !
  • feelfeel Posts: 800
    ColinJ wrote:
    Well I was 51 last year and 2 stone overweight at 14 and a bit stone and I got up a local climb called Mytholm Steeps which has a maximum gradient of 25%, so yes, it is possible. Pretty hard work though! I used a bottom gear of 30(F) 28(R). If you ride steep hills often enough, they do start to get easier after a while.


    PS I know riders in their 70s who do these climbs so you can't use being 51 as an excuse :wink: !

    Thanks for that Colin, just what i needed to read - mind there is a couple of scary pics in your slide show :lol:
    Think i might investigate a lower rear cassette as at present i've got a 12 - 25.
    We are born with the dead:
    See, they return, and bring us with them.
  • robklancsrobklancs Posts: 498
    heres me having a go at a 20% in the trough of bowland.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfAnV8YdjZo
  • feelfeel Posts: 800
    robklancs wrote:
    heres me having a go at a 20% in the trough of bowland.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfAnV8YdjZo

    very impressive Rob - what gearing have you got there?
    We are born with the dead:
    See, they return, and bring us with them.
  • robklancsrobklancs Posts: 498
    i really dont know. Its a triple, though i was on the middle ring on that climb, Its a shame my mate didnt keep filming, as i went past him i was done in and fell off, a true you been framed moment!
  • robklancsrobklancs Posts: 498
    just found this on the internet, though i dont really know what it means. Apparently it has a ..

    11-28 50x34T chainrings
  • ianraukianrauk Posts: 11
    edited May 2008
    Cudham Hill is actually 25% (sorry to be pedantic).
    It's also has a sharp bend.
    Not a long hill but a killer.
    I try to do it at least once a week.
  • feelfeel Posts: 800
    edited May 2008
    robklancs wrote:
    just found this on the internet, though i dont really know what it means. Apparently it has a ..

    11-28 50x34T chainrings

    11 - 28 is the number of teeth on your smallest and largest sprocket on the rear cassette

    50 - 34 says that you have a compact double chain ring on the front with 50 teeth on the big ring and 34 teeth on the smaller. I assume you were probs on the 34 and 28 in your video clip, as that is your lowest gearing.
    I have a 12- 25 rear cassette which i think i might try and change for something like yours as it is a bit more flexible for the hills.

    Edit : didn't see your earlier post about having a triple :oops: the info you got off the internet probs applies to a different version of your bike. You can tell what your bike is just by counting the teeth on your chainrings and the number of teeth on the smallest and largest sprocket on your rear cassette.
    We are born with the dead:
    See, they return, and bring us with them.
  • MettanMettan Posts: 2,103
    feel wrote:
    Is it possible to cycle up a 20% hill .........on a road bike?

    It's certainly possible to get up 20 % hills on a Road bike - locally there's a Road of about 120-180 metres in length (Short admitedly) but it's almost entirely in the region of 14-22 % approx - at the very steep sections at the top you are literally going at 3-4 mph out of the saddle, almost like a leg-press machine with a light-ish load on it - it's gruelling both Physically and Mentally - when you get up to around 20-25 % I wouldn't describe Cycling as "Riding" or "Spinning" as such, more a case of one press at a time on a "smooth-actioned" leg press machine.

    I've currently got a 50/34 Compact with a 32 Cassette - that gives me cushy/luxurious climbs to about 12-14% (dependant on length) - anything substantially over that, it's hard, even on a 34/32.
  • piedwagtail91piedwagtail91 Posts: 781
    robklancs wrote:
    heres me having a go at a 20% in the trough of bowland.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfAnV8YdjZo

    that looks more like the cows mouth climb betwen scorton and the trough T junction at marshaw than the trough. still a nasty climb with no chance of getting a run at it though.
    i've seen a lot get off because thay underestimate how steep it is.
  • celbianchicelbianchi Posts: 854
    Yes very possible.
    We raced in Richmond on Sunday and the race went 3 times over Sandbeck which is around 25% on the bottom section.

    Had a 39/23 and it was no problem.
  • I have a 20% climb on my commute every day (Bristol - sigh). I now get up it fine on a double, but it was a real nightmare to start with. I think the main problem is actually psychological. Once you know you can do it it gets easier.

    For what it's worth I'd suggest the following (they work for me at least):
    1) Take it slowly and pace yourself.
    2) Stay in the saddle for as long as possible (sitting back with your hands loosly on the top bars, in a fairly upright position to minimize effort and put some weight over the back wheel).
    3) Stand when you have to - but again take it slow.
    4) Focus on the 2 metres of tarmac in front of you rather than on the soul crushing brow which always seems miles away.
    5) Zig zag around if you've got the space to to lesson the gradient (cheating I know).

    PS. I'm 14 and a half stone (on a good day), so a bit of a fatty for climbing too. It really is doable when you set your mind to it.
  • feelfeel Posts: 800
    Ianrauk wrote:
    Cudham Hill is actually 25% (sorry to be pedantic).
    It's also has a sharp bend.
    Not a long hill but a killer.
    I try to do it at least once a week.

    sorry did not see your post last night

    Not pedantic at all Ian in fact very pleased to know that i got up a 25% hill (even if it was on a very low geared bike). In fact i was wondering about it because when i checked the key on my map , last night, i saw that one arrow means 14% to 20% and that the double arrow means greater than 20% :D
    Agree that it is certainly is a killer :lol:
    We are born with the dead:
    See, they return, and bring us with them.
  • feelfeel Posts: 800
    I have a 20% climb on my commute every day (Bristol - sigh). I now get up it fine on a double, but it was a real nightmare to start with. I think the main problem is actually psychological. Once you know you can do it it gets easier.

    For what it's worth I'd suggest the following (they work for me at least):
    1) Take it slowly and pace yourself.
    2) Stay in the saddle for as long as possible (sitting back with your hands loosly on the top bars, in a fairly upright position to minimize effort and put some weight over the back wheel).
    3) Stand when you have to - but again take it slow.
    4) Focus on the 2 metres of tarmac in front of you rather than on the soul crushing brow which always seems miles away.
    5) Zig zag around if you've got the space to to lesson the gradient (cheating I know).

    PS. I'm 14 and a half stone (on a good day), so a bit of a fatty for climbing too. It really is doable when you set your mind to it.

    thanks for the advice - i'm going to scan my local maps and seek out the big hills, unfortunately so far i haven't found any 20% ones that are local to me. Any Leicestershire folk know of any?
    We are born with the dead:
    See, they return, and bring us with them.
  • robklancsrobklancs Posts: 498
    robklancs wrote:
    heres me having a go at a 20% in the trough of bowland.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfAnV8YdjZo

    that looks more like the cows mouth climb betwen scorton and the trough T junction at marshaw than the trough. still a nasty climb with no chance of getting a run at it though.
    i've seen a lot get off because thay underestimate how steep it is.

    Sorry, didnt mean to misguide anyone. I was in the trough (forest) of bowland, not on the trough climb, the last time i tried that hill i walked part way!, on my old bike though.That is a hard hill from dunsop side. The climb in the video is between dolphinholme and abbeystead, not sure but it may be called the hairpin.
  • ColinJColinJ Posts: 2,218
    feel wrote:
    thanks for the advice - i'm going to scan my local maps and seek out the big hills, unfortunately so far i haven't found any 20% ones that are local to me. Any Leicestershire folk know of any?
    It's a bit flat round there isn't it!

    I had a quick hunt around and found a few steep little climbs just north of Melton Mowbray. Look at roads: south from Branston; south east from Harby; south from Hose; south west from Old Dalby.
  • John.TJohn.T Posts: 3,698
    20%. Eeee by gum lad, thats nowt. We have hills up to 30% up here. Boltby Bank, Rosedale Chimney and Park Rash to name just 3. You can do the first 2 on the Ryedale Rumble if you like.
    Seriously though as you get fitter you can get up 20% without totaly busting a gut. Anything more is rather painful but do-able. I can cope with 25% on 34/27 as long as it is not too long. I am 65 and 12 stone which is about 4lbs above my racing weight at 20.
  • azzerbazzerb Posts: 208
    I think Winnats pass is apparently 25% over 1 mile. So yes it should be possible :)
  • Brian BBrian B Posts: 2,071
    I have got up Hardknott Pass on my bike several times and that has gradients of 33% and after them the 20% sections feel a lot easier. As John T says above Park Rash - the start of that climb is as steep as roads come anywhere - easily 33%.
    Brian B.
  • John.TJohn.T Posts: 3,698
    Yes, Park Rash is rather steep. It is the only hill where I have seen motor cycle pillion passengers refuse to ride down. They walked down after the bikes. Whimps.
  • feelfeel Posts: 800
    ColinJ wrote:
    It's a bit flat round there isn't it!

    I had a quick hunt around and found a few steep little climbs just north of Melton Mowbray. Look at roads: south from Branston; south east from Harby; south from Hose; south west from Old Dalby.

    cheers :D

    Plenty of rolling bits but very few really steep parts. Definitely already know a couple of those you mentioned will check out the south of branston one.
    We are born with the dead:
    See, they return, and bring us with them.
  • davelakersdavelakers Posts: 762
    robklancs wrote:
    heres me having a go at a 20% in the trough of bowland.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfAnV8YdjZo

    that looks more like the cows mouth climb betwen scorton and the trough T junction at marshaw than the trough. still a nasty climb with no chance of getting a run at it though.
    i've seen a lot get off because thay underestimate how steep it is.

    It just appears out of nowhere as well!! When you go round the hairpin and start the climb you have absolutely no speed to carry you up. Thank God its only short!!

    What is the gradient of Boundary Hill does anyone know? From Marshaw side and from Dunsop Bridge?

    Its one of my favourite climbs either way and if you combine it with Jubilee, which is only about 14% but quite long, its a great stretch of road to cycle.
  • Mark AlexanderMark Alexander Posts: 2,277
    There's a 20% about 30 miles from me and i go up it using a 30 x 26 triple and have to go up the gear to stop the front wheel leaping in the air. It's easily possible but not on standard road double 39 x 25.
    http://twitter.com/mgalex
    www.ogmorevalleywheelers.co.uk

    10TT 24:36 25TT: 57:59 50TT: 2:08:11, 100TT: 4:30:05 12hr 204.... unfinished business
  • meanwhilemeanwhile Posts: 392
    feel wrote:
    Is it possible to cycle up a 20% hill (the ones with two little arrows on ordnance survey maps) on a road bike? At the weekend was in south london and cycled round Biggin hill, and from a tiny village called Down towards cudham? there was a super serious hill which killed me to get up, but i was on an old Raleigh bike whose lowest gear was F24-R28 on a 26" wheel. My road bike has a triple but it is still way taller than that and TBH 10% hills are a major struggle let alone steeper ones.
    Just to put things in perspective i'm 51 and probs 2 stone over weight at thirteen and a half stone.
    Any comments appreciated.

    If you're 51 and overweight, then unless you're very sure of your cardiovascular system, think carefully about pushing yourself to make too great a jump in performance. Train progressively.
  • term1teterm1te Posts: 1,462
    I used to live in Cudham and know that hill well, from Downe, down through Hangrove past the Girl Guide camp and up to Cudham Church. The last bit of the hill is know as test hill, my father tells me that as children they would wait by the last bend and for a small fee help to push cars up the last bit. My mother's Morris traveller used to struggle with 6 children in the back up that hill! Very nice pub near the top, the Blacksmith's Arms, about 200 m from the top of the hill on the right.
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