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Fat bloke v The Pyrenees

PostieJohnPostieJohn Posts: 1,105
edited May 2009 in Tour & expedition
We might spend a week in May, in South West France, the same as last year, only this time with bikes.

As we all know it's tricky to gauge gradient in the car, so:-

Is it possible for a 14 stone bloke, with a regular double chainset, to haul his sorry censored over the Tourmalet, and selected others?. Or should I just fit a compact?

I'm in no way deluded and won't be setting records or looking to hit 5 cols a day, more like 5 in the week, I'm just looking to get up and over.
I'm used to grinding out double figure % acents, in my own time, but obviously the South Downs 'climbs' are only 2-5kms long, and bearly 4th cat.

Posts

  • Yes :lol:
    I did, although its bloody hard.The Tourmalet goes on and on and on.
    I was around the same weight as you.
    It is also a very long drag from somwhre like Lourdes so you might want to actually start in Luz St Saviour, from St marie de Campan it is straight up.
    Enjoy though, it is awesome
    Peter
  • dilemnadilemna Posts: 2,277
    a 39T front ring and at least a 27T rear sprocket. You might be ok on a 25T if you are pretty fit.
    Life is like a roll of toilet paper; long and useful, but always ends at the wrong moment. Anon.
    Think how stupid the average person is.......
    half of them are even more stupid than you first thought.
  • GarrigouGarrigou Posts: 145
    Hi PostieJohn - Dilemma is spot on. I live and ride in the Pyrenees and whilst a compact makes it a more comfortable trip up the Tourmalet (and similar climbs), if you ride pretty regularly a 39x27 should be ok too. St Marie side is generally seen as a bit easier (cos there's 4km of only 3-4% average at the bottom); Luz St Sauveur side has the more impressive views (and a proper nasty last 250m). Enjoy y'self!
    Between me & Eddy Merckx we've won pretty much everything worth winning on a bike.
  • shawmanshawman Posts: 76
    Yes it is possible, you'll need a 39T on front and a 27T on the back. Best to base yourself around Argeles-Gazost. I'd recommend La Lanterne Rouge in St Savin, their website is a great source of info.
    www.velopeloton.com
  • MrTMrT Posts: 260
    I posted something on here a couple of days ago....i'm closer to 151/2 stone and am going up Ventoux....the replies i had seem to think i'd get up and i'm packing a 39/29...am also going to attempt Plateau de Baille and Bonascaire...for a bit of fun. Have a great ride
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    Be very careful here....Obviously I do not know your ability...and Ive seen much very bad info given on gearing for continental adventures....

    Lets be quite clear...there are only around 30 double figure % average gradient climbs in the whole UK...remember that!...there maybe many 10% gradient signs in the UK but only a very few actually average that...it usually depicts max gradient....now on the continent you maybe have a climb of say average 7.6%...e.g Tourmalet, but thats over 17.5kms...and its a horrid hard climb....the 2 Kms before La Mongie are very steep and the rest afterwards aint much better...

    I use a triple....I use my 30 x 27 for the very steepest climbs I do in the UK...Rosedale Chimney/Hardknott etc....I can do mostly all 20% UK climbs in my 30 x 24.....I did the Mortirolo in my 30 x 27....but I needed my 30 x 24 for the Tourmalet and the Ventoux..these are very very tough climbs that require respect....Im not a great cyclist but I accept my ability...and theres no way I would have got up any on a 39 x 27...no way.
    And although Ventoux is one of those must do climbs...remember its a total killer...the steep 10km section upto Chalet Reynard is unrelentingly brutal...there was a mass sportive on it the day I did it...I saw one guy with a Standard Chainset march up...he was great...I was twiddling away in my 30 x 24...only one other guy passed me...the rest on Standard Chainsets were stopping for a rest every 1/2 km...and then resumed weaving back up.

    Like I say...I do not know your ability...but please dont base these climbs on average gradients...and then try and relate it to Uk climbs...you may well ruin a good opportunity.
  • As you can see from my Pyrenees tour ('Bordeaux to Barcelona' ) some of the riders were heavy than you, so don’t let that be a deterrent

    As for gear ratios what you need to do is work out what gear ratios you like to use and then try and achieve them, making sure they are correctly positioned, no point if mathematically you can only get your most common used gear in largest ring largest sprocket.

    By way of an example that is all I have done on my tour bike, I use a 13-29 Campagnolo 10 speed set up with 26-36-46, which gives me all that I am after

    3215729488_29fb9e6661_o.jpg

    In my case for example I like gears of around 60”, you will see that I have got those on both middle and outer ring. I have done this essentially because this is a bike I use for two roles, solo rides of 15-20mph and touring rides of 12-15mph, to save repeated chain ring changes I can essentially use the big ring mainly for solo rides and the middle ring for more sociable rides. Even though it only has a 96" top gear I find that easily high enough for a mid 20-25 mph work out, for 15-20mph cruising I have ratios that I like available mid cassette on the 46 ring, this I find is the perfect set up for me. Of course everyone is different, some prefer a lower low gear and a higher high gear, horses for courses as they say

    It does take a bit of thought as to what you need both in terms of ratios and then equipment choices to achieve them, but it can nearly always be done. In my case for example I did invest in a high quality chainset to get the ring combinations I wanted, as for me personally I find many road specific triples to large for me and the ATB chainsets to small for what I want.

    Paul_Smith
    www.corridori.co.uk
  • PostieJohnPostieJohn Posts: 1,105
    Thanks for the perspective Rich, I think I'd definately go compact if I was doing an event, of some kind, there is a lot there that makes sense.

    Fortunately the people I would potentially be bragging 'hey I rode over a Pryenian climb, as ridden on TdF', aren't likely to reply with, 'oh yeah how long did that take'.

    And even if they did, my reply of 5 hours, would probably get a response of 'blimey that's quick' :lol:

    Paul, errrmmm what :lol:
  • PostieJohn wrote:
    ....Paul, errrmmm what :lol:
    :lol:

    Ok I will elaborate in an attempt to clarify, note I ended my post with the gear ratios I 'wanted', I didn't state 'needed', my tour bike is used for tours, often I want to climb a long mountain pass with little effort to take in the scenery, so I chose lower gear ratios on that bike. Bikes with either a standard double or compact chainsets by comparison are normally ridden with no luggage, plus set up generally for riding at a higher speed than a touring bike.

    You can see from that gear chart below that a 34t inner chain ring with a 27t largest sprocket, a common combination on a bike with compact transmission, will give a lowest gear ratio of approx' 34", on that style of bike that is low enough for most riders, even on a mountain pass.

    3215729488_29fb9e6661_o.jpg

    To try and explain what a 34" gear ratio equates to you will see a red Audax bike in my tour write ups under my signature below, the write up of (LEJOG) had a higher gear than that and I rode up every climb, in that specification I also toured the High Alps with two full panniers and again rode every climb.

    However, on those tours I realised when I was riding in a group I had to keep the gear turning on the climbs and ride quicker than many of my new friends, who were using lower gear ratios than me and able to ride at a slower more socialble pace, that along with wanting to take in the scenery is why you will now see that bike had a triple in some of the later tour articles. As I said gear ratio choices can take some thought, the decision may not always be down to ability.

    Note my bike is an Audax bike, I have mentioned it purely to illustrate the thought process that can go into deciding what gear ratios to go for. As an Audax bike like mine is often used potentially for slower tours, as such many like me choose to ride a triple over a double, where as seem to be considering a bike set up more for faster day ride/sportive riding; in conclusion with a 34" gear you should be able to get up anything, especially as you are planning one major climb a day as apposed to several

    Paul_Smith
    www.corridori.co.uk
  • Dear all have been reading this with interest as I will be going with the fat bloke if we go what with being married to him and all. I am wondering if there is anywhere local that anyone knows of over there to hire a bike? I can't decide whether flying over with my little bike in tow is worth it or hiring is easier. (Would need something small, used to ride and XS Specialised, now a tiny Cannondale)
  • brookterbrookter Posts: 51
    In my case for example I did invest in a high quality chainset to get the ring combinations I wanted, as for me personally I find many road specific triples to large for me and the ATB chainsets to small for what I want.

    Paul,

    Would you mind explaining what you did to get that front setup (26/36/46)? I've a Veloce triple (30/42/52 x 13/29) - I've found a replacement to take me to 50/40 but never seen anything under 30.

    Thanks

    David
  • Chaz.HardingChaz.Harding Posts: 3,228
    Little Em, it's probably best to drive and take bikes in the car, or if you have to fly, then pack you OWN bikes.

    Otherwise, halfway up the climbs, you'll be cursing the hire bike that you got that doesn't quite fit right, and is a little bit heavier. And the seat just a little more uncomfortable.

    You'll regret it. Really.

    You know your own bike, and it's what your comfortable on. So use it. The climbs can be brutal, and the descents are DAMN fast, so if you go on your own bike, you know how it handles, brakes, steers ect.

    Just take a few spare brake blocks... Like I said, the climbs can be evil, so the descents can be AWESOME (read fast).
    Boo-yah mofo
    Sick to the power of rad
    Fix it 'till it's broke
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    Brookter - have a look at the TA Specialités cranks and chainrings, they give you a much greater range of possibilities - within limits.
    The climbs can be brutal, and the descents are DAMN fast,

    A good point which is why my simple answer to what gearing to use would be the 'lowest you can' because you're never going to have any problems going fast enough coming down the other side.
  • brookter wrote:
    In my case for example I did invest in a high quality chainset to get the ring combinations I wanted, as for me personally I find many road specific triples to large for me and the ATB chainsets to small for what I want.
    Paul,
    Would you mind explaining what you did to get that front setup (26/36/46)? I've a Veloce triple (30/42/52 x 13/29) - I've found a replacement to take me to 50/40 but never seen anything under 30.
    Thanks
    David
    I use is a TA Carmina (that is a link to the distributors site and here is a link to there UK Dealers). Like you I use a 13-29, mine is with a Campagnolo Triple rear, I am using a Campagnolo triple front mech that like nearly all road bike versions are designed for larger overall rings, as you can see in the pic' below the mech line does not quite follow the chain ring.

    This can mean that you don't get such good change, more noticeably when changing into the smallest ring. I have got it working well enough for my liking, although I try not to change down under full pressure and if posible not when in the largest rear sprocket, I get a better shift if I am in 3-4th sprocket down as the mech engages the chain nearer where it was designed to do, as a precaution I have also fitted an over shift protector

    TA_carmina_1_lo.jpg

    TA_carmina_2_lo.jpg

    I did review my own chainset that may be of interest:

    Back in the good old days (sorry couldn’t resist saying that) when derailleur geared bikes only had five freewheel sprockets on the back it was common to chose exactly what ratio you wanted, freewheel manufacturers made a variety of custom built options to cater for the demand, all be it from a choice of only five sprockets! To achieve the desired gear ratio it was also normal to chose which size chain rings you used on the front, back then normally only two rings were used, triple chainsets were vary rare. Manufacturers like Stronglight and the more up market TA enabled this to be done; both had a large share of the market as a result; Shimano back then were far less popular than they are today.

    As sprockets increased and triple chain sets became common place, the variety of gears naturally increased to the extent that it is now less of a problem to achieve the desired gear ratio ‘off the peg’. However many still prefer to chose a specific set of chain ring sizes; tourists especially often desire slightly lower all round gearing than the faster set up often found on road bike specific chainsets, triples included, most of which are 30/42/50 or 52; for many this is just larger than needed.

    Stronglight and TA still exist and as then offer a full custom built service, TA are still being the more upmarket of the two, the whole thing is very well made and finished to the extent many buy these as a quality chainset on merit as apposed simply to achieve custom chainring sizes. The most popular is the ‘Carmina’ as used here with chainring sizes from as low as 24t up to 60t with crank lengths from 150 to 180mm. This flexibility is achievable as even the spider is replaceable, the larger ring model naturally having a larger spider to accommodate and is available as just a double set up, the inner triple ring going onto a separate part of the spider.

    A triple set up to achieve lower overall gearing is what most buy TA for though, 26/36/46 with a 13-29 cassette will give a reasonable high top gear as well as a set of useable low gears that should get even an unfit rider up most climbs (mid ninety inches top with most wheel tyre combinations and late twenty inches low). Just as important the most often use gear ratios are also in the chainring/sprocket combinations where the chain line is as straight and therefore as smooth as possible, making the whole transmission also last longer as a result.

    They are also available with their own TA ‘JIS’ taper BB, although this is less impressive than the chainset as the bearings are not in their own protective housing, which leaves them more exposed inside the frame and easy to damage/crush when fitting should the cups be over tightened; easily and quite often done! I have ridden 3000 miles so my concerns about the bearings themselves being more exposed are indeed starting to diminish. In conclusion this is a well made chainset, not cheap, but to many, myself included, worth the investment.


    As an update to that review I use that Chainset on three bikes, two have a Shimano BB and the one reviewed is about to have one fitted as well, although I am still really pleased with the chainsets, although like nearly everything we import the price has gone up from the manufacturer which combined with the Euro/Sterling exchange means they have gone up significantly since I bought mine

    Paul_Smith
    www.corridori.co.uk
  • brookterbrookter Posts: 51
    Paul (and Andy)

    Thank you very much for such a full answer - plenty for me to go on.

    Much appreciated

    David
  • RimTapeRimTape Posts: 243
    If you check a gear calculator
    eg http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/
    You will see that with a 39/27 ratio at 60prm you will be doing 10.9 kph

    Personally I dont like to drop as low as 60rpm and I would find it very hard to maintain 11kph all the way up a Pyrennean col.

    However if you dont mind pedalling that slowly (and are able to) (or are very fit) then I guess you will be alright.

    I use a similar setup to Paul above (Stronglight 26,36,48 ) and often find that I overtake people struggling with high gears.

    Cheers
    Velox
  • RimTape wrote:
    If you check a gear calculator
    eg http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/
    You will see that with a 39/27 ratio at 60prm you will be doing 10.9 kph

    Personally I dont like to drop as low as 60rpm and I would find it very hard to maintain 11kph all the way up a Pyrennean col.

    However if you dont mind pedalling that slowly (and are able to) (or are very fit) then I guess you will be alright.

    I use a similar setup to Paul above (Stronglight 26,36,48 ) and often find that I overtake people struggling with high gears.

    Cheers
    Velox
    That last point is valid and often something that many don't realise, often a lower ratio helps you to go faster on a long climb, not slower. UK riders are more familar with shorter hills that they can power up in a high gear, where as on a long mountain pass it is often more efficient to use a faster cadence on a lower gear and it will indeed often result in a faster speed than to use a higher gear at a lower cadence

    Paul_Smith
    www.corridori.co.uk
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