Hills?

Schoie81
Schoie81 Posts: 749
edited May 2013 in Road general
New to road biking and new to this forum. Have been reading some posts and on a few people have been talking about hills they cycle and describing their gradient in terms of %... Where do people get this information from for hills?

I use Strava, which gives average gradients in % terms, but only (as far as I can work out) on 'segments' that have been set up. Do you use something to work out gradients?

There are some hills I fancy tackling around here, but would like to have some way of comparing them to the hills I already cycle up before I head out to them, just so I know how proud to be if I make it to the top! I do some hills that are steep but short, some which are shallower but long and some which are a bit of both, but other than how I feel cycling up them, I haven't any way of quantifying how they compare to each other in terms of difficulty....

Just interested..... :)
"I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated"
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Comments

  • mrfpb
    mrfpb Posts: 4,569
    I first used a bike clock with an altimeter. Cat Eye adventurer. Lots are available. Many bike specific GPS devices will give a gradient too - but you might need to explore the options to find it. if you use strava I guess you have a GPS. You just need to glance at the reading occasionally to check what gradient your on.
  • Schoie81
    Schoie81 Posts: 749
    Mrfpb - thanks. I use Strava on my smartphone, which is in my pocket or frame bag when i'm on the bike - so no glancing at the screen!! Does Strava give gradient readings as you're cycling then?

    To be honest, its not that big a deal, I was just curious. Don't think i'm bothered enough to spend money on kit to tell me, just wondered if there was maybe a mapping website or smartphone app that gives you hill gradients? Would be nice to know, but not really something I NEED to know! Might see if I get get at my phone to check on Strava though, if that'll tell me....
    "I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated"
  • marylogic
    marylogic Posts: 355
    Before I got my garmin I got an inclinometer from Sky-mounti from Germany

    http://www.skymounti.com/html/gb.html

    It's essentially a handlebar mounted spirit level, but if you don't want to fork out for an expensive cycle computer these are great fun.

    One thing I have noticed with all these devices is that it's very hard to look at them when you are cycling up very steep hills
  • jameses
    jameses Posts: 653
    Sites like mapmyride.com will usually give a gradient map when you plot in a course. With that site it's best just to map the hill you want to find out about, otherwise it will average the incline over a larger distance. Also, it doesn't register anything as greater than 20%. It's not perfect, but will give you a good idea of what you'll be going up against.
  • drlodge
    drlodge Posts: 4,826
    Sites like http://www.bikeroutetoaster.com/ just like MMR will give approximate gradients and overall ascent for routes that are plotted out. Also my Garmin 800 gives the %age at the time as well as on Strava. None are particularly accurate, although the average gradient is probably not far off.

    The key factor for me is the steepest gradient on any hill. Anything over 15% is going to be a challenge, under 10% and its fairly easy going.
    WyndyMilla Massive Attack | Rourke 953 | Condor Italia 531 Pro | Boardman CX Pro | DT Swiss RR440 Tubeless Wheels
    Find me on Strava
  • bernithebiker
    bernithebiker Posts: 4,148
    drlodge wrote:
    under 10% and its fairly easy going.

    Alpe d'Huez is 'fairly easy going'?!
  • dennisn
    dennisn Posts: 10,601
    drlodge wrote:
    under 10% and its fairly easy going.

    Alpe d'Huez is 'fairly easy going'?!

    I'm with you on this one. Never ridden Alpe but have been up a few 10%'ers in my time.
    Easy? Even fairly easy? Don't think so. Unless maybe "dr" is that guy who regularly pushes a 53-11. :roll:
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    drlodge wrote:
    under 10% and its fairly easy going.

    Alpe d'Huez is 'fairly easy going'?!

    average gradient about 8% - easy going with the right gearing.
  • Cheshire Cat
    Cheshire Cat Posts: 309
    under 10% and its fairly easy going.

    I wasn't thinking that whilst going up Hardknott the other day.
    “Faster, Faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death.” Hunter S Thompson
  • mr_joe0606
    mr_joe0606 Posts: 104
    under 10% and its fairly easy going.

    I wasn't thinking that whilst going up Hardknott the other day.


    hardknotts 25%-30% most off the way
  • Cheshire Cat
    Cheshire Cat Posts: 309
    mr_joe0606 wrote:
    under 10% and its fairly easy going.

    I wasn't thinking that whilst going up Hardknott the other day.


    hardknotts 25%-30% most off the way

    No it's not.
    “Faster, Faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death.” Hunter S Thompson
  • roger_merriman
    roger_merriman Posts: 6,165
    mr_joe0606 wrote:
    under 10% and its fairly easy going.

    I wasn't thinking that whilst going up Hardknott the other day.


    hardknotts 25%-30% most off the way

    No it's not.

    indeed it's 12/13 % average, lurking in forgotten valleys of UK are hills with truely horrific average grades.... Hardknott is a spectacular climb and it's peak grade is nothing to be sniffed at.
  • dennisn
    dennisn Posts: 10,601
    To put some of the claims of steepness into perspective, Canton Ave. in Pittsburg, Penn. is reguarded as the steepest street in the U.S. It was measured as having a 37% slope in one section. This is about 20 degrees. I'm sure that there are plenty of claims or "I heard about's" all over the world that purport to be "way steeper that that". But aside from mountain goat trails and some Jeep roads I doubt you'll come across pavement much steeper than Canton Ave.
  • bernithebiker
    bernithebiker Posts: 4,148
    dennisn wrote:
    To put some of the claims of steepness into perspective, Canton Ave. in Pittsburg, Penn. is reguarded as the steepest street in the U.S. It was measured as having a 37% slope in one section. This is about 20 degrees. I'm sure that there are plenty of claims or "I heard about's" all over the world that purport to be "way steeper that that". But aside from mountain goat trails and some Jeep roads I doubt you'll come across pavement much steeper than Canton Ave.

    Had to be in the good 'ol U S of A, didn't it?!
  • thegreatdivide
    thegreatdivide Posts: 5,803
    dennisn wrote:
    To put some of the claims of steepness into perspective, Canton Ave. in Pittsburg, Penn. is reguarded as the steepest street in the U.S. It was measured as having a 37% slope in one section. This is about 20 degrees. I'm sure that there are plenty of claims or "I heard about's" all over the world that purport to be "way steeper that that". But aside from mountain goat trails and some Jeep roads I doubt you'll come across pavement much steeper than Canton Ave.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldwin_Street
  • farrina
    farrina Posts: 360
    edited May 2013
    Ordnance Survey maps where my first introduction to hill gradients (before the time of cycle computers et al) and double arrows on OS maps were to be feared.

    http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/education-and-research/teaching-resources/investigating-gradients.html

    Unless of course we were going down them! :D

    Real world example here http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=291270&Y=322160&A=Y&Z=120 and a review of the same here (from a daft cyclist) http://100hillsforgeorge.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/hill-no-88-91-bwlch-y-groes.html

    <shudder>
    Regards
    Alan
  • DavidJB
    DavidJB Posts: 2,019
    dennisn wrote:
    To put some of the claims of steepness into perspective, Canton Ave. in Pittsburg, Penn. is reguarded as the steepest street in the U.S. It was measured as having a 37% slope in one section. This is about 20 degrees. I'm sure that there are plenty of claims or "I heard about's" all over the world that purport to be "way steeper that that". But aside from mountain goat trails and some Jeep roads I doubt you'll come across pavement much steeper than Canton Ave.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldwin_Street

    I'd big ring that.
  • thegreatdivide
    thegreatdivide Posts: 5,803
    DavidJB wrote:
    dennisn wrote:
    To put some of the claims of steepness into perspective, Canton Ave. in Pittsburg, Penn. is reguarded as the steepest street in the U.S. It was measured as having a 37% slope in one section. This is about 20 degrees. I'm sure that there are plenty of claims or "I heard about's" all over the world that purport to be "way steeper that that". But aside from mountain goat trails and some Jeep roads I doubt you'll come across pavement much steeper than Canton Ave.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldwin_Street

    I'd big ring that.

    Fixie both ways.
  • TheSmithers
    TheSmithers Posts: 291
    drlodge wrote:
    Anything over 15% is going to be a challenge, under 10% and its fairly easy going.

    Easy going? I think that rather depends on how long the hill is. There's a few climbs around my way that avg between 4 and 5% over a distance of 4 miles or so. Easy going is certainly not what I'd use to describe the sensation whenever I climb them. You must be pretty darn good!
  • drlodge
    drlodge Posts: 4,826
    drlodge wrote:
    Anything over 15% is going to be a challenge, under 10% and its fairly easy going.

    Easy going? I think that rather depends on how long the hill is. There's a few climbs around my way that avg between 4 and 5% over a distance of 4 miles or so. Easy going is certainly not what I'd use to describe the sensation whenever I climb them. You must be pretty darn good!

    May be "easy going" is not quite right, what I mean is that at about 10% is starts to get hard. Obviously doing 8% over many miles isn't "easy going". To give an example: Hollow Lane, which is 2.5 miles, ascending Leith Hill is a long climb but not too steep (< 10%) so I find this relatively easy going compared to say Barhatch "The Widowmaker" which ramps up to > 10% and finally 21%. FYI I'm 12 stone and bottom gear is 34x27.
    WyndyMilla Massive Attack | Rourke 953 | Condor Italia 531 Pro | Boardman CX Pro | DT Swiss RR440 Tubeless Wheels
    Find me on Strava
  • Schoie81
    Schoie81 Posts: 749
    Hi,

    Tried bikeridetoaster.com but couldn't see anywhere where it gave actually grades, either for sections of the hill, or an average grade for the whole hill. Could only see distance and height climbed (yes I know I could work it out...). mapmyride does give section grades though, which is just what I wanted, I don't think its very accurate (one hill I cycle on every week it gives as being almost flat at one section, it does level off a bit, bit it most certainly isn't flat!!), but it gives me a general idea and assuming the inaccuracy is consistent, I can still use it to compare hills i've not cycled yet with hills I know. One of the hills just down from my house it gives as being 17% on one section, I don't think its that steep, but if it is, i'm quite pleased with myself!! :)

    Marylogic - any idea where to get the Sky Mounti from? I can't find a retailer of them? Even the link on the sky mounti website doesn't go anyway - only to a site under construction... You're right, it does look like my kind of thing - i've got a little spirit level - might attempt to make my own!?!?!
    "I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated"
  • alexjones5
    alexjones5 Posts: 42
    getting back to the topic why not just set the segments up on strava when you're at home then you'll know what the gradients are and also be able to measure your improvements over time?
  • Schoie81
    Schoie81 Posts: 749
    AlexJones - great idea - but I've no idea how to set up segments on Strava - this is something i'd like to do anyway! Can you do it without paying a subsription to Strava - or is creating segments something you can only do if you subscribe?
    "I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated"
  • TheSmithers
    TheSmithers Posts: 291
    drlodge wrote:
    May be "easy going" is not quite right, what I mean is that at about 10% is starts to get hard. Obviously doing 8% over many miles isn't "easy going". To give an example: Hollow Lane, which is 2.5 miles, ascending Leith Hill is a long climb but not too steep (< 10%) so I find this relatively easy going compared to say Barhatch "The Widowmaker" which ramps up to > 10% and finally 21%. FYI I'm 12 stone and bottom gear is 34x27.

    I know what you mean. There's a Cat 3 climb near me, which I find easier than most of the Cat 4 climbs because it's a long climb (nearly 4 miles) at quite a steady 4.5%, which allows me to get into a rhythm. I guess there are a lot of factors that make a hill easier or harder other than just its grade. There's a short 20 mile ride I do, which on paper should be a doddle. There are no rated or epic hills to speak of, yet what hills there are are short and steep (>10%) and come at you thick and fast, one after the other. You can't get into a rhythm as you're constantly switching between chain rings. Definitely one of the hardest rides I do.
  • marylogic
    marylogic Posts: 355
    I got the inclinometer from rosebikes

    http://www.rosebikes.co.uk/article/sky- ... /aid:20564

    They are based in Germany but you can pay in Sterling and I received it promptly. Althought there is a slight time lag with it it's actually better than the garmin and at the price you can't really complain.

    I have a hill near by that I thought was about 7% that I always found tough, but the inclinometer showed it was nearer 11% so I didn't feel like so much of a girls blouse 8)
  • goonz
    goonz Posts: 3,106
    There are either some really good cyclists here or some extreme exaggerations on the size of people nut sacks!
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  • kingstonian
    kingstonian Posts: 2,847
    goonz wrote:
    There are either some really good cyclists here or some extreme exaggerations on the size of people nut sacks!


    My nut sack is so big it is a hindrance on tough climbs. Or that is my excuse and i am sticking to it.......
  • NUFCrichard
    NUFCrichard Posts: 103
    goonz wrote:
    There are either some really good cyclists here or some extreme exaggerations on the size of people nut sacks!

    This is the internet! You need to translate a few phrases so that they are more realistic.
    Average speed = Speed occasionally hit on the flat with a tail wind
    300watts = 200watts
    long 20% hill = motorway overpass
    and in this case easy going = I can ride up it without stopping, if I use my 34/27 with a low cadence!
  • drlodge
    drlodge Posts: 4,826
    goonz wrote:
    There are either some really good cyclists here or some extreme exaggerations on the size of people nut sacks!

    I'm quite good now, but no where near the top! Here's my Tuesday ride hitting the hills, climbs like Combe Lane and Crocknorth are pretty steep and challenging at the top, whereas Newlands, Leith Hill and Ranmore are less severe (but longer). 10% is simply where I mentally draw the line between "I can do it, no problem" and "I've got to work at this one".

    > 10% normally means getting out of the saddle at some point, if that helps.

    http://app.strava.com/activities/55563763
    WyndyMilla Massive Attack | Rourke 953 | Condor Italia 531 Pro | Boardman CX Pro | DT Swiss RR440 Tubeless Wheels
    Find me on Strava
  • hatch87
    hatch87 Posts: 352
    I use runningfreeonline.com Shows you the percentage on a graph, seems to accurateish. Heres an example http://www.runningfreeonline.com/Map/Cr ... urse/19505
    http://app.strava.com/athletes/686217
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