Comparing Rides

I have a 5 day tour coming up in a couple of months and day one is 50 miles with 3,100 feet of climbing. Last Saturday I did a 70 miles, 3,100 feet ride.

This got me to thinking, 'which is actually the harder ride? Is it the 50 miler because there is more feet of climbing per mile or is it the 70 because, the same amount of climbing is there but it's 20 miles further?'

Perhaps, the regularity of climbs is also a factor? I mean a ride with one 3000 feet climb mid way is probably easier than a 300 feet bump every 5 miles, right?

Anyone have a definitive answer? Just something to kick around on a dull Monday :smile:


  • The harder ride is whichever feels hardest! ;)

    Seriously though, there is no definitive answer. Climb profiles will definitely play a part, some people will find a couple of longer climbs suits them more, and others will find a lot of short sharp climbs feels easier. I would say that in general, the same amount of climbing packed into a shorter distance is likely to feel like the harder ride, as you are probably going to ride above threshold more regularly and with less recovery time.

    I did the Raid Pyrenean a few years back. Day 2 was 135km with 13,000 ft of climbing and day 4 was 192km with similar elevation. Day 2 was the much harder day, two HC climbs and little recovery time. Day 4 may have been much longer, but all the climbing was longer shallow stuff with lots of long descents, and plenty of flattish terrain. Climb profiles, rather than distance, was definitely the deciding factor in determining which was the tougher day.

    Obviously other factors such as how you feel, weather conditions etc. will also play a part.

  • webboo
    webboo Posts: 6,087
    I would also add how fast you ride will effect how hard it feels.
    Long and slow rather than shorter and faster will feel easier regardless of the climbing.