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Anyone can ride Alpine climbs

larkimlarkim Posts: 2,304
edited August 2016 in Road beginners
Just got back from a family holiday in the French Alps. Despite only riding about 400 miles per year on my roadie (and similar on my MTB) I managed to sneak it onto the car "just in case" I got to do any climbs.

Managed to get a couple of rides up to Avoriaz (c.7% grad, 14 km, 800+m of climb) and got up both times without stopping (though going reasonable slowly - took just over an hour).

Just goes to show you don't have to be too nervous of these sorts of climbs!
2015 Canyon Nerve AL 6.0 (son #1's)
2011 Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc (son #3s)
2013 Decathlon Triban 3 (red) (mine)
2019 Hoy Bonaly 26" Disc (son #2s)
2018 Voodoo Bizango (mine)
2018 Voodoo Maji (wife's)
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  • Sone of the fittest riders I know race MTB's
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • mrb123mrb123 Posts: 2,648
    My experience of alpine/Mallorcan climbs has always been that they are pretty easy so long as you've got sensible gearing. The roads are constructed so well that the gradients are never steep and you can always find a nice rhythm and spin up them.

    UK climbs like Hardknott and Great Dun Fell on the other hand will always be brutal even with a compact and a wide range cassette.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 13,188
    Gearing and pacing.
    It is only as hard as you make it.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,321
    mrb123 wrote:
    My experience of alpine/Mallorcan climbs has always been that they are pretty easy so long as you've got sensible gearing. The roads are constructed so well that the gradients are never steep and you can always find a nice rhythm and spin up them.

    UK climbs like Hardknott and Great Dun Fell on the other hand will always be brutal even with a compact and a wide range cassette.

    That's because you are carefully selected the "easy ones". Bear in mind the TdF doesn't go in search of the hardest possible climbs, but rather those which can take the all shabadan of cars and trucks. There are roads in the alps that average over 10% for miles and while Hardknott is very steep indeed 2.2 Km at 14%, but it only climbs 300 metres, the fact that most folks can do it after 90 miles of a hilly sportive is significant. In my neck of the woods we have a 5 Km at 12%, that's twice as long, although it only tops at 20-22%.

    Mt Washington in north east USA climbs 1500 mt at an average 12%... that is seriously brutal and not many would be able to do it after 90 gruelling miles...

    There are very steep roads in France too, mostly ignored by UCI races
  • larkimlarkim Posts: 2,304
    I was trying to be positive and supportive to other beginners...
    2015 Canyon Nerve AL 6.0 (son #1's)
    2011 Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc (son #3s)
    2013 Decathlon Triban 3 (red) (mine)
    2019 Hoy Bonaly 26" Disc (son #2s)
    2018 Voodoo Bizango (mine)
    2018 Voodoo Maji (wife's)
  • mrb123mrb123 Posts: 2,648
    mrb123 wrote:
    My experience of alpine/Mallorcan climbs has always been that they are pretty easy so long as you've got sensible gearing. The roads are constructed so well that the gradients are never steep and you can always find a nice rhythm and spin up them.

    UK climbs like Hardknott and Great Dun Fell on the other hand will always be brutal even with a compact and a wide range cassette.

    That's because you are carefully selected the "easy ones". Bear in mind the TdF doesn't go in search of the hardest possible climbs, but rather those which can take the all shabadan of cars and trucks. There are roads in the alps that average over 10% for miles and while Hardknott is very steep indeed 2.2 Km at 14%, but it only climbs 300 metres, the fact that most folks can do it after 90 miles of a hilly sportive is significant. In my neck of the woods we have a 5 Km at 12%, that's twice as long, although it only tops at 20-22%.

    Mt Washington in north east USA climbs 1500 mt at an average 12%... that is seriously brutal and not many would be able to do it after 90 gruelling miles...

    There are very steep roads in France too, mostly ignored by UCI races

    Yeah, I don't doubt there are harder climbs in Europe than we could ever find in the UK. The stats for stuff like the Angliru and Mortirolo make them sound really tough - long AND steep. There are probably even tougher hills out there for those that know where to find them.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 13,188
    mrb123 wrote:

    Yeah, I don't doubt there are harder climbs in Europe than we could ever find in the UK. The stats for stuff like the Angliru and Mortirolo make them sound really tough - long AND steep. There are probably even tougher hills out there for those that know where to find them.
    Did anyone watch the Vuelta yesterday?
    That was a relatively unknown short climb (1.8km) but looked, "challenging".
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • mrb123mrb123 Posts: 2,648
    pblakeney wrote:
    mrb123 wrote:

    Yeah, I don't doubt there are harder climbs in Europe than we could ever find in the UK. The stats for stuff like the Angliru and Mortirolo make them sound really tough - long AND steep. There are probably even tougher hills out there for those that know where to find them.
    Did anyone watch the Vuelta yesterday?
    That was a relatively unknown short climb (1.8km) but looked, "challenging".

    Yeah, not dissimilar stats to Harknott actually looking at the Strava segments.
  • prhymeateprhymeate Posts: 792
    larkim wrote:
    Just got back from a family holiday in the French Alps. Despite only riding about 400 miles per year on my roadie (and similar on my MTB) I managed to sneak it onto the car "just in case" I got to do any climbs.

    Managed to get a couple of rides up to Avoriaz (c.7% grad, 14 km, 800+m of climb) and got up both times without stopping (though going reasonable slowly - took just over an hour).

    Just goes to show you don't have to be too nervous of these sorts of climbs!

    ha, I had the same realisation on the same route (assuming you were going from Morzine) when I first started. It surprised me how high you can get relatively easily and quickly. Nice area for cycling and downhill mtb.
  • larkimlarkim Posts: 2,304
    Did both routes - from Morzine to the top, down via Lindarets into Montriond, and then the reverse route (which was more challenging at first, though it eased off after Lindarets). Though not on the same day!

    I know these aren't "hard" routes and there are plenty of tougher routes out there, but my point is that if you're a novice and can cycle 20-30mile undulating routes in the UK at a reasonable pace (e.g. 16mph or so, which is my average), then if you are in the Alps don't be put off by what seems to be an immense climb. You can do it, and it will be rewarding.

    (My gearing I think is 30/39/50 triple and 12-25 cassette at the rear - I found that 30/25 was OK for sitting and spinning in, albeit slowly, but I had to gear up to 30/21 or so when standing up as otherwise there was too little resistance. When sitting on the 9% stuff I think I would have liked an extra gear just to keep the cadence up, but it wasn't too much of a problem and I suppose is not too different than the 34/28 combination on a compact that many will ride with.)

    The most irritating bit on the first day of the climb was being overtaken by two 50 year olds (male and female) on MTBs - which disheartened me when I could see them coming, but then when I saw the massive battery packs on their Haibikes I had the answer I needed :-)
    2015 Canyon Nerve AL 6.0 (son #1's)
    2011 Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc (son #3s)
    2013 Decathlon Triban 3 (red) (mine)
    2019 Hoy Bonaly 26" Disc (son #2s)
    2018 Voodoo Bizango (mine)
    2018 Voodoo Maji (wife's)
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 13,188
    larkim wrote:
    The most irritating bit on the first day of the climb was being overtaken by two 50 year olds (male and female) on MTBs - which disheartened me when I could see them coming, but then when I saw the massive battery packs on their Haibikes I had the answer I needed :-)
    I had that with a couple of 20 somethings going up San Salvador in Mallorca, laughing at me struggling in 38 degree heat. Oh how I laughed when a battery ran out of juice 2/3 the way up. :twisted:
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • Totally agree for Mallorca at least, the vast majority of the popular climbs, be it San Salvador, Sa Calobra, Puig Major, the gradient isn't rediculous, as long as you've got reasonable gears you'll be fine. I did the Puig Major 6 months after I'd started cycling and 3 weeks after my first ride on a road bike - it look me a while but I made it.
  • haydenmhaydenm Posts: 2,868
    I made my GF ride up to the Morillon 1100m last summer, it's only half the height of Avoriaz but she was a complete beginner (on road or MTB). She nearly cried the whole way up but felt much happier after eating our body weight in cheese at the top...

    I did the Plateau des Saix from Samoens in the rain a few days later which was my second ever road ride, 8.4km 9.9% 830m elevation gain and I was pretty unfit last summer, greatly enjoyed
  • GreggerGregger Posts: 71
    larkim wrote:
    I was trying to be positive and supportive to other beginners...

    and that is reassuring with my Tourmalet plans

    although I'll probably be cursing you half way up
  • larkimlarkim Posts: 2,304
    You'll be fine!
    2015 Canyon Nerve AL 6.0 (son #1's)
    2011 Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc (son #3s)
    2013 Decathlon Triban 3 (red) (mine)
    2019 Hoy Bonaly 26" Disc (son #2s)
    2018 Voodoo Bizango (mine)
    2018 Voodoo Maji (wife's)
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 13,188
    It's all in the mind.
    And the legs. And the gearing. And the bike. You will need a new bike obviously. :wink:
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • larkimlarkim Posts: 2,304
    One of the things I particularly liked was the signs at each km. A km is so much nicer a distance than a mile as they come around more often. And whilst the %age shown on the sign can be dispiriting, it's amazing how nice it feels when you come across the odd 5% or 6% when you've been ploughing through 7s, 8s and 9s for the climb so far!
    2015 Canyon Nerve AL 6.0 (son #1's)
    2011 Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc (son #3s)
    2013 Decathlon Triban 3 (red) (mine)
    2019 Hoy Bonaly 26" Disc (son #2s)
    2018 Voodoo Bizango (mine)
    2018 Voodoo Maji (wife's)
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    larkim wrote:
    The most irritating bit on the first day of the climb was being overtaken by two 50 year olds (male and female) on MTBs - which disheartened me when I could see them coming, but then when I saw the massive battery packs on their Haibikes I had the answer I needed :-)
    There are a lot of 50 plus cyclists that are still very fast so don't be too disheartened in the future if some 50 plus cyclists spin past you on climbs on road bikes, without battery assistance.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,321
    Advances in bike technology, electronics and such stuff means that tackling a big TdF climb is no longer the challenge it was even just 30 years ago, when the best you could hope for was a 42 x 25 gear ratio a 9 Kg bike, generally one water bottle holder, no computers and very mediocre wind/waterproof gear.

    I have seen truly hopeless cyclists going up Aubisque and Tourmalet in the same day...
  • larkimlarkim Posts: 2,304
    larkim wrote:
    The most irritating bit on the first day of the climb was being overtaken by two 50 year olds (male and female) on MTBs - which disheartened me when I could see them coming, but then when I saw the massive battery packs on their Haibikes I had the answer I needed :-)
    There are a lot of 50 plus cyclists that are still very fast so don't be too disheartened in the future if some 50 plus cyclists spin past you on climbs on road bikes, without battery assistance.
    Don't worry, it wasn't the age. It was the MTBs, it was the full walking anoraks, lack of any lycra, they just looked like they were heading out for the shops!

    I'm very, very well aware that 50 or even 60 year old cyclists are often far more competent than me at riding and climbing!!
    2015 Canyon Nerve AL 6.0 (son #1's)
    2011 Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc (son #3s)
    2013 Decathlon Triban 3 (red) (mine)
    2019 Hoy Bonaly 26" Disc (son #2s)
    2018 Voodoo Bizango (mine)
    2018 Voodoo Maji (wife's)
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    Advances in bike technology, electronics and such stuff means that tackling a big TdF climb is no longer the challenge it was even just 30 years ago, when the best you could hope for was a 42 x 25 gear ratio a 9 Kg bike, generally one water bottle holder, no computers and very mediocre wind/waterproof gear.

    I have seen truly hopeless cyclists going up Aubisque and Tourmalet in the same day...
    What do you mean by "truly hopeless cyclists"?
  • larkimlarkim Posts: 2,304
    He probably means people like me :lol::lol:
    2015 Canyon Nerve AL 6.0 (son #1's)
    2011 Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc (son #3s)
    2013 Decathlon Triban 3 (red) (mine)
    2019 Hoy Bonaly 26" Disc (son #2s)
    2018 Voodoo Bizango (mine)
    2018 Voodoo Maji (wife's)
  • larkimlarkim Posts: 2,304
    Though my bike is 10.5kg...
    2015 Canyon Nerve AL 6.0 (son #1's)
    2011 Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc (son #3s)
    2013 Decathlon Triban 3 (red) (mine)
    2019 Hoy Bonaly 26" Disc (son #2s)
    2018 Voodoo Bizango (mine)
    2018 Voodoo Maji (wife's)
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,321

    I have seen truly hopeless cyclists going up Aubisque and Tourmalet in the same day...
    What do you mean by "truly hopeless cyclists"?

    People for which the equation lycra + mountains should not give a positive solution, but it does, somehow... people who weigh 15 times their bike or over... basically cyclists you would think they would never stand a chance in the world to climb the Tourmalet, but yet, they do... the advent of 34 x 32 gear ratios or smaller means virtually anyone can climb those mountains, with a splinter of determination... modern brakes means they won't die coming down them and modern clothes means that can be done virtually any time the road is open
  • mrb123mrb123 Posts: 2,648
    Advances in bike technology, electronics and such stuff means that tackling a big TdF climb is no longer the challenge it was even just 30 years ago, when the best you could hope for was a 42 x 25 gear ratio a 9 Kg bike, generally one water bottle holder, no computers and very mediocre wind/waterproof gear.

    I have seen truly hopeless cyclists going up Aubisque and Tourmalet in the same day...
    What do you mean by "truly hopeless cyclists"?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/ar ... rance.html
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 13,188
    mrb123 wrote:
    Advances in bike technology, electronics and such stuff means that tackling a big TdF climb is no longer the challenge it was even just 30 years ago, when the best you could hope for was a 42 x 25 gear ratio a 9 Kg bike, generally one water bottle holder, no computers and very mediocre wind/waterproof gear.

    I have seen truly hopeless cyclists going up Aubisque and Tourmalet in the same day...
    What do you mean by "truly hopeless cyclists"?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/ar ... rance.html
    Is that really what constitutes news these days? :shock: :?
    Rich bloke buys expensive kit and goes for a bike ride, which gets him fit. I suppose it would be news to the dense.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • larkim wrote:
    One of the things I particularly liked was the signs at each km. A km is so much nicer a distance than a mile as they come around more often. And whilst the %age shown on the sign can be dispiriting, it's amazing how nice it feels when you come across the odd 5% or 6% when you've been ploughing through 7s, 8s and 9s for the climb so far!

    haha yeah. At the tougher points I was saying to myself - just keep going to the next marker, then you can take a break.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,321
    mrb123 wrote:
    Advances in bike technology, electronics and such stuff means that tackling a big TdF climb is no longer the challenge it was even just 30 years ago, when the best you could hope for was a 42 x 25 gear ratio a 9 Kg bike, generally one water bottle holder, no computers and very mediocre wind/waterproof gear.

    I have seen truly hopeless cyclists going up Aubisque and Tourmalet in the same day...
    What do you mean by "truly hopeless cyclists"?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/ar ... rance.html

    I have given up on PRO kit in my late 30s, probably half his BMI... at his age he should really know better than wearing that... ridiculous
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664

    I have seen truly hopeless cyclists going up Aubisque and Tourmalet in the same day...
    What do you mean by "truly hopeless cyclists"?

    People for which the equation lycra + mountains should not give a positive solution, but it does, somehow... people who weigh 15 times their bike or over... basically cyclists you would think they would never stand a chance in the world to climb the Tourmalet, but yet, they do... the advent of 34 x 32 gear ratios or smaller means virtually anyone can climb those mountains, with a splinter of determination... modern brakes means they won't die coming down them and modern clothes means that can be done virtually any time the road is open
    Is that not a good thing that some people who were previously excluded from cycling are now able to challenge themselves and get fitter in the process?
  • bflkbflk Posts: 240

    I have seen truly hopeless cyclists going up Aubisque and Tourmalet in the same day...
    What do you mean by "truly hopeless cyclists"?

    People for which the equation lycra + mountains should not give a positive solution, but it does, somehow... people who weigh 15 times their bike or over... basically cyclists you would think they would never stand a chance in the world to climb the Tourmalet, but yet, they do... the advent of 34 x 32 gear ratios or smaller means virtually anyone can climb those mountains, with a splinter of determination... modern brakes means they won't die coming down them and modern clothes means that can be done virtually any time the road is open
    Is that not a good thing that some people who were previously excluded from cycling are now able to challenge themselves and get fitter in the process?

    You'd think so, especially in a forum called Road Beginners. Apparently if you are a bit old or overweight you just get mocked. :roll:
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