Climbing Speed on Steep Grades

Discussion in 'Recumbent bicycles' started by Stratrider, Jun 10, 2003.

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  1. Stratrider

    Stratrider Guest

    I often read about riders who average 18-20 mph on their rides. My first instinct is to slip into
    depression as I compare that speed to my 14-17 mph depending on the route I take. Question. Are the
    18-20 mph crowd all riding in rugged, hilly Florida? On a typical 30 - 40 mile ride, I will
    encounter several 10 - 12 + percent grades some extending for 2-3 miles. These hills KILL my average
    speed for the ride. I am down in the granny gear spinning at 4-6 miles per hour to get over these
    Appalachian foothills and or mountains. Over 12 percent, I can't spin. I just have to push the
    pedals and hope I don't kill my knees! So whose climbing similar grades and at what speed?

    Jim Reilly Reading, PA
     
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  2. Cletus Lee

    Cletus Lee Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] says...
    > I often read about riders who average 18-20 mph on their rides. My first instinct is to slip
    > into depression as I compare that speed to my 14-17 mph depending on the route I take. Question.
    > Are the 18-20 mph crowd all riding in rugged, hilly Florida? On a typical 30 - 40 mile ride, I
    > will encounter several 10 - 12 + percent grades some extending for 2-3 miles. These hills KILL
    > my average speed for the ride. I am down in the granny gear spinning at 4-6 miles per hour to
    > get over these Appalachian foothills and or mountains. Over 12 percent, I can't spin. I just
    > have to push the pedals and hope I don't kill my knees! So whose climbing similar grades and at
    > what speed?

    Do not get discouraged, just move! I can claim 18 mph on city streets. Faster on the open road. In
    the northern part of Houston there is a street named Mt. Houston. Someone naming streets had a sense
    of humor. I have never biked on it. The highest point in Houston is probably about 60' MSL

    A year ago I went to SW Va to attempt MoM. MoM is a ride of 105 miles and climbing of about 13,000
    feet. I had a fine ride and hoped only to finish not to set any speed records (I didn't finish and I
    didn't have to worry about speed records) Pucker factor kicked in on the downhills at about 40 mph.
    On only two of the up climbs did my ground speed drop below 4 mph. My average speed for the 87 miles
    that I did complete was 12.2 mph.

    --

    Cletus D. Lee Bacchetta Giro Lightning Voyager http://www.clee.org
    - Bellaire, TX USA -
     
  3. Mortdubois

    Mortdubois Guest

    Last weekend I did the PA Dutch MS 150 ride in the terrain around Reading - and you aren't kidding
    about long, steep hills. FWIW my average speed over 111 miles on Sunday (a cool, windless day,
    perfect for riding) was 16.0 mph. I am a pretty strong rider, a really strong climber, riding a
    faired Gold Rush. My average on somewhat less hilly courses around Philadelphia will tend to be in
    the 17-19 mph range if I am moderately pushing it. In a ride with significant climbing, I find that
    it is extremely hard work to acheive a 20 mph average, although I have done it on several occasions.
    But it hurt. Those who are maintaining higher average speeds are probably spending more time on the
    flats, with the occasional hill, or perhaps courses with rollers that allow you to climb using the
    speed you build up going down (doesn't happen around Reading).

    [email protected] (stratrider) wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...
    > I often read about riders who average 18-20 mph on their rides. My first instinct is to slip
    > into depression as I compare that speed to my 14-17 mph depending on the route I take. Question.
    > Are the 18-20 mph crowd all riding in rugged, hilly Florida? On a typical 30 - 40 mile ride, I
    > will encounter several 10 - 12 + percent grades some extending for 2-3 miles. These hills KILL
    > my average speed for the ride. I am down in the granny gear spinning at 4-6 miles per hour to
    > get over these Appalachian foothills and or mountains. Over 12 percent, I can't spin. I just
    > have to push the pedals and hope I don't kill my knees! So whose climbing similar grades and at
    > what speed?
    >
    > Jim Reilly Reading, PA
     
  4. Seth Jayson

    Seth Jayson Guest

    Now that sounds like fun. How did you train for that in the flats, Cletus?

    > A year ago I went to SW Va to attempt MoM. MoM is a ride of 105 miles and climbing of about
    > 13,000 feet.
     
  5. Cletus Lee

    Cletus Lee Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] says...
    > Now that sounds like fun. How did you train for that in the flats, Cletus?
    >
    > > A year ago I went to SW Va to attempt MoM. MoM is a ride of 105 miles and climbing of about
    > > 13,000 feet.
    >

    The ride is every Memorial Day weekend. I did a (do it yourself) century in late March. The north
    leg was about 40 miles and in the early morning the wind was calm. The SW leg was 20 miles and I
    noticed the wind picking up By the time I turned SSE, the wind was up to about 25mph. I did the
    first 60 miles in three hours. The last 40 took 4 hours. I averaged 14.2 mph. Our hills are
    invisible.

    I had a conflict and could not make this year'e MoM. I will try to make the 2004 MoM. It is a great
    challenge for a recumbent. There were 5 entered in 2002. Three finished.

    More on MoM here: http://www.mountainsofmisery.com/2003/MoM.htm

    --

    Cletus D. Lee Bacchetta Giro Lightning Voyager http://www.clee.org
    - Bellaire, TX USA -
     
  6. John Riley

    John Riley New Member

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    Memorial Day! I guess that is so you can injure yourself early in the season and get it over with! ;-)

    JR
     
  7. Jim,

    > I often read about riders who average 18-20 mph on their rides.

    There is a huge range of body types. Training helps, of course, but genes win out in the end. Some
    guys have three times the muscle mass I do.

    I have never had much muscle mass, but fortunately my genes have me aging slowly. Every year I see
    more muscular guys my age falling apart, like salmon after spawning. All that testosterone got them
    big, but it burns them up faster too! :)

    > I will encounter several 10 - 12 + percent grades some extending for 2-3 miles. These hills KILL
    > my average speed for the ride. I am down in the granny gear spinning at 4-6 miles per hour to get
    > over these Appalachian foothills and or mountains.

    That is typical for me with a 21" gear.

    > Over 12 percent, I can't spin.

    I need a 15-17" low for grades over 10-12%. Get one and save those knees.

    Forget the high end gears. As you say, coasting down those grades at 40 mph is plenty fast.

    Warren in Virginia
     
  8. Gary Mc

    Gary Mc Guest

    Jim,

    I can only assure you that there are those who are slower, myself for example. I live in the Rockies
    and kept meeting hills that I could not climb at 4-6 mph. Unfortunately, at 3 mph I was spending as
    much energy balancing the Rans Stratus as pedalling. I gave up and went to a trike, Greenspeed GTO.
    I climb most anything at 3 mph. With very low gearing (about 11 gear inches at the bottom), and no
    balance issues I spin up everything but very slowly.

    As you noted, it is climbing speed that determines your overall average speed, much more than your
    coast down speed. One regular ride is a 12 mile climb for two hours (6mph avg) and then a half hour
    descent (24 mph avg). That works out to < 10 mph avg for the whole ride (not 15 mpg - the
    arithmatic mean of 6 & 24 mph). The steeper the climb, the more that the climbing speed governs my
    overall speed.

    If you try to compare your speed in hills or mountains to flatland speeds you will be forever
    disappointed in my opinion. I quit worrying about it. But, that might just be old age, arthritis and
    retirement setting in.

    Gary McCarty, Greenspeed GTO, Salt Lake City

    [email protected] (stratrider) wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...
    > I often read about riders who average 18-20 mph on their rides. My first instinct is to slip
    > into depression as I compare that speed to my 14-17 mph depending on the route I take. Question.
    > Are the 18-20 mph crowd all riding in rugged, hilly Florida? On a typical 30 - 40 mile ride, I
    > will encounter several 10 - 12 + percent grades some extending for 2-3 miles. These hills KILL
    > my average speed for the ride. I am down in the granny gear spinning at 4-6 miles per hour to
    > get over these Appalachian foothills and or mountains. Over 12 percent, I can't spin. I just
    > have to push the pedals and hope I don't kill my knees! So whose climbing similar grades and at
    > what speed?
    >
    > Jim Reilly Reading, PA
     
  9. Stratrider

    Stratrider Guest

    Mort, thanks for the encouragement. I am not familiar with that ride. I'll have to check it out next
    year. 16 mph over 111 miles in my neck of the woods is a strong ride. Congratulations. As for a
    faired Gold Rush, that remains my dream bike! Happy Riding....

    Jim
     
  10. Jlg

    Jlg Guest

    Like Gary Mc I live near Salt Lake City and up to three times a week will commute 40 miles RT to
    work. There is considerable up and down and a few miles (too few!) of relatively flat road. With a
    10-pound bag of tools, tubes, lunch, and clothes for work loaded on the rear rack plus my 175 lb.
    carcass, I can only get my 2002 faired & fendered Stratus to average between 13 and maybe 13.6 mph.
    (with panniers
    12.4-12.8; I learned that panniers really kill you on wind resistance-I'm back to a bag behind the
    seat-FWIW). Anything over 14mph ave. means I had a tailwind. On the flats I'm usually between 15
    and 17mph. No matter how good my ave. speed is, the last mile to home and the last mile to work
    are both uphill and eat away at my hard-earned ave. speed. Frustrating. (Sound of gnashing
    teeth.) I tried an almost-century (93 miles) over the mountains east of SL that Gary talks about,
    and ended up having to push the bike up a few steep pitches (I was tired from doing 120 miles
    already that week, and should have done the ride after 2 days off), and ended up with 11.0 mph
    ave. for the ride. I think I can do better, but realize I would be really happy with a 12mph ave.
    and overjoyed with 13 on that route. The mountains were brutal, but the bike really rolled on the
    downhills and flats. I had done the ride twice before on a BikeE CT with ave. speeds of 10.5 and
    10.0, and I was a little disappointed I wasn't much faster on the Strat. The Stratus, for the 9
    hours I was on the bike, was supremely comfortable. If I could endure the pain, I would like to
    try to do that route on a road bike, hoping to do it in maybe 5-6 hours. But I'm pretty sure I
    could not endure that long on a DF. I'm also sure a GoldRush would provide better speeds, and
    perhaps a light, sleek SWB with big tires (Bacchetta, Volae) the best times of all. Even at slow
    speeds, 3.5 at one point, mostly 4.1 mph up Big Mtn. 6 mph up Emigration Canyon, the Stratus
    handled just fine (with Evo Sport Bars), something I wanted to check out. I was very pleased with
    the handling. Oh, I'm running Schwalbe Marathons. With the stock Comets, my ave. commuting speed
    was a little higher, in the 13.6-14.6 mph range IIRC. The weakest link was the engine.
     
  11. Britons who take masochistic pleasure from hauling themselves up hills might care to try the
    Brimstone 600 Randonnee. 600 km / 370 miles, with 8185 m / 26850 feet of climbing. It *has* been
    completed by a recumbent bicycle.

    Once.

    Dave Larrington - http://www.legslarry.beerdrinkers.co.uk/
    ===========================================================
    Editor - British Human Power Club Newsletter
    http://www.bhpc.org.uk/
    ===========================================================
     
  12. Mortdubois

    Mortdubois Guest

    I very highly recommend giving it a try - extremely well organized, great course, rest stops with
    plenty of food every 15 miles. The ride starts at Trexlertown and ends up at Kutztown, you stay
    overnight in the dorms or camp out, and return the next day. I don't have a link handy, search on
    Pennsylvania Dutch MS 150 to turn up the website. Only 3 recumbents on this year's ride - it would
    be great to see more next year.

    [email protected] (stratrider) wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...
    > Mort, thanks for the encouragement. I am not familiar with that ride. I'll have to check it out
    > next year. 16 mph over 111 miles in my neck of the woods is a strong ride. Congratulations. As for
    > a faired Gold Rush, that remains my dream bike! Happy Riding....
    >
    > Jim
     
  13. Ron Friedel

    Ron Friedel Guest

    Some of the people who write about their speed are riding in drafting packs and can naturally go
    faster if they only have to work hard for 30 seconds every 2 or 3 minutes or so.

    On a cross-country ride last year I averaged 14 mphs. Riding a faired Tour Easy. I'm 63 years old
    and used to be a much stronger rider before retiring from daily commuting. I was only able to
    maintain 4-5 mphs going up the mountain passes in the Cascades of Washington. My riding partner on a
    DF was much faster in the mountains. You can't make up time on the downhill.

    Ron

    "stratrider" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I often read about riders who average 18-20 mph on their rides. My first instinct is to slip
    > into depression as I compare that speed to my 14-17 mph depending on the route I take. Question.
    > Are the 18-20 mph crowd all riding in rugged, hilly Florida? On a typical 30 - 40 mile ride, I
    > will encounter several 10 - 12 + percent grades some extending for 2-3 miles. These hills KILL
    > my average speed for the ride. I am down in the granny gear spinning at 4-6 miles per hour to
    > get over these Appalachian foothills and or mountains. Over 12 percent, I can't spin. I just
    > have to push the pedals and hope I don't kill my knees! So whose climbing similar grades and at
    > what speed?
    >
    > Jim Reilly Reading, PA
     
  14. Jim, keep up the good work 14-17 in Pennsylvania miles is about 20-22 in Delaware miles. Sounds like
    a good year to do the Seagull Century in Md. You'll do great. It could be a sub 5 hour ride. Denny
    in Sayre Pa (Gateway to the endless mountains of Pennsylvania) Giro, Vrex "Bent but not Broken"
    "stratrider" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I often read about riders who average 18-20 mph on their rides. My first instinct is to slip
    > into depression as I compare that speed to my 14-17 mph depending on the route I take. Question.
    > Are the 18-20 mph crowd all riding in rugged, hilly Florida? On a typical 30 - 40 mile ride, I
    > will encounter several 10 - 12 + percent grades some extending for 2-3 miles. These hills KILL
    > my average speed for the ride. I am down in the granny gear spinning at 4-6 miles per hour to
    > get over these Appalachian foothills and or mountains. Over 12 percent, I can't spin. I just
    > have to push the pedals and hope I don't kill my knees! So whose climbing similar grades and at
    > what speed?
    >
    > Jim Reilly Reading, PA
     
  15. John Foltz

    John Foltz Guest

    Jim, you're right, the amount of hilliness has a lot to do with average speeds. I don't have steep
    or long hills like you do, so naturally my averages are higher. On stuff like you describe, my
    overall average would be closer to 17-18 mph range, at least until I got used to riding the bigger
    stuff. I'm in mid-Michigan, and have lots of small hills, mostly 5% or less and 100 vertical feet or
    less. I can crest most of them by downshifting one or two gears and toughing them out.

    --

    John Foltz --- O _ Baron --- _O _ V-Rex 24 --- _\\/\-%)
    _________(_)`=()___________________(_)= (_)_____
     
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