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1.5 mile, 14% grade... I'm chickening out... would you?(11 posts)

1.5 mile, 14% grade... I'm chickening out... would you?PdxMark
Aug 19, 2003 9:25 PM
I'm planning to do a week-long tour on my fixed gear in September. As part of the preparation, I did an 80-mile ride on my fixed gear last weekend with 6500' of climbing. This weekend I was planning to do an organized century with 10k' of climbing. Even though I've done the main climb on the fixed gear a couple times, I just learned that the organized ride starts the main 4000' climb (early in the century) along on a different route with 1.5 miles of 14% grade.

I was ready to face the later hills of 1 mile of less at +/-10%, but this long 14% grade is, I think, too much for me. I'm riding 44/18. I don't have time to go out and give it a try, so I'm inclined to use the road bike for this ride.

Anyone have words of wisdom or advice?
re: 1.5 mile, 14% grade... I'm chickening out... would you?cmgauch
Aug 20, 2003 5:49 AM
It depends on the context:
- How did you feel after your 80 miler? Was there something left in the bag?
- Are you doing the century solo or w/buddies?
- Are your buddies riding fixed or road bikes?
- Is walking an option in your shoes?
- If so, would it make you crazy to hammer that hill until you almost blow up & then get off & briskly walk up?

Last weekend's ride sounds very impressive so taking it easy on the geared bike this weekend should hold no shame for you. Similarly, you are manlier than manly to do a century on a fixed so if you had to walk 1/2 way up that big climb by ride's end I'm sure you will be redeemed in everyone's eyes.

Enjoy your ride this weekend. I'm very jealous.

- Chris
hmmm, that's an idea...PdxMark
Aug 20, 2003 8:43 AM
I have an "I don't walk my bike" mindset that was blinding me to the obvious... I COULD walk up that section, or part of it.... or at least have that bail-out option in mind. That might be the answer. Or even zig-zagging.... hmmmm...

I'm riding with a friend who is much slower. She'll be on a geared bike, so my fixed gear helps match our paces a bit better on the regular climbs. I ride MTB shoes and Frog pedals just so I can walk if I have a mechanical problem.

Thanks for your thoughts.

The 80 mile ride felt pretty good. This will be harder, obviously, but it's in the realm of do-able, I think.
re: 1.5 mile, 14% grade... I'm chickening out... would you?MXL02
Aug 20, 2003 6:57 AM
Why don't you just use a 21 or 23 gear and change back to the 18 after the climb? It's will be a bit of a hassle, but it seems a pity to miss riding your fixte for a week, just because of one climb.
You can change it while you wait for your friend. nmdzrider
Aug 20, 2003 11:30 AM
That's pretty steep ...Humma Hah
Aug 20, 2003 1:36 PM
... I climb that steep or more now, with 48:17 gearing, for about a 20-ft climb.

I used to have a hill that measured 11-12%, and ran about a mile, and I never really did come up with a good climbing pace for it. I always hit it too fast, went anaerobic, and had to stop well before the top for a rest, usually more than once. It wasn't too steep to be climbed, but it was obviously gonna take some practice. I only tried this one maybe 3 or 4 times. 7-8% was more in my comfort range.

I'd say go ahead and try the ride. If you have to do the fixed-gear downshift (get off and push), then just DO it, with no shame. Those gearies huffing by you in granny won't be going much faster, and if they had to do it fixed, they'd be DOOMED.

Try doing the climb slowly (maybe under 5 mph), and as smoothly as you possibly can. If your breathing starts to pick up, slow down even more.
Aug 22, 2003 7:34 AM
I was passed on RAMROD a few years ago by someone on a fixie. We were climbing up to Paradise (6% x 18 miles) and he went past out of the saddle about a mile from the top. I hadn't even realized he was on a fixed until I repassed him on the way down a mile and half later. He ended up finishing about a half hour after I did. That's 153 miles including another 11 mile climb of around 8% to 9%. I could see doing the climbs but I couldn't imagine the descents.

I have a quarter mile hill up to my house that varies between 10% and 16%. I can make it up in a 42:18, but just. This seems like an ideal application for a flip flop hub. If your drop outs are long enough you could get a 20 or 21 to manage the climb. Thats how the Tour was ridden up until the 30's.
Aug 25, 2003 5:12 AM
I've ridden RAMROD too. Not on a fixie. It sounds like the 18 mile climb was up to Praradise, and the 11 mile climb was up to Cayuse(?) Pass. The Paradise climb seems reasonably climbable, and Cayuse(?) would be pushing my limits.

But I agree. One thing about RAMROD is those long descents. I'm finding that on descents of more than 2000' I like to stop and rest part way down. The odd thing is that I don't feel the need to stop on the way up... That just makes my multi-gear friends shake their heads.
that will kill youDougSloan
Aug 23, 2003 4:15 PM
I've ridden 12-14% grades on the fixie, and it killed my knees, reducing me to about 20 rpms in the climbs. Don't do it; you may be reduced to walking.

1.5 mile, 14% grade... Glad I chickened out...PdxMark
Aug 25, 2003 5:07 AM
I did the century on my road bike. Based on the gearing I used, I'm pretty certain I would have been in big trouble on the fixie.

The century has a long main climb (3500') at reasonable 5%-7% grades. I've ridden that on the fixie before, and it's OK. The 1.5 mile, 14% grade was planned to be a substitute for the lower portion of this long climb. The actual course skipped the 1.5 mile, 14% grade, and just went up the full length of the main climb.

The problem was that there were 4-5 climbs of 0.75-1 mile each with average grades of 10%-13%, with steeps tossed in for fun. I couldn't have ridden up those either. So, I've learned one of my limits on the fixed gear. Long highway-grade climbs (3000'+) are one thing on a fixie. Sustained (<1/2 mile) steep (10+%) back country road climbs are something else entirely.

Thanks all for your thoughts.
Thx for the update...I painted the bathroom (nm)cmgauch
Aug 25, 2003 7:45 AM