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Climb to Kaiser gearing(11 posts)

Climb to Kaiser gearingastro
Jul 1, 2003 2:49 PM
I currently use a 39 x 27 and have rarely needed anything lower, but am contemplating installing a mtn. derailler and 12-32 cassette to be safe. Has anyone here done C2K? What gearing did you use?
the lower the betterAaronL
Jul 1, 2003 3:08 PM
I train/race with a 39 X 23 and with C2K I always use a 38 X 27 and yet still struggle on the steep stuff like Big Creek.

Go with the lowest gears you can get, you'll be glad you did.

I'll probably see you there, although I'm not sure If I"ll do the 100 or 150 since masters natz are only a week after. Not much recov time after that ride.

re: Climb to Kaiser gearingmohair_chair
Jul 1, 2003 3:14 PM
I have a purity problem with putting mountain bike components on road bikes to get very low gears, but that's just me....

If you are a strong climber and strong endurance rider, a 39x27 should be enough. (If you aren't, what the hell are you thinking???) You'll probably end up shoelacing (doing zig-zags) on Big Creek, but just about everyone does. I believe only Lance could power straight up that thing. Trust me, it is really brutal. It starts about 10-12%, then goes up to 16-18%!

Anyway, I have a female friend who did it in a 39x27 and finished in the top 40 (about 12 hours), so don't let a woman beat you!
one of the...dustyrhodes
Jul 1, 2003 6:48 PM
dumbest, knuckle-dragging replies I've read.

"so don't let a woman beat you!"

What century were you raised in?
lighten up, francis. nmmohair_chair
Jul 1, 2003 7:01 PM
"If any of you call me Francis....." nm :)AaronL
Jul 2, 2003 7:52 AM
go ridiculously lowDougSloan
Jul 1, 2003 3:38 PM
The year I did it in 11 hours I used a triple with a 12-25 in back -- and used every gear.

Unless you are a Cat 1 climber, take the lowest gears you can get. There is 12,000 feet of climbing in 65 miles, some over 18%.

reality checkDougSloan
Jul 2, 2003 6:51 AM
You can run numbers here:

The course record holder of C2K, Tim Coleman, has a personal record of about 28 minutes up the 2,000 foot, 3.5 mile Big Creek climb. Keep in mind that most of the gain is in the first 2 miles, as it levels off at the top. Sections are over 18-20%, and this climb comes after you have already ridden about 65 miles and gained 7,000 feet gross for the day.

In the C2K, Tim takes about 32 minutes on Big Creek. That's about 6.5 mph *average*, and like I said, sections are much harder than the average would reveal. To maintain at least 60 rpms, the minimum I'd recommend as efficient to survive the race, you need about 36 gear/inches, the equivalent of a 39x29. Now, that's for the RECORD HOLDER of the race, and that's for the average of the climb.

For us mere mortals, here's a reality check. My best time up Big Creek was 33 minutes. However, during the race, I'll do around 40 minutes, and that would put me in the top 20 of 200 riders of the race. For 40 minutes, that's an average of 5.2 mph. To maintain that, you need under 30 gear inches, which is lower than a 39x34, actually. In other words, you need a triple! Again, that's for an average of 5.2 mph on the hill. As I have ridden that hill at least 2-3 dozen times, I know that even at that average, there are sections I'll be down to 3.5-4 mph, unless I want to ruin my legs for the rest of the day. Even a 30x25 gear only goes down to 5.7 mph at 60 rpms, so you can tell that even with that, you'll be standing and mashing a lot. A 30x29 would be useful. Also keep in mind that after Big Creek, there is another 10 mile climb up to Kaiser Pass at 9,300 feet, and the last mile or so is also fairly steep.

Nonetheless, I rode the hill a few weeks ago in a 30x25 (32 gear/inches), and it wasn't that bad. Took me 44 minutes, but that was starting from Shaver Lake at 5,500 feet elevation. I could sit the whole way, but rpms would have been down around 40-45 in places. Not ideal, but possible.

I have also done the hill in a 39x21 in training, and I can tell you that it hurt really, really bad. About destroyed my knees for 2 weeks and had to lay off.

Bottom line, yes, with a lot of traversing, maybe even stopping, you *can* get up the hill in a 39x27. However, if you want to obtain your best time and not blow up your legs for the rest of the day, get the lowest gears you can possible get on the bike. I guarantee you that you will not regret it -- and I'll bet you'll use whatever lowest gear you have. If you can install the 12-32, do it.

Oh, Tim Coleman -- he uses a triple for climbs like this, and he's one of the best climbers on the entire west coast.

Hey Doug...Lon Norder
Jul 2, 2003 2:25 PM
Speaking of Tim Coleman, how's he doing? I hope his recovery is going well.
Jul 2, 2003 2:28 PM
In the full neck brace for another 6 weeks (it's been 8 aleady). It's pretty bad. Won't really know much about long term until well after brace comes off.

re: Climb to Kaiser gearingnorcalscot
Jul 2, 2003 11:48 AM
I've done Climb to Kaiser the last two years. I use a 39x27 which is fine for most of the ride except Big Creek. I don't need to 'zig zag' up it, but my cadence really drops down on that section. Since the ride is only once a year I can't justify the expense of getting lower gearing, so I just have to put up with it.
If I had more money I'd opt for a triple to save my knees a bit.