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Old 11-13-2012, 04:35 AM   #1
StormStrikes
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Help Me Understand Elevation Charts

I plotted out a course for an event I want to ride next year wanting to see what the elevation changes were. Ive come to the realization that I dont completely understand what I am looking at. Yes, I can tell there are climbs but Im trying to gauge severity of the climbs. Hopefully you can see the link I have posted below.

Race The Rail Bike Ride

To me it looks like there isnt a climb over 100'. However the big climb at the end of the route and where the turn around is made is over the course of a few miles and looks to be rather steep, yet its total elevation is less than 100' if I am reading it right and none of that makes sense. Visually it looks like a friggin torture climb that goes on and on.

Anyway, if someone can educate me on how to properly read those charts so I know what Im in for. When I did the Route 66 ride, the elevation changes did not seem that bad to me. Well lets say what it seemed like and what reality ended up being were not in line with each other.



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Old 11-13-2012, 11:17 AM   #2
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Your change in elevation may not be that bad. I would personally be more concerned with the grade of the climb(s) You might look at it in something ( other than Garmin connect) else that will give you a guess at the grade. I have come to be weary of what my Garmin reports sometimes. I'm sure some of our engineer types can add better value to this than I can.

2 examples below. I can tell you the second is only 1 mile and 3.9% grade but hurts me far worse than the 2.7 at 3.1% grade.

Look at the following. One is zoomed out and one zoomed in. The zoomed in reflects better what actually you will face on this ride. Zoomed out looks like one hellva of lot of work ( for a flatlander like me!!!) where it is not actually that bad. I hope I'm not confusing you...or myself for that fact

Those peaks supposedly represent a 3.1% grade over 172 in elevation gain. I can tell you it feels like 12% the second time around

The second is 3.9% and only 73 ft in change.



tc_walker_1.jpg   tc_walker_2.jpg   data.jpg   davenport_hill.jpg   davenport_hill_1.jpg  

davenport_hill_data.jpg  
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Old 11-13-2012, 11:24 AM   #3
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And for what it's worth some of the Billy goats here like Hazy and Xela( and others that I don't know! )would shame me for even posting this but it was meant to represent the grade changes and how they appear vs what they actually are.

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Old 11-13-2012, 01:43 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rola643 View Post
Those peaks supposedly represent a 3.1% grade over 172 in elevation gain. I can tell you it feels like 12% the second time around
I can completely relate. BOTH of the organized rides I have been on thus far have resulted in rides over climbs that were repetitive and close together. I know I got to learn to do those kinds of rides, I know I have to physically develop to being able to do it but dang it I want something that is relatively flat from time to time too.

What software are you using? I think if I had something that told me the % grade of the hill climb I could better correlate that to what kind of effort it would take. Thats something I can at least relate to. Thos peaks and valleys in only a graphical representation are scary looking.

When I looked at the topography map, it didnt look that bad but back in my mind is what seems not that bad looking at it or driving over it can zap a lot out of you on a bike.

I dont want to give up on hill climbs, I think I have something around here that can be taken advantage and gained from. Nothing compared to places like Colorodo and others mind you, but still something that can be effectively trained on. I just want a break from time to time. To be honest, I dont think I have been on a ride yet, either on my own and most especially organized that did not involve repeating hill climbs.
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Old 11-13-2012, 02:28 PM   #5
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http://ridewithgps.com/ was what that was pulled from.
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Old 11-13-2012, 03:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StormStrikes View Post
I plotted out a course...Im trying to gauge severity of the climbs...
Place your cursor pointer over the peak of the climb and record, move the pointer to a previous spot at a lower elevation and record, convert the mileage to feet, then divide the elevation difference (in feet) by the distance traveled to get the grade percentage. Here is an on-line calculator http://www.csgnetwork.com/inclinedeclinegradecalc.html

I recorded the highest peak in the middle of the graph (1547ft@16.54miles) and a point at the previous horizontal line (1501 ft@15.84miles), as it looked like an even grade, and did the back of the envelope math, then compared to the calculator, which resulted in a 1.24% grade for both methods. The graph looks more dramatic than the calculated result, although the graph probably is closer to your perception while riding the course.

If you are using a Garmin device, it should have a barometric altimeter function with grade percentage outputs. There must be more sophisticated applications available with greater resolution.

I have a cyclocomputer with barometric altimeter, which displays grade percentage in real time, plus records average and max grade. My routes in all directions have 3% average grade, and 11% to 22% max grade; hand math shows average elevation gain per mile of 62.84ft.
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Old 11-13-2012, 04:22 PM   #7
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the +73 / -75 is the part that messes me up. what the heck does that mean?

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Old 11-14-2012, 03:38 AM   #8
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You can also get grades from Strava.com and MapMyRide.com.

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Old 11-14-2012, 04:11 AM   #9
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Stormy - tomorrow I will have to have another trainer ride - but I will have the front wheel elevated ~6 inches with a riser - I hope I make it ! You need to find some friendlier trails soon - I think your friends must all be billy goats which is fine after a season or two or 18 of riding. My TDF has preset portions of the Tour over the 20 plus stages, from 6º-15º, that is crazy! I am so glad my wife prefers it when we ride is side so I can just ride on my roadie on the trainer. Enjoy some flats for a while and tackle those hills after long 30 & 60 mile rides that start to seem boring & easy. Then the challenge of hills will probably be more enjoyable. For me I will stick to the flats. The only good hill for me is one way and only downward.

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Old 11-14-2012, 04:32 AM   #10
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I don't mind the hills, its just getting old of being out on rides where they are so frequent with so little time in between for any recovery. Id love to find some flat or relatively flat routes to ride. Heck I wouldnt even mind if it had just one or two climbs where I could do hill repeats in an unforced manner.

I need to do the hill climbs, I need to develop that skill, that strength, the ability to deal and recover from them. However, I would love to have a flat stretch of 5, 10, 15 miles that I could ride and just be purely focused on cadence, speed, or time for that matter and push myself in those areas.

When you go out and say okay, Im going to shoot for an average of 85 cadence, and you hit hill after hill after hill. Well after a while your mentality shifts from maintaining cadence to just surviving the blasted ride.



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