Posts Tagged "Climbs"

Climb Classification and Gradients

There are two parts to a hill climb, the gradient and the classification. The gradient is the specific angle of the climb at any given part of the climb, which obviously will vary on any climb, The classification is the overall ratting of the climb.

Gradient

Cyclist often refer the the gradient of a climb in terms of a percentage. The gradient when measured in percentage is just the (vertical climb/horizontal distance) * 100. So you get the idea if I travel 100 m and rise 8 metres that’s 8% gradient. While that may not sound difficult over a longer distance that will really start to bit.

Here’s my spin on the gradients.

At 1-2% you’ll barely notice it, like riding into a bit of a head wind
3-4 % most people will do this quite easily. It rates as hill for a non-rider but to a rider it is a mere bump
5-7% will start to bother non-riders, riders will start to find it interesting
8-9% non-riders will start to look for other ways around
10-15% is going to hurt a non-rider and they may give in, Riders will be challenged by this
15% or greater and you’re in the “praying to your deity of choice” territory. This is going to be tough. Non riders simply will not have enough strength to push themselves up this sort of a climb, Good riders will be challenged by this

As a guide  at 10% gradients roads are usually labelled with a warning of steep descent.

 

Climbs Classification

Climbs in cycling are rated from Category 1 (hardest) to Category 4 (easiest), based on steepness and length. A climb harder than Category 1 is designated as hors catégorie. Hors catégorie translates as “beyond categorisation”, and signifies an extremely tough climb.

The categories were originally used for mountain roads and the gear needed in a car to pass over them. So, a Cat 1 climb could be passed in a car in first gear, cat 2 in 2nd gear etc. and hors category was impassable by car.

How do the organizers of the Grand Tours evaluate the ratings for the climbs in their races? The Tour organisers use three criteria:
(1) The length and steepness of the climb
(2) The position of the climb in the stage
(3) The quality of the road surface

General guidelines for classification are as follows:
Hors Category (HC) – the hardest, climbs of 1500m+
1st Category – climbs of 1100-1500m
2nd Category – climbs of 600-1100m
3rd Category – climbs of 300-600m
4th Category – the lowest category, 100-300m

There are some exceptions; L’Alpe D’Huez climb is 1200m, but is an Hors Category climb because usually comes at the end of a very tough stage and the climb itself is steep with sections of over 10% grade.

Some of the more popular climbs used in the Tour de France are;

  • Col du Tourmalet 2115m
  • Col d’Aubisque 1709m
  • Col du Galibier 2645m
  • Alpe d’Huez   1860m
  • Col d’Izoard 2360m

Descending

And in case you are wondering what the deal is with the pro’s sticking newspaper up their jerseys when they start the descent from these climbs is. Well, basically it is pretty cold up there on the summits, even if it is summer in Europe. So if you combine the sweat the riders generate from the ascent, the cool temperatures and the wind chill from descending, its make for a pretty cold descend, something that may affect the rider’s health.

So why newspaper instead some fancy new high tech material. Well the tradition of using newspaper dates back to when the tour first started, before all  these high tech materials were invented. It was something that easily accessible without having to carry it up the ascent and could then be discarded when they reach the bottom.

As a rule of thumb the temperature drops about 8.5C for every 1,000m ascent. So for the ascent up Col du Galibier that is a potential drop of 20C.

 

Canberra’s Hill Climb Guide

Welcome to my King of the Mountains V2.0, now with improved elevation calculations thanks to some good folk on the Vikings cycling forums I discovered how extract the data from Garmin TCX files so I could graph the actual data and not rely on the rather clumsy screen grabs. In addition I have used Tableau to graph the data, which allows you to select and compare only the climbs you are interested in. This is still a work in progress so any comment on the Tableau graphs is welcome. All the graphs can be viewed in greater detail by clicking on them which will take them to full screen mode.

Climb Elevation Distance Avg Gradient Max Gradient
AWM 34 0.875 3.89%  
Uriarra Crossing East 41 1.235 3.32%  
Tidbinbilla Tracking Station 76 1.655 4.59%  
Federal hwy 81 2.490 3.25%  
Mt Pleasant 80.871 1.600 5.05% 9.70%
Coppins Crossing 87 1.495 5.82% 10.26%
Stockdill Dr (Poo Hill) 93 2.265 4.11%  
Googong Dam 98 1.495 6.56% 10.53%
Redhill 105 1.695 6.19%  
Pierce’s Creek 108 1.140 9.47%  
Mt Tennant 109 2.830 3.85% 11.11%
Erindale Dr 114 2.735 4.17% 5.88%
Smith’s Gap 120 1.350 8.89% 15.79%
QBN 128 2.250 5.69% 10.34%
Three Sisters 129 2.335 5.52%  
Condor Creek 130 3.265 3.98%  
Mt McDonald 140 3.475 4.03%  
Old Federal Hwy 149 4.390 3.39%  
Wallaroo 163 4.025 4.05%  
Mt Stromlo 171 3.940 4.34% 8.43%
Monaro Hwy, Theodore 175 4.565 3.83% 6.50%
Old Cooma Road 182 4.180 4.35%  
Mt Ainslie 234 3.235 7.23% 12.99%
Black Mountain 236 2.625 8.99% 13.00%
Mt Majura 236 2.775 8.50%  
Honeysuckle Creek\Apollo Rd 467 8.420 5.55% 20%
Corin Dam 530 11.210 4.73%  
Charlotte’s Pass 857 32.145 2.04%  
Groggins 1002 17.855 5.61%  

 

The max gradient should be taken with a bit of caution, although it was calculated from the data because of the sometimes erratic nature of the Garmin edge units some of these calculations are a little random.

Map of the Climbs
Cat X – Over 400m represented by the dark blue markers
Cat A – 200 –400m represented by the red markers
Cat B – 100 –200m represented by the green markers
Cat C – 50 –100m represented by the light blue markers


View Canberra Climbs in a larger map

 

Firstly here are all the climbs on the one graph, noting that Groggins and Charlottes Pass do continue on for some distance but I’ve cut them short here to ensure you can still make out the other climbs.

Cat X– The big ones to really test you.

Corin Dam – This climb has two distinct parts. The first starts at the turn off to Corin Dam on Paddy River road up to the gates at Woods Reserve. The first part of the ride is easy with fairly low gradient. From the gates to summit the ride gets harder as gradient increases and is what makes Corin a really good climb.

Honeysuckle Creek – Also known as Apollo Rd South of Tharwa. The start of this climb was measured from the bridge about 2km from the Nass rd / Apollo rd junction. This is one of hardest rides in Canberra in my opinion with some short sections hitting a 20% gradient.

Groggins and Charlotte’s Pass – are both located South of Canberra in the ski fields around Thredbo. The data for these climbs was given to me so I can’t comment on the climbs but I hope one day to get there. The Charlottes Pass ride goes on for 32km and there is a bit more of a climb but by the 25k mark you’ll have broken the back of this climb.

Cat A – Represent some of the “bigger” challenges around Canberra, these are usually the ones with the killer gradients.

Black Mountain (Telstra Tower) – The climb was measured from the turn off to the very top of the summit, past the car park entry where a lot of riders usually stop their timers. Black Mountain in my opinion along with Fitz’s Hill represents one of harder climbs in Canberra. What makes it difficult is the first 400 metres, which has quite a hard gradient of around 15%.

Mount Ainslie – Preceding the climb to Mount Ainslie is the climb at the Australian War Memorial which adds another 34 metres to the climb.

Mount Majura Our famous secret climb. This was measured from the turn off on Majura Road, not bad considering there is a additional 81 metre  up Federal Hwy (See the Cat C Climbs) before you get there. At about 600m there is an entry gate you’ll have climb over to continue the climb.

Fitz’s Challenge – measured from the half moon creek bridge to the KOM line at the summit. This is without a doubt a brute of a climb. While average gradient for this climbs is just over 10% in reality because of a dip in the climb most of the time you will be facing a gradient of 12 to 13%
Note I’m currently missing the data for this in version 2 but hope to have it soon

Cat B – These represent good training climbs (well for me at least) that wont  leave your legs screaming when you reach to the summit.

Red Hill Measured from the turn off to Red Hill. Reported gradient on the chart above probably doesn’t do Red Hill justice. In measuring the distance I measured to the summit which is at the restaurant but you can see from the image above the climb plateaus at around 1.1 km where the main lookout is. If measure the gradient to this part of the climb it comes out at around 9%, on par with Black Mountain, just shorter. Maybe not one of the beginner hills.

The Three Sisters – This is the climb out of Uriarra crossing heading back to Mt Stromlo. Measured from the bridge crossing to the KOM marking on the road. So called because of the three distinctive sections to this ride. Always fun at the end of a race, which happens frequently.

Mt McDonald – Located on the other side of cotter and goes up around cotter dam. Measured from the turn off on Cotter Road to the KOM marking on the road. Good training ride, not difficult, just a good consistent gradient.

Old Federal Hwy – This climb is located in the Yass Valley just past Sutton. Instead of going up the Federal hwy there is a turn off at the nursery which is the old federal hwy. The climb was measured from the bridge crossing the Yass river to the summit. As shown it is on par with Mt Stromlo

Mt Stromlo – Measured from the turn off on Cotter Rd to very summit which means going up the small road which is in average condition near the new observatory.  What I like about Mt Stomlo is the even gradient for the climb. Nothing challenging but a can be a good workout if you choose to push yourself.

Pierce’s Creek – This is the first climb after Cotter Dam on Paddy River Road on the way out to the tracking station. At 9% it is a toughy but relatively short.

Monaro Hwy, Theodore – This is climb as you leave Canberra on the way to Cooma. Nothing spectacular about this climb other than it has consistent gradient.

Old Cooma Road – Good climb with some steep sections on it. This road can get some traffic with the trucks going to the quarry.

Smith’s Gap – out at Bundgendore might be short but has a high average  gradient of almost 9%

Erindale Road – You’ll note the graph for this one appears quite “grainy” compared to the others. This is because it was actually mapped going down the hill and the higher speed meant there were less data points to graph.

Wallaroo – Good solid climb with some steep sections in it.

Kings Hwy, Queanbeyan – only advice here is get in quick if you want to do this one, they are currently redoing this section of the Kings hwy and it will be shorter and lower soon.

Cat C – I guess these can be classed as the beginner climbs but should not be underestimated.

Australian War Memorial (AWM) – Normally I don’t map climbs this small but as this is the lead into Mt Ainslie I thought it was good to have here. It’s s short climb but does peak at 8% and is a nice way to way to warm up before the big climb to Mt Ainslie.

Mt Pleasant -  Measured from the turn off on Fairbairn Ave into Duntroon. One of my favourite training rides. Starts of with a kick on the first section but then evens out to consistent climb.

Coppins Crossing - Measured from the crossing to the summit.

Federal Hwy, Watson – Starting from the last roundabout leaving Canberra, starts of easy, nice consistent gradient, smooth road. Importantly this is the lead up to the Mt Majura climb.

Googong Dam – Short climb but steep also it is a dead road making it a tough climb in its category

Stockdill Drv (Poo Hill) – so named because it is the road leading to the Sewage plant, the smell alone should be enough of an incentive to do this climb quickly.

Uriarra Crossing West– This is the climb opposite to the 3 sisters at Uriarra Crossing. It is a little below par but given it is part of the Uriarra loop, it a frequent climb and therefore people might like to know about it.

Tidbinbilla – On the road to the tracking station. Not to hard unless it is on the finish to a race at the tracking station.

 

Techie Notes

An interesting point came up while preparing the data for this post. You’ll notice that on some of the climbs the data points are a lot closer than others. For example in the Cat C climbs Urriarra West compared to most of the others. The difference can be attributed to the use of the new Garmin Edge 500 which appears to record data points more frequently than the 705. I guess this one of those less obvious feature improvements you get with the 500.

It should also be noted that while Garmin say their devices are accurate I have found on given day I can get up to a 10% variation on the reading for the climbs so if you’ve recorded these climbs as well but have a different elevation just bear this in mind. In fact you’ll notice with my Corin and Mt Majura recordings there are some odd spikes in the data which I just put down to these glitches.

For those interested I’m planning to write a follow up article on how I extracted and manipulated the data.

 

 

If there are any other climbs that should be included please let me know.

 

King of the Mountains

Updated 26/6/2010, all the information in this post has been superseded and has been updated here /?p=748

There is more information about the individual climbs below. Also note that the elevation charts are not completely accurate, they are a close representation of the climb in terms of elevation and distance.

Climb

Elevation

Distance

Gradient

Mt Pleasant

80 m

1.66km

4.8%

Coppin’s Crossing

84 m

1.5km

5.6%

Pierce’s Creek

104 m

1.15km

9.04%

Red Hill

110 m

1.7km

7.1%

Mt McDonald

128 m

2.9km

3.7%

Three Sisters

141 m

2.45km

5.2%

Old Fed Hwy

160 m

3.6km

3.9%

Mt Stromlo

168 m

3.9km

4.2%

Corin Pt 1

185m

5.25km

3.5%

Mt Ainslie

208 m

2.7km

7.75%

Black Mountain

237m

2.6km

9.6%

Mt Ainslie (AWM)

240 m

4.0km

6%

Mt Majura

240m

2.75km

8.7%

Fitz’s Challenge

280m

2.68 km

10.4%

Corin Pt 2

330m

7.0km

4.7%

Honeysuckle creek

400m

7.25km

5.5%

Corin Dam

515m

12.25km

4.2%

Mt Clyde (NSW)

800m

12km

6.66%

Map of the Climbs –
Cat X – Over 400m represented by the dark blue markers
Cat A – 200 –400m represented by the red markers
Cat B – 100 –200m represented by the green markers
Cat C – 50 –100m represented by the light blue markers
The yellow markers are locations of climbs that I am aware of but are yet to be recorded


View Canberra Climbs in a larger map

KOM All the climbs listed together

Cat X– The rides that will really test you.

KOM_bigones

Mt Clyde – First up I’ll confess, I haven’t actually done this climb but it is on my to do list. This climb is situated on the Kings Hwy, the road from Canberra to Bateman’s Bay. The climb was measured from Nelligen Creek. The climb is undulating until it gets to Governor’s Bend at which point it really takes off.

Corin Dam – This climb has two distinct parts. The first starts at the turn off to Corin Dam on Paddy River road up to the gates at Woods Reserve. The first part of the ride is easy with fairly low gradient. From the gates to summit the ride gets harder as gradient increases and is what makes Corin a really good climb.

Honeysuckle Creek – Also known as Apollo Rd South of Tharwa. The start of this climb was measured from the bridge about 2km from the Nass rd / Apollo rd junction. This is one of hardest rides in Canberra in my opinion with some short sections hitting a 20% gradient.

Cat A – Represent some of the “bigger” challenges around Canberra, these are usually the ones with the killer gradients.

KOM_CatA

Black Mountain (Telstra Tower) – The climb was measured from the turn off to the very top of the summit, past the car park entry where a lot of riders usually stop their timers. Black Mountain in my opinion along with Fitz’s Hill represents one of harder climbs in Canberra. What makes it difficult is the first 400 metres, which has quite a hard gradient of around 15%.

Mount Ainslie – I measured this climb twice as it sits onto of a shorter climb and people measure it from different places. The first measurement was done from the pedestrian lights at the Australian War Memorial, this initial climb while only around 32 metres hits a gradient of around 8% making it a nice little warm up. The true climb starts from the turn off on Fairbairn Ave and that is where the second climb is measured from.

Mount Majura Our famous secret climb. This was measured from the turn off on Majura Road, not bad considering there is a quite a  climb to get there up Federal Hwy. One day when I have time I plan to measure the climb from the last roundabout on Antill street.

Fitz’s Challenge – measured from the half moon creek bridge to the KOM line at the summit. This is without a doubt a brute of a climb. While average gradient for this climbs is just over 10% in reality because of a dip in the climb most of the time you will be facing a gradient of 12 to 13%

Cat B – These represent good training climbs (well for me at least that aren’t going to leave your legs screaming when you reach to the summit.

KOM_CatB

Red Hill Measured from the turn off to Red Hill. Reported gradient on the chart above probably doesn’t do Red Hill justice. In measuring the distance I measured to the summit which is at the restaurant but you can see from the image above the climb plateaus at around 1.1 km where the main lookout is. If measure the gradient to this part of the climb it comes out at around 9%, on par with Black Mountain, just shorter. Maybe not one of the beginner hills.

The Three Sisters – This is the climb out of Uriarra crossing heading back to Mt Stromlo. Measured from the bridge crossing to the KOM marking on the road. So called because of the three distinctive sections to this ride. Always fun at the end of a race, which happens frequently.

Mt McDonald – Located on the other side of cotter and goes up around cotter dam. Measured from the turn off on Cotter Road to the KOM marking on the road. Good training ride, not difficult, just a good consistent gradient.

Old Federal Hwy – This climb is located in the Yass Valley just past Sutton. Instead of going up the Federal hwy there is a turn off at the nursery which is the old federal hwy. The climb was measured from the bridge crossing the Yass river to the summit. As shown it is on par with Mt Stromlo

Mt Stromlo – Measured from the turn off on Cotter Rd to very summit which means going up the small road which is in average condition near the new observatory.  What I like about Mt Stomlo is the even gradient for the climb. Nothing challenging but a can be a good workout if you choose to push yourself.

Pierce’s Creek – This is the first climb after Cotter Dam on Paddy River Road on the way out to the tracking station. At 9% it is a toughy but relatively short.

Cat C – I guess these can be classed as the beginner climbs but should not be underestimated.
KOM_CatC

Mt Pleasant -  Measured from the turn off on Fairbairn Ave into Duntroon. One of my favourite training rides. Starts of with a kick on the first section but then evens out to consistent climb.

Coppins Crossing - Measured from the crossing to the summit.

Other Climbs – So what’s next, what left to measure?

Smith’s Gap – Bungendore
Kings Hwy  – Queanbeyan
Mt Majura from the Antill Roundabout.
Hindmarsh Drive (perhaps)
Monaro Hwy – Theodore

Climbs that didn’t measure up – These are the climbs that will might seem to be substantial didn’t break the 50 metre mark that I consider the base for a good climb.

Ginninderra Drive – O’Conner – 43m

If there are any other climbs that should be included please let me know.

 

Canberra’s Best Kept Secret Climb

As I discovered on the weekend you can actually ride (a road bike) to the top of Mt Majura. I had long held suspicions about this since last summer when I ran to the top and found the road up there but it wasn’t until this weekend I discovered how to get on that road. For those of you interested, Mt Majura is actually higher than Mt Ainslie by about 40 metres but don’t let that put you off as I would rate it an easier climb because the road has a constant gradient.

The best way to get there is up Federal highway then down Majura Road for about 1km to the turn off, there is a good shoulder on that part of Majura road so it is quite safe unlike coming from the airport, which is what I did and can be considered a bit suicidal with the number of trucks on the road and lack of shoulder in parts. After you about 700 metres up the turn off you’ll come to a locked gate so you’ll have to throw your bike over the gate to continue but don’t worry I am lead to believe you won’t be breaking any rules in doing so. In fact there is a sign just up the road from the gate stating that cyclist are to remain on the form roads, so you can use that in your defence :-) .

The decent is a interesting one and not for the faint hearted, the road is narrow and windy, so with trees lining the road it really limits your view. Given that kangaroos are know to frequent the area I would recommend caution. The gate also presents an interesting problem on the way down, as it wasn’t highly visible and at normal descent speeds it comes up on you rather quickly. On the upside because of the gate I can pretty much guarantee you won’t have a problem with cars on the road.

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To give some perspective on the ride by the recommended route if you look at the elevation chart in reverse the low point at the 90km mark is the intersection of Northbourne and Antill in Dickson rising back to the 80km mark which is the summit of Mt Majura

Training 26-07-2008, Elevation - Distance

Ignore the first half of the chart that is from the rest of ride which is another story. Below is the elevation of the ride taken from the yellow gate sign at the turn off to the start of the guard rail at the summit. As you can see the ride has a very constant gradient.

Mt Majura elevation

Below is a map show the ride from the Federal Hwy turn off

Training 29-07-2008

So everyone in Canberra knows about the 4 peaks ride which is Mt Ainslie, Red Hill, Mt Stromlo and Black Mountain. Well now for a bit more of a challenge you can do the five peaks ride