Day 163: Hill grade formula

15 06 2010

As I’ve probably mentioned before, I’m still working on improving my hill-climbing technique. Actually, I don’t even have a technique yet. I’m doing good to just make it up a hill without collapsing. Much to my surprise, it’s not my legs that burn the most when climbing a hill, but rather my lungs. Even on the relatively short hills, I find myself getting out of breath very quickly. I’ve read various tips on how to control my breathing and body movements to make it easier, but I guess I don’t practice hills as often as I should since I’m not seeing a drastic improvement yet. To conserve energy, I’ve been working mainly on climbing while seated rather than standing up. My plan is to start working on interval training and to incorporate at least one good hill on each ride from now on so I can start improving. I expect once I get my dieting under control and lose the extra 25 pounds I’m carrying around, hills will be a bit easier. If you have other tips, feel free to share them. Here are some articles I’ve found that offer helpful tips:

Bikereviews.com – How to cycle uphill
Cycling Performance Tips – Hill climbing (the breathing section in this article has really helped me so far)
Hill training: Learning to climb without tiring
BikeForums.net (always a helpful site)

I’ve often wondered how to figure out the grade of a hill. Frequently on my drive home from work I see a hill and wonder if it’s a hill I should attempt (just to see how far I could get). Or if it’s one that might kill me. Most of the time, I look at MapMyRide which has an elevation option on the maps. Recently, someone in one of the local bike clubs asked about a hill grade formula. Their answer seemed fairly simple to understand (even for math-morons like me):

A climb of 352 feet over 0.81 miles (or 4277 feet) would be 434 feet per mile of climb, or an 8.2 percent grade. (Percent grade is rise over run times 100, or 352/4277 in this example.)

Ok. So that makes sense. My question though (and I realize this is probably a dumb question), is how do you determine the length of a climb if you don’t have a Garmin? In other words, if you don’t know how many feet the length of a climb is (or the rise of the slope), how do you calculate the formula? My cycle computer of course shows me miles, speed, average speed, and duration of the ride, but it doesn’t have a feature that tells me how long a hill is in feet.  I’m probably not explaining my question very well, but hopefully you can figure out what I’m asking.

Today’s food journal:

Breakfast:
– Chocolate, peanut butter, banana smoothie = 385 cal.

Lunch:
– Salad with ranch dressing = 163
– Iced tea = 0

Dinner:
– Black bean nachos = 544
– Iced tea = 0

Snack:
– Skinny Cow ice cream cup = 120

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

          _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.

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2 responses

13 07 2010
Day 191: How to breathe while cycling « Cyclingproject365

[...] my breathing when practicing hills is the biggest challenge for me, as I mentioned here and here. I figure the best thing I can do to help with this is to lose 25 pounds (and incorporate more [...]

14 08 2010
Day 223: The unplanned hill practice ride « Cyclingproject365

[...] and walk. I suck at math even more than climbing hills, but if I did the math correctly (based on this hill grade formula), I think the hill was a little more than a 3 percent grade. Doesn’t really sound that bad, [...]

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