Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Anatomy of a Short Climb

Bingham Hill is a nice little two-part hill just northwest of Fort Collins and is very popular with bicyclists. The total climb to the top is 320 vertical feet over barely a mile (6% average grade) and the meatiest chunks of climbing are between 7% and 10%.

The starting point of the climb, as I typically ride it going west, is at the right of the map. The elevation graph reads left to right, opposite direction from the map, and shows two climbs with the highest peak at the one-mile mark.

Nearest the tops of the two ridges that form the Bingham Hill climb are a pair of 10% short stretches -- thankfully very short as the first 10% climb is only maybe 40 yards long and the second 10% climb is maybe 100 yards long. Not enough to make you hurt, but steep enough to let you know you've exerted yourself.

Here is a photo of the instrumentation on my Touring Beater during today's climb of Bingham Hill...

The red Schwinn computer in the middle shows my speed as 10.1 mph and the temperature as 50.8F. In actuality, the temps were around 40F, but since the computer was in the sun, it read higher.

To the left of that is my Timex heart rate monitor, which was a birthday gift a year ago from Second Son. It reads 166 beats per minute. That's well into the anaerobic zone, which for me is not sustainable for more than a few minutes.

To the right is an inclinometer which measures climbs and descents much the same as a carpenter's level with a little air bubble would indicate flatness... except this inclinometer is calibrated to show slope in terms of percentages. On flat stretches of road, the bubble fits snugly between the two zeros. On hills, you look at the top or bottom of the bubble depending on whether you're going uphill or down. Since the top of the bubble here is at 10, that means I was climbing a 10% grade, which explains the high heart rate and the low speed (at least it's low for me.) If the climb was longer, I would go even slower. A 10% grade is a very steep climb for bike, car, or pedestrian.

I shot the photo with my camera's lens set to Macro, which allows the camera to focus very close. Things away from a Macro lens appear to be much further away than they really are and they can be out of focus.

For example, you can see my seemingly small left shoe and the white stripe of the edge of the road. Note that I'm about 15 inches to the left of the white stripe because the road has no shoulder... nor any traffic, usually.

Finally, here is a photo at the top of Bingham Hill looking back east towards the cliff I just climbed. Notice that the road just disappears. That's because it's steep... at least a 10% cliff that I climb just about every other day. The Poudre valley where I started is visible beyond.


Blogger John said...

Awesome post. I, too, am a gadget and number freak. Where did you get the incline meter thingie? I have to have one of those!

11:53 AM, January 25, 2007  
Blogger SueJ said...

Yea, nifty keeno gadgetry!!!!

You've still got snow along the sides, but your roads are clearer than ours, 'cause they don't think it's worth treating 'em with only an in ch or two.

Does that inclinometer feed data into anything?

2:15 PM, January 25, 2007  
Blogger HRlaughed said...

Nope, the inclinometer is just a piece of plastic with some marks on it, and some viscous fluid and a bubble inside. Lightweight and simple as can be. The link that led me to it is here:
Howard's Cool Inclinometer

Yeah, there's still huge amounts snow piled up -- lots of drifts everywhere you look up to six feet high still. And they're getting crusty black and damned unattractive. I predict that the snows of December won't be fully melted until March, which just hasn't ever happened around these parts before.

2:56 PM, January 25, 2007  
Blogger John said...

So I got my inclinometer today. And, just as I feared, it won't fit on my handlebars. Every stupid accessory I buy won't fit. I guess my bars are a size larger than everyone else's in the universe.

No matter. I have my ways.....

Stay tuned (and thanks for the lead).

5:40 PM, January 29, 2007  
Blogger HRlaughed said...

Now you're going to have to travel to places like Colorado to find grades steep enough to register on the new inclinometer!

10:18 PM, January 29, 2007  
Blogger John said...

That is actually not a bad idea. Know a good place I can stay?

1:40 PM, January 30, 2007  
Blogger HRlaughed said...

You might consider riding the Triple Bypass on July 14th from Evergreen to Avon, 120 miles, and has 10,310 feet of vertical climb to test out that bad boy...

I'm considering it.

6:17 PM, January 30, 2007  
Blogger John said...

Wow. I'm trying to get ready for a ride called the Columbus Fall Challenge in September. It, too, has a ton of climbing and descending. Its 225 over two days. I'm sure it's different than out there, but I'm looking forward to it.

And I'm still workin' on getting the meter mounted. Out.

11:39 AM, January 31, 2007  
Blogger John said...

Btw... I'm naturally suspicious of any ride called the Triple Bypass.

11:40 AM, January 31, 2007  

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