Friday, 11 July 2014

Cycle Up That Hill!

With the excitement of the Tour de France, I have found my own interest in cycling renewed. Last weekend, I gave my bike a quick service, cleaning and re-greasing the chain, pumping up the tires. It’s amazing what a little work can do to increase efficiency (and thus fun) when it comes to riding a bike.

This morning, for the first time since fatherhood, I managed to cycle all the way up Cumnor Hill without stopping. Smug with my victory, I began to wonder if Cumnor Hill would register as a ‘climb’ in the Tour de France. So, I did a bit of quick research.

As it turns out, there are no hard and fast rules for how climbs are classified in the Tour, or in cycling in general. That said, there are guidelines for comparing the length of the climb versus the average slope that give you a pretty good idea.

Using free, online maps (which may or may not be completely accurate), I was able to determine that my climb up Cumnor hill is about 2.25km (approx. 1.4 miles) long with a gain in elevation of around 68 meters (approx. 223 feet). This gives an average slop of just over 3% (Is that it!?! In truth the first part of the climb is much stepper than the second half.)

To measure a climb in the cycling world, you multiply the average slope (3) by the length in meters (2250) to get a score (6750).  To qualify as a ‘Category 4’ climb, the lowest level climb in the Tour, the lowest score needed is 8000. So, my climb, unfortunately, doesn’t even make it onto the chart. If it were another 400 meters long, I’d get the badge, although another 400 meters might also finish me off…

As a side note, all the playing around with maps made me realize that my ride to work is actually longer than I thought, slightly over 8 miles as compared to the 7.5 I thought. I’ve been short-changing myself a mile every time!

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