I would like to start climbing hills. As things are right now, climbing long or steep hills is very tiring so I would like to start out easy and work my way up. I just read an article that recommends a five percent grade. What would be a good hill to start out with that is near Aspinwall or Garfield that is ok for a road bike with 25mm tires and flat handle bars?
I *think* Strava has this information on its maps, though I’ve never used it.
In any case there are lots of hills around here to practice on. 5% isn’t a magic number. Just take on the hill, work your way up it, and when you start breathing hard, understand that’s part of it, and don’t give up. Just give yourself time.
I like harder grades if I’m trying to get better at climbing. You might not be able to do a lot in a day, I think the biggest thing is regular repetition. Once you feel confident, try tackling any of the dirty dozen hills in Aspinwall, Sharpsburg, Etna.
In the city, some good practice is:
Try Climbing Stanton Ave from Lawrenceville or from Negley Ave to the top of Stanton (decently wide shoulders).
Lawrenceville to Garfield via 44th Street from butler to Penn (probably skip during rush hours).
In Garfield, N. Mathilda Street from Penn to the top of Mossfield (it’s bumpy going down though). Easier option in Garfield is Aiken from Penn to Black. Most of these are pretty low traffic.
I’ve been climbing N. Mathilda 5 times a week for a month or so and I’m feeling a bit stronger climbing hills in general now.
Not *super* close to you but East Street from Madison all the way up the valley to Perry High is 2.67mi of sustained grades between 5-6%. Huge bonus is that it has either traditional or buffered bike lanes for almost the entire length, so you don’t have cars on your ass the whole time. It’s a great capacity builder for beginners.
Also provides easy access to Riverview Park, where the loop is also a popular beginner/intermediate climb.
We are basically talking about a training program.
Now the question is are you trying to build raw leg strength, which implies you are limited to climb by pushing a large enough gear that you eventually physically are unable to turn the cranks. Or what limits most people is primarily cardiovascular fitness, meaning that even though you can go to smaller gear ratios, you are not able to supply enough oxygen to your legs to even turn easier gears.
My guess is it is primarily the latter. By increasing cardiovascular fitness by riding (although other forms of exercise can help) you will also increase leg strength. So what you need is a coach or trainer (or enough knowledge yourself) to figure out your goals, take baseline readings, designate a training program to work towards said goals, and track progress.
Can’t give any pro advice here, only personal experience. Federal Street used to be an unconquerable monster. Had to push the bike up the sidewalk. Eventually got to the point of making it up with only stopping six times, later only four times, later twice, finally not stopping at all.
Start at North Avenue. See how far up you get before you have to stop at all. If you have to stop any prior to the lower corner with Perrysville, then practice climbing Perrysville. The steepest bit is between that and Mercy St (with the little market). If you got that far, the rest is just endurance.