Climbing the big hills
I have been wanting to climb the hills out by 7springs for a few months now. I guess watching the tour de France was enough to get me off my butt. These are the biggest climbs I ever have done. I started out by mt. pleasant. You can see the route here:
You should be ok now. Oh, the downhill sections were awesome. I don’t have a speedometer but, I assume I was going around 45mph on the the 3 mile hill section.
I would love to try a climb like this my problem is I seem to loose a little control on the way down. If I touch the breaks my back wheel goes a different direction than the front, and I cant corner at all. We should have a ride to conquer all of 7 Springs climbs.
Whoa, mr Marv, that sounds like a scary little problem! Have you had the bike checked? What kind of bike do you have?
Trek Portland I Don’t know why it does that I’ve only crashed it like 4 or 5 times
It a great commuter but its not a real road bike. It does well in the city and even on snow covered roads, but its not a high speed bike or a bike made for aggressive down hills.
I was attempting to be funny with squirrel jokes, but I guess my intent was a little bit fuzzy.
Aside from the slight slope in the top tube and the disc brakes, it looks road worthy enough to me. Is it a heavy bike? BTW, one thing I keep reading on forums is to brace your knee against the top-tube if the bike starts to shimmy when you get some speed.
I get it squirrelly lol. I think its just a lack of skill. I’ve seen fast downhills on bikes from Target. Btw I hat squirrels.
@marvelous are you accustomed to aluminum frames? my portland is my first aluminum frame and was quite a different experience at high speed and in cross winds, as compared to steel frames.
This summer is the first time I ever tried a fast downhill, and the first time I ever hit 32mph or more, I think I just need to develop my skills.
All things considered, the Portland will be more stable at high speeds that the average racy road bike.
Assuming your tires aren’t complete crap or coated with oil or improperly inflated or something (which doesn’t seem to be the case from the other thread), changing tires or even the whole bike isn’t likely to make as much difference as improving your technique… or just plain taking the corners slower – if you are crashing that much it sounds like you are pushing too hard to go fast. Learn how to go slow first then add speed as you become more comfortable, it’s much less painful!
When you lose control, what is happening? Are you locking up the rear wheel?
Is there any climbing like this in or within a ride’s distance from pgh? It seems like the highest elevation in quite a ways around is 1400 ft, so at the most you are climbing 7 or 800 feet, meaning either it’s short and steep or long and gradual. It would be cool to list climbs around Pittsburgh in a spreadsheet, maybe with their distance from the city center, average grade, length, rating (HC-5), and bike friendliness.
The Portland shouldn’t be squirrelly like that, should be quite stable.
Out of curiosity, which is your dominant hand, L/R, and which brake lever controls your front brake, L/R?
I think maybe my problem is I’m heavy with the rear breaks and light with the front on a high speed downhill turn
Sorry didn’t mean to take over this thread or over shadow the great climbing Andrew did.
I think you answered your own question there – less rear brake, more front.
Thanks. I was wondering if anybody else on the board has any stories to tell about big climbs.
The biggest climb I’ve ever done was in May in Virgin, UT. It was absolutely beautiful but really hot (the GPS may be overstating things but it was at least high 80’s and zero shade) and unfortunately I’d come down with a cold 2 days before and was still dragging – I did a little walking even.
We stopped for lunch at this point – the climb kept going (for another 3000-4000ft!) but I’d had enough for the day.
The descent was great too, I decided to follow my wife which kept my speed way down. Probably a good thing considering there were massive dropoffs to contend with.
I’d kinda like to go back there and take another crack at it. The thought certainly occurred to me that it would be tough to get another opportunity but I was feeling pretty beat and with 2 more days of hiking/riding to follow I didn’t want to push myself to complete exhaustion.
Coming off Laurel, I topped 50 mph. (I love the “order-of-magnitude” hills and valleys, where you do 5 up one side and 50 down the other. There’s this awesome little V-shaped valley on Furnace Hill Rd on the way to Ohiopyle on which I consistently hit 45 on the way down and climb at 4.5 the whole way up.)
Here is a story about big climbing that I hope is worth sharing. I was riding south last spring on U.S. Route 250 through Pocahontas County, WV and Highlands County, VA. Somewhere in Virginia I got to the top of a massive climb and stopped for a drink. I heard a massive roar that was unlike anything I hear around Pittsburgh. I looked down over the side of the road, into the wide valley, and saw the top side of a fighter jet as it came up the valley. To state the obvious, when you can look down and see the top of a jet, the climbs are big.
Big climb last week in the French alps. Including Col du Telegraphe, the ascent over the Col du Galibier pass (8672 ft elevation) was 18.9 mi at an average grade of 7% (Telegraphe 7.6 mi climb, Galibier 11.3 mi). Including a short downhill between Telegraphe & the start of Galibier, it took me 3.5 hours to grind out both climbs at an average of 6 mph. 6800 feet overall gain in altitude.
20 mi descent off the back of Galibier was a thrill, though didn’t even crack 45 mph due to a headwind on the entire descent.
The route I was on was the same as this Friday’s TdF stage 19. I made it up Alpe d’Huez about a third of the way before needing to bail due to a bad knee. I probably shouldn’t have been on the ride at all, but booked months ago before the knee became an issue. I guess sometimes the mountain wins.
Does anyone have pics they can post of big climbs they took on?
AWSOME! What local street is the gradient similar? Liberty? Guyasuta? I know they’re not 20 miles long, just interested in the steepness.
Ps. I need to say Awesome! Again.
@marko – Stanton from Butler to McCandless is pretty similar. Liberty is about 5%, this section was more like 8 or 9%.
@reddan – the suffering was delicious
That is an awesome pic. I would love to do that some day.
This is from the GDMBR. We crossed the
continental divide at least once a day for
We topped out at like 13,000 something
just south of del norte CO.
one year elite national (amateur) went over
that climb up 31 each lap of four laps. Then
it rode copper kettle highway to 7 springs.
It was 104 miles and like 14k of climbing
IF anyone is hankering for some local climbing joy, the Pgh Randos’ AMCUP 400K is in a couple of weeks, starting early AM Saturday the 31st. Chestnut Ridge, Mt Davis, up from Cumberland…doesn’t that sound like fun?
That was enough pain for me. 400k! no thanks.
Quizbot, now that is the real deal.
@andrew: Definitely the real deal. Enough to make a grown man cry. Great work on your efforts too…. TdF is a huge inspiration for a good reason. Man is capable of monumental efforts, sanity be damned. There are several routes around here that I need to get on top of & have yet to take a stab at. I grew up in Uniontown, but have never taken a road bike over the summit on 40 or Jumonville Rd.
One weird thing on the long mountain climbs is how everything “looks” flattish – you’re on a 9% but it looks like 3% just because of the relative space around you. Points of visual reference are all screwed up with the magnitude of the space that surrounds you. Gravity doesn’t lie though.
@reddan: raincheck on the 400k till next year… nursing my knee now, but it sounds like fun, if suffering is fun
Quizbot, your post actually had me thinking how much fun that ride to the summit sounds. I went to Uniontown yesterday morning to do this. On my way back through town I went through some light rain but against my better judgement I kept going up 51 hoping to go to Perryoplis and back before getting caught in a massive storm and downpour the whole way back from where I turned around.
Definitely the most exciting ride I have had this year and only 30 miles. Hit over 51mph on Jumonville Rd. I’m going to keep exploring that area for sure.
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