Tag Archives: hill climbing

Stupid Steep Holy Sh*t Climbing Day

My first double of the year is coming up in a couple of weeks, and I figure another century is in store to prepare for it.  I did a 50 miler yesterday on my fixie, so that gave me some base mileage, but I wanted something to kick my butt today.  I originally called this climb climb climb to ring in Daylight Savings Time … nice rhyme, eh?  Climb mentioned 3 times for each of the climbs we were to do.

I posted this on Meetup, and much to my surprise, I got some takers.  The first climb of the day was Sierra.  I warned everyone that the when you look up, the road just goes into the heavens.  Even with that, the first reaction was “Holy Sh*t”.  Yet, those same riders were the first to the summit.

The weather was perfect for this ride … a little chill in the morning, but as soon as we started climbing, it warmed up really nicely.  Arm warmers were all that was needed (vest would come out on the descent).

We all survived that ok.  We then descended Felton with a quick water stop at the park on Calaveras (there is no water between here and Welch Creek, the 2nd climb).  After that, it’s on to climb the Calaveras wall, followed by some rolling hills before getting to Welch Creek.  I was describing how Welch Creek is harder than Sierra, and how the steep grades continue on, relentless, without too much relief.  As we approached, we see where we go, and the thought was, that’s not too bad.  At the base, it still didn’t look that bad.

As we start climbing, we see the first steep stretch, and the same guys let out a “Holy Sh*t”.  Time to grunt it out, and if it’s even possible, relax … uh, yeah, right, relax, on this hill?

The strava segment says it’s 3.9 miles, and 1871 feet climbing.  Those numbers don’t even begin to describe the difficulty of this climb.  As Ramon would say, it’s stupid steep.  A lot of this road is narrow, where only one car can really pass on this road.  Good thing this is an isolated road, and there weren’t too many cars we had to contend with.

The last 1/2 mile or so got even tougher, pitches were steep.  We already had a lot of climbing in our legs, and it all accumulated to fatigued legs.  This one 16% stretch was just a bit much for a lot of us.  I had to walk a stretch of this till the pitch leveled out to about 5% … level …. hehe.

Finally at the top and a much deserved rest, and getting our heart rate down.  This is one of the toughest (if not the toughest) climbs in the Bay Area.  The only one that may trump it is Mix Canyon, but I haven’t had the pleasure of trying that yet.

After this, everyone just wanted this thing to end, so down to downtown Sunol, and we’re only doing 2 climbs … Welch Creek took its toll on the group.  We then took to quickest, most direct way back home … and I mean quick.  It’s like two different rides … morning climbs, afternoon all out sprint.  In the end, it was a great ride, great weather, and great company.

http://app.strava.com/activities/43953608

Ringing in the New Year with … What Else … A Tough Climb

Happy New Year everyone.  The weather was cooperating this time around, and that requires a bike ride.  I was originally going to do San Bruno Mountain race, but I wussed out.  I just didn’t feel like sprinting up a hill.  I’d rather just finish the hill, so I bailed on that.

Instead, I went for a tough climb, Sierra Road.  Yes, it is evil … what a better way to ring in the new year, eh?  I went there for a solo ride, but much to my surprise, I saw Donald there at the base of the hill.  Cool, so I have someone to ride with … well, for 1 minute … he climbs really well.  But at least we re-grouped together at the top of the climb.

Temp?  Not that bad.  This was probably due to very little wind … that is until we started descending on Felton, and then onto Calaveras.  However, my extremities were not suffering, so all in all, pretty pleasant day, considering the cold winter weather warnings.

I wonder how the conditions were up on Mt. Hamilton?  I was originally thinking of doing that first, but then I thought better of it … Sierra instead.

Happy New Year’s everyone.  Hope the coming year is a prosperous one for all.

Postcard Day in Palos Verdes in November

It’s November, and California is being subjected to spring-summer like weather.  We are forced to bake in mid-80’s to lo-90’s weather.  Aw, shouldn’t you feel sad for us?  Since it was going to be a hot one today, I decided to ride with my friends in Palos Verdes (letting them lead the route, being the locals).

My local PV friends, David, Teresa (Tiger), and Ken

Don’t get me wrong, this was a little more than a leisure sight seeing tour of Palos Verdes.  True to form, it was a climbfest, but with a tourist slant to it.  We had many photo ops, as you can probably tell.

Malaga Cove Dive Spot

View from top of Via La Cuesta … Wow!

After a day like this, I had forgotten what amazing views there are in the South Bay.  It’s one area of Southern Cal that I miss … I’ll have to do this more often on my monthly visits.

More pics found at https://plus.google.com/photos/107775104280723216283/albums/5807101058994837409?authkey=CP_Rv8u09oSyzgE

Stats?  Does it really matter after seeing the shots above?  Well, ok, here it is … 43.4 miles, 4072 feet climbing, http://app.strava.com/activities/26955191#.  Still, pretty epic ride, for being a sight seeing ride.

Quimby LKHC and the Adventures Getting There

I decided to ride over to the start of the LKHC on Quimby. I decided to use ridewithgps, and plot a route to the start. I then exported it to my Garmin. I figured I would follow the course on my Garmin. Great idea, right? Well, it got me lost. I probably should experiment with this a bit more before trying this the next time.

I finally got my way to Tully, and I hooked up with Ben. Nice way to meet, eh? Well, this stretch of Tully was horrendous. Traffic was awful, even at 9 am on a Saturday morning. But I guess this is normal for Tully.

The start of the LKHC was up the road from the school, where we all checked in. It was about a 8% climb just to the start.

I wasn’t sure how well I would do on this ride. I don’t do this climb very much, plus I’ve been suffering through some pains in the lower back, so I’m trying to not strain it too much … Well, I say that now, but once I got to the climbs, I threw caution to the wind.

It was a mass start, and I started out near the back.  Most of the riders I talked to, who were around me, were of the sentiment of wanting to finish, and not too concerned about placing, or even placing in their own age category.  Since I had done this climb at least once before, I did have confidence that I could complete it … I just wasn’t sure how slow I’d be.

There were two runners on this climb … kinda weird to see two runners in a sea of cyclists going up this epic climb.  In fact, you might be able to see them in the video.

I ended up riding with about 3 other riders who were in my same ability.  We kept trading leads throughout the climb.  There was also a tandem out on this ride, and I used them to help me pace myself up the hill, before I just went ahead of them.

Probably the hardest part was the last two switchbacks, with grades in double digits.  It was just tough, and I could just hear my breathing, which kind of served as a metronome, to pace my way up.  I ended up passing the rest of the riders I was climbing with, and when I saw the big crowd hanging around at the top of the hill, I knew that was the finish … so I shifted up a couple of gears, and turned my body inside and out.

Photo courtesy Josh and Erica Hadley

I later found out I got a personal best out of this, by 4 minutes.  Official time was 35:34.  I’m pretty with this result, even though I was last in my age group (45+).  The important thing is I had fun.

Day 3 – Nifty 1050 #30daysofbiking

Day 3 of the 30 days of biking … and there is a ride in El Cerrito, that aims to complete 10,000 feet of climbing in 50 miles.  Holy crap … sounds like just the stupid thing I would do.

On my way over, I somehow made the wrong exit, and wound up on the Bay Bridge.  No,no,no … oh hell, looks like I gotta go to Treasure Island then head back.  In retrospect, this is not a bad way to get lost.  Had a great view across the bay of the Bay Bridge.  Nice way to start the day, eh?

Ok, finally got on track.  There was a pretty group gathered for the ride .. approximately 20 riders.  I looked at the physique of the other riders, and I already knew I was in trouble.

They provided a Garmin gpx file where we could upload as a course.  With this, you can import a gpx file into your Garmin, and you could follow the course.  This is the first time I’ve used the course feature on my Garmin, so this should be interesting.

Onto the course, and we immediately are greeted with a 20+% climb.  Not even a warm up!  I was barely hanging on to the back of the main group, but that wouldn’t last very long.  Pretty soon, me, and this other rider from Palm Desert, Bob, wound up in the back, and we pretty much rode the rest of the ride together.  This meant I couldn’t follow the rider in front, and had to rely on my route sheet.

I read the route sheet wrong when we got to the traffic circle.  It mention to go through the traffic circle, then hang a right on Marin.  Well, I saw Marin, and hung a right.  Well, that took us towards the bay and into Albany.  We are way off course here … u-turn back, and getting back to the traffic circle, we were suppose to circle the traffic circle, and hang a right up …. emphasize UP Marin Ave.  This is the 0.75 mile, 28% grade.  Ouch.

I didn’t make it all the way up on the bike.  I had to walk the last several hundred feet.  My legs were fine, but my arms just was tired from all the pulling.

The picture doesn’t tell the whole story.  When you look at it, it doesn’t look all that steep.

Ok, back to the course.  There were so many turns on this route, I had to stop many times, just to make sure I was on course.  I still made a few wrong turns, and actually backtracking what we would do later in the ride twice.  We basically were looping around the same neighborhood in many different ways.

We had gone about 40 miles before our legs just had it for the day.  Even if I did continue on the route, we probably wouldn’t finish till about 7 pm or so.  Bob wasn’t feeling that great either, and he called his buddies to pick him up.  We stopped in Montclair Village for much needed lunch.  At that point, I decided to take the quickest route to Bart, in Rockridge, and rode back from El Cerrito Bart to the start.

I arrived there just about 10 minutes before the main pack finished the whole ride.

My Garmin didn’t record the data accurately, so unfortunately I cannot give an accurate account for miles and climbing done.

http://app.strava.com/rides/387969

7 Hells … I survived it … sort of

SF Bike Coalition has this traditional ride, aptly named 7 Hells, where they climb 7 of the most notorious hills of San Francisco.  I didn’t realize this till I started doing a google search (http://www.sfbike.org/main/seven-hells-of-san-francisco-ride/).

I met Ramon at Sports Basement at Crissy Fields.  I mis-read his posting, as the plan was to meet at 9:40, then ride over to the start at the panhandle.  We were both running late, so we kind of had a pre-hill warmup, sprinting to get to Golden Gate Park.  I started to get my climbing and breathing skills preparing for the real hills.

We did get to GGP in plenty of time, and was able to rest a good 5-10 minutes before the group came.  And boy, was this a big group.  I don’t have actual numbers, but it had to be in excess of 30-50 people.  This meant a lot of re-groups, which was good and bad … good to be able to rest, bad that there were a little more stops than I would like.

The start of the ride was overcast, and not as hot as I anticipated.  With 90 degree forecast in Santa Clara, I figured it would be pretty sunny here … but thankfully, it was not.  Good way to start 7 Hells.

The first climb was on Warren Street.  The picture does not really show how steep it is.  When you first look at this, you’d think “holy shit!”  But the only way to proceed is just do it.  But I know these are all short climbs, so down to granny gears, and just power up this climb.  Surprisingly, I was able to climb this, with not much difficulty, not worrying how high my heartrate goes (turns out I topped out at 180 bpm … surprisingly, this is not even close to the highest I would do today).  As I was climbing, I noticed one of the guys had a huge cog in the back.  Later, found out he had a 34 tooth cog in the back.  Dang, that’s as large as most compact cranks!

After the summit, we proceed with a screaming downhill, en route to twin peaks.  Normally, I’d think this as one of the major climbs, but apparently, this is not considered one of the hills.  WTF!

Twin peaks gives us a view of San Francisco, but since it was so overcast, there was really much to see here.  It must suck to be a tourist, coming to San Francisco, coming to the famed Twin Peaks, only to see this.  Not much of a view, huh?

Ok, now down the hill, and the next destination is Dalewood.  This is Ramon’s favorite climb of the day, and luckily for me, I’m familiar with this climb, so it’s not such a big surprise to me.  As expected, Ramon is up at the front, but I’m just going to settle in the middle of the pack.  However, during my climb, I had to contend with cars coming up the hill from behind, avoiding cars on the side of the road, and to my surprise, my speed up the climb.  What do I mean by that???  Well, there were some climbers that stopped on the road, and I just could not ride around them (due to cars coming from behind).  Damn, I had to dismount at that point.  I wasn’t tacking this hill either, aiming to just go straight up.  At this point, the hill was most likely at 21%.  It’s really hard to re-mount on a 21% hill.  I lost probably a minute due to this.  Oh well.  Heart rate check … 181 bpm.

Next hell … I mean hill, is 21st Street.  This is a straight up hill.  What do I mean by straight up?  Well, start at the corner of Valencia and 21st Street, and look up towards 21st Street, and all you can see is a hill going just about vertical.  Ok, so it’s a little exaggerated, but you get my point.  It’s like a stair step climb, where it only levels off at an intersection … but it does give a little breather.  This is one of those climbs where I dug deep down, trying to get more power out of me, try to get as much air in, and out as I could.  It’s a bit strange, but during this climb, I wasn’t even thinking about the pain in my legs, but just trying to not stop and keep going.  Made it up to the top, and another hill climb done.  That was tough.  That topped out at ~ 27%.  That’s one of the steepest climbs I’ve ever done.  My HR topped out at 186 bpm … WOW!!!!  I don’t think I’ve ever gotten it up this high.

Ok, 3 down, 4 more to go, but first, a lunch stop.  We head down towards the Embarcadero, and then get food, drinks, and bathroom stop there.  We didn’t really have a good place to store the bikes, so we took turns watching the bike, then heading off for bathroom, water, etc … I didn’t want to eat too much, so I decided just to go with the food I carried with me.  In retrospect, maybe I should have gotten something, as I’ll tell you more about that a little later.

It was a zoo here, but that’s kind of expected.  You have many touring buses coming along here … and we had some ladies there, seeing a group of lycra-clad cyclists, so what happened here?  Well, what do you think … they took a picture with them in a group of cyclists … and I was one of the targets.  I guess they thought I looked hawt?  Okay, so now I’m famous … somewhere.  Who knows, maybe I’ll end up on the Internet.  Oh wait, I already am, to some extent :p

Anyhow, the next climb up was to Telegraph Hill, up to Coit Tower.  On the way over, we had a little optional detour, to do a gratuitous climb up Filbert.  I thought about that for a minute … and …. no.  I’ll skip it.  Of course, Ramon couldn’t pass by this challenge.  He went straight up it.  About half of the riders went for this … pretty good percentage if you ask me.  I here it tops out at 28% .. well, I think I’ll conserve myself for the climbs ahead.

The clouds have burned off at this point (as you can see in the shot of Filbert).  However, I didn’t stop for a view, as we were all huddled around the tower.  It was crazy crowded here (it was around 1 pm at this point).  We had a lot of tourist looking at us like we were a spectacle or something.  I guess to some tourists, and natives, in fact, we were.  I got a kick out of tourists taking action shots of us, as we were either climbing a hill, or descending a hill.  It felt great!

Anyhow, back down the hill, getting prepared for our next hell destination … Jones.

Jones is another tough one, very similar to 21st Street.  It’s also the same type of climb, where it just goes straight up.  Now switchbacks, just bucker down, get as much power as you can, and just get to the top.  At this point, I started to feel a little queezy in my stomach.  I don’t know what it was … I wasn’t hungry or anything, but I could start feeling like I have indigestion or something … but I figure I’ll charge through this one.

Now, we have completed 4/7, and this is the 5th one.  Fatigue is starting to settle in, but I have enough in the tank for this.

This was just punching me in the face, the more I climb this.  I powered up the first part of it pretty good, and thought I was done with the climb when I got to the stop sign … think again.  I had one more section to do.  I had to keep thinking, don’t stop.  Keep going … I felt like stopping, but I had to go.  I started tacking on this climb, but then I decided to give one final charge, and go straight up.  Pain was settling in, and then, I decided to belt out some primal yells as I am climbing.  This seemed to give me that extra adrenaline, till I finally made it up to the top.  I looked, and this was only 25%!  I guess this was a bit harder than 21st Street, only because of the fatigue factor settling in.

Okay, next climb … California Avenue, right in the heart of downtown SF.  I think this was actually passing by Pete’s old apartments, but not sure.  These are hills Pete affectionately refers to as “ski jump”, but we’re doing it in the reverse direction.  At this point, my stomach was still suffering through this, so I am not putting very much effort into it.  I just got enough mustard to make it through to the top.  We had now completed 6 of the 7 climbs.  The last one was to be the toughest, Divisadero, which is supposed to top out at 38%.  However, with my stomach, I gotta bail on that one.  Lucky for me, Divisadero is very close to Sports Basement where I parked, so it was easy just to make a slight detour to the car, and the bathroom.

Despite the last setback, it was an excellent ride.  One of these days, I’ll have to come back and do Divisadero with the rest of the Wrecking Crew.

Totals:  32.4 miles, 3493 feet of climbing.  Even with all of this, my average heartbeat was still a scant 140 bpm.  Must not be working hard enough, eh?

Here’s the online version of this on Strava … http://www.strava.com/rides/138253

Adventures in Riding in the Dark

Since I was on-call this past weekend, it menat I had to be near a networked PC … that also meant no miles this past weekend.  Plus, since it is Thanksgiving weekend, I most likely won’t be able to get much riding in.  So, how do I get my mileage back up?  Well, thanks to the advances in light and battery technology, that provides more options for cycling.  Night riding … as long as I have available lighting, I can forseeably continue riding until it’s time to sleep, as long as my battery holds out.

I’ve got a pretty good system.  On my handlebar, I have a NiteRider MOAB, which is advertised to last about 10 hours (realistically, I’m guessing 4-5 hours).  It has 3 different modes, varied due to intensity of the beam.  The point being, this is bright, and can literally light up a completely dark street.  Then, I have a small blinker that I can mount on my helmet.  This way, I can direct the small beam at a particular section of the road if I see a particular dark area.

There are many viewpoints on the light on the helmet, ranging from it being bright enough that you don’t need a helmet light, to it being obnoxious to shine the light at a driver.  But my point is that no light, mounted on a handlebar, will allow you to see everything on the road.  If you are on a completely dark, unlit street, and it has a sharp turn, you obviously can’t see the contour of the road if your light doesn’t show you that.  The handlebar mounted light will only show you a beam in the direction of travel you are going … it will not show you possible turn you have to negotiate.  With a helmet light, you can direct the beam at a particular section of the road to prepare yourself for whatever obstacle you are approaching.  Okay, rant over.

Monday, I led a ride through Los Altos Hills, and Ben led a ride Tuesday from Los Gatos through Saratoga.  Both were great rides.  The Los Altos ride went through some steep grades, including Mora, Altamont, and Quinhill.  Riding through areas you ride through all the time in daylight is very different when riding at night.  It is very different riding, not just because of the lack of daylight, but also since you don’t know what’s up ahead, you are just focused on riding and climbing.  It makes routine riding an adventure, and exciting.

Quinhill was different … I had heard about this hill, but never climbed up it … so this was the first time we climbed it, and it was in the dark.  That was pretty cool … it was short, 0.2 miles, but steep, maxing out at 19%.

The temperature levels varied greatly, depending on if you are in a deep canyon, or if you are in an enclosed area, draped by trees.  I didn’t have a thermometer with me, but at parts it felt like around 50 F, but in the canyons, it probably dropped to 40 or even lower than that.

On the Los Gatos ride, this was all new territory to me.  Ben led us on a great ride through some expensive mansions are Los Gatos and Monte Sereno.  Not knowing any of the streets … eh, it’s in the dark, so it really didn’t matter anyways.  One time, we were riding on a street, and heard some ruffling on the side of the street.  I thought it was some local walking or hiking, but I was later told it was a deer.  Holy crap!

Eventually, the ride went back to Saratoga, and it went up this really steep climb, Villa Oaks, which eventually bleeded out to Mt. Eden.  That was a 0.8 mile climb, with the grade peaking at 18% … it ranged from 12-18% for a good 0.3 mile, so this definitely gave me a workout.  I gotta try this road out again when it’s light out … just wonder what type of views there are in daylight.

Descending through Mt. Eden, the temperature dropped like a rock, as soon as we passed the intersection of Mt. Eden and Stevens Canyon.  It’s a good thing we were climbing so that it could bring the body temperature up.  I only wished my Garmin had a temperature sensor, so it could track temperature through the different parts of the ride.

As far as pictures are concerned … this is in the dark!  So sorry, no pictures.  But I do have elevation profiles, but I guess that’s not as exciting.  I hope my description helps.

Los Altos Hill Ride:  30.2 miles, 1967 feet climbing.  http://ridewithgps.com/trips/6816

Los Gatos – Saratoga Ride: 40.6 miles, 2361 feet climbing.  http://ridewithgps.com/trips/6826

Not so Lazy Sunday Stroll through San Francisco

Just to change this up a little bit, the crew, or at least the partial crew, decided to do a little stroll through the streets of San Francisco.  Ok, it’s more than a little stroll.  It’ll be a nice change of pace, with no real sustained climbs, but they will be steep.

We started out from Sports Basement in Crissy Field in San Francisco, and it was a really nice day.  There were no clouds in the sky, and it was almost like a postcard day.  It was still cool enough where we needed arm warmers and a vest, but it wasn’t bone chillingly cold like it was on Saturday.

Right off the bat, we started climbing.  Ugh, this was a bad sign … off the back already, we hardly went a mile into the ride.  Here I am with my triple, while Ramon and Michael are there, touting the benefits of their compact double, all while I am just struggling to pedal.  As I struggle, I say f#$k it … granny gear, and continue on this short climb.  They’re still waiting for me, but hell if I’m going to give up my triple.

The next several miles would be a continual spike up, spike down … pitches were significant, but they were short distances.  The one saving grace here is the climbs are not long or sustained.  I guess if you were strong enough, you could sprint up each of these hills, given enough strength.  Hey, I’m just fortunate enough to ride with these guys!

This was just a warm up.  We somehow wound our way back to the cars again.  Nice way to bail, huh?  That would be the calm before the storm, because the bulk of the climbing was now just awaiting us.  Upcoming … Divasadero, which is hella steep, Filbert, short but even steeper, Twin Peaks, which gives us a nice view of the city, and then Dalewood, which is even steep steep steeper!

Now this is Divasadero from a distance.  Just contemplate here … some cars struggle just to get up the hill, and sometimes roll backwards at an intersection … and we are climbing this on our bikes????

This was like a stair step … you climb your way to the first intersection, then it flattens out.  Then, climb some more, and repeat this until you reach all the way to the top.  The problem here is this street has traffic, and with the cars parked on the side of the road, if you are not careful, you could have someone pull out, while you are struggling up this hill … and you’re only going 4-6 mph (at least that’s what I’m doing).  Then when you get up to the top, you look back and are in awe.

Ok, next up is Filbert.  Now this is short but steep.  This part of Filbert is a one way street … one way in the opposite direction of where we are going.  This is about half the distance of Fargo St in LA (the steepest paved road in LA at 33%), but I’m not sure if Filbert is that steep.  My Garmin only posts it as 20%, but I’ve been told it’s a 31% grade.  At least I now know what Fargo St is like.  When I was climbing this, there was a car coming down, so I couldn’t tack this climb.  I eventually lost my leverage, and had to dismount.  I tried in vain to mount back up, and continue climbing, but it was a no go.  Even trying to zig or zag, wouldn’t do.  I could not balance myself on this, so I ended up walking this hill.  I remember thinking, this is so steep, it’s hard walking up the hill, especially in cycling shoes!

Whew, made it up this .. now for an easy hill up twin peaks.  No, seriously, it is easy, compared to Divasadero and Filbert.  You gotta remember the type of hills we’re doing here.

What’s also ironic here is when you look at a glance at the elevation profile, this is the highest peak on the ride, but it’s probably the easiest of the significant hills.  But in the end, the reward is the amazing view at the top, over looking the city.

And now the cream of the crop awaits us … Dalewood.  This is one steep climb … after a while, we were thinking about this ride, and we think this can be categorized as a “Howie Long tough guys” ride.  The last time we did this, it was reported that this was a 26-27% grade, even though my Garmin only registered 20% (probably because I was zig-zagging so much, that the average grade suffered).

This picture doesn’t tell it all, and I didn’t take a picture at the steep part, because I wanted to finish the climb … but I think you get the hint from this teaser:

By the time we got back to the cars, we exceeded our litmus test … 1000 feet per 10 mile.  We ended up with a whopping 36.8 miles, and 4142 feet climbing.  Wow, and I could still walk on Monday after this ride.  I just my fitness is helping me here, not being a vegetable a day after the ride.  It was a nice change of pace, where the emphasis was on climbing, and who cared how many miles we did.  We had a blast!

To see more pics I took on this ride, go to http://spingineer.smugmug.com/Cycling/Streets-of-San-Francisco/10358815_42VFW#716917775_MJ99L

Wide Variance in Altitude Gains using same gpx Data File

I’ve been using my Garmin Edge 305 for a while, and I’ve always wondered how accurate the elevation gain is on the various applications used to track gps data.  Using the same data, shouldn’t the elevation gain be the same, no matter which program you use?

I have 4 different applications to interpret gpx data … connect.garmin.com, Ascent, SportTracks, and ridewithgps.com.  I took about a 2.5 week sample (some with deep canyons, others were just hill climbs), and I saw a huge variants.  From this sample, connect.garmin.com seems to run low, http://www.ridewithgps.com seems to run high, while Ascent is the one that comes closest to the average.

Description connect.garmin.com Ascent GTC SportTracks ridewithgps Average
Crown/Starlight Crest 2465 2284 2420 1623 2416 2241.6
Mt. Hamilton 4892 4952 4973 4777 5052 4929.2
Page Mill, OLH, Kings 5743 6013 6148 5088 6270 5852.4
Morgan Territory, Mt. Diablo 5855 6167 6286 5189 6344 5968.2
Montebello, Mt. Eden 2670 2820 2932 2432 2943 2759.4

Taking a look at Morgan Territory/Mt. Diablo.  This had climbs mostly out in the open, without too many shades.  However, notice the big difference between http://connect.garmin.com and http://www.ridewithgps.com

The average is 5968 feet, with Sport Tracks at a low of 5189, and ridewithgps at a high of 6344.  Ascent seems to be the closest, being a little higher than the median, followed by connect.garmin.com (although it is a little on the low side).

Based on this, I think the most accurate reading will be from Ascent.  Talking to Marco, it seems that some software applications use digital elevation model underlay, and depending on which version each application uses, the resulting elevation gain may vary, even though the same source data (from the gpx file) is used.

Even though http://www.ridewithgps.com reads overly high, I still like to use it, because when you hover over the elevation profile, you can actually see the percent grade of the hill you were climbing, speed, and distance.  Ascent is more accurate, and I like the way the graph are more vectored, and yes, more geekly looking than connect.garmin.com is.  If there is one thing I wished Montebello Software could do with Ascent, is to give you a summary, in table form, giving you at a glance, stats like elevation gain, speed, distance, etc.  Right now, you have to click the calendar, and drill down to the data you want.

Now what am I getting at?  Well, from an Engineering standpoint, it doesn’t make sense.  If you have the same data file (gpx file), and same data points, why shouldn’t you get the same elevation gain?  Or maybe the gpx file does not give you the actual elevation data … who knows, and that elevation data is based on something else?  Who knows????

Billy Goatin’ up Crown and Starlight Crest

I couldn’t get out in time to hook up with Alan, aka Il Bruto, for the Bagel Ride.  I gave it my best effort, time trialing over to the park, but I missed them.  So I tried to intercept them on San Rafael, but no one there but me.  I busted my butt going up there, on my middle crank.  Sometimes I wish I had a power meter, so I can gauge how hard I’m going.

After fruitlessly missing the group I was trying to hook up with, I was going to just meet them at Goldstein’s, but then I decided, I think I’ll try Crown and Starlight Crest today.  I had my torture fest yesterday with 16% grades, so why not go for another day with 16% grades.

Since my legs were still used to the grind of 11-16% climbing, it felt good going up Crown.  It was funny, I passed by a couple, jogging up Crown … okay, they were slowly walking up.  And as I passed by them, I shouted out to them “Yes, I’m nuts” … I got a spirited “Go for it” from the guy … cool!   I did end up in my granny gear, but still had two gears left to spare by the time I got to the Intersection of Crown and Starlight Crest.

Crown-Stalight Crest 007

As I continued climbing up Starlight Crest, I started noticing some of the aftermath of the Station Fire.  On the north ridge, I did see a few charred plants, which got me realizing how close the fire actually came to these really expensive homes.

I decided to explore a little more, hanging a right on Angeles Crest Highway, but saw the Road Closed Ahead sign … still, I decided to ride up as far as I could go, which wasn’t very much further.  I asked the Sheriff there, and she says it’ll be closed for a few weeks.  While I was there, I saw some of the burnt hills.  I stood there in awe, as I was at this very same spot, about 6 months ago, with lush green trees … not any more 😦

IMG_1152

Well, not much else to see here, so I desended down Hwy 2 …. somewhere along the descent, I think my right contact lense fell out.  I hate it when that happens.

Ride Analysis at http://ridewithgps.com/trips/4600