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  1. #1
    sufferer of a.d.d.
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    just how steep are the hills in your riding area?

    i just bought a ss (bianchi diss) which i'm waiting to arrive. i live in los angeles which means that the mountain biking for the most part is in the santa monica mountains and is mostly pretty damn steep in places. i rode my geared bike around town for about 15 miles a few weeks ago and barely broke a sweat. i bought my ss with the idea that i can get good excercise city riding. but perhaps as my stamina and strength increase so will the grades of my inclines and my willingness to tackle some of the local dirt. what kind of inclines are you climbing on your single speeds. any west los angeles single speeders here?

  2. #2
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    Streets suck

    Quote Originally Posted by warmseth
    i just bought a ss (bianchi diss) which i'm waiting to arrive. i live in los angeles which means that the mountain biking for the most part is in the santa monica mountains and is mostly pretty damn steep in places. i rode my geared bike around town for about 15 miles a few weeks ago and barely broke a sweat. i bought my ss with the idea that i can get good excercise city riding. but perhaps as my stamina and strength increase so will the grades of my inclines and my willingness to tackle some of the local dirt. what kind of inclines are you climbing on your single speeds. any west los angeles single speeders here?
    I don't live in LA. but in PHX. My only complaint with SS is the ride on the street(2 miles to the trailhead) I run out of gears! Once on the dirt all is well and I have made up creative ways to get there, like through washes. You will be a stonger rider, but embrace the suffering. I leave the street riding to my Giant TCR.

  3. #3
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    I rode SS in the SM Mtns a bunch

    I never found anything that I couldn't climb in 34:19. Some trails were tough though. Most of it is just right; hard but makable. I rode at Cheseboro, Sycamore Canyon (Guadalasco, yum), Malibu Creek SP, and Rocky Peak. Chumash (Simi Valley/Rocky Peak) was the hardest, and I'll admit to walking a bunch of it the first time I was there (100f and we had already been to the top once), and less of it the second time when I was fresh and it was evening.

    Terminaut and his whacky buddies ride up Mt. Wilson, but I saw the profile, and I don't think I'd try it SS. Maybe by myself when I had plenty of time to walk and rest.

    We also came down RedBox Canyon, and I think most of that would be climbable, but we shuttled it, so I'm not sure.

  4. #4
    Cyclist
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    A great quote from Shiggy

    I saved this quote from Master Shiggy:

    "Do not be afraid to..."
    Lower the gearing. 2:1 is "standard" but in the real dirt world lower is better for most people and places.
    Walk. You are not that much slower pushing than gearies riding on many hills. Run for a while and push for a while. You do not need to try to ride the whole thing yet.
    Coast. Rest when you can. When you are moving too fast to pedal effienctly save your energy and coast.
    Attack. Do not ride like a gearie approaching climbs. speed up before you reach the base of slopes. If you ride like you can shift down for the climb you work harder.
    Use "only have one gear" as an excuse for everything. Good and bad.
    Not take the ride too seriously. The goal is to have fun. Do not worry about how fast you are riding or whether you could make the climb or not.
    -Shiggy

    I ride a small gear, 32x20 and definitely pay the price on the flats but it allows me to climb 95% of the hills in my area without walking and I'm still faster on single track than my geared friends. I'm always yelling wait up on the fire roads but I'm waiting for them on the single track. - Tim

    My best advice is to experiment and find what works for you.
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  5. #5
    USB Rep'n
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    Im in N. Ohio but do a fair bit of riding in W. Va and Penn. where the climbs anca get a bit longer. Here, the climbs are short but very steep so it makes for more of the Shiggy attack style of riding them. Still, I ride a 32x17 and find that I rarely have to walk anything. It definitely hurts sometime (and hurts bad) but hey, it's all part of what makes it what it is.
    though hope is frail, it must prevail - Taj Weekes

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  6. #6
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    Steeps.

    One of my personal favs is Mt. Elden area in Flagstaff AZ.

    Start is ~7700ft. to the mid 10000.ft level at the lookout.....~5 miles.
    Can be a lung burner, but totally doable 32/19 (for me...)

    I've done Mt. Wilson several times, thinking Wilson is more gradual than
    Elden, but could be wrong. It's been a few years!

  7. #7
    hispanic mechanic
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    pretty steep down in sandy eggo...

    i assume about the same as el lay, but i'm not sure. i ride everything off-road on my singlespeed (51.1" gear) 'cause that's the only mountain bike i have. i have enough fun on one gear that i would rather spend my meager bike shop earnings on other extravagant hobbies (i.e. rent, food, etc.,) than a geared bike.
    and yeah, shiggy's advice is right on the money!

    the los
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  8. #8
    theHeadlessThompsonGunner
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    Steep.

    I can ride most everything on the Front Range (CO--steeper than SoCal) with a 32 x 19. In fact, I never change my gear when I know I'll be riding something steeper; I either push harder or walk, and it works OK.

    That said, pushing 2.5" tires around town can be damn hard, or at least discouraging. I have a road bike SS that would be much better to commute on, but the gear (42 x 16) is so damn big that when the wind blows really hard, there's stuff on my route that I can't get up while wearing a loaded pack. So I commute on my mtb all the time, and have lots up urban fun in between. Commuting by SS is easily viewed as less efficient than by geared bike, but I think I'm stronger because of it.
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  9. #9
    hispanic mechanic
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    steeper?!?

    Quote Originally Posted by SDizzle
    I can ride most everything on the Front Range (CO--steeper than SoCal) with a 32 x 19. In fact, I never change my gear when I know I'll be riding something steeper; I either push harder or walk, and it works OK.

    That said, pushing 2.5" tires around town can be damn hard, or at least discouraging. I have a road bike SS that would be much better to commute on, but the gear (42 x 16) is so damn big that when the wind blows really hard, there's stuff on my route that I can't get up while wearing a loaded pack. So I commute on my mtb all the time, and have lots up urban fun in between. Commuting by SS is easily viewed as less efficient than by geared bike, but I think I'm stronger because of it.
    did you find the front range steeper?
    i actually found the hills much steeper, albeit shorter, here in sandy eggo.
    in denver/boulder/ ft. collins, i was riding a 34:17, and found myself begging for the 18t.
    i dunno... just me?

    the los
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  10. #10
    DSR
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    Ditto...

    Like anything else, you get used to it. You'll get especially good at long out-of-the-saddle climbs. My legs used to be cooked after like 20 seconds out-of-the-saddle on my geared. Now I can at least just grind it out for a while. There are a number of SSers here in Front Range CO. Plus Utah, PNW, CA, steep east coast. So anything is do-able. You might want to pick up a bigger freewheel for early on - 19 or even 20. And just be prepared to walk. Keep at it and you'll be amazed how quick you can ride sections that you walked the previous time out. And the best part - well, two - 1) silence and 2) almost no maintenance. (Then again, I'm about to post a ? on a rough sounding freewheel!) Have fun. S

  11. #11
    Jed Peters
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    Depends where I go ride.

    They can be steep. Roger from this board just did a ride in our local riding area at 35 miles/6900' of climbing. That's steep.

    I run 36:19 and will run 36:20 when I go up to the sierra or the cnd rockies.

  12. #12
    Your bike sucks
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    I'm 100% sure there are steep rides in CA

    Quote Originally Posted by Zonic Man
    Depends where I go ride.

    They can be steep. Roger from this board just did a ride in our local riding area at 35 miles/6900' of climbing. That's steep.

    I run 36:19 and will run 36:20 when I go up to the sierra or the cnd rockies.
    But I don't believe any elevation gain/loss that is reported from a cyclometer or watch or HR monitor/combo. They are supa-inaccurate. I guess it's a pet-peeve but I hate it when people use a cyclometer to qualify their gain/loss - in my experience they consistently report 30% over the actual.

  13. #13
    Medium?
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    Big stiff bars and a stiff fork make a lot of difference for climbing as well. I ride 28" DH bars and a rigid fork. The rigid fork isn't as important as the bars, but you probably don't want to ride a noodly SID or something like that either. Most agree that Fox is the the most rigid sussie fork.

    And riding style makes a lot of difference too. You can only get so far mashing like on a bmx bike. To climb long steeps, you need to be able to pull as much as push. Pedaling in circles under power takes a lot of practice. I've been practicing for a couple years and I'm ok at it, but not great.

  14. #14
    Retro Grouch
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    Cool-blue Rhythm The ups and downs in Santa Cruz..

    Quote Originally Posted by Zonic Man
    Depends where I go ride.

    They can be steep. Roger from this board just did a ride in our local riding area at 35 miles/6900' of climbing. That's steep.

    I run 36:19 and will run 36:20 when I go up to the sierra or the cnd rockies.
    There are lots of long hills in Santa Cruz that are pretty much doable with a 2:1or a little less; I ride a 34:18. There are of course some harder sections but with a little perseverance you can get to the top. What I find is if I plan to do a longer ride, say two or three loops at Demo forest, I'll use a 20 cog so I don't wear myself out. That being said the real hills around here are the road rides, i.e. Alba Rd, Jameison Creek Rd and Mt Madonna can average 12-15 percent grades and are hell on a SS rode bike.

    1G1G, Brad

  15. #15
    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
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    32:18 is pretty common in SoCal.

    it's the perfect gear for rides like the San Juan Trail. It's a little steep for some things, a little easy for others. give it a go and then season to taste.

  16. #16
    cut like the fog.
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    depends on your latitude and altitude.

    I've ridden SS in NorCal, SoCal, Arizona, and a few other locals. I now live in the Canadian Rockies. By far the toughest climbs are here. Reasons include altitude thus less O2, rougher trails going up and down, I found the US places in general much smoother. Lastly length: there's no/very, very few easy short climbs up here, we have had to climb up the side of a damn mountain to go down the other way.

    I ran 34:18 or 34:17 through the US places but have run 32:18 and 34:19 up here.

    Cheers,
    b.


  17. #17
    JAK
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    Don't Die Wondering!

    As mentioned above RE: Shiggy advice, attacking the steeps is what carrying momentum upwards is all about. When the trail gets techy, its about bursting with correct body position...ie. pedal kicking and following through with glide...kinda like falling forward. Some people think an SS can't do it all, well it(with you) can do more than one would 'think'. I think a 'primary beauty' of the SS are PersonalRecords. I dig wondering if I can, then knowing through experience that I either can now, or set it as a goal for the future. I learn on EVERY ride. It is dependant on your fitness as well as finesse. Sometimes you are in trials mode, spin mode, mosh mode, etc. etc. I use a 32X20/34X20 in the mountains of the N.Rockies. I kinda like gearing just above my ability...keeps it interesting.

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  18. #18
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    Cool-blue Rhythm LA area, too.

    I'm in the LA area as well, but more EAST (Fontana). I started SSing last October and ride 34x16. There aren't many hills that I can't make, but of course some are more difficult than others.

    I've riden Chino Hills, Skyline in Corona (8-9% 4.5 mile climb), Bonelli, Cuyamoca (San Diego), and Sycamore Canyon (Riverside) on the SS. I'm looking forward to doing the Santa Ana river tail, Rim Nordic and Big Bear once the snow clears. It isn't the long 8-9% long climbs that get me, but the short and steeps where you're almost doing a track stand on the pedals and you STILL can't move the bike forward.

  19. #19
    No relation
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    Just right.

    I usually start out in the spring with the 34:20, and then switch to a 34:18 when I feel my legs getting stronger (depends how much of a slug I was in the snowier months).

    I'm thinking of going to 36:19 because it seems cooler somehow.

    I'm in the front range of Colorado, and like rides that go up and down.

    Recently I was riding in Florida, and it struck me, oddly enough, that riding somewhere flatter was actually less enjoyable for me (personally) than somewhere with big hills.
    Don't you ever, don't you ever, stop being dandy showing me you're handsome.

  20. #20
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    Just be thankful...

    ...THIS isn't your riding area.

    http://home.earthlink.net/~waltmeier/nz/nz7.html



    ECB

  21. #21
    34N 118W
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    LA SSer

    I've been running 32:18 in the Santa Monicas and can git 'er done pretty well with that gearing. Sullivan, The Hub, Caballero, Westridge, etc. I use 32:20 for areas of SoCal with more sustained/steeper climbs. If that don't cut it, I get off and walk. The new bike will be 36:21 for now.

    Shawn at Helen's on Broadway is also a good source of things singlespeed.

    If you want to meet up for a ride when you get your rig, holla.

    Jeff

  22. #22
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    ... and if we just ... short and steep

    here the hills are short and steep. All terrain in WI varies, but where I live you got some monster little knee breaker hills. Not like out West of course. Some of the hills here are long enough to make gearies complain.

  23. #23
    SS Chimp
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    Colorado Springs - Front Range CO

    46 gear/inches (32x18) runs quite well around here as an all-purpose gear. 2000 - 2500 ft of climbing in the average 1 - 1.5 hour ride with most of the climbing at the start...not a lot of ups and downs just lots of up and then lots of down. tend to gear so i can actually ride the trails and not walk unless the occasional gravel hill is encountered. if it was more rolling i would gear a bit taller but the climbs are fairly continuous...maybe come summer i will drop to a 17t but that remains to be seen

  24. #24
    Nouveau Retrogrouch SuperModerator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Mega
    But I don't believe any elevation gain/loss that is reported from a cyclometer or watch or HR monitor/combo. They are supa-inaccurate. I guess it's a pet-peeve but I hate it when people use a cyclometer to qualify their gain/loss - in my experience they consistently report 30% over the actual.
    I find bike computer altimeters to record 10-15% less climbing than a GPS or "TOPO" computer mapping software. Tried it with 2-3 different brands of bike computers and several different GPS models and brands.
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  25. #25
    SS Chimp
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Mega
    But I don't believe any elevation gain/loss that is reported from a cyclometer or watch or HR monitor/combo. They are supa-inaccurate. I guess it's a pet-peeve but I hate it when people use a cyclometer to qualify their gain/loss - in my experience they consistently report 30% over the actual.
    i am with shiggy on this one...got a couple polars in the family and unless there is a big front moving through while i am riding, the elevation gain is just about spot-on when matched up to known elevation points over a continous climbing grade. the accuracy starts to suffer a bit when riding rolling terrain in relation to sample rate/elevation increments the polar records but even then it is only 200 - 300 hundred feet off. now my friends P-Brain cyclocomputer is another matter...sometimes reporting double the elevation gain as my polar

  26. #26
    sufferer of a.d.d.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hollywood
    I've been running 32:18 in the Santa Monicas and can git 'er done pretty well with that gearing. Sullivan, The Hub, Caballero, Westridge, etc. I use 32:20 for areas of SoCal with more sustained/steeper climbs. If that don't cut it, I get off and walk. The new bike will be 36:21 for now.

    Shawn at Helen's on Broadway is also a good source of things singlespeed.

    If you want to meet up for a ride when you get your rig, holla.

    Jeff
    i'm probably going to be doing the up westridge down sullivan loop this weekend sat or sunday or maybe both. my diss won't have arrived by then but if you can stand to be in the company of a gear user i'll be riding my enduro let me know...

    warmseth(AT)hotmail(DOT)com

  27. #27
    Medium?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hollywood
    I use 32:20 for areas of SoCal with more sustained/steeper climbs.
    You mean, like, the "areas" of Summer and Fall?

  28. #28
    Your bike sucks
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    hmmmm

    Quote Originally Posted by 32x18
    i am with shiggy on this one...got a couple polars in the family and unless there is a big front moving through while i am riding, the elevation gain is just about spot-on when matched up to known elevation points over a continous climbing grade. the accuracy starts to suffer a bit when riding rolling terrain in relation to sample rate/elevation increments the polar records but even then it is only 200 - 300 hundred feet off. now my friends P-Brain cyclocomputer is another matter...sometimes reporting double the elevation gain as my polar
    Interesting. I have access to several GPS, watches, and cyclometers and all of them have consistently been inaccurate when compared to know elevation points. Almost always reporting more gain (higher) than actual. Perhaps I put too much trust in topo maps/guides/markers? Still, based on known climbing for some rides and races - my legs tell me the equipment is off.

    I still feel my opinion is justified- even by your own admission there are some computers that report double the actual and even your polar has inaccuracies up to 200-300ft (over 1000ft of climbing? -maybe- 20%-30%off?). But I'm open minded enough to check other equipment before discounting it completely.

    BTW - When I do rolling type rides the error rate *is* higher than it is with sustained climbing and when I go mountaineering(12k-14k), the error rate is just silly.

    My recreation is usually at a fairly high altitude - perhaps this adds to the error?!?

    Like I said, "Interesting".

  29. #29
    Cracker-magnon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Mega
    Interesting. I have access to several GPS, watches, and cyclometers and all of them have consistently been inaccurate when compared to know elevation points. Almost always reporting more gain (higher) than actual. Perhaps I put too much trust in topo maps/guides/markers? Still, based on known climbing for some rides and races - my legs tell me the equipment is off.
    I don't use altimeters, but I do use gps quite a bit (hence the name). I think that people forget that the precision in the vertical positions is usually at least an order of magnitude less than that of the horizontal positions. For the research i do it is a difference in accuracy of 1mm in the horizontal and 10 mm in the vertical, but we are talking about $10k instruments that are recording full time using two broadcast frequncies from the satellites. The common handheld only recieves one signal, so if you can get a 10meter horizontal precision, you can imagine what it is going to be in the vertical. Then factor in hill sides and trees and other things blocking the sky-view and there you go. I don't trust the vertical either. The horizontal measurements are good enough to transfer to a topo and do the vertical off of that.
    "Life is a F@#^ing story problem, get used to it - my son.

  30. #30
    Cracker-magnon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hollywood
    I've been running 32:18 in the Santa Monicas and can git 'er done pretty well with that gearing. Sullivan, The Hub, Caballero, Westridge, etc. I use 32:20 for areas of SoCal with more sustained/steeper climbs. If that don't cut it, I get off and walk.
    What he said ^^....and throw in a 34:20 for good measure even though it is close to a 32:18
    "Life is a F@#^ing story problem, get used to it - my son.

  31. #31
    theHeadlessThompsonGunner
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    If you can ride...

    a 34 x 17 (or 18, for that matter) up Belcher (or Golden Gate West, or Rattlesnake Gulch, or...), you're more a man than me, or any other SSer I know in the area. It'd be a damn serious hump on my 32 x 19, and I've got long legs and pretty good leverage. I guess an aerobically-fit 300-pounder with 200 mm crank and a 34 x 17 arms could make jelly out of these hills, but I don't know anyone that fits that description. Pretty much everyone here (that I've ever talked with) rides a 32 x 18, and for a good reason.

    Sorry--I hope it doesn't sound like I'm biting your head off, but this isn't Wisconsin, and I struggle A LOT.
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  32. #32
    SS Chimp
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Mega
    Almost always reporting more gain (higher) than actual.
    higher/lower elevation readings i will buy based on barometric pressure changes but the actual amount of feet/meters gained i do not find to be off by much more than a few percentage points

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Mega
    I still feel my opinion is justified.
    damn straight...not knocking your opinion just offering my experience with the equipment at hand

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Mega
    even by your own admission there are some computers that report double the actual and even your polar has inaccuracies up to 200-300ft (over 1000ft of climbing? -maybe- 20%-30%off?).
    best data points i have are 100 mile rides with about 11000 ft of climbing. when looking at the data verses a topo, with well defined climbs/descents making up the majority of the elevation changes i find the 200-300 ft error margin. on well known training rides anywhere from 10 miles to 40 miles the elevation gain/loss is spot-on (+- 2%) when comparing the same ride.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Mega
    BTW - When I do rolling type rides the error rate *is* higher than it is with sustained climbing and when I go mountaineering(12k-14k), the error rate is just silly.My recreation is usually at a fairly high altitude - perhaps this adds to the error?!?
    i would agree that the percision decreases as the elevation increases over about 11000 - 12000 ft. all of my data points are at elevation between 6000ft and 13000ft and are pulled from 256 recorded rides since march 2003.

    i have no confidence in gps accuracy for altitude, especially when moving.

  33. #33
    Ride what you want!!
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    My area is flat, but the hills are close and they suck.

    george
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  34. #34
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    Wink 6 Months

    Only been ss'ing bout 6 months in the SoCal area.I started out with a 32:17 and could do a lot, but my knees always hurt later.Switched over to a 32:20 and all is fine.I did try to do the Toll Rd at Mt Wilson and did pretty well for the most part,but I still have a ways to go before I'll be up to that challenge again.A lot of it may have to do with your fitness level and your age.Not to use it for an excuse,but you may want to push an easier gear and save your knees.Us ol farts maybe slow but we will finish the ride.The longer the ride the better the ride.

  35. #35
    If you have to ask...
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    Two to one 'til I'm done

    I ride 2:1. That seems to work for me. On a long climb like the San Juan Trail or Noble Canyon it can get a little old, it's true. The thing is, I like to go fast. I can't stand flapping my legs up and down like a Singer sewing macine on 220v while my gearie pals vanish into the distance...

    Miles

  36. #36
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    Oops- I forgot to address the question

    I have heard that the mountain ranges in Southern California are among the steepest in the world, on a simple horizontal vs vertical scale. That is to say, thousands of feet of elevation gain in very little horizontal distance.
    The trails, though, don't tend to run straight up and down the fall line. Still, we have some pretty tough climbs.
    Here's a photo of one of them:
    Attached Images Attached Images

  37. #37
    fc
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    In San Jose, Norcal area, we have a bunch of steeps. Kennedy in Los Gatos, Mission Peak in Fremont, Henry Coe, Charcoal road in Saratoga gap. What is steep? 4 mile climb, 2000 feet. 90% of gearies do these rides in the granny gear.

    Are they doable in singlespeed? The weapon of choice is 32x18. Barely doable, not for most. Bottom line, they're just not that much fun on a singlespeed. The good news is that these trails suck anyway. So I don't ride/walk these trails anymore. Weakness of singlespeed is the >15% sustained climb AND totally flat stuff. There's a ton of stuff here that's much better. Bring on the rollies and the singletrack!!

    francois

  38. #38
    One life, One boss
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    Jan 2004
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    107

    Does anyone ride a....

    33 by 17? I ride the hills on the north side of Mt. Diablo, shell ridge, EBRP,and this gear has been great for the rolling hills. Glancing thru this thread, I didn't see any 33 front rings. Anyone ride a 33?

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