Is 3k feet of total ascent above average? Below? About right?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Is 3k feet of total ascent above average? Below? About right?

    Hey all. I've recently got back into mtbing after a forced 6 year layoff. I'm in Central California (San Jose / Morgan Hill) and I'm getting out a couple times a week.

    It seems every ride I tackle lately nets about 3k feet of total ascent, be it over a 5, 10 or 15 mile ride. For example, last weekend I hit Wilder and over a seven mile loop we climbed almost 2800ft. The weekend before was Quicksilver and over almost 12 miles we climbed nearly 3100 feet.

    I'm not complaining. Its all good and I love the challenge. But I'm starting to wonder is this just what I can expect when I go out? Is that sort of climbing par for the course? Or have I just picked a few particularly hilly trails? Or on the other hand, maybe I haven't seen nuthin yet?

    I guess I'm looking for a little perspective. Thanks guys.
    Last edited by JasonWilliam; 09-08-2010 at 01:58 PM.

  2. #2
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    ummm....your computer is off.....way off....

    a standard loop at QS is roughly 1500 footies...and i don't know if it's possible to do a 7 mile loop in Wilder close to 3K'....

    but if you want other trails to seem less 'hilly' go riding at Henry Coe for a few weeks...that's a place where you can hit those total ascents in short mileage (i'm not kidding...totally serious)...then all other trails seem flat in comparison...

    EDIT - i just read that you are reading your total elevation change (which is up + down).....as a general rule when posting footies during a ride it's the 'total ascent'.....sooooo, to answer your question, yes....these types of climbs are par for course.....fun isn't it!

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonWilliam
    Hey all. I've recently got back into mtbing after a forced 6 year layoff. I'm in Central California (San Jose / Morgan Hill) and I'm getting out a couple times a week.

    It seems every ride I tackle lately nets about 3k feet of elevation change, be it over a 5, 10 or 15 mile ride. For example, last weekend I hit Wilder and over a seven mile loop we climbed almost 2800ft. The weekend before was Quicksilver and over almost 12 miles we climbed nearly 3100 feet.

    I'm not complaining. Its all good and I love the challenge. But I'm starting to wonder is this just what I can expect when I go out? Is that sort of climbing par for the course? Or have I just picked a few particularly hilly trails? Or on the other hand, maybe I haven't seen nuthin yet?

    I guess I'm looking for a little perspective. Thanks guys.
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  3. #3
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    Hi Chum. Thanks for the reply. I did mean to say total ascent. I'm using a Garmin Forerunner. Check it out:

    (click it)


    It sounded like a big number to me too. But the thing has never been off before. Does that look right to you?

  4. #4
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    And here's a similar chart from QS a couple weekends ago.

    (click it)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonWilliam
    Hi Chum. Thanks for the reply. I did mean to say total ascent. I'm using a Garmin Forerunner. Check it out:

    (click it)


    It sounded like a big number to me too. But the thing has never been off before. Does that look right to you?
    no....that number still sounds way big for Wilder in 7 miles....like 2X big.....although it prolly feels like 3K' ascent

    maybe someone else can chime in with better numbers.....i removed all gadgets from my bikes after i stopped racing....so i'm going by memory/feel
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonWilliam
    And here's a similar chart from QS a couple weekends ago.

    (click it)

    yah - this one is definitely around 1500' total ascent - it was my after work 'workout' ride....i've done that loop bazillions of times....
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  7. #7
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    How are you measuring elevation change, and total climbing, and how should you?
    Elevation change could be high elevation minus low elevation, but total climbing would be the sum of every elevation gain throughout the ride. And if you end where you start, total climbing should equal total decending, right?
    I have found that what people say about total climb varies greatly, I suppose because of the way their computer or GPS calculates it. Topofusion gives many options for climbing analysis, bilinear interpolation (huh?), disregarding changes of less than 10 feet (or whatever size change you choose), using the GPS data or the map data, etc.
    I have found that 2500 foot total climbing based on my GPS and topofusion, can be listed by someone elase as being 10,000 feet (on singletracks.com). I have no idea how it could vary that much, but obviously when you talk about it, you have to be clear about what you mean.
    Last edited by smilinsteve; 09-09-2010 at 12:37 PM.

  8. #8
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    Jason,

    Which forerunner are you using? Some have a barometric altimeter, which is much more accurate than the satellite derived elevation changes computed by the non-barometric models.

    -D

  9. #9
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    Hah true that regarding Wilder. Felt more like 5k :P
    Quote Originally Posted by CHUM
    yah - this one is definitely around 1500' total ascent - it was my after work 'workout' ride....i've done that loop bazillions of times....
    Ok now that is weird. Looks like this guy is more inline with what my numbers say: http://www.mtbguru.com/trip/show_sta...99-quicksilver

    Makes sense too because we did a few up down's on top there that might account for the additional ascent I show.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diesel~
    Jason,

    Which forerunner are you using? Some have a barometric altimeter, which is much more accurate than the satellite derived elevation changes computed by the non-barometric models.

    -D
    Hmm good thought. I've got the 405 that does not have a barometric altimeter. Do ya think it could be an order of 2x off? I would expect a couple dozen feet, maybe, but not 1500feet? Strange for sure...

  11. #11
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    The numbers on the chart don't seem to match the graph at all. Break it down by each mile and compare - they're almost double.
    Try uploading the routes to Strava or Garmin Connect and see how they compare.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonWilliam
    Hah true that regarding Wilder. Felt more like 5k :POk now that is weird. Looks like this guy is more inline with what my numbers say: http://www.mtbguru.com/trip/show_sta...99-quicksilver

    Makes sense too because we did a few up down's on top there that might account for the additional ascent I show.
    sorry...that guy is way off also....even if you account for the additional 4 roadie miles into Hacienda entrance....

    the quicksilver loop you posted (the same as the link you provided) is pretty close to 1500' total ascent.

    There is no way i could pop off multiple sub-hour laps there on my SS in a row* if it was 2800 footies per lap.....i believe i would have a couple sponsors.....



    * when i was actually in shape....ugh....
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    Quote Originally Posted by twindaddy
    The numbers on the chart don't seem to match the graph at all. Break it down by each mile and compare - they're almost double.
    Try uploading the routes to Strava or Garmin Connect and see how they compare.
    Good thought... I assume you're thinking I might be able to compare with other riders? I'll try that for the Wilder ride. 'Cause the chart and graph are screenshots from Garmin's Training Center overlayed on top of a screenshot of Google Earth.

    Although just eyeballing it, say lap 3 for example, compare that with the chart between miles 2 and 3 and I'd buy the numbers. At least as they correspond with the graph.

  14. #14
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    Numbers shmumbers.

    Bottom line: Yes, you should expect climbs like that. (Or like CHUM said, if you go to Coe, expect more/steeper climbing.)
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHUM
    sorry...that guy is way off also....even if you account for the additional 4 roadie miles into Hacienda entrance....

    the quicksilver loop you posted (the same as the link you provided) is pretty close to 1500' total ascent.

    There is no way i could pop off multiple sub-hour laps there on my SS in a row* if it was 2800 footies per lap.....i believe i would have a couple sponsors.....



    * when i was actually in shape....ugh....
    LOL I dunno man. You might be surprised. That 3k number jives with measurements taken by one of the other riders I was with, previously. Did you do the whole loop? Where you end up down by the reservoir then have to climb back out and up?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plim
    Numbers shmumbers.

    Bottom line: Yes, you should expect climbs like that. (Or like CHUM said, if you go to Coe, expect more/steeper climbing.)

    i remember when i actually 'liked' Coe.....now it just plain scares me....
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plim
    Numbers shmumbers.

    Bottom line: Yes, you should expect climbs like that. (Or like CHUM said, if you go to Coe, expect more/steeper climbing.)
    Fair enough. And, given the heart rates shown on those two charts I posted, I think I'll avoid Coe for now. I've got some improving to do, before then

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonWilliam
    LOL I dunno man. You might be surprised. That 3k number jives with measurements taken by one of the other riders I was with, previously. Did you do the whole loop? Where you end up down by the reservoir then have to climb back out and up?
    yup....it's only 1500 footies....not 3000...sorry....

    i have literally done that loop (both clockwise and counter-clockwise) around 100 times...

    if you want to reach the 3000+ footie mark start a Hacienda entrance....climb to top and drop down into Sierra Azul (Woods Fireroad) - climb up and over Mt Sombrosa (close to that lil' box on the highest peak) and then make your way to Kennedy.....then back up and down Hicks (road) back to hacienda....
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  19. #19
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    That does seem like an "elevated" elevation. Sorry....that was a weak joke.
    Here is a ride I did a while ago which was just over 7 miles and around 2000ft at Wilder. I have used both the 305 and now the 500 which both use built in barometers.

    http://www.strava.com/rides/130277
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    oops, sorry - my ride was a little longer than 7 miles and we did multiple loops inside the park in some places so yeah - that number is really high on your forerunner.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diesel~
    Jason,

    Which forerunner are you using? Some have a barometric altimeter, which is much more accurate than the satellite derived elevation changes computed by the non-barometric models.

    -D
    True. That's why when I use Topofusion to view my route, I have the program use the DEM (digital elevation model) instead of the GPS elevation for the track points. It just disposes of the GPS data and uses the elevations on the map, basically.
    I have observed that this will change the total climbing figure by maybe a couple hundred feet, or maybe a few hundred, in a track with 2500 feet of climbing. I don't think it would ever result in a 1500 foot difference, although I have seen a couple of cases where I plot my elevation profile, and it looks nothing like the published profile for the route. Like the GPS just went bizerk for part of the ride. Switching to DEM data makes the profile correct. So it is possible for a GPS to just have bad elevation data.
    Last edited by smilinsteve; 09-09-2010 at 12:38 PM.

  22. #22
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    where the hell is Big Larry - he's got this stuff nailed......
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  23. #23
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    Ok well this has been educational. Clearly my 405 is fubar'd. Strava says my QS ride was 2300ft total ascent (http://www.strava.com/rides/179457) and my Wilder ride was just under 1500ft (http://www.strava.com/rides/179456) (both based on topo data, not the 405)

    Thanks for the info guys. I'll see if there's some way of making the 405 more accurate somehow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CHUM
    yup....it's only 1500 footies....not 3000...sorry....

    i have literally done that loop (both clockwise and counter-clockwise) around 100 times...

    if you want to reach the 3000+ footie mark start a Hacienda entrance....climb to top and drop down into Sierra Azul (Woods Fireroad) - climb up and over Mt Sombrosa (close to that lil' box on the highest peak) and then make your way to Kennedy.....then back up and down Hicks (road) back to hacienda....
    Well now that's a bit more along the line of 4k. The better loop would be to not go down Kennedy and drop down overgrown. Then ride the road to the base of Kennedy and climb up Kennedy back to the top of woods and take that side trail that drops you off on umunhum road......yea that's a good one!

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    there's a '+' next to my number

    and I've done your loop (minus the side trail)....that's just plain mean.....

    Quote Originally Posted by 2clue
    Well now that's a bit more along the line of 4k. The better loop would be to not go down Kennedy and drop down overgrown. Then ride the road to the base of Kennedy and climb up Kennedy back to the top of woods and take that side trail that drops you off on umunhum road......yea that's a good one!
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonWilliam
    Hmm good thought. I've got the 405 that does not have a barometric altimeter. Do ya think it could be an order of 2x off? I would expect a couple dozen feet, maybe, but not 1500feet? Strange for sure...
    Are you reading the data off the device or from Garmin's software or ??? Garmin's website is notorious for over inflating elevation data.

    Anything that doesn't have an internal barometer is unlikely to give accurate data. GPS alone simply isn't very good at altitude, especially if you throw some tree cover and deep canyons into the mix. If you then feed that data into a program designed to inflate people's egos at the expense of accuracy, well you can easily get 2x off.

    Try loading your tracks into different sites and see what elevation gains you get. Some sites will autocorrect elevation data based solely on the lat long data.

    Getting a realistic number for total elevation gain is actually a fairly difficult problem that looks like it should be simple, but isn't.

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    Norcal trails are typically all pretty hilly rides. I don't know of many trails that will get you less than 1200 ft of elevation gain. That said, there are some trails that are more fun/entertaining than others.

    Here's a short list of my favorites:

    Fun:
    Skeggs
    Saratoga Gap
    Demo
    Wilder

    Training:
    Kennedy
    Mission Peak (Stanford)
    Sierra Azul
    Alum Rock (TEQ)

  28. #28
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    Thanks again guys. The data is clearly wrong. Strava tosses the info from the 405 and just uses the topo. That's good enough for me, for now.

    Funny you mention the 'ego' thing Booker... I know enough to know I don't deserve ANY ego out there, nor later when reviewing the data. Whether it was 500ft or 5000ft climb, I still suck and need to get better and stronger.

    I'm glad to have learned not to trust the 405. That's a good thing especially when comparing 'the next' ride and its published ascent data. More realistic data probably saved me from jumping off a cliff trying to kill myself :P

    Thanks for the list D1. I'll check 'em out!

  29. #29
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    Avoid Henry Coe at all costs. There are much better places to ride in the bay area than that hell hole. Forgot tick infested, crazy ass climbs, hot hell hole

  30. #30
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    my rides this summer are
    30 miles or 3000 ft or 3 hours
    what ever comes first.

    Getting 200+ ft per mile is a hard ride, with very little talking with your riding buddies.

    The older garmins (edge 305) could add 25% to your total when uploading to the web site. My newer 500 doesnt do that

  31. #31
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    I am glad you posted this question... I did an Aptos-Nisene to SDF loop last weekend and my Garmin 305 said I climbed over 10k. I was pretty sure my GPS was way off, so I plugged in the data to Plus3 and Garmin's websites. It was ~2x the actual elevation gain.

    Is there any way to fix the Garmin software so it gives a more accurate elevation change total? Or is this more of a device issue?
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  32. #32
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    If your GPS doesn't have an altimeter the numbers can get pretty whacky at times. Some sites you can upload to offer elevation corrections. I use Garmin Connect and it does a bit of tweaking to fix the numbers. If you have a weak signal sometimes your location will drift side to side and up and down while you are standing still.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3034

    Getting 200+ ft per mile is a hard ride, with very little talking with your riding buddies.

    t
    Not sure about that.. Easy street climbs like OLH rise about approximately 400ft per mile. Many dirt climbs have grades far steeper than OLH.

    Because we often get elevation gains a few feet at a time, numbers can add up relatively quickly.

    Using the elevation correction on Garmin's site helps. Yet at the end of the day, the elevation gain is much like my PowerTap on my MTB. It doesn't mean much to anybody but me, it is another benchmark tool. I wouldn't sweat the small stuff, but rather pat yourself on the back for getting out there and blasting your HR up!
    Jt

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  34. #34
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    The Almaden Quicksilver ride is about 1,700 feet of climbing and 10.7 miles. Have ridden that exact loop maybe 15 times (I ride different loops now, that one is a bit short unless you do a few of them). Measured with a garmin Edge 305 and 705 (baro altimeter).
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  35. #35
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    Alot of upload sites totally jack up the data.
    Garmin connect being one of them. But I have used others that inflate it over 50%.
    Here is a quick example of data from my 305 edge.
    The first one is from my training center, and the second image is from garmin connect website.
    One problem I have with the elevation corrections on the connect website is that when I ride uphill I go SOOO slow that sometimes my 305 auto pauses......hahahaha
    Seriously though, it does. And when it auto pauses you lose data. This seems to happen alot when you are under trees moving slowly.
    It seems like when you plug your garmin into your computer, it accounts for the lost data due to reception issues and adds it in the training center program.
    When you upload it to connect website, it inflates it again.....but if you use the elevation correction, it seems to subtract any data that training center added from said reception issues.
    I have cross referenced some of my data with a quality topo map, and the data seems most accurate when it is first uploaded into the training center program.
    Thats my theory anyways.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Is 3k feet of total ascent above average?  Below?  About right?-fdskj.jpg  

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    ah auto pause, that is easily turned off. Dense tree cover and steep canyons like deep inside parts of ECdM also play havoc. Another good option is adding a cadence sensor or in my case, PowerTaps, on the road and MTB bikes. This will keep the Garmins from going into auto pause, as long as you are moving at some speed.

    I do own various Garmin units; a 305, forerunner 305, 405CX, (3) 500s, 705, and iphone apps. They all differ a few feet, but the data overall seems good enough to plan and compare rides. While the Calorie counter is WAY off on all above Garmin units except the hr based C counters on the 500s and 405cx, I have not seen a Gamin double the elevation numbers, as some have suggested. On road climbs with a constant grade, you'll find that the numbers are very close to posted elevations. Most mapping software like https://www.bikeroutetoaster.com also ends up close enough to the Garmin elevation data to be very useful. It is easy to accumulate a few thousand feet of climbing by riding around Water Dog or the like with little effort. Because all the climbs at Water Dog are super short and the trail has a lot of small rollers, elevation adds up easily. It is not nearly as taxing as climbing the same footage in a single pass.

    That said, I also get about 20 feet of elevation gain in 2 hours of spinning on the trainer. Yesterday, I was spinning at Stanford's Human Performance Lab for a short test. It is in the basement, indoors with poor coverage. While the elevation didn't change much, the GPS thought I was moving.



    If you are on hilly single track and going super slow, you can see how this might influence the numbers. As such, when riding in an area with less than a perfect view of the sky, with a really slow rider (averaging 5-6mph), the elevation numbers seem to become suspect. Not sure how badly a short 7 mile, but long 2.5 hour ride might effect the elevation. In a case like that, it is certainly easy to imaging that GPS drift over time (like in the shot above) might produce bigger numbers when in a hilly environment.

    No matter how you look at the numbers the fact that all of us have such amazing technology attached to our bodies and bikes is extremely cool..
    Last edited by diver160651; 09-09-2010 at 05:40 AM.
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    I dont think you can compare road vs mtn miles.
    Road riding has so much glide factor in each pedal stroke.
    I have no doubt that someone can cruise up a 15% single track and
    not even sweat, I just have never ridden with one.
    my observation above was based on 4 years of mtn bike riding with a
    garmin. approx 13k miles. Its also based on the complete ride (Loop)
    its very rare for me to do any shuttle rides.
    So when I ride and I get 3000 vert in a 20 mile loop ride, that means the climbing portion was approx 10 miles so thats 300' per mile

    Quote Originally Posted by diver160651
    Not sure about that.. Easy street climbs like OLH rise about approximately 400ft per mile. Many dirt climbs have grades far steeper than OLH.

    Because we often get elevation gains a few feet at a time, numbers can add up relatively quickly.

    Using the elevation correction on Garmin's site helps. Yet at the end of the day, the elevation gain is much like my PowerTap on my MTB. It doesn't mean much to anybody but me, it is another benchmark tool. I wouldn't sweat the small stuff, but rather pat yourself on the back for getting out there and blasting your HR up!

  38. #38
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    I'm using the Forerunner 305, and yeah - elevation numbers are generally way off. I've uploaded to both Strava and Garmin Connect - after comparing my numbers with similar routes, it seems like the Elevation Correction feature on Garmin Connect usually gives me fairly reasonable / accurate numbers.

    I'm cool with that for now, as I don't have the money for a bike-specific GPS unit. Also, I feel a little safer strapping it to my handlebar, as I've seen too many people lose their Edge units after falling and breaking the mount.

  39. #39
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    No way Wilder

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonWilliam
    ..last weekend I hit Wilder and over a seven mile loop we climbed almost 2800ft....
    I can't believe you could get 3,000 ft. in seven miles at Wilder. It's difficult to do that at Tahoe. I think most GPS altitude data is on the high side. Here is a Wilder ride that took a lot of miles to get to 3K. This is from a Garmin 705 with barometric altimeter. Topofusion says 4,100 ft. for this same file.


  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by diver160651
    Not sure about that.. Easy street climbs like OLH rise about approximately 400ft per mile. Many dirt climbs have grades far steeper than OLH.

    OLH is an excellent test for any device/web site. There's no flat/downhill and the climb is so well know that you can subtract top from bottom and get a very accurate known altitude value.

    When MotionBased.com ( the original Garmin Connect site software) told me that OLH was 2K feet, I knew it was nonsense. I think they have cleaned up the code a bit since then.

    Also the firmware on the devices has improved a lot in this regard over the years. I don't really care that much about the absolute total as long as the device consistently reports the same values for the same ride. While Garmin firmware upgrades don't always go smoothly, if you haven't updated your device since you bought it, it's worth trying to upgrade it.

    _ Booker C. Bense

  41. #41
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    Garbage in, garbage out. If your GPS unit does not have a barometric altimeter, expect it to give wacky results, no matter which website you use. (GPS-only elevation is generally not very accurate, though it is improving.)
    DEM's work only to some extent, as their resolution isn't that great and they require interpolation etc.
    Matching track segments to a database with 'trusted' data (and ignoring the data of the unit itself) may be a way around it and could be what Strava (sometimes) does. But here is a simple rule of thumb: for most Bay Area trails, expect about 3000ft elevation gain per 20 miles (for Henry Coe, make that 4000ft).

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHUM
    where the hell is Big Larry - he's got this stuff nailed......
    Yes, as a matter of a fact, I do. (modestly)

    So happens I have the Quicksilver Loop you did is one of my ascent "calibration" runs where I have a couple digits of accuracy on total ascent.

    First, the loop from Hacienda up to Bull Run, and out to Guadalupe Dam, and back is around 1700-1800' of total ascent depending on path. (So Chum is a 'little' low.)

    Below is my data from Hacienda to the top of Bull Run, when turning right at the intersection near English Camp. I was trying to get a near monotonic ascent for accuratre ascent calibration independent of dips. All the units had Barometric Alitmeters, and all of them even got close to the correct Altitude. But some units, like the new Edge and 60CSx, report about 20% low on ascent. The same GPS altimeter data ported into Garmin Connect (formerly Motion Based) will report the correct gain from the same data. You can use these numbers to check your indications.

    A non-barometric altimeter gets it's altitude from satellites. Since all are above you, the timing difference is lower than horizontal and vertical error is 3-5 times larger than horizontal error, or around +/-150'. Furthermore, it varies over 10-15 minutes. So a non-barometric altimeter tends to add about 1000'/hour of bogus climb (from GPS noise). There was a thread on this here about a year or two ago, showing the differences clearly when Pacman rode a barometric and non-barometric Edge on the same ride.

    Similarly, the "Gravity" models that try to deduce climb from position and an elevation model at those points will over-report the climb by ~30%, especially on steep hills where position noise turns into bogus vertical change and bogus climbing. It's almost a random number generator. You need a barometric altimeter to get real climb numbers.
    Attached Images Attached Images
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  43. #43
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    Is it really an accuracy issue, or a sampling issue? If the sampling isn't done at the proper interval and averaged properly, it can give funny results. I use a Suunto Vector watch for elevation tracking only, and it's pretty good.

    My average ride is 1500-2000'. Course, I'm kinda a fat, out-of-shape DH weenie with a heavy bike. 3000' is a big ride for me and takes 4+ hours or so with breaks and jump sessions usually. I know guys who do 3000'+ on a regular basis and I could see you doing enough loops (minimum 4?) at Wilder to get that.

  44. #44
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    What?

    How can something be over 100% accurate


  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigLarry
    .

    Similarly, the "Gravity" models that try to deduce climb from position and an elevation model at those points will over-report the climb by ~30%, especially on steep hills where position noise turns into bogus vertical change and bogus climbing. It's almost a random number generator. You need a barometric altimeter to get real climb numbers.
    Since I don't have a barometric altimeter (Etrex Legend HCX), I always use Topofusion to replace my elevation data with DEM data.
    Topofusion admits that with the DEM, elevation numbers are exaggerated as you say on steep terrian, on conversely, lower than gps data on flat terrain.
    To help smooth the data, you can choose to ignore climbs that are less than a defined amount. 10 meters is the default setting. So, a lot of the error that you describe from position noise would be thrown out in the climbing calculation.
    The algorithm also throws out any climbing data that comes from segments that are determined to be not moving.
    With these smoothing tricks, I think the result from topofusion is better than the 30% you estimate. I base this on elevation profiles I generate in Topofusion compared with barometric or other accepted profiles. With my GPS data, the profiles can look way off (as expected), and with Topfusion DEM corrected data, the profiles look as they should.

  46. #46
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    Isn't it all relative? I find the correction in Garmin connect to be satisfactory for workout logs. Ok maybe not for geocaching - thats not my bag :-) But sans a few hiccups they repeat rides for me relatively well.

    I often use the 405CX HR calorie based wrist unit when using my 705. When I get back the two are a bit apart on elevation. But once uploaded they seem to be very similar. My Garmin 500s on all my bikes perform well against each other. As long as the speed is up, they seem to match road signs, claimed footages in cycling events and repeat loops like Water Dog.

    Here is a link to two rides. For the most part, done side by side, Working on a team mates positioning and cadence (until we hit a strong head wind, then I pulled to keep us moving.. I must say that after 50 miles the two units agreed within 20' of reported elevation! I rode about 1/3 of a mile longer looping back when he dropped into the wind, so they may even be closer than that.

    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/48270701
    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/48270263

    But a 36 mile rides like this one, in Skeggs become more suspect http://connect.garmin.com/activity/10969891

    This short Water Dog loop reports the same footage between my 705 and 500 http://connect.garmin.com/activity/46297474

    Again, this makes me believe that BigLarry's "GPS noise" is usually a small issue. But this can be exacerbated on trails hugging steep hillsides, in areas of low reception. Furthermore, the more you stop (while leaving the unit logging), the slower you go, the more inaccurate non-barametric GPS seems to become.

    So I assume BigLarry is correct -
    Jt

    Here are a few Video Trail Guides I shot - just for fun:
    http://destinationproductions.com/cu...PassionTrails/

  47. #47
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    You guys might want to look at this thread, if you are interested in getting deep into the intricacies of total elevation gain calculation using GPS receivers (and if you have a good chunk of time to read it).

    Incidentally, I could suggest my website as a reasonable reference for the total elevation gain figures of well-known rides around the Bay Area. (See the link in my signature.) The elevation calculation of each ride is based on the recording by a Garmin 60CSx (barometric altimeter) and the calculation is done by TopoFusion on my PC. (As I also explain in my posting(s) in the thread linked above) I have good reasons to trust the calculation of TopoFusion over anything else that's out there.
    Looking for local rides? You'll find plenty on my website: Bay Area Mountain Bike Rides.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by erginguney

    Incidentally, I could suggest my website as a reasonable reference for the total elevation gain figures of well-known rides around the Bay Area. (See the link in my signature.)
    Great site. But I don't see the total elevation number on the first link I saw: http://bayarearides.com/rides/waterdog1/ BTW that is almost the same exact 45 minute loop as the video trail map I shot of Water Dog "Passion Trails Advance loop recommendation". http://www.destinationproductions.co...tro/index.html

    I would suggest parking in the Carmont trail head. then you can do the same loop and get to ride down Berry all without riding in the street. Again using barometric enable devices or not, this trail with good access to the sky, seems to report data close enough for me.
    Jt

    Here are a few Video Trail Guides I shot - just for fun:
    http://destinationproductions.com/cu...PassionTrails/

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by gstahl
    The Almaden Quicksilver ride is about 1,700 feet of climbing and 10.7 miles. Have ridden that exact loop maybe 15 times (I ride different loops now, that one is a bit short unless you do a few of them). Measured with a garmin Edge 305 and 705 (baro altimeter).
    I'm not at home, but I remember that loop as around 1700-1800' total climb.

    Also climb indication on the Edge GPS itself is often lower than the Garmin Connect by 5-20%. I've looked at the data in depth, even doing my own spreadsheet. Garmin Connect is correct. Garmin's newer GPS units indicate wrong climb on the unit themselves.

    The barometric alitmeter data taken by the Edge and other GPS is fine and very accurate. Put the GPS altitude data in to Garmin Connect and you'll get the right numbers. But what several GPS units show you on accumulated climb is ~15% low for no good reason - best known to Garmin.

    What the units show for accumulated climb is mathematically impossible by any algorithm for the monotonic climbs I've tested. You can't climb a uniform hill from 500' altitude to 1500' altitude, your altimeter correctly show the change, but only indicate 800' of total climb. Not by any method of calculation.
    It's not slow, it's doing more MTB time.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swell Guy
    Is it really an accuracy issue, or a sampling issue? If the sampling isn't done at the proper interval and averaged properly, it can give funny results. I use a Suunto Vector watch for elevation tracking only, and it's pretty good.

    My average ride is 1500-2000'. Course, I'm kinda a fat, out-of-shape DH weenie with a heavy bike. 3000' is a big ride for me and takes 4+ hours or so with breaks and jump sessions usually. I know guys who do 3000'+ on a regular basis and I could see you doing enough loops (minimum 4?) at Wilder to get that.
    Different methods of measuring altitude and climb can vary all over. I used to see variations of 30% in peoples numbers. It drove me nuts.

    However, it's easy for people, including me, to think one's own measure is "right", as it's the way you've been referencing in your mind. In all the clutter of data, you're sure to find a matching number somewhere to verify your belief. As long as you're just using the data for self-reference, that's fine. But that doesn't mean it's right. The issue is when trying to compare to others try to take a ride that is off by 30% in climb, they could find themselves in trouble if they get over their personal limit.

    So that's why I finally took a number of units out and checked on the Quicksilver climb, to try and figure this out and get the right answers. I chose the Quicksilver climb as it's a very uniform steep climb with no dips (OK, just one shallow 5' drop near the top). So there's no issue of "did you count that 0.5' dip or not".
    It's not slow, it's doing more MTB time.

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wherewolf
    I can't believe you could get 3,000 ft. in seven miles at Wilder. It's difficult to do that at Tahoe. I think most GPS altitude data is on the high side. Here is a Wilder ride that took a lot of miles to get to 3K. This is from a Garmin 705 with barometric altimeter. Topofusion says 4,100 ft. for this same file.

    For a second I thought that was the ride we did together at Wilder, about the same area and same distance and climb. But then I saw the date was slightly off and you had Cohenfive, not 29erchico, who rode with us that day.

    I often go back and watch that movie you made of us. That long meadow ride at high speed winding through the trees is delightful.
    It's not slow, it's doing more MTB time.

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve
    Since I don't have a barometric altimeter (Etrex Legend HCX), I always use Topofusion to replace my elevation data with DEM data.
    Topofusion admits that with the DEM, elevation numbers are exaggerated as you say on steep terrian, on conversely, lower than gps data on flat terrain.
    To help smooth the data, you can choose to ignore climbs that are less than a defined amount. 10 meters is the default setting. So, a lot of the error that you describe from position noise would be thrown out in the climbing calculation.
    The algorithm also throws out any climbing data that comes from segments that are determined to be not moving.
    With these smoothing tricks, I think the result from topofusion is better than the 30% you estimate. I base this on elevation profiles I generate in Topofusion compared with barometric or other accepted profiles. With my GPS data, the profiles can look way off (as expected), and with Topfusion DEM corrected data, the profiles look as they should.
    Garmin Connect's "Elevation Correctons" using a DEM has got better. I often for kicks see how bad their number is compared to the barometric. In the past it was always at least 30% high. These days, it's more like 10-20% high. Much better.

    Of course, one calculculation you could do is to simply subtract15%. Then a typical 10-20% high becomes +/-5% - not too bad. I suspect they don't do this as most customers like the error to be on the high side if it's going to have an error.
    It's not slow, it's doing more MTB time.

  53. #53
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    Sorry I'm not familiar with all the specs

    Quote Originally Posted by diver160651
    I often use the 405CX HR calorie based wrist unit when using my 705. When I get back the two are a bit apart on elevation. But once uploaded they seem to be very similar.
    Both barometric altimeters?
    And does Garmin connect correct the data automatically or you ask it to?


    This short Water Dog loop reports the same footage between my 705 and 500 http://connect.garmin.com/activity/46297474
    Are these both barometric altimeters? I know the 705 is.

    Again, this makes me believe that BigLarry's "GPS noise" is usually a small issue.
    But he was talking about noise causing a postion error when using a DEM. So are you saying that the examples you posted are DEM corrected, or are they GPS elevation data?
    I guess I sound a little confused. Sorry if I should be catching on to this.

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by diver160651
    Isn't it all relative? I find the correction in Garmin connect to be satisfactory for workout logs. Ok maybe not for geocaching - thats not my bag :-) But sans a few hiccups they repeat rides for me relatively well.
    The relative numbers are fine for personal use. You only need an accurate number for when comparing to others, espcially if someone wants to do a ride near their limit.

    Quote Originally Posted by diver160651
    I often use the 405CX HR calorie based wrist unit when using my 705. When I get back the two are a bit apart on elevation. But once uploaded they seem to be very similar. My Garmin 500s on all my bikes perform well against each other. As long as the speed is up, they seem to match road signs, claimed footages in cycling events and repeat loops like Water Dog.

    Here is a link to two rides. For the most part, done side by side, Working on a team mates positioning and cadence (until we hit a strong head wind, then I pulled to keep us moving.. I must say that after 50 miles the two units agreed within 20' of reported elevation! I rode about 1/3 of a mile longer looping back when he dropped into the wind, so they may even be closer than that.

    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/48270701
    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/48270263
    Both these Garmin Connect records use "Elevation Corrections". So if your horizontal track is the same, the DEM assumptions will be repeatable, as you see. I looked at the specs of the Edge 500 and it seems to have a barometric altimeter. Try turning off the "Elevation Corrections" and see what happens. It sometimes goes on by default even for barometric altimeters.

    Quote Originally Posted by diver160651
    But a 36 mile rides like this one, in Skeggs become more suspect http://connect.garmin.com/activity/10969891
    Here you have an Edge 205 that needs the "Elevation Correction". Who knows what the right answer may be. Each time I compare between turning on and off "Elevation Correction" on my rides, I get ~10-20% more with "Elevation Correction". It used to be worse at 30% but is getting better.

    Quote Originally Posted by diver160651
    This short Water Dog loop reports the same footage between my 705 and 500 http://connect.garmin.com/activity/46297474
    On places that are not steep, elevation correction works great because a small horizontal error give a negligible error in elevation. The Water Dog park looks like a great place for the "Elevation Correction" DEM model to work well. And don't both those models have barometric altimeters? Why do you have "Elevation Correction" turned on ("Enabled")? And I only see one unit, the Edge 500.

    Quote Originally Posted by diver160651
    Again, this makes me believe that BigLarry's "GPS noise" is usually a small issue. But this can be exacerbated on trails hugging steep hillsides, in areas of low reception. Furthermore, the more you stop (while leaving the unit logging), the slower you go, the more inaccurate non-barametric GPS seems to become.

    So I assume BigLarry is correct -
    You mean the DEM noise can be higher in steeper areas, but fine on shallow slopes, and I agree the DEM "Elevation Correction" works well in flatter areas. But that's not most of the CA rides I do.

    There's still the GPS derived elevation noise. It's so bad that Garmin Connect doesn't even use the GPS elevation on non-barometric units. This noise is slowly varying, but can be seen by comparison with a barometric data. Or one can look at the same point if doing a loop or round trip. Then you can see how much error you get in a non-barometric unit, and it's big. I'll try to find Pacman's old thread here in Norcal showing this very clearly between an Edge 205 and 705, where the 205 had much higher elevation noise, and much more climb per hour.
    It's not slow, it's doing more MTB time.

  55. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve
    Sorry I'm not familiar with all the specs

    Both barometric altimeters?
    And does Garmin connect correct the data automatically or you ask it to?

    Are these both barometric altimeters? I know the 705 is.

    But he was talking about noise causing a postion error when using a DEM. So are you saying that the examples you posted are DEM corrected, or are they GPS elevation data?
    I guess I sound a little confused. Sorry if I should be catching on to this.
    On Garmin Connect, you "correct" the data by "Enable" on the "Elevation Corrections".
    With "Enabled", it uses the DEM model, not your barometric altimeter or GPS altimeter data.
    With "Not Enabled", it uses your altimeter data, for better (barometric) or worse (non-barometric).

    I also wonder why he has "Elevation Corrections" enabled on barometric altimeters.

    Your last question seems to be answered by my previous post.
    It's not slow, it's doing more MTB time.

  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigLarry
    On Garmin Connect, you "correct" the data by "Enable" on the "Elevation Corrections".
    With "Enabled", it uses the DEM model, not your barometric altimeter or GPS altimeter data.
    With "Not Enabled", it uses your altimeter data, for better (barometric) or worse (non-barometric).

    I also wonder why he has "Elevation Corrections" enabled on barometric altimeters.

    Your last question seems to be answered by my previous post.
    Yes thank you.
    A lot of people probably don't even know if they are using elevation correction or not, or they assume, just by the name of it, "correction" must be a good thing.
    I personally was thinking that DEM correction was very accurate but now I understand why barometric data could be better.

  57. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by diver160651
    Great site. But I don't see the total elevation number on the first link I saw: http://bayarearides.com/rides/waterdog1/
    Thanks. The total elevation gain is shown here:

    Name:  waterdog.png
Views: 477
Size:  135.1 KB

    It's also shown (in faint font) underneath each item on the listing pages, as well as on the pop-ups you see when you click on map markers, actually.

    Quote Originally Posted by diver160651
    BTW that is almost the same exact 45 minute loop as the video trail map I shot of Water Dog "Passion Trails Advance loop recommendation". http://www.destinationproductions.co...tro/index.html
    Oh, cool, so that's you who did that! I remember seeing that and I like the concept. Though, in all honesty, I can't remember now if the ride on my website was a route I picked before or after I came across your video...

    Quote Originally Posted by diver160651
    I would suggest parking in the Carmont trail head. then you can do the same loop and get to ride down Berry all without riding in the street.
    You're right. Though, even from Lyall Way, it's not too difficult to include Berry Trail in your ride, as represented by my second suggestion at Water Dog.
    Looking for local rides? You'll find plenty on my website: Bay Area Mountain Bike Rides.

  58. #58
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    Great stuff guys. I'm learning a ton.
    Quote Originally Posted by BigLarry
    The relative numbers are fine for personal use. You only need an accurate number for when comparing to others, espcially if someone wants to do a ride near their limit.
    That is exactly why I brought this up. I'm cool with the info I have for personal use. But I DO NOT want to start talking big numbers with other riders (ya know... like the title of this thread? ) if I'm not actually making those numbers. The last thing I want is to be invited on a ride, and misgague my abilities going into it... not for me, but for the fun factor of the group. If I'm going to be the boat anchor, I'd rather we all know it going in, or not go at all. Know what I mean?

    So with that said, can someone please recommend something to me that will record heart rate, track the run and provide barometric altimeter data that's easy to wear and/or mount to the bike?

  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonWilliam
    Great stuff guys. I'm learning a ton.That is exactly why I brought this up. I'm cool with the info I have for personal use. But I DO NOT want to start talking big numbers with other riders (ya know... like the title of this thread? ) if I'm not actually making those numbers. The last thing I want is to be invited on a ride, and misgague my abilities going into it... not for me, but for the fun factor of the group. If I'm going to be the boat anchor, I'd rather we all know it going in, or not go at all. Know what I mean?

    So with that said, can someone please recommend something to me that will record heart rate, track the run and provide barometric altimeter data that's easy to wear and/or mount to the bike?
    You should check out the GPS forum here on MTBR. They have a lot of good recommendations and comments over there.

    I'd say the most popular GPS for biking is the Garmin Edge series, as it's compact and fits on the bar stem. Don't get the Edge 205 or 605 as they don't have barometric altimeters. You can compare other features like HR monitor on Garmin's site.

    Personally, I much prefer the Garmin 60CSx for it's big screen, ability to change AA batteries on long rides, and more customizable features and screens. (And the new 62CSx just came out.) But the newest Edge 800 is getting close now, and has more battery life (20 hours versus 12 hours max on the older Edge models).

    The Garmin VistaHCx is also a great model that is very low cost and compact, but similar in features to the best of the Edge and 60CSx. It also uses rechargeable AA batteries. Like the 60CSx it isn't quite as road bike oriented as the Edge (no "laps" or "race" feature with a virtual partner), but has more general features like Geocaching. Not having bike features may be good in one case, as I hear many complain about their Edge turning off automatically each time they stop, and not recording if they don't turn it back on.
    It's not slow, it's doing more MTB time.

  60. #60
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    Not Long Meadow

    Quote Originally Posted by BigLarry
    That long meadow ride at high speed winding through the trees is delightful.
    That was not Long Meadow. I can't believe that local told us to ride that trail "his club built" knowing it was not legal.

  61. #61
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    Back to the original question about what rides are a lot of climbing - the rule of thumb I have been using is that any mountain bike ride that averages more than 200 feet of climbing per mile of ride is a hilly ride. Road rides I use 100 feet per mile.
    --
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  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wherewolf
    That was not Long Meadow. I can't believe that local told us to ride that trail "his club built" knowing it was not legal.
    Seems to be the only way they ride in that area.

    But it was great trail.
    It's not slow, it's doing more MTB time.

  63. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by singlespeed.org
    Back to the original question about what rides are a lot of climbing - the rule of thumb I have been using is that any mountain bike ride that averages more than 200 feet of climbing per mile of ride is a hilly ride. Road rides I use 100 feet per mile.
    I think you can talk about two different measures of "a lot of climbing"; one being the "rate" of climbing (i.e., whether the ride is hilly; in amount of climbing per unit distance, like you quoted), the other being the total "amount" of climbing.

    I can imagine what's "a lot" would depend very much on the rider.

    My measure of a "very hilly" ride would probably be something on the order of 10% average grade or more. That translates to just over 500 feet of climbing per mile. Anything less than that, I would call a moderately hilly ride, at best. (Come on; it's a "mountain" bike!...)

    In terms of total climb over the course of a ride, if a weekend ride has less than 2000 feet of climbing, I think of myself as not having received enough exercise. Anything over 3000 feet of climbing constitutes a "major" ride for me. And I think I've exceeded 4000 feet only once or twice. For weekday morning rides, my standards are much lower; any biking workout is good enough on a weekday morning (though that still usually means at least over 1000 feet of total climb).
    Looking for local rides? You'll find plenty on my website: Bay Area Mountain Bike Rides.

  64. #64
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    Back to the original question about what rides are a lot of climbing - the rule of thumb I have been using is that any mountain bike ride that averages more than 200 feet of climbing per mile of ride is a hilly ride. Road rides I use 100 feet per mile.
    A similar discussion here:

    In Feet per Mile, What do you call a steep climb?

  65. #65
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    BigLarry seems really dedicated to the "truth" of the climbing numbers. I gatta give you Kudos for that stance, and his knowledge.

    Seems everybody has a different version of what and how they measure climbs. One mentioned x' per mile of TOTAL ride, I think. Some use vertical feet "per climb" basically grade. I think total elevation plus grade info really helps. Of course, the next step is knowing speed, the weight of the rider, and power to kilos. My 5'10" 150lbs isn't going to generate near the power of BigLarry, but then again, lighter people don't have to.

    Here is a Climb from the parking lot at Water Dog up Upper Creek and the Finch climb. It's just under a mile. Tons of reliable data, but....what does it mean, and who but me is going to use it?

    From the MTB PowerTap
    Time 6:19
    Average Speed 8.6
    Max Speed 15.9
    Distance 0.93
    Elevation 449
    Average Power, Watts 368
    Maximum Power, Watts 797
    Normalized Power 374
    Average Watts/kg 5.46
    Maximum Watts/kg 11.6
    Average HR 161
    Max HR 172
    Work, kJ 204
    Average Temp. 101.1

    And even though my HR was not maxed, it felt very crappy. It was over 100 degrees and it ended up far slower than my PR. I could compare this section till I was blue in the face, but it still would only tell me part of the story without other logged efforts. And the RPE isn't logged, so unless you know the trail and know the rider the data still means little.

    So, even if we have the most accurate data and total elevation of the ride, it doesn't take in consideration, a sunbaked trail, if the climb is straight and long, or nice and twisty, technical obstacles or even just loose traction. Reported perceived effort or RPE is personal, yet such a huge part of the story of the climb. And to me, just as important as the elevation numbers. "erginguney" does a great job on his site adding in his RPE that is so important when talking about climbs.
    Last edited by diver160651; 09-09-2010 at 05:51 PM.
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  66. #66
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    Yeah, 2800 in 7 miles sounds way way off. I did a 20 mile ride at Wilder recently which only netted 2591 ft. of total ascending (using a Garmin 705)... I guess you could go straight up, then straight down, then straight up over and over again, lol, but that would just be boring. :-P

    EDIT: Oh, I guess we've established that already. heehee....
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  67. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by diver160651
    BigLarry seems really dedicated to the "truth" of the climbing numbers. I gatta give you Kudos for that stance, and his knowledge.

    Seems everybody has a different version of what and how they measure climbs. One mentioned x' per mile of TOTAL ride, I think. Some use vertical feet "per climb" basically grade. I think total elevation plus grade info really helps. Of course, the next step is knowing speed, the weight of the rider, and power to kilos. My 5'10" 150lbs isn't going to generate near the power of BigLarry, but then again, lighter people don't have to.

    Here is a Climb from the parking lot at Water Dog up Upper Creek and the Finch climb. It's just under a mile. Tons of reliable data, but....what does it mean, and who but me is going to use it?

    From the MTB PowerTap
    Time 6:19
    Distance 0.93
    Elevation 449
    Average Power, Watts 368
    ...

    So, even if we have the most accurate data and total elevation of the ride, it doesn't take in consideration, a sunbaked trail, if the climb is straight and long, or nice and twisty, technical obstacles or even just loose traction. Reported perceived effort or RPE is personal, yet such a huge part of the story of the climb. And to me, just as important as the elevation numbers. "erginguney" does a great job on his site adding in his RPE that is so important when talking about climbs.
    Like others here, the wide variation in numbers got me to question which accumulated climb measure was the right one. So the scientist in me led to testing on my bike.

    Your power/weight ratio is totally amazing. It's approaching Pro levels. If I interpret your stats above correctly you climb 449' in 6:19 or over 4200'/hour. (Climb rate is another way to measure power/weight, since Power/mass = g* Climb Rate.) If maintained, that means you can climb the 1900' of Kennedy in around 28 minutes. That'd be a record even among pros. Check out the King of Kennedy times.

    I can also calculate power by multiplying your mass times g(9.8 m/s/s) * height/time. Using your numbers above, I get an average power of 274 Watts. But resistance, inefficiency, and other factors typically mean your actual output is 30% higher, matching your 375 Watt number. (That's about half a horsepower!)

    I can put out about the same average power ~350-400 Watts for about 1 hour climbs. But my mass is almost exactly 2X, taking me from a lead in power output to the end of the pack in climb rate. (It took me ~1h10m up Kennedy).

    I agree with you that many other factors come into play when deciding ride difficulty. But for me, total climb is the starting basis point, even more important than ride distance. Then I multiply up or down for the other factors you mention. (For the tough Henry Coe rides on super steep hills often walked, and going to maximum effort through level stream beds, etc, I multiply by 1.5, generating the infamous "Coe-Factor".)
    It's not slow, it's doing more MTB time.

  68. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigLarry
    Different methods of measuring altitude and climb can vary all over. I used to see variations of 30% in peoples numbers. It drove me nuts.

    However, it's easy for people, including me, to think one's own measure is "right", as it's the way you've been referencing in your mind. In all the clutter of data, you're sure to find a matching number somewhere to verify your belief. As long as you're just using the data for self-reference, that's fine. But that doesn't mean it's right. The issue is when trying to compare to others try to take a ride that is off by 30% in climb, they could find themselves in trouble if they get over their personal limit.

    So that's why I finally took a number of units out and checked on the Quicksilver climb, to try and figure this out and get the right answers. I chose the Quicksilver climb as it's a very uniform steep climb with no dips (OK, just one shallow 5' drop near the top). So there's no issue of "did you count that 0.5' dip or not".
    What are you saying? What I'm saying is that sampling interval and elevation calculation matters. I think the Vector samples at 10 sec intervals or something and sums the deltas. What method do you think works? My watch is consistent over hundreds of bike rides on the same terrain. It does use an altimeter. Others on the same rides reported roughly the same values.

    Are you guys sure it's the GPS measurement itself causing the problem? I could see slight differences in location resulting in slight differences in altitude calculations, but those are interpolated anyhow and I would think it really depends on the averaging method and sample rate. I think the averaging method would average out the variances even with bad initial measurements. Perhaps the GPS is set for automotive or pedestrian use (a different sampling rate) rather than bicycle? I can see that causing a problem. It's all a swag anyhow as the dips that you mention may throw the measurements off.

    Btw, my view is that total climbed is top-bottom elevation assuming no huge valleys in between. I think the Vector checks for valleys since it has the concept of "Laps." I think it stores a new starting value when some number of samples N shows a trend (e.g. climbing/descending).

    Course I have no idea what I'm talking about.

  69. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigLarry
    L

    I can put out about the same average power ~350-400 Watts for about 1 hour climbs.
    Those are big numbers over an hour!

    Climbing is defiantly something I enjoy. Don't forget that most peoples power numbers at least mine, tend to tail off in fairly predictable fashion. So its hard to take somebody's 5 minute time and work it into their 20 benchmark. At peak my best my 20 min. was 4.8wk. But take that out a bit and it really drops. As and example, my last 20K climbing day 141m (street) averaged only 208 watts.

    The climbs didn't seem bad in the beginning, but by the end I would have sworn they were twice as steep and 10x longer.. Thats why perceived effort is so important when talking about how hard the climbs are, or the ride is.. Maybe thats why Coe has such a rap.
    Last edited by diver160651; 09-10-2010 at 08:21 AM.
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  70. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swell Guy
    What are you saying? What I'm saying is that sampling interval and elevation calculation matters. I think the Vector samples at 10 sec intervals or something and sums the deltas. What method do you think works? My watch is consistent over hundreds of bike rides on the same terrain. It does use an altimeter. Others on the same rides reported roughly the same values.

    Are you guys sure it's the GPS measurement itself causing the problem? I could see slight differences in location resulting in slight differences in altitude calculations, but those are interpolated anyhow and I would think it really depends on the averaging method and sample rate. I think the averaging method would average out the variances even with bad initial measurements. Perhaps the GPS is set for automotive or pedestrian use (a different sampling rate) rather than bicycle? I can see that causing a problem. It's all a swag anyhow as the dips that you mention may throw the measurements off.

    Btw, my view is that total climbed is top-bottom elevation assuming no huge valleys in between. I think the Vector checks for valleys since it has the concept of "Laps." I think it stores a new starting value when some number of samples N shows a trend (e.g. climbing/descending).

    Course I have no idea what I'm talking about.
    Sampling intervals are not a problem in uniform climbs. Any climb missed in one point will be added to the next. Sampling interval is more a problem when measuring total climb on undulating rides that I avoided discussing as it raises a lot more issues.

    In my Quicksilver climb, one of the instruments was a Cateye bike computer that only calculates altitude change in 5' intervals. It might possibly show no ascent in an all day ride only going up and down 2'. Or if at the transition point, say 4.5', all up and down one foot would be captured and could multiply my climb by 5! Nevertheless, on my calibration run up Quicksilver, this instrument was one of the most accurate. This is because I deliberately chose a uniform climb (no dips) to eliminate the resolution or sampling interval problem.

    I can indeed see a lot of discrepency between my Cateye and GPS on more undulating rides. Both are repeatable. Both can agree with someone else's climb calculations, as results are all over the place so someone will have an agreement with either instrument. What I was saying before applies especially here. It's easy to start thinking whatever you are referencing is "Right" as it's repeatable and confirmed. Nevermind others get quite different numbers. In one's mind they must be "wrong".

    So on undulating rides, what is really the right answer? Does it exist? That can bring a lot more debate. Of course if you add the climb over every mm pebble, you get a little more total. (It's not as much extra as you think since although there's a lot of pebbles, they don't add much.)

    There's also the philosophical debate of what is really a climb that should be added? If you do a pump track all day, up and down 3', did you do any climb? The downhill got you up the other side automatically, so did you climb? Some might give up on climb data entirely and go to perceived effort at that point.

    I've thought about all this issue for years and here's my best answer. My Garmin GPS barometric altimeter has a resolution of 1' and records in 1' rounding. As such, any time the climb rises by 1', it adds into the total ascent, even if it was a little roller. I think most agree that any ascent less than 1' is not really a "climb". But is 1' really a climb either? Maybe, it's borderline. One day, I took all my Garmin altitude data from an undulating ride into a spread sheet and summed only the positive changes. I tried summing based on different climb definitions, say 1', 5', 10'. I indeed got more gain from the 1' resolution, but it wasn't a huge factor. I'll see if I can find that data. Anyway, I finally decided that the 1' resolution of the Altimeter recording is about right for the threshold of what to add as a climb.

    You ask about sample interval in time, not altitude. The issue is similar. On uniform climbs, it doesn' matter. All the climb will be captured properly. On undulating rides, you can miss some climbing. But most rides (other than pump tracks) don't have that much undulation.

    On the Quicksliver loop by the OP, there's the uniform climb, then a lot of undulation on the back side. I took my altitude data at ~10-15 second intervals. For fun, I reduced it 5X to about 1 minute intervals. In that case my total climb (including my trip from home) reduced from 2270' to 1855'. That 19% drop is not a lot considering the very long 1 minute interval with only 200 points the entire ride. From 10 seconds to 1 second will probably much less, maybe only a few percent. But I don't have 1 second resolution data.
    It's not slow, it's doing more MTB time.

  71. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swell Guy
    Btw, my view is that total climbed is top-bottom elevation assuming no huge valleys in between.

    Yeah, obviously. However, there are almost always valleys in between the top and the bottom and they add up.

  72. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve
    Yeah, obviously. However, there are almost always valleys in between the top and the bottom and they add up.
    Yeah, obviously obviously, but as Larry points out, there's a philosophical debate about whether you count every pebble as a climb or if you climb anything in a pump track. This is the sampling rate issue I mention. The rate can either be time or elevation based. My Vector has a concept of laps which I believe checks climbing rate and pegs a certain point as a bottom or top of a climb when a threshold number of samples says that you are no longer climbing (or descending). It seems to be pretty good, it doesn't treat every dip as a lap, but catches the larger ones. I have been 100% in agreement with it's definition of laps whatever that is whether skiing, driving a car or mountain biking.

    There is a classic problem of measurement. If you were to measure a perimeter of a landmass from the perspective of a human being, you'd get a totally different number if you measured it from the perspective of a snail. The perimeter would be much larger from the snail's perspective because he has to worry about every pebble. This is the sampling problem I mention.

    Same for climbing. You measure it from the perspective of a cyclist v. a snail you will get totally different numbers.

    Larry has a lot of good data in his last post, thank you! I am not a GPS weenie, but this is very informative.

    My only point was the sampling rate as discussed was to the issue of what constitutes a climb as Larry mentioned. What I was really getting at was you guys are speculating about the reasons for the errors unless you have some insight into Garmin, Magellan or Suunto's code and the actual calculations for the climb values whether it's GPS or altimeter. In other words, I don't know how you can isolate it to some variances in the raw altitude data (e.g. GPS elevation values) v. the use of the raw data (calculation of total ascent). Some seemed to think that it had to do with the altitude calculations and I'm not sure how you can conclude this.

  73. #73
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    Nerd alert.

  74. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Hungus
    Nerd alert.
    you obviously do not know BL...

    he...is...the...KING!

    and an all around awesome guy to ride with
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  75. #75
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    Hehehe
    I used the I-phone bike app everytrail and logged 2000' vertical from almaden lake to santa theresa- along the 'deadly' creek trail- but NOT going into the park...10 miles total, I say yeah sure- same as riding up Montibello- right...
    garmin 500 shows an entirely different scenario- more like 2-300' vertical.

    Good to ask

  76. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by diver160651
    Not sure about that.. Easy street climbs like OLH rise about approximately 400ft per mile. Many dirt climbs have grades far steeper than OLH.

    Because we often get elevation gains a few feet at a time, numbers can add up relatively quickly.

    Using the elevation correction on Garmin's site helps. Yet at the end of the day, the elevation gain is much like my PowerTap on my MTB. It doesn't mean much to anybody but me, it is another benchmark tool. I wouldn't sweat the small stuff, but rather pat yourself on the back for getting out there and blasting your HR up!
    Sure, but how long is OLH? Would it still be an easy street if it would continue for 25mi at the same gradient? 200ft per mile is a lot for road ride - you climb 10K in 50mi. I think that a typical mtb ride in BA is about 210ft per mile and 250ft per mile at Coe.

  77. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by poff
    Sure, but how long is OLH? Would it still be an easy street if it would continue for 25mi at the same gradient? 200ft per mile is a lot for road ride - you climb 10K in 50mi. I think that a typical mtb ride in BA is about 210ft per mile and 250ft per mile at Coe.
    I think there is some confusing language here. There's a distinction between a "feet per mile" measure for a climb for the duration of that climb, and a "feet per mile" measure averaged over an entire ride (including the downhill return portion). When talking about a particular "climb", it's really only natural to talk about the former, since there is no clear implication as to what route the rest of any ride that includes that climb might follow. When talking about the climb rate of Old La Honda Road, the implied meaning is therefore the former (only the climb). From your language above, it seems like you understand this, but then you go on to talk about "feet per mile" over an entire ride instead, and imply a comparison between the two.

    To convert one measure (climb-only) to the other (whole ride), one crude trick you could use is to half the climbing rate. This implies that you're assuming an out-and-back ride, returning over the same route. So, this would roughly equate Old La Honda to 200 feet per mile averaged over the entire ride, putting it more or less in line with your expectations. In other words, the 400 feet per mile of the Old La Honda climb itself would constitute "a lot for a road ride" as you state, only if you ended the ride at the top of the climb (and shuttled back downhill by car?).
    Looking for local rides? You'll find plenty on my website: Bay Area Mountain Bike Rides.

  78. #78
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    Incidentally, here are some well-known mountain bike rides from around the Bay Area and their climbing rates (averaged over the entire ride):

    Almaden Quicksilver Park: 171 ft/mi
    Lake Chabot: 151 ft/mi
    Demo Forest (one loop over Braille): 221 ft/mi
    Fort Ord (Sea Otter course): 184 ft/mi
    Pine Mountain Loop: 243 ft/mi
    Redwood Regional Park: 176 ft/mi
    Saratoga Gap and Long Ridge: 200 ft/mi
    Camp Tamarancho: 182 ft/mi
    Whittemore Gulch: 200 ft/mi

    In other words, the guess that a typical mountain bike ride in the Bay Area is about 210 feet per mile is not far off the mark (if not a bit of an overestimate)...
    Looking for local rides? You'll find plenty on my website: Bay Area Mountain Bike Rides.

  79. #79
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    We are all arguing the same point to some degree

    Quote Originally Posted by poff
    Sure, but how long is OLH? Would it still be an easy street if it would continue for 25mi at the same gradient? 200ft per mile is a lot for road ride - you climb 10K in 50mi. I think that a typical mtb ride in BA is about 210ft per mile and 250ft per mile at Coe.
    Dirt is rougher. That was my original point -- But I was addressing the "climb" not the whole ride.

    As somebody who seeks out long climbs, taking the total elevation gain divided number of ride miles is kinda pointless. We all see the total elevation numbers and miles. Taking the major climbs within the ride, and breaking it down to elevation per mile, or average and peak grades is a better way imho. . and yes the vertical gain per mile would then be higher that total ride VPM.

    poff wrote>Would it still be an easy street if it would continue for 25mi <

    No, you know the answer, and thats my point anyway. Elevation numbers need to be in context. Did you just rip OHL in 17 minutes or ride it up chatting with friends? Does the climb come at the end of a XXX mile ride? Is it tree covered? OHL is only about 3.3, so ya, you aren't going to get to the top of the Alps on that one.

    I tend to break up the ride and the main climbs into segments. When I loop in several MTB of areas, or even smaller loops like we / you did on the MTB Tour de Peninsula. I like to say, Windy Hill is a 3 mile climb with 18% pitches that is sun exposed or you'll finish Skeggs by dropping into Purisima and climb out 4 miles of fairly heathy climb under tree cover. So when I mention that Charcoal, Windy Hill or OLH climbs X in X miles, you'll get a feel for how that pitch plays out during that loop.

    I'll me riding pretty much the A loop of the MTB Tour de Peninsula tomorrow, but extending the loop to get in the GAP and Ridge trails.. I be on my Epic (red and black s-works - in a PV kit) and riding with Mark on his SJ (Black S-works).. so maybe we see you out.. well be at a social pace :-)

    Route: Belmont Water Dog>Canada road>Windy Hill> Coral Creek> Montebello>SC> GAP>Long Ridge>Skyline>Xmas Tree>Russian Ridge>Skeggs>Purisima>San Juan Canyon Belmont
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  80. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by erginguney
    Incidentally, here are some well-known mountain bike rides from around the Bay Area and their climbing rates (averaged over the entire ride):
    Demo Forest (one loop over Braille): 221 ft/mi
    Saratoga Gap and Long Ridge: 200 ft/mi
    feet per mile is not far off the mark (if not a bit of an overestimate)...
    You clearly - explained the deference between "climb vertical feet per mile" and "ride vertical feet per mile" in your earlier email.

    To further complicate things a lot use vfpm in a performance context that direct address the CLIMBING portion (Vertical Feet/Kilometers Per Minute).. Then many of the worlds classic climbs are also categorized, not the ride.

    The two examples above could not more clearly illustrate how unproductive it is talk about climbs then average it all out over the "ride". Demo has a few "Climbs", Saratoga Gap Long Ridge is "Flat" by comparison! the GAP is great for a CX bike or newbie, DEMO while has been rode on CX bikes, is a whole other beast. Every ride in the bay area looks the same using vfpm, averaged over the entire ride. We all know they are not!
    Jt

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  81. #81
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    Summary (?):

    The Garmin 705 gives pretty darn accurate readings when read through Garmin Connect. (elevation corrections can be left to 'off')

  82. #82
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    LM - do you have "elevation numbers to share from the Serra 100? And how was your race? Chuck (one of the guys on the ride were Martin broke is clavicle) came in 4th in the 50 in his age group, so that wasn't bad for a non- mbt rider :-)
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonWilliam
    Hey all. I've recently got back into mtbing after a forced 6 year layoff. I'm in Central California (San Jose / Morgan Hill) and I'm getting out a couple times a week.

    It seems every ride I tackle lately nets about 3k feet of total ascent, be it over a 5, 10 or 15 mile ride. For example, last weekend I hit Wilder and over a seven mile loop we climbed almost 2800ft. The weekend before was Quicksilver and over almost 12 miles we climbed nearly 3100 feet.

    I'm not complaining. Its all good and I love the challenge. But I'm starting to wonder is this just what I can expect when I go out? Is that sort of climbing par for the course? Or have I just picked a few particularly hilly trails? Or on the other hand, maybe I haven't seen nuthin yet?

    I guess I'm looking for a little perspective. Thanks guys.
    sounds a little off. I just did 20 miles @ Skeggs yesterday using a Garmin 705.
    DST: 20.08 miles
    Ascent: 3277 FT
    Elevation Gain: 3798 FT
    Last edited by spartan23; 09-12-2010 at 07:37 AM.

  84. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by LightMiner
    Summary (?):

    The Garmin 705 gives pretty darn accurate readings when read through Garmin Connect. (elevation corrections can be left to 'off')
    That's a good consise summary of my findings.
    • The altitude data is very accurate on any barometric altimeter such as the 705. (repeatable and consistent within a few feet. Up to 10'/hour drift from actual air pressure change.)
    • The newer Garmin GPS units do something crazy on climb total indication I can't figure out, but it's often low by ~10% to 20%. Don't use the GPS unit's climb totals.
    • The same GPS data from your 705 when loaded into Garmin Connect gives climb totals that match well with actual total climb derived from independent references. I've found this technique to be the most accurate of all. (With "Elevation Corrections" disabled.)
    It's not slow, it's doing more MTB time.

  85. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Hungus
    Nerd alert.
    Well don't you know it's a prereq for a Stanford Ph.D. in Applied Physics?
    It's not slow, it's doing more MTB time.

  86. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHUM
    you obviously do not know BL...

    he...is...the...KING!

    and an all around awesome guy to ride with
    Thanks, I guess...

    I still remember all the great rides we did together - Middle Ridge, Mississippi Lake, Moab, Fruita, Demo, ....

    Now after of year or two of mostly riding with family, I can barely do rides like Middle Ridge.

    Nevertheless, I still enjoy every minute out on the bike. And I really, really enjoy that my wife is into biking now too.
    It's not slow, it's doing more MTB time.

  87. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by diver160651
    Those are big numbers over an hour!

    Climbing is defiantly something I enjoy. Don't forget that most peoples power numbers at least mine, tend to tail off in fairly predictable fashion. So its hard to take somebody's 5 minute time and work it into their 20 benchmark. At peak my best my 20 min. was 4.8wk. But take that out a bit and it really drops. As and example, my last 20K climbing day 141m (street) averaged only 208 watts..
    I enjoy climbing too, although I didn't at first when coming from NJ ten years ago. I sometimes wonder if I was smaller if I'd be an A rider, or my power output would go down too? I was approaching a B rider when I lost 50 lbs (with another 50 needed).

    Quote Originally Posted by diver160651
    The climbs didn't seem bad in the beginning, but by the end I would have sworn they were twice as steep and 10x longer.. Thats why perceived effort is so important when talking about how hard the climbs are, or the ride is.. Maybe thats why Coe has such a rap.
    I was thinking about your statement while going along the creek from Poverty Flat to China Hole at Henry Coe yesterday. Yes, perceived effort is so important. This 'ride' section has no climb, but not zero effort. Although I easly do 2000-2500' rides every weekend, and sometimes up to 4000', this 2700' Henry Coe Middle Ridge ride took a LOT out of me. I dragged myself into HQ. Maybe it was the heat too.

    It's not slow, it's doing more MTB time.

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    Diver and Big Larry -

    actually a 2nd friend of mine just got a PhD in Applied Math three or four weeks ago at Stanford, that is pretty close to Applied Physics (math is all physics anyhow at a certain point unless its topology or some of the more obscure stuff).

    Re Sierra - I decided against it at the end if you can believe it. My time estimates came out to 14 hours and they have this van on the trail they put you in if you hit 14 hrs (and a dunce cap, too, I think) and I didn't want to be put in the van bumbling down the trail. I was actually up there for a week and a half acclimating and got in some great days at Northstar and pre-rode much of the course. That took out my desire to do the 50 as I had basically already done it on pre-ride - the 50 in a sense is very very easy and the 100 very very hard. My watts are good, but I need to keep reducing the kg's . So I'm fired up for next year! I think I can drop maybe 2 hrs off the estimated time over this year, then there will be more slack time in case something goes wrong and I won't have to worry about the end-time. Hey - I'll send an email soon and we can hit the trails!

  89. #89
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    I think I see a Cateye on there - I still have one of those!

  90. #90
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    Hike-a-bike...

    Quote Originally Posted by BigLarry
    I was thinking about your statement while going along the creek from Poverty Flat to China Hole at Henry Coe yesterday.
    I followed in your "footsteps" down Creekside and up China Hole after the Trail Volunteer's Middle Ridge ride on Saturday afternoon---that half mile along the creek is slightly down grade but quite a bit of work. Especially while carrying the bike while hiking over boulders---each stride forward probably equals a foot of altitude gain in energy spent. That "level" section is easily worth several hundred feet of climbing!
    Content here does not officially represent the CA DPR.

    Windows 10, destroying humanity one upgrade at a time.

  91. #91
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    Hey big Larry, I don't think you have quite enough crap on your bars. Have you thought about adding one of these?
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  92. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by LightMiner
    I think I see a Cateye on there - I still have one of those!
    Yep, the Cateye 100 shown in a chart earlier. On uniform climbs, it's one of the most accurate. On undulating rides, it's 5' resolution gives wide discrepencies with other units.

    I use it mostly as an wheel based odometer to back up GPS data and record overall bike miles. It also has a temperture readout and other things.
    It's not slow, it's doing more MTB time.

  93. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve
    Hey big Larry, I don't think you have quite enough crap on your bars. Have you thought about adding one of these?
    I was trying to figure out its purpose, when I realized if I just bent over a little more when riding with that thing, I wouldn't have to pull a tissue out of my pocket.

    Hey, you forgot to link the store.
    It's not slow, it's doing more MTB time.

  94. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigLarry
    I was trying to figure out its purpose, when I realized if I just bent over a little more when riding with that thing, I wouldn't have to pull a tissue out of my pocket.

    Hey, you forgot to link the store.
    Yes, you could wipe your nose with it! But primarily, its a cup holder. All kinds of stylish options here:
    http://www.chubbyscruisers.com/shop/...rs-c-9_28.html

  95. #95
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    More accurate climb number for your loop

    I previously gave a gestimate of 1700-1800' from experience. I didn't have a good measure of your loop as I usually do a loop from Mockingbird, going down Almaden road to climb up from Hacienda with it's moderate climb, but down and out Mockingbird. That loop is 14.35 miles, 1985' of climb, which I did again today.

    But I then cut out tracks to get a better number for your loop, and adding in the intial climb from Hacienda as follows.

    Climb up from Hacienda parking lot to Cape Horn picnic table: 540' (from 510' to 1050' elevation).
    Climb up to Bull Run, down to Guadalupe Dam, and back on Randol trail: 1082' (from Garmin Connect)
    Total Climb: 1592'

    It's less than the 1700-1800' that I thought because I usually get over 2100' including the ride from home. But there's a lot of small undulations on the Alamden Rd. from Mockingbird to Hacienda, within Quicksilver down to Mockingbird, and the remaining trip to my house, and apparently they add up more than I thought.
    It's not slow, it's doing more MTB time.

  96. #96
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    I rode Quicksilver the other day and it was a 15.8 mile loop, door to door from my house,with 1688' total climbing. This was going from the Hacienda entrace but I got a couple hundred feet extra starting from my house. I can break 2K' of total climbing if I go from Mockingbird but again that's actually riding from my house.
    Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come

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