Defeated by Blaze Hill, gears for 25% incline

by kayakboyuk   September 11, 2012  

Variety is the spice of life they say so I thought a bit of hill climbing would help my all round strength for my sportive ambitions. That is how I found myself tackling Blaze Hill on the edge of the Peak District. I am used to battering my way around the north Cheshire plain between Mobberley and Middlewich in my biggest gears 53/11. In seconds I found myself on my smallest gear 39/25 and struggling.
10kph, 9,8,7,6,wobble. And I was off. After a quick breather I tried to get on again. I couldn't get enough pressure on the crank and hop on with my left; I couldn't get going again. I had to walk my bike up the last 100m like a kid. I had been defeated!
I found out that Blaze Hill has an incline of up to 25%, just as steep as some of the worse finishes on the Vuelta.
Umm, so I don't want say that I couldn't ever get up there on 39/25, but I ain't no pro. So what size cogs at the back would get me up that hill or anything else? There can't be many other steeper roads in the UK.

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One other thing to consider is lighter wheels, I've definitely noticed a difference since getting some RS80s to replace the RS20s which my CAAD10 came with. I use a compact and a 12-27 on the back with 105, I do notice a bit of spinning out, but I can climb well with that. Took the bike to the Pyrenees in the summer and it was great fun. Longer stretches of 10/11% and infrequent jumps to 20+ England definitely is shorter and steeper.
The training videos from the sufferfest help a lot, Angels, The Hunted and Hell Hath No Fury are all brutally efficient at building climbing strength and working on proper climbing cadence. the latter two have sustained 20 minute climbs. Start with Angels, as it is fun, by the time you are at the top of the Alps D'Huez, you'll have had your fill.
http://www.thesufferfest.com/video-sufferfests/details-angels/

Cannondale CAAD10, Condor Terra-X and an orange Brompton.
Ride for East London Velo

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posted by zzgavin [205 posts]
14th September 2012 - 10:25

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As others have said. If you are going up to a 32 then you also need to look at getting a long cage rear mech. As I said in mylast comment, work on your climbing technique then you will find you only need a 28 Wink unless of course you are touring then a triple will help those hills. Also meant to say in my last post that if you are covering huge distances on 53/11 you are going to go through chainsets like nobodies business. Keep it in the middle then you've got room to play with. Also meaans that you don't need to change into a lower gear quickly if you hit the hill while on 11

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posted by giff77 [1036 posts]
14th September 2012 - 22:53

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if your running shimano do what i did and get xtr long cage rear mech and xtr rear cassette - super light, crisp shifts and great gearing for 25%

GKAM84 - i;m new to morayshire area, would be keen to do some great "mountain passes" around scotland - if you could list some places to climb ? many thanks!

posted by a_to_the_j [73 posts]
15th September 2012 - 20:39

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What abouts in Moray are you? I used to live in Elgin, pretty flat around there though. Give me an idea where you are and i'll try to suggest some for you. I have a good knowledge of that area Wink

Hit my name and click on contact. Fill in the stuff and that'll email me and I can reply Wink

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posted by Gkam84 [8681 posts]
15th September 2012 - 21:01

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I too have an 11-28. With it I can get up most of the hills in the local area. Worst we have is about 20% at the top.

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posted by JediNeo [32 posts]
16th September 2012 - 5:59

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I have never found I need anything more than 39/25 for any of the local climbs around me.
That includes any of the macc forest climbs, mow cop or south peak district climbs.

It is just a matter of practicing climbs in a big gear to get better at them.

posted by simonsti [3 posts]
18th September 2012 - 15:43

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Well I am going to try it again tomorrow or Thursday. It turns out I was actually trying to do the hill in 39/23. My gear alignments were off and shifted inwards to favour my smaller cogs (I've had shifting issues before and need it to go to the top ring.) But it is now tested, aligned and shifts through all 10 gears. Will it be enough with a bit of determination?

I am amazed this thread is still going by the way!

Only good at sitting-down sports

posted by kayakboyuk [41 posts]
18th September 2012 - 17:06

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Just remember when your lungs are burning and your legs are turning to jelly 'dig in' mate. Hoping you can conquer it. Look forward to hearing all about it.

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posted by giff77 [1036 posts]
19th September 2012 - 2:27

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veseunr wrote:
Buy my Canyon CF SLX (61cm) with a compact 50/34 and 11/28 on the back. Just over 6.8kg and climbs like a beast. Brand new Ultegra/Dura Ace everywhere and it is soon to be advertised properly. PM is interested and I'll send some pics after I finish building it!

Built to go up the Alps, but trip fallen through and I can't have a £2k+ bike sitting around when I have 6 others in the garage!

Clever thing to do would be split it and sell for parts (Frame £1300, New groupset £800, Wheels £500, Handlebars, Stem, Seat, etc £200) but too nice for grabbing a few extra ££ - need someone to use it properly.

is the bike anywhere near being finished ??
would interested in it if it is.
looking to buy a new bike in that price range

posted by mpt68 [101 posts]
19th September 2012 - 4:33

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I did it! Blaze Hill it earns it's name on a magnificent late Saturday afternoon. It doesn't look like 25% and this is only the end of the first part, there was another 20% section above it up to the Macclesfield Road. Proves I need to learn how to maintain my bike to do anything challenging.
So the 39/25 was enough but only just, fortunately all of 'Britain's Steepest Roads' are well away from me. But I've signed up for the Etape Cymru 2013 so I have a year of hell in the Peak District to get ready.

cheers, G

blaze hill.jpg

Only good at sitting-down sports

posted by kayakboyuk [41 posts]
24th September 2012 - 1:42

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That looks glorious. Don't know if it counts if you stop to take pictures, though.

Noli porcum linguere

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posted by captain_slog [263 posts]
24th September 2012 - 8:14

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Well done mate!

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posted by giff77 [1036 posts]
24th September 2012 - 18:40

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captain_slog wrote:
That looks glorious. Don't know if it counts if you stop to take pictures, though.

Thanks, wait, hey, I'm not allowed to stop at the top? If we take that argument to the extreme; if I had just climbed Col du Tourmalet I'm still not allowed to take a pic? I should just plough on over the other side. Well this is just training, you'll know when your in a race, and there is no stopping.
Stopping on the slope was were it all started.

Only good at sitting-down sports

posted by kayakboyuk [41 posts]
24th September 2012 - 20:47

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FYI - Shimano do Tiagra, 105 and Ultegra short cage mechs in an 'A' version that will take a 30T rear cog. I struggled to find one in the uk though so ordered it from Rose in Germany.
http://www.rosebikes.co.uk/article/shimano-ultegra-rear-derailleur-rd-67...
I compared it to the standard max 28T 105 mech and it's just got a slightly different placement of the upper jockey wheel. If you want bigger than a 30T you can fit a medium cage XT mech that should run to 34T

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posted by joemmo [773 posts]
25th September 2012 - 13:10

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Damn right about the horror that is cornwall. Trying to climb out of Coverack with a belly full of fish and chips even with a triple and 12/26 = bleaugh!!

cheers m'dears

2011 Rose Pro-SL 3000 Road
2006 Lemond Alpe d'Huez Broken
1997 Marin Sausaulito Urban bimbling/shopper
1980 Orbea project

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posted by daviddb [120 posts]
19th October 2012 - 21:39

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Applause so now you know what real cycling is ! its about climbing. Wink

marcello

posted by mace1961 [4 posts]
13th July 2014 - 21:18

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Thinking for me cycling is about crossing personal boundries and of course that means pain and endurance then convert that pain into adrenalin thats the fun, its only a hill guys just get over it !!

marcello

posted by mace1961 [4 posts]
14th July 2014 - 21:06

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How about a semi-compact? I run 52/36 with an 11-28 cassette for hilly days. This means I rarely spin out but I have a nice bail out gear, too, to get up anything. Works fine with a short cage rear mech. I had gone to compact (50/34) but it spins out too easily.

posted by Scrufftie [19 posts]
15th July 2014 - 9:53

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mace1961 wrote:
Thinking for me cycling is about crossing personal boundries and of course that means pain and endurance then convert that pain into adrenalin thats the fun, its only a hill guys just get over it !!

You've captured it perfectly Applause

posted by paulrbarnard [96 posts]
15th July 2014 - 10:14

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39/28 here, i live on dartmoor and we have savage 25% hills

never needed to walk a hill yet so that should get you up anything

alternative is go semi compact 52/36 you still get the power gear on the big ring and its a bit more sensible in the lower ring

posted by russyparkin [579 posts]
16th July 2014 - 8:52

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Wink 25% in dartmoor not bad, weve got some real brutes in the peak district winnets pass and the pyms chair that hits 28% in parts but of course us northeners are real men and do it on a 53, 39, Love Struck

marcello

posted by mace1961 [4 posts]
17th July 2014 - 20:35

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I run 40 x28 and weigh about 14 stone, 50 yards of anything more than 15 % and I'm well into the red.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [455 posts]
17th July 2014 - 21:28

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Flying Scot wrote:
I run 40 x28 and weigh about 14 stone, 50 yards of anything more than 15 % and I'm well into the red.
It's a good point that you make. Anyone posting their F/R ratios should also post their weight (and perhaps general level of fitness), otherwise it means very little.

posted by truffy [35 posts]
17th July 2014 - 22:17

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Cannot see why all are so proud about eschewing the triple. Rode an Alpine pass recently, my first (Gavia, 2652 m) and used the 30x28 a lot. My companion, an experienced Alpinist, did not even notice, but did observe that I was pedalling easy.

No doubt Shimano has introduced the 32 sprocket so as to avoid the development and stocking cost of a triple option in its 11-speed line-up. 34x32 gives you about the same bottom gear, so that's OK.

(I weigh 60-odd kilos and am more than two decades older than the oldest rider in the TdF this year.)

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posted by harman_mogul [114 posts]
17th July 2014 - 23:27

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No macho posturing from me... I'm 15 stone, 50 years old later this year with a dodgy knee (amongst other things!), and I like to keep the revs high - it would be pretty stupid for me to have a bottom gear 39/25 or something like that when I've got plenty of 10-20% hills to tackle, so my old bike has a 9-speed triple bottoming out with a 30/27, the new one is an 11-speed compact double with an even lower low gear 34/32, and I'm not fussed what anyone thinks of me, I get up the hills.
Doing the C2C a couple of years back, when everyone else in our group (aside from one guy on a mountain bike and one 8-stone climber on a roadie) was walking up the hill out of Settle, I was riding. Only just, but I stayed on the bike to the top!

posted by PurpleDog [23 posts]
18th July 2014 - 0:46

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105 5701 short cage will take 30t max and medium cage will take 32t, I've used both with success (though it still didn't get me up hardknott).

http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/shimano-105-5701-10-speed-rear-mech/r...

posted by shmooster [5 posts]
18th July 2014 - 7:55

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Blaze hill and the further slog up pym chair is probably one of my favourite hills and here. I ride a compact with 12-28 because i love to go up, love to spin and i'm not all that fussed about having the extra cog on the down. I'm between 11-12 stone.

Now you've done that....Pym Chair, Marple to Mellor and from Errwood Reservoir up 'The Street'.

posted by smiley_boy2501 [25 posts]
18th July 2014 - 8:41

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I'm fine with Blaze, but Pym's chair was a bit much in March. Then again, this is probably because the new babies robbed my fitness. Suspect I would have been fine this time last year.

@Smiley_boy2501 - I'll check that out, sounds like a plan!

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2937 posts]
18th July 2014 - 11:47

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Confused trouble is with theese climbs is when your doing them regularly i e once or twice a week big bad blaze and the evan more brutal pyms chair are no probs but give it a miss for say a month and ime blowing like a billy goat halfway up and my head(chimp) is telling me i cant do it, and i have to really dig in ignore my head and keep going,, the sweet reward at being victorious over myself "" is an amazing feeeling and that what makes cycling addictive to me.. Silly

marcello

posted by mace1961 [4 posts]
22nd July 2014 - 21:03

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A few months of slogging away on my 70s vitus steel racer with 42/25 around surrey hills and suddenly the 36 semi compact ring on my new build seems like I'm flying.

I guess it's just about practce.

posted by Maggers [35 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 8:47

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