Elevation Gain Cycling – What Is Good Elevation Gain Cycling?
Professional cyclists and athletes often consider measuring various parameters like distance, speed, time, heart rate and FTP to analyze their performance and adjust their strategies. One of the most significant factors affecting the performance of a cyclist is the elevation gain. It is an important aspect of any cycling ride and affects other metrics.
In this post, we try to understand the significance of elevation gain in cycling and talk about how it is calculated and what its ideal values are.
Elevation Gain Cycling – A Complete Guide
In sports like cycling, elevation gain determines how strenuous the ride is. It is referred to the total distance climbed throughout the ride considering the ups and downs on the road. Elevation gain is a way to evaluate how hard the ride is considering the distance. It is a metric that puts the cycling speed into the right context.
Elevation gain is actually a difficulty factor for cyclists. This is because a 20-mile ride on a flat terrain is easier than a 20 mile ride with a climbing of 1000 feet. So when a ride is planned, the difficulty is rated not just on the basis of the distance to be covered but the number of climbs involved.
While every rider has his own favorite metrics for a ride, there are some metrics like elevation gain which are specific to climbing. Average power and normalized power are important when the ride is not flat. Distance and elevation ride let you quickly analyze your performance.
What Is Elevation Gain In Cycling?
The elevation gain in cycling is the total amount you climb in a ride. If you climb 1000 feet and descent 500 feet and again climb 300 feet, your elevation gain during the ride is 1300 feet. The loss in elevation is not relevant to this metric.
The concept of elevation gain explains why cycling on a terrain with sharp ups and downs is more strenuous even though the final elevation is not so big. Those who are preparing for cycling events should consider these mountaineering rides once in a while to build strength.
Climbing puts a lot of stress on the muscles and you have to apply more power to maintain the momentum. You should consider at least two hilly rides per week to get the power and technique. These can be interval or endurance training before transitioning to a high-intensity workout with short efforts.
Cycling Gradient & Elevation Gain Calculator
A climb’s steepness is often referenced in percentages in uphill cycling. Gradient is a measure of the steepness of the section of the road. This means a flat road has a gradient of 0 percent and a higher gradient means the road is steeper than a road with a lower gradient. If a road is downhill, it has a negative gradient.
Gradient is calculated as the ratio of distance travelled vertically and distance travelled horizontally. But when you ride, you ride on the hypotenuse side of the right angle so it is obtained by dividing the rise or the elevation gain by the hypotenuse and not the actual distance.
When you are cycling on a super-steep road with a rise of 1500 metres for 10 kilometres, you get a gradient by dividing the rise by the run to get a gradient of 15% which is much closer to the accurate value. So, for any road used for cycling, you can use the simple formula to estimate its average gradient.
You can also calculate the elevation gain and gradient for any road with the use of calculators available on the internet. This tool calculates the elevation gain and gradient on the basis of the distance and rise you provide for the cycling road.
What Is Good Elevation Gain Cycling?
As a general rule, elevation gain less than 50 feet per mile suggests a flat terrain and a gain of over 100 feet is quite hilly. Anything in between is moderately hilly. However, a number of factors go into deciding the level of effort you put when adding elevation gain into cycling.
A good elevation gain that describes an acceptable route has a climbing of 100 feet per mile or 1000 feet every 10 miles. This is an ideal ratio that makes sure the elevation gain is in line with other parameters. This does not mean you have to climb to reach the number, but it means that the route gains the elevation cumulatively versus losing it.
This ratio is a good place to start if you are preparing for a big mountain ride event. It can also be a good starting place if you are looking to improve against yourself and become a better climber. When you become comfortable with longer rides with this elevation gain, you get the confidence you need for getting ready to tackle the mountains.
Though climbing is not what every cyclist is interested in, it is something most would face at some point. Metrics like elevation gain and gradient helps you track your fitness specific to climbing and get the information you need to analyze your performance.