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I'm going to ride in the alps soon :D just wondering what gears would be best? i dont want to burn out from having to grind away in a huge gear up alpe d'huez... what are peoples mountain gear preferences?
 

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Triple chain ring in the front. 27 cog in the rear. You might need a MTB rear DR if you go to a 30 or 32 cog in the back. I remember a guy (Florida - flatlander) on Ride The Rockies a few years back that put a MTB cassette on his rear wheel - needed a larger rear DR to pick up the chain slack.

More so than equipment, how do you feel about doing this? Hill climbing OK?

BTW, if it helps, I have a 27/12 cassette with a triple front chain ring and a 25 mile ride usually gets about 2000 ft of climb. Cadence is in the mid 60s on a climb (maybe 850 feet over three miles). Does this help?

ColoradoVeloDude
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If your bike weighs less than 25 pounds, and you weigh less than 175 pounds, you'd make it fine up a mountain in compact crank, 50-34 up front, and a 27 in the back. No need for a third chain ring.

I made it up Mt. Wilson, CA, 5000 ft. in 22 miles, with 5 miles of pretty steep switchbacks at the top, on a 22 pound bike, me weighing around 160 pounds. I was using a 44 tooth inner ring with a 22 tooth largest rear sprocket. :shocked: Did it again the following week and noticed a distinct strength increase.

Since then, with typical gearing of 42 or 43 chain rings, and 23, 26, or 28 in back, I've been able to power up all climbs encountered, never slowing below 6 mph. Others have said, climbing in a smaller third chain ring with a 27 in back, say 30-27, have been unable to keep up a solid 60-70 rpm, and slow to 4 mph! I'd fall off my bike at 4 mph. Mountain grades are seldom steep enough to slow me down to 6 mph. Being a 67 year old man, I don't think I'm alone with that. Anybody, with a little grit, would have no problems climbing a mountain pass in 39-27 even.
 

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Which climbs are you doing in the alps and where is your home base going to be? I spent some time in Le Grand Bornand(sp), Morzine, and Annecy last year. Lots of great, well maintained roads. I'm sure you can find some really painful grades if you go looking for them, but a lot of the famous climbs in the area really aren't that bad.

If you've ever messed around with Downhilling, I highly recommend Morzine/Avoriaz. Lots of Brits bombing the hills this time of year.
 

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Without knowing your fitness level, weight and pedaling style, it's little difficult to express my opinion.
Since you are thinking about climbing Alp's, I'm assuming that your fitness is pretty high.
With that in mind, I'd say 39 ring with 12/25 combo.
 

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Fredrico said:
I made it up Mt. Wilson, CA, 5000 ft. in 22 miles, with 5 miles of pretty steep switchbacks at the top, on a 22 pound bike, me weighing around 160 pounds. I was using a 44 tooth inner ring with a 22 tooth largest rear sprocket. :shocked: Did it again the following week and noticed a distinct strength increase.
Props to you on that Fredrico, Mt Wilson is a very long climb. :eek:

That said, doesn't seem like a very steep one... what you describe averages out to 4.3%. The OP is talking about riding in the Alps- how steep do you think something like Alpe d'Huez is, for example? Easily double that for most of its length. Plus it has its own numerous (and famous) even-steeper switchbacks, and it's a long climb too.

Sure, only about half as long in sheer distance compared to Mt Wilson, but the much greater steepness slows riders down a lot, to the point where the actual climb duration isn't hugely different. Doesn't sound like a walk in the park to me, unless one is just completely buzzed on the fact that they're tackling a legendary TDF climb. Endorphins kill pain, or so I'm told, lol.

Also doesn't sound like the kind of climb the average rider would want to tackle in a 44/22, n'cest pas? Though if he's in the minority that can, more power to 'im.
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks, this is really helpful! I am basing myself in morzine and I am just going to climb everything I can! recon I will go for a compact 50/36 and a 12/25 on the back
thanks
 

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Eh bien, mon ami...

SystemShock said:
...Also doesn't sound like the kind of climb the average rider would want to tackle in a 44/22, n'cest pas?
Eddy, le Merckx, was said to be "fond" of a 44 tooth chainring for going up the mountains! :biggrin5: Back 20 years ago, when I did this climb, I just wanted to find out what they were talking about. The 6 mile climb to the observatory up in the Hollywood hills I imagine is more like the Alps. Did that too a couple of times.

That 44 will probably never again see the light of day! :shocked:
 

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I have not done French Alps but did Swiss Alps, specifically Verbier. 50X34 and 11X28 was enough. I think that a lot depends on the nonstop elevation gain. I prefer lower gear for 5,000ft+ of nonstop climbing. I did not hit anything more than 1500m of nonstop vertical while riding in Swiss Alps.
 

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Fredrico said:
If your bike weighs less than 25 pounds, and you weigh less than 175 pounds, you'd make it fine up a mountain in compact crank, 50-34 up front, and a 27 in the back. No need for a third chain ring.

I made it up Mt. Wilson, CA, 5000 ft. in 22 miles, with 5 miles of pretty steep switchbacks at the top, on a 22 pound bike, me weighing around 160 pounds. I was using a 44 tooth inner ring with a 22 tooth largest rear sprocket. :shocked: Did it again the following week and noticed a distinct strength increase.

Since then, with typical gearing of 42 or 43 chain rings, and 23, 26, or 28 in back, I've been able to power up all climbs encountered, never slowing below 6 mph. Others have said, climbing in a smaller third chain ring with a 27 in back, say 30-27, have been unable to keep up a solid 60-70 rpm, and slow to 4 mph! I'd fall off my bike at 4 mph. Mountain grades are seldom steep enough to slow me down to 6 mph. Being a 67 year old man, I don't think I'm alone with that. Anybody, with a little grit, would have no problems climbing a mountain pass in 39-27 even.
You rock.

Long live the 53/39 11-23
 

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How so?

Fredrico said:
If your bike weighs less than 25 pounds, and you weigh less than 175 pounds, you'd make it fine up a mountain in compact crank, 50-34 up front, and a 27 in the back. No need for a third chain ring.
Since you have absolutely no idea what the OP's power output is, how can you make this statement? Climbing is all about watts/kg, not just kg. Since the OP gave zero information about what kind of power he can deliver, there is no way to offer any advice about what gearing he needs. At this point, his original question is equivalent to "How long is a piece of string?"
 

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You mean, how long you can stretch a piece of string?

Kerry Irons said:
Since you have absolutely no idea what the OP's power output is, how can you make this statement? Climbing is all about watts/kg, not just kg. Since the OP gave zero information about what kind of power he can deliver, there is no way to offer any advice about what gearing he needs. At this point, his original question is equivalent to "How long is a piece of string?"
My belief, from personal experience and those of other riders, is that it takes more wattage to move a heavy load up a hill than a lighter load. Therefore, if the rider is lighter in weight, he can climb at the same speeds with less wattage output, or faster with the same wattage output. Marco Pantani illustrated that. Good climbers have all been lightweight throughout the history of cycling! (Except maybe Miguel Indurain!)

It follows that a rider of reasonable weight can train his cardio system and muscles to lift his weight up the hill in slightly higher gears than a heavier rider, who must train to deliver a higher wattage to power his heaver mass up the same hill in the same gears.

Of course power to weight ratio is relative to muscle size, genetics, skeletal structure. But losing weight always increases this strength to weight ratio favorably for climbing. Above all, power can be increased by training. No pain no gain, would you not agree? :biggrin5:
 

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Fredrico said:
Eddy, le Merckx, was said to be "fond" of a 44 tooth chainring for going up the mountains! :biggrin5: Back 20 years ago, when I did this climb, I just wanted to find out what they were talking about. The 6 mile climb to the observatory up in the Hollywood hills I imagine is more like the Alps. Did that too a couple of times.

That 44 will probably never again see the light of day! :shocked:
So you're advocating gearing you can no longer push? Hmm. :idea:

Not trying to bust your balls, 'rico, but it's not the '80s anymore. The gearing's gotten wider. Ppl don't have to climb the mountain in a 42/21 these days... not unless they really wanna.

And I have zero prob with them wanting to- it's just nice to have a Plan B in case that doesn't work out for ya.
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Wimps.

SystemShock said:
So you're advocating gearing you can no longer push? Hmm. :idea:

Not trying to bust your balls, 'rico, but it's not the '80s anymore. The gearing's gotten wider. Ppl don't have to climb the mountain in a 42/21 these days... not unless they really wanna.

And I have zero prob with them wanting to- it's just nice to have a Plan B in case that doesn't work out for ya.
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How fast do you wanna go up the hill? The club rides I rode in during the 90s, were hammerfests that the young kids would whack up in 39-17! I'd pass them at the top, cranking a bit faster in my old fashioned 42-23.

I suspect it might be more efficient climbing in slightly higher gears than say, 30 inches, though. Seems like lower gears just make it slower going up against gravity, not a whole lot easier! I keep finding when I go from my commuter, 43-28, up to my race bike, 42-23, it's "harder" to climb in the 23 compared to the 28, but magically, I go slightly faster! :idea:

I think it has something to do with "staying on top of the gear." Below a certain cadence, I guess around 80 rpm, I lose the "spin" and start pushing with the fast twitch quads, anaerobic muscles, and blow it rather quickly. If I keep the cadence up, the heart goes crazy, but the legs survive, and I don't lose speed. This can be done in higher gears than 30-28 or 34-27, geez! Even 39-26! Piece of cake! :biggrin5:

Hey, I could still push a 44! :frown2: I was just trying to show a little humility. :) It's a great gear for the flats and gently rolling terrain of NVA and ETX, but a little too tall for the short but steep climbs out of the Potomac River valley. :shocked:
 

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Fred, you can call us 'wimps' when you do 44-22 in the ROCKIES or High Sierra...

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See above. :D
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SystemShock said:
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See above. :D
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I'd like to say, "You're on!" but alas, there are no mountains around DC to train on! :biggrin5:

I have heard that the Rockies are rather gentle slopes. And poff testifies some of those famous Alps climbs aren't all that steep!

BTW, Checked out Alpe D'Huez. It's 8 miles up 3350 feet, slightly more than a third the distance and 3/5ths the elevation of Mt.Wilson, 22 miles up 5000 feet? Or is that 5700 feet, the elevation of the observatory at the summit? Don't know the elevation of La Canada, at the foot. Also, as I said, the last part, 5 miles, is steeper, probably like Alp D'Huez! And only 3 miles less!

Maybe I'll have to get that 44 tooth chain ring out of the dust bin and try it out this Fall! :shocked:
 

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Responding to the question

Fredrico said:
My belief, from personal experience and those of other riders, is that it takes more wattage to move a heavy load up a hill than a lighter load. Therefore, if the rider is lighter in weight, he can climb at the same speeds with less wattage output, or faster with the same wattage output. Marco Pantani illustrated that. Good climbers have all been lightweight throughout the history of cycling! (Except maybe Miguel Indurain!)

It follows that a rider of reasonable weight can train his cardio system and muscles to lift his weight up the hill in slightly higher gears than a heavier rider, who must train to deliver a higher wattage to power his heaver mass up the same hill in the same gears.

Of course power to weight ratio is relative to muscle size, genetics, skeletal structure. But losing weight always increases this strength to weight ratio favorably for climbing. Above all, power can be increased by training. No pain no gain, would you not agree? :biggrin5:
All fine and good, but what does any of this have to do with answering the OP's question about "going to ride in the alps soon - just wondering what gears would be best?" This is not at all about what someone's potential is, it is about what gearing they need now. Since the OP never stated his current capabilities, your advice is meaningless. Thus, my point.
 

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Fredrico said:
I have heard that the Rockies are rather gentle slopes.
Maybe some, but I very much doubt all. And as a California boy, I know we have some climbs in the High Sierras that would ruin you in a 44-22.

BTW, Checked out Alpe D'Huez. It's 8 miles up 3350 feet, slightly more than a third the distance and 3/5ths the elevation of Mt.Wilson, 22 miles up 5000 feet?
Here ya go. It's all in metric, so you'll have to convert... looks like around 3750 feet of elevation gain in about 9 1/2 miles, which works out to around 8% on average (steeper in the switchbacks, a'course), i.e. double Mt. Wilson.

Steep enough to put you out of the saddle, yet long enough that you can't tough it out with a 'half-hour of pain':





Maybe I'll have to get that 44 tooth chain ring out of the dust bin and try it out this Fall! :shocked:
'Rico on the Alpe d'Huez? Sounds like a fun trip. Good luck, mon ami. And post pics! :D
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I just got back from vacation in Europe and was able to get in a few nice hills:

In Austria, I road the Hochalpinstrasse in Bruck up the Grossglockner range. The average grade is 8.4% with a max of 14%. I rode this for 9.5 miles to the top of Edelweispitze where the altitude is 2571 meters. This, i did on a relatively heavy borrowed C'dale triple Sora equiped bike. When I converted over the equivalent compact gearing I would have needed a 26 in the rear. If I did it again I would ship my bike and go with a compact 11-27. Of course, if you are at lower altitudes you may be ok with a few less gears but I am a Florida flatlander and I think the thinner air made it harder.

Ich bin der Bergkoenig!!!!

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