August 3, 2010/ Jim Parker
Maria and I live in a very flat part of North Carolina and seldom get a chance to ride up steep hills. Last week Maria’s family held a reunion at Hungry Mother State Park- a very hilly part of Virginia. I brought a Sofrider (16-speed) and a Quest 559 (27 speed). Our cabin was located atop a pretty steep hill and I got a chance to ascend and descend this hill a few times a day for the four days we were there. I’m not a surveyor and I don’t have any fancy equipment to measure grades. However, this particular hill was unique in that there was another road that ran parallel to the hill that allowed for a good profile photograph of the grade from a distance of about 50 yards. I had my daughter stand on the hill holding a weighted plumb line while I took this photograph.
I calculated the maximum grade of this hill to be 24.6%.
I’ve probably climbed very short segments of hills with a steeper slope, but this is the steepest sustained climb where I wasn’t just zooming up with momentum. I was able to climb it with approximately equal perceived effort on the Sofrider and Quest. I won’t say it was easy. It took a lot of effort to haul my 200 lbs. of body mass, plus the weight of the bike, up the hill. Heck, it was exhausting to WALK up this hill!
Anyway, now when people ask how steep a hill I can climb on a Cruzbike, I can give a more definitive answer. Points to remember are that the pavement was dry and there was no sand or gravel to contend with. I had a few very brief moments of wheelspin, but none that lasted more than a split second or stopped my progress. Leaning forward and pedaling steadily helped keep those moments short. Also, I was NOT clipped in. I normally ride with SPD pedals/cleats, but for this trip I was wearing running shoes and using inexpensive platform pedals.