How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Talk about anything.

Moderators: Bearbonesnorm, Taylor, Chew

Post Reply

How much climbing

1 m gain in 100 km distance
3
9%
1000 m gain in 100 km distance
4
11%
2000 m gain in 100 km distance
13
37%
3000 m gain in 100 km distance
8
23%
4000 m gain in 100 km distance
3
9%
5000 m gain in 100 km distance
1
3%
6000 m gain in 100 km distance
3
9%
 
Total votes: 35

User avatar
Alpinum
Posts: 1746
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2014 5:38 pm

How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by Alpinum » Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:53 am

Since I often seem to have a rather different perspective but have been helping in shaping routes and have five of my own I'm thinking about publishing, I'd like to hear how much climbing (and descending) other riders are happy to do. Would be lovely if you could also describe why.

You can opt for all if you're comfy with them or just opt for one which you ride most or prefer most.


All routes except for one are in Switzerland. Perhaps imagine a holiday where you expect to do more climbing.
Like to when living in Lincolnshire and going for a ride in the Lakes.
The longest route is around 400 km long, so nothing too long (maybe I should ask what it long and what not too :lol: )

No seriously, I'm curious and thankful for every single opinion.

mattpage
Posts: 127
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2014 10:35 am

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by mattpage » Thu Aug 06, 2020 7:39 am

Amount of climbing and amount of steep climbing/walking are very different. Ideally no walking, or at least very limited for me.

On the road, 1000m per 50km is tough, then MTB you can usually double the ratio (half the distance to keep it roughly "as hard") but extra kit weight and carrying also takes its toll, so realistically I don't think I'd head out for a 100km ride laden with 4000m climbing in it without really knowing the specifics of the route.

User avatar
thenorthwind
Posts: 998
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2016 6:07 pm
Location: Newcastle

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by thenorthwind » Thu Aug 06, 2020 7:54 am

Depends on too many other things. Am I on holiday or trying to challenge myself? Overnighter or week/month long trip? Barren wilderness or cafe every 5 miles? I think trying to boil it down to one ratio is oversimplifying it.

User avatar
Bearbonesnorm
Posts: 18791
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 8:53 pm
Location: my own little world

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:05 am

I've selected the highest ratio because I've ridden something similar and enjoyed it. However, as Matt and Dave have implied, a height gain per km figure only really gives you so much information and the amount of pushing / carrying etc will alter that perspective somewhat.

I think 'reward' can also play a major part - many people will put the 'leg-work' in if they feel the reward at the top or other side is worthy of their efforts.
#corporate shill for hire

User avatar
Alpinum
Posts: 1746
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2014 5:38 pm

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by Alpinum » Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:09 am

thenorthwind wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 7:54 am
Depends on too many other things. Am I on holiday or trying to challenge myself?
Alpinum wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:53 am
All routes except for one are in Switzerland. Perhaps imagine a holiday where you expect to do more climbing.
thenorthwind wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 7:54 am
Overnighter or week/month long trip? Barren wilderness or cafe every 5 miles? I think trying to boil it down to one ratio is oversimplifying it.
Alpinum wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:53 am
The longest route is around 400 km long
:wink:

User avatar
whitestone
Posts: 6019
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2014 10:20 am
Location: Skipton(ish)
Contact:

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by whitestone » Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:48 am

As others have said, I'm not sure you can reduce this to a single number. So much depends on what you are used to and what you aim to get out of the route. The nature of the ascent and descent makes a difference too.

I've a local road loop that's 1100m in 30km :shock: so I'm fairly used to hills, maybe not on the scale of the Alps. Would that be OK on an off-road route? For me, yes, so that's roughly 4000m/100km. Doubling that would be a big ask and for many would be type 2 fun.

Simplistically, assuming no flat sections, 4000m in a 100km loop is 50km of climbing at 8% and 50km of descending at 8% . The above road loop has a few km of flat, maybe 3km, compensated for by quite a few 25% sections.

For context, the Lakeland Loop is 200km and has 6400m of ascent.
Better weight than wisdom, a traveller cannot carry

pistonbroke
Posts: 1483
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2012 9:39 am
Location: Southern Cataluña

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by pistonbroke » Thu Aug 06, 2020 9:15 am

2-2,500m per day is the figure I've based my thinking on when designing the route for the Spanish Coast to Coast route, with a daily distance of around 120km for 9 days. In the 3 runnings of the trip, I've not had any complaints that it was too hard (or easy :wink: ) The new Spanish Divide route that should have happened this Spring is at the upper end of that climb average but having ridden a similar distance across the Pyrenees with 3-4,000m per day, that seemed a real drag when loaded for variable weather conditions. I also agree that long sections of hike a bike are to be avoided, it's not big and it's not clever.

mattpage
Posts: 127
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2014 10:35 am

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by mattpage » Thu Aug 06, 2020 9:35 am

Just checked a Pont Scethin route that I have plotted that I am hoping to do soon.
340km with 6700m climbing (1970m per 100km). That is on the upper end of what I'd look to ride for a ride of that distance at least, but it is at least almost 100% rideable.

User avatar
thenorthwind
Posts: 998
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2016 6:07 pm
Location: Newcastle

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by thenorthwind » Thu Aug 06, 2020 9:54 am

Alpinum wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:09 am
thenorthwind wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 7:54 am
Depends on too many other things. Am I on holiday or trying to challenge myself?
Alpinum wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:53 am
Perhaps imagine a holiday where you expect to do more climbing.
Wasn't sure what you meant by this. More climbing than what?
thenorthwind wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 7:54 am
Overnighter or week/month long trip? Barren wilderness or cafe every 5 miles? I think trying to boil it down to one ratio is oversimplifying it.
Alpinum wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:53 am
The longest route is around 400 km long
:wink:
400km might be two long gravel days with a bivvy in between, or a week's worth of touring (there's that word again) with beer stops.

:wink:

User avatar
ScotRoutes
Posts: 6087
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:56 am
Location: Cairngorms
Contact:

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by ScotRoutes » Thu Aug 06, 2020 9:58 am

I have absolutely no idea.

Am I enjoying it?
Are the climbs all rideable?
Are the subsequent descents rideable?

User avatar
Mariner
Posts: 1570
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2015 2:37 pm
Location: East Devon

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by Mariner » Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:19 am

Would it be possible/better to qualify the climbing as 'total' and 'the longest of which is' unless it is just one long climb?

Lazarus
Posts: 1535
Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:49 am

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by Lazarus » Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:21 am

It really depends

Locally i can climb more than when I go for a lakes ride
However locally I have done a number of dooable 2-300 m climbs with descents in the lakes i have done a 800M hike a bike hat took 2hours to complete.
they are not equal because of height gain and the lakes are harder than locally.

I think you also have to factor in whether its actuall climbing[ and even then whether its easy or hard] or just walking with your bike[which again can be easy or hard]
Roughly for me per 100km
2000m easy ish
3000m tough
4000m difficult
5000m + hero
If you made me walk up the seathwaite side of Walna scar to achieve this height [450 metres in 2 km]it is not going to be an easy day - I think the climb up to Garburn pass is about the same amount of climbing but is a lot easier- i mean riding round to it not pushing up it [ which i have never done]- 7.5 mils and 468 m climbing. These are tnot that similar IMHO though the height gain is .
So many factors Make grading routes rather hard *

I am assuming this is to repeat day after day rather than a one off


* i once turned up for a family ride [child on seat on the back of the bike] that was graded as extreme - Lycra and everything - got there and extreme was a 5 mile ride round a flat lake

User avatar
In Reverse
Posts: 1293
Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2015 9:08 pm
Location: Manchester

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by In Reverse » Thu Aug 06, 2020 12:48 pm

It's an interesting question Gian with no simple answer.

I think the Jenn Rides are a decent balance of tough/challenging but still really enjoyable riding - according to my Strava for the 3 I've done they were 2678, 2752, and 2737m climbing per 100km.

A factor which has't been mentioned is that I suspect you'll be taking people on rides that could well be topping out at 3000m elevation - 2700m/100km when you're that high up is a LOT difrferent to the same ratio in the Lakes where you're topping out at 600m elevation. We've probably both seen fit riders crumble on the first couple of days at that altitude.

redefined_cycles
Posts: 4130
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:19 am
Location: Dewsbury, West Yorkshire

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by redefined_cycles » Thu Aug 06, 2020 7:27 pm

I picked 100km with 2000m as thats the thing I managed to make (with intent) of my first properly published (on here) route. NorthPeaks100 with 65 miles and 7000ft

I think 100ft per mile is probably (for me at least) on the limit of whats almost doable with a fully packed system/setup and what I'll still enjoy. Anything more and I worry that it'd end up with too much extreme DH (of what I'm scared of) with lots of extreme uphill (which would put my knees at risk of giving in.

Not sure if that (100ft per mile) is the ratio that most people (like regular roadies... not the people that probably frequent this site! if I'm allowed to say that) would find enjoyable though. I personally also feel that too much flat and it doesnt give enough 'natural' opportunities to get out of the saddle. Thus leading to more pressure on the good old behind.

Yesterdays climb out of Mckynelth (what I'd probably class as the perfect climb and the limit of what I might be able to ride fully packed) was 1500ft over 7 miles. No excess wieght on the road bike with 34/32 lowest gear and it was really enjoyable. Being 200ft per mile but mostly quite gentle and it fits in with my 100ft per mile fully packed feeling/preference...
Last edited by redefined_cycles on Thu Aug 13, 2020 9:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

redefined_cycles
Posts: 4130
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:19 am
Location: Dewsbury, West Yorkshire

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by redefined_cycles » Thu Aug 06, 2020 7:36 pm

One last thing Gian (after having read what Jon/Lazarus wrote) about 100ft per mile being easyIsh. Thats probably why i picked that option/vote. I do prefer to ride my bike as opposed to HABing too much hence my preference I suppose.

Oh, regards me not liking too much lengthy DHs. I find it impossible to stop the lactic acid build up (ie. Hard for me, to relax I suppose when hurtling DH OR) and thus my ratio seems to work well for that too...

User avatar
htrider
Posts: 3119
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:51 pm
Location: Fife
Contact:

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by htrider » Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:46 pm

I recall doing a 5000m day on the YD300 back in '16 and thinking 'that was a lot of climbing....' The same day was the TDF 'Queen stage' which had 4500m (on skinny placcy roadie bikes with all your kit in a car - pah!)

Hows about 2000m of climbing and 5000m of descending per day?

User avatar
Alpinum
Posts: 1746
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2014 5:38 pm

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by Alpinum » Thu Aug 13, 2020 11:46 am

Thanks to all for your choices and thoughts.

Yes, it's indeed hardly possible to give a simple answer as many factors play in.
whitestone wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:48 am
As others have said, I'm not sure you can reduce this to a single number. So much depends on what you are used to and what you aim to get out of the route. The nature of the ascent and descent makes a difference too.

I've a local road loop that's 1100m in 30km :shock: so I'm fairly used to hills, maybe not on the scale of the Alps. Would that be OK on an off-road route? For me, yes, so that's roughly 4000m/100km. Doubling that would be a big ask and for many would be type 2 fun.

Simplistically, assuming no flat sections, 4000m in a 100km loop is 50km of climbing at 8% and 50km of descending at 8% . The above road loop has a few km of flat, maybe 3km, compensated for by quite a few 25% sections.

For context, the Lakeland Loop is 200km and has 6400m of ascent.
Some of the routes are a bit more mellow than others, but they are all true MTB routes, thus no riding on roads when there's a double track or single track close by. Once, after a certain elevation, the route constantly follows mountain paths, either hard uphill riding or pushing/carrying. Same for the descends.
I just picked some segments out of the Raetic Trail - a route I've been working on for nearly 4 years:
firstly, there are many up-/downhills with 400 m gain/loss in 2 km. Also a few with even close to 500 m vert gain/loss in less than 2 km.
Then we have stats like 31.5 km distance, 2292 m up, 2530 m down, 29 km with 2001 m up, 1904 m down, 58.1 km with 3596 m up and 4492 m down. Super star single tracks across high Alpine meadows mixed with über tech in boulder fields and loose in scree slopes.
There are a few flat(ish) bits inbetween, I put them there deliberately to make things a bit easier.

Yeah, seems the upper end for many is somewhere abouts 3000 m/100 km, which goes with the LL200 from which I get, that it's one of the hillier loops in the UK.
Good to know, since most routes (of those outside the Alps) I've in mind are in that region.
In Reverse wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 12:48 pm
A factor which has't been mentioned is that I suspect you'll be taking people on rides that could well be topping out at 3000m elevation - 2700m/100km when you're that high up is a LOT difrferent to the same ratio in the Lakes where you're topping out at 600m elevation
True. the routes in the Alpine are indeed often well above 2000 and scratch at 3000 m and beyond on a few occasions.
These altitudes don't require long acclimatisation though and none of the routes could possibly pose a risk for any altitude related sickness (given a healthy individual). But yes, even if you may have arrived from the seaside 3 days prior leaving for eg the Raetic Trail, the effects likely will still be noticeable.

redefined_cycles wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 7:27 pm
NorthPeaks100 with 65 miles and 7000m
Knowing the Peak District, especially the Dark Peak area, I'm guessing this is a typo..?
redefined_cycles wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 7:36 pm
Oh, regards me not liking too much lengthy DHs. I find it impossible to stop the lactic acid build up (ie. Hard for me, to relax I suppose when hurtling DH OR) and thus my ratio seems to work well for that too...
Very valid point. I love long DHs and it never fails to amaze me how hard it is. As stated on here before; After two days on the Raetic Trail my body was more sore than after riding the HT550 in 5 days.
But then, just a few short breaks in the long descents should do the trick. It's just hard to do that when you're full of this magical buzz (call it state of flow if you like).
htrider wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:46 pm
I recall doing a 5000m day on the YD300 back in '16 and thinking 'that was a lot of climbing....' The same day was the TDF 'Queen stage' which had 4500m (on skinny placcy roadie bikes with all your kit in a car - pah!)
I deliberately didn't imply that my routes are and my questioning should be focused on MTB, so hardly any road and mostly single tracks. This way the spectrum of answers would seem larger. Some friends of mine who both ride road and MTB feel they can multiply an MTB ride with a factor of roughly 2 with their type of riding to get the same amount of effort. Yes, they take training very, very serious (one was successful former road pro).
htrider wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:46 pm
Hows about 2000m of climbing and 5000m of descending per day?
That's the beauty of riding in the Alps. If you don't want them, there are many places without touristic infrastructure or public transport (of which some cablecars and busses etc. are), but if you want some help for the uphills, there are many cablecars, busses, gondolas and even trains (yes, some train lines can be used for shuttling too) to give days with less than 1000 m vert of climbing, yet more than 7000 m vert descending, all within only 4 shuttle assisted rides. Type 1 fun.

User avatar
GregMay
Posts: 2840
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:57 pm
Location: Calderdale
Contact:

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by GregMay » Thu Aug 13, 2020 1:57 pm

I don't really mind once the descents warrant the climbing. Hike a bike to a road descent is my special idea of hell.

EDIT: Which reminds me - hurry up and publish your Raetic Trail route so I can go ride it when this all clears up :)
Image

User avatar
Alpinum
Posts: 1746
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2014 5:38 pm

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by Alpinum » Thu Aug 13, 2020 9:06 pm

GregMay wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 1:57 pm
I don't really mind once the descents warrant the climbing. Hike a bike to a road descent is my special idea of hell.
Agree. Let me think... I've forgotten to put some of that into my routes... :wink:
GregMay wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 1:57 pm
EDIT: Which reminds me - hurry up and publish your Raetic Trail route so I can go ride it when this all clears up :)
You can have the route. PM me your email - not sure I still have it and I'll send you the gpx file. I can give you some route knowledge once you start planning.
In the meanwhile:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckUgrDQ ... =emb_title in German, but the best such video I found with a quick search.

Oh... and you must have meant ...
GregMay wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 1:57 pm
EDIT: Which reminds me - hurry up and publish your Raetic Trail route so I can go hike-a-bike it when this all clears up :)
:lol:

Seriously, I'm not giving it a try this year (most likely), but next Summer. We could go/start together.


Hhmmm... just very recently I've been preparing a route for a long weekend in September. Rate is 7385 m climbing in 100 km. Welcome to the Valais. I'll re-arrange it and will make use of cable cars :wink:

redefined_cycles
Posts: 4130
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:19 am
Location: Dewsbury, West Yorkshire

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by redefined_cycles » Thu Aug 13, 2020 9:44 pm

Yes... mine was indeed a typo. Ammended :-bd

User avatar
GregMay
Posts: 2840
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:57 pm
Location: Calderdale
Contact:

Re: How much climbing on a bikepacking route is okay?

Post by GregMay » Fri Aug 14, 2020 7:31 pm

Gian, you know I will hike a bike for any kick ass descent :)

It'll be next year - I'm not travelling internationally at the moment. NW England is all over the show and as a teacher I'll be more susceptible to being a superspreader than most.
Image

Post Reply