Author Topic: What type of grades to expect on Northern Tier?  (Read 2363 times)

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Offline jwrushman

What type of grades to expect on Northern Tier?
« on: May 01, 2016, 08:49:09 pm »
I'm not sure where this question belongs.  It's kind of about Gear, but not really.  It kind of about Routes...


I training for a cross-country ride next summer.  NJ to Niagara Falls, across southern Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin and pick up Northern Tier.

I have a Surly Disk Trucker with 48-36-26 chainring and 11-36 cassette. 

What kind of grades can I expect on my route?

I had a rude awakening doing a two-day ride in northern NJ last week.  With 50 pounds of gear, food and water,  I had a tough time handling the two 13 to 14% grade climbs I encountered.   I know I need to lose some weight (gear and me both!) and I know I'll get stronger with time, but I'm thinking I better start doing a lot more training on serious hills with full weight.

Comments?


Offline John Nelson

Re: What type of grades to expect on Northern Tier?
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2016, 09:56:08 pm »
I don't remember any 13% grades on the Northern Tier. Going To The Sun Road is the most significant climb, and very little of it is over 6%. Same with the Cascades. Sure, there are some short, steep hills in Wisconsin, but they're only 50 yards long. You'll miss the steepest hills by skipping New England.

Offline jwrushman

Re: What type of grades to expect on Northern Tier?
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2016, 10:02:07 pm »
Thanks. That's reassuring.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: What type of grades to expect on Northern Tier?
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2016, 07:30:30 am »
Where in northern NJ were you? I have done a little touring up there. Some nasty hill up there. The climb up Millbrook Rd. in the Delaware Water Gap NRA heading towards Blalrstown had me walking.

In any event, 26x36 should be o.k. Heading west, you will have some 8-9% stretches on Loup Loup Pass. Mazama to Washington Pass is about 16 miles, IIRC, but you won't encounter anything in the double digits. If you do the mileage from Cut Bank, MT into Alberta, there is a steep climb of about 5 miles heading back towards the MT border, but it's manageable if you pace yourself. BTW...I highly recommend not skipping that section. Waterton Village makes a great place for a rest day. The town campsite is in a dramatic setting, and there are boat ride and hike options.

Offline jwrushman

Re: What type of grades to expect on Northern Tier?
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2016, 09:10:46 am »
I was riding to Mahlon Dickerson Park.  Union Hill Road (near Greystone) and Weldon Road (entering the park from the east) slowed me up.  I'll be doing the same ride later this month adding on a few more miles for conditioning.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: What type of grades to expect on Northern Tier?
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2016, 10:47:02 am »
I have a Surly Disk Trucker with 48-36-26 chainring and 11-36 cassette. 

Comment on crankset.  Your crank will almost certainly take a 24 tooth inner chainring.  74 mm bolt circle diameter.  So you could change the 26 ring for a 24 tooth ring easily.  $15 and 15 minutes.  Little bit lower low gear.  Probably won't make much if any difference.  But it will be the lowest you can get with your current equipment.

Offline canalligators

Re: What type of grades to expect on Northern Tier?
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2016, 12:26:14 pm »
My general rule is that, with a loaded bike, 8% is about the steepest I will try to ride.  Any steeper than that, even if you're geared to go slower, you'll have trouble balancing the bike.  YMMV, riders and bikes vary in low speed abilities.

My low gears were in the low 20s, as are ours.  There are places in the cascades where I resorted to walking.  I was eastbound.  Around the Diablo reservoir there were a couple of climbs that were a mile or so long, the first couple of miles east out of Tonasket, and a couple of miles on Sherman Pass.

I'd say you're geared low enough.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: What type of grades to expect on Northern Tier?
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2016, 02:21:18 pm »
with a loaded bike, 8% is about the steepest I will try to ride.  Any steeper than that, even if you're geared to go slower, you'll have trouble balancing the bike.  YMMV, riders and bikes vary in low speed abilities.

You would have a hard time riding in the Dolomites and Pyrennes.  Appalachians too.  I recall seeing signs saying 13-14-15-16-17% grades in the Dolomites.  Short sections, not continuous.  I've heard the Appalachians are steep too.  You had better confine yourself to the Rockies and Alps only.  They max out at 7-8%.

Offline jamawani

Re: What type of grades to expect on Northern Tier?
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2016, 06:50:35 pm »
B+ ; A- if you work real had.

But really, I'd be more concerned with wind than grades.
Which direction are you heading?? You do know about eastern Montana and North Dakota?
Those of us who have toured tens of thousands of miles will tell you -
The wind can kick you tail far more thoroughly than any grade.

Offline roderick.young

Re: What type of grades to expect on Northern Tier?
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2016, 10:44:46 am »
We started from Fargo, ND, going east, so opposite of your direction.  The Great Lakes region is totally flat - after all, it used to be one big glacier.  The first hill of any consequence was when we hit the Adirondacks (sp?) around Vermont.

From cycling the TransAm in the West, I would say that the mountains are high, but not steep.  4% grade would be common, and if there are any 10%, those are very short, less than a mile.  But if you're going east-to-west, you'll be strong by the time you hit those mountains, acclimated to altitude, and will have shed unnecessary items from your packs.

Offline jwrushman

Re: What type of grades to expect on Northern Tier?
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2016, 09:20:40 pm »
Thanks everyone for the comments.  It sounds like my bike and gear will be okay.  I have a year to get my butt in shape!!

Offline DaveB

Re: What type of grades to expect on Northern Tier?
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2016, 08:13:14 pm »
I have a Surly Disk Trucker with 48-36-26 chainring and 11-36 cassette. 

Comment on crankset.  Your crank will almost certainly take a 24 tooth inner chainring.  74 mm bolt circle diameter.  So you could change the 26 ring for a 24 tooth ring easily.  $15 and 15 minutes.  Little bit lower low gear.  Probably won't make much if any difference.  But it will be the lowest you can get with your current equipment.
His crank may be one of Shimano's "Trekking" cranks and, if so, would have 104/64 BCDs and take a 22T granny chainring.   22x36 with 700c wheels is 16.5 gear inches and you can't reasonably get any lower.