Author Topic: Converting Elevation Gain, Grade to Mileage  (Read 3432 times)

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Offline jwrushman

Converting Elevation Gain, Grade to Mileage
« on: July 30, 2016, 03:49:44 pm »
I'm planning a cross country ride next year and plan to ride about 60 miles per day.  When planning routes, is there a way to convert elevation gain into an equivalent distance travelled on level terrain?  And is there a way to factor in the grade of the hills encountered?  When planning hikes, I often add 1 mile per 1000 feet of elevation climbed, ignoring the downhills, to estimate how far I can walk in a given amount of time. 

Offline John Nelson

Re: Converting Elevation Gain, Grade to Mileage
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2016, 08:19:55 pm »
I ignore elevation gain. I do about the same distance each day. If it's hilly, it just takes longer.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Converting Elevation Gain, Grade to Mileage
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2016, 09:30:08 pm »
Agree with John, don't go there.  It's a fairly decent task, physics-wise, complicated immensely by figuring out exactly what you're trying to calculate.  Extra energy to climb?  OK, but what about downhill -- how to account for that?  Downhill doesn't cost any energy, of course, but you do lose a lot on wind resistance.  How much do energy does it take to ride a mile on flat ground?  Then when you come to a conclusion, it's enormous.  You'll end up psyching yourself out.  And finally, what wind conditions will you use?  Hardest day of my life was into a stiff (estimated 50 mph by a guy driving a truck) headwind.  That's harder than a hill, but you can't account for unexpected headwinds (or tailwinds) in a generic model.

Analyticcycling.com has some great models if you don't take this sensible advice.  Except that they don't mess with touring cyclists, so you'll have to guess critical things like your coefficient of aerodynamic drag and aerodynamic cross section.

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Converting Elevation Gain, Grade to Mileage
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2016, 10:45:59 pm »
 I also agree, figuring out a climb equipment doesn't make sense to me on the bicycle.  However, if you're averaging 60 miles per day that means you have some 40 mile days  and some 80 mile days. So, if You have a huge climb or all day Up a mountain then  make that your  40 mile day if there is a logical stop along the way and so on.

Online staehpj1

Re: Converting Elevation Gain, Grade to Mileage
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2016, 09:45:11 am »
I also agree, figuring out a climb equipment doesn't make sense to me on the bicycle.  However, if you're averaging 60 miles per day that means you have some 40 mile days  and some 80 mile days. So, if You have a huge climb or all day Up a mountain then  make that your  40 mile day if there is a logical stop along the way and so on.

I agree.  That is what I do and I find it makes sense.

That said, doing something like the Sierra Cascades where every day is hard climbing means a bit different daily average than doing the TA or the ST.

Offline canalligators

Re: Converting Elevation Gain, Grade to Mileage
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2016, 12:42:58 pm »
I more-or-less agree with John Nelson, I just figure it will take longer on a moderately hilly day. 

I do adjust for very hilly days.  If the day's feet of climb is less than about 3000, I don't adjust daily mileage.  More than that, and I start planning shorter days.  I subtract about ten miles off the plan for every thousand over 3000.

Offline jwrushman

Re: Converting Elevation Gain, Grade to Mileage
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2016, 01:50:36 pm »
Thanks. That's the kind of quick-and-dirty advice I can use!