2018 Hills

A few years back a gal on the forum was concerned with how steep the hills would be that year. I couldn’t tell her very well at that time, but I have recently found a tool that helps. It’s called “Ride with GPS at http://www.ridewithgps.com. This program can be used to plot a course. This will show distance, feet of climb and an elevation chart. I have been using this for a while, but just found a button on the bottom left that says grade. Clicking this shows the grade at any point of the ride. I was really excited at first, but then realized that it is not as accurate as I had thought. For example I have just done a 125 mile ride in California that showed a hill with an 8% grade for about half a mile. When I got there my Garmin said it was 10% for nearly a mile. On another ride, Ride with GPS said there was a 3% grade where it was actually flat. So, it would be best to test it on a ride you know.

I have plotted the days of Ragbrai 2018 and thought I would give you highlights of what I found. There are certainly more hills than I mention, but these are the steepest of the day. This is what I got from Ride with GPS, so with my example in mind I believe they are a little steeper.

Day 1 6.3 at mile 13, and another at mile 37.
Day 2 3.9 at mile 2
Day 3 5.0 at mile 35, and 6.9 at mile 44
Day 4 3.7 at mile 53, and the same at mile 57
Day 5 3.6 at mile 25, 4.2 at mile 60, and 4.0 at mile 102 Obviously with the Karras loop
Day 6 3.6 at mile 5, and at mile 37
Day 7 4.0 at mile 48, and 4.9 at mile 56

Many of you will scoff at a 3.6% grade. I point these out because if they are proportionally as accurate as my example, then a 3.6 would really be 4.5%. A four percent grade is about where I have to start working on my recumbent. In any case, these are the steepest of the day. Doesn’t look anything like the hill in Ottumwa. Certainly no Potter’s Hill this year.

Of course we can’t forget about what the weather will do to us! May the tailwinds be with you!

21 Replies

Roy Trent, March 31, 2018 at 6:32 pm

I also use multiple routing apps/programs to know what’s coming on the ride. It helps me pace myself and make sure I’m taking in enough calories/liquids for what lies ahead. I really do not want to bonk on day 3 and struggle to recover over the remaining days. Last year was our first Ragbrai and my wife & I were well trained for the miles and the few hills. Even the last couple of days with a few hills were still very enjoyable. By knowing the routes and pacing myself I even did Mt Hosmer at the end of the last day. Mentally, it is so much more relaxing to know what is coming and knowing you are prepared.
We live in central Ohio and have to seek out hills to train, but it is worth it to be ready for the continuous rollers of Iowa.

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DenBiker, April 4, 2018 at 6:39 pm

I know it is not Potters but the climb out of Ledges SP caught my attention. Using Google Earth I just mapped a 648 foot long segment that has a 91 foot gain. That calculates to just a bit over 14% for a couple of football fields. For those who are familiar with TOMRV’s “the wall” this one is a couple of degrees steeper – well off my fun index!

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Michrider !!!, April 5, 2018 at 5:47 am

I know it is not Potters but the climb out of Ledges SP caught my attention. Using Google Earth I just mapped a 648 foot long segment that has a 91 foot gain. That calculates to just a bit over 14% for a couple of football fields. For those who are familiar with TOMRV’s “the wall” this one is a couple of degrees steeper – well off my fun index!

Walkers, please stay to the right!!!

BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!

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LawnchairMan, April 7, 2018 at 11:34 am

Hey DenBiker,

It looks like you are correct about the hill in Ledges Park. Again using Ride with GPS, I plotted just the Ledges area and it showed an 11.4% grade. 14% is not out of line with the accuracy I have found. The other hills I brushed off may be steeper too. I will have to give this ride more respect.

By the way, some 40 years ago I used to ride from Ames to Ledges and back. I remember a tough climb getting back out of the park. I had heard, though, that part of the park was going to be flooded or changed about the time I left. Did that ever happen?

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John, April 7, 2018 at 3:19 pm

On day three, the Sacred Heart climb out of the Des Moines River valley into Boone will certainly wake up your legs if they aren’t already.

But that Ledges climb looks like a doozy, about a quarter of a mile really steep climb, including three or four short sections of almost 17% according to our friends at Strava.

The thing is that, other than those two hills, it looks like a relatively flat day for Iowa. Just the normal rollers.

I need to get out to Boone to do some recon rides — and also this year’s gravel loop — that is if the weather here in Iowa would ever warm up (snow yesterday and forecast again for tomorrow). :-/

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tang hao, April 8, 2018 at 4:35 am

Thanks for the link and the confirmation of mile 13. I suspect it will be closer to 7.5%, but remember there are three kinds of people in this world: those who can count and those who can’t.

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