Is it Cycle-logical??!!.....or Observations in Two Years of Riding Uphill

Dale Campbell, Bent Fork Chronicles Co-Editor

To document the mysteries of riding at an elevation of 6,000 feet above MSL (that's Mean Sea Level for those of you who have never had the occasion to look at a costal chart or have been away from the costal shore lines for so long that the anagram escapes you), I have compiled a list of observations that relate to the road, mountain and road/mountain bike rides that I have had the pleasure to enjoy. If you figure out the answers to some of the questions I have raised, please let me know. I think you will be solving some of the greatest questions of all time (or at least the great questions of my mind).

  •  When you are riding in a group on one of the road rides, do you think of drafting as "sucking tire" or do you think of riding this close as someone "Developing Interpersonal Relationships"?
  • If you are doing a closed loop ride in Colorado (that is ending up at the same point from which you started), why does it seem that 75% of the ride is uphill and only 10% of the ride is downhill??
  • Why does it seem that after riding an 8% grade uphill, when it reduces to a 2% grade, that you are riding on level ground? To carry this a bit further (uphill), then does the really level part seem like you are going slightly downhill, except you have to pedal?
  • Don't try to prove or disprove Newton's Laws of Gravity while you are Mountain Biking, especially at Slickrock. I have already tried it. Round objects, especially apples that are part of your lunch, tend to roll downhill, ...WAY downhill.
  • While we are on the subject of gravity, has anyone noticed that at higher elevations, it's easier to do those uphills? Supposedly, at a higher elevation, you are further from the core of the earth, and thus the attraction due to the Law of Gravity is less. Remember, the Law says the attraction between two bodies is inversely proportional to the distance between them.
  • Because of the altitude we normally ride at, if you had a little "hit" of oxygen before you attacked an uphill stretch, would it be easier to climb? Assuming that the answer is "yes," here is the design problem: If you are going to carry a small bottle of oxygen and the associated respirator on your bike, this will obviously ass extra weight. Extra weight would require an increase in the dosage of the oxygen per hill. Thus, the problem is how big does the bottle need to be for a given ride...say, 4 hours long with a 3,000 foot elevation gain (Is this the Rob and Ray Ride?). Remember, there is a weight advantage on the downhill runs.
  • The "hurricane" axiom to the above 8% grade cycle-logical problem is "Why is it that if there is a strong breeze blowing, it is always IN..YOUR..FACE?!" That is, does a tailwind really exist or is this just a myth of the old west?
  • Speaking of Slickrock, if it's called slick rock, why do the tires grip so well, and why does the skin abrade so quickly when coming in contact with this "slick stuff"?
  • And then there is the case of numerology... as it relates to flat tires. Why does it seem for any given ride that flat tires never occur OR come in multiples greater than one?
  • Then there's the daylight consideration. It seems like there is never enough time to enjoy the delightful weather and blue skies that we have here in Colorado. Specifically, why can't the days be longer in the Fall so that some of us can ride the Leadville Triangle [a.k.a. Copper Triangle] and not run out of daylight before completing the ride?
  • And, just where are the printed rules for the proper care and use of energy bars at high elevations?

So, to start off my third year [now my 19th year] of cycling the highways and (mountain bike) byways here in Colorado, in retrospect, it seems that the answers to the above mysteries are not really necessary to enjoying the scenery of the state. Rather, it's the pleasure of sharing a ride (and sometimes later the photographs) with a good group of friends and fellow riders who I suspect think it's all just cycle-logical!

25th Anniversary Issue - Vol 4 Issue 5, 1 October 2011

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