Climb Categories

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    May 19, 2008 2:58 PM GMT
    I've poked around on the internet trying to find criteria by which "categories" are assigned to climbs in road bike racing. Can't seem to find anything explicit.

    There was a pro race last week that covered my normal lunch-time ride, so I now know that those are category 3 and 4 climbs. Still curious about the big climb on my Saturday route though.

    Does anybody know where to find the rules?
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    May 19, 2008 5:55 PM GMT
    Just about every sport has a governing body. If the paperwork/ads for the recent race doesn't give it, go to the race organizers, and they should be able to give you a web site or address.
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    May 19, 2008 6:55 PM GMT
    This is difficult to answer as there really is no set standard, that any race organizer uses. For instance in the TdF the same climb from year to year could have a different catagorization based on length of stage, where the climb is in the stage (at the end bump it up a cat) and how many climbs preceded the particular climb. Also some climbs even though seemingly steeper and longer than another climb in the same race, maybe catagorized lower (easier) again due to placement in the race.

    The FIETS ( index is about the best toward standardizing and applying a formula based on length, steepness and altitude. It places emphasis on steepness. See also

    If you provided the hill climb, perhaps more info could be given. It normally would be done by comparing to other hillclimbs.

    A couple years ago Velonews had an article about the TdF climbs and the way race organizers set the catagories. A quick search revealed this: from

    From Velo NewsClimbs in the Tour are classified in five somewhat arbitrary categories:
    CAT. 4 Usually less than 3km in length, an easy pitch that amounts to no more than a sustained rise in the road
    CAT. 3 Slightly harder, up to 5km in length
    CAT. 2 Between 5km and 10km, and steeper than a 4-percent grade
    CAT. 1 Long and steep. Between 10km and 20km, and steeper than a 5-percent grade.
    HORS CATEGORIE (HC) or above category. The longest, steepest mountain climbs. Extremely difficult climbs, sometimes 15km to 20km, with grades exceeding 10 percent.

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    May 22, 2008 4:00 PM GMT
    Hmm... thanks. I guess I'll have to wait for a race to go over the ridge in question, and see how they rate it. I think the organizers of this race must be using a different scale. Their "category 3" is a steady 5% grade for about 5 km and "cat 4" is more of a sawtooth profile that varies from 2% to 10% (with a couple of sharp descents) for about 8 km. The route I'm wondering about is overall 7% / 10 km
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    May 22, 2008 4:22 PM GMT
    I just got a Garmin Edge 305. It's a bike computer with built in GPS. it doesn't have maps, so you can't see what street you're on, but it does draw a line. The best thing is when you get home, you can plug it into the computer, and it will show the whole route on a map, plus altitude, speed, heart rate, cadence, etc.... Plus you can see where on the course it happened. "I hit max heart rate of ??? at the top of that hill after climbing ??? feet over ?? miles." The 305 can record every piece of data, every second for 3 1/2 hours. or it will do a smart record for longer rides, and they say the rechargeable battery will last 12 hours.
    Plus you can set up the display on the unit how you want, so you can see gradient, and altitude as your ride.

    I got the 305, with the wireless cadence/speed sensor and heart rate monitor for about $250. You can also get without the extra sensors for cheaper.
    There is also the 205 which doesn't support the sensors, and doesn't have an altimeter (just uses GPS,the 305 has a barometric alt. which is supposed to be more accurate)
    You can just mount it to the handle bars turn it on and go, no hooking anything up. as long as it sees the sky, you're good to go.
    They also have a couple of other models with color screens and maps, but they're in the $400-500 range.

    I'm on a Mac and the software that comes with it is ok, but I've discovered Ascent which is pretty cool. With that, you can select part of the course, and all the numbers are there.
    Plus all of the software can do totals, so you can see on your calendar how many miles per week/month you do.
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    May 22, 2008 4:36 PM GMT
    Sounds like a cool toy. I haven't even bothered to put batteries in my (simple) cycle "computer" for three or four years now. As long as I keep doing the same few rides, I kinda tell how I'm doing by what gear I'm in.

    One more sensor that would be kind of useful is wind-speed. For example, this week, we are having sustained 20 - 30 mph winds. Makes it a totally different ride than on a calm day. Fortunately, riding back up the last climb toward home, the wind is at my back.
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    May 22, 2008 8:02 PM GMT
    mindgarden saidSounds like a cool toy.

    Pretty much.
    I've just gotten in to cycling. So it helps me know how I'm doing, plus the cadence is good till i get familiar with what different speeds feel like.

    Ironically i moved into Manhattan from Jersey, and now i have a bike path right by my house. Where i was in Jersey was really urban, and nowhere to safely ride without sucking down exhaust, unless i drove somewhere first.
    Now that I'm in Manhattan, The NYC greenway is 1/2 mile from my house. It goes almost all the way around the island, mostly separate from auto traffic, and spends a great deal along the water front.
  • Roadcyclist

    Posts: 35

    Jun 07, 2008 1:59 AM GMT
    ChrisY covered it.. now in 4 weeks watch the Tour de France and you'll see it all