Two-wheel torture tailored to order
Wellington cyclists punished by the region’s hills can now find out which climbs are the toughest, thanks to an endurance coach’s calculations.
Gerrard Smith has spent the last three months cycling many of Wellington’s hills in a bid to chart the gradients, lengths and distances of the climbs that make cyclists suffer most.
Mr Smith, who runs a personal coaching business for endurance athletes, said he decided to map the region’s mountainous routes because they were a vital part of training for cyclists and triathletes.
‘‘When it comes to preparing for an event you want to be able to simulate the terrain that you will be riding on as much as possible,’’ he said.
‘‘You can do a race rehearsal and know that if there’s a particularly big hill at a point in the course then try and do the same when you’re riding around Wellington.’’
Mr Smith collected the data using a power meter attached to his bike, before calculating the gradients by dividing the vertical increase by the horizontal distance of the climb.
Local cyclist Andrew Mackay said the list was a good resource.
‘‘It would be awesome to know the gradients in Wellington that you can ride up and compare it to the Tour de France,’’ he said.
The trek up Broadmeadows has the highest average gradient, but Mr Smith considers Old Porirua Rd in Ngaio Wellington’s toughest climb.
It is 1.3km in length, with 134 metres of vertical climbing at an average gradient of 10.7 per cent. However, one part of Mangaroa Hill Rd in Upper Hutt has a gradient that reaches 20.5 per cent.
It does not quite match the Tour de France’s famed Alpe d’Huez (13.8km with a vertical climb of 1120 metres and average gradient of 8 per cent), but Mr Mackay said he found Old Porirua Rd to be ‘‘a good one’’.
‘‘It’s really steep – I wouldn’t want to do that one too often.’’
Fellow cyclist Lee Evans said that, based on his experiences riding the hill, he agreed with that sentiment.
‘‘It’s not a hill that I’d recom- mend to anybody.’’
The routes Mr Smith has ridden and recorded are the most common climbs in the Wellington region.
The list is available on his website, MrSmiths.co.nz.
Tough climb: Local cyclists Andrew Mackay, left, and Lee Evans tackling one of Wellington’s many hills. PHOTO: KRIS SHANNON