Three Speed Adventure April: The climb challenge

Loaded bicycle leaned up against roadside stating "8% grade". Bucolic landscape in background, road going down a hill, trees in distance.
During my tour of Wisconsin in May 2015, I rode a loaded touring three speed up a few hills with 7 to 8% grades!

Hello all! So far, I’ve seen the successful completion of the “Climb” challenge by two people: Happy Little Three Speed Bicycle and 3 Speed Seattle. Happy Little Three Speed brought up some points about the challenge, so I just wanted to address them.

Let me just review what the Challenge is: A climb of 5% or more grade, with a cumulative elevation gain of at least 100 feet (30 m). 

I wrote up this particular challenge because there’s the idea that we three speeders don’t like climbing hills. While there’s truth to that, esp. since the lowest gear one can safely get with a three speed is in the high 30’s.* But three speeds can climb! You just can’t spin like on a touring bike. I figured that 5% is the starting point of what many people think is a “real hill” and 100 feet of elevation gain is enough to feel it.

I also realize that it’s not easy for people in flatter areas to find one hill with 100 feet of elevation gain, so I amended the challenge thusly: If you can’t find a hill with that much gain, you can stitch together two or more hills in a single ride with at least 5% or more grade, or just go up and down the same hill until you hit 100 cumulative feet.”

So the plan breaks down like this:

  • Plan A: Find a hill with at least 100 feet of elevation gain, with a grade of 5% or more.
  • Plan B: If that doesn’t work, stitch two or more hills of 5% or more grade on a ride, so long as the cumulative elevation gain is 100 feet or greater
  • Plan C: If A and B don’t work, find a hill of 5% or more grade, and go up (and down) it until you hit 100 feet of cumulative elevation gain.

So I’m giving you a few ways you can successfully complete this challenge. Please remember that this challenge must be done during a single ride, you cannot add up cumulative elevation gains from multiple rides.

But yes, you can combine this challenge with another challenge! If this challenge happens during a 15 mile (or more) ride, you’ve just knocked off two of them! Make tea at the top? Three. Was there a half-mile of unpaved in there? Four! Was this all on the way to the campground for the night? Grand slam!!!!!

Alright folks, you still have about 2/3’s of April to finish. Have questions about the Challenges? Please get in touch! 

And below is photos from 3 Speed Seattle’s Climbing Challenge.

*Yes, I know people have achieved lower. But I’d be scared of destroying the hub below the recommended 2:1 ratio. And I’m not a lightweight person, so it’s probably safer for lighter folks.