Saturday 'Gunks (uuugghh) Elevation (groan) Gain

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15 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

Here is the breakdown on Fred & Pete's Ride

Short Route - straight up Minnawaska
of 81 miles, 36.1 miles were uphill
Elevation gain, 7554 feet.

Long Route, Taking the Mohonk Climb
of 91.6 miles, 42.0 miles were uphill
Elevation gain, 8507 feet.

Since I took the short route, I don't know if the people taking the long route may have done some additonal climbing to the very top of Mohonk. This could add a couple of extra hundred feet.

Anonymous's picture
jeff (not verified)

According to my Polar HRM we climbed 6323 ft (that's the long route.)

Anonymous's picture
fred steinberg (not verified)
We did not climb up to Cragsmoor last Saturday

Please note- We didn't do the final climb up to Cragsmoor last Saturday, so the route will be at least 300' short of an accurate Topo measurement done from the cue sheet.

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
Close to National Geographic Topo

This total is very close to what I estimated from National Geographic Topo. At least we can say Polar and National Geographic Topo correlate; it does not mean they are correct...

Anonymous's picture
jeff (not verified)

And that would be 1640kcal.

Anonymous's picture
Chris Taeger (not verified)
Correction to Previous Elevation report

My elevation report for Saturday's ride was inaccurate, due to a curious glitch in the TopoUSA Software.

It seems that when the route went over the Newburgh Beacon Bridge, the elevaton dropped to river level e,g, sero, instead of the level of the bridge. This inserted an extra climb to bridge level for each time you cross the bridge.

So the revised data is

Short Route
of 81 miles, 36.1 miles were uphill
Elevation gain, corrected to 6759ft

Long Route
of 91.6 miles, 42.0 miles were uphill
Elevation gain, corrected to 7688 ft.

This is not the end. A different value would be shown if someone had brought an instrument to measure elelvation changes.

Also, John Z has different software, and may be based on different maps, or a different algorithm to calculate elevation. His values are less.

Anonymous's picture
Robert Gray (not verified)
TopoUSA Data

Not only does the software not account for bridges, it does not account for any man made changes to the natural topo including hill cuts, fills, viaducts, so on. I find that the climbing elevation in rides measured on my bike is about 3/4 that suggested by the software. If the software says 6000 feet it will probably measure an actual 4500 in the field. Gently rolling areas without many bridges such as Long Island are closer measured in the field to the software.

Anonymous's picture
Törless (not verified)

Sounds great! Would you mind posting the route (or letting me know where it can be found)?

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)

What a climbfest!! My rule of thumb for what qualifies minimally as lots of climbing is 1 mile of ascent for every 100 miles of riding. This ride tops that, eh!

How many calories did you burn??

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
My Analysis

My first inclination was that the data posted by Chris T was a bit high, even after his correction. No fault of his meticulous calculation, rather due to the algorithm used by Delorme Topo USA. I traced the 90 mile route using National Geographic Topo and came up with around 6500 vertical feet, over 1000 vertical feet less than what Chris calculated. I tend to favor the National Geographic Topo numbers. The weekend before last I rode a very hilly 93 mile ride that my S-710 altimeter calculated to be about 8500 vertical feet, which also closely matched what was calculated by National Geographic Topo. This was a tough ride, much tougher than what I remember the Gunks ride to be, so I don’t believe that the Gunks ride comes to within 1000 vertical feet of my brutal climb-fest that is approximately the same distance.

Does anyone have actuals from the ride? This would solve the question. Chris T and I are also examining some possibilities as to why the two software tools provide such different results. My initial feelings point to Delorme Topo USA’s algorithm using longer vector paths than National Geographic Topo.

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)
Another Gunk ride

Back on 7/12 Timothy McCarthy and I did one of Fred's Gunk rides; Poughkeepsie/ New Paltz/ Mtn Rd/Mohonk/ Oregon Trail/ Vista Maria from Walker Valley to Craigsmoor/ Minnewaska/ Poughkeepsie. My S 710 said 6960'. And it felt like it too...And we did it on steel frames...

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
A bit more


I think the ride you are refering to is a bit more than Saturday's Gunks ride, and it would be an interesting reference point. Do you have the exact route? You and Timothy having steel framed bikes certainly insured your reliable return home...

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
At whatever elevation... was one blissfully bucolic day of riding! Thanks Fred and Peter for this happy end-of-summer memory!

The statistics would be interesting to know, but they still wouldn't tell the whole story of what the ride felt like. For instance, the climbs all seemed harder to me than last year, even though my average speed was faster. Still, having learned from experience, I remembered to enjoy the scenery more often, tackle the hills steadily, and not arrive too late to enjoy lunch with the group. And I was once again very glad to have brought a lightweight jacket for the frigid diner and the Metro North return.

There were also a number of enthusiastic new riders this year--a good sign for the future.

Anonymous's picture
al stern (not verified)
Elevation gain

Based on my altimiter, the feet gained was approximately 6,203 feet. Does this sound plausible?

Anonymous's picture
Chris Taeger (not verified)
What does the data tell us now?

I want to thank everyone for contributing to this thread.

1. My software estimate of elevation is 21.6% and 23.9% GREATER than Jeff Wilson and Al Stern's recorded data respectively. This is close to Robert Gray's 25% discrepancy claim.

2. I am curious what the gradients are on the Polar 710's elevation monitor (and the other elevation device). My Avocet Altimeter (which needs repair) measures in 10 foot increments. Now, that might be the lowest measurement possible - if I go up and down within 10 feet, I may not register an increase, yet in fact I will have a culmalative elevation gain. So, there could be a culmative undereporting of elevation gain based on measuring devices.

This is classic problem in engineering -- Measuring devices have a certain degree of error in them. Over short distances these are not an issue. Over long distances, they are of a critical nature -- ask any civil engineer building a long bridge!

3. Robert's note that bridges, cuts, viaducts must affect the measurement. This favors the on route measuring devices of the bike rider.

4. I wish John had published his route data -- it would have been good to compare to reported data. There was little difference between the two software packages for bona fide climbs, e.g. Mohonk, Route 52 out of Ellenville.
The descrepancies were more pronounced on flatter sections, particularly from Walker Valley back to Newburgh.

5. I didn't do the ride last year, but in answer to Carol's observation, it was VERY humid on Saturday. That may account for difference in experience. But she also went faster, so maybe she worked harder = felt harder.

6. No matter what the numbers, It was a beautiful ride, but a tough one!

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
Some Answers


1) and 2) While your software was off, National Geographic data was consistent with other data sets. I believe my comment about vector paths is correct. DeLorme must use longer vector paths than National Geographic. Regarding altimeter readings, I wish there was data presented other than Polar, but its does seem that Polar and National Geographic correlate. As for the specific algorithm, I am uncertain.

3) This could be a factor, especially over deep ravine or river valleys. I just profiled the GWB on National Ge0graphic and got 300 vertical feet of climbing for the span, obviously not the case. Interesting side note: the bridge's west side is 100 vertical feet higher than the east side. Ever wonder how riding east->west on the GWB is harder than west->east? You have three things working against you: 1) You are generally heading into prevailing winds; 2) You actually have an elevation gain of 100 feet; 3) At least on the south side, you are heading against traffic, which is pushing a wall of head wind against you.

4) Somewhat addressed in number 1 above. As a test, I did a straight segmented line profile of Seven Lakes using National Geographic (instead of freehand routing tracing) and found the elevation profile to be significantly higher, as expected.

5) I was not on the ride.

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