In my blog’s list of search terms, yesterday I had “Is a 2.4% gradient hard?”. Having spent the last few days riding around the edges of the North Yorkshire Moors, I can categorically answer, no, a 2.4% gradient is not hard. It’s the gradient of a draggy stretch of road, a false flat. A headwind might make it a chore, but a with a tailwind you probably won’t even notice it is there.
5 to 10% makes for a nice climb, you know you’re going up, but with a judicious choice of gears, you can sit down and ride it at your own pace. Go harder if you prefer, if that Strava KOM means that much, as at this gradient you still dictate the terms.
Over 10% and the climb definitely becomes challenging. To a limited degree, stronger climbers may still dictate their pace, but many others can’t. Either way, the effort will raise a sweat.
Passing 15% and through to 20%, the gradient will be dictating the rules. This is now a tough climb, not for the weak limbed and faint of heart. The legs and lungs will be afire and the temptation to stop and walk will be great, some will give in. Be stronger than them, look for the climbs greater than 20%, they truly are the hard stuff. At those gradients every fibre hurts in its fight against gravity, pushing the pedals down, wobbling across the road to propel the bike along at something close to walking pace. You don’t get that from a 2.4% climb!