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July 20, 2013

An Invitation to Cyclists

Those of you who watched Christophe Riblon's thrilling win of stage 18 of the Tour de France will have been impressed at the power it takes to pedal up those mountains.  On that stage, there were 6 climbs as follows:


  • Km 13.0 - Col de Manse 6.6 kilometre-long climb at 6.2% - category 2
  • Km 45.0 - Rampe du Motty 2.4 kilometre-long climb at 8% - category 3
  • Km 95.0 - Col d'Ornon (1 371 m) 5.1 kilometre-long climb at 6.7% - category 2
  • Km 122.5 - Alpe d'Huez 1 12.3 kilometre-long climb at 8.4% - category H
  • Km 131.5 - Col de Sarenne 3 kilometre-long climb at 7.8% - category 2
  • Km 172.5 - Alpe d'Huez 2 13.8 kilometre-long climb at 8.1% - category H


There is a very complicated formula for determining the category.  3 is harder than 2 and H (Hors Categorie - beyond categorization) is the hardest of all.  You can just picture Pascal throwing up his hands at trying to figure the math. Mais c'est impossible!

The standard for wheelchair ramps is 1 unit of rise for 12 units of run.  1 in 12 is 8.33%.  Only the first ascent of Alpe d'Huez is rated harder than the ramp at Park Lane.  Heartbreak Hill in the Boston Marathon is a mere bump at 4.5%

In a published study of curb cuts in Halifax*, Lee Kirby found just 43.6% of the 78 cuts measured were 1 in 12 or better.  By my reckoning, that means 56.4% are Hors Categorie.  Maybe Halifax would be a good training venue for the Tour de France.

Wheelchair users and moms with stroller don't use any wimpy mechanical tricks like derailleurs.  They make the ascent by main force.

Let's have some respect!

*Wheelchair accessibility: Descriptive survey of curb ramps in an urban area
Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, January 2009; 4(1): 17–23

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