Kyoto’s Nasty 21% City-Bike Hill Climb
This Hill is Not Steep It's Nasty Steep photo by Manseki Kanemitsu -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/1250 sec, f/3.5, ISO 560 — map & image datanearby photos
This Hill is Not Steep
It's Nasty Steep
photo by Manseki Kanemitsu

距離125mで高度上昇26m、21%の坂を頑張りました。

I went out for a long bike in the mountains of northern Kyoto on Saturday, and after 120km (75mi) of tough ups and pleasant downs with friends (that I'll write about separately: here and here), I made an attempt at a hill so steep that its name on Strava is Nasty.

It's so steep that they have a mirror over the road, pointing down, so that folks coming from below can see whether the road is clear up over the lip.

Car Heading Down note the mirror facing down -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/4000 sec, f/2.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Car Heading Down
note the mirror facing down

The hill rises about 26m over a distance of 125m (85' over 410'), which puts the overall steepness at 21%, which is exactly what Kyoto City labels the road at. That's about the same slope from the ground to the top of a 6-story building over the course of a football field.

I was tired after eight hours of hard riding, but had heard about this hill the other day and wanted to try it. Manseki kindly used my camera to snap some shots.

I'm Down There Somewhere -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/1250 sec, f/3.5, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
I'm Down There Somewhere
Chugging Up -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/1250 sec, f/3.5, ISO 360 — map & image datanearby photos
Chugging Up
the sliver of smooth surface that's not a death trap for bicycles
Grinding It Out -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/1250 sec, f/3.5, ISO 1400 — map & image datanearby photos
Grinding It Out
I Survived -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/1600 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
I Survived

It took me 51 seconds.

I had to make a new segment on Strava (here) because the one that was already there is way off from reality, putting the ending point well beyond the end of the hill instead of at the end of the hill, so after you're done with the climb, unless you move an unnaturally-far distance from the end of the hill before stopping to recover your breath, the stop is counted in your climb time. Just stupid and sloppy.

Lots of segments in Strava are like this because people who create them are sloppy, and Strava doesn't give any way to provide feedback or to even see who made it. So I have to end up making new (carefully-measured, seemingly-redundant) segments. But Strava also doesn't give any way to describe a segment beyond the title, so these carefully-measured segments aren't presented as such to folks who come across them, so perhaps they get lost in the slew of crap.


UPDATE: The new segment as seen at Strava is not without its problems. An easy road almost parallels the difficult climb, and they're close enough that Strava counts the easy passage as an attempt at the difficult climb, so you see ridiculously-unrealistic times for the climb, such as 7 seconds.

As of Sep 2015, the fastest actual climb is this 29-second effort that Strava lists as #57. It should be #1. Second place should be this 30-second effort, and third should be my own 33-second effort (quite an improvement over my 51-second first try!).

But even within the limited world of Strava data, the above rankings are an approximation because true efforts are hidden for folks who happened to have ridden the parallel road some other time. Each person can appear in the rankings only once, so, for example, this incorrectly ascribed 16-second ride by one of Kyoto's fastest riders hides any time he made on the actual climb. It's quite likely this guy has done the actual climb in 25 seconds, but to find out we'd have to dig through his hundreds of Strava activities to look.

Strava could easily fix this by allowing people to remove a specific segment from their ride, but they have shown no interest in providing useful features like this.


All 5 comments so far, oldest first...

Congrats!!

Mike
(BC, Canada)

— comment by Mike Nelson Pedde on May 25th, 2015 at 10:50am JST (2 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

The mirror on top of the road is priceless! Never seen that before…

— comment by Damien on May 26th, 2015 at 10:41am JST (2 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Looking much better, Mr. Friedl.

That hill looks insane, but not nearly as insane as some of those awful outfits you were wearing in the previous posts. This one looks much better. And all your hard work is paying off. Its really cool to see you take advantage of your local adventures. Its so easy to take for granted the neat things you can do in your corner of the world. Your recent posts are challenging and also inspiring. I love seeing you and your partners in crime taking advantage of Kyoto almost as if you were visiting for only one month. My inlaws are coming to visit us in the New York area late this summer so I’m in full local tour guide mode. Maybe I should dust off my low-end Raleigh hybrid bike and start touring the wilds of Northern New Jersey.

— comment by Ron Evans on May 26th, 2015 at 11:22am JST (2 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Oh also, one more thing: ‘I’m Down There Somewhere’ & ‘Car Heading Down’ Manseki did a good job of capturing the steepness. These shots are worth analyzing. It may be as simple as NOT being in a ropeway car… but I genuinely get a good sense of the ‘evilness’ of that hill in both of those shots. I think the mountain really helps in ‘Car heading Down’ and the small size of an easily recognizable cyclist (you) immediately sets the perspective. Frustratingly, very few ropeway car photos give you that weak in the joints feeling. These come pretty close. Nicely done.

— comment by Ron Evans on May 26th, 2015 at 11:28am JST (2 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

The next time you find yourself in Portland: http://rondepdx.com/

A 31% slope!!??!??!? —Jeffrey

— comment by Bill on May 28th, 2015 at 7:21am JST (2 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink
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