Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Cheesehead Roubaix Elevation Question

Going into last Sunday’s Cheesehead Roubaix, I would have liked to give the riders some idea of how much climbing they would face. But I didn’t have that information. I thought of the route—I still think of the route—as mostly flat. I also thought that actually riding the route would settle the issue. With so much GPS data at our disposal, surely we would have enough consistency in our numbers.

Not quite. I collected my own data, plus readings from the GPS devices of nine other riders. The range was disappointingly large:


Let’s throw out the highest number. It comes from a rider who took a small detour from the published route. And let’s throw out the two lowest numbers, including my 1,099, as they are so different from the others that they are very unlikely to be accurate. The average of the remaining readings is 2,309.

Here’s where marketing comes into play. When I promote Cheesehead Roubaix next year—assuming no course changes—I can say it has more than 2,000 feet of climbing or about 2,300 feet of climbing. That’s accurate enough in that context, though I’d really like a hard answer.

But even if I had an irrefutable number from the US Geological Survey, it still wouldn’t settle the question of whether Cheesehead Roubaix is “flat.” I’m the guy who thinks Lovers Lane is beautiful, so clearly beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think that goes for flat vs. hilly too.

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