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I am moving to Ojen Spain for work for 3 months and will be biking to marbella and back.

I have put the ride into mapmyride.com and it says that the ride is a cat 2.

Climb  Start    End      Length   Start Elev  End Elev  Avg Grade
Cat 2  0.00 mi  3.44 mi  3.44 mi   80 ft      1073 ft   5.5%
Cat 5  4.34 mi  4.95 mi   .61 mi  920 ft      1034 ft   3.5%

I am not a stranger to road bikes, I worked as a messenger when IU was a kid and used a bike for commuting just about every where I have ever lived. I started riding again about a month ago on a stationary going as hard as the thing will let me for an hour at a time to at least try to acclimate my legs a bit again. (can't ride in Dubai really, you will end up as a hood ornament)

How much will this climb affect me in the beginning? I know this is subjective and everyone is different. I don't expect this to be easy at first, I guess I am just wondering if this hill will absolutely destroy me in the beginning?

I am asking because it is sight unseen and I haven't ridden in probably 5 years.

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Are you planning this ride as a daily commute? If so you may need to consider things like sweat and body odor in the office. More information about the rest of the commute would be helpful too such as the total distance, whether there is downhill for the rest of the commute, etc. –  jlund3 Apr 8 '13 at 17:07
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Note that "average" grade often isn't as important as the steepest grade. You can get an average of 5.5% with a combo of 1% and 15%. –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 8 '13 at 18:21
    
You probably do need to find someplace locally where you can do a substantial climb for a quarter/half mile or so, a couple of times a week. Riding a stationary is good but nowhere like the real thing. –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 8 '13 at 18:25
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This seems to be the route in question: maps.google.com/… –  amcnabb Apr 8 '13 at 18:28
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And the Strava segment. –  Stephen Touset Apr 8 '13 at 20:01
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2 Answers

For someone who hasn't been riding much, this climb will be brutal. But you'll be surprised at how quickly you'll make progress. Even though you might fail the first time you go up, this ride seems like a great challenge.

Last year I coaxed a friend to start riding again. After a half dozen easier rides, we attempted a mountain climb similar to the ride you're describing. On his first attempt, he only made it about a mile up. On his second attempt, he made it to the top, and on the third attempt, he made it up without weaving all over the road. When you think about it, it's amazing how quickly you can rise to the challenge.

It's probably impossible to adequately prepare on a stationary bike because the feeling of a real climb is different. It will definitely help if your aerobic fitness is already pretty good, but a stationary bike can't really prepare you for the feeling that you're about to start rolling backwards even though you're pushing as hard as you can. :)

By the way, the gearing on your bike will make a big difference. If you can find a bike with a "compact double" or triple crankset, then you'll have an easier low gear available to you, which will make for a more enjoyable ride. A low gear will let you pedal at a faster rate which will avoid wearing out your knees or leg muscles.

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As the friend @amcnabb mentions, I can vouch for this story, although I would note that "coax" is probably too gentle of a verb :p That said, the feeling on that third weekend up Squaw Peak when I made it without stops was both incredible and surprisingly soon in my training. I also second the suggestion that you consider a compact gearing - my bike has a standard double and is significantly harder without a proper granny gear to keep the legs spinning... –  jlund3 Apr 8 '13 at 17:01
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Keep in mind, though, that you should adapt pretty quickly to the climb. A 5.5% grade is pretty reasonable, and not nearly as soul-crushing as something like a 9–12% grade can be. You should be able to make constant progress, even if slow, whereas steeper grades can simply be prohibitively unrideable for long distances. –  Stephen Touset Apr 8 '13 at 17:39
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It will also depend a bit on your weight. Bigger people find climbing harder. If this might be an issue then the stationary trainer may help a bit. –  JamesBradbury Apr 9 '13 at 11:48
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The difficulty of any climb will depend on its length, steepness, wind speed and wind direction, the total weight of you and your bike, and, of course, your fitness and your intended speed.

Stephen Touset has thoughtfully provided a link that shows the elevation profile for the climb. The grade appears to be relatively even rather than a series of steeper and flatter "stair steps" so with a few other assumptions we can put some bounds on how much power you would need to produce to climb from Marbella to Ojen at different speeds.

The power equation has four main parts as was described in this bicycles.stackexchange post: a part that describes the power needed to overcome rolling resistance, a part describing the power needed to overcome changes in elevation (potential energy), a part describing the power needed to overcome changes in speed (kinetic energy), a part describing the power needed to overcome aerodynamic drag. When climbing a hill, of course, the potential energy component dominates.

Using assumptions about rolling resistance, aerodynamic drag area, air density, and weight that are in the "normal" range, we can therefore make a ballpark estimate the total power needed. The estimate won't be exact but it should give you an idea of the power required. Further, I have divided total power by an estimated body weight to get "watts/kg" which is a standard way to describe an athlete's power production. Tour de France riders can maintain 6.0 watts/kg for a considerable length of time, a domestic pro racer may average 5.0 watts/kg, a very fit recreational racer may average 4 watts/kg, and a commuter riding home after a long day's work might be able to maintain 1.5 - 2.0 watts/kg. Finally, I have converted speed into the number of minutes needed to travel 5.9 miles while climbing a steady 4.8% slope. The plot below summarizes this information, with the x-axis showing the number of minutes and the y-axis showing the output in watts standardized by body mass in kg. If you can average 4 watts/kg, it will take around 25 minutes for the climb. If you average 1.5 watts/kg, it will take about an hour.

marbella to ojen, watts/kg at different time durations

As an aside, this bicycles stackexchange post shows examples of Category 2 climbs from recent Tours de France.

Here, for example, is are the categorized climbs from the 2012 Tour. At 5.9 miles (9.5 km) and 4.8%, the Marbella-Ojen climb would evidently fit right into category 2.

enter image description here

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