When can a ride up a hill be called a climb, and when is calling a hill a climb just showing off a little?
Cyclists have a tendency to refer to hills as climbs. The word ‘climb’ appears much more epic than ‘hill’, elevating (no pun intended) an everyday ascent into something that sounds worthy of a place in a Tour de France stage. Is it the gradient or the length of a route that determines if it is a ‘climb’. Maybe its the combination of the two, that an experienced cyclist feels in their limbs and heart rate, and instinctively knows when it’s an appropriate title.
Surprisingly The Velominati Rules do not advise on this matter. I cannot find any rule that says you cannot call the lowest of inclines a climb. Rule #68 explains that rides are to be measured by the quality of their distance and never distance alone. For climbing rides, distances should be referred to by the amount of vertical covered. For example declaring ‘we rode 4km’ would assert that 4000m were climbed. However the keepers of the rules do not advise how much vertical covered can be called a climb.
I believe that any elevation gained on a bicycle on a route that has the word, Alp, Alpe, Mont, Mount or similar proceeding the name can safely be called a climb. There’s also a good chance that if you reach a Col, you’ve done a decent climb too.
Perhaps climbs can be identified by switch-backs, the gradient may be relatively low, but the route may gradually traverse up a mountain-side, it would then be the distance that determines if the word ‘climb’ can be respectfully used. However this rule is not foolproof, there are plenty of little hills with a bend in them, that do not deserve such a lofty description.
I’m beginning to think that its something to do with attitude and effort, if you genuinely attack a hill of any description and give it all you’ve got, you can call it a ‘climb’.
To be revisited.