A friend of mine just posted something on Facebook about his gearing choice for Haute Route Pyrenees this summer, which made me think about this all-too-crucial decision once again. Back in 2013, when I thought I was The Man, I sauntered into Haute Route Alps with a compact 50/34 and an 11-25 cassette on the back. That turned out to be a drastic mistake, with me frantically clicking to find that ‘next gear’ half way through the first stage. I toughed it out the whole week though, more out of pig-headedness than any sort of rational thought.
The friend in question has bought himself a ‘sub-compact’ chainring that is 46/32 and he will stay with his 11-28 on the back. It was basically a decision between playing with his rear end or front end, I think. He will have plenty of gears to choose on the long, endless climbs of Haute Route Pyrenees this year, but I’m afraid he’ll run out on the flats (in a group) or downhills, when he wants to pedal them.
Another friend, who is doing HR for the first time, has just bought himself an 11-30, and I know there will be many there this year with 11-32s (not really a road option when I did my first one back in 2013).
I have a final friend who used to ride Haute Route with a 52/36 chainring and I think a 28 on the back. I’d be interested to know how he’s gearing these days…Rich V?
My big concern with going bigger and bigger each year on the cassette is that I’ll go slower and slower. I don’t think my cadence will miraculously increase by 10 rpm just because I have a bigger ring on the inside of my cassette. That being said, that 25 was real hell, and I very often hit that ‘cadence wall’ where I was grinding so slowly that I was losing speed exponentially (like you do when you do low cadence drills on hills). I like to think it cost me a podium place, but since I finished 124th, that’s possibly not the case.
I will stay with my tried and true 11-29 Campy set-up, unless someone can talk me into something else. I don’t feel like I’m old enough or weak enough to move ‘down a notch’ just yet. You’ll know in September sometime if I’ve made a fatal mistake once again.
If there are any Haute Route riders reading, It’d be good to know what you’ve got planned.