|Riding through the Santa Maria valley, CA.|
AS you've probably figured out by now, I love to go for long bike rides, especially in hilly terrain. Mountains? Bring 'em on. Rolling hills? Even better.
But that doesn't mean I don't pay attention to the hills. Every cyclist wants to have some idea about what's coming up, if only to be sure to have brought along enough water and food.
A common thing for cyclists to do is to check the routes before heading out, just to see how hilly the day looks to be. Or, more commonly, to choose a route that matches your abilities (and aspirations) for the day. Some days, you want to attack the hills--other days, you need to rest a bit.
That common question leads to two fairly simple route selection Challenges. In both cases, there are two obvious routes from Point A to Point B. The question is simple: Which route is flatter? (To be precise, find a route with the smallest elevation gain.)
1. Suppose I'm in the Southwest of the US and want to do a bike ride from Farmington, New Mexico, to Durango, Colorado. What route would you recommend for the least overall elevation gain between the two cities?
2. Suppose that a few months later I'm in the Southeast of France and want to ride my bike from Echirolles (France) to Oulx (Italy). What route would you recommend for the least elevation gain between these two cities?
The routes here are pretty obvious--when giving your answer, just say which roads you recommend. (For example, in NM/CO, do you recommend routes 140 and 170, or 550? I don't need turn-by-turn routes, unless you find a REALLY unusual solution.)
I'll give a hint tomorrow about how I solved these Challenges, but for today, I'll let you work on them. (And we'll chat about why there are two versions of the same problem.)
As usual, in addition to your solution, be sure to tell us your thinking--HOW did you solve the Challenge? And what deadends did you explore along the way?
For an unusual extra credit (and really optional): Why is the route from (somewhere near) Echirolles to (somewhere near) Oulx of historical interest? Who else would have deeply cared about finding the flattest path between these two locations?