I originally thought like this until I took a vacation with the Detroit AYH in Vermont. After one day of knee cracking, lung searing 4 mile climbs, I stopped in a local shop and purchased a Suntour VXGT and a 32 tooth freewheel and benched my Super Record and 24 toother. And I was much lighter and in better shape then. Pride is great, but not when you have to walk up half the hills.
These days, on the wrong side of 40 and 220 lbs, I prefer to have the fleet set up so I can ride them anywhere, anytime. Just about all my bikes feature seriously wimpy climbing gears.
Of course this is a perfect excuse to acquire another bike and set it up as a triple for hilly rides, and leave your "classic"s as is. Find a vintage Italian early 60's frame with longer chainstays and relaxed angles, add a smattering of parts box magic, and voila! Instant hill machine. A 30 tooth granny with a 26 tooth rear is good mojo here in the river valley hills of Kansas City.
Tom Adams, Kansas City.
I just got back from a one week trip to Tennessee. I spent the week whitewater rafting, biking on a rented mountain bike, and driving my race preped Miata through the 11 mile, 380 blind curve, famed Deal's Gap in North Carolina's Great Smokey Mountain range (what fun). I will be relocating my entire life away from tired old South Florida to somewhere different, to try something new after 15 years. I want it all, beautiful training rides on my classic race bike, kayaking, top down fun in my sports car and a job that's at least as good as my present one. One thought comes to mind....... I thought my skill on hills was good in that when I lived in San Francisco I handled them on my bike with nothing less than a 42/24 gearing. In San Diego I felt I needed no more either. What happens when one moves to mountainous Tennessee, with its monster hill climbs? I am so proud of my present set up on my Raleigh with a rear 13-20 (7 cog) and front 52-42, all Suntour Superbe Pro. Is it even right to put a 13-28 rear freewheel on a classic race bike? What did vintage racers use for this type of application years ago? To be honest after some miles on a rented bike, I actually found myself enjoying the ridiculous granny gear that came on the mountain bike. (Maybe it was 24 front 28 rear - who knows- I barely looked at the thing except to note that it was absurd, but I almost shifted into the most absurd granny gear at the end of my two hour ride through the hills.) Garth