Archive for September, 2011

Tropical Storm Lee flooding photos

Yesterday, the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee blew right through Birmingham transitioning into what our local forecaster, James Spann, called “the perfect storm” as it turned into an extratropical storm when it collided with a low pressure system just north of us. We ended up with almost 8 inches of rain and some pretty amazing winds last night. Some of the gusts were easily in the 40-50mph range given how much the wind was howling. We almost got the kids out of bed twice to take them down to the basement, but in the end decided not to since they were both sick and needed rest. This morning on my commute into Samford, I did a damage survey around the Cahaba Heights / Mountain Brook area all the way down to the Cahaba River. These are the pictures I took on my way into school. Once I got to school, however, I found the campus pretty much deserted. I found a couple people to ask what was going on, and it turns out the campus still didn’t have power (at 10:30AM) so they went ahead and cancelled classes for the rest of the day. Somewhat disappointed because I was looking forward to what I was going to cover today, I turned around to head home and took a few more pictures of the hardest hit area up on top of the mountain in Vestavia Hills where the winds must have been the strongest. Here are all the pictures from my ride into and then back home from work –

8:12AM Teton Rd – lots of pine straw leaving my neighborhood. The aroma of the day was the scent of fresh pine, and the sound of the day was generators humming.

8:16AM Janebo Ln – tree down across half the road.

8:19AM Little Shades Creek – high, but not as high or fast as yesterday during the afternoon deluge.

8:23AM Rocky Ridge Rd – Power crews working to clear lines on Rocky Ridge Rd – one of several reasons why most of Vestavia Hills was without power.

8:37AM Caldwell Mill Rd – Tree across the road in a blind curve on Caldwell Mill Road – glad the wet, slippery pine straw kept me slow heading into the curve.

8:42AM Caldwell Mill Rd – This stretch of Caldwell Mill was hit by the April 27th tornado and now there are two more trees down on the same stretch of road from the remnants of a tropical storm.

8:45AM Caldwell Mill Rd – This is one of my favorite roads to ride in heavy rain – with the 15% gradient, you feel like you are riding up the waterfall alongside the road.

8:54AM US Hwy 280 – A key traffic light was out about a mile or two closer into town from where this picture was taken, and look at the impact on traffic at nearly 9AM! This is a sequence of pictures showing an ambulance trying to make it through the mess.

9:03AM Dolly Ridge Rd – In an effort to bypass the 280 mess, the parallel local road (Cahaba River Rd) was bumper to bumper all the way down to the intersection with Acton Rd near the Colonnade. These two pictures show the mess:

I was heading to the Cahaba River (the lowest point in our part of Birmingham) to see the impact of the flooding, and it was quite dramatic.
Normally there are two channels that bypass the tree that has been growing on a tiny island in the middle of the river just below the dam. Today might mark the end of the tree as it was bending quite heavily from the force of the water. The tire you see floating here is one of the two tires that you will see in some of the following pictures although I missed seeing it go over the edge.

9:13AM Cahaba River Rd – Lots of debris including the really large tree shown getting closer in these three pictures could not escape the backflow of the water going over the dam. In fact, it was incredible the force of the backflow. As I was trying to take pictures, smaller logs would literally jump out of the water and go flying directly into the waterfall! Then they would be forced down below the water and reappear slightly downstream before getting pushed again back towards the waterfall. It was amazing to watch – I probably stood there on the cement overlook for more than 5 minutes watching.

9:19AM Cahaba River Rd – The flow of the water above the dam was deceptively slow considering the force with which it was rushing over the dam.

Check out the video we took with the kids when we were out driving around on Monday. Also, here is a picture of what the spillway looked on Monday during the heavy rains:

MONDAY 5:45PM – Altadena spillway during the heavy rains on Monday

TUESDAY 9:36AM Altadena Valley Golf Course – This spillway was quite a bit lower than yesterday.

9:37AM Altadena Valley Golf Course – The pond that the spillway empties into was dug out, expanded, and deepened quite a bit from the natural pond that was there years ago to accommodate these flood conditions. It has worked quite well because the rest of the golf course was relatively unflooded compared to previous years.

10:16AM Vestavia Falls – Vestavia Falls had also quieted down quiet a bit by the time I rode by there to take this picture.

10:18AM – It appears the higher parts of Vestavia took the brunt of the really strong winds with numerous large oak trees down. This one fell right in the middle of the three-way intersection! The second picture shows the same tree from a different angle. You can see how with all the rain, the saturated soil couldn’t hold down the heavy trees in the strong wind.

11:07AM Smyer Rd – Here is the intersection of Smyer and Shades Crest – no KOM setting on Strava today!

11:08AM Shades Crest Rd – Here is the same tree showing where it knocked out the power lines and fell across the sidewalk

11:10AM Shades Crest Rd – This was the only tree that I saw that fell on a house. It was crazy windy last night around 8PM. Twice we thought of getting the kids up and taking them to the basement even without any tornado sirens going off.

11:18AM – Lots of large trees like these two fell in yards at the top of the mountain.
11:18AM – Lots of large trees like these two fell in yards at the top of the mountain.

11:22AM – Here is a smaller tree that fell in a yard on the descent off the mountain. This picture also shows the flying pig that is positioned in various places in this yard. It is directly across the street from a huge house/huge yard that has four mountain goat statues that are positioned throughout the yard doing different things. Once, they were playing badmitton. Another time, they were hiking with backpacks on the sidewalk. Another time they were pulling an old stage coach. I finally had my camera with me to take a picture of the statues, and they were nowhere to be seen! At least the flying pig was still there.

11:25AM – Vesclub – Here is a tree down halfway across Vesclub coming out of the steep 20% curve at the bottom of one of the “steps” of the Vesclub climb.

11:50AM – Tyrol Rd – This tree was the closest large tree to our house that was down about a half mile from our house. This is just on the other side of Rocky Ridge in the South Cove Dr / Panorama neighborhood. Maybe we should have gone to the basement after all!

September 7, 2011 at 3:01 pm 1 comment

Labor Day Omnium Day 3 – Circuit Race

I took 4th place today in the final race of the labor day omnium, my highest placing ever in an NRC event, and I fell just one lap short of taking a solo win. It was an amazing experience even though it was a bit disappointing to miss the podium by one spot. Still very happy though! Here is how the race played out:

The course was the same course as the long first lap of the time trial on Friday – technical 2.6 mile course closed to traffic but wide open for a fast tactical race. With 25 laps and nearly 70 miles of racing ahead of us, I figured that we would average 25mph. As soon as the race began, however, I realized that 25mph was definitely underestimating the speed of the group as we continued to average well over 27mph lap after lap. Once the race blew up into several small groups, the average speed dropped to a final average of 26.1mph … here are the lap splits annotated -

NAME    DIST    SPEED     POWER      TIME     Comment
Lap 1   2.7 mi  25.7 mph  220 watts  0:06:25  
Lap 2   2.7 mi  27.6 mph  284 watts  0:05:57  Fast
Lap 3   2.7 mi  27.7 mph  256 watts  0:05:55  Fast
Lap 4   2.7 mi  27.5 mph  283 watts  0:06:00  Fast
Lap 5   2.7 mi  27.5 mph  284 watts  0:05:58  Fast
Lap 6   2.7 mi  27.9 mph  245 watts  0:05:53  Fast
Lap 7   2.7 mi  26.8 mph  227 watts  0:06:07  
Lap 8   2.7 mi  25.3 mph  257 watts  0:06:31  Points prime (1pt)
Lap 9   2.7 mi  24.8 mph  244 watts  0:06:36  
Lap 10  2.7 mi  26.8 mph  246 watts  0:06:06  
Lap 11  2.7 mi  26.6 mph  256 watts  0:06:10  
Lap 12  2.7 mi  22.9 mph  188 watts  0:07:09  Slow
Lap 13  2.7 mi  27.3 mph  238 watts  0:05:59  
Lap 14  2.7 mi  26.4 mph  207 watts  0:06:13  
Lap 15  2.7 mi  27.3 mph  222 watts  0:06:01  
Lap 16  2.7 mi  27.6 mph  271 watts  0:05:57  Points prime (1pt)
Lap 17  2.7 mi  26.6 mph  290 watts  0:06:09  
Lap 18  2.7 mi  26.5 mph  271 watts  0:06:13  
Lap 19  2.7 mi  27.3 mph  272 watts  0:06:00  
Lap 20  2.7 mi  25.1 mph  254 watts  0:06:32  
Lap 21  2.7 mi  24.7 mph  267 watts  0:06:39  Points prime (3pts)
Lap 22  2.7 mi  26.1 mph  306 watts  0:06:16  Solo
Lap 23  2.7 mi  25.6 mph  283 watts  0:06:25  Solo
Lap 24  2.7 mi  24.6 mph  263 watts  0:06:39  Solo
Lap 25  2.7 mi  24.6 mph  244 watts  0:06:40  Caught finished 4th

The first few laps were really fast with splits in the field and large groups rolling off the front. I made it into one of these splits with about 15 riders, but there wasn’t enough cohesion in the group to stay off the front. At this point, it’s hard to remember exactly how the final break materialized. I was riding aggressively on the points prime laps to try to get omnium points and managed to snag 3rd place on two of them good for 1 point each.

On lap 16, I was already in a break of about 12 riders when I led out the sprint for the omnium points hoping to get a jump on the faster guys. I managed to hold on for third but the sprint itself had shelled a few riders. At this point we were down to 8 riders. About midway through the next lap, a group of three including Alexey Schmidt (Team Type I), Serghei Tvetcov (Aerocat), and Demis Aleman (Jamis) rolled off the front of our break. For the next three laps, the five of us that were left – me, Oscar Clark (Realcyclist), Shane Braley (Chemstar), a Mountain Khakis rider, and Team Cocos rider worked to chase back up to the three off the front. When we finally caught them, it was back to a break of 8, but one that lacked any cohesion at all as everyone was tired and everyone had strong riders in the field and chase behind us. I didn’t want to get caught so I kept trying to push the pace and would roll off the front either by myself or once with Alexey and once with Shane. The rest of the group would always get itself organized again and work its way back up to us.

With 5 laps to go, they rang the bell for a points prime. Without any cohesion in the group, I rolled off the front again this time getting a pretty good lead. Realizing that there were three omnium points on the line, I drilled it hard to try to stay away for the points. I looked back and was shocked at the gap I had opened up. So that helped me to keep pushing harder hoping to have enough of a lead so that when the group started to chase I would be able to hold on for the points. About 3/4 of the way through the lap, I realized that I was going to get the points and that I had a big enough lead that there was a realistic chance I could win the race! I settled into as hard a rhythm as I could maintain and stayed away for the next three laps. I couldn’t even sustain 300 watts by this point in the race even with the extra motivation of a chance at winning an NRC race. So by the start of the last lap (2.6 miles from the finish), a group of 3 that had split off from the rest of the break caught up to me.

At this point, I no longer had any thoughts of winning the race, and I was still concerned about the remnants of the break or even the 1st chase group from the field catching up to us by the end so I went to the front one more time to try to keep the pace up into the rolling section. There was an attack at the bottom of the climb, then a counter-attack by Serghei at the top that saw him get away solo. A couple seconds later, Demis attacked hard up the right-hand side with Oscar and I on the far left. He immediately got the gap and closed the distance to Serghei. Oscar and I were left behind to fight it out for 3rd. In the final sprint, I tried to go early attacking on the feedzone hill but Oscar was able to hold my wheel and come around to take third with me getting 4th. Ahead of us, Demis took the win just ahead of Serghei.

Gene and the Swagger crew put on a great VIP tent with food/drinks for the riders, and the podium ceremony was in front of thousands of people gathered for an annual concert. With the 5 omnium points that I got during the race, plus the 14 points for finishing third, that was enough to move me up to 11th overall for the weekend. At the beginning of the weekend I was hoping for a top 20 in the omnium, so I was able to almost get a top 10. Great way to wrap up the NRC racing calendar. I’m excited for two more races to end the season – Pensacola in two weeks and then the Six Gap criterium and century the week after that.

Here is my power data (no heartrate this weekend, left my heartrate monitor in my office on Friday) -

Annotated power map

Annotated power / speed / elevation graph

September 5, 2011 at 12:15 pm 4 comments

Labor Day Omnium Day 2 – Anderson Criterium

Quick summary – same fast course as last year with flat start/finish, downhill into turn 1, uphill into turn 2, downhill through the back straight with steepest hill into turn 3, followed by the narrow road down into turn 4. I ended up 18th after breaking a spoke on the last lap.

The details – the race started out fast with several smaller breaks going up the road. It was hard for any break to stay away, however, because of the downhill on the backside of the course where the group would gain a lot of speed and catch any break by the top of the hill before turn 3. I made it into one or two smaller moves. Then on lap 30 with a 3 place omnium sprint up for grabs, I attacked hard coming up the hill into turn 3. I got a good gap on everyone except for Dan Holt (Team Type I) who either saw me attack and went with me or bridged across to me. Dan took the sprint with me getting 2 points for second. With omnium points for the finish only awarded 15 places deep, I was happy to make sure that I came away with at least some omnium points for the weekend. We had a pretty good gap and tried to roll it on the next lap, but I wasn’t able to help Dan much and so the field caught us by the end of the lap. A few laps later, Cesar Grajales (Realcyclist) and Thomas Brown (Mountain Khakis) slipped off the front of the field and quickly extended their lead as the field hesitated to see who would lead the chase. The two-man break built up a lead they kept until the end with Thomas Brown taking the sprint ahead of Cesar. Meanwhile, back in the field, I started working my way back towards the front of the group with 3 laps to go. I made it somewhere into the top 20 by the start of the last lap when I hit a crack in the road and broke a spoke on my front wheel. I heard it pop, but the wheel was still solid enough to race so I hung on to the back of the front group and passed a couple of the leadout guys coming backwards to finish 18th. Ahead, Frank Travesio (Realcylist) took the field sprint for 3rd.

Here are my lap splits from the race:

NAME    DIST    SPEED     POWER      TIME     Comment
Lap 1   0.7 mi  24.6 mph  288 watts  0:01:42
Lap 2   0.7 mi  26.7 mph  274 watts  0:01:34
Lap 3   0.7 mi  27.6 mph  277 watts  0:01:31
Lap 4   0.7 mi  27.6 mph  285 watts  0:01:31
Lap 5   0.7 mi  28.5 mph  303 watts  0:01:28
Lap 6   0.7 mi  28.5 mph  273 watts  0:01:28
Lap 7   0.7 mi  25.9 mph  269 watts  0:01:37
Lap 8   0.7 mi  28.5 mph  283 watts  0:01:28
Lap 9   0.7 mi  26.4 mph  250 watts  0:01:35
Lap 10  0.7 mi  27.3 mph  253 watts  0:01:32
Lap 11  0.7 mi  28.9 mph  277 watts  0:01:27
Lap 12  0.7 mi  26.2 mph  284 watts  0:01:36
Lap 13  0.7 mi  28.5 mph  284 watts  0:01:28
Lap 14  0.7 mi  26.4 mph  268 watts  0:01:35
Lap 15  0.7 mi  28.5 mph  277 watts  0:01:28
Lap 16  0.7 mi  28.9 mph  323 watts  0:01:27
Lap 17  0.7 mi  27.0 mph  241 watts  0:01:33
Lap 18  0.7 mi  26.7 mph  274 watts  0:01:34
Lap 19  0.7 mi  28.9 mph  292 watts  0:01:27
Lap 20  0.7 mi  25.9 mph  275 watts  0:01:37
Lap 21  0.7 mi  25.4 mph  214 watts  0:01:39
Lap 22  0.7 mi  25.1 mph  220 watts  0:01:40
Lap 23  0.7 mi  28.9 mph  270 watts  0:01:27
Lap 24  0.7 mi  27.9 mph  252 watts  0:01:30
Lap 25  0.7 mi  27.6 mph  250 watts  0:01:31
Lap 26  0.7 mi  25.9 mph  244 watts  0:01:37
Lap 27  0.7 mi  25.9 mph  281 watts  0:01:37
Lap 28  0.7 mi  27.9 mph  263 watts  0:01:30
Lap 29  0.7 mi  25.4 mph  257 watts  0:01:39
Lap 30  0.7 mi  29.2 mph  408 watts  0:01:26  Prime (2 pts)
Lap 31  0.7 mi  26.7 mph  254 watts  0:01:34
Lap 32  0.7 mi  23.7 mph  220 watts  0:01:46
Lap 33  0.7 mi  26.2 mph  212 watts  0:01:36
Lap 34  0.7 mi  27.6 mph  282 watts  0:01:31
Lap 35  0.7 mi  26.2 mph  216 watts  0:01:36
Lap 36  0.7 mi  25.4 mph  220 watts  0:01:39
Lap 37  0.7 mi  27.3 mph  267 watts  0:01:32
Lap 38  0.7 mi  27.9 mph  275 watts  0:01:30
Lap 39  0.7 mi  27.0 mph  234 watts  0:01:33
Lap 40  0.7 mi  24.9 mph  198 watts  0:01:41
Lap 41  0.7 mi  25.6 mph  261 watts  0:01:38
Lap 42  0.7 mi  27.3 mph  286 watts  0:01:32
Lap 43  0.7 mi  26.2 mph  244 watts  0:01:36
Lap 44  0.7 mi  26.7 mph  279 watts  0:01:34
Lap 45  0.7 mi  28.2 mph  308 watts  0:01:29
Lap 46  0.7 mi  28.5 mph  311 watts  0:01:28
Lap 47  0.7 mi  31.4 mph  416 watts  0:01:20

Here is the annotated power plot and power map:

Annotated power / speed / elevation plot

Annotated power map

September 5, 2011 at 11:56 am Leave a comment

Labor Day Omnium Day 1 – Time Trial

I am really starting to like time trials. This was a fun technical course with lots of small rollers. The start was at the bottom of the steepest hill so I may have gone out a little too hard averaging 650watts from the start to the top of the hill, but dropping to 500 watts for the first 30 seconds having to coast into and around the first sharp turn over the top of the hill. I didn’t feel like I was going too hard, but I struggled keeping the power up on the downhill and sharp turn averaging 351watts and 304watts for the next two 30 second intervals. Then on the rolling part of the course, I feel like I lost some time trying to find the best gear to be in to ramp it up on the downhills and maintain speed over the uphills. To summarize, I ended up averaging 351 watts for 9’45” for the 4.5 mile course. That’s compared to 363 watts average for 8’30” on a 4 mile course last week at River Gorge. My time was good enough for 27th out of 55 registered starters (top half in an NRC time trial!!!)

Anderson Civic Center Time Trial Power Map annotated

Labor Day Omnium Time Trial – power graph

I left my heartrate monitor strap at work from my morning commute (Kristine picked me up at Samford) – so no heartrate data this weekend :-( On the plus side, it was really nice to race without having to fool with wearing a heartrate monitor strap and still have all the meaningful data from the power meter during the race.

September 3, 2011 at 11:08 am Leave a comment

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Josiah and me motoring it over to the grocery store and back. Still clear today... looking east from bluff park out towards double oak and signal mountain. Humidity is down, super clear this evening.

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September 2011
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Quick reference stats

Anaerobic Threshold:
Power:315 watts
Heart rate:180 bpm
Power:1097 watts (5s)
Heart rate:198 bpm (5s)
AT power estimated by critical power curve in Golden Cheetah, which predicts I should be able to maintain 315 watts for 1 hour.

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