Archive for November, 2011

Thankful for mostly traffic free roads

An annual tradition for me for the past three years (including this year) has been to incorporate some of the more busy roads around Birmingham into a Thanksgiving morning ride since there is relatively little traffic out on the roads on this holiday. This year I hit all four US highways that run through Birmingham (31, 11, 78, and 280) as part of a ride that climbed nearly 8000′ in just over 56 miles.

Topocreator ride map with lots of annotations Download huge version (4MB) here – http://toonecycling.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/tday11map.jpg

Ride elevation profile

Looking northeast along the Red Mountain ridge line towards Ruffner Mountain

UAB and Birmingham-Southern

Downtown Birmingham – annotated Carraway Hospital closed in 2008 – http://www.al.com/news/birminghamnews/metro.ssf?/base/news/122457692457320.xml&coll=2

Standing at the base of the lookout fire tower.

Steep switchback on the way back down from the lookout fire tower.

The last part of the climb up to the top of Vestavia Dr. A tornado leveled the trees here in April 2000, the trees that were planted have started to grow back (scroll down to the bottom of the church history page, righthand column to read about the tornado).

View looking northwest from Vestavia Dr towards Samford

View looking north towards Homewood from Vestavia Dr

Descent off of Hwy 31 – looking towards Oak Mountain, Indian Crest, Little Valley Mountain

Complete interactive ride data on Strava: http://app.strava.com/rides/2444715

November 24, 2011 at 9:51 pm 2 comments

Mount Cheaha Revisited 4.25x

Awesome ride today doing hill repeats out on Mount Cheaha. I managed to climb it 4.25 times (yes I turned around about a quarter of the way up to restart the climb from state highway 49 when I was not happy with how the climb was going … just a number of random things interrupting the climb that made me say “enough” let’s go try this again since it was a first ascent for me from Lake Henry on Hwy 49). Yes, with the climb from Lake Henry, I think that means I have climbed Cheaha from every conceivable direction except for the mountain bike trail. This has been an unusual year in that I have had the opportunity to ride out at Cheaha at least 3 times this year including one ride from Birmingham.

About the Strava climbing competition, this ride today gives me even greater respect for the guys out in California who do most of their climbing on longer climbs like this one. It took me almost 5 and a half hours and a lot more effort to climb the same amount that I could do in under 4 hours on the smaller climbs and rollers around Birmingham. You just never get a chance to rest on these long climbs! Give me a 500′ rolling monster with pitches of 20+% any day over a 7% climb that just goes on and on forever. Still, it’s always fun to change things up a bit with long climbs like today on Cheaha and last weekend on Clingman’s Dome and the Blue Ridge Parkway. My personal preference for now is the smaller, steeper stuff because the descents are faster and more frequent.

View of a cloud covered Mount Cheaha from Cheaha Lake about 1200 vertical feet below the summit.

Nearing the top on the first time up the Cheaha climb — the longest version of the climb from below Camp Mac with an elevation difference of about 1800′ and total climbing exceeding 2500′.

The lookout tower on top of Mount Cheaha – the highest point in the state of Alabama – trying to peak out through the clouds.

Switchbacks climbing out of the Lake Chinnabee canyon.

The view looking southwest down the ridge line, plus a view of the road climbing up from the western side.

My bike after the ride … not looking so good after my accident on Wednesday (check out the right handlebar tape and the seat).

Finally, here is a link to the interactive data on Strava as well as a gallery of all the pictures I took on the ride. Hover over each picture for a caption. http://app.strava.com/rides/2402474

November 21, 2011 at 1:47 am 2 comments

Anatomy of a rainy crash

Branch segment that took me down on my commute into work.

Well, I almost made it through the rest of the year without crashing after my spill at the end of the Sandy Springs crit in May. Today, though, I hit the branch that is shown in the picture above. I never saw it because it was mixed in with a bunch of leaves on the ground. When I hit the branch, my wheels slid out immediately left and me and the bike went sliding on our right sides. It was not “slide friendly” pavement. Look at the damage to the handlebar tape and handlebar. Now imagine that same damage on my arm, hip, and hands. Or at least that’s what I thought I was going to find … instead I have some bad road rash in just a few isolated spots on my arm, hip, and hands. But enough to make it a challenge to type and to be dripping blood from those spots. I may have done something to my hip, though. Right now I am just hoping that I only damaged the muscles and tendons on the outside and inside of my hip.

As soon as I hit the branch and went flying along the ground with my bike, I had enough time to think as I was sliding along the ground for 8 SECONDS. My thoughts went something like this:

  • What did I hit?
  • I’m ok, that didn’t hurt too bad, I can still make it into school
  • Oh no, this is a really long slide
  • Oh crap, this is not good pavement to be sliding on
  • When am I going to stop?
  • Class is cancelled
  • I can’t ride home

It’s amazing what all had to come together for me to crash. There was a bad storm system moving in, so I left for work early and was planning on going through Bluff Park. But as I got near Lorna Rd, the clouds were getting darker and the rain was starting to get heavier, so I decided to turn around and take the more direct Vestavia route into school. Still, as annotated in the map, I was planning on taking the Vestavia Forest route since I had plenty of time this morning to add on the extra mile. Unfortunately, I missed the Hwy 31 light and I wasn’t going to wait for it so I turned around and was planning on taking my normal route up Badham – Willoughby – Garland – Wickford. But when I got to the Willoughby intersection, I decided that I didn’t want to do the extra steep climb in the middle and opted to stay straight on Badham since it is a more gradual climb. So this put me onto a section of Badham that I normally do on my way home from work. But on that route home, I normally turn at the intersection where today I went straight. It was just past this intersection on a stretch of road that I hardly ever ride where I hit the branch hidden amongst the leaves on the road.

Anatomy of a wet bike crash

Here’s the link to the data on Strava … you click and zoom in on the section of the crash to see the 8 second slide. http://app.strava.com/rides/2349857

I stood up and was feeling some pain in my hip and a lot of pain from the road rash on my hands so I just started yelling “help” because I was hoping somebody would come out from their house and offer me a ride home or at least so I could borrow a phone to call home for Kristine to come pick me up. I stood there yelling for a minute or two and nobody came out. I walked back up the street and found the branch which was the only thing in the road that I could see that would have caused such a sudden jolt and crash. I stuck it in my backpack and tried to figure out what to do. By this point after falling, I had calmed down enough and had assessed the various pains enough to realized that I could probably ride home because I could still move everything and nothing appeared to be broken on my bike. I got on and started riding just as the storm really hit. It was a thunderstorm downpour all the way back to my house.

I was just inspired to see what I had written up about previous crashes … check them out here:

http://toonecycling.wordpress.com/tag/crash/

And a couple of accidents back to back in the summer of 2006:

http://www.toonesalive.com/blog/family/?p=244
http://www.toonesalive.com/blog/family/?p=232 (hit and run)

November 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm 1 comment

Gatlinburg Climbing

I had a computer conference all day Friday, but I was determined to make the most of my time up here in the mountains of Gatlinburg. Friday morning I was up by 5:15 and out the door by 5:30 exploring the super steep climbs in and around Gatlinburg. I went down one road that was easily a 20+% descent for a quarter mile or more. Also, I did the Cherokee Orchard descent which is really crazy (but fun) in the dark. The one-way scenic road is barely wide enough for a car to fit through and it twists and turns around trees, numerous creek crossings, amazing dropoffs and thankfully no bears.

Today I headed out for a super long ride. I left early at about 6:30 to beat the traffic out of Gatlinburg heading to the Smoky Mountain National Park. I was trying to set the KOM on the Clingman’s Dome climb, but came up a few minutes short. Still it was the first chance this year to do a long threshold effort instead of the shorter efforts on the short climbs around Birmingham. I was able to finally get power data for a good hard climb, never too steep, and I was happy with my effort even if it did end up a few minutes short. The temperature difference between the shaded north side of the pass and the exposed south side was amazing – 23 degF was the coldest I saw. Even with the cold, I had to shed layers all the way up the climb. At the top, it was very, very windy with a steady 30+mph wind howling from the west. By the time I had snapped a few pictures and eaten a powerbar, I was freezing so that motivated me to push it really hard on the descent down towards Cherokee.

The Ocanaluftee visitors center at the entrance to the Smoky Mountains National Park is really cool. There is a GIANT raised-relief map that covers all the way from Knoxville to Asheville and is laid out on a table that is at least ten feet long. There is also a convenient water fountain outside. I left the center and turned onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, which was a really cool climb. Towards the bottom of the climb, you would be riding along and see deep gouges in the road. Looking up, towering above you would be a cliff with either a fresh landslide or an omninous overhang. This stretch of the ride was the most rural. After 18 miles, I had made it to Waterrock Knob and climbed as high as the paved sidewalk went.

After the long descent back to 441, I was faced with one more climb – back up to Newfound Gap before a long descent back into Gatlinburg. This climb start out very gradually but then gets steeper the farther you go up the climb. I hit 100 miles and 15,000 ft of climbing near the top of the climb before the long descent back into Gatlinburg. What I had anticipated was going to be about 110 miles and 6 hours was actually 117 miles and 8 hours, 15 minutes long!

Here is the data from the ride and pictures that I took:




Screen Shot 2011-11-13 at 9.02.55 AM

Gatlinburg 2011, a set on Flickr.

Pics from my 117 mile ride on 441 and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

LET YOUR MOUSE HOVER OVER EACH PICTURE FOR A DETAILED CAPTION!

November 13, 2011 at 10:25 am 12 comments

End of the season maps

Lots of fun maps from the season. All of these maps cover routes between November 1, 2010 and October 30, 2011.

Quick summary-
Flying: 3,900 mi.
Driving: 17,300 mi.
Biking: 17,600 mi.
Total: 38,800 mi.

Zoomed in view of the Birmingham routes – Hoover, Vestavia, Homewood

Biking near Birmingham

Biking in Alabama from Birmingham north and eastwards

All bike routes (racing, training, and commuting) for the year

Biking (racing, training, and commuting) all over the southeast

Biking (racing, training, and commuting) all over the midwest

Biking in Nicaragua for our June 2011 Nuevas Esperanzas board meeting

All of our driving to/from races and/or family vacation spots
Lots of fun maps from the season. All of these maps are for one year (November 1, 2010 – October 30, 2011). 38,824 miles consisting of 3,940 miles flying, 17,314 miles driving, and

Roundtrip flight from Chicago to Nicaragua in June 2011

Everything all on one map – annotated

Screenshot of my website (topocreator.com) for creating these types of maps.

November 6, 2011 at 1:34 am 2 comments

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Final score, our first win in a long time was a blowout! The bats finally came around tonight. Josiah just cleared the bases with a triple! Josiah hitting a line drive straight to the 2nd baseman.

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Brian Toone

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Quick reference stats

Anaerobic Threshold:
Power:315 watts
Heart rate:180 bpm
Maximums:
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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