Archive for December, 2011
Today was my last ride for 2011, and it just so happened to take me over the 18,000 mile mark for the year. I had originally thought I was going to be short of 18,000 miles, but I noticed after my ride on Monday that I was reasonably close to try and make it there by the end of the year. Also, I had 2,134,824 ft of climbing … that’s the same elevation gain as climbing Mt Everest 73.5 times starting from sea level.
I also ended up winning the Strava climbing competition for December and for 2011.
Another amazing day of riding up here. This time I braved the snow-covered roads leaving the Telemark resort having gained confidence riding in the snow yesterday for a mile or so. It was well worth it to be in such a remote location on winding, hilly, beautiful roads and trails that pretty much paralleled the Birkie trail all the way to Hayward. If I had done the Seely fire tower climb, then I might have even crossed part of the trail. But, unfortunately, I had to turn around shortly into my ride because I had forgotten to upload the course to my Garmin. So, I turned around and headed back to meet Kristine just as she and the kids were driving out to head back to Shell Lake. Right there on the side of the Telemark entrance road, I connected my Garmin to the laptop and transferred the file. Then I set off again on what was an 83 mile, 5+ hour, mountain bike adventure.
I spent most of the morning with a good internet connection while the kids went skiing again with Kristine and Poppa Dale. I plotted out a course that would take me from Telemark back to the Cardwell house in Shell Lake over an hour away by car. The course took me onto 9 miles of untreated snow covered roads and trails behind Telemark that were just amazing and fun to ride. Spider Lake Fire Lane started out well packed from cars driving out to cabins along the road. But eventually, once I made it past the last cabin, the snow got really deep and loose since not very many cars had driven over it. Still, it was possible to go slow on the downhills with minimal fishtailing and then crush the uphills. I would imagine that my speed on some of the uphills was faster than the downhills. It’s amazing what the extra traction of a spinning tire will do. Theoretically, I suppose you could hammer the downhills and achieve the same effect but the consequences of a fall at 30+mph make me choose the more saner option of riding the rear brake gently down the hill at a comfortable 10-15mph.
For those of you who have ridden through sand, but never ridden through snow, think of packed snow the same way you would think of packed/wet sand. Loose snow, however, is just like riding through loose sand with the same fishtailing effects. The only difference is that you are expecting the fishtailing in the sand, but not on the snow when it has been hard packed and suddenly transitions to loose or when you lose the car track you were following. Also, turning on the snow is tricky. On one downhill, I was running out of room for the turn and ended up all the way on the side of the road – but it was pretty heavily banked and I ended up sliding through the turn with my wheel still pointed off to the side. This got to me to a straighter section where I could straighten out the wheel.
I only had one bike problem on the ride, when I couldn’t shift back into the big chainring. I spent a few minutes about an hour into my ride trying to figure out what was wrong and eventually just cranked the inside limiting screw until it would shift back up and that worked for the rest of the ride although I had quite a bit of chain rub on the front derailleur so that was a little annoying to have to put up with for four hours.
Here’s the ride map and interactive data from Strava -
And here is the super hi-res topocreator map -
Finally, enjoy the pics and Garmin screenshots that I took on the ride –
Wisconsin Divide, a set on Flickr.
We had an inch and a half of new snow last night so today’s ride was again on the mountain bike. The snow is perfect depth and texture for good riding as I discovered today since the road to the ski resort was completely covered all the way back out to Co Rd M. In northern Wisconsin, all the county roads get treated with salt and plowed on a regular basis so they remain relatively snow and ice free even with temps in the teens. Today I was riding through puddles and wet roads on Co Rd M and Co Rd D even with the temperature hovering around 20 degF.
The ride highlight for the day was on Co Rd D where I unexpected came across this large sign indicating the Great Divide of Northern Wisconsin. On the other side of the divide, was a long downhill. The internet connection here at the hotel is really spotty so I am waiting to upload the ride to see if it was an actual categorized climb. If you are ever wondering what I think about on long bike rides, I spent about 10 minutes of the climb working out in my head the vertical gain needed over a particular distance for it to count as a Strava Cat 4. I think to hit the 3% threshold, you need 158.4 feet of climbing per mile – I worked this out in my head making for a good distraction as I was trying to push the pace realizing that it was probably going to be pretty dark by the time I made it back to the lodge.
I pushed the pace really hard over the top of the climb and all the way back across Co Rd D to Co Rd M. I hit M just after sunset with about 12 miles left to get back to the lodge. With a cloudy, overcast sky it was already pretty dark. I could see fine even without a light, but I had to rely on my bright green neon vest for visibility. I got passed by about five or six cars on the mostly deserted road, but the last car was a local sheriff who put on his lights and told me to get in the truck that I couldn’t be out without a light. He was very nice and gave me a ride the last 3 miles back to the lodge. I apologized profusely for riding without a light as I had expected to be back well before sunset but had gotten delayed on my ride.
All in all, it was a great ride, and the pics at the top of this post are the ones I took along the way.
Yesterday, I did a shorter ride out/back on Co Rd M and also snapped a few pictures. Here they are on flickr enjoy!
Co Rd M – Mountain Bike, a set on Flickr.
I left Birmingham, Alabama yesterday at 6:30AM and a little over 32 hours later we arrived at the Telemark ski resort in Cable, WI. To get here from Alabama involved an epic 123 mile bike ride and over 1000 miles of driving. Kristine started about 6 hours behind me in the car and caught up to me just south of Faulkville, AL north of Cullman. I started out doing a normal climbing route through Rocky Ridge, Vestavia Hills, Homewood, and Birmingham before merging in Gate City with the route that I had tried out last week on my way up to Smoke Rise.
This time I wanted to try out more climbs on the same ridge as Smoke Rise and Skyball so I diverted my route near Kimberly to head up through Trafford towards AL-160 and all the climbs that start on 160 and climb up the ridge. I had intended to do 4 different climbs and 4 different descents off the ridge, but on the way over on ??? rd which turned into ??? rd I was chased by numerous dogs. I decided since I was also running a bit behind to skip one of the climbs and only ended up doing Graves Gap, Co Rd 45, and Skyball.
I’ll let the pictures (and captions) tell the rest of the story. Clicking on a picture will take you to flickr where you can flip through all the pictures.
Trip to Wisconsin 2012, a set on Flickr.
Trip to Wisconsin 2012, a set on Flickr.
Diabolical double oak climbing profile. Each red box represents a climb/hill of at least 0.25 miles long and average gradient >5%. Each blue box is a downhill at least 0.25 miles long and >5% gradient.
Yesterday was the first day of the Rapha 500 challenge (ride 500km Dec 23-31). I’m hoping to knock out all of it in just four days (85 miles yesterday, 93 miles today including a KOM on the BBL ride, 30-40 miles tomorrow, and 135 miles on Monday riding from Birmingham up to a spot near the interstate in Hartselle where Kristine will pick me up for the rest of our trip up to Wisconsin). Yesterday was also the day that I picked to put in my effort on this week’s Strava KOM shootout climb – Oakdale. My friend Warren St John was back home visiting from New York, and we got in a good short climbing ride on Thursday ahead of a much longer, and more diabolical climbing ride on Friday (yesterday). Basically, I looked at the topo map and tried to direct us to wherever the contour lines were closest together (i.e., the steepest hills I could find). This was all on the way out to the Double Oak Way climb which is 3 miles long with gradients exceeding 20% in several places and maxing out at 25% in one spot. We didn’t finish the Double Oak climb, however, because some hunters or Alabama power workers were at the gate and turned us around. That’s ok, though, because it was still well over 11,000 ft of climbing packed into a difficult 85 miles.
Making the ride even harder, I did my max effort on the Oakdale KOM – 7’07” at an average heart rate of 179bpm towards the beginning of the ride. Here is my heartrate and strava-calculated power data for the climb –
Oakdale KOM heartrate, Strava calculated power, speed, and elevation Here is the link to an interactive version of the Strava data – http://app.strava.com/rides/2848502
And finally, here is the detailed topocreator map of the route.
When I was looking at the state map of Alabama that I had made using topocreator, I noticed how you can see that the Smoke Ridge climb is connected to Skyball from the Tour de Cullman. I was inspired to make maps for both my Sunday Adventure to Smoke Rise and also for the Tour de Cullman. Enjoy!
Topocreator map of the Smoke Rise route with major Alabama mountains annotated. Click the map for a medium version (2MB) or click this link for a really huge detailed version (16MB)