Archive for December, 2011
Wow, what a great adventure yesterday was! We had tickets for the Andrew Peterson Christmas concert “Behold the Lamb” last night at the Ryman Center in Nashville and went on a fun double date with my cousins in Nashville. I left right after my daughter sang in a trio at Lakeside in the morning church service and rode north to Smoke Rise, AL where Kristine picked me up to drive the rest of the way to Nashville in time for the concert. The drive was highlighted by a u-turn on I-65 which had been blocked from an accident and then AWESOME rally car driving with Kristine as the navigator calling out distances to turns on very narrow country roads following my GPS set on bicycle directions. After a great dinner at Demos with Richard and Christy, an AMAZING concert, and a three hour drive back to Birmingham we were home by 2AM.
Analise was singing in a trio at the 10:30 church service at Lakeside so my original plans to ride from Birmingham to Huntsville and have Kristine pick me up got shortened to riding from Birmingham to Smoke Rise – a rural community south of Cullman atop the same ridge line as the finishing climb for the Tour de Cullman. I went ahead and rode to Lakeside so that I could leave straight from there after Analise finished singing and still make it to Smoke Rise in time for Kristine to pick me up to drive the rest of the way to Nashville.
The route was amazing. Check out the annotated topocreator maps of the route below the picture gallery. Low traffic, lots of great climbing, nearly half the route on roads I have never ridden before, and some fun adventure to boot! Adventure highlights from the bike ride include:
- Exploring a neighborhood abandoned years ago after the streets were built but before any houses were built
- Getting stung by a wasp or yellow jacket on my head just above my ear
- Exploring new roads
- The cool boat landing climb up from the Warrior river
- And finally the Smoke Rise climb and descent
Probably the most adventuresome thing that happened on our drive up to Nashville was an accident that blocked the interstate causing us to do some rally car driving through the rural Tennessee countryside between exit 22 and exit 27. What I mean by rally car driving is that I set my GPS to biking directions and asked it to give us directions to the next exit, which it did by taking us on these really small, sometimes gravel roads. There were lots of sudden turns so I put the GPS on the screen which shows distances to the next turn, and Kristine counted down the distance to the next turn, which means we could drive fast without worrying about missing a turn. It was absolutely awesome because the terrain was really steep and there were a bunch of turns. I was careful though to slow down at any blind spots in case there were any cyclists, horses, people, or cars just around the corner. We saw nobody!
There’s a lot more I could say about the ride, but I’ll just leave this post with a lot of pictures. Most of these were taken while riding, which is not easy with an iphone.
So this is what BBL looks like at 20x speed (roughly 300-400mph … sometimes faster, sometimes slower depending on whether we are going uphill or downhill). This also includes my ride to/from the start of BBL. BBL itself starts at 2:15, the Sterrett attack zone starts at 8:32 and finishes at 8:52. The climb up Vandiver starts at 10:20 and the descent down the other side finishes at 10:58. Chris, Morgan, and I climb Karl Daly at 13:38 and then one of my crazy climbing routes through Irondale and Mountain Brook starts right after the Grants Mill descent at 14:10. Fun 280 section from 15:40 until 15:50, Smyer climb at 15:55, Vesclub descent at 16:40, Panorama Dr at 17:20, South Cove descent at 17:32
Scroll to minute 7:30 and watch the Altaloma descent, South Cove KOM climb (at 7:45), Panorama (at 8:06), Renfro Descent (at 8:32), and a second descent down Altaloma (at 8:42).
It all started with my teammate Nichole and her husband Paul posting the following comments on my Facebook page -
Nichole got right to work on it and did a search on Strava to download all the climbs in Birmingham along with the fastest time and number of times ridden. From that selection of climbs, Nichole and Paul narrowed it down to a nice variety of climbs of varying lengths and steepness. I put together a website using the Strava API so that all somebody has to do is copy the Strava URL for their effort on the climb to have it recorded alongside everyone else.
This week’s climb, South Cove Dr, starts less than 1 mile from my house as the crow flies, 1369.4664 meters to be exact. I’ll give it the steepest climb in Birmingham designation given that you can hit nearly 60mph on the descent (and it is only 0.2 miles long). I do know of a few climbs that have higher max gradients, but none of them sustain those max gradients for as long as South Cove sustains its max.
Two more things to emphasize how steep this climb is:
1) As I was doing a max effort on it today, I kept on pulling the front wheel off the ground slightly on every pedal stroke and had to back off on how hard I was pulling on the bars
2) This climb is 1/4th the length of the Pumphouse climb, yet climbs 30 feet higher, and would take longer than Pumphouse with similarly applied power on both climbs
3) Minimum of 385 watts not to fall over through the steepest section (see the ibike data from a ride from February earlier this year and elevation profile below) -
---------South Cove Dr Monster--------- Dist: 0.22 mi (0:02:50) Climbing: 229 ft Energy: 52.0 kJ Cals Burn: 49.7 kcal Braking: 0.0 kJ (0.0%) Min Avg Max Power 226 306.0 403 W Aero 0 10.9 17 W Rolling 5 6.3 10 W Gravity 198 291.0 385 W Speed 3.5 4.8 7.6 mi/h Elev 512 634 740 ft Slope 9.0 18.01 24.3 % Caden 31 41.3 65 rpm HR 132 158.3 165 bpm NP 309 W; IF 1.114; TSS 5.9
South Cove Dr – less than a mile from my house, this climb has the highest average gradient of the monsters.
Here is a 3D annotated view of the climb: contour intervals are 40ft
If you have ever wondered what it is like to ride on one of my commutes through Birmingham, I’ve included a map and video from my commute yesterday. I discovered that Google Earth Pro (the trial version) lets you record a 3D flyover movie of an imported GPS route. Enjoy my 1 hour 45 minute commute home condensed into a 17 minute video. Or check out the 3D annotated topocreator map below the video. You really get a sense of all the rolling hills in Mountain Brook from minute 5 until minute 12 in the video. The only Cat 3 climb on the route is at the beginning climbing Old Hwy 31 to Hwy 31 to Vestavia Dr. When the arrow is moving fast, that means I was going downhill fast. When the arrow is moving slow, that means I was climbing slowly.