Climbing to the moon
It’s spring break this week in Alabama, and so my good friend Lennie and I took our families up to Huntsville to the space and rocket center. While they were enjoying exploring all about space, Lennie and I drove on over to Keel Mountain to explore it and Green Mountain. We ended up climbing Keel Mountain 3 different ways and Green Mountain from both sides. Then I headed back up the front side of Keel one final time. The descents were awesome hitting 55mph+ on four different descents. My favorite of the day was definitely the Green Mountain west side descent which has a horizon drop-off (i.e., where you can’t see over the horizon) at >50mph. Exhilarating. It was REALLY flat though between the mountains, but it was worth it to enjoy time riding with Lennie and to explore 5 new climbs! I’ve posted the iBike data for each of the five different climbs. The last climb up Keel (Blowing Cave Rd) was by far the steepest at 26% max gradient, although the east side of Green Mountain was steeper for longer sustained sections.
KEEL MOUNTAIN NORTH SIDE (1st time up) Dist: 1.61 mi (0:13:31) Energy: 208.8 kJ Climbing: 837 ft (Strava CAT 3) Min Avg Max Power 0 257.4 527 W Gravity -22 231.0 509 W Speed 0.0 7.2 21.9 mi/h Elev 469 896 1306 ft Slope -0.3 9.71 16.8 % Caden 0 62.5 93 rpm HR 104 150.3 163 bpm NP:264W IF:0.95 TSS:20 VI:1.03 CdA: 0.342 m^2; Crr: 0.0039 168 lbs; 3/20/2012 11:36 AM 90 degF; 1012 mbar NOTES: We passed a HOUSE on the climb that was being pulled up the mountain. They got stuck in one of the switchbacks. There are two switchbacks on the climb. The descent is crazy fast - you've just got to remember when to jam on the brakes before the two switchbacks.
KEEL MOUNTAIN SOUTH SIDE Dist: 1.90 mi (0:15:27) Energy: 217.0 kJ Climbing: 855 ft (Strava CAT 3) Min Avg Max Power 0 234.1 442 W Gravity -275 205.4 419 W Speed 3.6 7.4 19.1 mi/h Elev 479 938 1332 ft Slope -4.4 8.39 22.8 % Caden 34 61.6 98 rpm HR 110 140.3 156 bpm NP:245W IF:0.88 TSS:20 VI:1.05 CdA: 0.342 m^2; Crr: 0.0039 168 lbs; 3/20/2012 12:12 PM 87 degF; 1012 mbar NOTES: This was a pretty steep climb. The 22.8% max gradient was taking a diabolical inside path on one of the switchbacks. This had a lot more twisty sections and was a generally fun climb, but tricky descent. The best part of the descent is at the top as you are coming off the mountain as the descent starts out with a switchback that makes you feel like you are diving off the top of the mountain for a free-fall.
GREEN MOUNTAIN WEST SIDE Dist: 1.15 mi (0:11:07) Energy: 169.5 kJ Climbing: 690 ft (Strava CAT 3) Min Avg Max Power 76 254.1 371 W Gravity 11 232.4 360 W Speed 4.2 6.3 16.7 mi/h Elev 462 805 1158 ft Slope 0.2 11.20 23.9 % Caden 41 56.1 96 rpm HR 120 150.8 166 bpm NP:263W IF:0.95 TSS:17 VI:1.03 CdA: 0.342 m^2; Crr: 0.0039 168 lbs; 3/20/2012 1:19 PM 92 degF; 1012 mbar NOTES: I've heard that this is one of the toughest climbs in Huntsville. It was definitely steep with some sustained 20+% gradients. At the last turn before the top there was a car that had rolled and looked like it was left there to warn people of the danger of the descent. It had police tape all over it with busted out windows. The descent was amazingly fast but kinda dangerous. The car that had rolled was in a decreasing radius turn that almost caught me off. Then you have a really fast section into a sweeping turn that you can pretty much hit without brakes leading into the fastest part of the descent. YOU HAVE TO HIT THE BRAKES HARD LEADING INTO THE LAST LEFT! I knew it and hit the brakes hard but I still almost didn't slow down enough.
GREEN MOUNTAIN EAST SIDE Dist: 1.82 mi (0:15:25) Energy: 222.7 kJ Climbing: 829 ft (Strava CAT 3) Min Avg Max Power 0 240.8 358 W Gravity -63 209.2 353 W Speed 3.9 7.1 17.3 mi/h Elev 458 853 1294 ft Slope -1.2 8.88 18.4 % Caden 5 59.8 92 rpm HR 103 148.0 164 bpm NP:253W IF:0.91 TSS:21 VI:1.05 CdA: 0.342 m^2; Crr: 0.0039 168 lbs; 3/20/2012 1:45 PM 87 degF; 1012 mbar NOTES: I had climbed this once before, and it is still really steep. It starts out with cement that has been grated at the bottom to helps cars get traction. Then it eases up a bit and rolls a bit on the way up. This may be one of the coolest descents I've done with the rollers coming at 50+mph so that you have at least one horizon drop-off.
KEEL MOUNTAIN BLOWING CAVE (STEEP!!!) Dist: 2.19 mi (0:13:30) Energy: 211.7 kJ Climbing: 756 ft (Strava CAT 3) Min Avg Max Power 89 261.4 431 W Gravity -462 206.1 461 W Speed 3.4 9.7 24.8 mi/h Elev 563 921 1326 ft Slope -6.9 6.40 26.2 % Caden 30 63.1 97 rpm HR 119 156.8 177 bpm NP:281W IF:1.01 TSS:23 VI:1.07 CdA: 0.342 m^2; Crr: 0.0039 168 lbs; 3/20/2012 2:46 PM 85 degF; 1012 mbar NOTES: This was by far the steepest climb with several sections above 20% including one 26.2% section NOT in a switchback. There is some gravel and dirt sections that are not too rough but can catch you by surprise on the descent. Still, you can get some speed on the super steep sections because they are fairly straight. Watch the dogs at the top and the bottom of the climb/descent.
KEEL MOUNTAIN NORTH SIDE (2nd time up) ---------Selection Stats--------- Dist: 1.61 mi (0:12:29) Energy: 213.6 kJ Climbing: 820 ft (Strava CAT 3) Min Avg Max Power 64 285.2 418 W Gravity -38 253.2 397 W Speed 5.4 7.8 23.0 mi/h Elev 561 976 1382 ft Slope -0.5 9.82 16.2 % Caden 51 66.6 98 rpm HR 131 169.5 179 bpm NP:288W IF:1.04 TSS:22 VI:1.01 CdA: 0.342 m^2; Crr: 0.0039 168 lbs; 3/20/2012 3:15 PM 84 degF; 1012 mbar NOTES: I wasn't going for the KOM, but I was trying to put in a good time on this and ended up 2nd behind Mark Fisher by almost a minute. That would be a tough time to beat. Kudos to him!
Keel Mountain – north side – first time up
Keel Mountain – south side
Green Mountain – east side
Green Mountain – west side
Keel Mountain – Blowing Cave Rd
Keel Mountain – north side – 2nd time up