Archive for March, 2012
After yesterday’s long climbs in Huntsville, today was a different style of climbing – numerous short, steep climbs. Check out the iBike gradient graph:
Numerous climbs – click to enlarge and count the changes in gradient from up to down and then post in the comments how many “hills” there are. I don’t have time to count but I would guess 100-200 hills instead of maybe 20-30 hills yesterday?
Also, I was inspired while riding through Mountain Brook to post some pictures of the beautiful spring flowers. I didn’t have my camera with me – so I’ll have to post a few of the pics from my parent’s house this past Sunday. Imagine riding past house after house with all different kinds of blooming flowers – particularly azaleas, dogwoods, and bradford pears. It was an interesting contrast to yesterday’s ride in Huntsville, which went through some really rural countryside where instead of the tended flowers, you get wildflowers in the fields and beautiful dogwood trees blooming underneath all the really tall pine and hardwood trees in the woods. Two contrasting climbing rides, two contrasting spring flower explosions, two fun adventures.
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
Well, this makes two weeks in a row of two flats on Sunday. Last week, two flats might have cost me a podium at Rouge Roubaix. This week, I had two flats on the way to church, but just like last week where thanks to a quick change from the motorcycle wheel support, it all worked out just fine. Today’s ride started out really great with the typical Skyland – Dolly Ridge – Caldwell Mill climbing. I was looking for a hillier way to get over to Hugh Daniel and ended up discovering a really cool climb up onto (literally) the Healthsouth Corporate Headquarters helicopter landing pad. Very cool! Then on the fun, fast, twisty descent out the backside of Healthsouth, I pinch flatted on a drainage cover at the back gate. I thought I would practice a quick change, and I thought everything went well, but I flatted again about 5 miles later just before the top of the Hugh Daniel – Greystone Crest climb. The flat was on both sides of the valve stem so it looks like I might not have had the tube in straight after the first flat. I didn’t have any more tubes, but I did have a patch kit. It turns out that my original flat was a snake bite in one location and a small gash in another location. Two patches later I was able to pump up the original tube that had flatted first and continue on to church. Thankfully, I made it because after church the tire was completely flat again. So I just caught a ride over to grandma’s house with Kristine, and we had a nice afternoon together as a family. I’ll definitely take that any day of the week – flat or no flat!
When we got home, I tried to get a picture of the whole near the valve stem when a chipmunk wandered into the view finder literally a foot or so away from me. Then as I was trying to take a picture of the chipmunk eating some nuts, a beautiful female cardinal landed right behind the chipmunk. A little while later another bird landed but I couldn’t get a good picture of it. Here are the pics:
Annotated view of the Big Momma (West Oxmoor Rd) climb
Fun, hard ride today. I didn’t have any particular goal in mind other than steady tempo climbing for most of the ride and a KOM attempt on the West Oxmoor Rd climb (Big Momma). Big Momma is a moderately steep climb that starts out really steep and then gradually gets shallower and shallower as you get closer to the top. I’ve tried at least once to take back this KOM and fell far short. Today, I wanted to give it another go. Along the way I did a lot of steady climbing over in Mountain Brook and Irondale.
Then, as I headed over to Red Mountain I started to get antsy (sp?) to go hard. I hit Woodcrest kinda hard and then as I got closer to the top I felt really good so I drilled it. Crossing over the Red Mountain ridge at the top, I took the Warwick Dr neighborhood cut-through to descend back down towards Five Points South, but I missed a light and turned early onto 12th (I think) and climbed back up the ridge again before heading all the way back down the ridge again into UAB campus. This felt a bit like what I would imagine most of the Tour of Flanders would feel like – climbing up cobbled steep roads and turning around at the top to descend down before turning around at the bottom to climb back up the same ridge line on a different cobbled road. Check out the topocreator map and elevation profile below.
The main difference being that instead of cobblestones in downtown Birmingham, you just get sections of really crappy pavement with potholes, bumps, and rough pavement mixed in with whatever random section of road has been repaved recently and is perfectly smooth. I went hard from UAB all the way up the Red Mountain Water Tower climb – around one of the closed gates (hello cyclocross) and ended up setting the KOM on that climb as well. I’ve updated the annotations on the panoramic picture of Red Mountain that I have posted on a previous ride.
Finally, it was time to head down Valley Avenue over to West Oxmoor and do the climb. By the bottom of the climb I had already climbed almost 8500 ft and set two KOMs, but I was still feeling good when I hit the climb. I started out way too hard and struggled at the top but it was enough to take the KOM. Afterwards I stopped by a Starbucks to get some water after it turns out that the Hoover Burger King has replaced its nice soda fountain with easy access cold water with one of those silly fancy “Mix your own drink” coke machine. I had run out of water just before the Big Momma KOM so I had been out for a little while. The iced cold water from Starbucks though was perfect. I headed back up Shades Mountain through Bluff Park at a much easier pace and ended up running out of water 20 miles later close to home. Hot, hard, fun ride!
Here’s a link to all the interactive data on Strava: http://app.strava.com/rides/5334767
Two more things to add to this year’s Rouge Roubaix race report: annotated heartrate data and topocreator maps (2D and 3D). Check them out below!
Heart rate zone summary