Archive for May, 2012
Today was another highlight day as I had the opportunity to drive down to Tucson and climb Mt Lemmon. I knew that I had no shot at getting the KOM on the short version of the climb after riding 104.5 miles yesterday and setting a new 25 minute power record taking the South Mountain KOM along the way. So I used Strava’s Explore feature to find a longer version of the climb that went all the way to the very top of the mountain. I figured that I had a shot at it if I just stayed steady at about 250 watts – well below my threshold power.
I felt surprisingly good at the bottom, though, and managed to average 273 watts for the first 7 miles of the climb before the average started to drop – particularly into a headwind 2 mile section of the climb towards windy point. It was dropping about a watt every mile as I struggled to maintain 250 watts. Then somewhere between milepost 15 and 16 up a steady part of the climb, I was looking at my wattage and it was down to 97 watts. I knew that I was still pushing about the same effort, but I also knew I was starting to struggle so I pushed much harder to try to get it back up to 250 watts. But the highest I could get it to was something like 175 watts. Then I realized that something must be wrong with my power meter. I’m hoping it is just a dead battery. This was very demotivating for me as I was relying a lot on the power average to push myself to keep that average higher – but the average started dropping quite rapidly with my current power output hovering around 100 watts eventually dropping to zero watts. So for the last 1200 feet of the first section of the climb and for the entire last section up Ski Valley to the high point, I just kept the elevation screen on and watched the dot get closer to the high point. I tried to use PRE to put out the same power, but I’m sure I had dropped below 250 watts by this time. It was enough, though, as I was able to set three KOMs on the climb – the full monte, and two shorter climbs at the end.
I was not in good shape by the top. I started late in the day (9:48AM) for this ride and had 18 miles of a gradual climb to reach the Catalina Highway where the official climb starts. I had two full bottles and a quarter of another bottle at the bottom – but I was completely out by the top. I did the last steep bit from the Irondoor Restaurant to the top with nothing to drink. Thankfully it was kinda cold at the top with temps in the upper 60s / lower 70s by the top and a steady wind blowing. Cold and very thirsty I asked one person to take my picture and then immediately headed back to the Irondoor Restaurant to refill water and get something to eat. I had only brought $10 with me so all I could afford was coke ($3) and cornbread/honey ($4.50). It was all I needed though as I drank several glasses of coke and doused the cornbread with nearly half a bottle of honey.
I stopped a couple times on the descent to get pictures, but by this point I really wanted to be done riding. I tried to push the pace on the descent but struggled to maintain 30mph on the flatter section and 40mph on the steeper sections. My max speed was 46mph – a little disappointing considering I regularly hit 50+mph on the steep descents in Birmingham. I kept the temperature screen open on my garmin and watched it rise through the 80s all the way to 101.2 by the start of the bikepath along the Rillito River. Fortunately, there was at least a little bit of shade on the bikepath and the temp on my Garmin dropped down to 98 by the end.
Here is a gallery of all the pictures I took … two of them were on the way up the climb while riding and trying to push 250 watts (the cactus picture towards the bottom of the climb and the rock outcropping next to the road)
Thursday, Day 4 – sunset adventure with Josiah
After a fun hobo dinner over the campfire, Josiah and I set out on a sunset adventure. We took the new trail I found to the Bright Angel lodge and then connected with Hermit Rd, which is open only to shuttles and cyclists. I pushed Josiah up the big opening hill before we took a gatorade break at the first overlook point. Then we continued on eventually making it to Maricopa point, which is closed to cyclists. BUT, as we started walking our bikes along the trail, we realized there was nobody there! So we hopped back on and rode the paved trail all the way out to the lookout point where we got the picture and video below:
Josiah showing the view looking west … note we were able to ride to the edge of the canyon because Maricopa was empty!
Friday, Day 5 – worst ride ever – Grand Canyon to Flagstaff
The views were great, but there was a lot of traffic, and the wind was horrendous. 20+mph steady headwind with gusts up to 50mph. Once I finally made it to Valle, I was hoping for a cross-tailwind, but instead it was just a nasty knock your front wheel sideways crosswind. As the road climbed gradually towards the San Francisco peaks, the wind got increasingly worse. Eventually, going across the Kendrick Park meadow, the wind was sustained at 30-40mph with gusts probably in the 60mph range. It is easily the worst wind I have ever ridden in. The only redeeming part of the ride is that after about a mile or two of descending from the high pt of 8046′, the road had bent enough to give me a tailwind. So I had a fast downhill with tailwind to end the ride. I made it to the Snowbowl climb turnoff ahead of Kristine, so after waiting a few minutes I headed up the climb even though I was tired and out of food. Shortly after starting the climb, Kristine drove up so I gladly called it a day – I had had enough of the wind. The views were great – see these pics from Hermit Rd in the grand canyon and much later in the ride approaching the San Francisco peaks.
View looking west from Hopi Pt at the start of my ride
The San Francisco peaks outside of flagstaff
Saturday, Day 6 – exploring Mummy Mountain and Camelback Mountain in Phoenix
We drove down to Phoenix later in the day on Friday arriving while everyone was at the rehearsal dinner for the wedding. The next morning Josiah and I went for an hour long ride exploring the very cool canal trail and tunnels while Kristine did a 5K running race with her cousin, Kimberly. When they got back, my uncle Jim helped guide me through the canal tunnel system over towards Camelback Mountain and Mummy Mountain where I tried to find every way possible to get high up on the mountains. There were many mansions built into the side of the hill with super long, steep driveways but they were all gated-off private property. Still, the roads leading to the driveway were really fun with several steep sections.
Approaching Camelback Mountain from the west – praying monk on the left
Approaching the “castle” climb on Camelback Mountain
Sunday, Day 7 – South Mountain KOM and North Mountain KOM attempt – 104.5 miles
The ride down Central Ave to South Mountain was relatively easy with a bike lane for most of the way. The route when straight through downtown Phoenix, which was deserted on a Sunday morning. Most of the lights could be timed so that I think I only had to wait at one or two lights. This road takes you directly into the climb. The Strava segment that I had looked at was the one that started at the restrooms so when I passed a parking area that looked like it had restrooms, I drilled it. I was trying to maintain 350 watt average, but after about 5 minutes of this, my average started to slowly come down until I ended up with a time of 24’27” and a 324 watt average. I saw a sign at the entrance that said “Silent Sunday, no motor vehicles” which probably explains why there were hundreds of other cyclists climbing the mountain. It was motivating for me to always have people up ahead to chase. On the way back down, I explored all the side roads and lookouts enjoying the amazing views.
Right to left – Camelback Mountain, Mummy Mountain, Squaw Peak, North Mountain, Thunderbird, Deem Hills
View of the summit climb on South Mountain from the San Juan side road
Later in the afternoon I headed out to meet Uncle Bruce at the Deem Hills park to go mountain biking. Along the way I climbed North Mountain to see if I could set the KOM on it the same day that I set one on South Mountain. Unfortunately, the climb was far too steep and technical and it was all I could do to make it to the top without putting my foot down – ended up third on the KOM. To give you an idea of how steep part of the climb was – there was one stretch of the descent where I was leaned all the way back off the back of the saddle because I felt like I was going to tip over the handlebars if I hit the brakes too hard or hit a rock. Here are a couple pics of North Mountain:
I continued on up towards Deem Hills and met Uncle Bruce for some awesome desert singletrack riding. We started out by climbing from the parking lot up to the top of one of the northern peak. The climb was pretty steep in parts – particularly in the tight switchbacks. I was able to ride a couple of the switchbacks but had to walk one or two of the others. The trails were rocky in spots, but not overly technical. You could have fun on both the climb and the downhill. Perhaps the thing that stood out the most, though, was all the different kinds of cactus and cholla with the trails clearly visible on the sides of the hills. After we finished riding, Bruce directed me on a much better route that involved a small climb up Thunderbird canyon followed by some very cool canal trails all the way back to 7th avenue.
Finally, here is a gallery of some other pics that I took while riding. They are mostly in chronological order with pictures from the sunset with Josiah first and my rides yesterday last – except for some reason the mountain bike pictures in the afternoon are before the road ride pics from the morning.
Day 1 – Birmingham to Mt Magazine – 450 miles
We arrived an hour or so before sunset after driving well over 400 miles from Birmingham. The kids were excited to go for a bike ride around the state park loop to go see the sunset at Cameron Bluffs – found cool trail connecting the campground to the overlook. Analise was really brave to ride her bike down a 15% grassy slope. Josiah felt it was quicker just to hop off and run down the slope with his bike. Beautiful sunset (see timer picture below). We had a nice dinner at the lodge and a good night’s sleep waking up to an absolutely amazing sunrise overlooking the valley 2000 feet below. Here is my favorite picture from Mt Magazine:
Day 2 – Mt Magazine 2x plus drive to Bernalillo, NM – 830 miles
Rolling descent down to Paris – zero traffic, turn around in Paris – rolling climb back up, realize running out of time so pick up the pace before the top. Zip back down the other side to the low point before Havana … turn around do just below AT effort on the long climb back up. Very cool climb, short hiking trail at slow speed up to the true summit – cat 1 climb. Lunch at the lodge – 830 mile drive to Bernalillo – arrive at 12:30AM, asleep by 1AM
Day 3 – Sandia Crest plus drive to Grand Canyon – 425 miles
I picked Bernalillo so I could be close to the Sandia Crest climb. The climb started out as beautiful pavement, but then I saw a sign fairly early on that says “unimproved road ahead, local traffic only”. The pavement was great, though, with cool pueblo neighborhoods and fantastic view of the Sandia Crest peak and all the rocky outcroppings for several miles of the climb so I didn’t think much of it – thought maybe it was an old sign … didn’t believe it.
Then I saw another sign that says road closed for winter proceed at own risk. Shortly after that sign the beautiful pavement transitioned into a rocky, dirt road sometimes steep, basically a rouge roubaix style road except continuing on and on forever (7.5 miles of climbing to be exact). I immediately backed off the pace and picked my line very carefully not wanting to flat in such an isolated area. I passed by the entrance to Sandia Cave where there is a picture of a woman next to a sign that said “unsolved murder 1999″. Most of the climb was rocky, but there were several hard-packed non-rocky dirt sections that were fun, absolute beautiful scenery narrow roads. I lost my gps signal a couple times through the canyons.
After 7.5 miles of the dirt road, I emerged onto NM-536 which was nicely paved and had lots of horseshoe switchbacks on the way up to the crest. It was hard to push any harder than 240-250watts. I’m not sure if it was the altitude or the length of the climb? There was a stunning view at the top of the mountains and crags below and Albuquerque stretched out far below. The gift shop is built at the high point with a radio tower armada immediately adjacent. Amazing views.
No way I was going to do the dirt descent, so I headed all the way back down to 536 to the I40 corridor back into Albuquerque where I called Kristine to coordinate meeting her at an exit ramp (#164) from I40.
Day 4 – Grand Canyon – Kaibab National Forest
Woke up early just after the sunrise … rode with the kids in search of the Grand Canyon. I kid you not – we couldn’t find it! It was pretty obvious which way the canyon was, but all the trails that headed that direction (e.g., through the Shrine of Ages) had “no biking” signs. So we headed up towards another lookout but the kids were exhausted by this point, and the hill was kinda steep. I found out later on my mountain bike ride that we only needed to make it to the top of the hill to get to a nice lookout point. So we headed back down to the cafe for breakfast and then the kids walked over with Kristine and her parents to hike to a lookout. They promised me they would take me over there later, and I headed out on a 60 mile mountain bike ride through the Kaibab National Forest.
The trailhead was about 13.5 miles from the campground so I had a bit of riding on the road to do – but there wasn’t too much traffic, and the road was wide. Eventually I made it to the turn off which immediately turned into a dirt forest service road. After about a mile or so, I made it to the Arizona Trail trailhead which theoretically goes all the way down to the border of Mexico. My plan was to ride out 10-15 miles and turn around to get about 20-30 miles of singletrack practice. The trail was kinda cool because it went through different kinds of terrain. It rolled constantly on short ups and downs with only a few longer downhills and uphills. It was mostly non-technical in terms of boulders or roots, but the rocks and dirt on the trail was loose and the turns tight meaning the speed was kinda slow. I’m sure with more practice you could really fly through it.
After about 10 miles of single track I saw a double track road with a sign that said “bike route” so I left the Arizona Trail and headed on the double track which eventually turned into a forest service road. This road alternated between sections that were sandy and others that were quite rocky (basically a flatter version of the skyway epic course). So after another 10 miles of this, I was tired of getting beat up and turned around bypassing the singletrack and instead taking the forest service road all the way back to the main highway.
This time I stopped to climb the cool fire tower, which is no longer used as a fire tower but instead serves as a great lookout where you have an excellent view not only into the grand canyon but also the surrounding area – it was used as a fire lookout at some point in time so you’d expect it to be able to see for miles and miles in all directions – and I was not disappointed.
Quick summary – 2nd place behind Adam Gaubert from Texas although I did snag the $100 bill for the KOM at the top of one of only eleven Cat 2 climbs (currently) in Alabama. Sometimes the stats don’t do a race justice, but here they are: 60ish miles in just under 4 hours, 8 minutes. I didn’t have a wheel speed sensor so I’m guessing I must have lost satellite a few times to come up under 60 miles. It felt like 100+ miles, though.
Heartrate summary for the skyway epic
The details – what an amazing job Brent did start to finish with this race. The mass start was creative with all 60+ riders lined up at the end of the boat dock area giving us plenty of room to charge all the way up the entrance area to a grassy cordoned off chute which led into the single track. Adam Gaubert, Jeff Clayton, and Lennie Moon (Team Momentum) entered in the single track in that order. Behind them I believe it was David Darden (BiciCoop), maybe one or two other riders, Ed Merritt (BiciCoop), and then me (Tria Cycling p/b DonohooAuto.com and Infinty Med-i-spa). I was able to keep up no problem through the single track, but Adam and Jeff were destroying the singletrack and had quite a lead by the end.
As soon as we made it out of the singletrack onto the dam, I attacked hard to start to close the gap to the leaders. I passed Lennie and David on the climb after the dam and continued to drive it hard onto Wiregrass Rd (dirt/gravel forest road). After a mile or two, I could see the leaders up ahead and I was closing pretty fast. Once I caught onto the back of them, we entered into a pretty good 3-way rotation going into the bottom of the climb. I took a hard pull and got a gap about 1/3rd of the way up the climb so I drilled it. The climb was long, though, and once we hit the skyway portion of the climb, the road was much rougher and I had problems finding a good line so Adam was closing in on me. Thankfully, the climb leveled out a bit and got smoother shortly before the top so I was able to lock out the front suspension, stand up and give it one more burst to reach the KOM first and grab the $100 bill.
The effort for the KOM really cost me, though, as I was cooked. I stopped to stuff the $100 deep down in my jersey pocket, and Adam flew by me while I was stopped. I got started again and went through the most challenging part of the course at maybe twice the speed that I had gone when I pre-rode the course in February. But Adam continued to put time on me all the way to the turnaround. It looked like he was 30 seconds or so ahead of me by the turnaround. I still had a bottle and a half of gatorade so I just stopped briefly to grab the proof necklace before setting off in pursuit of Adam. I was hoping that I could catch him on the climb so I could follow his line through all the rough sections – but it wasn’t to be. It was awesome as all the outbound racers were shouting encouragement and giving me time splits to Adam. It started out as 30 second time splits, but eventually it went up into the minute or 2 minute range. I believe he had 3 minutes by the bottom of the
descent back down the KOM climb.
I think I kept the gap there until close to the end where he still had 3 minutes at the last aid station. I stopped there to get some cold coke, banana, and water. This was a very important stop because I really couldn’t figure out how to eat or drink during the singletrack sections so I did that last 10 miles with only one or two sips of water. It was in this last singletrack section that Jeff Clayton (Georgia Neurological Institute) came flying up to me out of nowhere. I immediately let him by thinking that I could hop on his wheel and follow his lines. This lasted for LESS THAN 5 SECONDS as I lost it on the very first turn crashing hard. My bars were stuck on the wrong side of the top tube and it took a few seconds to yank them back across the top tube (I’m glad I went with aluminum instead of carbon fiber).
I had already resigned myself to riding as hard as possible to try to finish on the last step of the podium when on the next hill I started to come up on Jeff pretty fast … my first thought was that he must have popped himself trying to distance me, but then I realized that he had a completely flat rear tire. I came around him thinking that he would have no problem stopping to change the tire and then catching back up to me again. So I could never really let up off the pace … but as it turns out, Jeff couldn’t get the tire to hold air so he had to ride in the last several miles on the flat – and yet he still held on for third!
Kristine snagged a few videos … one of me coming out of the final singletrack and another of me finishing a minute or two later and one of Josiah asking if I was in this race … good stuff!
Race summary – 2nd place in the race today to take 2nd place in the omnium. Chris Brown (Litespeed – BMW) took the win again today after emerging together with me in a late 2-man move when the fireworks of the end game began at mile 103 in the first of NINE attacks made over a span of five miles from mile 103 to mile 108. I was lucky to be able to grab and hold Chris’s wheel to the end of the race at mile 113 where he easily took the sprint … this race is officially the longest race I have ever done.
The details – I was sitting 3rd in the omnium behind Stephen Bassett (Texas Roadhouse) and Chris. I knew that the race would be long so I wanted to make it a race of survival. Unfortunately, I did a lot of work on the first of two long laps that probably wore me out more than it did anyone else. I got into an early two man move when I jumped with Jon Hart (Friends of the Great Smokies) a mile or two after the neutral zone. We worked hard drilling it at just below threshold all the way to climb. John came off on the climb, and I knew that I couldn’t hold an 80 mile solo break so I eased up the climb waiting for what was left of the field to catch up.
At this point, our pace really dropped and I was worried of two things: 1) the race taking so long that we would all die of dehydration 2) people getting an easy ride to the finish and then outsprinting me at the end. The first concern was no problem because there was good neutral water support in the feedzone and I was able to get 3 bottles on one lap and 2 bottles on another lap – combined with the 3 bottles I started with made for 8 bottles completely drained by the end. Regarding concern #2, I attacked a couple times hoping to get somebody to go with me to share the work, but ended up riding off the front both times.
The chase – A mile or two after the feedzone, Jon Hart rode off the front again and would eventually amass a maximum lead of 3’30”. Behind him, Chris Brown and I did a lot of the work for the first 15-20 miles of the chase, with Bradley Spears (Sonic) also contributing and the Texas Roadhouse duo making some contributions as well. Two of John’s teammates were able to sit in and rest since they had their teammate up the road. Eventually, once the gap reached 3’30”, the Texas Roadhouse duo started working harder and more frequently — particularly Stephen’s teammate Andrew Dillman who stepped up to do more work while Stephen waited for the climb.
The climb – Chris was on the front leading into the climb and when we turned to go up the steep part, he lifted the pace substantially. We reached the first step of the stair-stepper climb and the pace eased off a bit, but when we reached the next steep part Stephen put in a very hard attack. Chris countered this move lifting the pace again, but by this point we were going fast enough that we were near the top of the Cat 3 climb. I held on, but was really spent by the top of the climb. We ended up losing 1 or 2 from our group and Chris pushed the pace hard across the top to make sure that we stayed away.
The chase, part 2, and the fireworks of the end game – A mile or two after we reached the top, John’s teammate Jeff McGrane attacked and got away solo. Chris, Andrew, Stephen, and I got into a good rotation and after 20 miles of chasing finally caught Jeff. Chris put in a strong attack immediately and then when he was caught, somebody else (it may have been Chris again) attacked again. This ended up shelling Stephen’s teammate Andrew. Five attacks later (it could have been by aliens for all I know considering how delirious I was at the time — but the attacks are clearly visible in the power data), and we had lost Stephen. Then Jeff put in another attack, which Chris countered and that is when we lost Jeff leaving just Chris and me for the 3 mile descent and 2 mile gradual rise to the finish. We traded pace on the descent and stayed away to the finish where Chris took the sprint.
With the ride back to the start at Cumberland Caverns, I ended up with nearly 200K of racing and riding today to cap off a 466 mile week. Tired. Here is all the data!
New power records from the road race