Posts tagged ‘ibike’

Riding and climbing in the North Georgia mountains

The beautiful view as soon as I arrived at the cabin near Dahlonega.

I spent a weekend of riding and racing in the North Georgia mountains. The Southern Cross race was on Saturday morning (awesome race – read my recap here), so I drove up on Friday. More specifically, I biked to work Friday morning, taught two classes, biked home, and then drove 4 hours to a cabin at the base of the Woody Gap climb just north of Dahlonega. There was still about a couple hours of daylight, so with the excitement of being in the middle of all the beautiful mountains, I got my bike out of the car as fast as possible, changed clothes right there beside the car, and went for a 2 hour ride climbing Woody Gap twice from the south side and once from the north side (much shorter climb) making it back to the cabin just after sunset. So that made for three bike rides and one four hour drive all in the same day.

Here is the iBike data for the two Category 2 (Strava) climbs –

------WOODY GAP (from Damascus Church Rd) ------
Strava:      Cat 2
Dist:        9.00 mi (0:41:38)
Climbing:    1816 ft
          Min   Avg    Max
Power       0  260.1   387  W
Gravity  -520  163.6   485  W
Speed     6.9   13.0  35.2  mi/h
Wind     12.6   17.1  34.1  mi/h
Elev     1514   2272  3242  ft
Slope    -5.9   3.67   8.4  %
HR        133  145.7   159  bpm
NP 264 W; IF 0.951; TSS 62.7
2/25/2011 3:37 PM
56 degF; 1017 mbar
------WOODY GAP (from R & R Ranch) ------
Strava:      Cat 2
Dist:        6.71 mi (0:30:43)
Climbing:    1651 ft
          Min   Avg    Max
Power       0  289.9   608  W
Gravity -1127  202.6   483  W
Speed     0.0   13.1  39.6  mi/h
Wind     12.5   15.6  35.2  mi/h
Elev     1673   2433  3265  ft
Slope    -8.4   4.50  16.1  %
HR        107  156.2   178  bpm
NP 302 W; IF 1.088; TSS 60.6
2/25/2011 4:43 PM
49 degF; 983 mbar

And here is the graph for the entire ride:
iBike data for the entire ride.

Sunday’s ride was even better with me accomplishing what could be considered a dream of mine from over 15 years ago when a friend of mine asked if I would ride 200 miles with him in preparation for a tour across America that he was going to be doing. Well, he ended up having to back out, but I went ahead and completed the 200 mile ride from Clemson, SC to Brasstown Bald (highest point in Georgia) and then back through the Highlands, NC area. The only problem was that Brasstown Bald summit is not accessible by bike during the peak visiting times. You can either hike up to the top or take a shuttle. But they specifically disallow people from biking to the very top of the mountain. You can bike to the parking lot which is about 350 feet below the true summit, but you cannot bike to the top. I tried three years in a row at the end of each racing season, but I would always get chased down by the park workers. Well, guess what? In the middle of winter, the shuttles don’t run to the top, so you can bike up without any problems at all!

So I left our cabin early on Sunday morning, biked over to US 129 and climbed Neels Gap before turning onto GA-180 and climbing Jack’s Gap before turning at the top onto the 180-spur which takes you up three very steep miles to the highest point in Georgia. The ride started out kinda blah because it was really humid and warm when the sun was out, but cold whenever the sun went behind a cloud. So I kept on breaking out into a sweat and then getting cold. Plus, my legs were pretty cooked from the Southern Cross race the day before. But as soon as I made it to the Brasstown Bald parking lot and saw that the shuttles weren’t running, I knew that I might just have a shot at making it to the top – and I did! Strava categorizes the climb as an HC climb. Here is the elevation and gradient graph from Garmin Training Center:

Brasstown Bald elevation and gradient data.

And here is the Strava stats on the climbs (Neels Gap 2x and Brasstown Bald):

Strava data for the Brasstown and Neels Gap climbs.

And here are two pictures from the summit of the climb:

View looking south from the summit of Brasstown Bald.

The Tour de Georgia queen stage always finished on top of Brasstown Bald.

After having the opportunity to finally make it to the top of Brasstown Bald, I immediately forgot about how bad I had been feeling and thoroughly enjoyed the return trip back to the cabin before driving home to Birmingham. Also, I stopped at Turner’s Corner store on the way back and got to talk to the owner, who is on the Six Gap Century committee. His gas station and convenience store is the first rest stop for the Six Gap Century, and there is a corner of the store that is dedicated to biking with all kinds of biking equipment. What a fun adventure in the beautiful North Georgia mountains.

Here are more pictures from the rides on Friday and Sunday:
(more…)

March 4, 2011 at 6:25 pm 2 comments

GSMR Training Race #1

Excellent weather yesterday for our first team race of the year. About 20-25 guys lined up for the Category A race with our squad represented by me, Pat Allison, Chris Allison, Stuart Lamp, Mike Lackey, and Timo Stark. Other strong teams included Velocity Pro Cycles led by Ed Whitehorn and Preston Beasley; Bob’s Bikes/Alabama Masters with Will Hibberts, Jim Brock, and Miro Novak; Alabama Cycling with a few riders; and one more team with a kit I didn’t recognize, and then a few strong independents.

Ed Whitehorn and I led out the group and rode at an easy pace up and over the first hill. As soon as you crested the hill, you were hit with a pretty strong crosswind, and several riders started to creep up on our somewhat leisurely pace. I could sense an attack coming, and sure enough on the flat section leading into the hill after the first turn, there was an attack which either Mike or Stuart covered. We were wanting to get a couple riders in the break, so when I saw someone else start to jump across I went with them. But it was too early in the race for the group to let us get away and so we were caught.

For the next lap and a half you can cut and paste the previous paragraph as the same scenario played out multiple times with Mike and Stuart covering every move and then me trying to tag along with someone attempting to bridge. Every move got brought back, though. Then on the start of the third lap, our pace slowed again, and I believe it was Jim Brock who launched out on his own. A little while later Stuart attacked with somebody else. Pretty soon it was Stuart alone with three other guys. We wanted to have somebody else from our team in the break, so my teammate Pat Allison attacked and made it across a quickly widening gap with about 10 pedal strokes and tucking on the downhill. It was impressive to watch!

Then another rider started to bridge, and I believe it was Timo who saw it and went with it. The two of them made it across and by this point, the “break” had about 10 riders in it, which meant there was only about 10 riders left in the field as we had dropped about 5 or 6 guys towards the end of lap 1 with all the attacking that had been going on. I liked that we had 3 guys in the break, but I didn’t like that the break was essentially half the field. So I waited until somebody came off of a strong pull on the long gradual downhill after the hill after Turn 1 and drilled it super hard. Somebody who was on my wheel saw it and jumped with me, but that was it. The field started to chase, but our gap was good enough right from the start that we were able to make it across to the break bringing our total to maybe 12 riders?

We finished the bridge at the start of the long hill on the backside of the course. We knew that the break was too big to stay away, so I pulled through hard to keep the pace high, but ended up pulling away from the field. The break organized itself to chase which kept its pace high, and then when they caught back up to me, we got a good rotation going which meant that the field wasn’t going to come back together.

Even though we had a good rotation with 4 out of the 12 riders in the break on our team, I knew that we were better off with a smaller break so that it wasn’t left to a 12 man sprint at the end and so that there would be fewer people chasing any attacks that we might launch. So I kept the pace high and then on the hill leading to the start/finish, we pulled hard enough to cause a separation. I think it came back together though right before the start/finish when there was another move with Will and Pat off the front with a couple other guys. This looked good because everybody was tired. Jim Brock knew it and attacked to bridge. I was right there with him and together the two of us were able to finish the bridge, but Jim popped right at the top of the hill settling the final break of six at that point.

There were six riders in the break – Stuart, Pat, and me from Tria. Will represented Alabama Masters, and then there was Joe from the black/white jersey team and Alex from Alabama Cycling. This was pretty much the perfect scenario for our team with all three of the Cat 1s in the break. We still had the rest of the third lap to finish and then two more laps, so I wanted a nice smooth rotation for us to get a good lead on the field, while giving us enough wiggle room at the end of the race should it come down to any cat/mouse games. That’s exactly what happened with everybody working together extremely well (average speed 25.4mph for the next 2 laps).

Then right before the start of the last lap, I think everybody must have known that since we had numbers we were going to start attacking to try to get somebody away. The pace slowed down quite a bit. When we made it past the start/finish area I was looking for the right time to attack, found it, and only my teammate Pat was able to respond. We had a great gap and pushed it all the way to the finish. Behind us, Will and Stuart were by themselves with Joe and the Alabama rider dropped. Joe ended up bridging to Will and Stuart, and the two of them chased with Stuart able to take it easy and save energy for the finish.

Pat and I decided as fun as it would be to try to practice the tactics of a two-up finish, that it would be better and more enjoyable to simply cross the line together, which we did! (See the attached photo). Behind us Stuart got the jump on Will in the sprint and coming into the last meters it looked like he had it, but Will with a very late burst of speed was able to pass him literally on the line with a bike throw.

The remnants of our original break came back together with the field, and Chris Allison had a great sprint to finish sixth or seventh in the race. All-in-all, it was an AWESOME start to the season with our team placing five riders in the top ten and three riders in the top five.

Pictures, videos, and heartrate data below …

Dist:       48.02 mi (1:55:56)
Climbing:    1754 ft
Energy:    1662.1 kJ
Cals Burn: 1589.0 kcal
Braking:      0.0 kJ (0.0%)
          Min   Avg    Max
Power       0  238.9   820  W
Gravity  -637    1.5   486  W
Speed    10.9   24.9  36.9  mi/h
Wind      7.6   19.7  38.3  mi/h
Elev      574    662   740  ft
Slope    -6.2   0.02   6.4  %
Caden       4   85.7   121  rpm
HR        119  158.6   187  bpm
NP 277 W; IF 0.999; TSS 192.8

Category A start.

Our break with one lap to go.

The second group on the road with one to go.

Pat and I easing our way to a 1-2 finish!

Stuart Lamp and Will Hibberts fighting it out for 3rd.

February 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm Leave a comment

10,000+ feet of climbing


10000 feet of climbing in one ride – the garmin edge 800 cannot display 10,000 feet because it only can display 4 digits in any one column as shown in the red circle! As a side note, the yellow circle indicates what in my opinion is one of the best new features of the Garmin 800 – the ability to display your climbing rate (instantaneous and 30second average).

So how does one climb 10,000 feet in Birmingham? Here’s the maps and data! 10,000 feet of climbing in one ride – annotated with climb names and a line indicating all the descents approaching 50mph.

It’s Birmingham, so what would a ride be without a few greater than 20% gradients per the red iBike slope data above – 21% on Renfroe and Double Oak Way, 24.7% on the climb to Greystone Crest off of Hugh Daniel

10,000 feet of climbing in one mega-climbing loop! Click the map for the medium version. Or download the huge version to see all the residential road names.

January 19, 2011 at 11:53 pm 2 comments

Gotta love the commute

Double Oak Commute
What do a midterm exam, excellent students, and a beautiful day all equate to? Answer: a 55 mile commute with nearly 5000 ft of climbing. In the map above, I have numbered and labeled the six major climbs on the route. Also my ride crossed four different river valleys – Shades Valley, Cahaba Valley (2x), Little Cahaba Valley (2x), and Shoal Creek!

My computer architecture students have done really well this semester and are way ahead of schedule, so when I gave them their second take-home exam yesterday, I also decided to give them the day off from class. This meant I had the opportunity to go for a long ride on the way in to work, how long? My longest “commute” yet at 55 miles and over 5000 ft of climbing. I did one of my favorite climbs in Birmingham (Double Oak Way), and I also discovered a cool addition to the Grants Mill climb from the Cahaba River.

Contents of my jersey pockets for the 55 mile commute: 2 powergels, 1 chocolate milk, 2 powerbars, 1 set of keys, 1 wallet in a grocery bag, 1 saddle bag with holes.

The ride was awesome, and my legs felt good so I attacked the hills pretty hard. I had ridden all these roads before with one exception – the cement path down into the Cahaba River (literally) for the Grants Mill climb. There is a cement path that leads from a parking area on Grants Mill Rd down a 24% gradient to the Cahaba River. Near the river, there is a ramp leading to a canoe/kayak landing with a gradient of at least 35% maybe even 40%.

Annotated Grants Mill / Cahaba River bridge area.

The ramp down to the landing is pretty short as shown in the satellite image above at about 15-20 ft long and leads to a 6′ by 6′ landing. So when you are heading toward a flooding river with your brakes completely engaged and the bike not stopping, you contemplate life a bit right before you roll to a stop at the edge. Then you get to turn your bike around and attempt a standing start climb of a 35+% gradient ramp. It might not work so well, and you might tumble back down the ramp onto the landing again. Or if you are lucky like me, you manage to clip both feet out of the pedals and catch the bike as it starts to wheely over backwards onto you. Then you might reasonably decide to walk the bike back up the ramp and remount to tackle the 24% gradient back up to the road to begin the 2.8 mile climb up Grants Mill onto Old Leeds Rd with 665′ of climbing and a vertical elevation difference of 540′ (a lot for Birmingham).

Lastly, here is a picture of the Double Oak Way ridge and my iBike elevation data for the ride … the climb looks much bigger in person when you are at the bottom of it.

Double Oak ridge with neighborhood off of Co Rd 41 in foreground.

Double Oak Commute iBike elevation data

December 2, 2010 at 10:41 pm 2 comments

Thanksgiving riding in Indiana

It has been a cold, wet, windy, and fun Thanksgiving up here in Northern Indiana. No mega climbs, but lots of fun roads to explore with small rolling hills nearly constantly if you pick the right roads.

Saturday’s ride to Lake Michigan and the Indiana Dunes (Updated 11/28)
For my last day of riding in northern Indiana, I wanted to get as much climbing/hills as possible so I headed over towards Lake Michigan and along the “morraine” — leftover hills from the ice age. La Porte is quite a popular place for riding, and so the roads were covered with all kinds of markings (LSC – La Porte Spring Century, Hills 100, Apple/Berry markings). My garmin was not working correctly because of the rain from a couple days ago so I had to pick out my route by sight, and I ended up following a lot of these roads and getting in some good climbing on lots of fun hills. The highlight was the beautiful dunes along the Lake Michigan shoreline southwest of Michigan City. The dunes are not like normal east coast sand dunes. These are much older dunes with grass, trees, and even forests taking hold and eventually replacing the sand with dirt.
Forest dunes along the shores of Lake Michigan

Typical Indiana road in the morraine (hills) area

Climbing around on the dunes with temps hovering around freezing!

Thanksgiving Day
Another riding highlight from the long holiday week of training was riding around the Potato Creek State Park near South Bend, IN on Thanksgiving Day. Kristine’s family was celebrating Thanksgiving on Friday instead of Thursday to accommodate everyone’s travel schedule (26 people!) So on Thanksgiving, Kristine and her dad decided to go hiking with Analise and Josiah. I rode the 24 miles out to meet them. It was cold and rainy so we were the only ones out on the trails in the park — which meant that the sign below could be interpreted a little bit differently than if the park was full of people.

I understood this sign to mean “have a great time and enjoy the wild ride”

Fun bike path through the woods

This bike path was 3.1 miles long one way, so by the time you doubled back and went back to the beginning you had 6.2 miles covered. I went back and forth six times, timing myself a couple of times to see if I could get my average speed up over 20mph, which was pretty hard considering how wet the path was and how you had to slow down to 10mph in some of the corners.

By the time I was ready to head back to La Porte, the rain had picked up from a light mist to a steady rain. Keep in mind the temperature was only in the mid 30s! Eventually it became a veritable downpour, and I was soaked and numb by about mile 70 when I was out of food and out of energy. I was riding along a flat road with a hill coming up in about half a mile when my legs and body decided that they were done. It felt like somebody else was pedaling the bike as I slowed down from 15mph to 10mph to 0mph on the side of the road not sure what to do. I thought about flagging somebody down in a car to see if they had any food, but my feeble attempt didn’t even slow down the first car so I just sucked it up and said I’ve only got 5 miles left, I can make it up the hill and back home.

It didn’t help that this was my first time on that particular road, so I didn’t really know where I was even though my Garmin was telling me I only had 5 miles to go. When I made it to the top of the hill, however, I recognized immediately some of the landmarks just up the road and that motivated me to pick up the pace and just push it as hard as possible all the way back home. That’s what I did and I managed to get it back up to nearly 20mph into the wind and then when the road finally turned for the last mile with a tailwind, I drilled it like it was the end of a race. That has to rank right up there with the worst “bonk” I’ve ever had.

Wednesday (before Thanksgiving)

Wednesday’s ride (the day before Thanksgiving) was colder but not quite as wet. I made it all the way up to the shores of Lake Michigan without any rain, sleet, or snow. Then I did a loop along the lakeshore and then away from the coast before heading south again. It started to sleet as soon as I made it back into Indiana. Hard, stinging, sleet with a stiff wind blowing it even harder into your face. As I made it closer to La Porte, the sleet turned to rain, which was actually better because it didn’t hurt as much — although with the temperature still hovering right at freezing all the rain was freezing onto my bike and clothes.

Sleet starting to accumulate on a frozen pond

Freezing rain accumulating on my booties

Layer of freezing rain and ice on top of my helmet

Ice on the Garmin and iBike

New Buffalo, Michigan on eastern shore of Lake Michigan

Dunes at the New Buffalo beach

Today’s ride (Friday)

Today’s ride was the coldest yet with temps hovering in the mid 20s the entire ride. Plus, the wind coming from the west was just amazing (10-15mph wind with higher gusts). So I tried to work the wind to stay warm by starting out heading east with a tailwind while my body warmed up before heading north into Michigan chasing some dark clouds to see if there was any snow in them. Alas, there wasn’t any. So after a while I made it to the road I wanted to take back into town and headed due south all the way back to La Porte just in time for the big family dinner. I took this picture of the cold horses on my way back into town.

Even the horses were freezing!

iBike heartrate and power data
Wednesday’s Freezing Rain and Sleet ride

Potato Creek Thanksgiving Day ride

Friday's cold 45 mile ride

Saturday’s ride out to the Indiana dunes

TopoCreator Maps
Wednesday – Lake Michigan

Thursday – Potato Creek
Or download the huge version (3.2MB)

Friday – Heston Hills

Saturday – Lake Michigan and Indiana Dunes

November 26, 2010 at 7:47 pm Leave a comment

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Is it my imagination or did the past two days of rain turn everything even greener here in tropical Birmingham?! Tornado siren at the top of ballantre. Water tower at the top of kings crest. Hard ride, very hot.

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Brian Toone

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Quick reference stats

Anaerobic Threshold:
Power:315 watts
Heart rate:180 bpm
Maximums:
Power:1097 watts (5s)
Heart rate:198 bpm (5s)
AT power estimated by critical power curve in Golden Cheetah, which predicts I should be able to maintain 315 watts for 1 hour.

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