Posts tagged ‘photos’
I started this post earlier in the year when I decided to update my racing results dating all the way back to my first mountain bike race in 1993. My latest foray into mountain bike racing (winning the Chain Buster Battle at Oak Mountain 9 hour race on Saturday) has had me reminiscing into how I first got into mountain biking back in high school in 1993 so I thought I would go ahead and wrap up this post. Most of it centers around Oak Mountain. In fact, if you go back even earlier to the late 80s, my dad and I used to do road biking on a 10 speed (eventually 12 speed) with down tube shifters at Oak Mountain. We’d park outside the park at the info center and then ride in through the front entrance. I’d always start out fast and ride off ahead of him and his work friends, but then even before we made it to the golf course I’d be tired so my dad had to ride with me slowly the rest of the way to the spillway in the back of the park and then back to the car. Probably a couple hours for the 15 mile ride.
Fast forward to 1993 – my junior year of high school, and two of my friends on the math team (Steve Montgomery and Jeff King) were into mountain biking. Steve said his dad had a mountain bike I could borrow, so the three of us set off to Oak Mountain one day after school in two cars. We parked Steve’s Bronco II at the picnic area parking lot and then piled into Jeff’s jeep and hauled ass up the Peavine Falls road (seriously don’t know how we didn’t roll that jeep) up to the overlook area near the end of the red trail. We took off up the red trail and then turned left into the BUMP downhill. I don’t remember my first experience with blood rock, but I assume we walked it. We flew down the trail past what is now the berm (I don’t think there was a berm back then) to the twisty section of the downhill, popped out onto Peavine Road followed it for a tenth of a mile or so to reach the Johnson’s Mountain climb. It started out with a tricky entrance with a short log bridge over a small creek crossing, and then the super steep trail with the rubber run-off protectors across the trail every few feet. I eventually could clear all that on a good day, but I definitely walked it that first time up.
From the top of the steep section, you had a nice pine-straw covered straight gradual climb until a couple twists at the steeper section near the very top of Johnson’s Mountain (super fast coming back the other way) at the park boundary. Then you came down through some tight small trees, small logs turns entering the rocky bumpy section (where I would sheer a seatpost off in a ride the next year) that is now the opening climb for Johnson’s Mountain (when coming from picnic area parking lot). My first big wreck was on the downhill after the giant log (the log is long gone and replaced with some rock steps now) where there are some wood trail run-off protectors now. There were no wood steps back then (unless we were going so fast through there I forgot about them), just a fast downhill with me going right off the side of the steep hill falling halfway down to the creek at a high rate of speed.
Then it was up the shallow switchbacks and the fast straight section (now called Foreplay) across the horse trail intersection into the long set of twisty turns (now called Mr. Toads) through the picnic area parking lot down to Steve’s Bronco II for the shuttle back up to the top. I think that was it that first day out, but eventually we got into good enough shape to not need the shuttle any more, and we would just start out in the parking lot head up the climb to the red trail, turn around at the top and then come all the way back down adding on the lower section of singletrack by the paddleboats. This section was an out/back trail that wasn’t finished. We would ride it through to the end and then just keep riding a ways through the woods before turning around and heading back up. After buying my first mountain bike from James at River Oaks Cycles in Hoover (the Mongoose Alta shown in the top pic), I made this trip pretty much an every day after school experience. The lower section of trail was finished shortly after all this began so eventually I started to park at the old boy scout road just past the golf course where the lower trail section ended. I would ride from there all the way up to the Bump trail, turn around and ride back.
By April of 1993, I raced my first mountain bike race — the Cumberland Classic in Sewanee, TN — where I finished 6th in the juniors and 25th in the beginners (our fields were combined). There was more than 100 people in the race (IT WAS HUGE!!!) and I still remember starting and climbing out of a gravel parking lot area, racing across some huge field by a barn or something, and then a double track road before making the left into the singletrack. Whenever I think of “hole shot”, I still have this mental image of the gravel hill, followed by a wide open field leading to a double track leading to a lefthand turn onto singletrack overlooking a valley far below that made me think I was in an airplane (which I had never been in before). Later in the year, during the start of my senior year I would see a flyer for the Bull’s Gap time trial and race that as my second race (see pic below), following that up with two more mountain bike races (the Maddog Mountain Bike Race in Springville, Alabama and the Suck Creek Classic up in Chattanooga, TN).
Eventually, I’m going to link these pictures onto my results page, but in the interim, I’ve included a gallery of pictures that I scanned in from 1993-1998. If you are wondering how I could remember these results from way back then, I still have my “bike racing photo journal” (see pic below) that I kept which included a description of the race, the number of people in the race, my result in the race, as well as two or three 35mm snapshots. When I started college at Clemson, I kept track of everything in a Microsoft Access database (see other pic below).
I needed to have some work done on my mountain bike in preparation for Leadville – so I thought I would throw the kids bikes in the car and have a little fun on the Lakeshore Trail and the Vulcan Trail. Into the car went both the kids bikes, my mountain bike, and my road bike. Josiah’s bike went in the front passenger seat, and the other three bikes went in the back behind the kids. These are the pics I got of our journey.
My friend and teammate Jacob Tubbs sent me this link to a Fat Cyclist post from earlier this week: http://www.fatcyclist.com/2012/07/30/how-climby-is-your-climbiest-ride/. Even though it was a contest with a specific set of rules, what I got out of the post was that the Fat Cyclist really loves riding where he lives and was wondering if other people had cooler places to ride. My personal thought on this is that a person who really loves cycling will adapt their interests so that wherever they live is the BEST place in the world to ride. I’ve lived and ridden in several places all around the country, and each has been my favorite place to ride during whatever phase of life I was in at the time.
So without a doubt, Birmingham, Alabama is the best place to ride – especially if you like the trifecta of climbing, descending, and cornering. The appeal to me is summed up in these two screenshots from Strava. The first one illustrates how many times your speed changes in a single ride. The second one has the ride map demonstrating the amount of cornering in a single ride plus the elevation profile. Those are just the quantifiable aspects of the ride that are appealing to me … the qualitative aspects go on and on, but the top of the list has to be the scenery with everything from ridges stacked on top of ridges to beautiful trees, gardens, neighborhoods. Plus, since there are so many neighborhoods to ride through, you see a bit of the everyday life of people from all walks of life.
Ride highlights today alone included seeing (again) the mountain goat statues on Monterey Pl setup for the olympics as if they were in a high diving event (see pic at the end), seeing all kinds of clouds and cloud patterns from the thunderstorms firing up all around, scaring a wild turkey as it was crossing the road at the top of Shook Hill (never seen one this close into town before), and just the usual fast descents and steep climbs. Today was extra special, though, because I really felt the entire ride was a fun “dance” … very delicately balancing the maximum amount of climbing I could do without repeating the same road twice (in the same direction) while still trying to hit the highlights of some of my favorite roads – AND while avoiding huge thunderstorms moving through the area. I was successful in avoiding the thunderstorms, but ended up getting a flat tire, then flatting again on the spare. Luckily I was right next to Cahaba Cycles when I flatted the second time.
So I set out to do a “climby” ride and ended up on one of the best training rides of the year covering 73.9 miles and climbing 12,327ft, exploring part of Cahaba Heights that I haven’t ridden in a while. Plus, one more thing about how much variety and selection there is in the roads to ride around Birmingham … this ride is probably less than 10% of the available roads in the area – including entire sections of town I had to avoid because of the thunderstorms. Bluff Park, Georgetown, Hoover, Homewood, Birmingham proper including Red Mountain and Ruffner Mountain, the Double Oak area including Leeds – none of these made it into this ride. This ride traverses parts of just three suburbs of Birmingham: Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook, and a small portion of Irondale.
I didn’t have a camera with me today, but I’ve dug up a selection of photos I’ve taken from spots on the route I covered today.
It’s 4AM – time to start my longest ride ever.
At midnight, celebrating with @beautifulwife the end of a very long day of riding.
Wednesday – Day 4 – 249 miles, 42,200 feet of climbing
These two pictures above bookend my longest ride ever with the most climbing ever. Getting up at 4AM and then riding all the way until midnight with only a few breaks along the way. Even though my grand total was exactly 248.84 miles and 42,200 feet of climbing, my Garmin lost 24 miles of GPS coordinates. So only 225 miles and 38,000 feet of climbing counted on Strava towards the climbing competition. I’m still waiting for official results, but I believe it may have been just enough to win the “one-day challenge within a challenge” for the Rapha race bag given to whoever climbs the most on Wednesday.
I rode laps around my neighborhood for the first hour or so until it got light enough for me to venture out onto the main roads. I kept it nice and slow on the laps since I was hand carrying a flashlight and because I knew that I had a long day ahead of me. I was really, really sleepy and had a lot of negative thoughts about how on earth I was going to last 20 hours of riding. The repetition of the 1K lap along with the really sketchy corners in the dark didn’t help with my motivation. But then I started to notice that the sky was getting lighter. Each 2.5 minute lap would see the sky brighten ever so slightly until I could see the sketchy corners clearly and could start going a bit faster. This was all it took to get rid of the negative thoughts, and I was ecstatic by the time I headed out of the neighborhood.
My first destination was South Cove to get in some super fast descents before traffic started to pick up. There were people out jogging and walking (seriously, how do you people get up that early on a regular basis??? That is some serious motivation). But the nice thing about the S Cove Dr descent is that it is so steep that it is rare for anyone to try to walk or jog up it. So I let it all fly and hit these max speeds approaching 60mph just about every lap.
After the S Cove loops, I went over to Skyland Dr to do my first set of roller coaster hill repeats. Unfortunately, I nearly t-boned a German shepherd that gets out of its yard occasionally on the first descent down the roller coaster. I decided to come back later and opted instead to head on over to Vestavia Dr and then back home to say good morning to the family before Kristine left for work and the kids left for a day of playing at Grandma’s house.
After a nice breakfast, it was back out again – this time heading through hilly, curvy, fun Georgetown over to Bluff Park and Green Valley. When I climbed to the top of Green Valley I could see a thunderstorm building to the east not too far past my house – but the storm was heading south and not going to hit me over in Bluff Park. It was cool to watch the sky darken and to be far enough away to see close to the top of the storm. I continued riding through Bluff Park and made my way over to Vestavia to get water at the Publix grocery store. Then as I made my way to the top of Vestavia, I could see a huge thunderstorm that had built over downtown which was hidden from me because of the ridge line. I thought maybe I had enough time to dip down into Homewood and then back up the Hwy 31 climb while traffic was light – but as I was descending Hwy 31, I had a perfect view of lightning striking the Vulcan (less than 2 miles away) and decided to cut through Brookwood and try to make it home. I made it about 1/2 mile before the storm hit hard with heavy downpour and lots of lightning. I continued on making it home where I took these videos:
After a long lunch trying to wait out the thunderstorm, I had to eventually head back out in the rain. I had just made it over to Mountain Brook and started climbing over there when my Garmin shut off – went completely blank. I turned it back on, but as soon as it made it past the startup screen, it would shut off again. I did this several times – almost in a panic because here I was 8 hours 48 minutes into my ride and I was thinking that the Garmin might be in the process of losing the ENTIRE RIDE. So as much as I wanted to do the entire ride in a single file, I decided to try to reset the Garmin while it was on the “picking up satellites screen”. This worked AND it saved the entire ride. So that is why I have annotated the screenshots at the end of this post with the approx total time and total elevation gain.Since it was still raining, I decided to head over to Karl Daly since it is more straightforward without very many turns. By the time I had made it out to Karl Daly, the rain was gone and the sun had come back out. I climbed Karl Daly from all three sides going for a KOM on the long version from the Grants Mill road bridge (after snapping these pictures of the canoe landing on the cahaba river). I was 130 miles into my ride at this point, but I still felt great and set a new KOM on the climb. No power meter to pace myself, but I basically went as hard as I felt reasonably possible with 120 miles still left to ride. I did get the KOM (sorry Kyle!)
Then it was back down the Irondale side of Karl Daly to cut through the Irondale neighborhoods back into Mountain Brook. There is a steep descent that leads to two traffic lights. I normally turn at the second light – rarely missing the first light. But today the first light was red and I decided to go ahead and go through it since there was no cars coming out of the shopping center where I was turning left. Not a good decision, especially since there was an Irondale police officer at the intersection. He came after me in the shopping center and was absolutely furious asking if I had a death wish. He ran my social security number through the system with the dispatcher since I didn’t have any ID, gave me a stern talking to. Thankfully he didn’t give me a ticket, and I learned a lesson – obey the law. I was very respectful to him, and told him that it was a mistake, a bad decision, and I shouldn’t of done it – but he was still really angry even several minutes later after calling in my social security number and everything. The only other time I’ve gotten pulled over while biking is when I was drafting an unmarked state trooper on Hwy 280 towards Lee Branch. I didn’t realize it was a state trooper because I was focused on the rear end of the car and brake lights. He also was really angry when he pulled over into a bank after turning his lights on, but after a couple minutes he cooled off and we ended up joking together about the whole thing. This officer, on the other hand, was really upset. Don’t mess with the law in Irondale, folks.A couple hours of climbing through Irondale and Mountain Brook and I was home for refueling again. Kristine was home from work, and the kids were home my parents’ house so they came out to cheer me on a couple laps. This was a really short stop at home – just to grab a quick bite to eat and refill my bottles before heading back over to Hoover / Green Valley / Bluff Park / Vestavia for some last minute climbing while there was still daylight. The Vestavia Dr area is a favorite of mine along with these mountain goat statues at the very top of the Vesclub descent.
I ended up doing the Vesclub descent well after sunset – then I realized that instead of being stuck doing laps in my neighborhood for the rest of the night – I could do laps over in Countrywood and Dolly Ridge. I discovered this when I had to ride home in the dark from that area with no light – and it felt very safe so after a long stop for dinner with the family, Kristine kicked me out of the house telling me to go get the last 38 miles I needed for 250 miles for the day. I headed out needing to average a fairly high speed to do it. I got more and more motivated as I got closer to midnight. But at 11:15 PM (about 8+ hours into my second ride of the day and only 45 minutes left to ride), my silly Garmin cut off again. This time, unfortunately, I lost everything from after dinner – about 24 miles and 4,000 feet of climbing. I didn’t realize it, though, because the ride was correctly listed in my history as 126 miles. It wasn’t until I uploaded it to Strava that I realized the GPS coordinates were not stored so Strava would only recognize 102 miles of that ride.
Even though I didn’t know all of this at the time, the second power outage on my Garmin really cut my motivation. I was trying to do some math in my head to figure out if I was going to make 250 miles, given that I needed 14 more miles and had less than 45 minutes to do it. I incorrectly calculated 30mph when in fact it was only a bit less than 20mph. So I cruised on home no longer trying to hit 250 miles, but instead trying to hit 400km which is about 248 miles. I figured I could do that … but as I started to do laps with Kristine cheering me on and taking pictures at 11:30 in our neighborhood, I recalculated and figured I might be able to make it all the way to 250 miles. This renewed my motivation in a big way, and I really hit it hard – each time up the hill in front of our house, I sprinted like the end of a night criterium. When all was said and done, though, I only made it to 249 miles as the clock rolled over to 11:59PM – which I decided would be my stop time.
Then I spent the next 3 hours trying to figure out how to merge all three ride files into one file – and to figure out why the total was only showing up as 225 miles. Eventually, I figured it all out – but there was nothing I could do to recover the missing 24 miles. Grrrrrrr. 249 miles, 42,200 feet of climbing, 1 crazy hard fun cycling adventure!
Thursday – Day 5 – 52 miles, 7,636 feet of climbing
Easy recovery day today started out with a short ride to the grocery store with Josiah. My forearms were the sorest part of my body from all the shifting on my long ride on Wednesday. It was really difficult to shift by the end of the day! We bought a few things and headed home for a nice relaxing day watching the tour de france. In the early afternoon, I headed out for an easy ride and ran into somebody who lives in the neighborhood across the street from us. We rode together all the way through Mountain Brook to the Irondale turnaround and back – before I took off to head to my brother’s house for a birthday dinner. After dinner, I headed back home and did some more climbing in the dark. Legs were starting to feel better by the end of the day. There was a huge thunderstorm blowing up just to the north and I managed to snap a picture of some lightning (although I only got the afterglow).
The most interesting thing that happened during the ride was early on when I passed this guy only slightly faster than he was walking up a hill carrying a big log on his shoulder back up to his truck. He asked me “Are you doing this for fun, or because you have to?” I thought for a second and then said “A little bit of both”. And then I proceeded to spend the next hour of my ride thinking about how complex a question that was that he asked me and how complex an answer could be given – but was boiled down to “a little bit of both”. I was thinking I would go into more detail on my blog post about the answer to that question – but it requires more thought and I’ve spent too long on this one already!
Friday – Day 6 – 57 miles, 10,261 feet of climbing
My legs were still feeling tired today – wrists/forearms all better. I really wandered on this ride although I basically did all of my normal routes hitting the Green Valley roller coaster loop several times. The only thing out of the ordinary was the Hwy 31 sidewalk climb – which I normally only do on my commutes into work. It has been 2 months now since the end of the semester so it was fun to revisit a climb I haven’t done in a couple months. Plus, I wanted something easy and steady towards the end of my ride, and yet I wanted to go snap some more photos from the top of Vestavia Dr. The mountain goats didn’t disappoint as they were in a new position today.
Finally, here is a gallery of photos and screenshots. Most of these are from my ride on Wednesday – but the ones from Thursday and Friday I’ve tried to pick out and label as such. Also, the Garmin screenshots are in order starting before sunrise and ending after dark.
Great race today at the Barn Burner just outside of Flagstaff, AZ. This was by far the hardest race I have ever done – 104 miles of double track forest roads – some very bumpy, some very sandy, some very crazy, all of it a whole lot of fun! I was happy to finish 4th overall, but sad to lose my Garmin Edge 800 with approx. 25,000 miles on it.
Race Details – the dust bowl
It was a Le Mans start, which means you ran to your bikes mounted on bikestands or being held by your support crew. I opted to have Kristine hold my bike so I wouldn’t have to try and extract it from all the bikes jammed together on the bike racks. I ran kinda slowly because I don’t run well and because the terrain had some lava rocks and there were tons of people jostling together. I met Kristine behind the bikestand area, mounted my Garmin and took off running through the grass to get back to the dirt road. By this point dust was everywhere, and I was easily 100-200 riders back.
The first mile of the race was on some dusty, sandy rutted roads so it was really hard to see a good line and you didn’t want to get caught in the deep sand so I could only pass a few people here and there – but as soon as we turned onto the main forest road, the terrain tilted upwards on a long false flat. I passed probably 100 riders through here. At the beginning it was streams of riders that I was passing, but then it has started to break up into small groups – so I started to catch and pass these groups.
Lost water bottle
Right before the lefthand turn onto the next rutted sandy section, I latched onto the back of a fairly large group of maybe 10 riders. It was here that I realized that mountain bike racing requires a lot of trust/faith in the rider immediately in front of you. You are trusting that they are going to take a good line and not crash. This section of the course really emphasized that trust because there was so much dust you couldn’t see the ground in front of you – you could only barely see the wheel of the rider in front of you. It was at this point that I lost a bottle when the road unexpectedly dropped a good 2-3 feet into a rounded rut/hole. I wasn’t expecting it so my weight was forward and I ended up coming out of the hole doing a front wheelie. Luckily the ground was smooth long enough that I could get the rear wheel back down without flipping over the handlebars. Hitting the hole popped out my water bottle so I did the entire first lap on one bottle.
Not too long after the front wheelie, the group I was in came out onto another stretch of road which was much harder packed. I went to the front and tried to rally the troops, but I ended up dropping that group and catching one or two more groups until I finally latched onto the back of the lead group. I knew I had reached the front group because there was no more dust in front of this group. This was towards the top of the long gradual descent before the first climb. This part of the course was super fast, and we were absolutely flying single file trusting the rider in front of you to take a good line. For about five minutes, this was my favorite part of the race, but then I felt something hit my knee. I thought it was my only water bottle popping out of the cage so as we are motoring along I’m looking down and doing a double-take to see if it’s my water bottle. It wasn’t, so I continued staring hard at the wheel in front of me following his line. Then I glanced at my handlebars and noticed my Garmin was gone!!! I debated for another 10-15 seconds about turning around or keeping on going. I realized the Garmin was worth too much to just abandon – so I turned around and rode backwards on the course. It had been a couple minutes of fast riding since I had felt something hit my knee (which I assume now must have been my Garmin), so I had to ride back a long ways but I never did see it. It is quite an understatement to say that my motivation was completely gone by this point in the race. I was about to attack the Strava KOM challenge segment hard, and now I not only wasn’t going to be able to do that – I had lost my great position at the front of the race and given the leaders a good 5 minute head start.
The Strava climb (1st climb)
Frustrated at not finding my Garmin, I went flying up the climb that started shortly after the stretch of trail where I couldn’t find my Garmin. It was the more technical of the two climbs on the course, but I didn’t care – I just flew past everyone no matter what line I had to take. By the top of the climb, the race was all blown apart and people were by themselves and no longer in groups.
The rocky technical descent
After the top of the climb, there was a short rolling section followed by the longer, rockier, and more technical of the two major descents. It started out super fast on a mostly clean but a few high speed rocky sections that you could roll over, but then there was a hard left turn on loose dirt that required clipping out for balance that immediately led into some nasty rocky sections that you just had to blow threw as there wasn’t much of a clean line. I went really slow through here on the first lap – getting passed by two riders, the second of which came by probably 10 mph faster just riding over all the big rocks I was trying to avoid. So that is when I learned that you can do that – just bomb over rocks at 30mph – the bike and wheels can handle it these days!
Once I reached the bottom, I continued passing riders all the way to the start of the second climb – the longer, steeper, and less technical stair stepper. In fact, I almost ran right into the back of a small group of three because I had been so intent on catching them that I wasn’t looking for turn signs. I caught them right at the turn and had to slam on the brakes skidding for some distance before stopping just shy of ramming into the last rider. I immediately passed them and continued passing riders all the way up the long climb.
The fast descent that gradually became slower
At the top of the long climb was a super fast steep descent. I didn’t have my Garmin, but it felt like I hit 50mph on this descent on the first lap. There was one clear, clean line between loose gravel/dirt and larger rocks on either side of the foot-wide line, but the line was clear, non-washboardy, and had no rocks in it — on the first lap! I almost wrecked here on the second lap because I tried to take it at the same speed as the first lap, but 1100 riders doing that descent on the first lap had loosened up soil on the clean line and created a bit of washboarding so that it no longer felt safe to go really fast. So each lap of the race, this descent got a bit sketchier and slower for me.
After the steep, sketchy part was a harder packed fast double track that went next to some sort of campground before turning onto the original national forest service road leading back up to the two-way Barn Burner entrance road. I flew through this part catching one or two more riders, and I heard someone yell out “ninth” as I made the turn in towards the barn.
The pit crew
At the end of each lap, you have to dismount your bike and run through the barn. Below is a video of me coming through the barn at the end of my second lap. You can see Analise waving the chain lube that I desperately needed because of all the dust/dirt on the course. My pit crew was just like a Nascar pit crew! Josiah would hold my bike, while Analise would hand me bars/gels/chain lub and Kristine would refill my bottles with gatorade. I would stand there eating and drinking whatever I could get down before Kristine finished with the gatorade. It was so awesome – less than 30 seconds to have two new bottles, a lubed chain, more gels/powerbars, and then off again.
The second, third and fourth laps
On the second lap, I was caught by a rider wearing a green Trek kit and the two of us worked together catching another rider to form a group of three. We worked well together all the way until the second climb where I rode away catching and passing a few more people on the climb finishing the lap in 5th place.
I rode the first half of the third lap alone eventually catching Derek Wilkerson who was in 4th place at the time. We worked well together catching and dropping the third place rider. Derek was a far better descender than me and had to wait for me after the descents. At the end of the third lap, I stopped with my pit crew to refill bottles and gels while Derek had enough to keep going.
I was so tired I figured I would never see him again, but a relay rider came flying by on the long gradual false flat leaving the barn. I hopped on his wheel and dug deep to stay there and soon we had caught up to Derek who tagged onto us making a small group of three. I was digging way too deep, so when we turned onto the dusty long descent I decided to back off and do my best to pace myself to hold onto a top 5 finish. I cramped on the Strava climb, stopped, went easier until I got caught by another relay rider towards the top. I was able to stick with him until the descent, but then he dropped me hard on the descent. I was caught by one more team rider on the section leading into the second climb, and he really lifted my pace again – but he flatted shortly before the start of the climb.
I went up the final climb knowing that I would need to go slow to keep from cramping again, but I continued to pass lapped riders many of whom were walking there bikes up the steep sections of the climb. I was able to solider on in a very easy gear to make it up the climb – but there were definitely sections I was wondering if I was going to have to get off and walk. I kept thinking that at any moment whoever was in 5th place would come cruising by. It didn’t happen though, and I made it up to the top, down the sketchy descent, and then turned on the gas one final time to make it to the finish line. It turns out that I was over 12 minutes ahead of 5th place so I could have taken the finish a little bit easier.
At the finish (as you may be able to tell from the picture at the top), I was exhausted. It took a while to be able to get out more than one or two coherent sentences in a row. I sat on the gatorade jug for quite a while drinking chocolate milk and cokes.
Two final videos before all the pictures – the first is of my finish. Look at Josiah cheering me at the top of the video near the far track, Analise near the turn, and then Kristine filming the video. It was awesome to come through there and see my family cheering me on. Also, there was a cool dirt bike track next to the barn so that the kids could spend the hour and a half between laps riding up and down the jumps and around the berms. Analise is tackling one of the jumps in the second video.
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.
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