Posts tagged ‘snow’

Sweet Home Alabama

Slushy road and huge snow drifts - can you tell which way the wind is blowing from?

It was an awesome trip to the midwest to visit Kristine’s family and enjoy a brief winter vacation, but now it’s back home to sweet home Alabama. Our long road back home started with a 9 hour drive from Shell Lake, WI to La Porte, IN. We went right by Madison, WI where cyclocross nationals is currently being held. It felt weird to be simply driving by such a major cycling event without stopping, but we had to get the kids back for school. There was no snow at all in Madison or anywhere in southern Wisconsin even though we had just left an 8 inch snowstorm in northern Wisconsin. There was also no snow in Illinois, but shortly after crossing the border into Indiana we ran into a pretty big lake effect snowstorm.

We finished the drive pretty slowly on snow covered roads, but made it safely to Kristine’s grandmother’s house in La Porte. It was 11PM and the kids had been sleeping for a while so Kristine went in with Analise first while I took a few pictures of the snow with Josiah still asleep in the car. It was very cold so I only took pictures for a minute and by then Josiah had woken up. So I helped him get his coat and boots on and told him to run to the front door while I got the suitcase we needed. A few seconds later I entered the house and Kristine asked where Josiah was? I thought she was joking at first and then thought he must have gone straight into the bedroom or bathroom. We looked briefly in the house and after not finding him ran back outside calling out for him. I ended up following his footprints in the snow to find him standing in front of the door of the house two doors down from Grandma Vivian’s. It gave us all a big scare for a minute because it was really cold and the wind was blowing 20+mph steady with higher gusts. I guess Josiah was still half asleep!

The next morning we had a 12 hour drive in front of us. I started about 2 hours early on my bike heading south hoping to make it 60 or 70 miles with a nice tailwind, but during the night the wind had changed direction so that is was a nasty side/headwind. I averaged 15mph on very flat roads to give you an idea of the nastiness of the wind. When I left La Porte, I had to negotiate about 1/2 mile of unplowed roads before making it to the state highway which was still slushy and wet, but at least had two clear tracks between the snow. I knew that this wouldn’t last long so I rode my road bike fishtailing through the snow for that first half-mile. Then it was just really wet with an air temp of 15 degF and a constant 15+mph sidewind. This was by far the coldest ride I did during our trip. Also, because of the slow speed I was traveling I didn’t get a chance to make it through the flatlands to the nice hills around the Wabash river basin. Instead, I took Kristine on a drive through those same roads that I would have been riding. There was some really fun hills and drop-offs in the car. The kids loved it!

Here are a couple Garmin screenshots that illustrate how flat the ride was that I did.

Side by side comparison of a flat ride through the farmlands south of La Porte and a small portion of my commute into work yesterday back here in Birmingham. Note the 15.5 degF temp on the left, 7.85 miles into the ride with only 81' of climbing. On the right, I already had 699' of climbing only 3.9 miles into the ride, which was almost the total amount of climbing in my 43 mile ride in Indiana (710').

January 5, 2012 at 10:28 am Leave a comment

18,000 miles for 2011

Today was my last ride for 2011, and it just so happened to take me over the 18,000 mile mark for the year. I had originally thought I was going to be short of 18,000 miles, but I noticed after my ride on Monday that I was reasonably close to try and make it there by the end of the year. Also, I had 2,134,824 ft of climbing … that’s the same elevation gain as climbing Mt Everest 73.5 times starting from sea level.

Screenshot of strava stats for 2011

I also ended up winning the Strava climbing competition for December and for 2011.

2011 Studio Velo climbing competition overall winner

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December 31, 2011 at 5:20 pm Leave a comment

83 miles of epic snow biking

Beautiful winter scene - Imagine 9 miles of riding on a snowy road through pristine winter wilderness. That was the first 9 miles of my ride!

Another amazing day of riding up here. This time I braved the snow-covered roads leaving the Telemark resort having gained confidence riding in the snow yesterday for a mile or so. It was well worth it to be in such a remote location on winding, hilly, beautiful roads and trails that pretty much paralleled the Birkie trail all the way to Hayward. If I had done the Seely fire tower climb, then I might have even crossed part of the trail. But, unfortunately, I had to turn around shortly into my ride because I had forgotten to upload the course to my Garmin. So, I turned around and headed back to meet Kristine just as she and the kids were driving out to head back to Shell Lake. Right there on the side of the Telemark entrance road, I connected my Garmin to the laptop and transferred the file. Then I set off again on what was an 83 mile, 5+ hour, mountain bike adventure.

I spent most of the morning with a good internet connection while the kids went skiing again with Kristine and Poppa Dale. I plotted out a course that would take me from Telemark back to the Cardwell house in Shell Lake over an hour away by car. The course took me onto 9 miles of untreated snow covered roads and trails behind Telemark that were just amazing and fun to ride. Spider Lake Fire Lane started out well packed from cars driving out to cabins along the road. But eventually, once I made it past the last cabin, the snow got really deep and loose since not very many cars had driven over it. Still, it was possible to go slow on the downhills with minimal fishtailing and then crush the uphills. I would imagine that my speed on some of the uphills was faster than the downhills. It’s amazing what the extra traction of a spinning tire will do. Theoretically, I suppose you could hammer the downhills and achieve the same effect but the consequences of a fall at 30+mph make me choose the more saner option of riding the rear brake gently down the hill at a comfortable 10-15mph.

For those of you who have ridden through sand, but never ridden through snow, think of packed snow the same way you would think of packed/wet sand. Loose snow, however, is just like riding through loose sand with the same fishtailing effects. The only difference is that you are expecting the fishtailing in the sand, but not on the snow when it has been hard packed and suddenly transitions to loose or when you lose the car track you were following. Also, turning on the snow is tricky. On one downhill, I was running out of room for the turn and ended up all the way on the side of the road – but it was pretty heavily banked and I ended up sliding through the turn with my wheel still pointed off to the side. This got to me to a straighter section where I could straighten out the wheel.

I only had one bike problem on the ride, when I couldn’t shift back into the big chainring. I spent a few minutes about an hour into my ride trying to figure out what was wrong and eventually just cranked the inside limiting screw until it would shift back up and that worked for the rest of the ride although I had quite a bit of chain rub on the front derailleur so that was a little annoying to have to put up with for four hours.

Here’s the ride map and interactive data from Strava -
http://app.strava.com/rides/2982931

And here is the super hi-res topocreator map -

Telemark to Shell Lake via Meteor Hill - click on the map for a super hi-res version (13MB)

Finally, enjoy the pics and Garmin screenshots that I took on the ride –

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December 30, 2011 at 11:26 pm Leave a comment

Adventures riding in the cold northland

New fallen snow at the lodge - sidewalks coveredTwo to one ratioDark!Snow covered ice skating pondThis is the hill warning sign on the opposite side of the valley from the hill sign that I took a picture of yesterdayBoth hills in one view
Lake Namekogan - distances to all the cabins along with the names of people living thereSnowmobile and ATV routes criss-cross all the roads up hereSnowmobile stop sign and curve sign (the backs of them)Lake Namekogan looking east - note the snowmobile tracks coming out from under the bridgeIce fishingSnowmobile tracks disappearing into the water
Great Divide of Northern WisconsinSnowmobile pulling an ice fishing hut

Wisconsin Divide, a set on Flickr.

We had an inch and a half of new snow last night so today’s ride was again on the mountain bike. The snow is perfect depth and texture for good riding as I discovered today since the road to the ski resort was completely covered all the way back out to Co Rd M. In northern Wisconsin, all the county roads get treated with salt and plowed on a regular basis so they remain relatively snow and ice free even with temps in the teens. Today I was riding through puddles and wet roads on Co Rd M and Co Rd D even with the temperature hovering around 20 degF.

The ride highlight for the day was on Co Rd D where I unexpected came across this large sign indicating the Great Divide of Northern Wisconsin. On the other side of the divide, was a long downhill. The internet connection here at the hotel is really spotty so I am waiting to upload the ride to see if it was an actual categorized climb. If you are ever wondering what I think about on long bike rides, I spent about 10 minutes of the climb working out in my head the vertical gain needed over a particular distance for it to count as a Strava Cat 4. I think to hit the 3% threshold, you need 158.4 feet of climbing per mile – I worked this out in my head making for a good distraction as I was trying to push the pace realizing that it was probably going to be pretty dark by the time I made it back to the lodge.

I pushed the pace really hard over the top of the climb and all the way back across Co Rd D to Co Rd M. I hit M just after sunset with about 12 miles left to get back to the lodge. With a cloudy, overcast sky it was already pretty dark. I could see fine even without a light, but I had to rely on my bright green neon vest for visibility. I got passed by about five or six cars on the mostly deserted road, but the last car was a local sheriff who put on his lights and told me to get in the truck that I couldn’t be out without a light. He was very nice and gave me a ride the last 3 miles back to the lodge. I apologized profusely for riding without a light as I had expected to be back well before sunset but had gotten delayed on my ride.

All in all, it was a great ride, and the pics at the top of this post are the ones I took along the way.

Yesterday, I did a shorter ride out/back on Co Rd M and also snapped a few pictures. Here they are on flickr enjoy!

Wind burnIce skating pondMountain bike beforehandRolling hills partial snow/ice coverageRustic roadTalk about multi-use … hiking, biking, ATVing, and snowmobiling
You can find hills anywhere if you look hard enough!Telemark ski resort mountainCold and pretty far north - check out the sunrise/sunset times!Finishing just after sunset 16.6 degF

Co Rd M – Mountain Bike, a set on Flickr.

December 29, 2011 at 9:16 pm Leave a comment

Cold and Icy Double Oak Mountain

Great ride today – very cold though! I climbed up Double Oak Mountain to see if there was more snow and ice up near the top because of the elevation difference. I was surprised to find trees sagging under the weight of a lot of ice. I think we dodged a bullet here in Birmingham with what could have been a terrible ice storm!

Double Oak loop icy ride

Cold temperature – look at the temperature dip because of the elevation and ice/snow cover on top of Double Oak Mountain

Garmin statistics – small problem with regards to daylight

Beautiful icy sunset from the top of Double Oak Mountain

The Double Oak roller coaster section with icy roads and bent over trees from the weight of the ice

January 13, 2011 at 1:11 am Leave a comment

Snowy commute

The predicted snow materialized, and I got to enjoy a nice long commute home in the snow. It was sleeting pretty heavily mixed with the snowflakes so some of the downhills stung as the sleet bounced off your face. Check out the pics of me and my bike after the ride home… lovin’ it!

Amazing that even with all the ice, snow, and water on the battery pack, the magnet, and the head unit – the power meter still worked great! For all you Polar Powermeter experts I know that I need to raise the back end of the meter up – I just haven’t gotten around to doing it yet. The only consequence at this point is that it reads too high when there is very little pressure on the chain. Otherwise, the readings are very consistent which is certainly what you are looking for in any good power meter.

The ride definitely started out fun and beautiful, but I was pretty cold and VERY wet by the end of the ride! The red in my face is probably from all the sleet bouncing off of it! Check out the accumulation of snow on my gloves.

February 12, 2010 at 3:56 pm Leave a comment

Awesome mountain bike ride Shell Lake to Rice Lake

Kristine had errands to run in Rice Lake (about 20 miles away), and we wanted to take the kids ice skating – so we worked it out for me to bike down there on some nice backroads for a good 32 mile ride. It was COLD. The air temps were in the lower teens, but the wind was just unbelievable. I only had Kristine’s iphone with me to take these pictures, otherwise I would have taken video of the snow blowing across the road at 20mph. Check out the pics!

Mountain Biking Adventure

TopoCreator route - Shell Lake to Rice Lake Here’s the annotated topocreator route.
Lots of long straight flat icy snowy roads - the challenge is finding a smooth line and riding as fast as you can without falling Lots of long straight flat icy snowy roads – the challenge is finding a smooth line and riding as fast as you can without falling
Some curvy roads too Some curvy roads too
Some very icy roads - this is the stuff you want to avoid Some very icy roads – this is the stuff you want to avoid
A huge snow plow A huge snow plow
The view from the high point of the ride The view from the high point of the ride
Blowing snow - the windchill was incredible. There was one part of the ride where the wind was blowing hard from the side and being funneled right into my eye by my sunglasses. I had to turn to look into the wind because my eyeball felt like it was starting to freeze! Blowing snow – the windchill was incredible. There was one part of the ride where the wind was blowing hard from the side and being funneled right into my eye by my sunglasses. I had to turn to look into the wind because my eyeball felt like it was starting to freeze!
Snow drifts Snow drifts
Rice Lake - the cool thing about this picture is the island with a picnic table only in the winter (or by boat in the summer) Rice Lake – the cool thing about this picture is the island with a picnic table only in the winter (or by boat in the summer)
Ski-do anyone? Ski-do anyone?
My mountain bike at the ice rink My mountain bike at the ice rink
An icy version of me at the ice rink. An icy version of me at the ice rink.

Wind skiing


This was awesome to watch. Unfortunately my batteries died right before this guy took off … literally. He got going very fast and then jumped at least 8 feet in the air with the windsail taking him up and setting him back down. I got a new set of batteries in just in time for him to make it back. How cool!!!

Ice Skating Princesses

The ice skating princesses My favorite picture of Analise and Kristine, the ice princesses

December 29, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

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Short very hot ride. Cahaba river at the lowest I've ever seen it - at Hoover east ballfields shortly before running over fresh gum and cutting the ride short to clean it off my tire. Today's rollercoaster experiment - 20 repeats with Garmin 1000 forwards and backwards. Movie theater roller coaster (top) and Green valley rollercoaster (bottom).

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Brian Toone

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Anaerobic Threshold:
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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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