Posts tagged ‘thoughts’
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.
OK, so I’ve just finished up the most insane month of training ever. It has been a great month, though, and I’m very confident now that it is going to pay off with sustained fitness to carry through the racing season when the intensity goes up and the mileage (and climbing!) goes down. The key thing to keep me on track has been to make sure that I’m allowing plenty of recovery time. Back in college when I was overtrained with way too many miles, I always rode at about the same speed/effort (zone 3/4) and had very few rest days. So the grand total for this month was 1,673 miles with 175,559 feet of climbing. That works out to just over six bike rides to the top of Mount Everest. Of course, what goes up must go down, so it also includes approximately 175,559 feet of descending, which means this was easily the most exhilarating and exhausting month on the bike. I had three rest days completely off the bike, whereas in my college days I would frequently go several months in a row without a single day off the bike. I also had several rides at much slower Zone 1 and Zone 2 pace for the entire ride.
Today, I made it through one more epic ride (cold near freezing with rain) with over 10,000 feet of climbing to break 175,000 feet mark for the month. It was fitting that at the end of the ride, I would make it home just in time to escort my family the last couple hundred meters on their walk home from school – riding with my 4 year old son on the top tube down the street into our garage. That alone was kinda crazy because I hadn’t been planning on riding for nearly 3 and a half hours and had run out of food at about the 2 hour mark. So I was about ready to keel over anyway let alone adding a 35 pound child. We made it without crashing, and it was a nice reminder that this cycling thing is important, but it’s my family that will be there when the wheels just won’t turn anymore. And I need to be there for them.
So how hard was this month? The stats below tell the story starting with last week’s 404 miles and nearly 46,000 feet of climbing:
Finally, here is a screenshot is a close-up of me struggling up a 17% gradient (Vestavia Forest) with nearly 25 miles still left to ride!