Archive for March, 2012

Spring climbing

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.

redbuds, azaleas, and a couple dogwoods

March 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm Leave a comment

Climbing to the moon

Annotated ride map (click to enlarge)

It’s spring break this week in Alabama, and so my good friend Lennie and I took our families up to Huntsville to the space and rocket center. While they were enjoying exploring all about space, Lennie and I drove on over to Keel Mountain to explore it and Green Mountain. We ended up climbing Keel Mountain 3 different ways and Green Mountain from both sides. Then I headed back up the front side of Keel one final time. The descents were awesome hitting 55mph+ on four different descents. My favorite of the day was definitely the Green Mountain west side descent which has a horizon drop-off (i.e., where you can’t see over the horizon) at >50mph. Exhilarating. It was REALLY flat though between the mountains, but it was worth it to enjoy time riding with Lennie and to explore 5 new climbs! I’ve posted the iBike data for each of the five different climbs. The last climb up Keel (Blowing Cave Rd) was by far the steepest at 26% max gradient, although the east side of Green Mountain was steeper for longer sustained sections.

Annotated iBike data for the entire ride (click to enlarge)

KEEL MOUNTAIN NORTH SIDE (1st time up)
Dist:        1.61 mi (0:13:31)
Energy:     208.8 kJ
Climbing:     837 ft (Strava CAT 3)
          Min   Avg    Max
Power       0  257.4   527  W
Gravity   -22  231.0   509  W
Speed     0.0    7.2  21.9  mi/h
Elev      469    896  1306  ft
Slope    -0.3   9.71  16.8  %
Caden       0   62.5    93  rpm
HR        104  150.3   163  bpm
NP:264W IF:0.95 TSS:20 VI:1.03
CdA: 0.342 m^2; Crr: 0.0039
168 lbs; 3/20/2012 11:36 AM
90 degF; 1012 mbar

NOTES: We passed a HOUSE on the climb that was being pulled 
up the mountain. They got stuck in one of the switchbacks. 
There are two switchbacks on the climb. The descent is crazy
fast - you've just got to remember when to jam on the brakes
before the two switchbacks.
KEEL MOUNTAIN SOUTH SIDE
Dist:        1.90 mi (0:15:27)
Energy:     217.0 kJ
Climbing:     855 ft (Strava CAT 3)
          Min   Avg    Max
Power       0  234.1   442  W
Gravity  -275  205.4   419  W
Speed     3.6    7.4  19.1  mi/h
Elev      479    938  1332  ft
Slope    -4.4   8.39  22.8  %
Caden      34   61.6    98  rpm
HR        110  140.3   156  bpm
NP:245W IF:0.88 TSS:20 VI:1.05
CdA: 0.342 m^2; Crr: 0.0039
168 lbs; 3/20/2012 12:12 PM
87 degF; 1012 mbar

NOTES: This was a pretty steep climb. The 22.8%
max gradient was taking a diabolical inside path
on one of the switchbacks. This had a lot more
twisty sections and was a generally fun climb, but
tricky descent. The best part of the descent is 
at the top as you are coming off the mountain
as the descent starts out with a switchback 
that makes you feel like you are diving off
the top of the mountain for a free-fall.
GREEN MOUNTAIN WEST SIDE
Dist:        1.15 mi (0:11:07)
Energy:     169.5 kJ
Climbing:     690 ft (Strava CAT 3)
          Min   Avg    Max
Power      76  254.1   371  W
Gravity    11  232.4   360  W
Speed     4.2    6.3  16.7  mi/h
Elev      462    805  1158  ft
Slope     0.2  11.20  23.9  %
Caden      41   56.1    96  rpm
HR        120  150.8   166  bpm
NP:263W IF:0.95 TSS:17 VI:1.03
CdA: 0.342 m^2; Crr: 0.0039
168 lbs; 3/20/2012 1:19 PM
92 degF; 1012 mbar

NOTES: I've heard that this is one of the toughest
climbs in Huntsville. It was definitely steep with some
sustained 20+% gradients. At the last turn before the top
there was a car that had rolled and looked like it was left
there to warn people of the danger of the descent. It 
had police tape all over it with busted out windows. The
descent was amazingly fast but kinda dangerous. The 
car that had rolled was in a decreasing radius turn that
almost caught me off. Then you have a really fast section
into a sweeping turn that you can pretty much hit without
brakes leading into the fastest part of the descent. YOU
HAVE TO HIT THE BRAKES HARD LEADING INTO THE LAST LEFT!
I knew it and hit the brakes hard but I still almost didn't
slow down enough.
GREEN MOUNTAIN EAST SIDE
Dist:        1.82 mi (0:15:25)
Energy:     222.7 kJ
Climbing:     829 ft (Strava CAT 3)
          Min   Avg    Max
Power       0  240.8   358  W
Gravity   -63  209.2   353  W
Speed     3.9    7.1  17.3  mi/h
Elev      458    853  1294  ft
Slope    -1.2   8.88  18.4  %
Caden       5   59.8    92  rpm
HR        103  148.0   164  bpm
NP:253W IF:0.91 TSS:21 VI:1.05
CdA: 0.342 m^2; Crr: 0.0039
168 lbs; 3/20/2012 1:45 PM
87 degF; 1012 mbar

NOTES: I had climbed this once before, and it is still
really steep. It starts out with cement that has been
grated at the bottom to helps cars get traction. Then
it eases up a bit and rolls a bit on the way up. This
may be one of the coolest descents I've done with 
the rollers coming at 50+mph so that you have at least
one horizon drop-off.
KEEL MOUNTAIN BLOWING CAVE (STEEP!!!)
Dist:        2.19 mi (0:13:30)
Energy:     211.7 kJ
Climbing:     756 ft (Strava CAT 3)
          Min   Avg    Max
Power      89  261.4   431  W
Gravity  -462  206.1   461  W
Speed     3.4    9.7  24.8  mi/h
Elev      563    921  1326  ft
Slope    -6.9   6.40  26.2  %
Caden      30   63.1    97  rpm
HR        119  156.8   177  bpm
NP:281W IF:1.01 TSS:23 VI:1.07
CdA: 0.342 m^2; Crr: 0.0039
168 lbs; 3/20/2012 2:46 PM
85 degF; 1012 mbar

NOTES: This was by far the steepest climb
with several sections above 20% including one
26.2% section NOT in a switchback. There
is some gravel and dirt sections that are not
too rough but can catch you by surprise on the
descent. Still, you can get some speed on the
super steep sections because they are fairly
straight. Watch the dogs at the top and the bottom
of the climb/descent.
KEEL MOUNTAIN NORTH SIDE (2nd time up)
---------Selection Stats---------
Dist:        1.61 mi (0:12:29)
Energy:     213.6 kJ
Climbing:     820 ft (Strava CAT 3)
          Min   Avg    Max
Power      64  285.2   418  W
Gravity   -38  253.2   397  W
Speed     5.4    7.8  23.0  mi/h
Elev      561    976  1382  ft
Slope    -0.5   9.82  16.2  %
Caden      51   66.6    98  rpm
HR        131  169.5   179  bpm
NP:288W IF:1.04 TSS:22 VI:1.01
CdA: 0.342 m^2; Crr: 0.0039
168 lbs; 3/20/2012 3:15 PM
84 degF; 1012 mbar

NOTES: I wasn't going for the KOM, but I
was trying to put in a good time on this and ended
up 2nd behind Mark Fisher by almost a minute. That
would be a tough time to beat. Kudos to him!

Keel Mountain – north side – first time up

Keel Mountain – south side

Green Mountain – east side

Green Mountain – west side

Keel Mountain – Blowing Cave Rd

Keel Mountain – north side – 2nd time up

March 20, 2012 at 8:38 pm 2 comments

It’s Sunday – a great day for two flats

Well, this makes two weeks in a row of two flats on Sunday. Last week, two flats might have cost me a podium at Rouge Roubaix. This week, I had two flats on the way to church, but just like last week where thanks to a quick change from the motorcycle wheel support, it all worked out just fine. Today’s ride started out really great with the typical Skyland – Dolly Ridge – Caldwell Mill climbing. I was looking for a hillier way to get over to Hugh Daniel and ended up discovering a really cool climb up onto (literally) the Healthsouth Corporate Headquarters helicopter landing pad. Very cool! Then on the fun, fast, twisty descent out the backside of Healthsouth, I pinch flatted on a drainage cover at the back gate. I thought I would practice a quick change, and I thought everything went well, but I flatted again about 5 miles later just before the top of the Hugh Daniel – Greystone Crest climb. The flat was on both sides of the valve stem so it looks like I might not have had the tube in straight after the first flat. I didn’t have any more tubes, but I did have a patch kit. It turns out that my original flat was a snake bite in one location and a small gash in another location. Two patches later I was able to pump up the original tube that had flatted first and continue on to church. Thankfully, I made it because after church the tire was completely flat again. So I just caught a ride over to grandma’s house with Kristine, and we had a nice afternoon together as a family. I’ll definitely take that any day of the week – flat or no flat!

When we got home, I tried to get a picture of the whole near the valve stem when a chipmunk wandered into the view finder literally a foot or so away from me. Then as I was trying to take a picture of the chipmunk eating some nuts, a beautiful female cardinal landed right behind the chipmunk. A little while later another bird landed but I couldn’t get a good picture of it. Here are the pics:

March 18, 2012 at 6:28 pm Leave a comment

Shades Mountain and Red Mountain climbing

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.

Annotated profile with gradients for larger hills and climbs (click to enlarge)

Annotated map of red mountain shades mountain climbing (click to enlarge)

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.

Annotated view of Red Mountain taken from high point on Shades Mountain (Vestavia Dr) – click to enlarge

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

March 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm Leave a comment

Rouge Roubaix heartrate data and topocreator maps

Two more things to add to this year’s Rouge Roubaix race report: annotated heartrate data and topocreator maps (2D and 3D). Check them out below!

Heart rate zone summary

Annotated heartrate/speed/power curve (click to enlarge)

2D annotated topocreator map of the entire rouge roubaix course (click to enlarge) … or click here to download ultra hi-res version.

3D topocreator map of entire route (click to enlarge)

3D topocreator map of blockhouse hill (click to enlarge)

3D topocreator map of tunica hills (click to enlarge)

March 15, 2012 at 9:13 pm Leave a comment

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My mtb waiting to be pushed to brick alley, plus future cross bike??? The southminster switchbacks further up the hill plus run-in to the berm (bottom) Hwy 31 left sidewalk- hidden gem in Vestavia. Check out my road bike tracks on the berm in lower left pic.

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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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