Monthly Archives: March 2011

Tour de Tuscaloosa Race Report

As you might be able to see in the video (no audio – Kristine was screaming so loud she broke the microphone), I couldn’t quite come around Dan Holt (Team Type I) in the sprint after he had such a fast jump when he started the sprint, but it was close, and 2nd was good enough for me to take home the state championship! Jacob Brewer (Herring Gas) rode an awesome race, but came off of our three-man break on the final climb with 5k to go in the race. Jacob, who is racing really strong with a great showing at Rouge Roubaix a couple weeks ago, took home the silver medal, and then my teammate Pat Allison got 2nd in the field sprint to win the bronze Alabama medal (5th in the race).

So how did it get to that point? Well, there actually isn’t a lot to report about this race other than at the beginning and at the end. At the beginning, I went with Scott Kuppersmith when he attacked as soon as we made it out of the neutral zone. Our short-lived attack only made it a few hundred meters before the group caught back up to us. Still pretty early in the race, we had a fairly mellow pace up the start/finish line hill. Then as we neared the top of the hill, I saw that Jacob Brewer was about to attack so I jumped on his wheel as he attacked. Then a few seconds later, Dan Holt (Team Type I) had bridged across to us. This meant that three of the major teams in the race where represented in the break. That was the first good sign. The second one was when I turned around and saw the field spread out across the road (meaning that the pace was still slow). This gave me super motivation, and I poured everything into my next pull. I wasn’t the only one, though, because Jacob and Dan both pulled very hard. We had a minute and a half gap by the time we made it to the feedzone on the first lap. By the second lap, our time gap was up to 3 minutes. By the third lap, we had drawn it out to 4 minutes. By this point, our pace had slowed as we were all trying to save energy for the finish. Even so, we held the gap at about 4 minutes for the fourth lap. By the fifth lap, however, the gap had come down to 3 minutes. By the sixth lap, it was 2 minutes. And by the end of the race, our gap had dropped below 2 minutes.

Here is how the end of the race played out. We had picked up the pace on the last lap since the gap had been coming down quickly. Still, all of us were taking shorter pulls because we all wanted to have energy left for the finish. As we approached the start of the feedzone hill, which is split up into two steps, I decided to attack on the first step to see how everyone was feeling. If everybody stayed together, then I was going to attack again on the second step. But when I attacked on the first step, Jacob came off so I laid it down with Dan latching on. Then as we went across the false flat between the steps, Dan pulled through before I took over again on the second step. Coming across the top and the downhill, we worked together and had extended our lead over Jacob enough to cat/mouse our two-man sprint. Neither of us attacked and our pace slowed until Dan led out the sprint with 200 meters to go. His jump was incredible and he gapped me by a few meters immediately. It took about 100 meters to catch his draft, and then with 50 meters to go I pulled out to try to come around, but at 40mph it was hard to accelerate any faster and I ended up only making it about halfway around him by the line.

So Team Type I capped off a great weekend with back-to-back wins. Going to be a great season for them!

Our team had a great weekend, too, taking 5th and 8th yesterday and then 2nd and 5th today in the Pro/1/2. In the Cat 3 criterium yesterday, my teammate Justin Bynum make the winning break to finish a strong 6th. In today’s Cat 3 road race, Philip Thompson made the winning break finishing 5th, which was good enough for the silver medal as the 2nd placed Alabama rider. The state championship win went to Ed Whitehorn of Velocity Pro Cycle who has worked very hard this off season and is showing off great form this season.

The heartrate and Strava data tell the story, too, as you can see the numbers drop from the beginning of the race towards the end before picking up again on the last lap:
2011 Tour de Tuscaloosa P/1/2 Road Race heartrate data

Here are the Strava segments including my lap split times, power, and heartrate average along with my times on the two hills on the course. View the entire ride interactively here –

Saturday night P/1/2 Criterium

Cat 3 Criterium
My teammate Justin Bynum made it into the break of the day, finishing a strong 6th. My other teammates raced well with Philip Thompson snagging a prime, and Timo Stark taking third in the field sprint for 9th in the race. Here is a video of the Cat 3 break finish:

And here is a video of the Cat 3 field finish:

And then here are the photos from both last night’s criterium and today’s road race:

Tour de Tuscaloosa Crit – Quick Report

We dodged the rain for the Saturday night crit here in Tuscaloosa, and scored a pair of top 10 finishes on the team. Team Type I had a really strong team here, along with Thomas Brown from Mountain Khakis, a strong Hincapie Development team, and strong riders from Herring Gas, Texas Roadhouse, Marx and Bensdorf, Sonic and two collegiate teams (Cumberland University and University of Alabama). There were lots of breaks and attacks, but with the long downhill everything was coming back together. I went a bit too hard at the beginning of the race making it into a couple failed breaks. My teammates Pat Allison and Wes Douglas did a great job covering moves throughout the race. Wes made it into a good looking two man chase just before 5 laps to go, but they got caught on the hill. Pat and I worked our way to the front with Pat taking 4th in the field sprint and me taking 7th in the field sprint. With Joey Rosskopf (Team Type I) powering away on a solo break for the second half of the race, that put us in 5th and 8th place for the race. Fun, fast course, great field, all-in-all a good day. Tomorrow is the Lake Lurleen road race, one of my favorite road race courses, and this year it is going to be our state road race – totally excited.

Here is my heartrate data for the crit -
2011 Tour de Tuscaloosa P/1/2 Criterium heartrate data

Fun climbing commute

Yesterday, I had to run by the bike shop to fix a problem with my shoe. Thanks Bob’s Bikes for the quick fix!!! Jonathan at Bob’s is the fastest Specialized tension knob replacer on the planet. On my way home, I climbed up and over 12 ridges both large and small. It was a fun meandering commute, but one that I have done a few times now. Thought I would share the TopoCreator map of the ride.

12 ridge commute topocreator map. Click for large version.

Speaking of TopoCreator, at the risk of sounding like I am “crying wolf” since I have been “almost ready” with the new site for the past 2 years, I really am getting close to going live with the site. A good sign of this is that I am currently working on user management issues. Previously, I was just basically focusing on features and not worrying about users. Now I am trying to make the site robust enough to scale to many users. Look for an update soon with a link to try out the new site!

Update 3/25/11
I had to update this with a couple more maps I made yesterday and today!

First, this is the route that took me up and over 500,000 feet of climbing for the year today. I took it pretty easy on all the climbs except the Woodridge climb. Everything else was pretty mellow because I am racing this weekend at Tour de Tuscaloosa. A note about the route, it only crosses itself twice – once on the out/back portion of the Woodridge descent / climb and then again on South Cove because when I did the descent the first time a pick-up truck was driving the speed limit on the descent so I went ahead and did the Renfroe climb so that I could try the descent again – 57mph!

This commute from Samford back to my house took me up and over the 500,000 ft mark for the year!

The second map shows a zoomed in view of my last 100 commutes, which includes both my commutes yesterday and all the commutes back to the beginning of February.
My last 100 commutes from the beginning of February 2011 until March 24, 2011.

This final screenshot shows my standings in the Strava KOM challenge contest. I was the first person to reach 400,000 and 500,000 feet!

Birmingham to Mount Cheaha

Yesterday, I opted out of a race to enjoy a little adventure with my family before spring break was over, and before my race schedule is completely full. We haven’t been to Mount Cheaha in a little while now, so before spring break was over I wanted to see if we could go for a short hike and have dinner up on Mount Cheaha. We picked the perfect day because after watching a beautiful sunset, we got to see a very cool red moon rising (supermoon). It was awesome! A video, pictures, and data below tell the story.

The ride was great, and I hit the early climbs hard before settling into Zone 3 to set a fast pace with the intention of pushing it back into Zone 5 for Cheaha after a long ride. Unfortunately, the rough roads of the past few weeks caught up to me and I managed to lose a chainring bolt! The consequence of this being that I couldn’t push it hard in the small chainring without dropping the chain. So I had to climb up Cheaha sitting down grinding a somewhat large gear (39×21 and 39×19) or spinning in my granny gear.

First, here is a TopoCreator map of the route:
Hoover to Mount Cheaha via Lake Logan Martin and Talladega

And here is a screenshot of the Strava data and link:
Strava ride data.

A short video that Analise took after dinner:

And finally, here are the photos. These are all taken with an old iPhone 3G while riding many of them one-handed so that is why they are all slanted!

Birmingham 10,000 feet revisited

Strava achievements, 4 personal bests, 3 second bests, and 4 third bests

Today, I incorporated one of my favorite climbs into a 10,000 foot climbing route. Rouge Roubaix was a long hard race on Sunday, and I took Monday almost completely off (1.9 mile bike ride with the kids). So I wasn’t sure how my legs would feel today. I started out easy, but then when my heartrate soared into Zone 5 on the first climb with what I thought was just a medium effort, I decided to hammer the rest of the ride. I ended up setting four personal best times on climbs, 3 second bests, and 4 third bests.

Heart rate zone summary (25 minutes in zone 5!) and calories burned (3944)

The ride itself was awesome with very little traffic. Everybody must have been out of town for spring break. I guess I couldn’t get enough of the dirt / gravel roads from Rouge Roubaix because I added Cahaba Beach Rd in the downhill direction – very, very similar to the dirt sections of Rouge Roubaix when you ride it in the downhill direction. I normally ride it the other way (uphill). I also added a new climb I have never done before which basically parallels Oakdale and ends at the same spot. The climb begins in a drainage ditch at the bottom of a neighborhood, climbs very steeply at first (>15%) and then rolls its way to the top at an average of almost 7% – shorter and steeper than the Oakdale climb. I did four Cat 3 climbs and one Cat 4 climb pretty much one right after the other at the end of the ride. Whew, that was painful!

Lastly, I snapped both of these photos on the steep climb leading up to Renfroe when my Garmin was getting close to ticking over to 10,000 feet!
Garmin annotated – about to tick over to 10,000 feet.
Purple flowers next to the road at the same spot as the Garmin pic.

And finally the TopoCreator map and Garmin .GPX file in case you want to try this ride yourself! A couple notes of caution – inspired by the photo below from a toy airplane instruction manual – most of the descents are crazy fast and dangerous so use caution and don’t go as fast as I do until you have had a chance to do them as many times as I have (e.g., I have descended South Cove almost 60 times!)

Use lots of caution.

Annotated topocreator map and elevation profile.

Strava link:

Garmin GPX: Oak 10K.gpx

Rouge Roubaix 2011 Race Report

18th last year, 9th this year, so does that mean I can aim for a top 5 finish next year? No matter what the result though, every person in every category who raced and finished yesterday raced 105 miles through some of the most grueling terrain and roads you can imagine – and all of it taking place under perfect weather conditions deep in the bayou of Louisiana. What an awesome way to kick start the road racing season! Team JuwiFirst-Solar took 1st and 2nd with Jonny Sundt (Kenda Pro Cycling) placing 3rd after crossing a gap of nearly 10 minutes and then suffering an untimely puncture late in the race.

The Details
Mike Olheiser was there with his new team, Team-JuwiFirst-Solar. Other strong teams included Kenda, Snapple, Metro-VW, Plano-PACC, Team La S’port, Herring Gas, and S3. Mike sent two of his riders up the road in the early suicide break as soon as we made it out of the neutral zone. One other rider (Plano-PACC) latched on making it a break of 3. With such a strong team having two riders up the road, there was much more racing at the front before the first dirt section than last year. No team wanted to commit to chasing, though. Instead, teams tried to launch riders off the front to bridge. Most of these moves came back, but eventually a chase group containing Jonny Sundt (Kenda Pro Cycling), Jacob Brewer (Herring Gas), and Scott Kuppersmith (La S’port Cycling) established itself. This was the situation leading into the first dirt section.

The first dirt section
With six riders now off the front in two separate groups, I was still in the pack of maybe 50 riders going into the first dirt section. I had worked (and fought) my way to the front of the group and entered the dirt in 3rd or 4th position. We hit the first dirt/gravel road hard even with a couple of loose sections, but we were able to plow right through and I stayed in the group but had slid back to about 20th position by the time we reached the logging truck. The truck was heavily loaded and moving slowly (2-3 mph), but the problem is that our lead car stopped on the side of the road. So to pass through there was only about a 4 or 5 foot wide space between the logging truck and the lead car. The first few riders made it through, but the richochet effect of slowing down meant that by the time I made it up to the narrow spot between the logging truck and the lead car, we were moving very slowly. During the process of accelerating back up to speed, I came off the back of the group and chased hard for the remaining portion of the dirt road (about 6 miles). The picture below was taken by Adam Falgout somewhere in the first dirt section when I was chasing by myself.

Chasing the chase group somewhere in the first dirt section. Photo credit:
Adam & Erin Falgout Photography

I knew that I was expending a lot of energy, but I also wasn’t sure if the group was going to slow down after reaching the paved road. The entire time I was chasing, I was riding through the dust and could see the group whenever the road straightened out enough. I looked back periodically and didn’t see anyone, although I knew that there would be chase groups forming behind me. When I made it back to the road, I put my head down and drilled it bridging back up to the group with just a couple more minutes of chasing. A few miles later, one more group joined up with us. And I believe that was it as we started to race again with lots of attacks and counter attacks.

The battle of wills between the first dirt section and the second dirt section
The first dirt section ends at mile 35, and the second dirt section doesn’t begin until 32 miles later at about mile 67. Last year, this entire section was pretty much cruised at 22-23 mph. This year, we had some real racing earlier on starting from about mile 40 until mile 51 where there were a number of attacks. During this section of the race, our average speed was just under 25mph with lots of attacks and then slow-downs. Tim Henry (Pacesetter Steel) got into a number of solo moves, but nothing would stick. Cesar Grajales (Real Cyclist / On the Rivet) tried to get away, but everybody in the pack was watching him like a hawk. He couldn’t go anywhere without the entire field responding. I attacked a couple times, too, but couldn’t make a clean break from the field. When that didn’t work, I tried a couple roll offs hoping that the group would just let me roll away – not happening. Once it was clear that nothing was getting away, our pace dropped with only a few riders setting tempo. I still held out hope of catching some of the earlier riders, but not if we averaged 18mph so I went to the front and helped ramp up the pace a few times trying to conserve energy, but keep the group moving. Our average pace from mile 51 to mile 67 was 22.5mph.

The second dirt section
It became clear by the time that we approached the start of the second dirt section 67 miles into the race that the early suicide move was going to stick this year as they still had a gap of maybe 10 minutes? What I didn’t know at the time is that by the top of Blockhouse Hill, Jonny Sundt (Kenda) had finished bridging across and joined the lead JuwiFirst-Solar pair of riders who had dropped the other rider that was with them. I also didn’t know that somewhere during this stretch, both Scott Kuppersmith (Team La S’port) and Jake Brewer (Herring Gas) had come off of the chase group leaving Jonny to finish the bridge alone. Quite impressive!!

Meanwhile, back in our group, I was watching my Garmin as it ticked down the miles until the lefthand turn onto the second dirt section. I was able to move all the way to front with less than a half mile to the turn. Then when we hit the turn, I entered in about 3rd or 4th wheel. This second dirt section starts out with a mix of paved road, dirt road, gravel road, and potholes. So it is crazy fast leading into Blockhouse Hill, which is 0.6miles long @ 7.8% with really steep pitches in the middle. The entire climb is loose dirt and gravel. Last year, I had to walk it when a rider fell over in front of me, and it was too steep to remount. This year, I was near enough to the front that I was with all the riders who are capable of riding the climb, and we were able to fly right up it (11.4 mph average speed with heartrate of 187). During this crazy-fast ascent, Mike Olheiser and Cesar Grajales separated themselves with maybe a 20-30 second advantage. Immediately behind them, Christian Helmig (Metro-VW), another rider from Metro-VW, and a Bissell Pro Cycling rider coalesced into a chase group by the top. I was just barely off this group by about 5 seconds. I chased for about a mile on the dirt before I was able to catch them. We started working together even before we made it out of the dirt section to try to chase down Mike and Cesar. We could always see them just ahead, and it looked like we were gradually closing down the gap. I was at my limit pretty much the whole time with an average heart rate of 178 for that entire chase (almost 15 miles!). Then as we approached the third dirt section, the gap really started to came down. We got stuck behind about four cars that had lined up behind the follow-car. It was almost like the race caravan at a pro stage race.

The third dirt section
We were getting ready to go around the cars when we realized that we had made it to the start of the third dirt section. We had to wait to see if any of the cars were going to turn left, and that was just enough time for us to not make the bridge to Mike and Cesar, who had turned back on the gas for the dirt. We also lost Christian who was the fastest from our group on the steep initial climb. I struggled on the climb and panicked a bit because I could see Mike, Cesar, and Christian nearing the top of the climb when I was struggling at the bottom. I wanted to go faster, but I couldn’t. I was just struggling to stay upright so I hopped off the bike thinking that I could run up it faster than ride up it. As Mike, Cesar, and Christian disappeared out of sight, I thought for sure Christian had made the juncture to finish the race with Mike and Cesar since we were so close (50 meters?) – but it turns out that he never did catch them – which meant that he rode the last 25 miles by himself!

The long finishing section
Meanwhile, we were still pushing it and eventually caught three riders individually over the next 20 miles – Scott Kuppersmith (Team La S’port) and two Plano-PACC riders. Each rider latched onto our group, but all three were pretty cooked after a really long day in breakaways. At this point, I felt like I was pulling the hardest in our group, so I wasn’t sure if that was because the other riders were struggling – or if it was because they were saving up for the finish. When my Garmin said we had 3 miles to go, I attacked hard on one of the short steep hills. We lost one of the Plano riders and Scott, but unfortunately for me, it became apparent that the other Metro-VW rider and the Bissell rider were just saving up for the sprint because they had no problem closing the gap to me. So I stopped working hard and started to save energy for the finish. Unfortunately, I didn’t save enough energy because the Bissell rider and Metro-VW rider had no problem coming around me in the sprint. The remaining Plano-PACC rider was dropped.

It was during this finishing section that the most unusual thing of the race happened. We were flying around a corner shortly after crossing a cattle guard, when there was a big cow in the middle of the road. We didn’t slow down and just went flying right by it within a couple feet of it. I’m glad we didn’t spook it enough to charge us or kick!

The finish order (updated)
1. Greg Krause (Team JuwiFirst-Solar)
2. Ben Blaugrund (Team JuwiFirst-Solar)
3. Jonny Sundt (Kenda)
4. Cesar Grajales (Real Cyclist)
5. Mike Olheiser (Team JuwiFirst-Solar)
6. Christian Helmig (Metro-VW)
7. Andrew Dahlheim (Bissell Pro Cycling)
8. Stephan Hirsch (Metro-VW)
9. Brian Toone (Tria Cycling)
10. Adam Koble (Plano-PACC)
11. Scott Kupersmith (Team La S’port)
12. Michael Lalla (Plano-Pacc)
13. Tim Henry (Pacesetter Steel)
14. Robert Binkley (Krystal)

19. Andrew Reardon (Nashville Cyclist)
20. Matt Davis (Team La S’port)

The Stats
This will probably be the longest race of the year with the most calories burned (4923 calories). The Strava stats indicate a 242 watt average, but that doesn’t take into account all the effort on the loose, rocky dirt sections. My heart rate average was 160, which is a couple beats higher than a typical road race. But my typical road races are 20-30 miles shorter than Rouge Roubaix!

Annotated heartrate data for Rouge Roubaix 2011 (click for full graph)

Strava segments with calculated power data (click for full graph)
Or you can also view the ride interactively on Strava here –

My day was made as soon as I showed up at registration and saw my TopoCreator map printed out on a 3 foot poster alongside the trophies to be awarded!

Close-up of my topocreator map with annotations added by the race organizers. I like the section labeled “Mo Fun”.

We drive nearly seven hours from Birmingham to arrive and end up parking right next to a car from Pennsylvania with the same MOPS sticker that is on our car!

More racing and climbing

Climbing – Cheaha Mini-Challenge
On Wednesday, I had an Alabama Academy of Science meeting at Jacksonville State University, which is not too far from the highest point in the state – Mount Cheaha. So, after my morning classes, I drove on over to the foothills just off the interstate and then went for a mini-Cheaha Challenge ride. Here is my route and climbing data from Strava -

Mini Cheaha Challenge Strava climbing data.

Got lots of on-the-bike pictures for the ride. See the gallery after the training race recap below.

Racing – GSMR Camp Sumatanga Training Race #3 – 2nd place!
The training race yesterday (Sunday) at Camp Sumatanga turned out really well for Tria Cycling, with our team taking 1st through 5th place! Of course, we did have half the field on our team (literally) as only 14 people showed up for the race with 7 from my team. A quick race summary is that we tried to animate the race early to get several riders in a break. Eventually, my teammates Sammy and Wes made it into a break with me and Joe from Madison. We worked together, but we didn’t crush it because we wanted to see if more of our team could bridge up to us. About a lap into our break, my teammate Justin Bynum bridged up to us by himself. Another half lap later, my teammates Chris and Pat Allison bridged up to us by themselves. So this led to the day’s break with 6 of the 7 riders in the break from my team.

At this point, we were trying to figure out how to get a podium sweep because Joe was riding very strong and looked like he could certainly spoil the party on the climb. We had a good rotation going, and everybody (including Joe) worked well together. The temperature was plummeting, and by the time we finished the race it was below freezing (31.7 degrees Fahrenheit on my Garmin). Here’s how the last lap played out. We wanted to try to get both of our sprinters up the road well ahead of the climb, but Chris was cramping up so we decided to send Sammy first and then a few miles later send Wes to bridge across. So Wes and Sammy reached the bottom of the climb about the same time, while back in our group Joe was having to set the entire pace. I let him lead us to the first switchback in the climb, but when he started to slow down, I accelerated and took Pat and Justin with me. Joe was dropped after all his earlier work chasing, so Pat, Justin, and I were free to set a hard pace without fear of pulling him back up to Sammy or Wes. We caught Sammy just before the Eagle Eyes Cycles bar/shop about 500 meters from the finish. Pat and I decided no matter what that we were going to give Wes the win if we caught him, but we couldn’t catch him because he was crushing the climb. I ended up pulling away just slightly from Pat at the end to finish 2nd (I think because Pat sat up a little early) with Wes crossing the line about 25-50 meters in front of us. Sammy held on for fourth with Justin coming in for 5th in front of Joe giving us a sweep of 1st through 5th place! We started to head back down the climb and turned around when we saw Chris who was still plugging away on the climb despite cramping really bad. We escorted him up the climb for moral support, and then turned around to head back to the start before we froze to death.

Note the temperature in the Garmin Connect data below! Also, the US-231 climb was so beautiful with all the waterfalls from the previous day’s heavy rain.

Garmin Connect data for the race.

Chandler Mountain finishing climb heartrate data.

Pictures from my mini 50 mile version of the Cheaha Challenge