Category Archives: Adventure

Fluffy Steve Memorial Ride

Two years ago, there was an email about a bunny that needed a home. I replied that if they didn’t find a home by the end of the week, we would gladly take it. Well, on Friday of that week, there was a knock at the door and I was handed a beautiful lionhead baby bunny. As the owners turned around to leave, I asked if he had a name and they said they had been calling him Fluffy Steve. I said, “that’s perfect”. I was home alone, but Kristine was going to be home in a little while so I just sat on the couch holding the bunny. She (we found out later Fluffy Steve was a girl instead of a boy as the original owners had thought) sat there and licked me (which our other bunny doesn’t do very much). The upper left pic is right after I handed the bunny to Kristine after she got home from work that day.

We hoped that Fluffy Steve would be best friends with our other bunny, Jaggy. It was not to be – we tried several times to bond them, but they would just fight. Bunnies don’t always get along with each other, and when they don’t – it can be pretty violent. Eventually, we came up with a solution. Fluffy Steve would be Analise’s bunny and live in her room. The top right pic from the collage above is Fluffy Steve on Analise’s bed. The bottom left pic is a selfie Analise took of her and Fluffy Steve. Analise bonded with the bunny, but it wasn’t just Analise that the bunny loved – anybody who came into her room would receive tons of bunny kisses after Fluffy Steve would bolt out from under the bed to see who it was.

That only leaves the bottom right pic, which Kristine took early yesterday morning while she was still snuggling the bunny on the couch having spent a good chunk of the night and morning with her.

This went well for the next couple years with one exception – Fluffy Steve would occasionally be quiet and not eat very much. We thought it was gas because when we gave her gas drops she would usually perk up and start eating again and be back to her normal self … until last month. She stopped eating and would stay huddled in the corner. We took her to see Dr. Atlas at Riverview and he found an infected tooth. We started antibiotics and pain medicine and she seemed to get better for several days at a time before reverting back to not eating and not moving much.

Fluffy Steve Toone rabbit.Fluffy Steve Toone rabbit

We took her again to the clinic, and the tooth which had cleared up after the first round of antibiotics had gotten infected again along with the others next to it. Dr. Atlas did an X-ray and saw that the infection spread throughout her entire jaw. There was nothing we could do – the last ditch attempt to save her would be a very expensive surgery that would involve removing all her teeth and then using antibiotics injected directly into the jaw where the teeth used to be. Dr. Atlas recommended against the surgery given that she probably would not make it through it, and even if she did, the problem would come back again.

Fluffy Steve on Wednesday night. Kristine held her most of the night.Kristine held and snuggled Fluffy Steve most of the night Wednesday night.

So with no other option, we were going to continue to force feed her through a syringe and give her lots of pain medication until it was clear that it was time to put her to sleep. We imagined at least a week more with her, but that very night she went downhill quickly and would not eat anything and ground her teeth together constantly while sitting huddled and shaking in the corner. The problem with bunnies is that their digestive system is wired to digest a lot of food all the time. So if a bunny stops eating, it takes very little time before other complications arise. So yesterday, we took the kids out of school and went as a family to the vet to have her put to sleep. It was sad. I cried.

Josiah holding and petting Fluffy Steve on Thursday morning.Josiah holding and petting Fluffy Steve on Thursday morning.

Analise holding and kissing Fluffy Steve on Thursday morning.Analise holding and kissing Fluffy Steve on Thursday morning.

After we got the bad news from the vet on Wednesday morning, there was no way I was going to ride. I had been planning to ride on Thursday, but when it was clear Wednesday night even that Fluffy Steve was in a lot of pain, riding was out of the question on Thursday, too. So today I wanted to do a long ride that I would name the Fluffy Steve memorial ride. As it turns out, it snowed off and on during the ride so I’m imagining the snow as Fluffy Steve up in bunny heaven shedding her fur already and the rain mixed with my tears missing her.

2015 a year to remember

30,000 miles of riding in 2015 - annotated US county map. 23 states and 203 counties covered in 2015. Click to enlarge.topocreator.com map showing 30,000 miles of riding in 2015. 23 states and 203 counties covered in 2015. Click to enlarge.

Every January I look forward to writing this blog post with a summary of all the statistics, data, and maps from the previous year’s racing. This year’s summary took a bit longer because I wanted to add a new feature to topocreator.com where you can isolate and retrieve only the elevation data for the counties entered on rides. This makes it easy to see and count the number of counties entered on rides. Using this feature, I determined that I rode in 23 states and 203 counties in 2015 as shown in the map above. In Alabama alone, I rode in 52 of Alabama’s 67 counties as shown in the map below:

topocreator.com map of all my rides in 52 of Alabama's 67 counties. This map also includes rides that started at home and went into neighboring states of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia.topocreator.com map of all my rides in 52 of Alabama’s 67 counties. This map also includes rides that started at home and went into neighboring states of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia.

Finally, veloviewer.com makes it easy to see everywhere you’ve ridden. Here’s an annotated map of my riding since November 2008 when I first got a GPS, plus a comment about some of my riding pre-GPS (i.e., 15 years from 1993-2008).

Annotated map of all my rides from November 2008 until December 31st, 2015 with note about rides pre-GPS. Source: veloviewer.comveloviewer.com annotated map of all my rides from November 2008 until December 31st, 2015 with note about rides pre-GPS.

Alabama the Beautiful
Why counties? When I was training for RAAM, I wanted to showcase the beauty of “Alabama the Beautiful” by visiting as many counties as I could during the lead-up to RAAM. I ended up covering most of the state, but the bottom counties were just too far to get to on out/back rides from my house. To get to all those counties, I did one 500+ mile ride (Heart of the South 500), six 300+ mile rides in Alabama, and thirty-three 200+ mile rides in Alabama. Alabama truly is a beautiful state, and I could not be happier living here. You can’t ride half a mile in Alabama without seeing something cool and different. It never gets old! The biggest surprise for me while exploring counties was Natural Bridge up in Bankhead National Forest northwest of Birmingham. The only reason I was riding up there was to hit four counties in Northwest Alabama (Winston, Lawrence, Franklin, and Marion). Along the way I stumbled upon natural bridge.

Natural bridge #alabama #teamtoone #raam2015

A photo posted by Brian Toone (@kartoone76) on

Race Across America (RAAM)

The highlight for this season was definitely finishing 7th place in my rookie attempt at the Race Across America. I didn’t meet my time goal or finishing place goal, but I was very happy to exceed my fundraising goal for Nuevas Esperanzas. Thank you everyone for the huge amount of support I received in this race. I wish I could have done better, but I am happy to have finished and hopefully represented Alabama well.

Statistics

With RAAM my racing/training became an all-year effort with no offseason. So I’m updating all of my past statistics to a calendar year instead of a racing season year. Veloviewer and Strava have implemented all the features for end-of-season analysis that I used to do with the Polar Protrainer software. Unfortunately, I did not get a GPS cycling computer until November 2008 so that is as far back as my data goes.

Annotated veloviewer.com 2015 graphic - 30,130 miles and 3,323,393 feet of climbing.Annotated veloviewer.com 2015 graphic – 30,130 miles and 3,323,393 feet of climbing. The max ride distance and max ride time are both off because I split up the Heart of the South race in early April into two separate rides. The 426 mile ride was immediately followed by an 85 mile ride with a couple miles of warm-up on the way over to the start for a grand total of 513.8 miles in just over 30 hours with no sleep.

2015 Statistics

Statistic Avg Max Min Total
Weekly training time (hours) 37:52 100:57 (RAAM) 0:00 (Post-RAAM) 1969:51
Weekly distance (miles) 579 1660 (RAAM) 0.0 (Post-RAAM) 30,130
Weekly climbing (feet) 63,911 ft 122,283 ft 0 3,323,393 ft (1.01M meters)
Ride distance (miles) 92.4 513.8 (HOS) 0.6 30,130

Comparison to past years (updated to calendar year)
All these stats are based on the calendar year January 1st – December 31st.

Statistic
(total)
2008
Total
Avg/Max
2009
Total
Avg/Max
2010
Total
Avg/Max
2011
Total
Avg/Max
2012
Total
Avg/Max
2013
Total
Avg/Max
2014
Total
Avg/Max
2015
Total
Avg/Max
Time (hours) 712*
13.7/20.2
617
11.9/19.2
766
14.7/21.3
1,146
22.0/28.2
1,427
27.4/45.2
1,417
27.3/39.6
1,551
29.8/40.0
1,970
37.9/101.0
Dist (miles) 12.2k
235/337
11.5k
221/361
13.9k
268/378
18.1k
346/503
20.7k
399/650
20.5k
394/587
22.1k
424/632
30.1k
579/1,660
Climb (feet) 642k
12k/20k
859k
17k/32k
963k
19k/34k
2,135k
41k/58k
2,611k
50k/100k
2,522k
49k/80k
2,757k
53k/89k
3,323k
64k/122k

* Using Polar Protrainer software to calculate data based on my Polar Heartrate monitor (without GPS) for the 2008 season. This software doesn’t distinguish between “moving time” and “elapsed time”. The 2008 figure is “elapsed time” whereas all the other years are moving time as reported by Strava and Veloviewer.

End of the year milestones
November and December were quite busy for me as I pursued three major calendar year goals – 1,000,000 meters of elevation gain, an Eddington number of 100, and 30,000 miles of riding.

I crossed over the 1,000,000 meter mark on December 23rd during the middle of a very hot (temps in the 70s) and wet week of riding down in Alabama. My original goal had been 3,000,000 feet of climbing, but when it looked like I was going to blow past that near the end of November I thought I would up my goal to 1,000,000 meters (3,280,839.9 feet). I tracked my progress on a website I created (howmuchtogo.com), and no matter how much I was climbing I seemed to be stuck in the 10,000-11,000 foot range per day in order to meet this goal. But after a fun 10,000 meter (~33,000 feet) adventure to Inland Lake on Pine Mountain, the goal started to quickly come into focus with me chopping hundreds and eventually thousands of feet per day off the requirement. See graph below.

The last 16 weeks of my progress on howmuchtogo.com towards my 2015 elevation climbing goal of 1,000,000 meters of total elevation gain.The last 16 weeks of my progress on howmuchtogo.com towards my 2015 elevation climbing goal of 1,000,000 meters of total elevation gain.

The Eddington number was tougher to get because during the year I had several 99 mile rides, which don’t count towards the 100 number. Finally, after two back-to-back centuries on December 24th and 25th, I hit 100 centuries for the year. Lifetime, I’d like to get my Eddington number up to 200 but it will be many, many years before that happens. It currently stands at 118, but to give you an idea of the deviousness of the Eddington number, I need two more rides of at least 119 miles to reach 119 and six more rides of at least 120 miles to reach a lifetime Eddington number of 120. To reach 200, I need 142 more rides of at least 200 miles.

In addition to 100 centuries in 2015, I hit a number of other benchmarks:

Benchmark Quantity
500+ mile rides 1 (Heart of the South 500, 1st place, 30 minutes off course record
400+ mile rides 1 (although I came close to a 2nd one with a 398 mile ride during RAAM)
300+ mile rides 12 (including 6 during RAAM)
200+ mile rides 45 (including 9 during RAAM)
100+ mile rides 100 (including 5 Alabama Backroads Centuries plus riding to/from the start of each!)
Everestings 1 (Everested Clingman’s Dome, the highest pt in TN, by climbing it 5 times)
Cheaha Rides 32 (All of these rides are round-trip from Hoover to the highest pt in AL)

Location based milestones were many. First, I rode across the entire country. Second, I made it from Birmingham all the way up to Nashville having failed to do that in 2013. Prior to that, though, I rode all the way from Birmingham up to Cave City, Kentucky through some very rural and fun ridges and hollows of Tennessee. Another goal was to do rides starting and ending at my house that hit all the neighboring states. I did a 295 mile loop to Tennessee, 263 mile loop to Mississippi, and a 244 mile loop to Georgia. I didn’t make it to Florida, but the loop I did to hit some of the South Alabama counties was 313.5 miles long!

I rode around the earth 1.2 times this year, and climbed halfway to Medium-Orbit around the earth approximate 2.5 times higher than the International Space Station.

Strava Challenges
This was also the year for the Strava challenges for me, especially the climbing challenges. Also, I’m pretty sure I completed every Strava challenge this year.

Challenge Place Participants Goal Actual
January climbing 2nd 77,697 6,142m 96,761m
January distance 29th 114,440 1,250km 3,277km
January granfondo 100 22nd 90,930 100km 395km (15)
January granfondo 150 26th 49,600 150km 395km (7)
February climbing 2nd 67,442 8,535m 97,255m
February distance 12th 109,059 1,250km 3,447km
February granfondo 100 42nd 87,625 100km 397km (14)
February granfondo 150 50th 45,862 150km 397km (9)
March climbing 20th 79,449 4,096m 32,964m
March distance 7th 138,026 1,250km 4,419km
March granfondo 100 11th 109,030 100km 499km (15)
March granfondo 150 11th 58,209 150km 499km (13)
March Adventure Cycling 1st 48,636 24hr 23h7min
April climbing 11th 110,373 9,000m 67,765m
April distance 2nd 164,906 1,250km 4,392km
April granfondo 130 2nd 142,817 130km 686km (12)
Specialized Spring Classics 3rd 103,612 1,225km 6,345km
May climbing 10th 117,803 6,000m 53,338m
May distance 5th 194,006 1,250km 5,177km
May granfondo 100 16th 213,114 100km 504km (18)
Giro climbing 22nd 94,623 10,000m 62,983m
June climbing 21st 114,072 8,848m 57,892m
June distance 6th 195,034 1,250km 6,011km
June granfondo 115 165th 148,725 115km 500km (9)
July climbing 129th 121,124 1,860m 21,003m
July distance 501st 184,651 1,250km 2,524km
July granfondo 130 18th 123,643 130km 525km (9)
The Tour de France 681st 75,636 1,680km 1,890km
August climbing 9th 113,690 11,000m 82,543m
August distance 42nd 193,286 1,250km 3,703km
August granfondo 150 355th 115,352 150km 342km (12)
The Paris-Brest-Paris 38th 68,584 1,200km 3,703km
September climbing 1st 123,699 9,000m 100,091m
September distance 19th 190,124 1,250km 3,863km
September granfondo 120 64th 158,106 120km 406km (14)
October climbing 3rd 116,195 7,500m 100,926m
October distance 6th 168,270 1,250km 3,871km
October granfondo 120 55th 107,529 120km 410km (17)
October Adventure Cycling 47th 93,386 24h 17h10min
November climbing 2nd 103,582 6,000m 101,902m
November distance 21st 151,224 1,250km 3,392km
November granfondo 100 28th 105,732 100km 417km (16)
December climbing 2nd 100,596 5,000m 113,204m
December distance 10th 138,630 1,250km 4,403km
December granfondo 100 31st 104,937 100km 429km (23)
Rapha Festive 500 424th 72,286 500km 793km

The #’s in parentheses are the number of rides in the month that met the minimum Gran Fondo distance.

Huge thank-you
So this post has been just a bunch of stats and maps, but the real story is all the people who made it possible. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to so many people, and I want to thank so many people, but it really is too many people to thank by name. Know that I am deeply appreciative for all that everyone has done for me this year. I do want to thank one person, though, my beautiful wife Kristine Toone, who has put up with all the hours on the bike and endured nights of troubled sleep waking up frequently to check the Garmin tracker to make sure I’m still moving in my overnight and all-day rides. Also, during the Race Across America, I got to a point where I really just wanted to talk to her all the time so she dealt with a lot of the stress of the race and helped me through it amazingly. My favorite picture from RAAM is this one where I realized how madly in love with her I still am 14 years after meeting her at Mercy Ships in Texas.