Category Archives: Training

2015 Rapha Festive 500

Today, I finished up the Rapha Festive 500 challenge to ride 500k (310 miles) between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. This makes three years in a row now that I have been able to complete the challenge, which hasn’t always been easy, given that we usually spend most of that time up in snowy and cold northwest Wisconsin. My ride today was a 78.8 mile ride from Shell Lake, Wisconsin to Heartwood Cabins (where Kristine and I had our wedding reception in 2003) via Hayward where I switched from my mountain bike to a rental fat bike.

One of the things that was really interesting this year is the crazy weather we have been having down in Alabama. Temps have been in the 60s and 70s degF just about every day in December. With these rare hot temps, I have been riding in shorts and short sleeve jersey unzipped nearly every ride. Then during the week before Christmas, it got even hotter despite the weather turning quite wet – Birmingham set record high temps three days in a row in the middle of some nasty rain and thunderstorms. Two of those days included December 24th and 25th – the first two days of the Festive 500. Transitioning from that to snowy Wisconsin was quite a shock to the system as evidenced by the table of rides below:

Ride Distance Climbing Pace Avg HR Temp
12/24 Hoover, AL fast century before Christmas Eve 101.95 mi 13,264 ft 17 mph 128 bpm 64 degF
12/25 Hoover, AL gunshots, thunderstorms, and rain 104.44 mi 9,859 ft 16.1 mph 116 bpm 63 degF
12/26 Shell Lake, WI around town garmin in pocket 2.8 mi 118 ft 6.5 mph
34 degF
*
12/27 Shell Lake, WI timberland hills 49.76 mi 3,320 ft 13.7 mph 117 bpm 18 degF
12/28 Shell Lake, WI finishing the festive 500 78.86 mi 4,879 ft 12.9 mph 123 bpm 16 degF

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Birmingham to Nashville, 2.0

1,128 mile Nashville to Natchez to Birmingham to Nashville triangle1,128 mile Nashville to Natchez to Birmingham to Nashville triangle

While this ride was quite the adventure in and of itself, it was especially meaningful to me because it completed the circle (or in this case 1,128 mile “triangle”) that started two and a half years ago with the inaugural Nashville to Natchez ride put on by Tim Hall to raise money for Team Red, White, and Blue as indicated by the map above.

Nashville,TN to Natchez, MS – JULY 2013
Tim Hall invited me to ride in this charity event during the summer of 2013. In addition to raising funds for Team Red, White, and Blue, I thought it would be a great test run on the Race Across America. My reasoning is if I couldn’t handle seven high mileage days in a row, there would be no way I could complete the Race Across America. Here’s a link to the blog post with all the details and pics, but here is a quick summary: my wife drove me up to Nashville with the kids where we had dinner with our cousins and then I raced the LP Field Wednesday night crit. The next morning, Kristine and the kids cheered our group on as we left from the north end of the parkway on a 4-day ride south to Natchez.

Our group before 444 miles riding the Natchez Trace Parkway from Nashville, TN to Natchez, MS

Our group before 444 miles riding the Natchez Trace Parkway from Nashville, TN to Natchez, MS. 444 miles of camaraderie, challenge, and fun. Left to right: Ben Day, Rick Harris, Philip Martindale, Me, Patrick Harkins, Scott Winzeler, Travis Werts, and team captain Tim Hall

Natchez, MS to Birmingham, AL – JULY 2013

This was the real test for RAAM as I had just finished riding 444 miles with the team, and then needed to ride nearly the same amount again to get back home to Birmingham. This time I picked the most rural roads I could find and struggled to find water frequently. Here’s a video toward the end of the last day when I had run out of water again.

Nashville, TN to Birmingham, AL 1.0 – DECEMBER 2013

The ride down to Natchez was amazing, and it was really great to get to know the guys on the trip better during the long days on the bike. One of those guys was Philip Martindale, who was getting into the wheel design business. He asked me a few months later if I would be willing to durability test an early prototype of his Martindale 6.0 wheels (60mm deep and 25mm wide rims). I was excited to test the wheels and offered to pick them up when we went up to Nashville to watch the Andrew Peterson concert at the Ryman. The plan was for me to ride the wheels home to Birmingham the next day, but Nashville was having unusually cold weather, and I spent several hours of the ride heading south in 10-12 degF temps leading to the formation of these icicles on my beard outside of Lewisburg, TN.

About 3 hours into my attempt to ride from Nashville home to Birmingham, I took this picture while riding of my frozen beard. I was actually quite warm except for my feet.I took this picture of my frozen beard about 3 hours into my attempt to ride from Nashville home to Birmingham. I was actually quite warm except for my feet, which were very, very cold.

I stopped in Lewisburg for a while to warm up my feet, and ended up being way behind schedule so Kristine bailed me out near Hayden, Alabama with over 60 miles still left to ride to get home.

Birmingham, AL to Nashville, TN 2.0 – DECEMBER 2015

All of this finally leads us to my ride on Monday from Birmingham up to Nashville on the same set of wheels Philip had given me to durability test well over 30,000 miles later. It started out dry with a super strong 20-25 mph tailwind on Hwy 31 north. Right as I hit AL-160, I felt the temperature plummet and a few minutes later a torrential downpour. I stopped underneath a shed on the side of the road and put on all my rain gear and soldiered on, absolutely freezing in the downpour with just shorts and short sleeves. Thankfully, I did have a sleeveless rain vest which I zipped all the way up and this kept my core at least a little bit warm. I rode hard and still had a bit of a tailwind, but not quite as strong. Eventually, I made it to Decatur where I found a waffle house where I could dry out and wait for the worst of the rain to pass over. I had brought a second set of shorts in my backpack and switched to those as the rain had about ended by the time I had drunk enough coffee and hot chocolate to warm back up.

By the time I crossed the Tennessee River, the rain had mostly stopped, and it turned into a beautiful hot day with the tailwind still blowing up from the south even after the storm passed over. Eventually, the wind turned more from the west at about the time my route also veered west – so I had some sections with a strong headwind for a bit. But since I was climbing and weaving through all the hollows, the headwind sections were never more than a few minutes. Southern Tennessee is just so amazing. Here was my favorite two pictures from that part of the ride:

Welcome to Delina "somewhere in the middle of nowhere" perfect.

A photo posted by Brian Toone (@kartoone76) on

Beautiful view from near Goshen Ridge.

A photo posted by Brian Toone (@kartoone76) on