Posts tagged ‘crash’
Awesome weekend hanging out with friends in Athens. Perhaps the highlight of my weekend was being there to see Mark Fisher win the amateur finals race in a crazy solo move. I was also very happy with how I was able to stay near the front in the pro race and even attack to take a $100 prime late in the race. With two laps to go, a couple guys crashed in front of me of me going into turn 1. As soon as I hit the brakes to try to stop, the guy behind me plowed into me at pretty much full speed — popping me up into the air and then landing ironically on him, his bike and unfortunately for my right knee, his pedal (or my own headset). Initially, I thought I had shattered my knee b/c the pain/shock was so great that I was almost paralyzed to even try to move to unstraddle my bike. Somehow after untangling everything I still had one foot on the left side of my bike and the other foot on the right side of my bike. So I’m standing there trying to figure out whether I can still get back on my bike when the field starts to come down the stretch again. I knew at this point there was no way to even ride in easy so I scrambled off the course just before the remnants of the field came barrelling into turn 1 again with one lap to go. Disappointing finish to an otherwise great weekend! On Sunday, I partially redeemed the weekend by discovering a new Cat 2 climb for Alabama (Campington Ridge) on what was supposed to be a 120 mile ride home via Mount Cheaha. Instead, I got to climb Cheaha in a thunderstorm full of lightning and then descend it in a thunderstorm downpour. By the time I made it to Talledega, finishing the ride wasn’t even on the menu any more — but a hot coffee and supersonic breakfast burrito while waiting for Kristine to come pick me up definitely was!
Well, as it turns out my camera bounced off my handlebars in Turn 2 fairly early in the race … I think it may have been the second or third lap. Some kind soul found it for me and turned it into Ashley Travieso. So assuming that the camera card wasn’t broken by the impact, then I should have videos to post of the scrum, call-ups, and first one or two laps. I’m picking up the camera from Ashley at the Sandy Springs race on Sunday so I’ll probably have those videos posted by Sunday night or Monday morning!
Athens Twilight Pro/1 2013 59th place, crash 2 to go Lap Time Mi. AvgPow MaxPow HR RPM MPH 1 1:27 0.6 299 888 154 83 25.7 2 1:19 0.6 293 791 167 82 26.2 3 1:17 0.6 256 815 169 79 27.5 4 1:19 0.6 264 824 168 80 27 5 1:15 0.6 246 877 167 81 27.6 6 1:14 0.6 259 851 170 84 27.7 7 1:12 0.6 239 736 173 84 28.6 8 1:13 0.6 258 862 174 80 28 9 1:20 0.6 245 807 174 83 25.3 10 1:17 0.6 272 849 173 81 26.8 11 1:17 0.6 246 880 176 79 27.3 12 1:20 0.6 254 862 174 77 26 13 1:14 0.6 246 847 176 81 27.8 14 1:16 0.6 274 868 177 81 27.6 15 1:12 0.6 269 896 178 83 29.2 16 1:19 0.6 207 856 175 79 26.8 17 1:21 0.6 250 855 170 84 26.1 18 1:14 0.6 262 833 172 84 27.6 19 1:21 0.6 224 827 175 78 26.3 20 1:19 0.6 248 820 172 83 26.9 21 1:16 0.6 243 838 173 79 27.6 22 1:16 0.6 269 851 175 82 27.7 23 1:12 0.6 232 929 178 78 29.1 24 1:20 0.6 257 826 172 80 26.5 25 1:18 0.6 251 859 178 76 26.6 26 1:16 0.6 244 771 176 80 27.9 27 1:15 0.6 244 824 173 79 28.3 28 1:14 0.6 270 788 173 82 28.5 29 1:11 0.6 249 781 177 80 29.8 30 1:13 0.6 239 892 175 78 29 31 1:17 0.6 241 832 176 74 27.4 32 1:20 0.6 231 723 172 81 26.4 33 1:15 0.6 241 868 173 83 27.9 34 1:12 0.6 241 835 176 79 28.5 35 1:12 0.6 239 789 174 81 28.9 36 1:18 0.6 242 865 170 74 27 37 1:17 0.6 243 829 174 79 27.2 38 1:14 0.6 240 829 174 81 28.2 39 1:15 0.6 232 781 172 83 27.7 40 1:21 0.6 286 796 178 81 25.9 41 1:13 0.6 266 854 180 80 28.7 42 1:14 0.6 244 868 175 78 28.2 43 1:16 0.6 243 879 172 80 27.8 44 1:16 0.6 242 821 170 80 27.5 45 1:17 0.6 236 801 170 82 27.3 46 1:15 0.6 250 797 170 80 27.7 47 1:15 0.6 221 769 171 79 28.4 48 1:15 0.6 257 770 170 81 28 49 1:16 0.6 244 795 172 84 28.1 50 1:14 0.6 246 767 171 86 29 51 1:13 0.6 249 807 170 81 29.3 52 1:16 0.6 224 731 169 82 28.3 53 1:15 0.6 261 793 167 80 28.4 54 1:15 0.6 252 788 174 78 28.4 55 1:16 0.6 248 745 172 81 27.5 56 1:25 0.6 216 783 166 78 24.9 57 1:18 0.6 234 763 164 79 27.1 58 1:15 0.6 226 783 163 80 27.8 59 1:18 0.6 243 837 159 79 27.1 60 1:17 0.6 253 776 167 77 27.3 61 1:12 0.6 255 808 170 83 29.4 62 1:21 0.6 255 745 172 79 26.1 63 1:19 0.6 234 711 169 79 26.5 64 1:16 0.6 286 716 168 80 28 65 1:18 0.6 221 727 170 80 26.9 66 1:25 0.6 216 617 161 81 24.8 67 1:11 0.6 418 741 172 82 29 68 1:24 0.6 262 548 183 84 25 69 1:16 0.6 242 750 175 83 27.7 70 1:19 0.6 261 732 168 82 27.1 71 1:18 0.6 269 772 173 79 27.1 72,73 2:34 1.2 241 734 171 80 27.4 74-76 4:00 1.8 265 819 175 80 26.7 77 1:20 0.6 277 794 179 81 26.7
Towards the end of the lap data with rain moving in, apparently my GPS couldn’t keep up with the turns anymore and my auto-lap feature wasn’t kicking in correctly. Looking at the data, it may be that my crash was actually with 3 laps to go (2.75 laps).
Athens Twilight 2013 Pro/1 – Heartrate zone summary
Athens Twilight 2013 Pro/1 – Annotated heartrate plot (click to enlarge)
Athens Twilight 2013 Pro/1 critical power curve
The detailed report
Athens Twilight is a race like no other in the country. From the atmosphere of thousands and thousands of people lining the entire course several rows deep, to the pre-race scrum fighting for position before the race even starts, to the super fast course, to the uncertainty of how the race itself could play out in any number of dramatically different scenarios. After racing it for seven years in a row now, I think I’ve figured out what makes the course so amazingly fast — the fact that turn 1 is so slow. What this does is it causes everyone from the back of the pack to have to accelerate really hard up the hill to keep from having gaps open up. Yet the course is so wide coming across the top of the hill that there are plenty of people with lots of momentum to slingshot past the guys at the front causing the guys at the front to respond and pick up their speed behind the new guys who are trying to attack or go off the front. And that new faster speed is easily carried through the wide turn #3. Heading into turn #4 you are coasting, so you have a chance to recover and then hit it really hard again through the start/finish. This process repeats itself enough times and pretty soon you are averaging over 30mph per lap.
I had a really great start in this year’s race on the second row, and I held good position towards the front third of the group until a crash coming out of Turn #1 at the very front of the field caused a pile-up. I could see guys pulling up behind it and getting ready to head back to the pit, but I also could see a way around the mess so I opted to just keep riding since there were no gaps I could see. Going up the hill out of turn #2, I was in a bit of a panic b/c I could see a front group of about 25 riders had separated itself from maybe the next 50 or so of us — and I was near the very back of this group. Fortunately, some heavy hitters were not in that front 25 so our group was able to catch back up before the end of that lap.
In the chaos of the crash and remerging of the groups, a few riders slipped away and formed a dangerous looking break. Predator missed the move, though, and after 15-20 laps of steady chasing they brought it back. A few laps later, a three man move including eventual winner Kevin Mullervy (Champion/NoTubes), Carlos Alzate (UHC), and Frank Travieso (Mountain Khakis) escaped and quickly got a good gap on the field. Predator went to the front again to chase, but they couldn’t get any help from anyone else. During these laps, I was slowly working my way back up towards the front. Then with maybe 16 or 17 laps to go, I was in good position and the pace of the field let up at the front so I thought about attacking up the hill with no real race objective other than to be off the front for Kristine. I realized it would be better to wait for a prime, though, and on the very next lap they rang the bell for a $100 field prime. The pace slowed again just a bit across the top and I took that opportunity to launch an attack to go for the prime.
I imagined the whole time I was attacking that I was just pulling the field with me or at least one or two other riders who would come around to take the prime, so I sprinted hard all the way to the line not realizing that I had escaped cleanly and had maybe a 5 second gap by the line. I was cooked from the effort, though, so I sat up, recovered, and waited for the field. I slotted back in at the front of the field and spent the next 12 laps attacking up the outside on the hill to keep from getting passed by the field and then slotting back in behind UHC through the start/finish. This was taking its toll on me but I was maintaining good position until 3 laps to go heading into Turn 3 when the pace eased up a bit on the downhill and I wasn’t close enough to the barriers so a whole slew of people came around me on the outside. I tapped the brakes feeling squeezed by the people on the inside and lost even more positions. I think I probably went from top 15 back down to top 30 by the start/finish line. Shortly after the start/finish line heading into turn #1, there was a big pile-up on the ground in front of me, and as I hit my brakes to try to stop before running into it, the guy behind me plowed into me from behind propelling me up into the air a bit and then ironically landing on top of him as he came sliding by me on the ground.
Side note – I’ve now crashed five times at Athens Twilight after racing it for 7 years. Out of those five times, my body has only hit the ground twice – once in 2007 when I landed on my butt in the straight section between Turn #3 and Turn #4 when somebody went too far outside hit the curb and bounced back into the group taking down a number of riders (including me) and then once in 2011 when I landed hard on my wrist in a very similar wreck to this year’s except going through Turn #1 instead of heading into it. The other three wrecks (two more in 2007, I had three wrecks that year, and one in either 2008 or 2009) have all involved me landing on top of other people already on the ground!
My first thought was get back up and try to tack back onto the riders who were still streaming by those of us caught up in the wreck. But my bike was so tangled up in two other rider’s bikes that it took a few seconds to even get the bikes untangled. By this point, the field was gone. Also, it was about that time I realized must have cracked my knee really hard on something (pedal, headset) as it was bleeding and hurting quite a bit. In fact, the location of the pain paralyzed me for a few seconds as I was afraid to move or bend my leg thinking that I had done some serious damage to my knee and would end up crumpling back to the ground if I tried to move. As I looked back to the start/finish I could see the lead moto and knew that the field was coming soon so this forced me to try to move and I found that I could move my knee without any additional pain. I climbed through the fence as spectators grabbed my bike and pulled it into the beer tent. Turning down numerous offers for beers, ambulances, and other forms of assistance, I was able to take my bike and ride it through the crowd to the start/finish line where Chad was interviewing the winner, Kevin.
Even having to pull out with three to go, I still ended up 59th as many of the nearly 100 starters had already abandoned the race earlier. So I’m happy to not have to put a DNF in my results! Kristine related to me later that the race for first was an intriguing one with Kevin attacking the break with six to go and Frank and Carlos hesistating to chase. This gave Kevin enough room to solo it in from six to go. Carlos ended up outsprinting Frank for 2nd with Frank rounding out the podium in 3rd. All-in-all I think it was a good race for me being in good position so late in the race and then just a bit of bad luck with two to go. C’est la vie – can’t wait until next year!!!!!
Alabama’s newest Cat 2 climb – Bain’s Gap to Campington Ridge
On the way home I had Kristine drop me off on the old Fort Mclellan property so I could ride a new Cat 2 climb and then bike almost 120 miles home via Mount Cheaha. Along the way I saw a really cool wild turkey run across the road, and a long black snake, and then I got absolutely soaked in a thunderstorm on the top of Mt Cheaha – quite scary with all the lightning – and a huge downpour on the descent down into Talladega. By the time I made it to Talladega, I was ready to be done riding so I called Kristine to come pick me up. I got some cool pics that I’ve posted in the gallery below.
Well, I almost made it through the rest of the year without crashing after my spill at the end of the Sandy Springs crit in May. Today, though, I hit the branch that is shown in the picture above. I never saw it because it was mixed in with a bunch of leaves on the ground. When I hit the branch, my wheels slid out immediately left and me and the bike went sliding on our right sides. It was not “slide friendly” pavement. Look at the damage to the handlebar tape and handlebar. Now imagine that same damage on my arm, hip, and hands. Or at least that’s what I thought I was going to find … instead I have some bad road rash in just a few isolated spots on my arm, hip, and hands. But enough to make it a challenge to type and to be dripping blood from those spots. I may have done something to my hip, though. Right now I am just hoping that I only damaged the muscles and tendons on the outside and inside of my hip.
As soon as I hit the branch and went flying along the ground with my bike, I had enough time to think as I was sliding along the ground for 8 SECONDS. My thoughts went something like this:
- What did I hit?
- I’m ok, that didn’t hurt too bad, I can still make it into school
- Oh no, this is a really long slide
- Oh crap, this is not good pavement to be sliding on
- When am I going to stop?
- Class is cancelled
- I can’t ride home
It’s amazing what all had to come together for me to crash. There was a bad storm system moving in, so I left for work early and was planning on going through Bluff Park. But as I got near Lorna Rd, the clouds were getting darker and the rain was starting to get heavier, so I decided to turn around and take the more direct Vestavia route into school. Still, as annotated in the map, I was planning on taking the Vestavia Forest route since I had plenty of time this morning to add on the extra mile. Unfortunately, I missed the Hwy 31 light and I wasn’t going to wait for it so I turned around and was planning on taking my normal route up Badham – Willoughby – Garland – Wickford. But when I got to the Willoughby intersection, I decided that I didn’t want to do the extra steep climb in the middle and opted to stay straight on Badham since it is a more gradual climb. So this put me onto a section of Badham that I normally do on my way home from work. But on that route home, I normally turn at the intersection where today I went straight. It was just past this intersection on a stretch of road that I hardly ever ride where I hit the branch hidden amongst the leaves on the road.
Here’s the link to the data on Strava … you click and zoom in on the section of the crash to see the 8 second slide. http://app.strava.com/rides/2349857
I stood up and was feeling some pain in my hip and a lot of pain from the road rash on my hands so I just started yelling “help” because I was hoping somebody would come out from their house and offer me a ride home or at least so I could borrow a phone to call home for Kristine to come pick me up. I stood there yelling for a minute or two and nobody came out. I walked back up the street and found the branch which was the only thing in the road that I could see that would have caused such a sudden jolt and crash. I stuck it in my backpack and tried to figure out what to do. By this point after falling, I had calmed down enough and had assessed the various pains enough to realized that I could probably ride home because I could still move everything and nothing appeared to be broken on my bike. I got on and started riding just as the storm really hit. It was a thunderstorm downpour all the way back to my house.
I was just inspired to see what I had written up about previous crashes … check them out here:
And a couple of accidents back to back in the summer of 2006:
Summary – racing well, but missed break which lapped the field. I was working hard to stay at the front with 2 laps to go when my front wheel started to slide out on the fast downhill turn #3. I straightened up to stop the slideout, but that meant that I wasn’t going to be able to finish making the turn at 32+ mph. I ended up slamming into the barriers shoulder first at 32.3 mph according to my iBike. Here’s the same explanation in video form at the hospital:
I am incredibly sore on both sides and the back of my neck. Here is a picture showing the bruising and swelling around my neck and where the helmet straps cut into the skin. Same thing on the other side of my neck. Ouch.
bruising around my neck
Sandy Springs crash power data annotated
Warm-up, race, and trip to hospital
More videos from the race…
Strava lap data… http://app.strava.com/rides/536484
MI FT MPH WATTS HR TIME Sandy 0.6 32 15.3 143 118 0:02:22 Sandy 0.6 32 14.2 112 117 0:02:33 Sandy 0.6 32 16.8 136 115 0:02:09 Sandy 0.8 32 10.3 135 119 0:03:31 Sandy 0.6 32 25.5 310 150 0:01:25 Sandy 0.6 32 28.9 423 166 0:01:15 Sandy 0.6 32 29.3 449 168 0:01:14 Sandy 0.6 32 28.9 425 168 0:01:15 Sandy 0.6 32 28.1 386 169 0:01:17 Sandy 0.6 32 28.5 435 169 0:01:16 Sandy 0.6 32 28.5 418 173 0:01:16 Sandy 0.6 32 27.8 401 173 0:01:18 Sandy 0.6 32 26.7 357 174 0:01:21 Sandy 0.6 32 28.5 433 173 0:01:16 Sandy 0.6 32 26.1 354 171 0:01:23 Sandy 0.6 32 27.8 368 172 0:01:18 Sandy 0.6 32 27.4 381 174 0:01:19 Sandy 0.6 32 30.9 518 178 0:01:10 Sandy 0.6 32 29.7 454 176 0:01:13 Sandy 0.6 32 26.1 331 172 0:01:23 Sandy 0.6 32 27.4 384 174 0:01:19 Sandy 0.6 32 27.4 367 174 0:01:19 Sandy 0.6 32 26.1 322 172 0:01:23 Sandy 0.6 32 26.4 354 172 0:01:22 Sandy 0.6 32 30.1 456 176 0:01:12 Sandy 0.6 32 26.1 357 172 0:01:23 Sandy 0.6 32 28.9 452 180 0:01:15 Sandy 0.6 32 28.9 456 187 0:01:15 Sandy 0.6 32 26.4 354 182 0:01:22 Sandy 0.6 32 26.7 363 171 0:01:21 Sandy 0.6 32 27.1 370 168 0:01:20 Sandy 0.6 32 27.8 371 170 0:01:18 Sandy 0.6 32 29.3 407 174 0:01:14 Sandy 0.6 32 27.1 343 171 0:01:20 Sandy 0.6 32 27.4 383 171 0:01:19 Sandy 0.6 32 27.8 361 173 0:01:18 Sandy 0.6 32 27.8 371 172 0:01:18 Sandy 0.6 32 27.8 359 172 0:01:18 Sandy 0.6 32 27.1 353 172 0:01:20 Sandy 0.6 32 25.2 311 173 0:01:26 Sandy 0.6 32 25.5 324 172 0:01:25 Sandy 0.6 32 26.1 323 171 0:01:23 Sandy 0.6 32 25.8 324 175 0:01:24 Sandy 0.6 32 26.1 337 175 0:01:23 Sandy 0.6 32 27.1 349 174 0:01:20 Sandy 0.6 32 27.1 352 173 0:01:20 Sandy 0.6 32 28.9 428 175 0:01:15 Sandy 0.6 32 27.4 363 176 0:01:19 Sandy 0.6 32 27.8 401 178 0:01:18 Sandy 0.6 32 28.1 409 179 0:01:17 Sandy 0.6 32 28.1 405 180 0:01:17
Last night when we finally made it back to Birmingham, I couldn’t sleep so I went ahead and analyzed and posted my power and heartrate data. Here are my race reports:
2011 Athens Twilight Summary
Pat Allison and I were the two Tria riders in the race. Pat started at the back of the front group, and I started near the front of the back group, so we ended up starting not too far apart. I was lucky because the guy in front and to the left of me couldn’t clip in which opened up a whole in front of him that allowed me to pass a bunch of people right from the line. I was able to then work my way towards the front by about 20 laps into the race. Pat was just behind me when there was a crash in turn 1. I hit the rider who was on the ground in front of me and flipped up in the air. I came down onto my hand, chin, and knee. I blew out my front tire when I collided with the rider, so I was put back into the race with a new front wheel. Pat also got caught up in the crash. When we got placed back in, Pat went in a lap earlier than me towards the back of the group. I went in a lap later after the mechanics had changed out my flat wheel and gotten my shifters straightened out. They put me back in towards the front 1/3rd of the group. My wrist was really sore, but I was still able to pull up on the handlebars hard enough on the backside hill and fight for position towards the front of the field. I felt great and was always able to pass riders over the top of the backside hill. With 10 laps to go, there was a $100 prime, and as soon as I saw that nobody was sprinting for the prime, I attacked hard up the left side clearing the UHC train just in time to take the prime. I had a lot of momentum, so I went ahead and rolled off the front and stayed away until the top of the hill on the backside of the course. Then I fought hard for position and ended up 26th. Pat used a lot of energy moving back up after getting put back into the race and was still able to fight to finish 47th.
It is so hard to describe the atmosphere surrounding this race, you have to be there and experience it to really appreciate what it is like. With Chad Andrews announcing the race and getting everybody pumped up and over 30,000 people lining the streets, beer gardens, parking decks, hotels, loft windows, bar/restaurant open air second levels all screaming and cheering added to a race that averages 30mph all under the lights, it is easily the biggest adrenaline rush of the entire season. This year’s race was super smooth except for the one crash in turn #1 that unfortunately was just ahead of me. It was definitely the highest average speed for me. My friends Ashley and Stephen from Birmingham (who both graduated from UGA) drove up from Birmingham to watch the race! How cool is that! It was awesome to hear people all the way around the course cheering for me and for my teammate Pat. Thank you everyone!!!! I always tell people that if there is one race of the year to see what fast criterium racing is all about, it would be the Athens Twilight race.
Here are some videos and pics that my wife took:
Picture sent to the kids before the race. They loved it! The kids were staying with the Luncefords who have graciously hosted us every year for the past 4 years! The kids and us look forward to Twilight every year to enjoy the weekend together.
2011 Roswell Criterium Summary
This is normally a safe Pro/1/2 race, but this year there were numerous crashes. I was involved in two of them, and also broke a spoke on Turn #4. That meant that I was in the pit three times during the first half of the race. The first crash that I was in could be described as a fender bender with me running into the back end of the crash. I was able to clip out and catch myself before falling. The second crash was in the exact same spot with riders getting tangled up in front of me on the outside of Turn #2. Neither of them went down, but when they tried to untangle themselves one of them swerved right into me and took me straight into the barriers. My bike stopped for a moment, and I kept going forward flipping through the air. As soon as I knew I was ejected off the bike, I tucked up into a ball and fortunately landed partially on the air cushion that was being used as a barrier. My bike then continued on past me as my rear derailleur had gotten tangled up with somebody else’s bike. I had to walk forward to retrieve my bike. My rear derailleur was really bent, so when I made it back to the pit I was able to get a SRAM neutral bike to restart the race. With about 35 minutes left to go in the race, there was a nasty crash towards the top of the backside hill. It was a Tour de France style crash with the peloton bunched up together and riders in the middle getting tangled up and then taking down everyone near them blocking the entire road. The spectators moved the barriers to help the riders in the back (including me) get around, but when we made it back to the start/finish, the race had been neutralized with an ambulance on the course. I was pretty shaken up from my crash earlier in the race and after not being able to move very far up, I drifted towards the back where I proceeded to cramp up with a lap to go and eased up to cross the finish line behind the main field. There was another crash on the last turn in the last lap, but I was so far back I didn’t see what happened. I just saw riders picking themselves up off the ground after it was over.
Here is a video that my wife took early on in the race: (Look how big the field is!!! I guess that might explain why there were so many crashes)
Also, here are couple good pics that Dave Gearhart got of me in the pit at Roswell…
Here are my Athens Twilight lap split times from Strava:
Name MI FT MPH PW HR Time Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 12.3 64 110 0:03:03 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 26.2 371 166 0:01:26 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 29.7 454 178 0:01:16 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 29.3 433 179 0:01:17 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.5 510 180 0:01:14 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 31.8 461 177 0:01:11 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 29.7 463 177 0:01:16 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 31.3 528 181 0:01:12 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 32.2 511 181 0:01:10 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 29.3 429 181 0:01:17 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.5 440 181 0:01:14 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 27.5 468 183 0:01:22 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 32.2 503 183 0:01:10 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 29.7 466 181 0:01:16 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 27.5 395 183 0:01:22 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.5 472 180 0:01:14 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 29.7 389 182 0:01:16 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.5 457 181 0:01:14 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.9 451 182 0:01:13 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 29.7 443 182 0:01:16 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 32.2 476 181 0:01:10 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.1 470 180 0:01:15 Athens (1 lap) 0.8 21 6.2 204 164 0:06:03 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 28.9 446 179 0:01:18 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.1 468 180 0:01:15 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.9 470 179 0:01:13 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.5 473 181 0:01:14 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.9 414 178 0:01:13 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.1 471 179 0:01:15 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.1 461 181 0:01:15 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.1 438 181 0:01:15 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.1 451 181 0:01:15 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.5 479 179 0:01:14 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 29.3 438 185 0:01:17 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 29.7 449 177 0:01:16 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 29.3 491 181 0:01:17 Athens (1 lap) 0.7 21 29.7 436 180 0:01:16 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 29.3 348 175 0:01:17 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 32.2 412 178 0:01:10 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 28.2 454 178 0:01:20 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.5 375 173 0:01:14 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 29.7 466 173 0:01:16 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.5 450 176 0:01:14 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 27.5 431 176 0:01:22 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 27.9 363 175 0:01:21 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.1 413 179 0:01:15 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 29.3 445 179 0:01:17 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 28.9 400 176 0:01:18 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 28.6 368 171 0:01:19 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 29.7 383 167 0:01:16 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 27.2 364 168 0:01:23 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 29.7 410 173 0:01:16 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 28.9 367 173 0:01:18 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 28.6 402 169 0:01:19 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.5 400 169 0:01:14 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.5 458 173 0:01:14 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.9 409 175 0:01:13 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.5 406 174 0:01:14 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 27.5 394 174 0:01:22 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.5 456 176 0:01:14 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 31.3 417 174 0:01:12 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 28.9 453 175 0:01:18 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 29.3 487 176 0:01:17 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.5 443 175 0:01:14 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 28.2 407 176 0:01:20 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 28.9 413 176 0:01:18 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 28.6 409 186 0:01:19 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 29.3 413 179 0:01:17 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 29.3 456 178 0:01:17 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 28.6 379 178 0:01:19 Athens (1 lap) 0.7 21 28.9 408 177 0:01:18 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 29.7 405 177 0:01:16 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 31.3 431 181 0:01:12 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.5 457 183 0:01:14 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 30.9 510 185 0:01:13 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 33.2 545 187 0:01:08 Athens (1 lap) 0.6 21 2.6 72 137 0:14:16
And here are my Roswell lap split times from Strava:
Name MI FT MPH PW HR Time Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 26.6 367 155 0:02:05 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 27.9 429 166 0:01:59 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 29.7 472 169 0:01:52 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 30.2 470 171 0:01:50 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 13.9 388 166 0:03:59 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 29.7 448 168 0:01:52 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 27.7 426 166 0:02:00 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 29.1 427 170 0:01:54 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 28.9 463 172 0:01:55 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 13.8 176 151 0:04:01 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 27 394 165 0:02:03 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 27.5 406 167 0:02:01 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 26.6 385 168 0:02:05 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 27.5 400 171 0:02:01 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 28.1 420 171 0:01:58 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 29.4 437 174 0:01:53 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 29.1 475 172 0:01:54 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 28.1 411 169 0:01:58 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 28.9 409 168 0:01:55 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 9.2 197 152 0:06:01 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 27.7 434 163 0:02:00 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 28.6 481 172 0:01:56 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 28.9 448 171 0:01:55 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 12.2 192 153 0:04:33 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 26.6 390 156 0:02:05 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 29.7 487 169 0:01:52 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 26.8 363 171 0:02:04 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 27.5 454 171 0:02:01 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 28.1 432 170 0:01:58 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 28.6 483 169 0:01:56 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 26.6 410 168 0:02:05 Roswell(1 lap) 1 22 27.5 492 169 0:02:01 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 27.9 444 171 0:01:59 Roswell(1 lap) 1 22 29.1 452 168 0:01:54 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 27.2 419 166 0:02:02 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 27 417 168 0:02:03 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 27.7 463 175 0:02:00 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 29.1 449 168 0:01:54 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 29.9 514 168 0:01:51 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 27.2 413 165 0:02:02 Roswell(1 lap) 0.9 22 21.7 208 148 0:02:33
Today, I narrowly avoided a really bad accident more by luck than anything else unless there was some angels keeping me from low or high-siding the bike during the sideways skid to avoid a collision with a pick-up truck. Here’s the details and a caution / warning for a particularly bad intersection in the Hoover area … the intersection of Patton Chapel Rd and Chapel Ln. BE CAREFUL IF YOU RIDE THROUGH THERE IN THE LATE AFTERNOON!. The maps and data tell part of the story, but you will want to read the short narrative below to see how I almost got creamed by a pick-up truck that never saw me and why I didn’t see him until it was almost too late.
closeup of the dangerous intersection(s) – if you click on the picture to view the large version you can see the deviation in the GPS data from the sideways skid when decelerating from 25mph to 12mph in 1 second
So it all started with my commute home from work. I was climbing up Smyer and ran into Chad Hubbard who was heading the same way as me over towards Bluff Park. (Chad, if you are reading this, great riding with you today! This all happened about 10 minutes after we parted ways) Normally on a commute route home through Bluff Park, I would take Farley over to Shenandoah (crazy steep) and then down Mountain Oaks (fast and dangerous) and Hackberry (crazy fast 50+mph but not as dangerous). Instead, I wanted to get home with an easier route and less climbing so I headed down Patton Chapel (relatively slow and straight) which is not a particularly fun road to descend because it isn’t very fast, goes between two schools across the street from each other (imagine the chaos around 3:00 in the afternoon!), and then has the dangerous intersection with Moss Rock Preserve Parkway and Chapel Ln towards the bottom where I almost got into an accident today.
Today was MLK day though so I knew that the schools were closed. The sun was starting to get low in the sky to the west, though, and I’m sure that played a role in why the old man in the pickup truck with snow white hair never saw me. So anyway, here is what happened. I was descending between the schools at about 32-35 mph (speed limit is either 30 or 35). I made it past the schools and started to approach the two traffic lights which are very close to each other. The first traffic light is newer and it was easy to tell that it was green. The second traffic light is older and much harder to see when the sun is behind you. So you have to look really hard at the traffic light as you approach it. I had slowed down to about 25mph because I wasn’t sure if the light was green or red. As I was looking at it trying to decide if I was going to have to stop, I finally made it to the angle where you could see the traffic light instead of the sun’s glare. I thought, hey, that’s great I’ve got a green light. Well, because I had been so focused on the traffic light and the car waiting to leave from the side street (b/c if he started to move before I could see my light I would know that my light was red), I didn’t see that there was a pick-up truck coming from the opposite direction as me who decided to turn in front of me. There was no room. Let me repeat, there was no room. I looked down from the green light and was immediately staring into the side of a white pick-up truck moving slowly across the intersection. I had enough time to do two things: slam on the brakes and steer left. As I slammed on the brakes, the rear wheel locked up and slid sideways while the front wheel continued to roll (I think). This pointed me hard to the left and when the rear wheel stopped skidding I had slowed down enough and moved far enough left (12mph – nowhere near close enough to stopping) that the pick-up truck had just cleared out of the way in front of me. I mean we are talking inches (or less) from what would have been a 12mph collision with the side of a truck. Not super fast, but it definitely would not have been good. The worst case scenario that was narrowly avoided would have been if my front wheel slid out or if it had grabbed too hard and I high-sided over the bike and slid right under the rear wheels of the pick-up. That guy didn’t see me. As I cleared him barely to the left and looked through the back of the pickup truck, I saw that he had snow-white hair so I’m assuming he was really old. Especially since he was turning so slow. If he had darted across in front of me, then it would have scared the you-know-what out of me, but I might not have even needed to touch the brakes. Instead, he was sorta just rolling across the intersection slowly. Anyway if he was old enough and out of his senses enough, he may have just kept right on driving with me under the wheels.
Just to clear up any confusion though, I had a green light. The next person after me to get a green light would be the guy who was waiting at the intersection to turn left onto Patton Chapel Rd. The guy in the pickup truck who turned across my lane was turning not on a left arrow, but rather on a green light where you are allowed to proceed if there is no oncoming traffic. He clearly didn’t see me, and he almost ran over me. So anyway, all that is to say please be careful at that intersection.
Also, as far as visibility, this is what I had on today – (although the picture below was taken back in early December and today I had on my green Nature Valley kit underneath the reflective rain jacket so my shorts were a contrasting green color)
Two days, 75 miles, one high speed crash, and over 12,000 feet of climbing! Read all about it below…
Day 1 – Cherokee Orchard Climb and Gatlinburg Bypass Loop
I just posted a few days ago about the awesome Double Oak Way 1500ft climb in Birmingham, and it is definitely an awesome climb. But if the Double Oak Way climb is awesome (which it is), then the Cherokee Orchard climb here in Gatlinburg, TN is beyond awesome.
Before I dig into my recap, here is my word stream of thoughts on the climb:
And as the climb reached its crest, and the narrow two-lane road turned into a one-way paved path through the woods and eventually plunging back down the mountain, here are the next words that come to mind:
Those were the word summaries. Here is the recap …
We had a long adventuresome drive from Birmingham to Gatlinburg arriving late at night so we didn’t have the grand majestic view of the mountains as we drove into town. Instead, we arrived after midnight to beautiful Christmas lights, cold temps, and a hotel room that had accidentally been double-booked with another guest. So when the security guard gave us our key, there was somebody already in the room! After a few phone calls, the guard was able to get in touch with the hotel owners and find us another room. By 1:30AM, we were settled into our room and I began working on a few last minute things for the computer conference the next morning.
At 2:30, I set my alarm for 5:45 to get up and go for a short ride before the start of the conference. Even though it was only three hours of sleep, I was wide awake as soon as the alarm went off because I knew what was waiting – a nearly 2000ft climb up Cherokee Orchard Rd and a first-time descent of a one-lane, one-way scenic drive through the woods just outside Gatlinburg! This was a route I had planned out over a month in advance, and it turned out to be a really nice selection of roads around Gatlinburg with the centerpiece being the Cherokee Orchard climb and the one-way descent through the woods all in a loop less than 20 miles long with over 3000 feet of climbing.
I was out the door by 6AM. It was still very dark, and as I turned onto Cherokee Orchard road and headed up the initial slopes of the climb, I kept wondering if I would stumble upon a bear rooting around for food before daybreak. My small headlight that I was carrying didn’t shine very far. But I made it up the 3 mile initial part of the climb without seeing much of anything. It was cold and quiet (except for the creaking of my bottom bracket). By this point, I was 20 minutes into my ride and the pre-dawn sky was brightening a bit. I turned onto the one-way, one lane scenic drive road (speed limit 10mph) and continued climbing for another couple miles before reaching the high point at just under 3200ft (1900 ft of vertical gain from the starting point at 1300ft).
I started down the descent excited, but hesitant because of the steep drop-offs, trees, and sudden twists and turns. I decided that it was bright enough by this point to stuff my headlight into my back pocket since I might need both hands for hard braking and cornering. The descent was so much fun. I couldn’t let it completely out because this was my first time down the descent, and because I couldn’t see very well. In fact there were several times where I thought the road went one way and in fact it went the other way so I kept my speed in the mid to upper 20s. Because of the poor lighting, though, it felt like I was going twice that fast. And with so many twists and turns, it was just amazing. You literally were dipping and diving between trees on a paved path through the woods about the same width as the Lakeshore trail in Homewood.
Here is a picture of the paved path that I took the next day with a bit more daylight. Note that this is looking down a gradient of nearly 15%. You’ve got to be sure to lean the right way – no room for errors!
Paved path, one-way, one-lane descent off the Cherokee Orchard climb. This wasn’t even the narrowest or coolest part of the descent, but rather towards the very top. I wasn’t going to ruin the descent to stop and take pictures!
The rest of the ride was great, either up or down with very little flat sections. I made it back in time to get ready for the conference and help staff the registration table (I was on the organizing committee). The conference went great, and I was very busy all day so I didn’t get a chance to debrief the ride until that evening when I talked Kristine’s ear off about it at the Bubba Gump shrimp factory.
Day 2 – Clingman’s Dome and Cherokee Orchard Remixed in the Daylight
The 22.5 mile Clingman’s Dome climb is as epic as Cherokee Orchard is awesome. The sheer scale of the climb makes it difficult even though the average gradient is only 5%. The climb starts at an elevation of just under 1,300ft in Gatlinburg, TN before climbing up to a final elevation of 6,643ft at the top of Clingman’s Dome. The average gradient of 5% is a bit misleading though because it includes a steep mile long descent and several flat sections. So that means that the “uphill” portions are a bit more than 5%, more like 7%. The descent is also epic because of its length, even though there aren’t very many technical sections. I ended up wiping out on one of the more technical corners at the top because the corner had a sheet of ice on it only on the downhill side! In other words, it was dry on the uphill side of the road so I was caught completely by surprise on the descent when my rear wheel started to skid and down I went at 30mph, sliding across the ice on the road, across the ice on the shoulder of the road, and into a snow bank.
But before we get to that, let me take you through the day’s adventure. I set the alarm for 5:45AM again, because the traffic in the Great Smoky Mountains on a weekend is horrible. I was warned about this ahead of time a few years ago, and so whenever I have done the Clingman’s Dome climb, I have always tried to be out the door by 6AM. This year, I was out by 6:20AM and a little concerned about traffic. My concerns were misdirected though, as I should have been more concerned about ice and keeping my bike upright. There was actually less traffic this year than normal on the 2 hour climb. I’m not sure why, though, because when I came back down the mountain there was tons of traffic coming back up the mountain. I guess everybody must have decided to sleep in this year!
Let me step you through the climb. As soon as you leave Gatlinburg on Hwy 441, you begin climbing — pretty gradually for the first couple miles until you pass the intersection with Little River Rd. At this point, the gradient kicks up to 6-8% which it stays at pretty consistently for much of the climb. There are a couple sections that are flatter in the 2-3% range bringing the overall average gradient down to 5.1% for the first 15 miles of the climb reaching an elevation of just over 5000 ft at the Newfound Gap scenic overlook on the border of TN/NC. After a short flat section, you leave Hwy 441 and head onto the Clingman’s Dome spur and begin the final 7 miles of climbing (22.5 miles total).
The Clingman’s Dome section of the climb starts out pretty gradual, and you are totally pumped from having made it up to Newfound Gap. So your average speed kicks up a bit, but pretty soon the road angles up more sharply into the 6-7% range for about 2.5 miles before cresting on the backside of Mt Collins. It is not until this point nearly 20 miles into the climb that you can see your first glimpse of the top! Just as you finally see the top, the “climb” turns into a one mile descent in the 6-7% range. Keep in mind that this entire road is twisty with no straight sections. Very fun!
For the final push, you have to regain the elevation that you just lost on the fun descent. This is a pretty steady 6-7% two mile climb with amazing views to the east, and icicle covered cliff walls above to the right. Coming around a corner, you suddenly enter the massive parking lot for the top. When I did the climb Saturday morning, the parking lot was pretty much deserted which is another reason to start the climb so early. The final 300 vertical feet of climbing is compressed into about 1/2 mile making for an average gradient of 12.5% with stretches in the 17% range. Steep – but not as steep as South Cove Dr in Vestavia (220 feet in 0.2 miles) or stretches of the Double Oak Way climb! Of course those climbs here in Birmingham don’t come at the very end of a 22.5 mile climb!
As I made it to the very cool tower at the top with its circular wheelchair accessible ramp, I noticed that the tower was pretty full of people! I was surprised because I hadn’t seen very many people up until that point. It turns out that it was a boy scout troop starting out on a hike on part of the Appalachian Trail to mark spots that need maintenance. They cheered me on the final stretch as I raced up the ramp. The view is breathtaking, and I have included a few of the pictures below that I took with my cellphone camera and a few pictures that I took when we drove with the kids back up to the top at sunset.
Annotated picture of a portion of the Clingman’s Dome climb
Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Clingman’s Dome route
(Download huge version 6.8MB)
Descending off Clingman’s Dome
The descent begins with the steep paved trail back to the parking lot. I was fortunate because there was only one family on the entire trail. That meant I could go a bit faster than other times of the day when the path is completely overcrowded and overrun with people. You still can’t go that fast though because somebody might dart out. Once you make it back to the road, you get to descend on a twisty, beautifully paved road with slightly banked corners. Very fun. After 7 miles, you make it back to Hwy 441 and continue for another 15 miles down the mountain back into Gatlinburg. Towards the top on one of the shaded north-facing side of the mountain, I ran into my problem with the ice. Besides the immediate pain of falling hard, I was very distraught that I might not get to finish the rest of the ride. After picking myself up and seeing that I wasn’t hurt and my bike appeared to still work, I took off again. I was hoping to catch up to the pick-up truck that I had been drafting at the time I fell.
The truck had gotten too far ahead, but I still enjoyed the rest of the descent slowing down at the only other spot which could have had ice. Once I made it past that point, I pushed my 53×11 the rest of the way down averaging 37mph for 6.5 miles! The descent is fun because of the novelty of its length, but for a speed freak like me it’s disappointing to max out at 43mph.
Cherokee Orchard Remixed
Once I made it back into Gatlinburg, I turned onto Cherokee Orchard Road and immediately began the Cherokee Orchard climb that I had done the day before early in the morning. I wanted to do the descent again in the full daylight. I knew that there would be more traffic. I ended up having to wait behind two cars at the very bottom, but all the other cars I came upon moved out of the way just enough for me to pass. This was sorta tricky because the road was only just wide enough to fit a single car through between the trees. I’ve posted a few pictures below from when I drove Kristine and the kids through after I finally finished the ride and we had breakfast. If you could find a time with enough daylight and few cars, that would be the optimal time.
Ober Gatlinburg and Home
Tired and exhausted I made it back over the final hills to our hotel to pack up, head to the nearby Glenstone Lodge for brunch, and then head up to Ober Gatlinburg to enjoy the day with Kristine and the kids ice skating, mini-golfing, alpine sledding, and chairlift riding before beginning our drive back home to Birmingham with a quick drive up the mountain, quick hike up to the top of Clingman’s Dome from the parking lot, and a beautiful sunset. All the pictures below are from that portion of our trip. Check them out!
Since it has been a little over 14 months since my last crash, I thought I would go out and wreck my bike today. Well, OK, that’s not exactly why I fell off my bike going 25mph, but the end result is the same! Here’s how it all played out: I left my house for a 50 mile training ride armed with three bottles for the heat. I made it about 10 miles just past Liberty Park on Sicard Hollow when I noticed that my rear tire was nearly flat. Fortunately, another rider was stopped on the side of the road making a phone call, and he offered me his pump since I wasn’t sure if there was much CO2 left in my CO2 cartridge that had already been used once or twice. I quickly changed the tube, putting in my spare which I knew had a slow leak in it, pumped everything back up, and rode straight home to put in a better tube. I also decided to put on a new tire that I had bought a while back and not used yet.
Excited to get going again, I railed the 12% downhill outside my house into the 90 degree righthand turn at the bottom of the hill at about 30mph. No problem, everything felt fine. Less than 100 meters later is another 90 degree turn at the next intersection. Still going about 25mph I turned left at this intersection but the brand new tire grabbed really hard and my momentum nearly instantly overcorrected the bike pushing it to the other side. With my pedals still clipped in, this propelled the bike up into the air on top of me with me sliding on my back underneath it all the way across the intersection into the gutter on the other side of the road. I must have landed softly somehow as I’m not sore anywhere other than the middle of my back where I had a bike pump in my back jersey pocket. With just a little bit of road rash on the left side of my body, I definitely call myself lucky. Here’s the maps and my HR data during the wreck:
- Climbing out of my driveway after putting on new tire at the house
- Descending the steep hill on Laurel View Rd
- Wrecking and sliding across Laurel View Ln intersection
- Gathering my water bottles and checking my bike
- Deciding to continue on
- Deciding to return to the house and fix my brake shifter lever (turned inwards)