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Out west summary

What an amazing trip we had out west this summer … 21 days and just over 4000 miles of visiting family and sightseeing in 8 states. The genesis of the trip was our cousin’s wedding in Phoenix for Memorial Day weekend. But there was also a really cool mountain bike race the next weekend in Flagstaff giving us a chance to visit other cousins who live there. Along the way here are some highlights from our trip:

Kristine and I below the red rocks of Sedona, AZ

  • Camping for a couple days at the Grand Canyon: Kristine ran to see the sunrise, Josiah and I biked 9 miles to see the sunset, Analise was the girl scout camping expert pretty much single-handedly showing us how to set up the giant tent we borrowed from the Mabry’s
  • Phoenix for the wedding and to visit family: Analise absolutely loved the wedding – especially getting to dance with her cousins and the bride and groom during the reception, Analise and Josiah both enjoyed swimming and playing with all four cousins, Josiah and I biked through the canals, and I had a chance to bike with Uncle Bruce in an awesome mountain bike park (Deem Hills). I also drove down to Tucson to do the longest, highest climb I’ve ever done on the bike (Mt Lemmon – 41.8 miles starting at 2300′ and ending at 9000′)
  • Flagstaff to visit family and race the Barn Burner: Analise and Josiah enjoyed playing and biking around town with their cousins, Kristine hiked up to the highest point in Arizona (Humphreys Peak – 12,600′), I placed fourth at the Barn Burner 104 mountain bike race, and we all camped at nearly 9’000 feet on the side of the San Francisco peaks. Also, Analise was totally into astronomy with the Lowell Observatory, the transit of Venus, and viewing Saturn through the 100+ year old Clark Telescope
  • Los Alamos: Kristine and the kids enjoyed exploring the Indian ruins at Bandeleir national monument while I had the opportunity to climb up and into the Valles Caldera – an ancient massive supervolcano
  • Tulsa for the Tulsa Tough bike race: the kids enjoyed biking all over town and doing well in the kids races. I had a chance to race three days including the climb up Cry Baby Hill which was very Tour de France like – check it out:

    Tulsa Tough: Cry Baby Hill (2012) from Keith Walberg on Vimeo.

Some maps and stats – just over 4000 miles of driving … 1242 miles of riding and over 90,000′ of climbing split over 37 rides…

Our 2012 out west adventure (click to enlarge)

Out west adventure – 35 rides numbered in order by location (click to enlarge)

Strava Climbing Challenge Wrap-up

March 15th – April 30th – 96 rides, 3084 miles and 468,661 feet of climbing – the Strava Specialized Climbing Challenge is done.

Last year I climbed a lot because I really like climbing (and descending). This year in this climbing competition, I was driven by a desire to win so I climbed more and rode much more than I have ever ridden before. Jeremy Philippe still has a chance to win if he has any more rides that he hasn’t uploaded yet, and if he does win then he deserves it because all of his climbing was on real mountain climbs in the French Alpes. Earlier in the competition, it was a race to see who could get to the prescribed climbing total 105,312feet first, and Robin Squire in England came out on top there reaching the total in an amazing 9 days. My climbing has been on the short, steep (sometimes super steep) climbs in the southern suburbs of Birmingham. Almost all of my climbing has been on three different ridge lines with hundreds of different roads criss-crossing through neighborhoods on the sides of the hills – see maps below showing only the 96 rides that counted towards the climbing challenge.

Birmingham climbing – routes overlaid on top of each other – darker blue means more times ridden – click to enlarge

Birmingham zoomed out with double oak way ridge line (click to enlarge)

Climbing challenge – rides in three states

The nice side effect of all this riding and climbing is that my racing has gotten even better as well. I assumed that there would be a trade-off as I bumped up the volume, my high end intensity would tank. But this didn’t happen – instead, I tied an all-time max heartrate at the end of a 422 mile week racing the Mississippi Gran Prix. Then the next week, I finished 26th in a really tough Sunny King criterium with some of the best criterium pros in the country near the end of a 475 mile week. Then towards the end of 510 mile week on the 75th mile of the day I finished in the top 20 (20th) of the Athens Terrapin Twilight criterium. I think there really is something to a term that a friend of mine coined – terrain based training (thanks Warren!) The secret is one word – recovery. Terrain forces you to go easy. If your legs are shredded from racing, then when you climb a hill you have to go so slow that it gives your legs a chance to recover. Whereas if you are on flatter terrain with smaller hills, then you might be tempted to punch it up a hill or maintain a fast speed if it is flat. If you are climbing a 15% grade, then it is easy to go 3-5mph and weave up the entire climb, and there is no mental pressure to go even the slightest bit faster. Plus you have a downhill coming up soon where you can coast, soft pedal, or tuck-and-fly instead of having to keep on pedaling on a long mountain descent or on flat roads. I’m going to write up some more about my training strategies in another post.

For now, here are some highlights/timeline from the final day of the challenge:

  • 7:30AM – walk the kids to school
  • 8:15AM – first ride – commute to samford with mind-numbing 25 repeats of skyland dr – 40+mph to 5mph each repeat
  • 9:20AM – teach languages and theory course at samford
  • 10:30AM – help student with senior project
  • 11:30AM – second ride – run into Mark Fisher (almost literally) while doing more repeats on skyland – ride together doing some of my favorite climbs/descents in vestavia
  • 2:50PM – finish second ride and pick up kids from school (literally – see photo below)
  • 3:15PM – third ride – combine mountain brook climbing route with hoover – bluff park climbing route – new max speed coming back down from bluff park
  • 6:45PM – finish third ride, shower, and go on date with kristine while grandparents babysit the kids – firebirds for dinner, world market, barnes and noble coffee, awesome
  • 9:30PM – upload data – see that Jeremy hasn’t uploaded any more rides – start to get paranoid
  • 10:45PM – fourth ride – laps in the dark, tired but full of adrenaline, hammer out 30 laps
  • 11:50PM – upload last ride and screenshots, for some reason i really wanted to get all my data uploaded before midnight

Kristine got a video of Analise and Josiah running with me up the hill to our house on what I thought was going to be my last ride of the day. See video below:

Riding with Josiah after school at the end of my second ride of the day.

Between my third and fourth rides, Kristine and I had an awesome date night.