Tag Archives: photos

Shades Mountain and Red Mountain climbing

Annotated view of the Big Momma (West Oxmoor Rd) climb
Fun, hard ride today. I didn’t have any particular goal in mind other than steady tempo climbing for most of the ride and a KOM attempt on the West Oxmoor Rd climb (Big Momma). Big Momma is a moderately steep climb that starts out really steep and then gradually gets shallower and shallower as you get closer to the top. I’ve tried at least once to take back this KOM and fell far short. Today, I wanted to give it another go. Along the way I did a lot of steady climbing over in Mountain Brook and Irondale.

Then, as I headed over to Red Mountain I started to get antsy (sp?) to go hard. I hit Woodcrest kinda hard and then as I got closer to the top I felt really good so I drilled it. Crossing over the Red Mountain ridge at the top, I took the Warwick Dr neighborhood cut-through to descend back down towards Five Points South, but I missed a light and turned early onto 12th (I think) and climbed back up the ridge again before heading all the way back down the ridge again into UAB campus. This felt a bit like what I would imagine most of the Tour of Flanders would feel like – climbing up cobbled steep roads and turning around at the top to descend down before turning around at the bottom to climb back up the same ridge line on a different cobbled road. Check out the topocreator map and elevation profile below.

Annotated profile with gradients for larger hills and climbs (click to enlarge)

Annotated map of red mountain shades mountain climbing (click to enlarge)

The main difference being that instead of cobblestones in downtown Birmingham, you just get sections of really crappy pavement with potholes, bumps, and rough pavement mixed in with whatever random section of road has been repaved recently and is perfectly smooth. I went hard from UAB all the way up the Red Mountain Water Tower climb – around one of the closed gates (hello cyclocross) and ended up setting the KOM on that climb as well. I’ve updated the annotations on the panoramic picture of Red Mountain that I have posted on a previous ride.

Annotated view of Red Mountain taken from high point on Shades Mountain (Vestavia Dr) – click to enlarge

Finally, it was time to head down Valley Avenue over to West Oxmoor and do the climb. By the bottom of the climb I had already climbed almost 8500 ft and set two KOMs, but I was still feeling good when I hit the climb. I started out way too hard and struggled at the top but it was enough to take the KOM. Afterwards I stopped by a Starbucks to get some water after it turns out that the Hoover Burger King has replaced its nice soda fountain with easy access cold water with one of those silly fancy “Mix your own drink” coke machine. I had run out of water just before the Big Momma KOM so I had been out for a little while. The iced cold water from Starbucks though was perfect. I headed back up Shades Mountain through Bluff Park at a much easier pace and ended up running out of water 20 miles later close to home. Hot, hard, fun ride!

Here’s a link to all the interactive data on Strava: http://app.strava.com/rides/5334767

Southern Cross Weekend Wrap-up

Panoramic view from a grassy knoll just below the summit of Brasstown Bald – the highest point in Georgia at just under 4800′

Wrapping up a wonderful weekend of riding, racing, and climbing in the beautiful North Georgia mountains outside of Dahlonega that included the Southern Cross Ultracross race, I headed out for one last ride right after the nice breakfast provided by the awesome folks at the Hiker Hostel. My daughter’s church choir program was at 5PM back in Birmingham, and I really wanted to be back in time for it – so my original plan of 85 miles and 11-12,000 feet of climbing got scaled back to 65 miles and 9,000 feet of climbing.

Having thrown out my original route plan, I decided on a modified route that included 4 major climbs (Cat 2 or higher) and a few smaller climbs (Cat 3 or lower). I climbed Woody Gap from the R&R ranch and then proceeded backwards on the Six Gap century course climbing over Wolf Pen, then heading out to Jack’s Gap and taking the 180 spur all the way to the top of Brasstown, turning around at the top and reversing my course but this time heading up Neel’s Gap on US129. The final climb of the day back to the Hiker Hostel had the steepest gradients with a crazy steep driveway access road that climbs up and over a couple mini-ridges before turning into a dirt power-line trail with gradients well over the 30% that ended up getting recorded on my iBike.

iBike data for the ride

3D map of the route annotated with gaps and mountains (click to enlarge)

2D annotated map with roads and mountains labeled (click to enlarge)