Posts tagged ‘strava’
We are nearing the end of Week 3 of the second annual Birmingham Strava Shootout. Basically, we pick a different climb each week and then see who can get the fastest time up the climb. Mark Fisher has been crushing it (and crushing a lot of my KOMs along the way) so when he laid down another smoking fast time yesterday crushing by 20 seconds my KOM on the long version of the Smyer climb, I knew that I was going to give it everything I had to get back the KOM today.
I did a new version of the endless Vestavia climb at a really easy pace to get nearly an hour of warm-up in before my KOM attempt. I came into the KOM from the top so I dropped all my stuff off (water bottles, tools, pump, food, iphone, etc…) behind the rock shown in the picture above. Then I drilled it down the descent to keep my legs loose and ready to go at the turnaround at the bottom. I forgot to look ahead of time to see what wattage I should be able to maintain for 6 minutes, but I guessed it should be around 425 watts. I made the final decision on that wattage as I was descending and kept telling myself not to go too hard at the beginning.
As narrated in the video, I started out by looking at the wrong wattage number (3s wattage which happened to be 370watts at the moment when I looked instead of the Lap wattage which was actually 470 watts at that point). After I figured out that I had looked at the wrong wattage number, I settled into a good rhythm backing off my initial pace so that the power average drifted back down towards 425 watts. The last time I looked at my wattage was near the Brookwood Metro back entrance road where the wattage average had dropped to just below 450 watts. I looked at my average speed a few seconds later as I turned onto Smyer and I had a solid 18.8mph average through that point. This gave me a ton of motivation because I was expecting to be closer to 18 flat and was afraid that I would even be under 18 based on the fact that I was trying to be more conservative through the opening part of the climb.
Up ahead I could see two other riders side by side as they entered the switchback portion of the climb. I was on them really quickly and had to pass them on the wrong side of the road because there was no time to yell and wait for them to get out of the way. Fortunately, I had a clear view through the switchback and was able to pass them very quickly and get back onto my side of the road. There was a good tailwind through the 280 overlook section so I entered the flat section before the next set of switchbacks with a ton of speed. I got a bit overconfident at this point as I tried to hammer through the next switchbacks in too big a gear leading to quite a bit of bogging down. I upshifted into an easier gear at the Hurricane Ivan landslide/washout area to try to get back on top of a gear and proceeded to nail the deepest pothole in the washout.
I happened to look down and see my time as I rounded the last turn before the straightaway leading to Shades Crest, and I saw a time of 4:00 or maybe it was 4:05. This caused a lot of mental anxiety/consternation because up until that point I felt really good about my prospects of getting the KOM, but when I saw that I was already up to 4 minutes, I wasn’t sure if that was going to leave me enough time to get to the top. I don’t normally ever look at the time through that section so I had no clue how much time was left in the climb. Those thoughts/doubts were quickly dismissed as I saw a group of riders strung out climbing up from the steep portion of Shades Crest Rd crossing the intersection that I was barreling towards at 20mph. Normally, you have to time the merger to slide into the road either in front of or behind cars that are coming up the hill. The still image screenshot in the video at the top of this post is a picture of that intersection (Shades Crest is the road coming up the hill from the left).
If I wasn’t digging so deep, then I probably would have laughed at the irony of having to time that intersection based on riders coming up the hill instead of cars. I found a hole to dive into and then passed the rider who I had slid in behind. He cheered me on as I came flying by, and that helped motivate me to push it really hard through the sharp steep turn onto Smyer Circle and then the flatter drawn-out ending of the climb. When I hit the lap timer button, I saw 5’55” and I was about ready to fall off my bike.
It’s funny, too, because I was really trying to discipline myself to maintain a 425 watt average throughout the climb instead of starting out too hard and then watching the power drift down. I ended up hitting my 425 watt target wattage exactly even though I cannot recall ever looking at my wattage again after passing the Brookwood Metro entrance. Speaking of wattage, when I loaded this ride into Golden Cheetah, I first noticed that my effort was indeed a new maximum that extended all the way to the edge of the critical power curve. But then I noticed that my CP curve had been dropped from 305 watts down to 293 watts. I’m guessing that this has something to do with a better fit to the curve. The good news is that this shift in the curve means that I theoretically have a lot of “wattage-room” to take back the shorter KOMs on Old Montgomery and Big Momma that Mark got the last couple weeks. But it seems strange that my new curve predicts a new, lower 1 hour wattage of exactly 300watts instead of the previous prediction of 315watts based on the new 293 CP wattage vs the old 305 CP wattage. Can any power/golden cheetah/critical power experts out there weigh in on how this ride would cause my curve to shift? I’ve included three screenshots below that show my CP curve before updating with the Old Montgomery KOM effort, after updating with the Smyer effort, and then one that shows the CP curve with today’s Smyer effort in black before Golden Cheetah had updated the CP curve. Thanks!
Smyer KOM lap summary data (click to enlarge). I thought it was interesting that my xPow (normative power) was lower than my average power. I’m pretty sure I was pedaling the entire time so I’m not sure why there is a difference between normalized power and average power?
Finally, I’ve posted screenshots from the ride and also taken some screenshots from the video showcasing the beautiful fall colors. These are in the gallery below. Enjoy!
I posted a message to Facebook yesterday that I wanted to ride out to Double Oak Way today, and three brave souls (Russell Fulmer, Simon Prentice, and Jonathan Soto) showed up for the first cold ride of the season. Temps never got much above 50 degF spending a lot of time in the mid to upper 40s. Combined with a stiff north wind, the temp made for a chilly ride. But the ride itself, was a great adventure.
I set the bottom of Old Montgomery as the starting point for the ride because I wanted to put my Strava KOM shootout effort in for the week. Russell had gotten there early and already put his effort in so he waited partway up and got this video of me on my effort to get the KOM:
My legs were feeling great initially, but I botched the switchback in the video and paid for it later because I had to dig deep to keep my speed out of the corner. I broke my old time by 24 seconds and Boris’s KOM time by 14 seconds. I set a new power record during the short 3 minute effort as illustrated below:
Afterwards, Russell and I rode back down to the bottom to meet Simon and Jonathan to start our ride. We immediately began with the Cat 3 climb up Old Montgomery all the way to the high point on Shades Mountain on Vestavia Dr. From there we worked our way over to the Healthsouth Helipad Hill, which is where the photo at the top and the video below was taken.
Then it was onto a long 280 section taking us to the Hugh Daniel climb up and over into the valley at the base of Double Oak Way. The climb started out well (video below), but shortly after the steep part and rolling section, Simon had a stick kick up into his rear wheel lodging itself between the spoke and the non-drive chainstay. The stick not only broke a spoke but also cracked the frame. Because of how out of true the wheel was after breaking a spoke, there was no way for Simon to ride his bike. Nearly a mile behind a closed gate meant a mile of walking for Simon. So the rest of us took off back down the mountain to head back to Mt Laurel where we figured we could find a wheel to borrow from the scheduled group ride that was just finishing. I carried Simon’s broken wheel down and then returned with a loaner Campy wheel, which Simon was able to ride down to wait for someone to come pick him up.
During the wheel exchange (behind the gate), a property patrol vehicle came down and kicked us off the property. It was at the really steep part of the climb that the patrol agent was talking to us, so John pushed past not realizing what was going on — meaning that he was the only one of us who ended up making it ALL the way up to the top of the mountain. Luckily, the patrol agent wasn’t interested in going after him and turned to go patrol some of the trails on the property. After we all got back together, we headed over to Old 280 to do the Ebsco parking lot climb. Then we turned around, descended 280 past Lee Branch, worked our way across 280 (backwards at one point), navigated a hilly route through Meadowbrook, left out the back entrance to the Spain Park baseball fields cut-through, flew down Caldwell Mill to the Cahaba River bluff wall, climbed up to Dolly Ridge and then continued climbing on up to Vestavia Dr before descending down to the Brookwood Dental launchpad office cut-under (you ride under the office building, which is on stilts), through the apartments and finally back down Old Montgomery back to the start. I said good-bye to Russell and John before turning around and heading back up and over the mountain get home. What a ride!
Fun ride today – much longer than I had planned – ended up being just under 102 miles with over 12,000 ft of climbing. I wanted to put in some hard efforts, so I put in a few KOM efforts. Ironically, the one I wanted most I completely missed (i.e., I rode up the wrong combination of roads). But I set two different KOMs on the combination of roads I did end up riding. Plus 5 others on the rest of the route. But perhaps what I was most pleased with on this ride was again inspired by cyclocross – riding up the Rocky Ridge woods trail which has a super steep trail with roots (but no rocks) at the beginning. I have cleared it once before on my road bike, but that was in the middle of winter when the trail was clearer than it is right now.
Also, I set a single second worth of power records on the ride – exactly 3’38” @ 433 watts – probably on the Altaloma – Renfroe KOM. See critical power curve below:
One second worth of power records on today’s ride (click to enlarge)
Nothing like a trip somewhere else to make you see your own backyard in a whole new light. I recently returned from Leadville, Colorado and have been drawing comparisons between the climbing in the high mountains of Colorado vs the climbing in the really low mountains of Alabama. I came back to Alabama to find the prizes I won on the queen stage of the Rapha Rising competition (Read my ride report here – Rapha Rising Wednesday Mega-ride). I’ve been thinking about this topic for quite a while – so I’m going to let my annotated screenshots illustrate some conclusions I’ve reached from a quantitative perspective, but from a qualitative perspective I have to conclude that neither is better than the other. Climbing big mountains is just so radically different than climbing smaller hills that it really is like comparing apples to oranges. Fortunately for me, I like them both.
Family vacation time at the beach started yesterday – so I squeezed in a super fast climbing ride in Birmingham yesterday before driving down to Florida. I am not really a beach person at all, but my family loves it so I’m here to have a good time with them. One of the things that is so fascinating to me about the drive down 331 to the beach is how the rolling hills pick up once you make it past Montgomery. Opp, Alabama is really hilly – and then it stays hill through the high point of Florida near Florala, Alabama and all the way to De Funiak Springs, Florida. Then the terrain really starts to flatten out as you get closer to the beach.
For the last day of the Rapha Rising competition, I had to decide whether I was going to do hill repeats on the 331 bridge or if I would head up into the hills near De Funiak Springs. Given the traffic on the bridge, I opted for the 23 mile drive up to De Funiak Springs. I parked just off of 331 at the Rock Hill road intersection. This sits at the top of a long ridge line, but I discovered that the road snakes across the top rather than diving up and down. I found myself with a nearly 3 to 1 climbing ratio (which is really, really flat) by the time I made it to Knox Hill. I went up it once and then thought I would go for the KOM on it on my second time up. I wanted to make sure that I matched the segment completely so I went hard up and over the top of the hill. This turned out to be great because it helped me make it to a perfect bowl for hill repeats (see pics below for both directions of the bowl) -
Northbound section of the “Knox Hill Bowl”
Southbound section of the “Knox Hill Bowl”
The climbing alternative was this bridge … not much traffic at 730AM on a Sunday morning, but only a couple hours later it would have been jammed packed with cars.
As I started to do repeats on the Knox Hill Bowl, my climbing ratio quickly dropped down nearly to 1:1 by the time I had to leave to go find water. It was a mind-numbing number of repeats, but it was fun to watch the stats, speed, and marvel at the fact that the road was so deserted (no cars). I ended up getting lost on the way over to De Funiak Springs and running out of water, but the road I was on had some good hills. Finally, I bee-lined it straight back down Hwy 331 to the Rock Hill intersection to get my car and head home. This section of 331 was very busy, but the shoulder was wide and free of debris – and there were some more good hills like the one below:
Finally, some stats and records from the week:
* Longest week of riding ever – 649.5 miles
* Most climbing in one week – 100,342 ft of climbing + 4200 feet missing from Wednesday
* Longest ride ever on Wednesday – 249 miles
* Most amount of climbing in a single ride – 42,200 ft
And here are all the screenshots and photos from the ride:
This is just a quick post so I could upload the bazillion screenshots and photos from my ride today. I set all kinds of new records … one shortest distance record, but most of the records were shortest time to reach a given amount of climbing. I was pushing the pace really hard – and went for three KOMS. All of them were spontaneous decisions, but they were definitely all-out efforts. The last KOM was the double oak way descent, which I set when I saw a jeep wrangler up at the radio towers with a pull-behind trailer. My first thought was, “oh that’s interesting – somebody must have gotten permission to be up here with a dirt bike or 4 wheeler”. But then I saw the side of the jeep said “Property Patrol” and I realized that the trailer was for confiscating off-road vehicles (and possibly bikes). So I took off like I was being chased by a swarm of bees. I big chainringed the short side of the roller coaster and I hit 52mph on the final steep portion of the descent. Then I did hill repeats to take my total up to 10,000 feet of climbing in just over 3.5 hours. It would have been even quicker if I had been able to do repeats on the roller coaster – but there was no way I was going to risk getting arrested and my bike confiscated.
Oh – and before I forget – here is one more photo from my mega ride on Wednesday – a picture of all the clothes that I went through during the day thanks to thunderstorms and 100% humidity.
Four kits, four pairs of socks, and two pairs of gloves – to ride 249 miles in one day – thanks to thunderstorms and 100% humidity
I’m going to go back and caption these photos and screenshots later. I think some of the screenshots are probably out of order … will re-arrange them later.
It’s 4AM – time to start my longest ride ever.
At midnight, celebrating with @beautifulwife the end of a very long day of riding.
Wednesday – Day 4 – 249 miles, 42,200 feet of climbing
These two pictures above bookend my longest ride ever with the most climbing ever. Getting up at 4AM and then riding all the way until midnight with only a few breaks along the way. Even though my grand total was exactly 248.84 miles and 42,200 feet of climbing, my Garmin lost 24 miles of GPS coordinates. So only 225 miles and 38,000 feet of climbing counted on Strava towards the climbing competition. I’m still waiting for official results, but I believe it may have been just enough to win the “one-day challenge within a challenge” for the Rapha race bag given to whoever climbs the most on Wednesday.
I rode laps around my neighborhood for the first hour or so until it got light enough for me to venture out onto the main roads. I kept it nice and slow on the laps since I was hand carrying a flashlight and because I knew that I had a long day ahead of me. I was really, really sleepy and had a lot of negative thoughts about how on earth I was going to last 20 hours of riding. The repetition of the 1K lap along with the really sketchy corners in the dark didn’t help with my motivation. But then I started to notice that the sky was getting lighter. Each 2.5 minute lap would see the sky brighten ever so slightly until I could see the sketchy corners clearly and could start going a bit faster. This was all it took to get rid of the negative thoughts, and I was ecstatic by the time I headed out of the neighborhood.
My first destination was South Cove to get in some super fast descents before traffic started to pick up. There were people out jogging and walking (seriously, how do you people get up that early on a regular basis??? That is some serious motivation). But the nice thing about the S Cove Dr descent is that it is so steep that it is rare for anyone to try to walk or jog up it. So I let it all fly and hit these max speeds approaching 60mph just about every lap.
After the S Cove loops, I went over to Skyland Dr to do my first set of roller coaster hill repeats. Unfortunately, I nearly t-boned a German shepherd that gets out of its yard occasionally on the first descent down the roller coaster. I decided to come back later and opted instead to head on over to Vestavia Dr and then back home to say good morning to the family before Kristine left for work and the kids left for a day of playing at Grandma’s house.
After a nice breakfast, it was back out again – this time heading through hilly, curvy, fun Georgetown over to Bluff Park and Green Valley. When I climbed to the top of Green Valley I could see a thunderstorm building to the east not too far past my house – but the storm was heading south and not going to hit me over in Bluff Park. It was cool to watch the sky darken and to be far enough away to see close to the top of the storm. I continued riding through Bluff Park and made my way over to Vestavia to get water at the Publix grocery store. Then as I made my way to the top of Vestavia, I could see a huge thunderstorm that had built over downtown which was hidden from me because of the ridge line. I thought maybe I had enough time to dip down into Homewood and then back up the Hwy 31 climb while traffic was light – but as I was descending Hwy 31, I had a perfect view of lightning striking the Vulcan (less than 2 miles away) and decided to cut through Brookwood and try to make it home. I made it about 1/2 mile before the storm hit hard with heavy downpour and lots of lightning. I continued on making it home where I took these videos:
After a long lunch trying to wait out the thunderstorm, I had to eventually head back out in the rain. I had just made it over to Mountain Brook and started climbing over there when my Garmin shut off – went completely blank. I turned it back on, but as soon as it made it past the startup screen, it would shut off again. I did this several times – almost in a panic because here I was 8 hours 48 minutes into my ride and I was thinking that the Garmin might be in the process of losing the ENTIRE RIDE. So as much as I wanted to do the entire ride in a single file, I decided to try to reset the Garmin while it was on the “picking up satellites screen”. This worked AND it saved the entire ride. So that is why I have annotated the screenshots at the end of this post with the approx total time and total elevation gain.Since it was still raining, I decided to head over to Karl Daly since it is more straightforward without very many turns. By the time I had made it out to Karl Daly, the rain was gone and the sun had come back out. I climbed Karl Daly from all three sides going for a KOM on the long version from the Grants Mill road bridge (after snapping these pictures of the canoe landing on the cahaba river). I was 130 miles into my ride at this point, but I still felt great and set a new KOM on the climb. No power meter to pace myself, but I basically went as hard as I felt reasonably possible with 120 miles still left to ride. I did get the KOM (sorry Kyle!)
Then it was back down the Irondale side of Karl Daly to cut through the Irondale neighborhoods back into Mountain Brook. There is a steep descent that leads to two traffic lights. I normally turn at the second light – rarely missing the first light. But today the first light was red and I decided to go ahead and go through it since there was no cars coming out of the shopping center where I was turning left. Not a good decision, especially since there was an Irondale police officer at the intersection. He came after me in the shopping center and was absolutely furious asking if I had a death wish. He ran my social security number through the system with the dispatcher since I didn’t have any ID, gave me a stern talking to. Thankfully he didn’t give me a ticket, and I learned a lesson – obey the law. I was very respectful to him, and told him that it was a mistake, a bad decision, and I shouldn’t of done it – but he was still really angry even several minutes later after calling in my social security number and everything. The only other time I’ve gotten pulled over while biking is when I was drafting an unmarked state trooper on Hwy 280 towards Lee Branch. I didn’t realize it was a state trooper because I was focused on the rear end of the car and brake lights. He also was really angry when he pulled over into a bank after turning his lights on, but after a couple minutes he cooled off and we ended up joking together about the whole thing. This officer, on the other hand, was really upset. Don’t mess with the law in Irondale, folks.A couple hours of climbing through Irondale and Mountain Brook and I was home for refueling again. Kristine was home from work, and the kids were home my parents’ house so they came out to cheer me on a couple laps. This was a really short stop at home – just to grab a quick bite to eat and refill my bottles before heading back over to Hoover / Green Valley / Bluff Park / Vestavia for some last minute climbing while there was still daylight. The Vestavia Dr area is a favorite of mine along with these mountain goat statues at the very top of the Vesclub descent.
I ended up doing the Vesclub descent well after sunset – then I realized that instead of being stuck doing laps in my neighborhood for the rest of the night – I could do laps over in Countrywood and Dolly Ridge. I discovered this when I had to ride home in the dark from that area with no light – and it felt very safe so after a long stop for dinner with the family, Kristine kicked me out of the house telling me to go get the last 38 miles I needed for 250 miles for the day. I headed out needing to average a fairly high speed to do it. I got more and more motivated as I got closer to midnight. But at 11:15 PM (about 8+ hours into my second ride of the day and only 45 minutes left to ride), my silly Garmin cut off again. This time, unfortunately, I lost everything from after dinner – about 24 miles and 4,000 feet of climbing. I didn’t realize it, though, because the ride was correctly listed in my history as 126 miles. It wasn’t until I uploaded it to Strava that I realized the GPS coordinates were not stored so Strava would only recognize 102 miles of that ride.
Even though I didn’t know all of this at the time, the second power outage on my Garmin really cut my motivation. I was trying to do some math in my head to figure out if I was going to make 250 miles, given that I needed 14 more miles and had less than 45 minutes to do it. I incorrectly calculated 30mph when in fact it was only a bit less than 20mph. So I cruised on home no longer trying to hit 250 miles, but instead trying to hit 400km which is about 248 miles. I figured I could do that … but as I started to do laps with Kristine cheering me on and taking pictures at 11:30 in our neighborhood, I recalculated and figured I might be able to make it all the way to 250 miles. This renewed my motivation in a big way, and I really hit it hard – each time up the hill in front of our house, I sprinted like the end of a night criterium. When all was said and done, though, I only made it to 249 miles as the clock rolled over to 11:59PM – which I decided would be my stop time.
Then I spent the next 3 hours trying to figure out how to merge all three ride files into one file – and to figure out why the total was only showing up as 225 miles. Eventually, I figured it all out – but there was nothing I could do to recover the missing 24 miles. Grrrrrrr. 249 miles, 42,200 feet of climbing, 1 crazy hard fun cycling adventure!
Thursday – Day 5 – 52 miles, 7,636 feet of climbing
Easy recovery day today started out with a short ride to the grocery store with Josiah. My forearms were the sorest part of my body from all the shifting on my long ride on Wednesday. It was really difficult to shift by the end of the day! We bought a few things and headed home for a nice relaxing day watching the tour de france. In the early afternoon, I headed out for an easy ride and ran into somebody who lives in the neighborhood across the street from us. We rode together all the way through Mountain Brook to the Irondale turnaround and back – before I took off to head to my brother’s house for a birthday dinner. After dinner, I headed back home and did some more climbing in the dark. Legs were starting to feel better by the end of the day. There was a huge thunderstorm blowing up just to the north and I managed to snap a picture of some lightning (although I only got the afterglow).
The most interesting thing that happened during the ride was early on when I passed this guy only slightly faster than he was walking up a hill carrying a big log on his shoulder back up to his truck. He asked me “Are you doing this for fun, or because you have to?” I thought for a second and then said “A little bit of both”. And then I proceeded to spend the next hour of my ride thinking about how complex a question that was that he asked me and how complex an answer could be given – but was boiled down to “a little bit of both”. I was thinking I would go into more detail on my blog post about the answer to that question – but it requires more thought and I’ve spent too long on this one already!
Friday – Day 6 – 57 miles, 10,261 feet of climbing
My legs were still feeling tired today – wrists/forearms all better. I really wandered on this ride although I basically did all of my normal routes hitting the Green Valley roller coaster loop several times. The only thing out of the ordinary was the Hwy 31 sidewalk climb – which I normally only do on my commutes into work. It has been 2 months now since the end of the semester so it was fun to revisit a climb I haven’t done in a couple months. Plus, I wanted something easy and steady towards the end of my ride, and yet I wanted to go snap some more photos from the top of Vestavia Dr. The mountain goats didn’t disappoint as they were in a new position today.
Finally, here is a gallery of photos and screenshots. Most of these are from my ride on Wednesday – but the ones from Thursday and Friday I’ve tried to pick out and label as such. Also, the Garmin screenshots are in order starting before sunrise and ending after dark.