Monthly Archives: March 2011

More racing and climbing

Climbing – Cheaha Mini-Challenge
On Wednesday, I had an Alabama Academy of Science meeting at Jacksonville State University, which is not too far from the highest point in the state – Mount Cheaha. So, after my morning classes, I drove on over to the foothills just off the interstate and then went for a mini-Cheaha Challenge ride. Here is my route and climbing data from Strava –

Mini Cheaha Challenge Strava climbing data.

Got lots of on-the-bike pictures for the ride. See the gallery after the training race recap below.

Racing – GSMR Camp Sumatanga Training Race #3 – 2nd place!
The training race yesterday (Sunday) at Camp Sumatanga turned out really well for Tria Cycling, with our team taking 1st through 5th place! Of course, we did have half the field on our team (literally) as only 14 people showed up for the race with 7 from my team. A quick race summary is that we tried to animate the race early to get several riders in a break. Eventually, my teammates Sammy and Wes made it into a break with me and Joe from Madison. We worked together, but we didn’t crush it because we wanted to see if more of our team could bridge up to us. About a lap into our break, my teammate Justin Bynum bridged up to us by himself. Another half lap later, my teammates Chris and Pat Allison bridged up to us by themselves. So this led to the day’s break with 6 of the 7 riders in the break from my team.

At this point, we were trying to figure out how to get a podium sweep because Joe was riding very strong and looked like he could certainly spoil the party on the climb. We had a good rotation going, and everybody (including Joe) worked well together. The temperature was plummeting, and by the time we finished the race it was below freezing (31.7 degrees Fahrenheit on my Garmin). Here’s how the last lap played out. We wanted to try to get both of our sprinters up the road well ahead of the climb, but Chris was cramping up so we decided to send Sammy first and then a few miles later send Wes to bridge across. So Wes and Sammy reached the bottom of the climb about the same time, while back in our group Joe was having to set the entire pace. I let him lead us to the first switchback in the climb, but when he started to slow down, I accelerated and took Pat and Justin with me. Joe was dropped after all his earlier work chasing, so Pat, Justin, and I were free to set a hard pace without fear of pulling him back up to Sammy or Wes. We caught Sammy just before the Eagle Eyes Cycles bar/shop about 500 meters from the finish. Pat and I decided no matter what that we were going to give Wes the win if we caught him, but we couldn’t catch him because he was crushing the climb. I ended up pulling away just slightly from Pat at the end to finish 2nd (I think because Pat sat up a little early) with Wes crossing the line about 25-50 meters in front of us. Sammy held on for fourth with Justin coming in for 5th in front of Joe giving us a sweep of 1st through 5th place! We started to head back down the climb and turned around when we saw Chris who was still plugging away on the climb despite cramping really bad. We escorted him up the climb for moral support, and then turned around to head back to the start before we froze to death.

Note the temperature in the Garmin Connect data below! Also, the US-231 climb was so beautiful with all the waterfalls from the previous day’s heavy rain.

Garmin Connect data for the race.

Chandler Mountain finishing climb heartrate data.

Pictures from my mini 50 mile version of the Cheaha Challenge

Riding and climbing in the North Georgia mountains

The beautiful view as soon as I arrived at the cabin near Dahlonega.

I spent a weekend of riding and racing in the North Georgia mountains. The Southern Cross race was on Saturday morning (awesome race – read my recap here), so I drove up on Friday. More specifically, I biked to work Friday morning, taught two classes, biked home, and then drove 4 hours to a cabin at the base of the Woody Gap climb just north of Dahlonega. There was still about a couple hours of daylight, so with the excitement of being in the middle of all the beautiful mountains, I got my bike out of the car as fast as possible, changed clothes right there beside the car, and went for a 2 hour ride climbing Woody Gap twice from the south side and once from the north side (much shorter climb) making it back to the cabin just after sunset. So that made for three bike rides and one four hour drive all in the same day.

Here is the iBike data for the two Category 2 (Strava) climbs –

------WOODY GAP (from Damascus Church Rd) ------
Strava:      Cat 2
Dist:        9.00 mi (0:41:38)
Climbing:    1816 ft
          Min   Avg    Max
Power       0  260.1   387  W
Gravity  -520  163.6   485  W
Speed     6.9   13.0  35.2  mi/h
Wind     12.6   17.1  34.1  mi/h
Elev     1514   2272  3242  ft
Slope    -5.9   3.67   8.4  %
HR        133  145.7   159  bpm
NP 264 W; IF 0.951; TSS 62.7
2/25/2011 3:37 PM
56 degF; 1017 mbar
------WOODY GAP (from R & R Ranch) ------
Strava:      Cat 2
Dist:        6.71 mi (0:30:43)
Climbing:    1651 ft
          Min   Avg    Max
Power       0  289.9   608  W
Gravity -1127  202.6   483  W
Speed     0.0   13.1  39.6  mi/h
Wind     12.5   15.6  35.2  mi/h
Elev     1673   2433  3265  ft
Slope    -8.4   4.50  16.1  %
HR        107  156.2   178  bpm
NP 302 W; IF 1.088; TSS 60.6
2/25/2011 4:43 PM
49 degF; 983 mbar

And here is the graph for the entire ride:
iBike data for the entire ride.

Sunday’s ride was even better with me accomplishing what could be considered a dream of mine from over 15 years ago when a friend of mine asked if I would ride 200 miles with him in preparation for a tour across America that he was going to be doing. Well, he ended up having to back out, but I went ahead and completed the 200 mile ride from Clemson, SC to Brasstown Bald (highest point in Georgia) and then back through the Highlands, NC area. The only problem was that Brasstown Bald summit is not accessible by bike during the peak visiting times. You can either hike up to the top or take a shuttle. But they specifically disallow people from biking to the very top of the mountain. You can bike to the parking lot which is about 350 feet below the true summit, but you cannot bike to the top. I tried three years in a row at the end of each racing season, but I would always get chased down by the park workers. Well, guess what? In the middle of winter, the shuttles don’t run to the top, so you can bike up without any problems at all!

So I left our cabin early on Sunday morning, biked over to US 129 and climbed Neels Gap before turning onto GA-180 and climbing Jack’s Gap before turning at the top onto the 180-spur which takes you up three very steep miles to the highest point in Georgia. The ride started out kinda blah because it was really humid and warm when the sun was out, but cold whenever the sun went behind a cloud. So I kept on breaking out into a sweat and then getting cold. Plus, my legs were pretty cooked from the Southern Cross race the day before. But as soon as I made it to the Brasstown Bald parking lot and saw that the shuttles weren’t running, I knew that I might just have a shot at making it to the top – and I did! Strava categorizes the climb as an HC climb. Here is the elevation and gradient graph from Garmin Training Center:

Brasstown Bald elevation and gradient data.

And here is the Strava stats on the climbs (Neels Gap 2x and Brasstown Bald):

Strava data for the Brasstown and Neels Gap climbs.

And here are two pictures from the summit of the climb:

View looking south from the summit of Brasstown Bald.

The Tour de Georgia queen stage always finished on top of Brasstown Bald.

After having the opportunity to finally make it to the top of Brasstown Bald, I immediately forgot about how bad I had been feeling and thoroughly enjoyed the return trip back to the cabin before driving home to Birmingham. Also, I stopped at Turner’s Corner store on the way back and got to talk to the owner, who is on the Six Gap Century committee. His gas station and convenience store is the first rest stop for the Six Gap Century, and there is a corner of the store that is dedicated to biking with all kinds of biking equipment. What a fun adventure in the beautiful North Georgia mountains.

Here are more pictures from the rides on Friday and Sunday:
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