Monthly Archives: September 2011

Pensacola Stage Race Day 1 – Road Race and Time Trial

Road Race Summary
I’ve got a 4th place streak going on here with two races in a row missing the podium by one spot. The race went well until the final sprint where I came in a disappointing 4th from a 5-man break after losing the wheel of the winner Grant Potter (Z-Motion). Phil Gaimon (Kenda) for sure deserves most aggressive rider since he realized that Grant would win the sprint from our breakaway group and repeatedly tried to dislodge him with attack after attack in the last 10 miles. But it was altogether for the finish with Grant taking the win, Jonathan Atwell (The Hub) 2nd, Serghei Tvetkov (Aerocat) 3rd, me 4th, and Phil 5th. Our break had a sizeable margin of 3-4 minutes over the field by the end.

Time Trial Summary
The time trial was amazingly fun and also went pretty well. I surpassed my predicted 6 minute power threshold by a few watts (see annotated CP curve towards bottom of this post). My goal at the beginning of the time trial was to focus on maintaining a lap average of 375 watts. After the first couple minutes, I was still well into the 400s, so I began to be really motivated that maybe I could maintain 400 watts for the entire TT. But then my legs started to fade and my power started to drop. I still had a lot of upper body strength left, though, so I stood up and cranked it back up to 400 watts a couple times. Normally, this would be a big time trial aero “no-no”, but with a massive tailwind, I’m pretty sure that it was OK since I was able to get my speed back up both times. In the end, my average speed was just over 29mph, and my average power was 395 watts. Checking the results today, it looks like I was somewhere in the top 15 maybe around 13th, but I was last place of the five of us in the break from the road race, which put me in 5th place on the GC going into Sunday’s criterium (next post). Time trial data posted at the bottom of this post. Also – kudos to John Hart for absolutely smoking the time trial with a time of 5’35” for an average speed of 33mph!!!

Road Race Details and Data

Here is how the road race played out:

1st lap – there were lots of attacks/chasing in the first few miles with one group of 3 eventually getting away and another group of 3 chasing. When we made it to the longest hill on the course, Phil Gaimon (Kenda) attacked hard. A few of us were able to hold his wheel as we caught the break by the top of the hill. They latched onto our group essentially turning the race into a field split. There wasn’t enough cooperation in the large front group, so after a few miles the rest of the field caught back up to us. I believe there were a few more attacks to finish off the lap, but it was basically all together by the start of the second lap.

2nd lap – Towards the beginning of the second lap, a small group of maybe 3 or 4 riders including Jake Brewer (Herring Gas) rolled up the road. I attacked repeatedly to try to bridge across, but every time field would string out and chase. John Hart (Friends of the Great Smokies) was able to escape, though, and set out in pursuit. A few more riders were able to get away solo and chase. Eventually, there were at least 8 guys up the road including Serghei Tvetcov (Aerocat). This group all came together into one lead group. I tried a couple more times to get away or form a second chase group before the long gradual downhill section, but I was reeled back in each time. So on the downhill, I decided to rest in anticipation of the downhill. I was near the front when I saw a rider getting ready to attack at the base of the hill. I grabbed his wheel and followed him knowing that the real attack would come a little bit later. Sure enough, Phil came flying around a few seconds later. I drilled it hard and was able to close the gap back up to him by the top with only one rider in tow – Jonathan. My teammate Pat Allison was caught in the middle behind us. I could hear him yelling across the top that he was coming so I stopped working so that he could finish the bridge to our chase group. Unfortunately, Phil and Jonathan were drilling it super hard through a heavy crosswind section so Pat was unable to make the bridge. I was struggling just to hang onto their wheel, so I can’t imagine crossing the gap alone. By the end of the crosswind section, Pat was swallowed by the field and we were getting close to finishing the bridge to the lead group. This was about 3/4 of the way through the second lap. As a large group, we rotated well for the rest of the lap and kept a pretty good speed.

3rd lap – A couple miles into the start of the third lap, we could see that the field was not too far behind us. At this point, the commitment level in the group really dropped. People were still pulling, but not very hard. At one point, after John Hart and Phil pulled I noticed a gap behind Phil. So I attacked hoping that the two of them would come with me to form another group. They didn’t, though, and so I ended up riding off the front solo for a couple minutes. When the group came back together, we continued rotating but the impetus was definitely gone from the group. This was right when we reached the rolling section on the front side of the course. I noticed another gap opening up behind Serghei as he was getting ready to pull so I attacked again and this time there were three of us together. Phil and Grant bridged up to us a couple minutes later to form the final break of five. At this point in the race, we worked together really well with everybody pulling hard because the rest of the break behind us was chasing hard. Eventually, though, we started to pull away and get a sizeable gap. Our group was an interesting one with one strong sprinter and four all-rounders (i.e., not sprinters). For the last 10 miles, starting with the long hill on the course, it was attack after attack. Phil attacked the most with Serghei counter attacking several times with me on his wheel. Jonathan attacked a few times, and I attacked once or twice. Grant was able to chase back each move and still take the sprint at the end!

Going into the final sprint, I was sitting on Grant’s wheel after Phil had attacked and strung out the group. Serghei countered to start the sprint in the final few hundred meters. As Grant surged for the sprint with 200 meters to go, I lost his wheel for a second but was closing it back up to him when Jonathan realized that Grant was the better wheel than Serghei. So Jonathan pulled over to grab the wheel in the space that I had opened up. It was my fault for letting the gap open up in the first place, but Grant’s surge was probably several hundred watts more powerful than mine and it took time for me to get his draft and move back up. In the end, the two of them were able to squeeze by Serghei for the finish and I only made it halfway around him – so the final finish order was Grant, Jonathan, Serghei, me, and Phil.

All-in-all, it was a good race with a somewhat disappointing finish. There were lots of tactical sections as well as flat-out sections as well as strategic battles. Fun, hard racing. Lots of data below …

Road race data

Pensacola Road Race (Milton, FL) – annotated power map

Pensacola Road Race – Annotated critical power curve from Golden Cheetah

Quadrant analysis (pedal force / cadence) – road race

Time Trial data

Pensacola Beach Time Trial – annotated power map

Pensacola Beach Time Trial – annotated critical power curve

Quadrant analysis (pedal force / cadence) – time trial

Tropical Storm Lee flooding photos

Yesterday, the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee blew right through Birmingham transitioning into what our local forecaster, James Spann, called “the perfect storm” as it turned into an extratropical storm when it collided with a low pressure system just north of us. We ended up with almost 8 inches of rain and some pretty amazing winds last night. Some of the gusts were easily in the 40-50mph range given how much the wind was howling. We almost got the kids out of bed twice to take them down to the basement, but in the end decided not to since they were both sick and needed rest. This morning on my commute into Samford, I did a damage survey around the Cahaba Heights / Mountain Brook area all the way down to the Cahaba River. These are the pictures I took on my way into school. Once I got to school, however, I found the campus pretty much deserted. I found a couple people to ask what was going on, and it turns out the campus still didn’t have power (at 10:30AM) so they went ahead and cancelled classes for the rest of the day. Somewhat disappointed because I was looking forward to what I was going to cover today, I turned around to head home and took a few more pictures of the hardest hit area up on top of the mountain in Vestavia Hills where the winds must have been the strongest. Here are all the pictures from my ride into and then back home from work –

8:12AM Teton Rd – lots of pine straw leaving my neighborhood. The aroma of the day was the scent of fresh pine, and the sound of the day was generators humming.

8:16AM Janebo Ln – tree down across half the road.

8:19AM Little Shades Creek – high, but not as high or fast as yesterday during the afternoon deluge.

8:23AM Rocky Ridge Rd – Power crews working to clear lines on Rocky Ridge Rd – one of several reasons why most of Vestavia Hills was without power.

8:37AM Caldwell Mill Rd – Tree across the road in a blind curve on Caldwell Mill Road – glad the wet, slippery pine straw kept me slow heading into the curve.

8:42AM Caldwell Mill Rd – This stretch of Caldwell Mill was hit by the April 27th tornado and now there are two more trees down on the same stretch of road from the remnants of a tropical storm.

8:45AM Caldwell Mill Rd – This is one of my favorite roads to ride in heavy rain – with the 15% gradient, you feel like you are riding up the waterfall alongside the road.

8:54AM US Hwy 280 – A key traffic light was out about a mile or two closer into town from where this picture was taken, and look at the impact on traffic at nearly 9AM! This is a sequence of pictures showing an ambulance trying to make it through the mess.






9:03AM Dolly Ridge Rd – In an effort to bypass the 280 mess, the parallel local road (Cahaba River Rd) was bumper to bumper all the way down to the intersection with Acton Rd near the Colonnade. These two pictures show the mess:

I was heading to the Cahaba River (the lowest point in our part of Birmingham) to see the impact of the flooding, and it was quite dramatic.
Normally there are two channels that bypass the tree that has been growing on a tiny island in the middle of the river just below the dam. Today might mark the end of the tree as it was bending quite heavily from the force of the water. The tire you see floating here is one of the two tires that you will see in some of the following pictures although I missed seeing it go over the edge.

9:13AM Cahaba River Rd – Lots of debris including the really large tree shown getting closer in these three pictures could not escape the backflow of the water going over the dam. In fact, it was incredible the force of the backflow. As I was trying to take pictures, smaller logs would literally jump out of the water and go flying directly into the waterfall! Then they would be forced down below the water and reappear slightly downstream before getting pushed again back towards the waterfall. It was amazing to watch – I probably stood there on the cement overlook for more than 5 minutes watching.


9:19AM Cahaba River Rd – The flow of the water above the dam was deceptively slow considering the force with which it was rushing over the dam.

Check out the video we took with the kids when we were out driving around on Monday. Also, here is a picture of what the spillway looked on Monday during the heavy rains:

MONDAY 5:45PM – Altadena spillway during the heavy rains on Monday

TUESDAY 9:36AM Altadena Valley Golf Course – This spillway was quite a bit lower than yesterday.

9:37AM Altadena Valley Golf Course – The pond that the spillway empties into was dug out, expanded, and deepened quite a bit from the natural pond that was there years ago to accommodate these flood conditions. It has worked quite well because the rest of the golf course was relatively unflooded compared to previous years.

10:16AM Vestavia Falls – Vestavia Falls had also quieted down quiet a bit by the time I rode by there to take this picture.

10:18AM – It appears the higher parts of Vestavia took the brunt of the really strong winds with numerous large oak trees down. This one fell right in the middle of the three-way intersection! The second picture shows the same tree from a different angle. You can see how with all the rain, the saturated soil couldn’t hold down the heavy trees in the strong wind.

11:07AM Smyer Rd – Here is the intersection of Smyer and Shades Crest – no KOM setting on Strava today!

11:08AM Shades Crest Rd – Here is the same tree showing where it knocked out the power lines and fell across the sidewalk

11:10AM Shades Crest Rd – This was the only tree that I saw that fell on a house. It was crazy windy last night around 8PM. Twice we thought of getting the kids up and taking them to the basement even without any tornado sirens going off.

11:18AM – Lots of large trees like these two fell in yards at the top of the mountain.
11:18AM – Lots of large trees like these two fell in yards at the top of the mountain.

11:22AM – Here is a smaller tree that fell in a yard on the descent off the mountain. This picture also shows the flying pig that is positioned in various places in this yard. It is directly across the street from a huge house/huge yard that has four mountain goat statues that are positioned throughout the yard doing different things. Once, they were playing badmitton. Another time, they were hiking with backpacks on the sidewalk. Another time they were pulling an old stage coach. I finally had my camera with me to take a picture of the statues, and they were nowhere to be seen! At least the flying pig was still there.

11:25AM – Vesclub – Here is a tree down halfway across Vesclub coming out of the steep 20% curve at the bottom of one of the “steps” of the Vesclub climb.

11:50AM – Tyrol Rd – This tree was the closest large tree to our house that was down about a half mile from our house. This is just on the other side of Rocky Ridge in the South Cove Dr / Panorama neighborhood. Maybe we should have gone to the basement after all!