Rocky Ridge – Vestavia Dr KOM analysis



Today was quite the adventure – two flats and a KOM! The last week of the Strava Shoot-out competition was the Rocky Ridge – Vestavia Dr climb. With over 700 vertical feet of elevation difference and nearly 800 feet total gain (three small downhills), this is one of the biggest climbs you can do in the immediate Birmingham area (Double Oak and Pine Mountain both have more elevation gain, but they are both quite a ways out of town). This climb is really close to me, starting less than two miles from my front door!

So when Mark Fisher put in a spectacular effort to take the KOM from me for the last week of the Fall strava shoot-out competition, I knew immediately that I was going to take it back at some point. I expected that I would have to try several times, but I ended up getting it back on my first try today. The video below is a bikecam video of the entire KOM effort, including the Dashware overlay of power, heartrate, speed, and cadence (the colored bar that circles the power readings).

Shortly after the KOM effort ended, I tried to avoid a garbage truck by riding through some grass onto a sidewalk. The grass was deeper than it looked hiding quite a concrete lip on the edge of the sidewalk. So when I rode onto the sidewalk, I didn’t try to bunny hop onto it and I ended up pinch flatting my front wheel on the lip. I had left my phone, tools, tubes, and pump back at the house to save weight for the KOM effort. My only hope was to hitch a ride with somebody back down the mountain. Fortunately, Mike Davies from Richter Landscape Company happened to be driving by in his work truck, and he gave me a ride all the way back down to my house. Huge shout-out and thanks to him … if you live in Hoover, Vestavia, Mountain Brook, Homewood, or Birmingham give them a call at 205-942-1555 to come landscape your yard!!!

The KOM started out well with a bit of a light tailwind. My legs were burning fairly early in the ride as this was the first hard effort of the day, and it was still fairly early in the ride. But eventually I settled into what I thought was a good hard rhythm. Cresting the Veslub Lower part of the climb, I was pretty spent though and started to have lots of negative thoughts about how slow it felt like I was going. But then after I made up the steep part of Vesclub Upper, I saw that my time was just over 9 minutes. In my head at that point I was thinking that all I needed to do was finish the last part in less than 4 minutes and I would beat my old time of 13 minutes. This gave me a lot of motivation because I knew that would be easy. But then a few seconds later I realized that my old time was 11 minutes 13 seconds … not 13 minutes! So I only had a couple minutes left. But by this point I had already made it over to Vestavia Dr and had over a minute left to Mark’s KOM time. I knew I could fly up the last section in about a minute, so I was again motivated that I had a realistic chance to beat Mark’s time. Coming across the top, I hit the lap button showing a time of 11’03”, but Strava matched it up at 10’49” because I must have hit the lap button way to early to start the climb. Also, I made this video analyzing my KOM effort in a bit more detail:

After changing out my front wheel and uploading my ride to strava to see if I had gotten the KOM, I headed back out still planning to do another 90 miles or so out to Emerald Lakes to explore the climbs that I had discovered on my way out to Cullman on Christmas. About 10 miles into that ride, I had another flat. This one was from a pretty worn spot on the rear tire – so I put in a $5 bill to boot the tire and limped home after changing the tube. By this point in the day, it was too late to try again to make it out to Emerald Lakes — so I decided to do some climbing in Mountain Brook. Along the way, I made this video of the European bypass road (Old Brook Trail) reflecting on April 27th when the tornadoes came through the area.

Vestavia Dr power mapVestavia Dr power map

After climbing over in Mountain Brook, I headed home just in time to meet Kristine and the kids coming out of the woods on their walk home from school. Later in the day, Josiah and I had a boys’ night out at the Lego store monthly free lego night while Kristine took Analise to gymnastics. All around, it was a great day!

Riding the free roller coaster at the mall (up to the 17th floor a couple times in glass elevator)Riding the free roller coaster at the mall (up to the 17th floor a couple times in glass elevator)


4 responses to “Rocky Ridge – Vestavia Dr KOM analysis”

  1. Chris Freeman Avatar
    Chris Freeman

    Brian, that was fun watching you fly through the same roads I drive on nearly everyday and occasionally attempt to ride. You got pretty lucky on the 3 way stops in Tanglewood and the 4 way going across Shadescrest. I’m assuming if you’d had to stop at Shadescrest you wouldn’t have made the time.


    1. kartoone Avatar

      Thanks Chris – yeah I definitely got lucky with the stop signs. There’s a few where if you had to wait on a car, it might only cost you a second which you could use for recovery and make up for later. But there are three stop signs that if you cannot run them, you will lose big chunks of time … the one at the bottom of morningstar, the one right before the steep curve up towards the country club, and the one you mentioned (Shades Crest). If you miss any of those, then you lose a lot of momentum.

  2. Louis Pfau Avatar
    Louis Pfau

    Doug Robinson is the cyclist that introduced me to your biking accomplishments. He is my always faster stronger rider i have been trying to keep up with on evening rides around town. what he said about you…. and being man from Bham? It sounded a bit mythical, like a one legged brick layer who pedals with a stob, cleans old bricks all day, and lays them in the moonlight. I see however it is true. Since it is true, my perspective on the universe is changed for the better. The intensity of your storytelling matches your emotions and kinetic energy, sharing the fears for your kids and avoiding death tgrough total atrentiveness and conversing at point of effort when most cyclists could not dream of speaking or thinking.
    You are most inspirational, every time someone said ” more power too you” you said ” thanks, don’t mind if I do”
    I got to ride with you on one BBL ride in 2012 on a cold windy Saturday. I kept up but had to take the short route back because of a slow leak.
    I’m 50, and trying and I hope I can ride with you on a recovery ride or another non KOM event. If I do or don’t its amazing to ponder what you do on a bike. I can’t imagine adding, carreer, family, eating, sleeping to your day.
    More and more health and vigor, motivation and rewards to you.

    1. kartoone Avatar

      Wow, thanks Louis!

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