Monthly Archives: November 2014

Everesting Karl Daly

Yesterday, I was able to everest Karl Daly in just under 19 hours doing 57.5 repeats. The exact everesting spot where I hit 29,035 feet of climbing is visible in this pic down near the telephone pole behind me, but I didn’t think it would be right to do so many repeats of Karl Daly without once getting a picture of the Manatee mailbox halfway up the climb. So Chris Shelton took this pic of me next to the manatees dressed up for Thanksgiving. How did I get to this spot? Let’s back up a couple weeks…

Clingman’s Dome Attempt
Each year, my regional chapter of the ACM (ACM Mid-southeast) holds a computer conference for students and professionals in Gatlinburg, Tennessee which sits at the foot of Clingman’s Dome — the highest point in Tennessee and one of the largest climbs on the east coast. I’ve always included some sort of epic ride on Saturday following the conference, but this year I decided I would attempt an everesting of the climb, which would require about 5.25 repeats of the climb. The only problem was an unusual cold spell was dipping the temps down into the low teens. My everesting attempt was on a time schedule (i.e., my wife and I had to be back to Birmingham by a certain time early Saturday evening).

So I started my everesting attempt at 1 in the morning after just 3 hours of sleep. With temps dipping down to 12 degF shortly past Alum Cave, I was struggling with the cold by the top of the 2 hour climb unsure of how I was going to make it back down. It really was far too cold to have even attempted this … my camelbak, food, and my body were all frozen by the bottom of the descent. The logistics of trying to do this in this weather is really crazy. I had to wear my sunglasses in the middle of the night to keep my scarf over my nose, and my hands were so cold I had to do the descent one handed alternating hands with one hand “drafting” behind my back to get it out of the wind. Needless to say, the descent was not only dangerously cold, it was also dangerous! It makes me appreciate the difficulty of climbing everest with all the equipment and trying to keep warm and still access food, drink, etc…

Finishing the festive 500 in the cold and dark.

Let it be said that I’m no stranger to cold (see the picture above from Wisconsin and my blog post about the Rapha Festive 500 competition), but riding slowly through the snow on a mountain bike with hourly stops for coffee, etc… is very different than descending at 30-40 mph for 45 minutes with no place to stop to warm up!

The very next day after returning back to Birmingham, I ran into a good friend of mine Mark Fisher who was out climbing over in Bluff Park. We decided to finish out the ride together during which we tried to figure out the best climb in Birmingham to everest. By the end, it was pretty much decided that Karl Daly would not be the easiest since it was a pure climb with no descents, but it would probably be one of the safest.

Official Karl Daly Everesting
Ben Lowe, the developer of, partnered with the folks behind the everesting movement and created a map of all the everestings of climbs around the world. He has put together a holding area for riders to submit their everesting attempts, which then get reviewed to see if the attempt followed all the rules. Once the everesting has been vetted, it gets added to the worldwide map along with a page with all the details and comments for the ride. Here’s the link to the updated worldwide map, plus a link to the page created for my everesting of Karl Daly.

Updated everesting hall of fame map

karldalyeveresting on veloviewer.comkarldalyeveresting on

I’ve created a table of all the stats that I find interesting from this endeavor.

Length of climb 2.25 miles (3.6 km)
Round trip (up and down) 4.5 miles (7.2 km)
Vertical ascent (1 climb) 538 feet
Total ascent (58 laps) 29,379 feet (8955 meters)
Total distance (58 climbs, 57 descents) 259.6 miles (417.8 km)
Total time (including stops and complete final climb) 19 hours, 6 minutes
Total time (including stops, to exact everesting spot) 18 hours, 56 minutes
Average speed 13.7 mph (22 kph)
Average heartrate 119 bpm
Average power 162 watts
Average cadence 73 rpm
Average temperature 45 degF (7 degC)
Calories burned 11,839 calories
Total gear shifts 2,718
Total front shifts 130
Total rear shifts 2,588

shifting percentages from my research website di2stats.comshifting percentages from my research website

The Details
The statistics don’t tell the full story, so I’ve saved the longest section for the end — the details. Let’s look at average temperature, for example. Monday was an absolutely beautiful day with temps warming into the mid to upper 60s. It was the perfect day for an everesting. So how did the average temperature end up being 45 degF? Well, I only enjoyed that beautiful weather for about 6 laps (2 hours). Then the temp started plummeting quite rapidly. By 8AM the next morning when I was finishing everything up, the temps had been in the mid 30s for several hours – thus the 45 degF average temperature.

On Monday’s, I bike into work to teach one class at Samford — Software Engineering. After class, I had volunteered to proctor an exam for a colleague, which lasted until 10:15AM. I left work about 10:30 and arrived home at about 11:15, having already ridden 16.8 miles and climbed 2,181 feet. My wife was leaving with the kids for Thanksgiving with her family in Northern Indiana near the border of Michigan. I still had to teach two more classes on Tuesday before the Thanksgiving break, so we decided it would be better for everyone if she got to spend a couple extra days in Indiana while I stayed home, everested a climb, and got some work done during the holiday.

I wanted to see Kristine and the kids off and help them finish getting everything loaded in the car, so I didn’t even leave to ride out to Karl Daly until about 12:15. I took the shortest, flattest route out to Karl Daly since I was carrying 16 pounds of food and equipment and still rode 14.8 miles and climbed 1083 feet to make it all the way to the start. That brought my grand total for the day up to about 30 miles and 3000 feet of climbing even before starting my everesting attempt of Karl Daly.

The weather was absolutely beautiful, though, so I was ready to tackle the everesting fully confident that it would be no problem at all. I ran into Geoff Leonard at the bottom of the climb and stashed my backpack full of stuff behind a tree. He snapped this picture of me as I was taking pictures of my Garmins at the start:

At the start - mile 0, feet climbed 0 - photo by Geoff LeonardAt the start – mile 0, feet climbed 0 – photo by Geoff Leonard

Geoff rode several laps with me, during which time we noticed somebody else doing repeats. It turns out that it was Mike Flowers’ good friend and roommate Matt Finnemore, whose goal was to do enough repeats to climb 10,000 feet in a single ride. We were riding at different paces, but it was great to catch up to him every now and then and see how far he had made it and also relay my own progress. On our second lap together, Louis Pfau arrived with his van that he parked at the bottom. He wanted to try to hit 15,000 feet of repeats while I was doing my everest attempt. Also, at the start of that lap I ran into Terri Jones who dropped off gels for me. Then shortly before or after Geoff left — already my memory is starting to fade — Luke Caldwell made it out there. He rode with me for a few hours climbing close to 5000 feet. During that time, Chris Shelton stopped by and did a couple repeats with the plan to return about 4 in the morning to do more repeats. At the time, I was concerned that I might already be finished by that point. Little did I know how wrong I was!

By the time Luke left to go home with the plan to return around midnight with coffee, it was starting to get dark. I think I did one lap by myself and already was starting to realize that my pace was nowhere near on track to finish by 4 in the morning. I had planned on 16 minute laps, but my time had already slipped to 18+ minutes per lap. Almost immediately after Luke left, Jason Kellen arrived and we rode a few laps together. Sometime during that time, I told him that I was only 75% confident of being able to finish. It was starting to get cold, and I was starting to get tired having barely made it to 3000 meters of climbing with nearly 6000 meters left!

Not too long after Jason left, Mike Flowers arrived and rode with me for a good long stretch. He brought a Starbucks coffee and a big piece of Starbucks banana bread. That jolt of caffeine and calories made a world of difference, and I was already feeling much more confident after only a few laps with Mike. Also, Jason returned with a bag of chips and payday candy bar. I ate the chips on one of the next laps, but saved the payday for later reserving it as an emergency measure should my energy levels really start to go downhill. Mike rode for several hours, and during that time Matt made it up to 10,000 feet. A few laps later, Mike called it a night.

Louis was still going strong towards 15,000 feet and shortly after Mike left, he and I rode together for a lap or two before our paces split us up again. I continued on for a few more laps before Luke made it back with some coffee and ready to ride with me for a couple more hours. Then at about 1AM, Louis reached his limit and decided to head on home leaving his car for me to continue using as a resupply point. By 2AM, Luke was ready to head back home. From 2 until about 4:30, I was by myself battling the increasing cold. My pace had fallen to 20 minutes per lap – over 5 minutes slower than when I first started.

Sometime between 4:30 and 5, Greg Caldwell (Luke’s dad) rolled up and joined me. A lap or two later, Chris Shelton made it back out there. As the sun started to come up, it dropped a few more degrees down into the mid 30s. Greg had to leave for work, but Chris kept rolling with me until the very end when I hit the required 29,035 feet of elevation. I do a lot of climbing on my normal rides, but I favor routes with lots of variety and usually try to find the rolling hills instead of the standalone ones. For this reason, it was easier for me to visualize the elevation gain from above sea level. Several times during the night, I imagined that I was 15,000 and 20,000 feet above sea level looking down far below at where I started. Also helping that visualization, was a set of 10 images/screenshots I made that captured what it looked like at the corresponding elevation on a route from sea level in India all the way up to the top of Mount Everest. I posted these pics to instagram along with a screenshot of my Garmin and a picture of who I was riding with and/or what the Karl Daly climb looked like at that elevation. Here are all the pictures side-by-side (hover over each one for a caption).

What’s next? Well, the goal is Race Across America, and this is one of many adversity training rides where I am stretching myself both mentally and physically to the limit and seeing how well I can respond and continue. More immediately on the calendar — the gravel grovel ultracx series finale race near Bloomington, Indiana on Saturday.

Let me end with a huge thanks to the following people:

  • Louis Pfau – for encouragement and challenging himself to climb 15,000 feet! Also – I owe him a lot for parking his van at the bottom of the climb so I could stash my stuff without worrying about it getting stolen and/or overrun by ants, bugs, etc…
  • Luke Caldwell – Luke came out twice and rode with me for many, many laps including the midnight to 2AM shift when I was in the process of realizing that it was going to take me almost 5 hours longer than I had originally planned.
  • Chris Shelton – Chris also came out twice and rode many laps with me, helping to pass the time and keeping me awake by telling me about his awesome trips to Europe and the climbs there.
  • Mike Flowers – Mike came by with much, much needed coffee early in the evening. I was getting depressed at how slow I was riding, but Mike helped cheer me up — and the coffee provided a much needed caffeine boost. The starbucks banana bread helped me make it through several laps without stopping.
  • Greg Caldwell – Luke’s dad came out to ride several laps with me in the wee dark hours of the morning. He also brought some much needed refreshments.
  • Geoff Leonard – Geoff was there at the very beginning helping to kick things off. Ironically, he lived for many years in the same area as Scott Cole, who is currently just behind me in the climbing competition.
  • Everyone else who came out to ride – Jason Kellen, Rick Swaggler, Terri Jones, Greg Caldwell, and anyone else I have missed. Thank you so much, you all are awesome!!!

Oak Ass 100 Miles of Awesome

Kyle Taylor and I at the Ada Overlook annotated to show my hometown on our Friday pre-ride just before running into Ty Magner.Kyle Taylor and I at the Ada Overlook to show my hometown on our Friday pre-ride just before running into Ty Magner. (click to enlarge)

Last year I was very sentimental after winning the inaugural Oak Ass 100 mile mountain bike race at the place where it all started. 25 years earlier, me and my dad would join a couple of his work buddies, park outside the park, and then ride 10 speed road bikes down to the back entrance spillway and back. I was in middle school back then, so maybe 11 or 12 years old? Fast forward a few more years to my junior year of high school, and some good friends from the math team (Jeff King and Steve Montgomery) got me into mountain biking on Steve’s dad’s bike. We’d park one car in the south trailhead parking lot (it wasn’t called that back then because there was no north trailhead specifically for mountain bikes) and drive the other car up to the peavine falls parking lot. Then we’d bomb down the bump trail, climb (walk) up Johnson’s Mountain, and fly through all the opening singletrack back to the parking lot. One of us would stay with the bikes and the other two would drive together back up to the top to get the other car. I was hooked and would stare out the window from our high school, which had a beautiful view of Oak Mountain just waiting for the 3:00 bell to ring so I could race down to the park and get a ride in before dark. Fast forward 20 more years and here I was winning the Oak Ass 100 mile mountain bike race on the very same trails we used to shuttle.

Fast forward 1 more year, and I could only manage 6th, but if anything it even adds more to the picture of a lifetime of cycling. First, I’m thankful to not only be alive after a bad bike-car collision earlier this year, but to be able to race my mountain bike while training for next year’s Race Across America. Now let’s talk about the picture above of me and Kyle doing a pre-ride together the day before the race. In the background (I added in a separate zoomed in pic of what was behind us at the overlook) you can see my hometown of Hoover – most prominently the Galleria office building and hotel. What is significant about that is that as soon as I learned how to ride, we’d ride bmx bikes down to the Hwy 31 cement plant at the edge of our neighborhood (Woodmeadow) and climb on large boulders just across the street from where all the heavy machinery was building the galleria. It was fascinating to watch along with the adventure of biking through an abandoned cement plant and looking for snakes under boulders.

Kyle Taylor is a good friend that I met in person for the first time racing Berry Peddlar outside of Chattanooga a couple years ago and then again in the Roan Groan race near the TN/NC border. We’ve stayed in touch via Facebook and had planned to race 24 hour mountain bike nationals together before that all fell apart when I nearly literally fell apart a couple months out with the crazy accident — slamming into the side of a car making a left turn (or possibly u-turn) on a 25% descent is no fun.

As we were leaving this overlook, here comes Ty Magner and a friend who were in town to race the Oak Ass race the next day and checking out the course ahead of time. I know Ty from all my racing on the road. He’s currently racing professionally with Hincapie Devo, and it has been amazing watching him, Oscar Clark, Joey Rosskopf, and several others come up through the southeast’s local Pro/1/2 scene and now making it in the professional ranks.

2014 Oak Ass 100 mile podium - left to right - Justin Lowe, Gordon Wadsworth, Kyle Taylor, Barnabas Froystad, and Jeff Clayton 2014 Oak Ass 100 mile podium – left to right – Justin Lowe, Gordon Wadsworth, Kyle Taylor, Barnabas Froystad, and Jeff Clayton

The race itself was great, and I’ll come back to that in a minute, but first let’s skip to the end to talk about the podium (pic above) I missed by one spot! Justin is a good friend from northwestern Tennessee who I first met doing all the ultracx races last year. Gordon is the current singlespeed national champ and just recently returned from quite the adventure racing La Ruta after winning the NUE series. He’s also good friends with and from the same tri-state area of TN/KY/VA as one of my Clemson Cycling teammates and college roommate, Bert Hull. I was fortunate to host Gordon and Barnabas who hails from one of my favorite places to ride in the whole world — the Cashiers / Highlands area of southwestern north carolina — Friday night where we bonded over bunnies and booze or maybe just bunnies, bike racing stories, and maps, but in any case great guys! I already mentioned Kyle, which just leaves Jeff Clayton who came in 5th. Jeff helped me out during the race by loaning me a pump — which I promptly broke during my 30 minute flat tire change. Jeff and I have battled back and forth at Oak Mountain several times in the 6 hour and 9 hour chainbuster series as well as the Oak Ass race last year.

So let’s jump back a bit and talk about that flat tire – first off, for all you roadies out there attempting to change a mountain bike 29er tire – DO NOT THROW AWAY the little nut that you screw on to hold the tube in place when pumping up the tire. It is quite unnecessary for a road bike, but for a mountain bike tube if you throw it away then you have to push the tire in quite a bit to keep the valve stem from going back through the rim. This blocks the air coming in through the valve stem and your CO2, and your first fellow racer’s CO2, and the next one’s CO2, and even the bike pump won’t work right! Save and use the nut!!! I’d like to say this is my first experience with this, but it’s actually the second time I’ve been unable to quickly change a mountain bike tire during the race for the exact same reason. Next time, though, I will remember you have to screw on the little nut to make it work.

justinblood My flat came shortly after catching and passing Justin Lowe before he had his big wreck on Blood Rock – look at the massive cut on his face and the blood all over his bike!

Even after wrecking, he stopped to help me try to fix my tire before realizing he had left his CO2 and pump in his other bag. By this point in the race, I had worked my way from way down back up to about 4th place. I have had an unusual year, with a lot less mountain biking than normal. My singletrack skills were somewhat rusty at the beginning of the race and I quickly faded back from the leaders during the opening 7 miles of singletrack. I kept on it though and had a decent climb and Jekyll and Hyde descent which meant I was catching people back on the Peavine Falls road climb. All those people I had caught and passed came by as I sat there on the side of Johnson’s Mountain trying to figure out why I couldn’t get air into the tube. Eventually, I gave up and carried the bike the rest of the way down the mountain to the gravel road intersection thinking that the course marshall I had seen there earlier might have a pump. Unfortunately, they were gone, but a very kind lady came by and leant me a tube (I had blown the first replacement tube when I tried to ride it flat down Johnson’s after I couldn’t get air into it). Jacob Tubbs leant me his CO2 and adapter and again I couldn’t get it to work, but then Brad Hood came by and showed me what I was doing wrong (i.e., no nut). I was off again after 30 minutes thinking that I was probably out of the top 10 and hoping to slide back into the top 10 to continue a near perfect season of only top 10 finishes.

I was really depressed at the good race I was having suddenly disappearing into thin air. I took my time riding the singletrack slowly b/c there was only about 15 PSI in the rear tire. Then I stopped by the start/finish area, got some food, and rode to Mike Flowers’ car and borrowed his floor pump to pump the tire up to 32 PSI (not wanting to flat again). I stopped by my car and called Kristine and asked her if I should keep going or quit if there was anything she needed me to do. She said she had nothing planned and was planning to come out to the park to run anyway, so I decided to keep going. I rode slowly at first, but then I started having so much fun I thought I’d go a little faster — setting a new PR on the Jekyll & Hyde technical section cleaning both the top and bottom parts without dabbing even once. This was a huge victory for me and that motivated me to push it hard for the remainder of the 3rd and 4th laps.

By this time I was so far down from the leaders, though, that there was no hope even catching 5th place. Still I was very happy to finish 6th and continue a near-perfect season with my only non top-10 finishes coming in road nationals (65th) and the pensacola stage race time trial (12th – which was still my best ever showing in a time trial with a strong field).

That was pretty much the race – one more picture from the start with Justin holding my bike – and then my annotated data. Thanks for reading!

View this post on Instagram

Before the start.

A post shared by Brian Toone (@kartoone76) on

oakass2014-hrsummary2014 Oak Ass 100 mile mtb race heartrate zone summary

2014 Oak Ass 100 mile mtb race heartrate data - annotated - click to enlarge2014 Oak Ass 100 mile mtb race heartrate data – annotated – click to enlarge