Eddie Fryer and a host of volunteers put on an amazing event today as a fund-raiser for the Alabama NICA high school cycling league. I helped scout out the route with Mark Fisher, and it turned out to be pretty much perfect for this type of event. Below, I’ve linked to all the videos I got from bikecam along with a narrative of what I remember from the climb. Enjoy!
Before the videos, though, just a few quick stats from the Baker’s Dozen today:
Distance: 27.63 mi (2:36:18) Energy: 1161.4 kJ Cals Burn: 1110.3 kcal Climbing: 4340 ft Braking: -576.5 kJ (-49.6%) Min Avg Max Power 0 123.8 786 W Aero 0 55.6 1437 W Rolling 0 20.4 68 W Gravity -1643 1.8 667 W Speed 0.0 10.6 35.6 mi/h Elev 358 633 873 ft Slope -24.9 0.06 29.5 % Cadence 0 69.0 124 rpm HR 75 132.4 180 bpm NP:270W IF:0.90 TSS:211 VI:2.18
The most interesting stat to me is the difference between the average power (124W) and the normative power (270W) – a difference of 146 watts. Normally, the difference on my rides is on the order of 50 watts or so. This is nearly 3 times that amount!
Here are the numbered climbs, with 11 of the 13 of the climbs hitting 20% or higher, and four climbs hitting 25% or higher – although given the fact that I was racing through some of the steeper sections, the iBike accelerometer may not have had enough time to pick up some of the steep, short gradients.
Climb 1 – Southcrest
Oops! I forgot to turn on my camera for the very first climb. Darrell O’Quinn had a radio to communicate with Eddie at the top of the climb, so when Darrell got the all clear, he said “go” and we took off fast. I clipped in quickly and proceeded to do what I always do in time trials – go out way too hard. Fortunately, I realized it pretty quickly and eased up again just until the first person behind me was about to catch me. Then I panicked a bit and hit it really hard again to stay just barely ahead of him the rest of the way up the climb. Justin Prior was the rider who caught up to me and so we finished 1st and 2nd on this climb. I’m not sure the rest of the order.
Climb 2 – Southhall
I kid you not, on the way back down after the first climb I was pretty much ready to be done and not sure how on earth I would survive 12 more of these efforts. Fortunately, I could tell within a few seconds of the start of this climb that everyone else had also gone way too hard on the first climb. Justin Prior hit out on the first attack and I was able barely to hold his wheel. Towards the top though I was able to come around and take 1st followed very closely by Justin. Here is the video:
Climb 3 – Trinity/Montclair
Fortunately, this climb was a mile or so away from the end of the previous one so we had a bit more recovery before the start of this climb. This one is an interesting one because of the steady increase in gradient all the way to the very top where it maxes out at about 22%. Also, an interesting factoid about this climb – I was born in the hospital on the climb 38 years ago! This one played out very similar to climb 2 except I couldn’t come around Justin at the top of this one. We were side-by-side and then he pulled ahead of me at the very end. I held on for second. Here is the video:
Climb 4 – JCC Water Tower
In my opinion, this ended up being the hardest climb of the day. It is the longest of all the climbs with the most vertical diff at almost 400 feet. But what made it the toughest today was the battle that played out on the last part of the climb, which is the steepest part approaching 25+%. Justin hit out first again setting a pretty brutal pace. But because there was a stiff headwind blowing down the mountain (unusual), it didn’t seem quite as hard as the other climbs had been. When we made the final bend to the super steep part, I came around Justin on the inside, while Omar came around him on the outside. Omar put a couple seconds into me just crushing it. But fortunately for me, that final steep section was just long enough for me to catch him at the top. I had to dig really, really, really, really, really deep though and for the second time I thought “that’s it, I’m done, how on earth am I going to be able to go hard on the rest of the climbs?”. I ended up first with Omar 2nd and Justin 3rd. Here is the video:
Click the link below to see the rest of the videos.
Climb 5 – Post office (morningside)
This was a nice breather of a climb with a max grade of only 16%. I was really spent from the JCC water tower climb, but I was able to hang on for 2nd behind Justin. Here is the video:
Climb 6 – 29th st
Before starting this climb, we took a gas station break at the Chevron at the bottom of the climb. I knew this was one of the shortest climbs so we made sure that everyone was out in the street ready to start. I thought this one could be won by just killing it early – and that’s exactly what Luke Caldwell did blasting into the 30+% section with enough momentum he easily held it to the top. One of the Auburn riders was 2nd, and I was in 3rd until Omar came blowing by me on the steepest part of the climb. I cannot imagine what his power output was at that moment – easily into the 1000s! One interesting side note about this climb – I was in last place on the Strava leaderboard because the only other time I have done the climb, I unclipped and walked most of it to get as accurate an iBike reading as possible. Unfortunately I jumped all the way to 4th after today’s ride, it was kinda fun to be in last place on one of the steepest segments in Birmingham. Here is the short video:
Climb 7 – Secret Spot
This one was the first alley style climb. It started out wide, and again Justin set the early pace super hard. I held his wheel and then came around about halfway through the moss covered alley – just holding him off to the top of the Birmingham overlook. Here is the video:
Climb 8 – 22nd st / 16th ave alley
This was our second alley style climb with an actual alley this time (16th ave alley). Omar powered up the super steep alley section to easily take the win on this one. I was second, followed closely by Chad Williamson and Justin. Here is the video:
Climb 9 – Woodcrest from downtown
After this climb, I realized how tired everyone’s legs must be getting. My legs were pretty much dead even before the start of the climb. Again, the pace started out hard with a stiff headwind. I stayed behind Omar out of the wind until most of the way up the steep section. I came by him and thought that he and several other people would grab my wheel and sprint it out on the relatively flat finish – but I looked back and had opened up a pretty big gap after expending a ton of energy. I dug extra deep thinking that this was the one climb that had a flat enough section for a true sprint at the top. Here is the video:
Climb 10 – Woodcrest from valley
I paid for my sprint at the top of Woodcrest from the downtown side when we set out to do this climb. Thankfully, this side was much shorter – but I could only watch as Omar rode away from me at the end. I got 3rd behind Omar and Justin. Here is the video:
Climb 11 – Dreamland BBQ
Again, my legs felt absolutely horrible by this point of the ride but I’m sure everyone else’s did, too because I was able to take this one just ahead of Justin after Omar led for much of the latter part of the climb. Here is the video:
Climb 12 – Red Mountain Villas
This penultimate climb is a doozy even in the best of conditions, but today there was a leak on the climb and the entire lefthand side of the entrance to the apartments was very wet. The optimal line then was on the outside where it was mostly dry. Unfortunately several of us reached the entrance at about the same time, and the wind was blowing from the right so I was positioned on the left meaning I got stuck on the inside and had to go over a pretty big bump and then through the water. My wheel spun out a few times later in the climb as I watched Omar ride away from me again at the top. I believe I was 2nd followed again by Justin in third. Here is the video of the climb and also a video of other’s finishing up the climb after I finished:
Climb 13 – Red Mountain Water Tower
The final climb is the most technical one. Today, though, Eddie was able to get both gates open, which means we didn’t have to squeeze single file around the gates. Even so, the rest of the climb is covered in leaves and rocks. Also, towards the top, there a couple sharp switchbacks and a large boulder that had fallen onto the narrow paved trail. Several riders took off very quickly from the gun. I was marking Omar and Justin knowing that they were the closest to me in total points. This worked out well as I was able to come around Justin towards the top of the steep section before the Vulcan trail and then hold him and Omar off to take 1st in the final climb and 1st overall for the day. I was completely exhausted afterwards – what a fun day! Here is the video: