The path forward

This is a long post; here is the TL;DR
So you may or may not know that I suspended my Facebook account, deleted my Twitter account, and also deleted my Strava account this week. This blog is intended to address some of the reasons why. I also deleted my Instagram account, but when I saw how heavily my blog is tied into it and also because I wanted to be able to see pictures my family posts, I restored that account.

As a short summary, the stress of online interactions and wondering when would be the next time I would have to defend my ride data led me to delete my Strava account with my Facebook and Twitter accounts going down as collateral damage. I still haven’t sorted everything out, and to try to explain it in a short summary is pretty much impossible. I can, however, summarize why Facebook and Twitter were collateral damage. Because of Strava’s Instagram integration feature which I used to try to prove the legitimacy of my rides and where I was riding and what I was doing, I found it easy to also cross post to Facebook and Twitter. I got to the point where I was posting too much on Facebook and Twitter and pushing away real life friends from me. So I deleted Facebook and Twitter first on Wednesday of this past week and thought I would hold onto Strava a bit longer, maybe for all of 2016. But then that very same day, there were negative doubting comments following up on the heels of questioning comments last week, and in an emotional reaction I said “forget that”, I don’t need this in my life. Good-bye.

That’s the best I can do in a short summary, and it doesn’t really paint the entire picture – so if you want that, then you might want to grab a cup of coffee. This is a long post, which has taken a long time to write. Some of the times I say “today”, “yesterday”, “this week”, etc… may be confusing. For reference, I started the blog on Wednesday, January 30th.

Clemson University 1994
My parents helped me unload the car and unpack all my stuff into my dorm room. Then they said goodbye and drove back home to Alabama. I was on my own for the first time, and I was a bit homesick immediately as my mom was crying when she said goodbye and drove off. But then with nothing else to do, I hopped on my bike and headed straight out towards the mountains. As soon as I saw the first blue ridge peaking up in the distance, I knew I had found my home.

The Clemson Cycling team was a great group of guys, and we had lots of fun together. Bert Hull and I shared many an adventure together – I can recall one brutally hot ride out to Sassafras Mountain and back where we were very much delirious from heat exhaustion. Bert ended up taking a break at a gas station near the end and I just kept on going completely out of it. In general though, I frequently went out on long rides into the hills and mountains during the middle of the week all by myself. I would have these crazy adventures, see crazy things, and then when I came back I didn’t always have somebody I could share the adventure with. And when I did find myself recounting adventures, I always wondered in the back of my mind whether anybody believed all the stuff I was doing.

As far as data goes, I tracked my riding initially on a single poster board for the entire year (see pic below) in 1995 and 1996 using the Eddie Borysewicz method described in his training book. By 1997, I had created a database for tracking my training and racing. I used this all the way through the end of my undergrad career at Clemson.

UGA Crash, Anniston Cheaha, Mount MitchellUGA Crash, Anniston Cheaha, Mount Mitchell zoomed in from 1996 training poster

Screenshot highlighting some 1997 entries from my microsoft access database of racing and trainingScreenshot highlighting some 1997 entries from my database of racing. I kept a separate training database.

Birmingham, Alabama 2005
I grew up in Birmingham, but moved to South Carolina for my undergrad at Clemson, and moved to California for 6.5 years of grad school to get my Masters and PhD at UC Davis. I was very busy, and my life was a mess out in California so I didn’t ride much. But I rode a few times all the way out to the hills, eventually discovering Mix Canyon and climbing that a few times over the course of several years on adventures that were especially epic since I was out of shape. I also made my way all the way out to Knoxville Rd with its yellow “curves ahead next 39 miles” caution sign on the backside of Lake Berryessa. I raced a few times and ended up winning a Cat B road race in Nevada (my only ride in Nevada at the time).

California was great, but when we moved back to Birmingham literally on January 1, 2005, it was perfect timing as all my riding to get around town everywhere in Davis, California had prepared me to explore Birmingham on my bike. And what I found beyond the flat valley roads that group rides tend to favor just amazed me. I still vividly remember that first ride I did from our house, up past Vestavia Hills High School, into Vestavia Hills city center, and then across Canyon Rd to Shades Mountain Baptist Church where I had to turn around to be back home on time. I was absolutely amazed at the hills and the climbs and the descents. I came home full of excitement with all the possibilities right out my door.

Pretty quickly, I became interested in topographic maps because I wanted to know exactly the heights of each ridge, see which ridge was higher, and measure and compare the steepness of the climbs and descents. There is a spot close to my house I pass on nearly every ride where you can look up and see two steep ridges stacked on top of each other, and I remember very specifically one day thinking to myself “I want to know exactly the elevation of each ridge”. My only experience with topography was the printed USGS topographic maps that I was given by a graduating Clemson Cycling team senior at the end of my freshman year. So I looked online to see if you could see those printed maps online. Keep in mind this was 3 years prior to the invention of Google’s terrain view. I found a website that allowed you to download the USGS topo maps. I also noticed that you could download USGS elevation datasets. I was wondering what that was, and this quickly led me to a program called GlobalMapper, which could be used to display those elevation datasets.

It was exactly what I was looking for – with one quick glance, I could see and compare elevations based on color rather than having to squint at topographic contour lines and count the lines to see which part of the map was higher. Here is a map I created in April 2005 using GlobalMapper showing one of my commute routes into Samford. I didn’t have a cycling GPS so I made the base map using GlobalMapper and then used Photoshop to trace a line on top of the roads I took to get to Samford.

Commute route to Samford - April 2005Commute route to Samford – April 2005

By 2007 I was tired of the clunky interface for drawing paths in GlobalMapper and inspired by tools like GMap Pedometer, so I proposed an online mapping application to be the class project for the Fall 2007 Software Engineering I was teaching. We did a lot of brainstorming and got started on an application, but I ended up rewriting everything the following Spring and Summer eventually launching a beta version of topocreator.com where I could create color-coded topographic maps that showed the elevations of ridges and valleys as well as create routes in a similar fashion to GMap Pedometer using the Google Maps API.

Joining Strava 2009
In 2007, I joined the Tria Market Cycling Team and dove back into racing – racing a huge number of times finally earning enough points to get the upgrade to Cat 1 so I could race in the Pro/1 races by the end of the year. I had a Polar heartrate monitor and was using Polar Protrainer to track my training and racing. I could see how many miles, how much time, and my time spent in various HR zones using the Polar protrainer software. I felt that a cycling GPS was too expensive and unnecessary because I was so focused on my racing that the “adventure” aspect had slid to the background. Oh how I wish now that I had picked up a Garmin Edge 205 back in 2006.

With the release and popularity of the Garmin Edge 705, I started to think about getting one motivated in part by how my racing was taking me all over the country and I wasn’t able to keep track of where all I was riding. My first ride with the Edge 705 was in La Porte, Indiana visiting family during Thanksgiving 2008. I built an import tool on topocreator.com where I could import data and see elevation profiles and topographic maps (see example map below from the 2009 Bull’s Gap time trial). You could tag rides and maps, and I began to build a catalog of all the places I was riding and seeing the topographic data in great detail using the color-coded shaded relief maps.

2009 Bull's Gap Time Trial2009 Bull’s Gap Time Trial from an early version of topocreator.com

A few months later, my friend Jacob Tubbs sent me a link to Strava saying it was a really cool website where you can compare your times on climbs. Back then Strava had a bulk import option so I imported all my rides from the past several months into Strava. My initial connection to Strava was the KOMs. I thought it was really cool that I could try to get the fastest time up a climb and see how fast other people were doing the same climb. I found this to be a great motivational tool for training and one of the things that always surprised me was that I would frequently hit my max heartrate for the week, month, year, etc… going for a KOM on a climb rather than during the middle of a race. That of course is partly because racing is all about conserving energy, and training is all about expending energy (either a lot of it or as little as possible aka recovery). Since there were only a few people on Strava in Birmingham, it was pretty easy to get KOMs. But even then, I could compare my own times on any climb around town.

Several years ago, Strava didn’t have club leaderboards. Instead, there was one global weekly leaderboard split up into a few categories. I always tried to see if I could get to the top of the leaderboard within my normal training and commuting regime.

2010 at the top of three of Strava's global leaderboards2010 at the top of three of Strava’s global leaderboards

Leaving Strava 2016
Over the years as I was consistently near the top of the Strava leaderboards, I received all kinds of positive comments and notes from people all over the world. So even as early as 2010, I was starting to realize the potential for Strava to be a platform where I could share all the cool riding I was doing here in Alabama. By 2014 when I began training for the Race Across America, I made this one of my primary training objectives – showcase the state of Alabama and how amazing it is to ride here. Here was my 2015 training and racing, note how I hit so many counties in Alabama.

topocreator.com map of all my rides in 52 of Alabama's 67 counties. This map also includes rides that started at home and went into neighboring states of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia.topocreator.com map of all my rides in 52 of Alabama’s 67 counties. This map also includes rides that started at home and went into neighboring states of Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, and even Kentucky.

30,000 miles of riding in 2015 - annotated US county map. 23 states and 203 counties covered in 2015. Click to enlarge.30,000 miles of riding in 2015 – annotated US county map. 23 states and 203 counties covered in 2015. Click to enlarge.

With all the miles I was putting in for training and all the crazy routes I was picking, I was on top of almost every leaderboard and on top of that my connection with Strava became deeper because here was a place I could share all my adventures with the world and see adventures that other people were having. Also, here was a place where I could upload objective proof of my adventures. One of Strava’s slogans is “Prove it”. So perhaps this is enough to explain my deep visceral reaction to comments this week, last week, the week before that, and off-and-on over the past few years relating to the accuracy and believability of my data. This past week our rabbit died, and I was not in a very good emotional state. So my reaction to the latest comments was pure emotion rooted in an emotional subconscious realization that the very reasons I connected with Strava were no longer valid.

Sure, the majority of people probably (although I’m not sure) believed my data without giving it a second thought. But there has always been a number of people who doubted my stats, my rides. That was evident even from 2009 and 2010 where one respected rider from the mountains of Switzerland questioned my climbing saying that when he uploaded my rides to mapmyride.com (notorious for horribly filtered and flattened elevation data) that he would see a drop of 30-40% of total climbing. Whereas if he uploaded his ride from high in the mountains, he would only see a small drop in elevation. We went back and forth with his last comment being something along the lines of a sarcastic “you’ve always got an explanation for everything”. Then at some point in Spring 2011 when I was winning a lot of the brand new monthly climbing challenges and running away with the yearly climbing challenge, I remember somebody tweeting at my twitter account accusing me of being a Strava doper in the middle of a long race weekend. This upset both me and my wife who told me about the tweet as she was looking at twitter. Beyond that, I would get a comment here or comment there, a ride flagged here, a ride flagged there and find myself in a position of defending myself and my ride. Then came the Strava / Instagram integration, and I realized that I could take a picture of my Garmin after every ride and post it with the ride as even more proof. This was perfect. My rides stopped being flagged. The doubtful questioning negative comments stopped for the most part.

But then for some reason those comments started up again in 2015 with people wondering about the accuracy of my Garmin since they could see from my pictures that I wasn’t manipulating the ride file. It was annoying all last year. And then this year, last week, when our rabbit died in the middle of a pleasant but passive aggressive interaction with a rider from San Mateo, California I was pretty upset. Then on Wednesday of this week, a different rider from Oregon just flat out said “There is something wrong with your Garmin” on a ride I had done two weeks ago. I’m sure there was no malice intended by either of these people, but for me it was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back”. My interactions with Strava had morphed to the point where I would be checking Strava constantly and dreading new comments on my ride and whether they would require me to defend the accuracy of my ride. Sure, that may be a personal problem I have … I should have just ignored those comments and let people believe what they want to believe. But remember that one of my connections to Strava was the ability to “prove” that I really had ridden across the state and back, that I really had climbed the height of Mount Everest on a single ride, that I really did ride right through the middle of the woods, etc… Sometimes I find myself in the middle of nowhere and can’t believe myself what I am out there doing, so having these comments on Strava directly undermined that connection to Strava I had made back in 2009 when I created an account. Strava was no longer a platform where I could prove my rides – instead Strava became a platform where other people could doubt and question my rides and either directly or indirectly accuse me of cheating at the online challenges.

So, on Wednesday after the latest comment which I saw in the break between teaching my first and second classes that morning at Samford, I resolved to quit Strava by the end of the year. I had already deleted my Facebook and Twitter account earlier that morning (see next section). Then after a second comment after that next class, I realized I was done with it. I made a short post on the Million Foot climbing club, which was my favorite club on Strava, initiated a backup of my data and once that completed – deleted my account.

Perhaps a more reasonable solution would have been to remove myself from all challenges and clubs so the “doubters” wouldn’t have a reason to stumble upon my account. In retrospect, I wish I had done that, but if there is one thing I have learned from bike racing, it is that you make a decision and you commit to it. You make a move and you *bleep*-ing commit to it. You can’t second guess yourself, and I’m not going to do that with Strava. Will I join Strava again at some point in the future? Probably, but for now I think this time away from Strava and Facebook and Twitter (see next section) will be very good for me and my family. It already has been. On my ride today, I got 3 real in-person kudos from the people that matter the most to me.

Leaving Facebook and Twitter
I already mentioned in the TL;DR that my Facebook and Twitter accounts were collateral damage, and I realize now that if I really go into all the details of why beyond my original summary at the top of this blog I will be stepping into personal areas that I really don’t want to share with other people. So let me recap again that because of the Strava Instagram integration and how many positive comments I was receiving about how cool it looked to ride where I was riding, etc… I started thinking that the whole world wanted to see my rides. So I started crossposting all my pics to Facebook / Twitter and pushed away a number of real life friends. As an extreme measure to prevent myself from cross posting to Facebook and Twitter, I deleted those accounts – which was a sure-fire way of not spamming people any more with all my Instagram posts. Was there a more reasonable approach? Sure, but I wasn’t making reasonable decisions. Will I be back on Facebook? Yes, my account is only suspended and probably at some point in the next couple months, I will reactivate it so I can communicate with people who that is my primary form of communication. Will I be back on Twitter? Probably not. I never posted anything to Twitter that I didn’t crosspost somewhere else.

The path forward
I do know that there were a lot of people on Strava who looked forward to seeing my pics and rides, that gained inspiration from what I was doing. I know this because I received those kinds of comments both in person and online frequently. If this is/was you, then I am very sorry for just pulling the plug so suddenly on what may have been a source of inspiration for you. I am working on updating topocreator.com and howmuchtogo.com so that I can embed my latest rides on this blog and in an RSS feed. I know it’s an extra step, but it feels like staying away from Strava for at least a year if not longer is something that I need to do for me and my family. Once all of this is ready, I will post another blog (The Path Forward II or something like that) with details of how you can see my rides and data.

55 thoughts on “The path forward

  1. Chad Williamson

    Wow I had no idea you were having to go through that mess…that sounds horrible. I think you are making the right call though in purging everything through. Sometimes it’s probably easier to get out completely rather than try and figured out a way to stay in but to a lesser degree. Life will surely be easier and less stressful without all of the distractions. Also, thanks for taking the time to write that summary. I enjoyed hearing about your history and how your riding and ride summaries evolved into what they are today. It’s unfortunate that there are so many haters out there but I suppose that will always be the case in anything.

    Reply
    1. kartoone Post author

      Thanks Chad – I’ve already thought about how nice it has freed up some time which has usually turned into some sort of family time.

      Reply
      1. Thomas Morrison

        You are an incredible athlete and an inspiration. I’m sorry that so many people were negative. I remember seeing your ride from six gap last year (after having done just one lap myself) with absolute admiration and thinking to myself that I want to be able to do that one day.

  2. James Grooms

    You don’t know me, but I feel as I know you thru Strava. You inspired me. I feel so sorry that so much negativity flows to anyone, such as yourself.
    You simply have to let it go. I know, hard as heck. But you can never convince debbie downers. As they say, haters are going to hate.
    Find some Zen brother. I really feel for you. Silence if often the most powerful tool.
    Ride on, for a day will come when we can’t!!!

    Reply
    1. kartoone Post author

      Thanks James – I am glad I inspired you. I think this time away from Strava and social media is helping me to find that zen, that inner peace.

      Reply
  3. Daniel Koehn

    Thanks a lot for the explanation!

    I’ve enjoyed keeping up with your rides on Strava for about 3-4 years now. You were an inspiration to our small group rides here in Sumter County Alabama. I have never doubted your data! I do understand and respect your decision for cancelling all the “social stuff” we all seem to have on our phones and computers these days. I wish there was still someplace we could see your pictures and ride data without causing you too much trouble.

    Reply
    1. kartoone Post author

      Thanks Daniel. Man, I have ridden in Sumter County a few times now, and that place is awesome. I just love the hidden ridges there over the Tombigbee and other parts of the county too. It’s just so rural there, you can really get away from it all.

      Reply
  4. Livestrongrider

    Brian, I read the comments on the Strava Million Foot club and was shocked, but not surprised by the haters and negative talk. Hard work and determination to achieve ones goals seems to be and out of date idea these days and it’s much easier for people to try and bring people like yourself down to there level rather then then haters working harder to bring themselves up to your level. I am one of your supporters as you wrote about in your blog about the 2015 RAAM where we rode together in the Arizona dessert. And one of the greatest memories will be you and I meeting at the top of Hogpen during our double 6 Gap 2015. It’s really sad that a guy like yourself who works his ass off but truly enjoys your passion for cycling is taken out against you. It’s hard not to pay attention to the negative comments and those questioning the validity of you stats and rides. I was thinking about your Strava post on the million food club this past weekend especially going over Fort Mountain and Burnt Mountain, used in HOS, as I posted Instagram Pics along the way. Reading this blog post it’s very apparent that you took the attacks very personally and rightfully so. In time the haters will move on to someone else and try to bring them down, again this seems to be a right of passage in todays society. And with the advent of social media and the different media outlets it’s much easier these days for some sloth sitting behind his computer to talk trash and bring people down. Hold your head high, you did it the right way. There will always be doubters and haters. People out there that just can’t fathom the hard work it takes to achieve what you have done in your cycling history. Take care of yourself and the family and let the dust settle from this mess.
    Erik RAAM solo #523 2015, 2016.
    P.S. Even though HOS is being held this year we’re going to do a simulated HOS in late April. We’re going to start in Northwest GA for logistical purposes but use the same course as we rode last year.

    Reply
    1. kartoone Post author

      Thanks Erik. I can’t wait to see you crush RAAM this year – it’s going to be awesome! That was so awesome running into each other on top of Hogpen – epic. Keep me updated on your plans for the HOS ride. If you need any logistical support from the Birmingham side of the course – let me know!

      Reply
  5. banjolawyer

    You sure inspired me. I rode 6300 miles last year, up from a previous high of 2400. Hoping to hit 8000 this year. You’re a good man, and stepping away from the social networks is something we should all do!

    Reply
    1. kartoone Post author

      I’m really glad I could inspire you. That’s a huge improvement! I think Strava has done a lot to get people to ride more … looking back at the old leaderboards, you were in the top 5 if you rode 321 miles in a single week. Now, that probably wouldn’t even put you in the top 500. People ride 321 miles in a single day on a somewhat routine basis now. By the end of the month a 321 mile ride may not even get you into the top 50 or even top 100 on the leaderboard in the Gran Fondo competitions.

      Reply
  6. David Orange

    never met you , but me and some of my riding buds would see your strava activity and talk about it and what an inspiration you were .don’t let the action’s of a few nuts dictate to you your actions. you have all the respect in the world from the riders that know you. KUDO’s to you , see you on the climbs.

    Reply
  7. thecyclingcardinal

    i think anyone who actually knows you in person doesn’t doubt anything you do. That said, you will always have doubters on the internet; I think they are jealous or just can’t fathom things you do because they think they can’t do them. The Internet is full of negativity, which is very sad. I think deleting your accounts was a good idea if you spent so much time trying to prove your legitimacy. I think you inspire plenty of people to push themselves harder. I’ve been in a similar situation because of my diet choices and people inferring that I don’t do what I say I do, and just can’t film yourself 24/7 to prove them wrong. Your race results speak for themselves, anyone who questions you is just foolish. Despite any negativity you’ve received, in my eyes you’ve been nothing but a very humble person who has inspired me to climb more and ride more. Thanks for doing what you have done, I’m not the only person you’ve inspired.

    -Max

    Reply
    1. kartoone Post author

      Thanks Max – man, your rides and posts and knowledge of just about every route in downtown Birmingham has inspired me too.

      Reply
  8. Brian Hibbs

    Brian… thanks for sharing. It’s really bothersome that people have nothing better to do than question the validity of your ride data. As for the information you shared via Strava/FB/IG, thank you. That day I personally met you on Wiregrass Rd as you were finishing up a 100+ ride to Cheaha and back had a huge impact on my riding habits. I’d never thought to ride my bike to Cheaha, much less think I could even do it physically. But after we talked, all I could think about was “I want to do that.” But to do that meant I had to ride more, and to do that meant I had to take advantage of my down time… so that led to every free moment I could spare, I was riding. And so I began riding everyday. I did ride Skyway to Cheaha and back… it was awesome. I’ve fallen in love with challenge of climbing, no longer dreading to climb. Viewing your rides and looking at your mileage and climbing data amazes me… and inspiring. Keep up the good work, hopefully we’ll run into each other on the trail! 🙂

    Reply
    1. kartoone Post author

      Thanks Brian. I’m really glad I could inspire you. I remember meeting you that day, and wow that was such an epic ride. Easily makes it into a top 10 list of epic adventures. I don’t think I ever blogged about that ride, but I just uploaded a screenshot of all the instagram pics from that ride below, but the best one is this one: https://www.instagram.com/p/nDGGrBO_Gl/ https://toonecycling.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/skywayadventure.jpg

      Reply
  9. Ed Merritt

    Brian, I think you made the right call here. Ride for yourself. Spend time with your family. Focus on the stuff that actually matters. Get back to the basics and the reason you fell in love with riding (and Kristine 😉 in the first place. In the meantime, remember that Kristine and the kids never needed Garmin proof from your rides, and neither did the rest of us who have spent any sort of time riding with you. I still remember the first “official” climbing ride I did with you was from a BBL that got shortened and you proceeded to show me how to put over 5000 feet of climbing in over the next 30 miles. I’ve been doing stupid stuff like that ever since. And get up here to visit! Bring Kristine and the kids and make a mini-vacation out of it. You’re always welcome at my house.

    Reply
    1. kartoone Post author

      Thanks Ed. Man that’s what it’s all about for me … the adventure and freedom of going and exploring places on a bike. Even with the family and bike racing, we have gone to places and cities we never would have gone to if there hadn’t been a bike race there. Tulsa tough was a great example back in 2012. That was coming on the heels of a long trip out west for a wedding, bike race to qualify for leadville, and visiting family. I still remember reading an article in either Velonews or Bicycling magazine a super long time ago where the author said they would do everything they could to make a loop (including riding through cow fields, climbing fences, whatever it took never to repeat a road). I’ve always used that as a baseline for adventures. It would be great to come visit y’all up there. I don’t think Kristine has ever been to that part of North Carolina, probably the closest she has been is to Asheville for the SRS race a couple years ago. If I could convince her to meet me up there with the kids and I’d ride from Birmingham to there, it would be perfect.

      Reply
  10. Wade Parker

    I’m a casual rider myself, but I always enjoyed your adventures and your undeniable enthusiasm for the state of Alabama. Best wishes to you !

    Reply
  11. Luke Caldwell

    Hey Brian, you’ve always been an inspiration for me. Watching your weekly adventures and escapades always made me want to get out and go on my own adventures. I know even though you’ve deleted your Strava, your gonna have a lot of stories to tell me about! Anyways, enjoy the time spent with family and enjoy those Birmingham climbs that you fell in love with in 2005, and trust me, all of us B’ham people know who those KOMs truly belong too.
    Much love Brian.

    Reply
    1. kartoone Post author

      Wow, thanks Luke! Definitely can’t wait to hear all the stories from Auburn, too. The little bit of riding I’ve done down there, and I can already tell there are tons of cool places to explore.

      Reply
  12. lou pfau

    Brian Toone is always on the leaderboard of integrity. The few that doubt that bedrock character are mistaken from not knowing him personally. Percentages of those who doubt are small but like a infected blister or a splinter they ruin the day. Way to go being a leader again in reaction to the wider world. I am so happy for your new freedom time and even more respect coming your way! Also this is great because I can ride with you now and make up fish stories. jk.

    Reply
    1. kartoone Post author

      Thanks Lou! Can’t wait to go riding … speaking of which I rode out near your new place the other day and think I found a good route. Let me know if you’ve got some Tuesday or Thursday free and we can do a Blount county adventure together! Since I’m not on facebook, email me or text me.

      Reply
  13. Mick

    Mate, I’m definitely going to miss following your Strava rides; they were always a highlight. I followed some of the UCMA HAM’R riders for a while, and while incredible, they got repetitive and so I unfollowed (with the occasional checkup via the MTS challenges). Yours with the pictures, the amazing climbing, the fantastic commentary, and always time to interact with your fans was one of those “one of a kind” accounts that was always so great to follow.

    Your training up to the RAAM was a highlight, and I remember refreshing the leaderboards after every leg to see how you went. Following you has definitely been an inspiration.

    Wishing you well all the way from Australia, and wishing you much happiness in your personal life and some fantastic rides in the future. You’ll always be an inspiration. I’ll be sure to add your RSS to my feedly so I can continue to follow you moving forward.

    Cheers and thanks,
    Mick.

    Reply
    1. kartoone Post author

      Thanks Mick, I’m really glad you enjoyed my rides and pics. I’m hoping to expand on that via the RSS feed. I usually take a bunch of pics during a ride and only post a small subset. I’m trying to make it easier to filter through the pics and select the best ones to attach to a ride and add captions to each pic linked to the topocreator map of the ride. Hopefully I’ll have something up by the end of the week.

      Reply
  14. sixcoopers

    Brian, I have enjoyed your posts and enjoyed following your journey through RAAM last year. Successful amateur athletes with families have always been far more inspirational to me than pro cyclists, and I have learned a thing or two from your data and your experiences. Enjoy the extra family time you have now that you no longer have to babysit your Strava and social media accounts. I have found that Facebook and a blog are about all that I can tolerate.

    Reply
  15. John Karrasch

    Bummer on having to deal with folks like that. Jealous doubters…

    That said, you’re a big inspiration to me and many others on how to be a great rider and more importantly a genuine nice guy.

    See you out there!

    Reply
  16. Chris Shelton

    You have done what is right for you and your family and that is all that matters. When we are at the end and we have that silence after our last heart beat I don’t think your going to be concerned about social media or anything else but what you have found to be most meaningful and I would think that might be around being a husband and father and if you did your best. Wish you well in your future endeavors Brian.

    Reply
    1. kartoone Post author

      Thanks Chris, I’m still planning on riding and racing a lot so I hope to see you out on the road sometime soon.

      Reply
  17. Paul Bradley Anders

    Hey, Brian, you and I were in some of the earliest challenges on Strava, and we’ve had discussions (civil ones) about your elevation gain numbers. At first, I had my doubts, but over time I understood what was going on and also learned that you’re an excellent athlete and climber with tons of ability. As you and I have discussed, none of your numbers are “cheating” or faked in any way, but the type of terrain you ride in, with many sharp, short hills that are on straight roads, makes it possible for you to maintain much of your momentum from the downhills into the next climb, reducing the total amount of energy required, as you lose nothing in braking (and other factors). Guys who are climbing multiple longer climbs (e.g. 1000+ feet) or doing repeats on longer climbs don’t get those energy savings as they dissipate all of the potential energy they gain from the climb in braking and air resistance. IMO, that’s not your problem, you’re riding the roads you have and doing your best with them, if they don’t like elevation gain as the way to measure a climbing challenge, then those alpine guys should work with Strava to come up with a metric that can be used for alpine-type challenges. I hope you reconsider your leaving Strava as I and many others enjoy seeing your rides and discussing them with you. Best of luck with whatever you decide, and if you don’t reconsider, I’ll just have to start reading your blog. Take care.

    Reply
    1. kartoone Post author

      Hi Paul, thanks for the comment man. Yeah, that for sure is one of the things I love about Birmingham and one of the reasons I’ve been able to sustain such a large volume of training – even on an easy recovery ride, you can still have tons of fun bombing descents (no brakes) which lead straight into the next hill so you don’t have to expend much energy on the climb. Then you are at the top of the hill ready to go down the next one. The longer sustained climbs are better for training, but they take more out of you.

      Reply
  18. Julie

    Hi Brian,
    Wanted to say I just hate you had to deal with those people. I am a fan. We met very briefly at HOS last year (I was crewing for Erik). I soon followed your strava feed. It was really fun seeing where you’d gone and be up to (literally up and up 🙂 I followed your road through RAAM and was impressed by the courage to never quit in spite of a fall early on. I look forward to following your cycling in whatever format you want to let the world in, Just know you have many fans and touch many folks in a very positive light.
    — Julie

    Reply
    1. kartoone Post author

      Thanks Julie, that means a lot to me! I’m still trying to find my way forward from here … this year is looking like a return to regular racing, but with more adventure ultra style rides mixed in. I’m hoping to have an RSS feed up and running soon with a link to my rides and blogs.

      Reply
  19. theaddictblog

    It comes with the territory that ultra-endurance athletes catch a lot of shit for pursuing what they love. James Lawrence (Iron Cowboy) was inundated with negativity when he did 50/50/50; a story that was a REAL family vacation and brought everyone closer together. Endurance cyclists catch crap when others can’t wrap their own minds around what we do.

    People who are as dedicated, to anything, tend to have other areas of their life in order. Career, family, friends, hobbies, etc. Those who can’t understand, and express through negativity, tend to have their lives in complete shambles.

    Although we have never met, I would personally bet that your cycling has set a positive example for those close to you. Dedication, commitment, and determination are obvious.
    Bummed that I won’t be able to see your rides anymore, but I really appreciate that you addressed this topic on your page. There is always more positive comments than negative; your rides inspired me.

    Max

    Reply
    1. kartoone Post author

      Thanks Max. I’m glad my rides could inspire you. That really gets at the core of both why I have always been so detailed in my reporting of races and rides – wanting other people to share that same experience. That makes me happy to know that hopefully I’ve inspired people to go out there and find that same kind of adventure on their own or with friends.

      Reply
  20. Brent

    Brian, I learned a lot about the sport from you and your adventures. While I sometimes questioned your sanity, I never questioned your honesty and dedication. While I will miss your Strava rides, I agree that social media has become too much of a replacement for real social interaction. Kudos for taking this step! Take care and best of luck!

    Reply
  21. Spencer Moore

    Good to hear a little of what happened and why. I met on a ride a few years back. You had just ridden a 250 mile ride the day before and were just out on a light recovery ride. You didn’t even bring up the ride until I asked a few questions, so i knew you were humble at that point. Most people would have mentioned a ride that long the first chance they could. I have followed you on strava since then. It is clear you have no ego, and i wouldn’t think twice about the small percentage of people that try to bring you down.
    I actually live in Buckhead subdivision near you. My 4 year old asks me every time we see a cyclist, “is that Toone, daddy? ” our she will randomly ask where is Toone today. It is pretty funny. She also asked, “is toone faster than you, daddy? ” I admitted you were waaaay faster than daddy. Just thought i would write to support you and show your reach has even gotten into the 3-7 year old demographic with my kids up with you. Be safe out there.

    Reply
    1. kartoone Post author

      Thanks Spencer. That’s a great story – thanks for sharing! That spot I mentioned where you can see the two ridges is as you are crossing the bridge on Rocky Ridge Rd just down the hill from Buckhead.

      Reply
  22. alan.ruffier

    Brian, I’m sorry I won’t be able to follow you on Strava but I feel your pain about all this social media negativity! you were a huge inspiration for me last year! it lead me to climb 1.4M, mostly after following you all spring/summer. Your RAAM ride was so emotional for me and I was tracking your every move toward the end. That photo of you falling asleep in your wife’s arms as she was trying to either change your jersey or clean you up was amazing. Anyway, be a good husband, be a good father, have fun on the bike and completely ignore all the naysayers out there. they don’t matter. God bless. Mister Fixie (Alan).

    Reply
    1. kartoone Post author

      Thanks Mister Fixie – that’s awesome climbing 1.4M feet! That photo you mentioned from the race is one of my all time favorites. I can remember and connect so vividly with that moment and feeling so punch drunk in love with my wife at that moment. I’m revamping one of my websites (topocreator.com) to make it easier to see maps of all my rides and even more of the pics that I take when I’m out riding than I usually post to instagram. It might take a little while to get it up and running the way I’d like to so in the meantime I’m hoping to update this blog a little more frequently with my latest adventures.

      Reply
  23. Philip Thompson

    I never doubted you Brian, I am just glad I got to win the Tour de Cullman before you started cleaning up. I look up to you and your family as a model of how to commit and deal with difficult situations.

    Reply
  24. Timothy Valentine

    Brian, people can be jerks. I would use another word or two, but I wouldn’t put it on a post. I have never doubted your riding. Heck, I remember racing with you and know what kind of athlete you are. You and I both have come back to riding after some serious accidents. I don’t know about you, but I still have some hardware in my body to remind me. I recently had another cycling accident and have been off of the bike. To tell you the truth, I have been looking at Strava for your rides to keep me motivated. When I didn’t see anything, i was dreading what might be the cause, especially after I no longer saw any twitter or Facebook posts. I am glad to know that you are OK and fully understand your reasons for disconnecting. Just like you wouldn’t let others stop you from riding; don’t give them the satisfaction of taking away your ability to motivate and inspire. I know some people made their Strave accounts private and only share when requested. I will now start following your blogs more closely to help me stay motivated. I would ask you to put in some miles for me right now, but I know you are putting in plenty.

    Reply
  25. Christopher Borden

    If you ever checkout Veloviewer.com, its pretty cool to see 2 guys from Alabama on the total time leaderboard for all of Strava-land. Of course, you are pretty out of range. Still, over the world, I liked seeing two Bama boys representing.
    But
    theres no way I can find a way to catch up if you stop logging.

    Most people suck, man. Anyone with any sense can see your data. There’s a Dale Carnegie quote I think of when I get disappointed with people, its something like: its not our fault that the good Lord didnt distribute intelligence evenly. I cant be bothered to learn it, but it still serves me well enough.

    Rock on, man.

    Reply
  26. Christopher Peltzer

    I greatly enjoyed reading your cycling story, thank you for sharing this post.
    I started cycling about a year and a half ago at 19. You were one of the first riders I followed on Strava, you and a few other heavy hitters like DR shaped my concept of cycling. I have always viewed the way you ride as the long term goal; pages of KOMs, big miles, and big elevation gain. You inspired me to do an Everesting attempt a few months in to cycling. Thank you for inspiring me to explore, search for that backroad segment halfway across the state to steal a KOM.
    Take your time coming back to Strava man, but don’t slow down keep pushing!
    https://www.strava.com/athletes/6202175

    Reply
  27. David Tichenor

    DUDE!!!! No! Unlike some of the young guys posting here, I’m 55 and have been riding for thirty years. My daughters went to Samford, so I felt a little connection there, but your rides were inspirational to so many. So many people will miss you daily posts, in fact while I was riding today and telling the group I was with, about your rides and RAAM, I thought, “I wonder if he crashed or something, I have not seen a post in a while!”. I hope you DO come back to Strava. Ignore the haters. You will find that there are people that complain about anything. You can give them free flowers and they will complain that they are allergic. So many people are skeptical of anything that they cannot do. IGNORE them. BUT on the other hand, the family time and face to face time with your wife is much more important than defending your rides. I have thought about dropping Strava as I just don’t like the “monkey on my back” while riding an easy ride, but it does encourage me to get out there and go for another KOM and that keeps me in shape. Keep Going Don’t Stop! But do what’s best for you of course. God first, family second, cycling…somewhere after that. Blessings my friend!

    Reply
  28. Alan

    Since you had a “critical mass” following, you will be subject to those who really care, mildly care, neutral, slightly don’t care, and really seem somehow threatened by your accomplishments. I guess I was in the “mildly care” group. You seem nice and love to ride your bike, I never cared if your climbing was 100% accurate, but I felt it was at least 90% accurate which was as good as it gets. I think sometimes your max speed might be off, but everyone’s can be off and that’s just part of using technology. I put you in the top-1% of all Strava cyclists, regardless. But I’m glad you deleted your account; unintended stress is horrible. I would, however, recommend a more private account, vett (?) the people who follow you, and keep it small. Maybe only add real friends, who knows, only you know. I’ve been using Stava for about 3 years, and find it pretty worthless now. KOM’s are via wind, group rides, etc….and everytime I see a KOM I am pretty cynical. But you ride the big miles, the big mountains, the long road…..you can’t fake the time on the saddle. Anyhow, good luck.

    Reply

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