Tag Archives: alabama

2015 Rapha Festive 500

Today, I finished up the Rapha Festive 500 challenge to ride 500k (310 miles) between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. This makes three years in a row now that I have been able to complete the challenge, which hasn’t always been easy, given that we usually spend most of that time up in snowy and cold northwest Wisconsin. My ride today was a 78.8 mile ride from Shell Lake, Wisconsin to Heartwood Cabins (where Kristine and I had our wedding reception in 2003) via Hayward where I switched from my mountain bike to a rental fat bike.

One of the things that was really interesting this year is the crazy weather we have been having down in Alabama. Temps have been in the 60s and 70s degF just about every day in December. With these rare hot temps, I have been riding in shorts and short sleeve jersey unzipped nearly every ride. Then during the week before Christmas, it got even hotter despite the weather turning quite wet – Birmingham set record high temps three days in a row in the middle of some nasty rain and thunderstorms. Two of those days included December 24th and 25th – the first two days of the Festive 500. Transitioning from that to snowy Wisconsin was quite a shock to the system as evidenced by the table of rides below:

Ride Distance Climbing Pace Avg HR Temp
12/24 Hoover, AL fast century before Christmas Eve 101.95 mi 13,264 ft 17 mph 128 bpm 64 degF
12/25 Hoover, AL gunshots, thunderstorms, and rain 104.44 mi 9,859 ft 16.1 mph 116 bpm 63 degF
12/26 Shell Lake, WI around town garmin in pocket 2.8 mi 118 ft 6.5 mph
34 degF
12/27 Shell Lake, WI timberland hills 49.76 mi 3,320 ft 13.7 mph 117 bpm 18 degF
12/28 Shell Lake, WI finishing the festive 500 78.86 mi 4,879 ft 12.9 mph 123 bpm 16 degF

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Cherokee Rock Village

Every fall for the past 10 years, we have traveled to Clemson, South Carolina for fall break. Football game on Saturday (sometimes), long ride for me on either Sunday or Monday (or both), and drive back home on Tuesday usually after visiting local apple orchards in the mountains. My bike rides over fall break have all been epics with a mix of sentimental old routes from college with a few new roads and climbs thrown in each year. This year we had so much going on here in Alabama that we weren’t able to make it up to South Carolina, so I planned out an epic with the idea of exploring someplace new to me … and I found it – Cherokee Rock Village on Shinbone Ridge on Lookout Mountain.

Cherokee Rock Village bouldering near the Weiss Lake drop-off.Cherokee Rock Village bouldering near the Weiss Lake drop-off.

I set off on a 250+ mile adventure riding from my house northeast past Gadsden to Weiss Lake at the foot of what I would hope would be a new Cat 2 climb from lake level up to the top of Cherokee Rock Village. Even though the climb meets the minimum requirements for a Strava Cat 2 climb of more than 320 meters vertical difference from bottom to top, at only 2.98% average gradient it just barely misses the 3% cut-off.

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