Tag Archives: tornado

Tornado anniversary and return of the iBike

A lot going on in the cockpit ... video camera, iBike, and Garmin.A lot going on in the cockpit … camera, iBike, and Garmin.

This is my last week off before the start of the spring semester at Samford, so I wanted to get in at least one more long ride. I’m riding my Scott Addict right now because the Trek is down for the count with a crack in the frame. Because I switched bikes to my Scott, I could re-mount the iBike again (the Bontrager stem on my Trek is far too thick for the iBike mount to fit). The only problem is that when I went to mount the iBike, I discovered I was missing a screw for the mounting bracket … a quick trip to the local hardware store with the iBike and a screwdriver in my back pocket and I was able to find the right screw.

In my opinion, the absolute best thing about the iBike is its ability to measure gradients quite accurately — much more so than the barometric pressure calculated gradient from the Garmin. The iBike has an internal gyrometer/accelerometer which can calculate gradient based on immediate changes in pitch, unlike the Garmin which requires motion and change in air pressure to calculate gradient based on the change of elevation over time. The ability of the iBike to measure power is a secondary benefit … and not too bad either compared to all the other power meters I’ve owned. You do have to get it calibrated correctly, but that is a one-time setup step which is supposedly eliminated on the new iBike Newton.

Excited about the iBike, I wanted to measure the gradients on the Emerald Lakes climbs which I discovered over Christmas and rode again a couple weeks ago on the way out to Skyball. I’ve posted videos below where I am calling out a small selection of the iBike gradient readings (it updates itself about every second, but I’m only calling out readings every few seconds). The front side climb Cat 4 climb (from the Lake) has the steepest pitch topping out at 30.4%, but the 20+% section is much shorter than the 20+% section on the backside Cat 3 climb. The descent back down the 30% section is dangerous. I was trying to be conservative and still hit 53mph (last video). I’m glad I was trying to be conservative because any faster, and I might very well have ended up IN Emerald Lake.

Red tailed hawk flying above its nest in tornado damaged neighborhood.Red tailed hawk flying above its nest in tornado damaged neighborhood.

When I was planning out the return route, I noticed that the climb up to the top of the Summit Pointe neighborhood off of Tyler Loop road would probably be an auto-detected Strava cat 4 climb. The picture of the hawk above is just below the summit of the climb. I was trying to maximize climbing on the ride so I created a route through that neighborhood up the climb not realizing that I would be doing the ride on the 1 year anniversary of the Chalkville EF-3 tornado (just under EF-4) which went through a corner of the neighborhood. I came to the realization that it was the 1 year anniversary late in the video below as I was narrating the damage still visible a year later. Click the “youtube” button to watch this on youtube, and you can jump to specific parts of the video using the video bookmarks in the description area below the video.

Finally, here is a photoshop – annotated view of the iBike data from the ride. I was concerned with the cold weather that the iBike battery might not make it the entire ride so I cut it off after the Vesclub climb and didn’t turn it back on again until I got up to Trussville.

ibike graph annotated for the emerald lakes rideibike graph annotated for the emerald lakes ride (click to enlarge and read the annotations)

iBike statistics - Emerald lakes ride (partial)
Dist:       77.57 mi (5:12:38)
Energy:    3691.5 kJ
Cals Burn: 3529.1 kcal
Climbing:    8806 ft
Braking:   -609.4 kJ (-16.5%)
          Min   Avg    Max
Power       0  196.8   692  W
Aero        0  120.6  2982  W
Rolling     0   19.2    68  W
Gravity -4009    4.0   548  W
Speed     0.0   14.9  53.1  mi/h
Wind      0.0   15.3  55.9  mi/h
Elev      -14    454   865  ft
Slope   -24.0   0.08  30.4  %
Caden       0   72.8   126  rpm
HR         79  131.3   165  bpm
NP:226W IF:0.81 TSS:345 VI:1.15
CdA: 0.342 m^2; Crr: 0.0039
168 lbs; 8/14/2011 2:25 PM
52 degF; 1013 mbar

A few notes about the data … the climbing total is quite a bit lower because it’s missing 23 miles of the ride and the iBike is applying smoothing (either in the software or via how the barometric elevation sensor is recording) and doesn’t pick up all the rollers in its climbing total that the Garmin does. Also, the distance is short because I turned off the iBike to save battery after the Vesclub climb and didn’t turn it back on again until Trussville. Also, the “168 lbs” in the statistics at the bottom is my weight plus the weight of the bike plus weight of clothing, etc…

Chalkville Tornado Damage

Red cross shelter information here: http://newsroom.redcross.org/2012/01/23/press-release-red-cross-assessing-damage-from-severe-weather-overnight/
Donate through the red cross “donate now”
Or I saw a drop-off location for donations in the K-Mart located just off I-59, exit 141, turn left, K-mart parking lot on the right as you are climbing the hill on Chalkville Rd

Tornado sirens went off at 3:30AM this morning … tornado north of us and tornado south of us. By the time I had made a spot in the basement for Kristine and the kids, it was pretty clear that the tornadoes were going to go around us — although the one that I rode out to today veered farther south than the original warning polygon had indicated. I was hoping that I could see the damage path from the ridges annotated in the map because I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way trying to help clean up … but there were too many houses and the valley where the tornado went through was too deep to see anything so I ended up cautiously just riding onto Old Springville Rd which was closed after asking a sheriff if I could make it through without bothering anyone. He said to watch out for the power lines and that it shouldn’t be a problem. Well, I was pretty much bunny hopping power lines for about 1/4 mile. Here is an annotated map showing where I took pictures and my best guess at the tornado path based on the damage I could see on the ground … This is the tornado that went north of Birmingham passing through parts of Fultondale, Center Point, Chalkville, Clay.

Tornado path map annotated You can view my complete ride and then zoom in on the northern end to see streetview and detailed satellite pictures of the area before the tornado by going here: http://app.strava.com/rides/3557123

UPDATE: a better description of the tornado path is listed here – http://www.alabamawx.com/?p=56602 Scroll down to – TORNADO #5 – CENTER POINT TORNADO (JEFFERSON AND ST CLAIR) Based on the description there, I have updated the tornado path to the following:

Updated tornado path based on NWS description

After looking at the streetview and satellite pictures, the damage is much worse than I had originally thought – the first houses have been pushed completely off their foundations. See the comparison photos below which are taken at slightly different angles which I tried to indicate as best as possible.

Aerial view of neighborhood before tornado

Streetview of neighborhood before tornado

Comparison photo after the tornado from as close an angle as I could get to the streetview photo above

Paradise Ln - heavy damage

First view (from water towers)… ridge blocking tornado path

These are the rest of the pictures I took…