latest rides

Posted in ride reports, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 8, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

Things have been pretty boring in terms of riding lately, as I don’t have a ton of pictures or data to share.  I guess that’s what happens when most of my riding is done pre-dawn in the dark and cold of a typical weekday morning.  I was able to get out for a decent/fun pavement ride last Saturday morning on my mountain bike…..nothing like passing a few roadies on a mtb while climbing and descending Hwy 25.

Most of my riding has been done on my still-fresh-feeling Stumpjumper Carbon HT 29er….this has been just an absolute awesome bike.  Aside from the fun factor of being able to take it on a few trail sections during some of my pre-dawn rides, I’ve also been riding it thanks to its stability and its ability to quickly hop off the road if I sense a car or truck is coming up on me too closely and might not see my taillight in time.  Plus, with a hardtail 29er I don’t feel like I am losing too much speed on the pavement as compared to my Specialized Crux cyclocross bike.

I’ve also picked up running again, with my first run since Thanksgiving taking place just a few weeks ago.  And prior to Thanksgiving, I could count on one hand how many times I had run since the previous Spring.

A few random, yet typical, recent photos are below, along with some random Strava links.  More photos can be seen on my instagram page.

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strava link

strava link

strava link

strava link

 

 

latest Double Oak Mountain Life magazine article

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on March 26, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

the latest issue of Double Oak Mountain Life came out this week….below is the article i submitted in its original form (prior to editing/shortening) and without the photos of my kids riding their bikes…

 

Now that Winter is beginning to leave us, with the hope of nothing but sunshine and long days ahead as we gear up for Spring,  this is the perfect time to start teaching your children how to ride bikes on their own.  Perhaps Santa Claus brought them a new bike for Christmas, or they are simply ready to remove the training wheels from their existing bike.  Either way, your child is going to need your help to be able to master the art of balancing on only two wheels.

 

My wife and I have gone through the process of teaching two of our kids how to ride bikes, with our third child hopefully ready for her first training-wheel bike later this Summer.  Our experience with our first two children differed greatly with each of them, but we did learn some valuable lessons.

 

#1) Be encouragingly patient.  With our oldest daughter, she would get rather intimidated by the thought of balancing her bike without the aid of training wheels.  I removed her training wheels late during the year, with the hopes that by the time Winter arrived she would be a pro.  Instead, the harder I pushed her to get out and practice, the more she lost interest in riding altogether.  So I spent the cold months telling how much fun we will have riding our bikes around the neighborhood together once the weather gets warmer.  Rather than try to force her into riding when she wasn’t yet comfortable, we practiced patience until one day she told us she was ready to learn again.

 

#2) Sibling rivalry is great.  It wasn’t until our middle child really took interest in riding without training wheels that our oldest decided she wasn’t going to be outdone.  Having them both wanting to learn at the same time really gave extra motivation for Big Sis to get there first.

 

#3) Incorporate destination riding.  While your kids might just enjoy it for the sake of riding, my kids are a little more apt to spend time on their bikes when they know they have a real place to go.  Oftentimes it’s the local park or the corner store for a snack.  Sometimes that extra little incentive will help me to get them away from the TV and onto their bikes where we can spend some quality time together outside.

 

#4) Dress appropriately.  I’m not referring simply to wearing helmets and proper shoes, which is a given.  You should also be prepared for their clothes to get dirty or even torn if they do any multitude of things on their bike.  Falling down on pavement or dirt could certainly stain or tear clothes, but also keep in mind that long shirts can drag across the tops of rear tires, or that ruffled pants legs can collect chain grease.  There are also plenty of mud puddles that might be pedaled through, leaving dark mud streaks up the back of your daughter’s new Matilda Jane outfit.  I am guilty of making this mistake more often than not.

 

#5) Mothers can teach, too.  If you ask my wife who taught our kids how to ride, she likely will say it was her.   And really, there is a lot of truth in that.  While I might have been the one to do most of the talking (and maybe threatening) of teaching our kids to ride, it was my wife who would help them do it after school while I was at work.  If it weren’t for her doing that during the week, my weekend lessons might have been a little less smooth.

 

#6) Teach your kids to be aware.  They need to be aware of the dangers of riding without a helmet, and should also be taught to be aware of their surroundings.  While helmets have become second nature in my household, I am still constantly harping at my kids to make sure they are always on the lookout for cars, traffic signs, and even pedestrians that might otherwise not see them coming.  Many of us in the Double Oak Mountain area live in tightly-spaced neighborhoods without a lot of open space, thereby decreasing the amount of long-range visibility.

 

#7) Have fun.  That’s really what it is all about, right?

Southern Cross 2014 race report

Posted in ride reports with tags , , , , on February 27, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

A couple of months ago I realized I would be out of the country during this year’s Big Frog 65 and wanted a replacement race to do before I left town.  After hearing so many good things about Southern Cross, I hit up Brian Parker and Kyle Butts to see if they’d be interested in making a weekend of it.  After much lollygagging around, we finally all signed up and committed to the sufferfest.  We found a three-bed room at the Amicalola Falls State Park Lodge and all was set for a fun weekend.

We made it out of town on Friday around 4pm and settled in for a long drive to Dawsonville, GA.  I could go on and on with funny Kyle stories about the weekend, but really it just wouldn’t do it justice.  Let’s just say Brian and I had some good laughs.  (The best might have been seeing his hair sticking straight out in all directions when he woke up from a deep coma on Sunday morning).

Saturday morning arrived a little too soon considering it was probably 11pm or later when we made it to the lodge on Friday night.  Luckily we didn’t have to be at the race site until just before 9am so it gave BP and me some time to eat breakfast while Kyle was passed out in bed.  Just finding the race venue via the back roads that we decided to take was quite an adventure….we were certainly in prime crystal meth territory amongst some very shady rednecks.  But all was well once we reached the well-appointed Monteluce Winery.

Since we were just hanging out at my truck not paying attention while Eddie O’Dea gave the race instructions, we had no idea that the women were starting separately (and after) the men.  Since we were the last ones to line up, we naturally were at the back of the pack.  Once the race started, all of the chicks moved to the front and center and effectively blocked us out, leaving us to pick our way through all of the female racers just to get back to the pack of riders that had already taken off.  Me and Brian ended up being the last two male riders to get started.  By the time we caught up to the racers in front of us, there was already a huge bottleneck so it didn’t matter.  And by then the women racers were all over our backs anyway.

The race started with around 0.75 miles of a meandering cyclocross course that was taped off throughout the winery property.  It included a few steep sections with lots of mud, a log crossing, and enough mud and tight turns to keep a lot of the CX riders hopping off their bikes while those of us on mountain bikes did pretty well.  There was even a really steep section that required everyone to do a run-up to the top of the hill before hitting another brief section of taped course and eventually the pavement.

We rode pavement for a few miles until hitting the dirt roads that we would become intimately familiar with for the next 40 or so miles (give or take a brief paved section in between dirt roads).  The climbing began in earnest starting around mile 5 and lasting for 10 miles, going from around 1500’ to 3400’.  Then we have a few brief downhills, some pavement, and then an 8-mile climb.  It was along this 8-mile climb though that we would pass some of the best riverside scenery on the entire course.  Really just some beautiful land back in the forest with a raging creek/river running alongside the trail.

After finally topping out again, a sag stop was in order as I was famished.  I normally don’t get so hungry during a race, but I was starving.  I downed two peanut butter Ritz Bitz crackers, grabbed a gel for the road, and filled up both bottles.  It was all I could do to not stay around eating more.

I thought the next section would be mostly downhill, but there was actually quite a bit of dirt road climbing.  It was also on this section that I stumbled upon Kyle, who had decided at the first sag stop to forego miles 15 through 32 and make it a 35-mile ride for him.  While Brian and I were trying to hustle, Kyle got to enjoy some extended breaks just sitting on rocks enjoying the view.  And probably talking to everybody that rode by.

After the climbing finally relented, there was a nice long downhill on dirt roads, some a little sketchy.  It was on this stretch that I was able to pass quite a few people on CX bikes since they had to be more conservative in the rough areas.  Then the route turned onto pavement and we had what seemed like a million miles of false flats and real climbs before finally seeing Monteluce Winery again.  By now my cyclocomputer had eclipsed 50 miles, so I was getting a little antsy about being done with this race.  I was also starting to cramp up really bad in my legs.

Getting back to the winery, we had a monster run-up to end all run-ups….really steep stuff and very long.  Then backtracking on the cyclocross course, which spurred me to completely stop on several occasions to try to halt my leg cramps, which were now causing my quads and hamstrings to totally lock up.  A beer hand-up at a creek crossing helped get me going for the next few hundred yards, before my legs locked up once more with maybe 0.5 miles to go to the finish.  It was mentally agonizing to have to stop for a total of several minutes while I was already within sight of the finish line….lot of bikers made their way past me on this section while I just stood and stretched.

All in all it was a fun race, and we certainly could not have asked for better weather.  But in the end, my effort was rather poor.  I was struggling on the initial long climbs and could never gain enough gap closure on the flats and downhills to make up for it.  Brian finished around 30 minutes ahead of me, with me last seeing him at mile 10.5 of the race while he was busy climbing faster than I could sustain.

A couple of quick takeaways for me would be that 1) I need to spend more time training on long sustained climbs; and 2) that I need to work on my cadence.  For the first one, I’m not sure where around Birmingham I could find a 10-mile climb, so that might involve spending some Saturdays in northeast Alabama near Mentone.  For my cadence, I am too guilty of always mashing a heavier gear at a slower cadence.  It caught up to me while climbing with Brian, as I finally had to downshift and then just didn’t have enough leg energy left to spin at a higher rate to compensate.  He already has probably a 30-pound weight advantage on me, so those long climbs tend to catch up to me.

I also probably should have eaten more, though with the weather being cool it wasn’t really as much of a factor as it would have been had I been sweating more.  During the race, which for me was over 4.5 hours long, I only consumed two bottles of Gatorade mix, 2 bottles of Powerbar drink mix, three gels, and those two Ritz Bitz crackers.  Definitely not close to enough calories to begin to replenish, so I was probably losing a lot of energy during those times I was so hungry.

Some pics are below, though I didn’t take any during the race.  Strava data can be found here.

brian's bike on the rack, now to get kyle's

brian’s bike on the rack, now to get kyle’s

brian suited up and ready

brian suited up and ready

kyle gearing up

kyle gearing up

i wouldn't be smiling much longer

i wouldn’t be smiling much longer

just a little salt in my hair from sweating....good thing it was cool weather

just a little salt in my hair from sweating….good thing it was cool weather

sunset from amicalola falls state park lodge

sunset from amicalola falls state park lodge

loaded up and on the road home

loaded up and on the road home

ride report – February 16th

Posted in ride reports, Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 18, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

Was able to duck out for a decent ride on Sunday…..my usual startup going up Double Oak Way and onto the ridgeline above Mt Laurel.  My plan was to ride the doubletrack trail all the way to Hwy 25, and then back on Hwy 41.  However, upon reaching the second powerline crossing, where land ownership transitions from EBSCO to a portion of land leased through the Alabama Forestry something or another, I heard some gunshot.  Not just a random shot or two, but around 20 rounds released in rapid succession….like maybe 15 seconds.  Definitely a semi automatic.  Then a few more rounds were released, and I could tell it was likely within 100 yards of where I was.  There was a giant boulder ridge up the hill above me, and I suspect someone was taking target practice on the opposite side.

Looking at the map, I can’t find any dirt roads or trails to support the location I believe it occurred, but I have seen some trucks on the nearby trail and it would not surprise me if a four-wheeler was able to get to that spot rather easily.

So, based on the gunfire and the fact that I was about to enter property that had plenty of No Trespassing signs posted on the trees, I decided to cut my ride short and head back the way I came.

Some random pics below.  Strava data can be found here.  18.7 miles and 1863 feet of climbing.  Very likely my last decent ride before this weekend’s Southern Cross.  I can’t say I’m happy with the mileage training I’ve done in 2014, but at least I’ve been able to ride a few times.  If Southern Cross were 25 miles and not 50 then I know I’d have no problem.

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February 1st Ride Report – exploring with BP

Posted in ride reports with tags , , , , on February 5, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

Last Friday I put out some text messages to Brian, Travis, Chad, Kyle, and David to let them know it was time for a ride in the woods above Mt Laurel.  All but Brian had to decline, so the two of us found ourselves in the midst of a fun ride.

I was able to duck out before BP, so I did some hill repeats and general base mile riding along the ridge until such time that he could meet me up there….probably got in 9 or so miles before he arrived.  Once he got to the top of the ridge, we headed across the paved Double Oak Way ridgeline road and then onto the doubletrack that leads to the powerline crossings closest to Hwy 41 (as opposed to the crossings closer to Hwy 43).  By the time we reached the first powerline crossing I didn’t have a ton of time left before I needed to return home, so going all the way to Hwy 25 and then back to Mt Laurel via Hwy 41 was out of the question.  But, I recalled seeing a trail spur a few times in the past and had always wondered where it led.

Not being a solo rider this time, and therefore a little more willing to do some backwoods trail exploring, I was able to locate the trail in question and off we went.  The first section was pretty rocky, but certainly rideable.  In fact, if the leaf cover had been lighter (like in the Spring or Summer), the baby-head rocks would have been more visible and easier to navigate.  Then the trail somewhat leveled out and became some really sweet, smooth singletrack, eventually backtracking below the powerlines 140 feet below where we first crossed them.

After some good smooth riding, we started hitting a few sections that were quite steep and rocky, forcing us to hike-a-bike a few short distances.  Had there not been so much leaf cover making the trail too slippery for braking, most of those sections would have been rideable.  Eventually we hit a fork in the trail and opted to head left, hoping this would take us in the direction of Stonegate Farms (we had been tracking our progress on a gps map).  After some more riding, and another decision to make on which trail to take, we ended up at the very last cul de sac in Stonegate Farms.  I had been on a short section of that trail at least six months prior on my CX bike, but on that day I turned around early and had no idea that it could have taken me to the top of the mountain.

Ride stats from Strava can be found here.  Some pics are below.  Around 23 miles and 2200 feet of climbing.

on double oak way

on double oak way

on double oak way

on double oak way

double oak way

double oak way

view towards childersburg

view towards childersburg

view towards childersburg

view towards childersburg

waiting on brian

waiting on brian

brian riding on bob hood branch trail

brian riding on bob hood branch trail

view towards leeds from first powerline crossing

view towards leeds from first powerline crossing

another view from powerline crossing

another view from powerline crossing

sweet singletrack

sweet singletrack

more nice trail

more nice trail

taking a break to study our maps

taking a break to study our maps

more good trail, this time heading somewhere back up the mountain

more good trail, this time heading somewhere back up the mountain

on new trail

on new trail

on new trail

on new trail

view from vantage point on new trail

view from vantage point on new trail

some rather large boulders up there

some rather large boulders up there

on highway 41 heading back home - almost looked like big sky country

on highway 41 heading back home – almost looked like big sky country

enlarged map where we took new trail

enlarged map where we took new trail

overall ride map

overall ride map

 

2013 ride stats

Posted in Uncategorized on January 27, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

Last year I did a post on how many miles I rode in 2012.  Well, here are my stats for 2013 according to TrainingPeaks, where I try to post all of my rides.

Miles on my mountain bike(s): 775

Miles on my road/cx bike(s): 816

Miles on my indoor trainer: 946

Total Elevation Gained: 120,500 feet

 

These compare to 617 (mtb), 636 (road), 1225 (trainer), and 134,100 feet climbing from 2012.  It appears that the total mileage is almost identical (59 miles more in 2013), but my elevation gain was less.  Some of the elevation gain difference however can be chalked up to switching to what I believe is a more accurate GPS this past summer….I was likely getting false boosts in my elevation gains before.

This also shows that I covered more miles outside and less miles on my trainer, which was something I set out to do as part of my goal for 2013.  While I wish I would have found time to ride more, nonetheless the total isn’t too bad for someone with a work schedule like mine….i.e. riding over 2500 miles while probably averaging 50+ hours per week working is something I can be happy with.

For 2014?  Who knows, but with my new mountain bike just a few months old I plan to make it a point to ride even more.  Problem is, we’ve been having perhaps our coldest winter in decades and there just haven’t been any weekday opportunities.  But hopefully the next 11 months will cooperate nicely.

 

ride reports – January 4th and January 12th

Posted in ride reports, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 13, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

Been pretty quiet on this blog since I crashed and injured my shoulder and elbow in November, so here goes a quick rundown of two recent rides.

On January 4th I had planned to get up in the early morning and ride in what I would call very cold weather (30s), but the sleepy monster took control and I decided to sleep in.  However, I was able to duck out later in the day for a quick spin on the mountain bike.  I did one of my usual Ebsco routes, where I head up Double Oak Way to enter the Ebsco property and then head to the northeast towards the power line crossings.

I had passed some hunters on the way up there talking on the side of the road, so I knew I had to be careful to not get shot by accident.  After hitting the ridge split and taking a right, I only rode for a short distance before turning around….basically I know where the deer stands are and don’t need to get too close.  After turning around I encountered one of the hunters, who was on his way out to a stand.  Unlike other such encounters I’ve had up there, this one was very friendly.  He pretty much just wanted to make sure I knew to be safe and to keep an eye out for anyone else up there.  Nevertheless, it was still somewhat cold and I was ready to head for home anyway.

Strava ride data can be found here.  Basically just 11 miles with 1200 feet of climbing.  And some of the slowest segment times I have had in two years…..the layoff due to injuries, coupled with the holidays, just really has taken my fitness down a few notches.

brisk day

brisk day

typical trails

typical trails – this one is a steep muddy climb on the bob hood branch trail

more trail

more trail

still some ice on the trail

still some ice on the trail

gate to top of double oak way - luckily i hold a permit

gate to top of double oak way – luckily i hold a permit

getting ready to turn back into mt laurel

getting ready to turn back into mt laurel

yep.  too cold for me.

yep. too cold for me.

 

The following weekend I was able to force myself out for another ride.  My original plan had been to ride on Saturday, but I opted to ride around the neighborhood with the kids instead.  So, with absolutely beautiful weather on Sunday, I decided to……sit on the couch.  For too long.  I had to really force myself to not be so tired (late night at a wedding reception) and get out and do something.  I had sent separate text messages to Brian, Kyle, Travis, Chad, and David to see if anyone wanted to join me….hoping some company would get me motivated.  After reluctantly getting up and putting on my tight-fitting bib and jersey kit, and noticing that I was now 5-1/2 months pregnant, I realized I made the right decision by opting for exercise in lieu of the couch.

Once again I found myself on familiar territory up on the Ebsco property.  This time I climbed all the way to the radio tower, then took a trail back to the main Bob Hood Branch trail.  Instead of going to the right at the ridge split like I had done the previous weekend, I went left.  But, I only went as far as it took to crest the steep hill (probably need to make it a strava segment) and then turned around.  My goal was to get in around 20 miles today, but not all of it on Ebsco’s trails.

Once turned around and taking a photo break on a section of gravel trail, I noticed someone on the pavement up ahead around 1/4 of a mile.  Then another biker quickly followed.  Figuring it was someone I knew, I hopped back on my bike and booked it to the end of the trail and onto the pavement.  By the time I reached the pavement, they were already well on their way up the second leg of the Double Oak rollercoaster.  Somehow I managed to just about catch up to them by the top of the climb and gave a little “hoot hoot” holler to let them know I was on my way up.  Once at the top I discovered I didn’t know these two folks, but they were a really nice father and son who had ridden their road bikes from Vestavia Hills specifically to take on the Double Oak Way climbs.

I let them go ahead while I chugged some water and then followed them back out towards Hwy 41, eventally catching back up to them at the gate.  After trailing them tightly along Hwy 41 for a few miles, they finally proved too fast for me with my mountain bike and off they went on their long way home.

I continued on past Shoal Creek and into Stonegate Farms, where my plan was to ride some singletrack that I had seen during road rides at the very last cul-de-sac (roughly 3 miles into the neighborhood).  However, once I reached the trail I found out that it has since been closed off with chain link fencing.  I might have hopped the fence or found a way around, but some of the residents were talking in the street just a short distance away keeping an eye on me as I rode towards the trail.  So, with no trail time at Stonegate Farms I simply turned around and rode the remaining +/- 6 miles home.  Strava data can be found here.  22 miles with 1800 feet of climbing.

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sun was already drawing low in the sky by the time i hit the top of the ridge

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looking through the trees towards village and highland lakes (houses in front) and greystone (along the ridge)

radio tower at top of double oak way

radio tower at top of double oak way

typical trail - in this case leading from radio tower to bob hood branch trail

typical trail – in this case leading from radio tower to bob hood branch trail

leads back up to radio tower

leads back up to radio tower

leads down to gate #5 on hwy 43

leads down to gate #5 on hwy 43

recent evidence of horses on the trail

recent evidence of horses on the trail

after losing contact with the two road bikers

after losing contact with the two road bikers

full moon peeking out in the late afternoon above stonegate farms

full moon peeking out in the late afternoon above stonegate farms

stonegate farms

stonegate farms

home in time to ride with lissy

home in time to ride with lissy

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