Road Ride Report

After putting down my bikes for the past 3 or so weeks to focus on running, I knew I had to start getting my legs back to riding form in order to do a few of the endurance races I have been eyeballing….especially since I likely will be riding them with a singlespeed.  After attending Sunday School, I went home around 10:30am on Sunday, suited up, and got my mountain bike out for what was to be at least 20 miles of riding at Oak Mtn State Park.

However, as I was airing up my rear tire the valve stem decided to come loose and let all of the air out.  Not wanting to pull off my tire, reseat the stem, add more sealant, and air it back it up (i.e. not wanting to spend a ton of time), I begrudgingly set off with Sexy Lady on a road ride.  But I made a mental note that it sure would have been nice to have a backup mountain bike in times like this.  Or maybe a cyclocross bike like the one I’ve been eyeing.

I really didn’t know for sure where I wanted to ride.  I had thought about doing the standard 30-mile Hwy 41/43/25/41 loop, but then figured I might just ride down towards the Pelham city limit sign on Hwy 11.  There and back would have been around 20 miles or so.  Nothing much out of the ordinary on Hwy 41 or Old 280, though the Narrows Creek was churning some heavy water due to all of the recent rains.

Hwy 11 started out in typical uphill fashion, with a fairly steady procession of traffic letting out from the various Chelsea churches.  One thing I really like about Hwy 11 though is that the road shoulder is very generous and therefore I can ride its entire distance without ever crossing the white line into the actual roadway.  But that didn’t stop some Alabama/Nascar redneck (I know from his various stickers on the truck) from honking at me as he passed.  My quick instinct was to shoot up the bird finger, knowing he would just keep driving.  But I was actually finding myself hoping he would stop so that I could ask him what the hell he expected me to do…I was riding totally on the other side of the line as it was.  I think at that time I was still a little aggravated by not being able to ride my mountain bike.  But whatevs…I just kept on riding.

I made it to the city limit sign and figured I would go a little further.  Perhaps all the way to the Hwy 52 intersection that leads to I-65.  Then I got to Hwy 52 and thought I would just keep going.  I had only driven past Hwy 52 once, a long time ago, and wanted to see what the ride was like.

Next thing I knew I turned into the Weatherly development/subdivision.  It promised a dedicated bike lane, so I thought this would be a good place to cool down before turning around.  Next thing I knew I was climbing up a steep hill heading towards Ballantrae Golf Club, while trying to somehow eat my Honey Stinger waffle while one-handedly grinding out the climb.  This took me from around elevation 430’ to 750’ according to my Timex Ironman GPS.  Before I knew it I was turning right on Alabaster Blvd and ended up at the backside of the Colonial Promenade shopping center, which sits alongside I-65.  I decided that would be an appropriate time to turn around, especially considering I needed to get back so that Leslie could go to a meeting that afternoon.

The ride back on Hwy 11 seemed to drag on much longer than my outgoing trip.  My average speed was down for sure, as the quick pace I rode on my first 20 miles was starting to eat away at my limited energy reserves.  The only real highlight was when the same redneck as before passed me once again honking his horn.  I threw up my hands in a “what’s up” gesture, but once again no reaction.  And like before….whatevs.

My least favorite stretch of road when I return from Hwy 11 is the stretch of Old 280 leading back to Hwy 41….it’s pretty much a continuous false flat and the wind always seems to be in your face.  But alongside the Narrows Creek it is actually quite a nice change of scenery.  My other least favorite stretch is the early part of Hwy 41, from the Soccer Blast fields to the crest of the hill.  It’s a long, slow hill that you just have to gear down and get through.  Nothing much, but after 30-plus miles there is just no way for me to carry it with a lot of speed.

All in all my first semi-big ride of the season was a pretty good one.  The folks at say I rode 37.8 miles and climbed 3320 feet.  That’s not a crazy big number, but I made sure I pushed myself pretty hard throughout most of the ride.  My quads went through a few cramping episodes, which is a problem I have always had to deal with.  But for the most part I got exactly what I needed, which was two hours of high intensity pedaling.

What I found a little surprising when looking at the ride profile below is that my starting and ending point (i.e. my house) was actually the highest elevation I rode all day.

ride map 02-24-13 alabaster

end of ride at alabaster retail area

ride map 02-24-13 narrows creek

not-so-fun stretch of road along old hwy 280

ride map 02-24-13 overall




ride profile and map

ride profile and map


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