Archive for the ride reports Category

race report – assault on mt. currahee

Posted in ride reports, Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 24, 2015 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

Chain Buster Racing put on their inaugural gravel grinder race called The Assault on Mt. Currahee on February 28th, and it was a fun one.  We started and ended in downtown Cornelia, GA, which seemed to be a working class semi-rural town with a few neat older buildings downtown.

Scott Lusk and I drove over to Gainesville, GA the night before, which took way too long thanks to Atlanta traffic and the redlight-infested suburb of Buford where we ate dinner (after an obligatory stop at REI).  By the time we got to our hotel and had unloaded our gear and bikes it was 10:30 at night and we didn’t waste much time falling asleep.  We woke early and stopped by Starbucks for coffee and oatmeal before heading out of town towards the race.

As we started at 10am, it was probably sitting right around 32 degrees or so.  I was wearing a long sleeve baselayer, short sleeve baselayer, short sleeve jersey, thin arm warmers, and a jacket on my torso.  My legs were covered up with thermal bib knickers, leg warmers, and thick wool socks.  Aside from my toes, I never really felt cold during the race even though it remained in the 30s the entire time.

The race started out with a cop car leadout, along with a drone camera flying above that captured some great footage throughout the day.  We rode a few miles on pavement to loosen up the legs and get to the edge of Cornelia, then hopped on the dirt Lake Russell Road for some fast riding and descending for around 2 miles.  From there we had close to 11 miles or rollercoaster fire roads and some singletrack, including a frigid creek crossing, before hitting the signature climb up Currahee.

Currahee is famous as the training site for the Band of Brothers back in the old days, and consists of a really steep dirt road leading up to a few radio/cell towers.  Once at the top, we hit the only aid station of the day so I refilled one of my bottles with Gatorade and downed a few pretzels.  At this point we were roughly 1.5 hours into the race/ride and feeling pretty good.  Scott led my back down the mountain with his bad-ass Industry Nine wheels holding steady through the ice, snow, and mud.

At the bottom of Currahee, we hopped onto another doubletrack trail, which would become singletrack in a few areas.  It was a really nice trail system, though it seemed like we could never make much progress because we were constantly climbing in between short downhill sections.  This was the first time we would realize we should have studied the elevation profile more.

After finally exiting the trail system, we hit pavement again at Old Lake Russell Road, somewhere around 29 or so miles into the race.  Believing we pretty much had all of the hard stuff behind we booked in on along trying to get back with a decent time.  This would be the second time we wished we studied the elevation profile better, because we began what was a paved climb of close to 800′ in elevation gain and lasting 3 miles.  We followed the road along the hillside for what seemed like much more than 3 miles before finally topping out and heading down to town.

We finished up officially around 3:16, though the Strava link before shows a little less time due to stoppage.  Overall it was a really fun race, and really well put together by Chain Buster Racing.  The post-race meal at Natalie Jane’s in Cornelia was top-notch (I had shrimp and grits), as was the Terrapin beer on tap.  Leaving town we were already talking about doing it in 2016.

Strava link:



finally at hotel around 10pm friday



prerace selfie



we started near the back…won’t make that mistake again




scott rolling past finish line



this was after a lot of the mud had fallen off during the last few miles of pavement




2014 ride stats

Posted in ride reports, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 8, 2015 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

For the past two Januarys I have posted the cumulative ride stats from the previous calendar year… is what the 2014 tally looked like (according to Training Peaks):

2790 total miles

1615 mountain bike miles

337 road/cyclocross miles

838 indoor trainer miles

157,665 total feet of elevation gain


This ended up being around 250 more miles than I what I posted in 2013, as well as over 37,000 feet more in climbing.  My trainer miles were down slightly, even though we had a rough winter in 2013.  My road/cx miles were way down, whereas my mountain bike miles were likewise way up.  Since the ratio of mountain bike miles to road/cx miles was higher, this meant I spent more time in the saddle riding my bike in 2014 than I did in 2013 (due to slower average speed).

I think after looking at the above stats what I am most pleased with is the increase in elevation gain.  This is also after I switched from a Cateye Stealth 50 GPS to a Garmin 510 GPS late in the summer, with the Garmin being more accurate.  The Cateye tended to err on the high side, usually showing more elevation gain than what I actually accomplished.  So, in reality my increase in elevation gain is more than the math shows (probably somewhere around 39,000 to 40,000 feet in lieu of 37,000 feet).

Another thing that happened in 2014 was that me, Brian, and Scott started going on regular morning rides before work from early Spring through late Fall.  Three mornings per week with average mountain bike rides of 14 miles and 1300 feet of climbing helped get in the miles without sacrificing the rest of my daily schedule or family life.  Throw in a longer weekend ride and everything worked out well.

I purchased a new road bike in December 2014 to replace the cx bike that I sold a couple months earlier.  With some additional focus on logging longer road rides in 2015, I should be able to hit a higher total mark in mileage for this year if no injuries or schedule setbacks arise.

Ride Report – Russell Lands at Lake Martin trails

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

About a year ago I had my mountain bike with me while in Alex City for a meeting and decided to hit the trail system owned by Russell Lands…..ride report from that day can be found here.  A few days ago I was on my way back from some meetings in Montgomery and just so happened to have my bike with me again (I had planned to ride Swayback in Wetumpka on my way home) so I made a beeline for Alex City again so that I could see how the trails were shaping up.

Like my first trip to this trail system, I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun they could be.  I was also surprised by how much elevation gain there is considering the entire system is just a stone’s throw from Lake Martin.  There are just a number of punchy little climbs that add up over the course of a ride.  All told, I did around 1300 feet of climbing during the course of a 16-mile ride, which is not that far off of what I would climb on a typical 16-mile ride at Oak Mountain State Park.

I started at the Willow Point Cutoff Road trailhead, first getting on the E.W. Rail trail heading back towards Willow Point.  Aside from a fallen oak tree blocking the trail early on, this was a really fun doubletrack trail.  I eventually made my way back to the trailhead parking lot, where I would get on the Big Way trail and take it to its terminus point.  It was really hot and humid and I was needing to head home sooner rather than later, so I elected to ride pavement along Hwy 63 from Russell Crossroads back to the trailhead.  Probably not the best move considering the crazy amount of 3pm traffic on that highway, forcing me to ride in the knee-high grass on multiple occasions, not to mention the headwinds out in the open areas.  Nonetheless it was a fun little ride, and it was a nice change of scenery from my normal riding routine.

Random snap shots below.













Dixie GA ride

Posted in ride reports with tags , , , , , on June 3, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

My in-laws recently completed an addition to their farmhouse in Dixie GA so I went down there for a couple of nights this past weekend.  Since I basically had taken the week off from riding, I brought along my cyclocross bike so that I could sneak out for an early morning ride on Saturday.  The knobby tires came in handy on the clay dirt road that the farm is on, along with the poor pavement on the nearby roads.  But what can I say, I was in Brooks County GA and didn’t expect great pavement conditions anyway.  But as evidenced by the pics below, the scenery was great.











Chief Ladiga Trail ride report

Posted in ride reports with tags , , , on June 3, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

On Sunday May 25th, David and I rode a portion of the Chief Ladiga Trail.  Since David was training for the Leadville 100, and because we weren’t sure if the pavement was going to be a little rough for skinny road tires, we opted to take our 29er mountain bikes.  This allowed us a more comfortable ride, along with a little extra time pedaling since our pace would drop a little bit from a typical road bike pace.

We parked in Jacksonville AL around maybe 9:30 or 10:00 and it was already apparent it was going to be a hot day.  The first stretch, to Piedmont AL, went by relatively quickly as we chatted and rode at a casual pace.  After a quick stop in Piedmont to use the restroom, we hit the pavement again.  This next section would be far be the longest stretch of the trail for us, as it took as past the state line by 12 or so miles until we hit Cedartown GA.

Once in Cedartown, our plan was to grab a bit to eat somewhere like Subway.  However, the town was smaller than we bargained for and ended up eating peanuts, bars, and beef jerky at a gas station.  By that time I was pretty well starving and just needed to get some food in my system, along with anything ice cold to drink.  After downing a Diet Coke with some ice in it, I poured the ice into my water bottle and topped it off with a fresh bottle of Gatorade….big time hit the spot.

Knowing that we have a long way back during the return stretch, we mentally tried to break it up into smaller chunks of mileage… the state line, then to Piedmont, then back to Jacksonville.  While not too tired physically, and certainly not on the verge of cramping or anything, I’ve got to admit that by the end of the return leg I was quite ready to be off of my bike and on the way home.  I’m pretty sure David was feeling the same way.  Hitting a Quizno’s Subs on the way out of Jacksonville was like hitting paradise for a few minutes….good sandwich and some ice cold Coke.

All told, it was a good day on the bike.  Next time I ride this trail, I’d like to park in Piedmont and ride to the next town in Georgia, Rockmart, which I have heard has more provisions and is also a really cool little town.  Perhaps even ride closer to Atlanta and stay overnight somewhere before riding the return leg back the following day.  The problem with the Chief Ladiga Trail is that it is an out-and-back and many miles are rather monotonous.  It’s bearable just going one direction, but when you do it on the same day it just gets a little boring.  Also, we noticed that the Pinhoti Trail crosses Ladiga between Piedmont and the state line.  We didn’t venture off onto the Pinhoti, but another good ride option might be to bank some easy miles on Ladiga, hop on the Pinhoti for some tougher trail mileage, and then recover back on the Ladiga while heading for the car.  Lastly, David and I were joking that it felt like it was uphill for a long portion of the “out” leg, and sure enough it was based on the Strava profile.  We basically went continuously uphill from mile 13 to mile 25, ending up with 1300 feet of total climbing for the day.  My guess post-ride would have been around 400 feet, because there just weren’t any real hills so it tricks you into thinking it is flatter than it apparently really is.

No pics for this ride, but strava data can be found here.

ladiga strava map

2014 Skyway Epic race report

Posted in ride reports with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

As any of my riding friends or anyone who has read this blog probably knows, my last two races at Skyway Epic have more or less been disasters.  At the 2012 race I managed to get sick to my stomach and eventually bonked bad, coupled with loads of leg cramps.  At the 2013 race, I crashed more than once and also got off course twice.  Both years I had subpar finish times and it has always bothered me.  For 2014, my main goals were to finish with a better time than the previous years and do so safely with no crashes and no going off course.  Luckily for me, things worked out OK.

I got up early on Sunday and headed down to Lake Howard in Sylacauga for the 8am start.  None of my usual riding mates could make it, so it was just me for this one.  I didn’t get there until almost 7:30, so I had just enough time to check in, add some Stan’s sealant to my tires, lube the chain, and kit up.  Then it was time to start.

Like the first two years, we had a very short ride on pavement and grass until we hit the usual mass bottleneck at the trailhead.  I wanted to play it safe this year, and I had no real motivation for going out hard, so I just tucked in near the back third of the group behind one of the female riders (would later find out it was Maaike Everts) and we rode at a fast-yet-casual pace.  I was glad to have her set the speed so that I could watch her lines, as it had been a year since I was last on these trails and had basically forgotten everything about them.  Lee Neal ended up right behind me and we rode together until the trail turned to dirt road and then eventually to the first aid station.

Lee was on a singlespeed, so eventually I had pulled away on the flats and low-sloped downhills since he was spinning out his one gear to its limit while I enjoyed all 20 of mine.  The long, gradual uphill began at around the 16-mile mark with a few rollers, turning steeper at around mile 20.  Not sure where exactly the official KOM point was, but the high point came at around mile 22 or 23.  Then it was a constant up-down-up-down along some really ragged jeep roads until the turnaround point.  After a quick bottle refill and some gels, it was time to turn around.

By now Lee had bridged back up to me and we rode more or less together after the final aid station.  I say more or less because he would drift away on the hills thanks to his one gearing option being taller than my low gears, and then I would bridge back to him on the flats and descents thanks to my high gears.  He was a super nice dude to be riding with though, and it helped to be able to watch his line on a few of the treacherous sections of jeep road.  By the time we turned off of Wiregrass and back onto the last trails, I was beginning to get some crampy tightness in my quads and had to scale it back to some really low gears, which caused me to lose touch with the group we were in at that time….especially at the creek crossing, where I hit a rock wrong and got stopped in the water and had to walk out rather than maintain riding momentum.

Having nobody in sight behind, and just one other rider (from Bike Link Racing) in front of me I just took it easy until my legs felt strong enough to push the pace without cramping.  By the time I hit the last few miles of singletrack I was feeling really good, especially knowing that the race was almost over.  I pulled through the finish line with plenty of strength left, albeit with a sore neck and a headache (likely from dehydration), and was glad to see that I beat my previous year’s time by 50 minutes.

Knowing that I had some leftover energy and felt good, I shoulda/coulda picked up the speed a bit on a few of the long climbs and on the return leg of Wiregrass.  But really I’m happy with how I finished considering my sole objectives were to have fun, stay safe, and beat my previous times…..all of which were accomplished.  I got to ride and chat with some good folks along the way, and the Succeed S-caps tablets that I took (2 per hour, on the hour) did all I needed them to do in terms of fighting off my usual leg cramps.  Plus, with the weather being partly cloudy and ranging from probably upper 50s to lower 70s, it absolutely could not have been any nicer outside.  In addition to my trusty S-caps, I think what might have made the most positive difference for me this year was the fact that I decided just a few hours earlier to put my cadence sensor on my mountain bike (normally it’s on my cross/road bike).  This allowed me to drop into a lower gear to save muscle fatigue, while at the same time forcing me to be cognizant of my cadence so that I could keep it up around 85 to 95.  Normally I’m a heavy gear masher, utilizing higher gears at a cadence of around 65 to 70, which just wears my legs down over the course of a long race like this one.  But at a cadence of 90 on the hills, I was able to hit the flats feeling much fresher without the need for long recovery time.

Once again Brent Marshall and his crew pulled off a really fun event.  It was just as hard, and just as body-beating as I remember from the previous years, but it was still a lot of fun.  And the guys/gals from COGS really did a great job of keeping the trails maintained and in race-ready shape.

No pics are posted yet to the Skyway Epic facebook page, but if/when they are I will link them up.  My strava data can be found here.

Race Map - notice the major elevation change throughout the center of the race

Race Map – notice the major elevation change throughout the center of the race

decent training ride

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

I haven’t been riding enough long rides lately to feel even remotely ready for this weekend’s Skyway Epic, so I had a rare chance on Tuesday to go on a long-ish ride on my mountain bike at Oak Mountain State Park… first ride over two hours in length since Southern Cross in February.

I was able to combine pavement and trails for around 38 miles with 3000′ of climbing, at a time of over 3 hours.  Not close enough to what will likely be a 6-hour day at Skyway, but it was the best I’ve been able to do lately.

The highlights of my ride include sneaking up on a hawk and getting within 4 feet of him, and then about an hour later having a huge owl come straight for me on the trail with talons hanging.  He ended up just a couple of feet above my helmet when he passed overhead….I thought for sure he was planning to grab my helmet because he never deviate from course for the 20 yards or so that he tracked me down from directly in front of me.  It was a nice little adrenaline booster and fun to see one of nature’s predators in his element.

No photos to show, but here is the ride link for Strava.