Archive for brian parker

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.


Saturday 08-02-14 ride report – more double oak exploring

Posted in ride reports with tags , , , , , , on August 6, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

This past Saturday morning I set out with Brian P to do some exploring on the southeast side of Hwy 43 within the EBSCO property limits.  I have ridden up there several times in the past, but still had a few trails I had yet to try.  After leaving Mt Laurel and riding up Double Oak Way, we dropped from the top of the mountain down to Hwy 43 via EBSCO gate #4.  Then it was just a very short ride to the southwest and across the road into more property via gate #3.

The great thing about accessing the land via gate #3 is that you can either take the trail/road straight until you reach the top of the ridge, or hop onto any number of it’s little off-shoot trails (probably at least 5, and some of those likely also multiply).  I’ve gone to the top a couple of times, where the trail dead-ends and you are forced to go right (towards hwy 280) or left (towards hwy 25), and have only gone to the right a short distance.  I told Brian that I would like to go right until it eventually connects up to some other road near 280.

Upon hitting the top, we first decided to go left a short distance just to see what the trail was like.  We only went maybe a half mile or so before the trail began to nosedive downhill.  Rather than being forced to then climb back up (or hike up….it was that steep), we just decided we had seen enough and would return another day to fully explore that route.  But we passed at least 2 other trail off-shoots in the short distance we rode, which tells me there is some good exploring to do up there when I have more time.

After turning around we stayed along the ridgeline going towards hwy 280, eventually surpassing a point where I had never been before.  The trail was great up here – just smooth doubletrack with little rolling hills.  We naturally assumed that this trail would eventually lead us back to some form of civilization.  We eventually reached the end of the doubletrack and there was a little needle-head shaped turnaround point, but the trail then became grassy singletrack leading deeper into the woods.

Staying on the singletrack, we took a lot of spider shots to the face as we were in prime spider web country.  None seemed too large though, so we kept on trekking.  After a while the singletrack just sort of stopped.  We couldn’t tell if it had simply gotten grown over, or had actually reached its terminus point.  Not wanting to believe it had ended, and still holding out hope we could find our way to 280, we started basically just bushwhacking and riding through the woods.  We pulled up our position on our phones’ satellite maps and could see that we were right above the Forest Lakes neighborhood.  So we kept going, until it just made no more sense to continue any further as we had officially gone about as far as possible with the forest getting denser and denser.  We reluctantly would backtrack all the way back to the main doubletrack trail….a lot of wasted time.

Once back on the doubletrack, we found a trail off-shoot that went downhill in the direction of Forest Lakes.  We figured “no problem”, it will bring us down to Forest Lakes where we can have an opportunity to get onto some pavement.  Having never been inside of Forest Lakes, I was sorely disappointed to find that it was a continuous wall of houses backing up to the mountain, all with fences in their backyard that prevented any sort of passage opportunity for us.  We ended up exposed on the hillside trying to scout for locations to cut through.  After lots of time and some more guidance by our phone maps, we were able to locate on the satellite imagery a house at a cul de sac that appeared to have no fence in the backyard.  We hacked our way through some really dense pine forest to eventually find that house, along with a ton of neighboring dogs.  After we decided the opportunity was as clear as it was ever going to get, we made a run for it through someone’s backyard, sideyard, and eventually driveway to haul butt onto some pavement.  All told, we probably spent almost an hour that morning just getting lost and/or hacking our way through the woods.

By now we had been riding for around 2 hours but had barely gone 13 miles.  A quick steep climb up through the backside of the bottom of Forest Parks on the opposite side of Hwy 43 and we were back on top of our original Double Oak ridge.  We capped off the ride with a fun downhill into the Jones Valley Urban Farm property and then onto Hwy 41 where we could finally get some easy spinning done on the way home.

I told Brian as we pulled into Mt Laurel that I didn’t know if I should say this was a good ride or an awful ride.  He responded that at least it was a fun ride.  I think I can agree with that.

No pics today, but the strava data can be found here.  Basically just 19 miles but with well over 2600 feet of climbing.  I still plan to do a post soon with some detailed ride maps for the area, so I will be sure to note some of the sections of this ride on those maps.

latest Double Oak Life magazine article – Skyway Epic and Bamacross

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 29, 2013 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

The August issue just arrived a few days ago in the mail.  Though it got somewhat edited for use, below is what I submitted for those that don’t receive the magazine.

I recently participated in the second annual Skyway Epic mountain bike race in Sylacauga (ride report here), along with around 70 other riders, many from the Shelby County area.  After crashing hard multiple times, getting lost twice (nobody’s fault but my own it turns out), and spending over six hours on my bike I knew I had to find out more about the creation of this race from organizer himself.  Brent Marshall has been organizing Cyclocross races for several years, and last year he established the inaugural Skyway Epic mountain bike race.

#1: Brent, can you briefly explain what exactly the Skyway Epic is, and how you came up with the idea to organize such a race?

The Skyway Epic is a 60-mile mountain bike race, run on a mix of singletrack, 4-wheeler trails, forest service roads, and unimproved jeep trails.  Climbing a total of 6,000 vertical feet, the race starts and ends at the boat launch area of Lake Howard in Sylacauga.

I came up with the idea for the Skyway Epic through my own experience racing similar events around the southeast.  I knew we needed one in Alabama, but the trick was finding an area with the proper terrain and facilities.  We have a lot of purpose-built mountain bike trails being developed and maintained in Alabama, but there is something about the feel of being in the backcountry that is hard to replace.   Luckily I was able to hook up with members of the Cyclists of Greater Sylacauga, or COGS, who have a wealth of knowledge on all the trails and roads in the area.

#2: Are there any plans to continue to alter the route or to add additional mileage for future versions of the Skyway Epic?  And how big would you like to see this race grow in the next five years in terms of racer attendance?

Right now the plan is to alter the route each year to showcase the vast network of trails in the forest, while keeping the mileage below 75.  I would like to cap out at 150 riders within 5 years.

#3: You also organize a race series in the Fall and Winter called Bamacross.  For the uninitiated, can you briefly explain what Cyclocross racing is?

Cyclocross is a short circuit race that typically traverses a mixture of dirt, pavement, grass, and mud, with most courses being around a mile long with lots of tight twists and turns.  There are also “barriers”, which force the racers to dismount quickly, run over the barriers, and then remount to resume riding.  Each course is unique and the racers don’t know exactly what to expect. The short course allows plenty of viewing/cheering/heckling opportunities for the spectators and this element makes up at least 75% of what makes cyclocross so special.  A cyclocross bike can be thought of as modified road bike with knobby tires, though races can easily be run on mountain bikes as well.

The races take place from late September through January, typically at public parks, and are formed into a series in and around the Birmingham metro area.  Racer attendance averages around 100 participants, many of whom live and/or work in the Shelby County and Dunnavant Valley areas.

More information can be found regarding Bamacross and the Skyway Epic at or by joining the Bamacross facebook group.

Brian Parker during the Skyway Epic

Brian Parker during the Skyway Epic