Strava Segment: Piney Mountain Road Climb Eastside

Last week I told the story of taking back my Strava segment on Lowndes Hill Road. I’m still waiting for Chris Uberti to show up and strip me of my KOM. Don’t worry, I don’t have a big head about it. Someone took care of that on the Piney Mountain Road Climb Eastside segment.

This is another segment that I created. It was added to Strava back when my then coach Jim Cunningham had me doing repeats of this climb in preparation for the River Falls Race. I held the KOM for sometime. Then my time fell to a rider by 10 seconds!

Winston David is well known in these parts. If for no other reason, he seems to be the perennial first finisher of the Gran Fondo Hincapie. He is a pro rider with the Lupus Racing Team. You’ll see he owns his share of Strava KOMs — including Caesar’s Head (full) and Skyuka Mountain Road Climb. He is also a level 2 cycling coach and pretty much all around good guy.

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Photograph by Justin Keck

Lest you think this comes easy, you should check out Winston’s activities on Strava. It is obvious his ability comes from blue-collar-hard-work. As I was prepping to write this report, I took a look at one of his recent workouts. It confirms that fact.

At first I thought I was looking at a broken record when I saw the number of repeats he did of the first kick up Paris Mountain’s Altamont Road. How about 8 of them and then throw in a couple climbs of the mountain and a loop out around northern Greenville County and then topping it off with another climb up Altamont. It was only 83 miles and nearly 9000 feet climbing.

So, it should come as no surprise that back when Winston first came onto Strava, he put the hurt on me with a number of segments I was holding close. This was one of them. As a matter of fact, he crushed me so badly that for a couple of years I didn’t even attempt to take it back.

My good time on Lowndes Hill against Uberti emboldened me to go out and give it another try. My PR and the top time for several months was one minute and fifty-nine seconds. Knowing how hard I worked to get that time back then, I just didn’t see how I could overtake Winston’s time of one minute and forty-nine seconds.

Not only would this show me how I compared to Winston, but it would also tell me how I was riding now in 2015 compared to how I was back in 2012. So I started out for the ride with two goals… 1) get a PR, and 2) get as close as possible to Winston’s time. I honestly did not think I’d accomplish either.

I hit the start hard averaging about 600 watts for the first half of the climb while spinning at well over 100 rpm. Looking back at the effort comparison, I see that I was staying neck-and-neck with Winston to that point. Even at that moment, I was feeling strong and my confidence grew.

Then the real teeth of the climb started to bite down on my legs. You can see it in the video. My wattage and cadence began to drop. Now I was doing between 400 and 500 watts with my cadence around 85 rpm.

I could sense I was losing momentum, so I attempted to give myself a shot. Like the heart rate of a dying man on an operating table after getting hit with a defibrillator, my power rose for a moment before falling. While I never flatlined, my power slowly diminished for the rest of the attempt. Even as the road began to level off, I could only muster a top of 400 watts.

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There in the last third of the climb I lost six seconds. However, on the good side, I did land my PR by besting my previous time by four seconds. I can’t help but think there is another second or two I could gain… I’ll likely try again, but I do think Winston’s time is safe for awhile!