Knowing that I wouldn’t get a lot of riding in over the weekend, I didn’t take a break from training during the week. By Friday, I was a little tired. The Time-Crunched Cyclist plan doesn’t take so much time, but it can be intense.
Still, I had to get one last ride in before heading out of town with my family for a conference hosted by my church at a camp in North Carolina. It was chilly as I started my morning ride so I was dressed pretty warmly. The good news was that it wasn’t an interval day.
Even so, there was one thing tapping at the back of my mind. Strava. What is Strava? It is an online community of cyclist who record their ride information. What makes it fun is that it allows you compare your ride with others and compete against other riders in “segments.”
On Strava, segments are stretches of road that a member of the community has designated as a “competition zone.” Now, that could be they are simply competing against themselves to see if they can improve their times on those sections. Of course, any time you put something like that out there other cyclists are going to see if they can beat it!
Strava plays on this by awarding “King of the Mountain” trophies for the riders who hold the fastest times during these segments. There are quite a few segments around Greenville and because of the USA Professional Cycling Championship here there are quite a few segments “owned” by pros. Basically, that means, I’m out of the running!
I was first introduced to Strava a couple of years ago by Scottie Weiss who was racing with the Kenda Pro Cycling team at the time. He had recommended it to me during one of my duldrum times as a way to get motivated again during training. I took a look at it, but didn’t really get into it. My account sat dormant for quite awhile.
Then I got a message one day about a week ago from a newer rider who pointed out that he was just a second or so off of my time on a particular segment. “What segment,” I thought to myself. “I don’t recall entering any segment on Strava.” So, I logged in to see what he was talking about. Sure enough one of my recorded rides — I believe it was a Sunshine Cycle Shop ride back in 2011 — had me going through a segment and I was holding 8th place or something like that.
Well now, that couldn’t be allowed to stand! I knew the segment — Nature Trail — and the rider who was holding the KOM. I could definitely beat that time. So, I went out Sunday a week ago and took my rightful place at the top. 🙂
I was hooked. I kept uploading my data and even went back to catch up. Another segment KOM came my way and I didn’t even realize it. It happened on a day when I was doing intervals in Cleveland Park. As I made a turn off of McDaniel at the start of an interval, I came upon too much traffic. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold my necessary wattage through the park, so I diverted onto Ridgeland Drive. Since I was on a power interval, I was pushing it up at a good pace.
When I got home and put in my data, I was surprised to see I had a KOM award. It turns out that someone had created a segment on that Ridgeland Drive climb. So, now I had two KOM’s notched to my belt.
That brings us to Friday. There was another KOM I wanted… the Cleveland Park loop. This one was kind of special to me because it was one of my original training spots. For many months during my early days as a cyclists, I had goals to increase my 1 hour speed average around the park loop. I still remember the night I averaged 21 mph for an hour.
Things have changed in the park since then. It is a nicer park and that means there are many more people. Also, road bumps have been placed in the roads to slow traffic. Sure, bicycles can easily go around them, but when there is traffic you are stopped by the cars slowing to go over the bumps. It isn’t nearly the fun it once was.
Anyway, I saw that the fastest lap was 6:32 at 21.7 mph. I knew I had done a faster lap than that in the past. This might be my third KOM in a week.
The segment starts right near the port-a-john by the baseball field. You immediately turn right and climb. My plan was to get up the hills as fast as I could, recover a bit on the downhills and then hang on for dear life on the flat section that would return me to the starting point.
That climb in the beginning came back to haunt me on the flat section! I had averaged over 700 watts as I was climbing up the first hill. I was gulping oxygen on the downhill. I was ready the few seconds later when I took a right by the doggie park for the next climb. On this one I kept myself under control a bit more at 470 watts. By the time I made the right turn back onto Woodland Way, I was starting to feel it.
Now, everything depended on how I caught the lights on McDaniel. If there was a lot of traffic and red lights, my attempt would be sunk! Thankfully, I was able to make the right turn onto McDaniel with no traffic approaching. As I looked ahead, I saw the light turn red. Oh no! Thankfully, as I scanned the road there was no traffic coming. I was able to make the right turn onto Cleveland Park Drive and then pick my pace up again along the relatively flat section to the finish.
That was the hardest part of all! I was doing my best to keep the wattage up, but I kept seeing the speed drop. The good news is that it never dropped below 22 mph. I crossed the finish for the segment in 6:16. I had my third KOM.
That may be my last one. I’ll never get the one climbing Paris Mountain — nor the ones descending it. However, Strava also keeps track of your personal bests. That is definitely something to aim for. Of course, now that I’ve put this out there, I may not have the KOM’s I earned last week for very long!