Tag Archives: Segments

Strava Segment: Pait Is Almost Home!

I freely admit that I enjoy Strava. I do try not to let it go to my head. However, not only does Strava give me a way to scratch my competitive itch, it also gives me fodder for LowCadence.com. If you tried to write something in a blog nearly everyday, you would be looking for subject matter as well!

Having said that, my favorite Strava segment KOMs are not necessarily the ones I’m aiming to get. Today’s installment in the Strava Segment series is a perfect example of that. It is a KOM I am glad I’ve managed to grab because it has my name on it!

I created the segment some time ago. It is a nice little climb up East North Street from Stone Avenue. I didn’t pay much attention to the stretch because it was just a way to get to and from Cleveland Park which is where I spent many an hour when I first began riding on the road.

I don’t even recall what prompted me to create it. However, I do remember the day I got the first KOM. It was a day I took my fixed gear to the park. Perhaps I rode it around to some other spots as well. The thing I do remember was coming home with a huge storm brewing.

The clouds were rolling and the wind was starting to pick up. I’m assuming I had a tailwind. Rain was imminent and I didn’t want to get caught in it. Thunder was sounding very close!

I turned off of Stone Avenue onto East North Street and started to sprint up the road with the fixie. About time I was halfway through the segment, there was one of those lightning/thunder claps where there was little time between the two. If I needed any motivation to keep going, that was it!

I had that track gear humming along and the momentum of the crank being pulled around by the turning of the rear wheel allowed me to keep pace going. Of course, I wasn’t thinking about trying to get a KOM. I was just trying to get home!

Yet, there it was. When I uploaded the data, I found that I had the KOM by 1:39. However, that wasn’t the end of the story.

Because I landed the KOM on a fixed gear, I figured that surely I would be able to get a faster time on my lighter road bike. Nope. It didn’t happen. It wasn’t because I wasn’t trying!

My Strava history has a long list of attempts and a few of them came close. None of them were able to break the barrier. That is until this one.

I wasn’t trying for the KOM. This ride was for capturing video I needed for the Pilot Road Golf Course Climb segment. I then thought I would spin down Main Street Greenville and capture some video of that route. This led me down Park Avenue which crosses Stove Avenue and then becomes East North Street.

As I approached the intersection, I saw that the light was going to be green. “Hmmmm,” I thought to myself, “I might as well use this opportunity to capture some video for a Pait Is Almost Home Strava segment.” Even then, I did not expect to land a KOM. I just wanted to have a good representative effort.

It would appear that the big difference was the speed I was able to carry through the intersection. Rather than turning right off of Stone Ave and scrubbing speed, I was able to come barreling over Stone Avenue and carry that momentum up the lower portion of the segment.

Still, that wasn’t all. I remember having a moment of realization that I was maintaining my power. Yeah, it was hurting a little, but it was one of those instances when you could feel the power overwhelming any pain you might feel. I knew it was going to be a good time.

Arriving home, I was most interested in seeing what would happen with the Pilot Road Golf Course Climb. When I first saw the crown, I thought I had landed it. Then I was surprised to see that the KOM was actually for Pait Is Almost Home… not just that, but I had finished the segment in 1:33. That was 6 seconds faster that my previous one that I thought I would never beat!

Hopefully, that one will hold for a little bit. Other than those instances where people forget to turn off their Strava apps when they are driving home along East North, I think the combination of effort and perfect timing with the light at the start will allow it to last for some time. The closest currently is Chris Uberti at 1:41.

It might fall at some point, but I will have plenty more opportunities in the future and more importantly, many memories of nearing home along that stretch after completing some incredible rides. Whether fast or slow, it is a segment I always enjoy because I am almost home.

Strava app or Garmin

People, it is hot as blazes here in Greenville, SC. We are in the midst of a week of temperatures in the upper-nineties. Those of you who live in this area know that means humidity is also on the rise. It can sometimes be suffocating and makes you question the sanity of riding your bicycle.

After work yesterday I decided that it had to be done. It was one of those times when my emotions said, “Oh, just take the day off. You’re not feeling very strong right now. You need the rest.” My reason argued back, “The reason you feel this way is because you haven’t been on the bicycle since Saturday. You need to get your body moving again!”

I listened to reason and pulled together my gear for the ride. As I did so, I thought through my objectives for the ride. The goal would be to get out there and get my legs loose. If I felt good, I would head over to a segment I had seen John James attempt. It could be a good one for some video to make a new Strava Segment installment.

Riding Garminless.

Riding Garminless.

The bike was ready. I loaded the GoPro and then turned on my Garmin. Drat! The Garmin was showing the low battery warning. It must have been that the cord was not correctly attached.

Well, that would mean no Strava Segment video. I needed the data captured by the Garmin to create the overlay on the video. This time I would not attempt to use the older Garmin 705 that I have. Last time I tried that it didn’t stay connected to my power meter. This ride would have to be a Strava iPhone app ride.

I’m not a fan of using the app for recording my rides. Why? First, I get no power, heart rate, or cadence readings. Since I use the Strava training program, I need that data in order for the ride to count when measuring my fitness/freshness. The ride counts as a rest day no matter how hard I ride.

Second, I just don’t trust it. iPhone GPS signals can be notoriously flaky. This is accentuated even more when it is in your back jersey pocket while you’re riding through varying terrain covered with shade trees. In the high-stakes world of Segment Hunting, this can be problematic.

I don’t have a lot of proof on this. It is more a bias on my part. There have been some attempts I’ve seen on Strava recorded on apps that have stretched my willingness to believe. However, more often than not the times are pretty close to reality — and times recorded by devices such as the Garmin. Still, in the back of my mind, there is always a question mark.

A primary objective of the day was finding roads with shade!

A primary objective of the day was finding roads with shade!

So it was that this question mark popped up at the end of the sentence of my ride. I left the house seeking routes that provided as much shade as possible. That actually led me toward my original objective: Pilot Road Golf Course climb.

As I neared the start, I decided to give it a go… Garmin, video or not. You come down a slight descent as you hit the line. I was in my 53×11 and cranking hard at that point. Of course, I was flying blind and had no idea of speed, wattage, etc. However, I felt fast.

I was able to keep my momentum up a gentle incline through a wooded area and into a pretty noticeable left hand turn. Then I hit the more drastic part of the grade. I had not shifted out of the 53X11 and slowly I began to feel myself begin to bog down. However, I was able to keep the wheels turning and by the finish, I felt pretty good about the effort.

Taking a break over beautiful Greenville.

Taking a break over beautiful Greenville.

Later in the ride while stopped along the side of Altamont Road taking a picture of downtown Greenville, I looked at the Strava segment list of my ride. There the app listed all the segments I had passed through during my ride to this point (one of the nice things about the app). I did a double take!

The app told me I had covered the .3 mile distance in 46 seconds. This would be nearly 10 seconds faster than the time I saw John James score a couple days earlier. Hmmmm, typically, John and I are pretty close on these shorter distances (while he cleans my clock on the longer ones).

Sure enough, it wasn’t long after I got home and finalized the ride that John added a comment to my ride on Strava.

Wow, I would like to believe your KOM is correct, but that seems off. 26.9 avg up that at 578. I did 22.8 at 575.

The truth is I agreed with him. Though while I might question the data of the effort, I wasn’t ready to give up on the time of the effort. The iPhone GPS might provide flaky speed data, but the time covered from point A to point B is more absolute. Granted, if the phone incorrectly marks point A and point B, that could be a problem.

So, I replied…

That is estimated power. I didn’t have my Garmin. I’m curious to see what it would be with my Garmin. I’m not really claiming that KOM until I can give it a go with the more data.

I could tell John was analyzing my effort because he came back with another retort to my attempt.

Somehow you sprinted over 38 mph up hill.

I agree that was suspect. However, there is an explanation and also something else to consider. The higher speed reading was a small spike in speed. It also was not at a time when I was going up hill. It was during the period where I was descending. I will grant you that 38 mph is most likely incorrect, but a 33 to 35 mph speed at that point was very possible.

Then Matt Jaeggli chimed in.

I tried it for the first time this morning. Came into the corner where it starts at 33 and I consider myself a pretty decent descender/cornerer.

Man, now they were ganging up on me! The problem is, I completely understood their skepticism. I was skeptical! However, the major point for me was how close was the effort to being accurate?

That sounds more reasonable, Matt. The point is this, the phone often gives wonky readings, but for the most part is NORMALLY within a second or two of a Garmin recorded effort. Time between point A and point B is what it is regardless of speed readings between. I just know I uncorked on that segment and until I can go out and give the same effort with my Garmin, I’m leaving this one as a place holder. 😉

Do I really think I covered that segment in 46 seconds? No. However, do I think I got a good time… even a KOM winning time? I sure do. The ultimate question for me is how close was I to that time? Could it be that I will go out with the Garmin and find out that I actually did surprise myself and land a 46 second time?

There is only one way to find out.

If at first you don’t succeed: More power!

There are those certain Strava segments that I just can’t get over. Try as I might, I just can’t get that extra oomph to get me over the top. The little hill near Cleveland Park is one of those.

myleaderboard

Try as I might, I cannot get below 31 seconds. As you can see, it isn’t as though I have not tried. I’ve gone after it with different bikes. I have attempted it in big gearing and small. I got to the point where I just stopped trying.

Sunday afternoon I was out for an easy ride down town. It was actually a mistake that I ended up down in Cleveland Park. I made a wrong turn on the other side of Greenville. To get back home, I had to take the route through the park.

On a lark, I went for it as the lead in for an all-out attack on the climb was possible. I felt good. I started thinking about it as I headed for home. Maybe… just maybe… it was good enough.

Nope. As you can see above, June 7, 2015 shows 31s at 911 watts. I once again hit the 31s wall.

So, I went out again on Monday to try once more. The obsession was setting in again. I hoped by changing up my approach with my gearing I could at least tie with Ben Renkema for the KOM.

I took along my GoPro in hopes of creating an updated Strava Segment video in my series. Unfortunately, my Garmin 1000 was out of battery. I had to pull out an order 705 for the ride.

I got the Garmin going and then headed out. I enjoyed the morning and rode around the Cleveland Street area to warm up before the attempt. Then it was time to give it a go.

I started the GoPro and big ringed it down toward the traffic light that marks the turn onto Ridgeland Drive. If the light was green, then the attempt was a go. If it was red, then I would have to abort as you need the speed to get momentum for the first kick up.

The light was green and I attacked still in my 53×11. As soon as I felt resistance growing, I hit my SRAM shifter to pop two gears lower in the back. This kept me from feeling bogged down and allowed me to keep going over the top.

I had also been running the Strava iPhone app and expected to get some sort of announcement on my time. However, it never came. I can only assume that the heavy canopy of trees caused an issue.

I stopped to look. No way. Once again I landed a 31s attempt. Arrrrrggggghhhh! Well, at least I got my video.

You will notice there is no video with this post. The reason is that while the GoPro worked perfectly, the Garmin 705 did not maintain a connection with my power meter. I had no power data from the climb. Without it, I couldn’t create my video.

Maybe someone else will read this and like Ron Babington did on another segment in Cleveland Park, they will figure a way to break the spell. It could be that there is just someone else out there that has the right power-to-weight ratio to overcome the gravity that seems to be holding me down.

vanity

Hmmmmm, maybe if I lost a few pounds…

Well, that didn’t take long

I was in a meeting at mid afternoon when the Beautiful Redhead texted me to invite me to a dinner with the cast of a play she is acting in this summer. Their plan was to have a quick dinner and then do a table reading. My plan was to join her for the food and then head out on the Felt. I had some work to do.

The menu consisted of hamburgers and hotdogs with fixings, potato salad, chips, and strawberries. I downed the grilled burger and about a third of a hotdog along with potato salad and chips. I topped it off with three strawberries. After thanking the host and kissing my wife goodbye, I headed back home to prep for my ride.

I rolled off shortly after 6PM. My plan was to make my way out to the scene of a thief. As you may recall from yesterday’s blog, John James had called me out in the street at noon for a shootout over a Strava segment. He had stolen the Walker Wimps segment from me by one second.

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Came upon Towmater while riding my route.

First I had to get my brain to sort out how best to get to the scene of the crime. I typically come upon this segment while riding with the Sunshine Cycle Shop Saturday morning ride. I don’t even need to think about how to wind my way through the Hour of Power route. However, when I tried to navigate my way there via a more direct route, it took a little bit for me to get it clear in my head.

That done I found myself on Locust Hill Road nearing the area of the segment. It was then I regretted my dinner. You see, I sometimes have a bad problem with acid reflux. Char grilled meat is something I love, but something that doesn’t return the charity!

I’ll spare you the details, but I’ll just say that I had to pull over to the side of the road and relieve some of the acid (what is it, bile?) from my stomach. Actually, I didn’t have a choice. My stomach made me pull over!

Anyway, with that done, I was starting to feel much better. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to carry out my plan, but as I neared Walker Road, I was feeling the best I had since starting the ride. I decided to give it a go.

Paris Mountain in the distance. Home is on the other side.

Paris Mountain in the distance. Home is on the other side.

My plan was to go as hard as I could in my 53×11. I could then evaluate that performance and return another time to go for winning back my KOM. I was guessing I would need to go up a bit on my cassette to get my best time. After making the adjustments, I could return with my GoPro and use the attempt as one of my Strava Segment videos. It’s always good to get the KOM when you’re recording it.

The battlefield. The segment starts at the bridge and ends around the turn at the top of the hill.

The battlefield. The segment starts at the bridge and ends after the turn at the top of the hill.

I rolled down and hit the flat portion over the bridge. So far so good. I felt strong coming into the first part of the grade. I had no idea how much wattage I was putting out. That would be discovered later. It wasn’t until about two thirds up the climb that I started to feel bogged down in my gearing.

In my mind I thought, “Well, here is where I’ll lose it. I’m not keeping my momentum very well.” Still, I kept trying to grind to the finish and then through the finish. Immediately, I knew if I was going to go any faster, it was going to be done through technique and not effort! I had given it a pretty good go.

From there, I took it easy back toward home. My mind was wondering what the results of the effort might be. It then turned to the beauty around me. The final portion of the ride was in the cool of the evening with the sun beginning to set.

Coming over Piney Mountain Road toward home.

Coming over Piney Mountain Road toward home.

Coming over Piney Mountain Road, I stopped at Pleasantburg and looked toward the west. Right where the sun was beginning to slip behind the hill was the knoll where George Hincapie’s house is located. I wondered what his view might be of the sun setting over Paris Mountain casting its shadows toward Greenville’s skyline.

About that time I heard the sound of a well maintained bicycle coming up behind me. It was Matt Tebbetts. He had just come over the mountain and was delayed because he had to stop to help a motorcyclist who had wiped out going too fast down the east side. It made me thankful I had made it this far safely.

We rolled off talking and I mentioned I was sorry I couldn’t stay with him when we formed a break during the Tuesday night training race. “Oh, not a problem,” he said. “I’m just glad you’re back.”

At home, I loaded the data up to Strava from my Garmin. This happens automatically as soon as my Garmin connects to my wireless network. I then log in to the Strava app on my phone to change the name and adjust any details about the activity. Before I could even do that, I got a notice I had received a Kudo for the ride. When I did log in I found a crown graphic.

Click to see the full leader board.

Click to see the full leaderboard.

Turns out on my test run, I had won back my KOM by one second. It was kind of fun to toss it back at John. I imagine it won’t be long before he’ll be gunning for it. It will be fun trying to defend it. Yeah, I guess I am “back.” I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I like the way it feels.

Play along with the Strava playlist

I don’t know when this is going to end, but I’m having fun capturing Strava segments on video and then posting them to YouTube. As I do, I’m posting them here to LowCadence.com. Here is a playlist that gives easy access to the Strava segments. Remember, for best viewing make sure YouTube has the video set to HD.

Thanks for suggestions for other segments you would like to see. I’ll be honest, the longer ones won’t be going up anytime soon! So, Ceasars Head will have to stay on your wish list for a while longer! If there is one you would like to see, just comment on this post.

Strava Segment Installment: Nature Trail at Herdklotz Park

Sometime ago I started creating videos of Strava segments. The main reason was that I was enamored with the technology that allowed me to overlay my ride data with the video of the event. It gives the person watching the images a better idea of the effort it takes to ride the bicycle.

Feedback has been positive and so I will occassionally get motivated to sit down a create a new one. Here is one from this weekend. It is a favorite segment for those of us who have for years ridden the Sunshine Cycle Shop’s Hour of Power Saturday morning rides. It is a Strava KOM that I would love to have, but one I’ve never managed to land.

In case you are curious, on this attempt I finished in 1:58. That is 13 seconds slower than my best time and 18 seconds slower than John James and his KOM of 1:40 seconds. Consider that as you watch the video to realize how much more effort I would need to put out to capture the prize!

Thanks for watching! Also, for best viewing, make sure you switch the Youtube resolution to HD.