Friday, July 6, 2012

Chasing Strava

For the past few years, it seems like I always hit the dreaded wall and suffer burnout somewhere in the early summer.  This usually means gaining a few pounds and spending more time off the bike than is ideal.  This year seems to be shaping up to be quite different, though with the creation of Strava.  I started using the free service in April, and have been hooked ever since.  Living in Parkersburg, where there is a huge mountain bike community, but a "social" road scene, I spend hour upon hour training solo, which I attribute to my previous years' burnout.  This year, though, with KOMs throughout the area, I am constantly testing myself against others, or simply myself, always pushing that little bit harder to best my old time up any local climb.  Strava has also helped me find rides when on travel - at my wife's family reunion a few weeks back, I brought my road bike along, hoping to find a few rural roads to cruise around on before the festivities began each day.  With the "Explore" option, I was able to find 4 KOMs in Southeast Indiana...and I am proud to say that I represented WV well in taking each away from the locals!

Last weekend, I went to Snowshoe Mountain for a weekend of riding and sightseeing (little did I know we would cut the weekend short due to the horrible storms that knocked out power to over half of the state).  With 4,800' of elevation, there were climbs galore to attempt - I was very excited - so much so that as soon as we checked in, we rode back down the front of the mountain, turned around, and started climbing!  after a Tex-Mex dinner, we uploaded our data and I came in second overall on the various segments of the climb...hopefully the next day would be different.


That night, the storm rolled through, knocking out power indefinitely.  We woke up the next morning and agreed to do a ride out to the Green Bank Telescope and to then tackle the 8-mile climb back from Cass to Snowshoe.  It is enormous - especially up close.  It is 485' tall and the dish is 110 meters wide!  On the way back, we stopped in Cass to check out the railroad.




The climb was difficult to say the least but luckily the first 6 miles were shaded from the mid-90's temperature!  The last section of the climb was by far the most difficult, as you can see in the picture, and there were no trees near the road on the final switchback corners so my CamelBak Podium Chill water bottles really were excellent at keeping my drinks cool! 



After our ride, we showered in the semi-dark and headed home to...no power!  Finally, after 7 days, our power was restored and I was able to upload my last week's worth of rides.  I found out that I got all of the KOMs on the back side of the mountain - definitely a morale booster!  So - in a nutshell, Strava has cured my mid-season case of burnout nicely.  Back to racing next weekend at the Tour of the Valley stage race in Youngstown - can't wait to blow my legs away during the time trial, then suffer up the climbs on the road race, and rub elbows during the final day crit - hope our team can bring home the Team Classification jerseys in a few categories!

Thanks for reading,

Ben