Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Skyball (X3)

Memorial Day in the blistering humid heat, nine bikers set out for a triple assault on Skyball Mountain. There were several rides done locally but most of the local cycling scene decided to stay away from this ride.

The tempo from the go was a little fast thanks to Austin, who's in the middle of training block preparing for a stage race next weekend. James Hall and Chris Rossi fell right in with Austin so for the rest of us it was going to be a long day.

We rode down Highway 31, and turned on "Racehorse Johnson Parkway" one of the most beautiful roads to cycle on in Alabama. RJP heads toward Skyball Mountain and is the road used in the Tour de Cullman. The road unfortunately rolls up.

We turned off RJP and began the first climb up the mountain. The road just seems to go up into the sky and actually is one of the steeper grades on the mountain. We all survived that pretty well and of course Austin and James disappeared over the horizon.

Recovering from the first climb, the second part of the ascent which is about a mile straight up takes you over the mountain and down the back side into the town of Nectar. With one climb of Skyball done its time to do the second assault.

From Nectar we back tracked to Joy road and began the second ascent of Skyball using the now famous climb used in the Tour de Cullman. I think we all felt this climb and had some nice thigh busting action as we ascended over the twisting one lane road that gets harder as you get closer to the top. This version of the climb is the longest which is 4 miles.

Just when we were all about pop you somehow make it to the top for the completion of the second ascent. We then back tracked and reversed back down the mountain to begin the final climb, number 3. We reversed what we had just done and climbed back up the mountain on the back side.

This was the roughest part of the whole day and the climb went slowly. I was struggling but moving forward and for some nice motivation, could hear the rumble in the background of some violent weather on the way.We all made it to the top for the third time and regrouped for our ride back to Hanceville. I think for everyone it was a lot of fun but also some really brutal climbing and a great challenge.

The photo above shows Billy Faulk in the CCC kit, he was very generous and not only did the ride but provided support and refreshments on top of Skyball.

We reversed our ride out and returned on RJP and Highway 31. About the time we hit Garden City it started pouring down rain and lightning. The only thing close to enjoyable was the 40 mph tail wind we had as we hammered up 31. It got a little more fun with the bolts of lightning were hitting all around and you could see about 6 inches in front yourself.

Mr. Faulk showed his generosity again by providing us with some nice refreshments and a cookout at his house in town.

Some decals were made for the survivors of the epic ride. There will be a few more that attempt and survive the triple assault so we have a badge waiting for them.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Skyball Triple Assault: A Mans Ride

Eddy wont be with us Monday but it will probably be a similar effort to chasing the King over 80K of mountain passes or bergs laden with pave.

We are riding from Wallace State (front parking lot) at 2:00. Hopefully we will have a few surprises and some refreshments on top when we finished. Going to be fun!

Eddy the phantom blogger could be there since no one knows who he is.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Club des Cingles du Mont-Skyball


There have been many ascents of this fabled mountain as we now approach 15 Tours de Cullman. Never have we indulged in the personal suffering that precedes acceptance into the elite club of climbing Mt. Skyball three times in one day...until now. This Memorial Day we thought we’d better get some cyclists from the "team" into a rather exclusive club of climbers.

The Club for Crazies

Our new club will be modeled similar to the one of Mont Ventoux. There are many similarities between the two mountains such as the three approaches to the summit. Great races have been won and lost on the slopes of the Skyball just like Ventoux.

The Club des Cinglés du Mont-Ventoux, to use its French title, was started in 1988 by Christian Pic and has over 2,100 members: just over half are French, followed by Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and the US. Joining the club is simple: climb to the summit of Mont Ventoux three times in one day, once by each of its three access roads.

On paper the membership route looks tough. It’s not the 100 kilometres that’s the problem – it’s the fact that half of this is climbing. The classic route from Chamblees Mill is 21 kilometres at an average of 7.5%, from Nectar the same, and the third ascent is 26 kilometres at a merciful 4.7%. Skyball is 1,912 at its summit and the vertical distance for each route is 1,610, 1,570 and 1,220 respectively for a total of 4,400 of climbing over 68 kilometres. Cinglé in French means ‘crazy’ and has the synonym fou, ‘mad’. The Club des Cinglés du Mont-Skyball is literally a club for mad crazies.

2010? Next year we can take it to the next level of the club and do three plus a fourth ascent utilizing an unpaved logging road, and get a pin to wear on your jersey. Maybe we will do like Ventoux and some crazy can try to set a 24 hour record for attempts.

More details soon.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cullman Cycling

Since the last post I thought I better get back to cycling. For some reason when you post a picture of a female and mix in cycling I have to delete a bunch of comments posted by readers. Its all fun, sometimes you wonder what the Blog is about anyway.

I selected a few pictures from the past week or two.

This picture is called "Pain Locker"...for obvious reasons. It was taken at the Cullman Spring Classic with Austin and Country Al laying down the law. I wondered if CA would really work for Austin or if it came down to it he would drop the hammer on his own team mate.

You know we like to poke at SuperDave but I have to admit hes been riding better than I have ever seen him. I would like to say he was sucking some wheel etc., but it more accurate to say he was hammering with two very strong riders. Even though they were dropped from the lead group they blew away what was left of the peleton. The white jersey is James Hall of Team Smith Lock who had a team mate in the break and in the CSC kit ubermaster Chris Rossi.

One of our road marshalls was none other than Bill St. John. Pretty sweet ride! Bill hosts the CSC and as always, a very premier event.

The pictures below are from a training ride we did this past week. This goes back to how you meet the most interesting people through cycling. We had a couple of guests so where do you take them? Skyball Mountain. Hopefully these guys will be back for the Tour de Cullman this fall. They got a little primer this week.

Warren St. John was in from New York for a tour with his new book (somehow he escaped without me getting a signed copy). Chris Ullrich was in from California for the upcoming AMA SuperBike races at Barbers Motorsports Park. Both these guys ride very strong.

On the foothills of the famous climb. They didn't get to see it all but climbed to the top of Skyball Mountain.

Almost to the top enjoying the nice weather and calling for the team car. I think we lost a rider along the way.


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