Thursday, July 2, 2009


I think the the only way to secure accurate gradient information on Brasstown Bald, Spur 180, is to put out a surveyor and assistant at each tenth of a mile and record the result. There are lots of first person accounts on the internet, but too much variation. The average grade is somewhere between 10 and 12 percent, and 2/10 into it is a 16% grade and 5/10 has the first 20% ramp. "The wall" comes around 1.5 and could be as low as 21% or high as 26% depending on whose data you want to use. I saw 24% on my Garmin 305 this year, and 24% on my Garmin Forerunner 201 in previous years, so I'm comfortable using that figure. If it really is only 22%, it's still steep, especially after a mile and a half of hard climbing. There is another 16% ramp slightly over 2 miles. One report has percentages every .05 but that gets skewed. You can tell when you see the 45% on one leg. Of course, that might be correct if you take that right-hand bend on the inside, because for about twenty feet it is real steep. If you take the outside, you miss about half the climb.
The first year we did this, we got a ride to the top of Wolf Pen Gap, then let gravity take us, generally, about eight miles, or to the bottom of the climb up to Spur 180. The climb turned out to be about five miles of hard labor, robbing us of a lot of leg and cardio strength.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


The old saw about someone who keeps doing the same thing but expects different results being crazy really doesn't apply to me. I keep trying new things, but the results are the same. I just returned from a fabulous trip to the north Georgia mountains, including my annual assault of Brasstown Bald. I had great weather (a tad humid) and a week of riding Wolf Pen Gap, Neel's Gap, Woody Gap, and some others I can't recall at the moment. When I wasn't riding, I was with family hiking the AT (Appalachian Trail). The switch to a triple gave me a couple of additional gears and my confidence level was high. Brasstown Bald starts you out with a 20% ramp (ok, maybe a quarter mile into it) just to get your heart rate moving. Most of the almost three miles I saw 16%-18% and only once for a short period did it drop to a single digit. But then came the wall (24+%). Once again this year my heart rate was 10-14 beats short of max but I couldn't access them and had to stop and let it drop back to the 80% range. At least I didn't have to walk any, just got back on the bike and trudged up. The two stops were only about 30 seconds long. It took slightly less than (because I didn't stop the computer immediately) 33 minutes 58 seconds to make the climb; 4 minutes and 35 seconds to make the descent; 5 minutes 5 seconds to decend in my car.

I was looking forward to the cool graphics my Garmin gives. Bummer! When the whole ride is uphill, the graph is more or less a straight (angled up, but straightish) line from 3000 feet to 4338 over 2.45 miles. When I do my "hill" ride at home, the line spikes when I hit the hills, but the only spike on this graph is my heart rate.

There is a lot more to tell, some of it will be posted here, some at and of course family and friends will have the full narrative and pictures of the whole trip.