Rush Limbaugh has his . . . well, here is mine. This is my record of news stories and issues that interest me. You can also find more headlines at the site where I serve as editor: The Common Voice.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Things going slower than I hoped

Went to the gym again last night. The way I lifted tonight - more reps per set - really gave me a workout. I slept like a rock last night. I don't know if it was the workout or just clean living, but I haven't had a night of sleep like that in ages.

144 @ 90 lbs. from 1 to 12 to 1
125 @ 180 lbs. 2 sets of 50 and 1 set of 25
20 @ 315 lbs. 2 sets of 10

I did some spinning as well just to cool down. 5 minutes of easy spinning, then 2 minutes of spinning over 400 watts and 3 minutes spinning over 300 watts, and another 5 minutes easy spinning. After all the lifting, that was tough.

The other problem with the trainer in the gym is that ergonomics are all wrong. The seat sits back behind the "crank" and the grips for your hands are way high. Its fine for what it is, but you can't mimic riding an actual bike. If I'm going to try getting into this power training, I'm going to have to come up with another option.

I'm still working on the Sunshine Cycle Shop Web site. Unfortunately, I'm not getting it done as quickly as I would like. Click here to see the bike lines page. Most of the time isn't on layout and graphics but on looking up information to populate the page. By the way, the specials listed on the page are real!

I hope to have some more time to get things done this weekend. I'm still hoping to have the static, public portion of the site done by the end of Sunday. We'll see...


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cycling with my fingers

The blog has been quiet here for a bit. I have been busy redesigning the Sunshine Cycle Shop Web site. I guess you could say I've been cycling with my fingers. I've also posted more over at the blog because there has been some interesting things happening in professional cycling.

I'm still training away. Monday night I did about 45 minutes of spinning. I had my iPod on and used the various selections to mix up my training. A new song meant a new chain ring. Wow, it seemed like I picked the longest song for the big ring/small ring!

Last night I did my weight training right after work.

144 90lbs. (1 to 12 to 1)
100 180lbs. (10 sets of 10)
20 315lbs. (2 sets of 10)
10 180lbs. explosive lifts

My cool down was spinning some on the trainer there at the gym. I did push a little for about 5 minutes - 320+ watts for that period. That time isn't meant for pushing though, so I eased off to let the muscles relax.

Hope to have the public side of the Sunshine site done by Sunday. I'll still have some work to do on the management side. It is kind of like it's own homegrown content management system. Once the design is done, Mike will be able to make changes to the site himself by just entering info into text fields.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Reversing the hour

It was kind of cool to see one of my entries from the Cycling blog printed in the dead tree version of the paper yesterday. It appears they also printed it Friday, but someone goofed on the layout and part of the entry didn't get printed. Still, there it was in black and white. Neat.

I got back on the bike after taking two days off for Thanksgiving. I made up my mind Friday evening that I wasn't going to do the Hour of Power Saturday morning. I knew it was going to be cold and planned to get some riding in the afternoon when things warmed up. Stopping by Sunshine to take care of some Christmas business I learned that some of the guys from the shop were planning to ride when they got off work at 4 PM.

I decided to join them. It was Mike, Gary, Bob, and me who started off the ride. As we headed down Pine Knoll we discussed what route we would take. Gary wanted to go over the mountain and Mike wanted to do the Hour of Power route. Mike convinced Gary to ride along with us on the turn that would take us on the Hour of Power route by saying we could still do the mountain, but go another way.

By the time we got to Waddell via East Lee Gary had caught on to Mike's deception and bailed on us. So, the three remaining riders decided to cut him off on the other side of Rutherford Road and go over the mountain with him. Unfortunately, we missed him.

Instead of doing the mountain without Gary we decided to reverse the Hour of Power route. It turned out to be pretty fun. We did alter the route slightly (check out the route here). Mainly we cut out the Sandy Flats section.

About ten minutes into the ride I almost felt like turning around and going back. I just didn't feel so good. My legs were stiff and I was getting winded very easily. However, thirty minutes into the ride it started to come and my legs were feeling good. I still found myself getting winded, but I think part of that had to do with the cooler temperatures.

After a couple days off weight training, I really feel as though it is helping me. We definitely didn't do any serious sprinting, but a couple of times I attacked just to see how my legs would respond. Not sure I can describe it, but I could feel more firmness in my stroke. I had a lot more confidence in my bigger rings while attacking on an incline. After a couple of months of this, I should really see a difference.

Well, we made it back in the dark. We watched the huge harvest moon come up over a bank of clouds as we neared the shop. Mike and I had rear lights, so we put Bob between us and boogied back as fast as we could. The sad thing is I was just starting to feel loose and warmed up.

Hey, it is always best to stop wanting more!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Mike planned a ride for this morning. The idea was to leave the shop before 8 AM and get in the old Thursday night ride before the doors opened at 10 PM. Supposedly there were to be about 6 to 8 of us. Turns out it was just Art, Mike, and myself.

We started out on the normal route that would take us along the base of Paris Mountain to the Furman campus. However, when we reached the CVS on the corner of Altamont and State Park, Art stopped and suggested instead of taking the route along the base of the mountain we should go over the mountain.

I don't know about Mike, but I wasn't real thrilled with the idea. Art seemed so set on it I didn't want to disappoint him -- or come across as a wimp for not doing it. So, we started off. Then Art threw in another wrinkle. "Let's do Audubon Road."

Now, I've never done Audubon. I had heard about it, but I had only been on the road once with my bike and I turned off of it to climb Woodhaven (which is a killer itself). With the way my legs were feeling, I wasn't so sure I was going to enjoy this. Still, I wasn't going to let Art show me up.

Mike is just getting over a cold and decided to go on up to meet us where Audubon meets back with Altamont. Art and I took off. The road is really quite nice. It is newly paved and for most of the distance there are no houses... just beautiful hardwoods that are just gorgeous this time of year.

Once back on Altamont we continued to the top of the mountain. Art again suggested and alteration to our route. He wanted to go on up to the very top of the mountain where the radio towers are - up Old Bridge Road. I was starting to think at this point that Art was just trying to kill us! This took us up over 2000 feet in elevation which would mean over 1000 feet from where I left my house that morning.

The view was worth it as we could look out over Greenville. There were the buildings of downtown sticking out from the green of the trees. Wow, we were just down there less than 40 minutes ago. I think I'll climb up there more often!

I had a little scare on the way back to Altamont. The road was covered with leaves and they were wet (from what I don't know - maybe a frost). As I went into a turn I was carrying a little too much speed. I braked and tried to turn the bike without leaning over. My rear wheel fishtailed about 10 inches and I collected it to make the turn right before going off the edge of the road.

From there things were pretty uneventful until the climb back up Altamont after riding through the Furman campus. Mike told Art and I to go ahead. I hooked onto Art's wheel and tried to follow him up. I stayed with him pretty well until the halfway point.

At this point I started feeling the bad effects of the weight training. My muscles were just tired. Plus, I was having trouble breathing because my nose was running something awful. I just slipped in a easy ring and started spinning my way up. As I crossed over the KOM line, I looked to see a very slow 14' 20" lap time.

I left Mike and Art as we approached Pine Knoll so that I could ride over to Dunkin' Donuts to get a bagel and a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, they were out of bagels and I had to settle for a banana nut muffin. It was pretty good. Then I took my life in my hands and rode home via Wade Hampton Blvd. It wasn't too bad and I got several extra miles on my ride.

I'm hoping this weight training is going to be worth it. Right now it is hurting me. I can feel power for short bursts, but for the long steady rides it seems to affect me negatively. If I ride for a sustained period (like climbing Altamont - or on a trainer) my muscles just feel like their swelling and tight. I feel like I'm dragging two sticks of concrete around.

I guess the idea is that I will shift away from the weights to get my base miles in. That will bring back my riding legs with the additional power from the weight training. At least that is my hope! If not, I'm going to have to keep eating Art's dust. Uggggghh!


Monday, November 19, 2007

Back in the gym

It was back to the weight training tonight:

144 90 lb. lifts (ascending sets to 12 and back to 1)
60 180 lb. lifts (five sets of 12)
20 315 lb. lifts (two sets of 10)
20 180 lb. power lifts (two sets of 10)

When I was done I did 15 minutes of spinning. All that took me about an hour. Man it was hard to do that spinning after lifting!

Tomorrow night I will just do some spinning on the home trainer. Need to get my legs back under me for the Wednesday morning we have planned from Sunshine. It will either be the normal Hour of Power ride or maybe we'll do the Furman/Paris Mtn. ride - that would be nice.

I'm also having some fun playing around with a redesign for the Sunshine Cycle Shop Web site. It is OOOLLLDDD. It definitely needs a face lift!


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cycling, football, and kazoos

Sitting here watching my YOUNG Tar Heels try to hang in there with Georgia Tech. They are giving it all they can, but they keep making freshman mistakes. What do you expect? The team is made up primarily of freshmen and sophomores.

There really isn't much to write about on the ride this morning. My weather data says we started out at 39 degrees, but there is no way it was that WARM. Most of us arriving for the ride said their home thermometers showed temperatures in the 20s.

I was ready! I put the Quoleum gel on my right leg and left the left leg without it. I'll write about that in my next Cycling Blog entry. However, I also had on knee warmers, leggings, shoe covers, long sleeve base shirt, arm warmers, long sleeve jersey, and a wind breaker.

Honest, I went outside and I didn't feel the cold on my legs and torso. My fingers, feet, and face were cold and got colder as we went along. For the entire ride I was pretty comfortable except those parts.

By the time we rolled into the shop two hours later, the temperature was up in the high 40s. It was perfect at that point and I could have taken off a layer. If I could just find a way to get my hands and feet warm, I think I wouldn't second guess going on those 20 degree rides.

As for the riding, we didn't go very fast. It was one of the slowest Hour of Power rides I have been on. None of the shop guys were there and the sprints were basically not there either.

Oh, the kazoos - tonight I'm taking the family to the Turkey Bowl. The game is the soccer championship at Bob Jones University. During halftime the student body is going to attempt to break the world's record for the largest kazoo choir. They are hoping to get about 5000. The record is around 3500.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Taking a break

Today I'm going to take a break. I have either lifted or rode my trainer each night this week. My legs are feeling a little sore. Got to be ready for the ride tomorrow.

I'm pretty excited about the doors that writing my Cycling Blog at have opened for me. I'm starting to get opportunities to review some pretty cool stuff. In the next couple of months I will receive a Garmin Edge 705 for reviewing -- the neat thing is I'll be one of the first folks to have the opportunity. Then I will be beta testing the Quarq CinQo powermeter in January.

My guess is that once I get those reviews up, I'll be able to approach even more folks to do reviews on their stuff. What is it they say - success breeds success?


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ouch those seats hurt!

Last night I did my weight training again. Before I started lifting I did a little reading on proper exercises for cyclists. I was happy to know that what I am doing is pretty close to what was recommended.

I started out this night on the trainer. Man, you would think that nice large padded seat would be very comfortable. Not so! The seat is too wide at the horn and the padding isn't nearly as comfortable as my Toupe. I had to stop after about 10 minutes (I was planning to do 15 to warm up).

At the "Smith Machine" - that's what I've discovered the apparatus is called - started off with 90 pounds and did my 1 to 12 and back routine. It wasn't as easy this time. I could tell I was still feeling the effects of Monday night.

Following that set I moved up to 180 pounds and did four sets of eight reps. I finished off that session with one set of 10 slow (giving me a total of 50 lifts) and then 10 explosive lifts. This is where you start off in a squat and then "jump" into the lift. Those were actually easier than the slow lifts.

I then cooled down by spinning for about five minutes. I would have gone longer but my seat was hurting again and the gym was about to close for th evening. Now I'm going to rest my legs from this until next week.

Labels: ,

Monday, November 12, 2007

Unprofessional weight training

I think I need to get a trainer. No, not the kind you put your bicycle in so you can ride in your basement. I mean a person who can tell me what I need to be doing in the weight room to help me be a better cyclist.

Tomorrow on TGN Cycling Blog I'll go a little more into my reasoning behind doing this. Here I'll just record what I did during my first session in the gym. I'd like to say there is a science to it. Unfortunately that isn't the case.

After stretching I approached a machine that allows you to do squats without a spotter. This isn't resistance type machine. It uses real weights. You step under two padded shoulder harnesses and then when you lift the carriage picks up the designated weights and slides them up a pole. You can change the weights by pulling a pin out of one location and putting it in a new hole.

I started out at 45 pounds. Why? Well, I figured I didn't want to jump in and kill myself the first time out. 45 pounds is a fourth of my weight, so I figured that would be a good place to start.

One summer I worked at a camp in North Carolina that was about five miles above Lake Jocassi. I was a cook so there were opportunities for some free time. I used to run down to the lake and back each weekend. I would also run down to a waterfall about a mile from the camp every day.

I would also do a little workout program. Basically, you do push ups in a ascending order: 1 rest 2 rest 3 rest 4 rest all the way up to 12. Then you would go from 12 back down to 1. Before you were finished, you would have done 144 push ups.

After that summer, I was in the best shape of my life. Why do I mention that now? Well, I decided to do the same thing with the weights. I started out at 45 pounds and went through the same ascending/descending order. That first session was pretty easy.

I then upped it to 90 pounds. I went through the sessions again. Still feeling pretty good... I moved the pin into the 120 pound weight and did 50 straight lifts. Then I moved to about 10 pounds over my weight at 180. I did my weight 20 straight times. By this point my legs were starting to shake a bit.

Before calling it a night, I just had to give the max amount a try. So, I moved the pin down to 315 pounds - the most the machine would allow and did ten straight lifts. I was really pretty shaky by the time I finished that.

While I was lifting with my skinny cycling body, I overheard some guys talking. "Have you seen the new car commercial?" I heard a guy say. "It talks about how things have changed. They mention how our ideas of power have changed and they change from a scene of a body builder to frames of Lance Armstrong." That made me feel a little better. These guys might be able to out lift me, but I could run them in the ground on an hour ride.

I'm actually kind of looking forward to going back. I found a stationary bike there that can tell me my watts. I didn't play around with it until after I had done the lifting, so I was starting off pretty tired to begin with. However, it was cool to see the wattage.

Just playing around I had it up over 500 watts. For about five minutes I was putting out nearly 300 watts. At some point here I'm going to see what type of max wattage I can put out. Then again, it is like the weight training. I'm not exactly sure what the data is really telling me - just like I don't know for sure my training plan is really going to give me more explosive power in my sprints.

Hey, no pain, no gain...

Labels: ,

Saturday, November 10, 2007

29 seconds

When I got home from my Hour of Power ride this morning, I uploaded the data from my Edge. It seemed like a good opportunity to try out the Dot Racing function at Turns out the difference is time between the two rides was less than 30 seconds.

Dot Racing is a function on that allows you to choose two rides from your history and watch two dots representing each ride race around the route displayed on the map. While today's ride ended up being nearly the same time in the end, last week's dot lead most of the race.

Today we had about 11 riders start out. It turned out to be a pretty good group. Gary was back on the ride after a few weeks off. Tony also showed up on his Orca. Based on the first sprint of the day, he was showing up ready to rumble.

As usual Web started off with a break away. Tony and I slowly reeled him in just before the sprint to Reid School Road. We passed him and I was in the unenviable situation of riding neck and neck with Tony. We rode easily for a distance, but then he stood and went for the sprint.

In the time it took for me to react, he was about five feet in front of me. Once I decided to try to catch him. I turned up the wick, but when I saw Tony glance back and just maintain the distance I decided to give it up. He was kind enough to say, "Thanks for giving me that one." My response was, "Yeah, right!" -- like I had a choice.

At the station on Reid School Road, we pulled in to the lot and waited for the rest of the group. Tony discovered his seat clamp was messed up. We stopped to see if we could get it fixed. About five of us waited for him to finish, but the other six riders continued on the ride.

We had to chase to get back in the front group. We didn't catch them until the sprint to Darby Road. After racing with Tony and then chasing to catch the lead group, I was pretty wasted. I was thinking I wouldn't push it for the rest of the day.

Of course, by the time I reached the quarry road sprint, I was feeling better. Web and I started the climb. My plan was to take it easy and just see what opportunities presented themselves. That changed when right away Art came flying around us and he gaped the entire group by 20 yards before we had time to react.

I heard Billy say, "Who's going to go after him?" Louis answered the question just a few seconds later. He went up after Art who by this time was starting to slow a bit. I decided just to find a rhythm and allow them to come back to me.

It worked and the last 20 yards found Mike and me pacing our way toward the sprint line. I kept looking back to see what Mike would do. My plan was to sit back and let him make the move with me countering as soon as he launched. The problem was, he caught me looking back under my left arm and attacked on my right. By the time I realized what he was doing, it was too late. What I learned: if I am going to use my left to mark him, I need to make sure my bike is blocking the right lane.

I didn't try again until the Paris Mountain State Park sprint. We started the lead up to the sprint with about five riders ahead of me. I evaluated each rider and figured that I could just take it easy off the back because the only real threat was Louis and I figured I could take him on the climb.

Things were working just as planned. I went around the riders ahead of me taking Mike along with me. Mike typically doesn't contest this sprint, but there he was pulling up along side me. It was time to pay him back for the quarry road. I slowed so that Mike and I were neck and neck. I was just going to stay there until the last five feet and then attack. Mike never gave me the chance. He said, "I'm done" and I just made sure Billy didn't come flying around me at the last second.

My bladder was about to explode by this time and I went ahead to find a place to take care of that issue. I finally found a place just before the turn up Oak Leaf. Before I was finished the group went past me and I knew Oak Leaf wasn't going to work for me today. It was actually kind of nice not having the pressure and I took it easy going up climb.

I had thought I would give Nature Trail a try. There is just something about that stretch of road that just doesn't work for me. I try starting off slow. I try starting off fast. Seems no matter what I do Mike and Art don't just beat me, they up and leave me! I came in third, but it was a distant third.

Some day I'm going to beat those guys. Actually, it would be more like beating the road itself!

Labels: ,

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Now that was a lot better

It was Monday when I last rode my bike. It wasn't so much fun as I was getting beat to death by the roots in Timmons Park. Tonight was a different story.

First of all, my bike was working much better. I think the main issue on Monday I had with my gears was the fact that my rear wheel skewer came loose. It got the chain messed up with the gearing and I never was able to get it to shift correctly. I took it back to Sunshine and wouldn't you know it, Gary put the bike up and the shifters worked flawlessly. He tried all kinds of things to duplicate my problem, but it didn't happen. Best I can figure, it is user error.

Well, tonight I headed over to Cleveland Park and did the Eagle trail there near the Veterans' Memorial. This trail was built by an Eagle Scout since the last time I was riding a couple of years ago. I then headed over to the other side of the park and picked up the original Eagle Trail that runs from the tennis courts over to the McDaniel side of the park.

Once I got over McDaniel Ave. (actually you go under it) I picked up the walking/riding trail that takes you to the Reedy River Park. Then it was on to the new "rails to trails" section that heads out toward Travelers Rest. On the map, you can see that it appears I was riding on a train track!

Coming back I adjusted my route so that I could come back over the Liberty Bridge. It was so cool! I was all along on the span. As you ride along the curved structure it looks like you are riding on a beam of light. The neon lights beneath the hand rails reflect off of the polished concrete.

Unfortunately, my battery went dead as I was coming back into town. I had to keep turning off my light so the battery would save up some juice. I would then turn the light back on when I got beneath the trees. Thankfully, it didn't go completely dark until I was almost done.

There is still one trail left for me to chart with my GPS. All together, it makes for a nice easy ride that you can get done in under an hour from the time you drive into the park and drive out.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Last night I decided to take my mountain bike out for a shakedown ride. Sunshine had just overhauled the bike last week. The bottom bracket was replaced along with the cables and shifters. Things seemed to be in working order. So I hit the trail.

Since it was turning dark, I put a light on my helmet. Before the ride was over I definitely needed it. Thankfully, the battery was still good after sitting for several years without use.

Timmons Park was not good. Now I remember why I stopped riding there. I think lots of other people have stopped going there as well. In some cases there is no trail where there once was one. The hill sides are simply eroded to the point where it is mess. The roots that have been exposed make it not fun to ride.

Even with my full suspension bike I was taking quite a beating. My fingers had been feeling much better the last couple of days, but that ride really stressed them. This morning I'm feeling it.

I was picking my way through some of the remaining trail and recreating a trail where there once was one. In some cases, I was just pointing my wheel through some trees and hoping there was an opening on the other side. In some ways that was fun but I had gone out there hoping I would be flowing along some single track.

The bike needs some adjustments. The gears were garbage. I had to fight them into each ring and it was making a racket. The rear brake worked just fine, but it sounded like it was screaming as the pads gripped the rim. I'm not sure why. I do recall that my son had poured chain lube all over my back wheel. Maybe some residue remained.

I know this sounds negative, but really I got enough of a taste to remember what riding my MB used to be. It is going to be fun to get the bike out to a place like Paris Mountain State Park. I'll have to get the gear issues resolved and then give it a try.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Texas Slowdown

The race in Texas started later in the afternoon, so I decided to go out and get a climb over Paris Mountain in before the green flag dropped. I think I started a little too quickly after eating two pieces of parmesan chicken, roasted vegetables, a large bowl of fruit, and a helping of homemade pumpkin pie with whipped cream. It was an awesome lunch, but I regretted it about time I started the climb up Paris!

I made it up in 13' 39". If I can just average 10.5 mph up th entire climb, I should be able to break the 12' 30" time. I made it up the first half at 10.4 and then soon afterwards moved up to 10.7. Unfortunately, in the last third of the climb things slowed down and I finished averaging around 9.8 for the 2.2 miles. Still, my goal is to keep it under 14' every time, so I'm happy with that.

As for the race... I became a huge Matt Kenseth fan there in the final laps of the race. I wanted him to beat Jimmie Johnson so badly! If Jimmie finished in second, his lead over Gordon would be 15 points. If he won, his lead would be 30.

I'm not the kind of NASCAR fan that enjoys the wrecks. I like for the wins to be straight up and not due to someone getting in the wall. However, last night I found myself willing Johnson's car to brush up against Kenseth's. Not enough to crash him out, mind you, but enough to give him some tire rub or hurt his alignment.

Oh well, we have two more races to go. I'd like to think that Gordon can come back, but I'm afraid Jimmie is on one of his rolls. He is going to be very hard to stop.

Labels: ,

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Our first cold ride

The alarm didn't go off today (I won't take time to explain it, but it is true) and I had to jump out of bed and throw on my cycling clothes to get out the door on time. Believe me, there were more clothes than normal!

The night before I looked at the forecast and saw it was going to be 42 degrees. I put on my knee warmers, leg warmers, moisture wicking shirt, long sleeve jersey, wool socks, shoes, shoe covers, wind breaker, and topped off with a head pip under my helmet.

Once I got out on the road heading over the shop I was glad I did it! The wind was making it feel even colder. Everything seemed to be keeping me warm.

We rolled out with about 10 riders. The riders I was looking out for today were Art, Louis, and Peter. I figured Mike would be saving himself for Nature Trail. With all the smack talk coming from Art and Mike, I figured I had better give Oak Leaf and Nature Trail a shot.

To do that, I decided to lay off of some of the earlier sprints - especially the Paris Mountain one which comes right before the steepest climb of the day. Even so, we started out kind of fast. I think the reason was because we were all so cold! Art's thermometer on his computer read 35 degrees!

Then just as we neared the Reid School Road sprint, I found myself in the third position right behind Louis and Peter. They were rolling along talking and as they neared the sprint point they started jockeying for position. When I sensed that they had decided to ride along beside each other and then burst for the line, I decided to split them and catch them flat footed. It worked and I took the sprint on a surprise move.

I laid off on the Meece Bridge Road sprint. Peter had a pretty good gap on us and then Art went by me and I figured it would be good to let him wear himself out :-) Mike and I hooked up and rode across the line in about 6th and 7th.

A few more minor skirmishes and it was time for the quarry road. I debated what to do on this one, but then I saw Louis and Peter getting a gap on us. I figured I should at least get myself into position in case things fell out to my advantage.

By the time the three of us started up the climb, Art had joined us. He formed up to my left right behind Louis. I hooked on to Peter's wheel. Louis took off! Art stayed with him and Peter slowed. I had to make a choice. I decided to move over to get behind Art.

We were still going at a pretty good clip and then Louis sat up leaving Art and I alone. A little later Art slowed. No way was I going to just take off at this point by myself. That is what I always do and I get burned!

I shadowed Art. I figured if someone else came up we could reform the line and then fight it out near the finish. I just knew I didn't want to be the guy in front at that point! What I didn't count on was someone coming by us so fast that I couldn't counter quickly enough.

That is exactly what happened. Art and I were feinting with each other and Peter just came motoring by. I gave it a half-hearted attempt to follow, but I knew it was over. Time to conserve for later.

Next up - the Sandy Flat sprint. This is one I never do well at. It is similar to the Paris Mountain sprint because you come off of long lead up that includes a downhill just before it kicks up for a fifty yard dash for the finish.

Once again I found myself in a three man pace line with Louis and Peter. We were moving along at a steady pace near 30 mph as we neared the climb. Just as we began to climb, Peter moved over to allow Louis to take the lead. I knew what he was up to.

I stayed on Louis' wheel and let up just enough to conserve some energy. I knew Peter would be coming back through. Sure enough, in the last third of the sprint, Peter came by us passing me on the right and then moving around Louis' left. I was ready for him so I stood up and jumped on his wheel.

I don't think he expected me to do that or he thought he has a big enough gap. Either way, I was able to get up a head of steam and move around his left. It was too late in the run for him to counter. I took my first sprint on Sandy Flat. Cool.

Paris Mountain was out of the picture. Mike and I brought up the rear on that one. I knew Oak Leaf was right around the corner and I wanted to have some legs left for that one! It was still pretty cold at under 40 degrees up in that elevation.

Earlier Web was guessing I was saving myself for the Paris sprint. I told him that I was going to go for Oak Leaf. Then I noticed he opened a big gap on us between Paris and the turn up to Oak Leaf. "He's going to steal it away from me!" I went to bring him back. I figured it wouldn't hurt to get my own gap on Art anyway.

I pulled up beside Peter who was between Web and me and we talked a bit about Web's chances. Then we noticed Web didn't take the turn up to Oak Leaf. Hmmmmm. Peter and I made the turn. "I've just to beat Art," I told him. Art was a marked man!

Guess what? I had no sooner said that and I looked back to see Art right behind us. He was ready. The three of us rode on together. Just before the climb really increased a huge Ford truck came out of a side street and almost hit Peter. That threw us off for a bit but we regrouped and started our climbing sprint.

It turned out to be an awesome race for the line. Peter had a slight jump on Art and I had my front wheel about even with Art's rear one. All three of us stood up on the pedals and drove for the top.

Art pulled up nearly even with Peter and then I made it up to Art. About 10 feet out I gave it all I had and inched past Art and ended up losing to Peter by about two feet and Art finished at the same distance behind me. I can still see in my mind's eye looking over to my right and seeing the three bikes nearly neck and neck for a few seconds.

I only had a few minutes to get myself ready for Nature Trail. After Oak Leaf, this was going to be tough. The old ticker had climbed from 172 bpm to 184 bpm on that climb of less than half a mile. Thankfully, I recovered somewhat and rolled into Nature Trail with my heart down to 127 bpm.

Now, what to do? I knew Mike would be gunning for this one and he should be fresher than Art and me. Then there was Peter who didn't seem to need to be fresh - he was always fast. As we hit the climb, Peter went off with Mike on his wheel. I threw my lot with Art.

Art and I were just tuckered out. I watched Peter and Mike move into the distance as we just were hanging on. Okay, I'd just go for third and I didn't want Mike and Art think I didn't try.

I went around Art and continued climbing. I actually started feeling better as I got in a rhythm. Still, I was so far behind there was no way I was going to catch them. I rolled in third about twenty yards back. I believe it was Peter who took it with Mike just behind.

Someday I would like to contest all the sprints. Right now I just don't have the stamina to pull it off. Well, that is one reason to enjoy riding. There is always another challenge ahead. Even the challenge of cold! By the time we made it back to the shop, we were at a very comfortable 55 degrees.

Labels: ,

Thursday, November 01, 2007

12' 39"

Art was itching to get the show on the road for tonight. He was making sure everyone was aware of the start time and he wanted every minute to count. So, I did my best to be there early. I even managed to get to Sunshine ten minutes before we were scheduled to pull out.

There was a problem though. I forgot my helmet! I hurried home and made it back just as the clock reached Art's target. Sorry to do that, but I'm not riding without my helmet. As it was, we got out just five minutes late.

The weather was awesome! As Art, Matt, Web, Billy, Mike, Strad, Bob, and I pulled out the temperature was a very comfortable 75 degrees. It was great to have that many guys on the ride as well. The last Thursday I rode there were only two of us.

We followed the normal route until we got near Furman. At that point we crossed Poinsett Highway and made our way through the Furman campus. Matt and I turned up the wick just a little as we went around the front drive. The turns at each end are way fun.

On the way out of the campus I decided I had better slow things down and prepare for the big climb coming up. I got my heart rate down to 120 bpm and took at couple of shots of my Hammer Gel. I wasn't sure how the night would go, but I wanted to give it my best since it was my last time (on this ride) for the year.

As we neared the launch point, I said out loud, "Okay Strad, remember I'm paying you good money to pace me up the mountain." I don't think anyone other than Strad heard me, but I knew Art was going to give it his best try. I also knew that Strad could out ride us without even trying.

I decided to play it smart and just sit on Art's wheel. I figured he would try to beat his personal best (12' 47") and if I could just hang with him and finish just behind I would reach my goal of a sub 13' climb. I just had to be patient and follow.

Then that all went out the window. We started out really fast! Art was just in front in his second rear ring running a high cadence. I just tried to stay with him. Strad moved past us and I figured he would take off. Art jumped on his wheel and turned up the wick.

We were running over 11 mph and maxing out at around 15 mph before we hit the halfway mark. I didn't see how we could keep this up. Still I just tried to hang onto Art's wheel. Then Art slowed just as we passed the halfway mark. "Ah," I thought to myself. "He has decided not to try to stay with Strad all the way up."

Then he really threw me by veering wide left and dropping off the pace. For a moment I didn't know what to do. This wasn't normal behavior for Art. I assumed he had just gone out too hot and was deciding to sit up. I saw Strad forming a gap away from us and decided to keep going.

As I followed Strad's wheel I started to think that I should back off. There was no way I could maintain the speed I was putting out. My heart rate was holding at about 188 bpm and I knew as soon as I reached 193 bpm I would be toast.

I slowed up slightly and started trying to suck as much oxygen as possible. Strad probably thought he had a set of bellows behind him as I tried to get oxygen to the hot coals that were my muscles. I found a rhythm that seemed to work and tried to stay at it.

Strad wasn't pulling away. I realized it wasn't because I was going so fast. It was because he was pacing me. He kept dropping back to me and giving me a target to aim for. I stopped focusing on me and just kept my eyes on his rear sprocket.

Before I knew it we were nearing the final turn! Strad came back to call out the time to me and encourage me to go for it. Of course, the thing I was thinking was, "How can he talk like that? It's like he is out on a Sunday stroll." He stayed with me until we reached the wall.

Strad stood and left me to fend for myself. Really, it was just a matter of me gutting it out to get as many seconds as possible during these last few yards. I shifted into a smaller rear gear and stood. My muscles were tired but they didn't tell me that they were through. There was something left in there.

As I neared the KOM line, Strad was waiting and was encouraging me along. It was a big help and I managed to pull out speeds of up to 10 mph in those last yards. I crossed the line with my heart beating at 191 bpm and pushed the lap button on my Garmin. 12' 39" popped up on the screen. I looked again. Sure enough, that was a 12 and not a 13!

What a wonderful night! If Tuesday night's ride was awful, tonight's ride was awesome! It wasn't just the new personal record either. It was the fun of riding with a bunch of guys who love riding as much as I do. It was the beautiful fall weather that made the ride so comfortable. Sure, the new PR does help :-)

Art also set a new PR. Turns out he got his wind and maintained the gap that was created when he backed off. He finished in 12' 43" - I'm sure he almost caught me on the wall.

Art, Mike, and I all hung around the shop afterwards not sure what to do. We really didn't want it to end. Still, we had to get off our bikes and head home. It was starting to get dark. Next week at that time it will be even darker.

Thanks Strad. You don't know how much of a help you were there towards the end. I owe you one - not sure how I could pay you back, but I do owe you one.