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.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bicycle Polo

Riding my road bike through Cleveland Park last Sunday, I cam upon these fellows out in the grassy area playing bicycle polo. It looked like fun. Just below you can see the video that I took of them with my helmet cam.

Now, if you want to see REAL bicycle polo, check out this video of bicycle polo in Ireland. I thought cyclo cross was weird! This takes the cake.

Ah, the amazing things you can do on a bicycle.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Bicycling in DC

This video is a report about cycling as a means of commuting in the nation's capitol. Funny, but in a lot of ways, it could be the report of this subject from most any city in America. I did like the balance in this report.

The fact is, there will always be tension between auto and cycling commuters. The key is learning to manage those tensions. Some give and take on both sides would probably do more than any amount of bike lanes. Problem is, it is a lot easier to slap down some asphalt than to get people to change their behaviors.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Bike Doctor

Here is a video with some short clips of the ride I took on Hilton Head Island.

It was lots of fun. A big thank you to the guys at The Bike Doctor.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

More Mitchell Motion

Here are some more videos from the Assault On Mt. Mitchell. They are actually more like slide shows, but they are significant because they are interviews with the top finishers of the ride. I can remember being around these riders in the beginning and middle of the ride... but not the ending!

I finished into Marion before her, but she still beat me to the top by 45 minutes.

This interview helps show the way the AOMM is a race and still a ride. There are all kinds of neat stories to be told and heard about the event. The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is seeking to collect them and is even offering a prize of $300 to the winning entry. Learn more about it at

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

So, that explains it...

In the recent Dauphiné Libéré, George Hincapie had what I considered a disappointing finish in the individual time trial. It was called "solid" by the cycling observers, but something didn't seem right to me.

Then the other day I stopped by George's site at and found this video.

Seeing this video was the first I realized that George had fallen. That would explain why he got passed by Leiphiemer there towards the end. Ah, cycling coverage...


Thursday, June 12, 2008

33rd Assault On Mt. Mitchell, Part Two

Here is the second part of my video diary of my first Assault On Mount Mitchell. This is definitely the one that gives a better idea of the magnitude of the event. Even so the video doesn't truly capture the full scope of it.

One thing I have noticed recording video with my helmet cam: it is hard to show the perspective of a grade. When you are recording straight ahead -- even on a 8% grade -- the road looks flat. Believe me... there were plenty of grades!

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

33rd Assault On Mt. Mitchell, Part One

Here is part one of my video from my first ever Assault On Mount Mitchell. Whew! It was one of the hardest things I have done in my life. Of course, it doesn't seem that way in this first part. This was actually not bad at all.

Just wait for part two! I should be posting it tomorrow.

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Garmin Field Test or Getting Lost

Yesterday I went out to test my Garmin 705. Having never used the "Find Places" feature on a bike, I wanted to give it a try. I had mixed results.

On the video you will see some footage of the Garmin pointing me to a "convenience store." You'll hear me comment that the Garmin should have a rating system as to whether you actually want to go to the place it suggests! Take a look at the location and you'll see what I mean.

I did end up being told by the device to go down a small dirt "road" that looked more like someone's driveway. It also was showing the trail to be named another road (which I never did find, by the way). However, the device recalculated and I arrived.

On the way home (the Garmin allows you to push a "Back Home" button that will take you from where you are back to your starting point) I had worse luck. This time I was sent down another small dirt road -- we're talking just wide enough for a car (or tractor) to go down.

I decided to give it a try. As I continued down the road I ended up on a dead end into a corn field! There was no road. While trying to turn around in the deep sand, my wheel got twisted and down I went. I rode the rest of the way home covered on the right side with dirt.

Once again, though, the Garmin recalculated and sent me back on a proper road. I made it back to my parents' house without further harm. A little water and I was good as new.

Overall, I enjoyed using the GPS. You obviously have to combine the use of the device with the use of your brain. The primary problems were not with the device itself, but with the maps. My guess in more urban settings, you wouldn't have as much of a problem.

Stay tuned for more Garmin 705 stuff in the future. I plan to post a link to my Assault on Mount Mitchell stats tomorrow or Tuesday. Hope the battery lasts!

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Bladenboro to Fayetteville

Vacation has kept me off the Internet. It isn't that I wouldn't have liked to have put stuff up here. The problem is that my parents didn't have access -- well, they did have access but it was an incredibly flaky dial up -- and I just didn't get on.

Now I've got them on DSL! They still can't get cable run to the house, but I'm glad I can now check my mail and keep the blogs updated. If you e-mailed me, just be patient. It could take a while to get to all of them.

To the topic at hand... here is a video of my 70-miler from Bladenboro, NC to Fayetteville, NC. It was in this area I did my first century, but not this time. The Assault on Mount Mitchell is Monday and I did not want to overdo it this week.

Can't wait to get back to those Greenville hills!

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Video from BMW Performance Center Series

Here is the video I said would be coming. Sorry there is no voice over telling you what is going on. I'm still learning about the video stuff... Enjoy.

This is some video from the Masters & Juniors race.

Here is a longer video from the Cat. 3, 2, and 1 race.

If you have any suggestions about how to do a better job with these videos or something you would like to see in the videos, please let me know.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Spinning a tale

Go team!

That is about all I can say about the race last night at the BMW Performance Center Test Track. In our 4's and 5's combined race, three Greenville Spinners finished in the top four. I'd like to think I had a small part in it. If I didn't, don't tell me. I will enjoy my fantasy.

Work got me off to a late start. By the time I got there, signed in, and got my number on I only had a couple of minutes to warm up. Then we were called to the line.

The track is like a cross between a road race and a crit. It is too long really to be a traditional criterium, but it has some corners that definitely give it the crit feel. What else to you expect at an automobile test track?

This made me a little nervous. The last time I raced in a crit, I went down. As we went into the first left turn which then turned into a right turn and then back to a left, I was on the inside. Wow, you really have to trust people in there!

I have to admit, I wasn't very trusting! Each time through for the first several laps, I lost ground as I tried not to be the cause of a crash. Thankfully, I never even came close.

Then we hit the back stretch. This is a long straight away that leads the length of the entire course and then ends in a sweeping left turn that puts you onto the front stretch. From there it is a pretty straight shot to the finish -- though it is also an incline.

The race was to ride for 35 minutes and then two laps. For the first 10 minutes I was wondering what I was doing out there. Not being able to warm up meant I was feeling pretty rotten. Honestly, I was just hanging on. Add to that the turns and I was ready to go home.

As we hit the 20 minute mark, I started feeling a little better. My legs were coming to me and I started riding to the outside of the pack going into the turns. Not only did that allow me to avoid some of the close quarters, but it also allowed me to make up quite a bit of ground.

Before I knew it, there was only two to go. I knew there would be another bunch sprint if things continued the way they were. If I was to stand any chance at all, I would need to be near the front.

Coming onto the back stretch, I passed a good part of the field by going wide out of the turn. Then I settled in until we reached the final two turns. As we were going through the turns, I heard someone telling me to "Go! Push it!" Then I found myself in the awkward position of being right on the front -- three abreast.

I had a choice to make. I could check up and force the pack to come around me making someone else take the lead, or I could lead out a Spinner's train into the final lap. In just the few seconds it took for me to think it through, I decided to pull.

My reasons were 1) while I figure I could get a top 10, I don't think I was in shape for a top three -- which was all that counted; 2) I did not relish going into that first group of turns in a pack -- if I was on the front, I could pick my own line; and 3) it would be kind of cool to play a part in a Spinner win.

So, as we came out of the final corner, I pegged it. The one time I glanced back, I saw a bluish purple kit and a Spinner's kit. At least, I knew I had one of my guys back there. Hopefully, there were more because if there was only one, we would be in trouble.

I'd like to think I stretched the field out a bit as we headed down the front stretch. I went into that first turn alone and pulled through that section. As I came off the corner onto the back stretch, I knew I had to get out of the way. I went wide right.

Several riders went by -- including Spinners -- and then I heard the sound of a crash behind me. Suddenly there were riders jumping to take advantage of the pause. I just kept going at my slower pace. Then three quarters of the way down the straight, I started feeling a little recovered.

I even picked up the speed to jump into the main pack. But as we came around the final corner, I pulled up to look ahead and see how we finished. A Spinner got second. I believe it was Brian Flinte. It was cool to see Tony get fourth.

It was fun. Next time, though, I'm going to sit up and make someone else do the work! All I would have to do is survive that one section and I think I could have made up for it on the back stretch and final turns.

There was some other racing going on. I plan to mention that later in the Cycling blog.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What goes up... gets to come down

Here is a video of the downhill on the Furman side of Altamont Road. I'm sure there are people who could make this much more interesting by letting it all hang out on the descent. I'm just not one of them!

Looks like it takes me around 4 minutes to go down the road. Right after this video I climbed back up and it took about 13 minutes.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

It's a miracle!

I survived the Miracle Hill Cycling Challenge. I rode 100 miles with a ride time of 5:57 and entire time of 6:15. It was pretty tough, but the organization of the ride was wonderful and I had some great guys to help me finish strong over those last 50 miles.

Thanks, Billy and Louis, for waiting for me at the top of Caesars Head.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Wheels for Meals Charity Ride

No, this blog is not going to be replaced by all video. However, while I'm trying to figure out how all this works, you might find a little bit more over the visual stuff here. This is a short video of the Wheels for Meals ride.

Lessons learned? It is best to mount the camera. Two reasons 1) it keeps you from dropping it and 2) some of the times when you most want to be recording, you need to have two hands on the bars!


Friday, April 25, 2008

Testing, testing, one, two, three

I got my hands on a helmet cam. This might or might now work... Right now, I'm using to get the video out. Please forgive the audio. I'm still working on that!


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Go slow to go fast

This morning I headed over early to meet with Jim Cunningham for a physiological test and bike fit. You can read about the experience over at the blog (published at 8 AM 3/14). I mention it here because it pretty much wore me out... or so I thought.

Heading over to ride over Paris Mountain with some friends, I was apprehensive. With the effort I put in this morning, I figured I would be toast. A personal best up the mountain seemed out of the question.

It was good to connect with some riding buddies I hadn't ridden with in awhile. There was Art! Regardless of how I ended up feeling physically, I knew it was going to be a good ride.

As we neared the base of the mountain we went through a neighborhood with a nice little climb. Ooooo, I could feel the muscles tighten and now I was really wondering what was going to happen. Before long we were ready to turn up the mountain.

As we were nearing the turn, I said to Art and another rider near, "All we have to do is maintain the current speed and we'll break 12 minutes" -- we were spinning along at 11 mph. Then we turned up to start.

It was good for me to start up with a group. It kept me from starting off too fast. By the time we reached the water tower, I was surprised at how I felt. It was tempting to push it a little more. However, I noticed I was riding along at about 10 mph and that seemed good for what I expected.

When I reached the easy turn above the straight, I held back and just stayed under 12 mph. I figured I might end up going fast by going slow. We rolled across the half way point and I was still feeling strong.

At this point, I started to watch my heart rate monitor. It read 178. From what I learned today in my test, I figured I needed to stay under 182 to save myself for the wall.

I kept myself breathing and kept relaxing my shoulders. Art was there with me so I tried to feed off of his presence. Up ahead was Bob who had gone off the front before we started the climb. He had basically maintained the gap since the start.

Bob helped because he gave me a goal to aim for. Then I noticed my heart rate had climbed to 184 bpm. That was the absolute highest I was going to go before the wall. I eased up to keep my speed as much as possible while staying under that threshold.

Wow, the wall was hear and I didn't bonk in that last third like I normally do! I figured I might not get a personal best, but this wasn't going to be a bad climb. Now I just needed to go a few dozen yards.

I shifted down two more rings and stood. I rocked my way up the climb. My heart rate was gliding along at 185 bpm. Then it was time to ease into the left turn that would take me up to the KOM. I pushed even harder and my heart rate shot up to 189 bpm. On the wall I was hitting a peak of 13 mph.

Nice! I rolled across the line in 12.45. Bob, who was up ahead, finished in 12.44. So, he had maintained the gap from the very beginning. At this point, I didn't care. I was just glad to have finished only 6 seconds off of my personal best -- and I really wasn't working that hard. Go slow to go fast.

The rest of the ride was fun because the pressure was off. It was literally all downhill from there. Even thought it was nice to do a good climb, it was even a better ride because of the beautiful weather and the company. I'll trade a good time for that any day.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ridin' like a fool

Tonight was the first night back to the regular Tuesday rides at Donaldson Center. I headed out for the fun after having an early dinner with my family. The area where everyone parks had a respectable number of cars... not as many as I remember from last year, but a good number for the first night back.

I jumped right in with the A group. We were going to do four laps of the circuit. The Time guys were there. I got an up close look at Andy Baker's Time machine. Funny, I'm running the same group set he is, but somehow he goes faster :-)

This was a reminder to me that while I may have the fitness to ride with the big boys (at least the slower big boys), I have a lot to learn about bike control and cycling intelligence. Hey, I guess that is one reason why I do this, but sometimes learning can be embarrassing. Still there is only one way to learn and that is to do it.

I knew I wouldn't be crossing the line first so I decided I would use the ride to gauge my fitness and, well, have some fun -- even if I did blow up doing it. If that was my goal, I succeeded! Here is how it unfolded.

The first lap was fast. At least it seemed fast to a guy who has been riding Cat. 5 races. Honest, tonight's ride was harder than any of the Spring Training Series Cat. 5 races. The lap was fast but relatively uneventful. The group stayed pretty much together.

Going into the second lap, which ended up being six seconds slower than the first one, I pushed more toward the front. I never pulled, but I did get hung out in the wind a bit, but for the most part I was dicing around in the pack. For a moment I actually got scared.

I was in the middle of a pack and we were going in excess of 30 mph and I thought to myself, "What would happen if I crashed right now?" The answer was something I didn't want to think about, so I pushed it out of my mind.

During the first lap and the beginning of the second I kind of hung out behind Rodney and John. I figured I could learn from them and also let them pull me along :-) Toward the middle of the second lap, I was riding in the top 10 or so of my group (some of the Pro 1/2 guys had already gone up the road).

At the end of lap two I was starting to wane. I pulled over to the left to let the group pass me up. When John came by, he yelled, "Pedal, Pait, pedal!" I'll be honest, I needed that kick in the seat right then. I was at a point where I normally would have just given in. I just couldn't bear the thought of going into the shop and hearing John say, "There you go again, going up front and blowing up ON THE SECOND LAP!"

I started spinning and set my goal to keep up with John. Of course, first I had to catch him. I finally did so a little while after the first right turn after the start finish line. Not sure if he was waiting to see if I was going to catch up, but I did notice him looking back a bit.

For the rest of that third lap, I was a good boy. As a matter of fact, by the end of the lap I was feeling REALLY good. Uh oh, that means more foolishness ahead.

First though, I have to publicly admit I was a numbskull. Actually, I was numbskull twice during the rest of the ride. This first instance happened when I was finishing the third lap.

I was going along at a good speed, but trying not to over do it. We were overtaking riders and just as I was overtaking a rider to my right, a guy came blowing by me very close on my left. He didn't touch me, but he was close enough to startle me and I instinctively went away from him. Of course, the caused me to bump the rider to my right. I came off him quickly and apologized. That was the Cat. 5 coming out.

Embarrassed, I quickly left him so I wouldn't have to feel worse every time I saw him. Then as we got to the point where I caught John earlier, Strad went off the front. I knew it was stupid, but I went with him. I really intended to do some pacing with him. When he moved over, I went forward.

I looked back and Strad wasn't there. There were two Hincapie-Barkley riders where I thought he would be. One was Steve Baker and I'm not sure who the other one was. Where was Strad? I slowed and moved over a bit and the riders went past. Soon we were caught by the group. I settled in.

Then as we passed Kitty Hawk, Strad went off again. I grinned to myself and went after him. No way would we make it, but I wondered how long we could hold them off. Strad never moved over and I didn't have the strength to go around him. The guy pulled me all the way past the rail road tracks.

Now I was really done for. I moved over to the yellow line. Strad was able to get back in with the main group. This was when I did my second numbskull move of the night. I don't know what I was thinking, but I saw a gap and thought I could jump back in. However, at the speed I was going, it would have been impossible. For a split second my brain said go. I moved right.

Thankfully, my brain actually started working and I realized that I couldn't make it. Of course, the guys coming up didn't know what was in my brain, so they let me know what they thought of my riding skills. I thought one of them was Rodney -- I think they were in Carolina Metro kits. I apologized afterwards, but Rodney said it wasn't him. Well, whoever you are, sorry about that!

I was dropped off the back as everyone started to ascend that final incline. I finally recovered enough to pass some of the riders who were also dropping off and I finished not to far behind the main field. Really, I felt pretty good about it. Had I not done those two fliers during the final lap, I could have finished respectably. But man, those breakaways were fun!

Maybe next time I'll ride less like a fool.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Spin your legs - clear your mind

I keep mentioning that last week was a tough one for me. This week started out pretty much the same. Finally, though around 4 PM I conquered the issue that was causing me so much pain! Then I had an hour before the office closed to get the other things I needed to do...

I didn't finish everything, but I needed to get out and clear my brain. The beautiful redhead was out with Things 1, 2, and 3 doing some shopping. I headed home and pulled out my trusty Tarmac and headed for some laps of Cleveland Park.

The idea wasn't to get a PR or even ride that hard. It was just to get out and do some sweating, work my muscles, and clear my mind. Ah the freedom of making those wheels spin. The bike did exactly what I wanted it to do... unlike the numbers I battled with last week and today!

I didn't have to think of anything I didn't want to. If I didn't want to think at all, I could just listen to the gentle sound of the rubber of my tires rolling across the black tarmac. Peace.

The several laps I did in the park were fun. One two of the laps I decided to just give an all out try between the monument and the yellow pedestrian sign by the tennis courts. I was rolling along at 33 mph in that section -- by myself.

Finally, on the last lap I got in before going home, I got in behind another rider. We rode along the lower portion at about 20 mph. By the time we turned to start up the hill, I was feeling pretty peppy.

Once we started the climb, I just took off. All the struggles of the day went to my legs and I rode them out hitting 26 mph on the climb. I maintained speeds over 20 mph until I started up Woodland Circle. From there I took it easy and just rode on home.

I enjoy racing. I like the challenge of endurance rides. However, the ride I had tonight is why I ride.


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Now that was better

I mentioned that last week wasn't a great one for me. By Friday evening I was pretty bushed. I was down physically, mentally, and emotionally. Didn't get in a ride Friday -- not on the road or on the trainer. I almost called off going to the race.

I didn't...

Photo by David Hicks

...I decided to give it a go.

If you want to read about the race, go on over to the cycling blog. This is the story behind the story. It is more wild than the race!

The day started with me over sleeping. Not by much, but I got a little bit of a late start. However, I had still budgeted in an hour to get to the race. Turns out that I needed it!

I've been having some problems with my contacts and today they were really bothering me. I thought they would clear up and wouldn't be a problem. Yet as I got down the road I found they weren't any better.

Needless to say, this made it hard to read the road signs and I missed the turn onto River Falls Road (my wife had the GPS in the car for coming up later). It was so frustrating fighting with my contacts and trying to see the signs. Turns out I had my contacts switched!

I called the beautiful redhead and she was already leaving. She turned around so she would get on the Internet and give me directions. We started working me back to the the right location but my phone kept going in and out of service. Now I was fighting contacts, cell coverage, and the clock!

I made it with about 30 minutes to spare. Thankfully, my brother-in-law was there (a neat surprise to have him there - he took some great pictures) and he helped me get my bike serviced and switch my number to the other side of my back.

I met up with my cycling buddy Barry and we even had a few minutes to warm-up. Then we headed into the start area when the call was made. Amazingly, by this time I was feeling pretty relaxed. I was so glad that I made it that it made all the frustrations of the morning go away and I didn't think as all of the last week.

It was time to ride.

Turns out I made yet another personal best finish. My first race ever was a DNF because of a crash. My second race was for 13th. The third race ended up being a 7th place finish. Today, in my fourth race, I got a 3rd place finish. Maybe the next one will be a win :-)

I also had my first challenge of my "racing career." I had several people congratulating me -- by the way, my mother-in-law and father-in-law showed up as well along with the beautiful redhead and the Things (they drove up right before the start) -- on my third place finish. Then the finishes were posted.

I wasn't on the list. So I went to find out what was up. It was kind of cool because I got to go up in the officials' wagon and see the way they do the scoring. It is basically a video camera and a recorder. They record the riders coming by and then go frame by frame to note their numbers.

Well, when I came by, it was obvious why they got the wrong guy in third place. My number was moving because I was wearing a looser fitting cold weather jersey. It caused the number to bow up. My 573 really did look like a 613.

They were very quick to make the adjustment and I got my little trophy. It took me back to my days in Little League when my team won the area championship. It really was great to have a little something nice happen for me.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Got a loooong way to go

I mentioned that I have been pretty busy. Because of that -- and the wild weather yesterday -- I have not been able to ride the bike. With the race coming up on Saturday this was a concern for me.

I rushed home after work and jumped on the bike. The idea was to do about a 20 mile ride with a good amount of pushing. I did the route the Sunshine guys were doing Thursday nights last season.

The route takes you along the base of Paris Mountain and then over Altamont Road. I was moving along with a high cadence through the first portion of this. The idea was to push pretty hard and then do a moderate effort over the mountain.

Just as I was coming up Buncombe to turn for the climb I caught a glimpse of a rider starting up. I picked up my pace to catch him. As I drew closer I noticed that it was actually three guys. The yellow kit I knew belonged to Strad. There was Rodney and another rider I did not know.

Oh boy. If I was going up with them, it certainly wasn't going to be a moderate effort! I was already huffing and puffing from catching the guys. I had to recover fast if I hoped to stay with them.

Rodney introduced me to Aaron and we started up. Now, Rodney is a Pro 1/2 rider. Strad is a Cat. 4 (though he has the points to be Cat. 3). Aaron, I'm guessing, was at least Cat. 4... perhaps Cat. 3.

It was embarrassing. I was trying to get oxygen while those guys were just humming along carrying on casual conversation. They didn't seem to be affected at all.

We passed halfway. I was with them. We got into the last two-fifths of the climb and I started to struggle. By the time we reached The Wall. I couldn't see them around the turn.

Man that last stretch seemed to take forever. I crossed the line as the other riders were waiting for me. 13 minutes and 45 seconds was my time. I'm guessing they made it in under 13.

They probably thought I was about to die. At least when I looked at them they were sweating! As we talked, I learned I had just caught them at the end of their repeats! That was their fourth time to climb the road.

Rodney left us to go home down the back side of the mountain and the other three of us had a fun ride down the other side. I didn't have any trouble keeping up with them then. :-)

I have a way to go having that type of conditioning.


Saturday, March 01, 2008

A disappointing seventh

After finishing somewhere around 13th last week, I was looking forward to getting out on the course at Fork Shoals and giving it another try. I learned somethings during that race and I wanted to put those lessons in action this Saturday.

Number One: Get to the starting line on time! This week I warmed up by going backward on the course to check out the finishing stretch. I made sure I was back in plenty of time to get to the front. I lined up right behind the Cat 5 34- riders and so I was on the front row when my group came to the line.

It was nice to get at least one of the lessons right.

We were in a neutral zone until we made the first right turn. Though I started on the front row, I didn't want to stay there. Thankfully, after the turn several riders went around me and I started working to stay in the top ten.

The new wheel set and Force components -- if nothing else -- made me feel more confident going into the ride, but the shifters were my undoing on the first lap. It happened soon after we turned onto Stockton Road.

I was staying in the top ten and then a rider slowed in front of me. As soon as I eased up behind him several riders accelerated and formed a gap. I moved to cover it. The SRAM was awesome as I shifted from the small front ring to the 50. I moved around the slower riders and bridged the gap in no time.

Then I hit my first problem. I went to shift back to the easier gears. When I shifted I jumped down to the easiest rear gear and the easiest front! Just like that I was pedaling along at 180 rpm. Needless to say, they moved away from me like I was standing still. By the time I got things corrected, I was dropped out the rear of the field!

Don't panic, just get back on -- and don't try to do it too quickly. By the time we reached Hillside Church Road I was catching the rear of the field. Now it was time to work my way back toward the front.

The good news is that I was feeling much more confident with my riding. I wouldn't say I was being aggressive, but I was owning my space. There were a couple of times it got dicey. Primarily when we started to climb. Some riders have a tendency to start weaving back and forth and in a tight group you have to time things just right to get past them.

By Dunklin Bridge Road I was back with the top ten. Things were pretty uneventful from that point until we reached the start finish line. I was running seventh as we started the second lap.

I'm sure I used some energy trying to get to that position, but for the most part I was feeling good. Had I stayed smart, who knows what might have happened. As it is, I think I made a fatal error in the second lap.

Because of getting trapped in the pack on the field sprint last week, I wanted to make sure I was in position to 1) break away should the opportunity present itself or 2) be in a position to find a lane in a field sprint. Where I think I erred was getting it in my head that I needed to do this at the start of lap two!

Several riders really picked up the pace and I moved to cover the acceleration. I stayed with these riders up through Cedar Falls Road. Right before we turned off of Dunklin Bridge Road onto Cedar Falls, the front accelerated again. I was there to cover, but so was a group of about 15 other riders.

On Cedar Falls Road things went back and forth. I could tell people were regrouping for the final sprint. It might have been a good time to go, but I was doing the same thing! Looked like it was going to be another field sprint.

As we started up Turner Road I got shuffled back a bit. This time I was on the right hand side. I saw Chris Chapman go flying by on the left and I knew things were starting! We were about 500 meters out at this point.

There was a little window of room along the "white line" (on this road there actually aren't any lines) and I decided to jump through it. I stood and by the time we got 400 meters out, I was starting to pass on the right. Then with 300 meters to go, the window closed.

Dale Earnhardt would have been proud. I didn't even let up. When the guy moved into my lane I just eased off into the grass and got around him. 200 meters to go and I was running in the top three!

"I just might win this thing -- or at least place!" I thought to myself. At this point I should have gone down in my hooks and thrown my heart rate to the wind. Well, I didn't go down to the hooks, but I did try to give it my all.

Then I started seeing riders move around me. I knew my legs weren't doing what they should. I hit a max speed of 27 mph in the sprint. My heart rate only hit 189, but my speed just dropped. I crossed the line at about 22 mph.

I saw a guy coming up behind me on my left. I knew he had a chance to take me at the line, but I just couldn't seem to get the legs to turn the crank fast enough to hold him off. Right at the line he did me in -- by about the width of your tire and wheel rim.

I was disappointed and I am still discouraged. I know I goofed by riding too hard during the early sections of the second lap. However, I don't think that would have made all the difference. It is my training that needs to step up. Unfortunately, I only have a week before the next race and there isn't much I can so in that amount of time.

Bottom line is I have got to extend the time I can give an all out effort. I know the bright side is that I improved from 13th to 7th from my first race to my second one. Hey, maybe if I improve that much next week, I'll win! :-)


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Force - (cold + wind) = 00:13:07

I mentioned yesterday that I upgraded my Tarmac Pro to the Force group set and Kyserium SL wheels. The first test "ride" was on a trainer and even there it was a joy to make my way up and down the gearing. "Snap!" and you're there. However, I wanted to know what it would be like on the open road.

I rushed out of the house after getting off work and decided to do the long way around route of Paris Mountain. Yes, any test would have to include Altamont! The bike was set. I was set. It was time to go.

When I left, the temperature was 39 degrees. The wind was gusting between 17 and 20 mph. If I had been smart, I would have worn my 32 degree gloves. Unfortunately, I dressed warmly for every part but my hands. We'll come back to that...

Heading up my neighborhood street I already was in love with the wheels. No noise - just smooth rolling. The crank was also nice and solid. I could feel the lost weight. Honest. The bike went from 18 pounds to 16 and I could feel the lack of every ounce as I turned onto East North Street.

I won't spend a lot of time on this, but let me tell you. I had headwind from the time I turned onto that street until I reached the base of the mountain off of Old Buncombe Road. It was brutal. I averaged 15.5 mph over that 10 mile stretch. On a bad day without wind, I'll do that in 17 to 18 mph.

However, it was the mountain I was aiming for. Would the new components really make a difference on the climb? The bike certainly was a joy to ride -- even into the wind -- on the rolling roads up to that point.

I pulled into the road and pressed the lap button on my Garmin. It was so nice to climb without hearing any popping sounds. The only thing it was taking me time to get used to was looking down and not seeing any cables between my drops. The horns were also shaped and positioned differently.

Shifting both up and down came naturally after a very short time. The SRAM shifters give you a much more solid feel with the breaks because they don't move. The shifting paddle can also be pulled toward you so that you can shift your hand positions on the horns and still keep a finger on the shifter. Nice.

One quick push on the shifter and the chain would move in one direction. A sustained push caused the chain to move the opposite. Before I reached the top, I wasn't event thinking about it.

Again, the drive chain was solid. I don't really have anything to write about it because it just worked. There was no chain suck. The shifts were crisp and the chain moved seamlessly from one gear to the other. Oh, and they look nice too :-)

However, when it came to climbing, it was the wheels that really made the difference. I was gliding up the mountain. The ride was solid but at the same time smooth. Obviously, I was moving less mass and the bearings made moving what mass there was a very efficient process.

I made it up the first half of the climb in 6 minutes. I could have done it even faster, but I wanted to save myself as much as possible. As soon as I passed the marker, I shifted down and tried to pull myself together for the rest of the climb.

Sure enough, halfway up the second section I started fading... as usual. However, instead of going to an easier gear and spinning up, I shifted to a smaller rear ring and stood. This actually helped me find a rhythm that brought my heart rate down.

Before I knew it, I was getting ready to turn onto the wall. Once again I stood and pushed as best I could. At several points I was going over 10 mph. I fluctuated between 6 and 11 mph. Not good though as it took me over 2 minutes right there.

Still, I was happy to look down and see I had made the climb in the wind and cold (it was now freezing temperatures at the top of the mountain). It was time to start home. Before I got off the mountain, I was wondering if I would make it!

My fingers hurt so bad! I'm not too much of a wimp, but I'll tell you. I was almost crying my fingers hurt so much. The cold wind sliced right through my gloves and before long I couldn't feel the wind. I just felt like I had ice cubes for fingers.

It took me several minutes after getting home to start feeling things again. You know how it is, as your fingers start to warm, they actually start hurting more. Next time, I'm wearing better gloves!

So, what do I think? I love it. I can't wait to try the climb again when it is warmer and I don't feel like a kite being blown in the wind.

Now, if I can just get used to not seeing those cables...


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

May the Force - SRAM that is - be with me

Yesterday was an exciting day as I switched my bike components from Shimano 105s to the Force group set. I also upgraded my wheel set to the Kyserium SL wheels. I knocked two pounds off my bike, got the precision of the Force shifting, and I'm rolling on ceramic. Boy is it smooooooooth!

The only thing I did a little differently was use a SRAM S900 crank instead of the regular Force option. This is so that if I decide to add a power meter option to my crank I'll be able to use the one I have. It doesn't have an integrated spider and was developed for use with the SRM meter.

I didn't get to take it out on the road, but I did get it in the trainer to work through the gearing and get a feel for the shift action. I can already tell it is going to be awesome! Especially when I need to get into action fast during my Hour of Power battles.

Thanks to the guys at Sunshine Cycle Shop for getting me set up! Hope to have some pictures here before too long...


Monday, February 25, 2008

Going to give it another try.

Well, I'm going to give the old racing bit another try. This time it will be the road race at Fork Shoals. A little different terrain and a longer circuit. It will be interesting to see how things go.

My bike is in the shop right now. I'm getting some little upgrades :-) The boys at Sunshine Cycle Shop will take good care of it and I'll be ready to go. Just hope I get it back in time to give it a shake down. Don't want to mess up the bicycle karma again!

Tonight I did a really good spinning session. It was only an hour with intervals, but there were some good slow burns in there. Now that I have raced, I have the feeling to transfer to the trainer. Of course, I'm nearly taking off the fan is spinning so hard!

Tomorrow night there will be more spinning I bet. I would like to get outside. By the time I get home, it is supposed to be around 60 degrees -- but very windy.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Keeping my fingers crossed...

According to my plan, I did an easy but long session of spinning last night. I intentionally kept from bringing my knee to the point where in earlier rides I would begin to feel pain.

Finally, toward the end of the session I gave a very hard effort in the mid rear rings. No pain at all. I then shifted to the hardest ring and started a slow cadence. Just a little tinge of pain, but definitely better than the last time out! I have no pain whatsoever off the bike.

The knee should be ready for Saturday. Today I'm going to completely rest it and the rest of me! The only thing I have planned for today is do some stretching.

Now, the question is will the weather cooperate for the race... I am scheduled to race at 9:20 AM. Later today through Friday it is supposed to rain. Depending on which weather service you trust, I could have some rain about that time. Looks like the temperatures will be in the low to mid 40s.

Yuck. Oh well, that is what you get when you are a Cat 5 racer -- early morning races. It appears that the later races will have increasingly better weather. Either way, I'm ready to go.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ouch! My toes!

I got my CycleOps fixed on Tuesday. I didn't get to use it though because of late evening meeting that had me ready to hit the sack. I didn't use it again today because I was able to ride my bike!

The plan to was to repeat the ill fated attempt to do a Paris Mountain over and back. When I tried that last week, I had two flats on the way up the mountain. Thankfully, I went right past that spot this time without a problem.

I was dressed for temperatures in the mid to high 40s. My arms were a little cool beneath my long sleeve jersey as I started out. I knew as soon as I warmed up that wouldn't be a problem. By the time I was climbing Piney Mountain Road, I was plenty warm.

The goal was to complete what I had hoped to do last time - go over the mountain in my big ring and then come up the other side focusing on my heart rate. The climb from the State Park side of the mountain was uneventful. A couple of times early I hit a heart rate of 185 bpm, but I was able to quickly bring that down.

Once I got over I ate a Clif Bar and then started up. The time covered when I left my house to the KOM was 34'30". I took it easy coming down the Furman side because there was still snow and some of it was melting and spreading water on the asphalt. Things were cold up there and I sure didn't want to hit a patch of ice!

I had come this far in my big ring, so I thought I would try coming up this side that way. My goal was not to push it and ride until my heart rate hit 180 bpm. At that point I would shift to an easier gear.

I started up at an easy 7 mph or so. Once I got past the water tower, I actually picked up some speed. When I reached the halfway point, I was surprised how well I felt. I knew it would start hurting soon, so I didn't get too elated!

Still, I stayed in the big ring and actually started to push it so that my heart rate would go up! I was tired of the big ring and wanted to down shift. At one point I rode for what seemed like eternity with my HR at 179 bpm. Finally, it hit 180 bpm right as I came into sight of the 15 mph sign near the wall.

From there I didn't push it too hard and ended up coming over the line in 14'14". I felt pretty good about that. Had I used proper gearing and pushed it a bit, I have no doubt that even in the cold I could have gotten at 13'30".

Speaking of cold. It was cold! When I got home it was 41 degrees. I'm sure it was at least 4 degrees less up 1000 feet higher. The worse thing of all was the ride down to State Park Road. The wind made it seem even colder.

I didn't have shoe covers and I was wearing some cool weather gloves. The only thing I could feel about my toes was a dull ache. As I attempted to get my shoes back in the pedals when the light changed, I couldn't feel if I had them properly lined up. My feet slipped off a couple of times before I got them secure.

By the time I got home I limped in with sore toes and fingers. It took a while before they felt comfortable again. Still, cold or no cold, it felt so good to actually ride my bike.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

The 70th mile strikes again

There was an omen before the Upstate Winter Bicycle League this morning. I forgot my helmet. I got out of the truck, got my bike off the rack, and realized my helmet was back at home!

To make matters worse, I knew I wouldn't be able to get in the house if I went home because the beautiful red head was taking Things 1, 2, and 3 to Thing 1's piano guild. (She did very well, by the way. I watched the video.) The door would be locked.

Thankfully, the folks at Carolina Triathlon let me use a helmet for demo rides. I got it on without anyone getting on my case for riding my bike from the truck without one.

Today's ride was to be a 95 miler. My Garmin showed that it was more like 92. There would be three attack zones and sprints. Ooooo, it was going to be a tough one.

The beginning was the same old same old -- except we started going in reverse. No, not our bikes, but the route. I had hoped that things would be pretty close to last week so I could know more what to expect.

We eased into a nice pace and I was able to achieve one of my goals I had set for the day -- take some time to talk to riders around me. I saw Craig Lewis and said hello. Then I spent a good amount of time talking with Dave from Charleston. He is one of the organizers of the Lowcountry races coming up in the Spring.

We had just finished our conversation when we neared the first attack zone. It started right after a stop at an intersection about 35 miles in. I was right up there in the top 12 or so. The whistle blew and we took off.

George and Craig were up there with Sperry, Andy Baker and some other really good riders. I didn't know much about the other riders in the group. All I really needed to know was who would be up front.

A silly grin crossed my face as we started. I decided to see what it would be like to mix it up with these guys. We were flying! It was pretty flat and we were well over 30 mph.

I was right behind a guy in a Furman kit. I just hooked on his wheel and followed -- looking at his wheel. When I looked up, I noticed a gap had formed between the Furman rider and the group of 8 before us!

I went around the slowing rider and actually started to close the gap. I then looked down at my Garmin and saw my heart rate was at 191 and would keep going if I kept this up. 196 is my max. It was time to slow down.

I took my time and allowed some riders to pass me while I got myself back together. It didn't take too long so I got back in line and was able to close up to the lead group in time to see the leaders cross the line up ahead of me. A BMW girl was right in front of me and I just had to pick it up and pass her before we reached the marker.

The good news is that within a minute of finishing the sprint my heart rate was down to the low 140's. The pace went down some and by the time we reached the next attack zone, I was feeling pretty good.

The attack zone was going to be a climb above Ware Shoals. I was actually looking forward to it because climbing steep grades seems to be one of my strengths (relatively speaking). Unfortunately, I was toward the back as the attack started and half the group -- those who didn't want to climb -- turned left to go into the town. I had to slow to get around them and the leaders were nearly 30 yards away.

I decided just to see how many I could pass on the way up. My reckoning put me passing at least 12 riders. I rode in to the store stop leading the second group.

Lots of good things happened in that first half. I was through the first 52 miles and had made it through the first two attack zones. There would be only one more at the very end. Surely I would have a better second half this time.

Things started out pretty good. Unfortunately, around mile 72 we came to an unfamiliar stretch. We had just turned from a stop sign and I got caught flat footed. I was dropped from the main group before I knew what was going on. I tried to catch back on, but this was when I started to feel the same weakness as last week.

It got so bad that I had to do a mile or so behind the broom wagon drafting back up to the main group. From that point up until the last attack zone, I was riding along just fine. There were even a number of grades where I climbed with no problem.

Going into that last attack zone, I just pulled over and let them go. I tried to stay in a secondary group so that I could come in with a respectable finish. It didn't happen.

Just as I was about to turn onto Piedmont Highway the broom wagon caught me again. I waved her on. Drafting off the broom wagon is adding insult to injury. I decided to just enjoy the day and ride in at my own pace.

Turns out I wasn't the only one. Two other riders came up behind me and we paced together for awhile. As we got closer to downtown, I started feeling better and I picked up my pace.

Up ahead I could see a rider in a yellow and black kit. I guessed it was Stradford Helms. What was he doing back here? I caught him and we rode in together. It turns out he broke a shifting cable and was stuck in his small front ring and his 14 ring in the rear. I think he basically spun himself to death for the last 30 miles!

I finished the 92 miles in 4'33" averaging 20.2 mph. We had just under 5000 feet of climbing. I burned 5800 calories and averaged 158 bpm HR.

There just seems to be something about the 70 mile mark where I hit a wall or something. It is the same thing as before. It isn't that I am in a bunch of pain or anything. I pedal and still watch the group slowly ride away. Once there is a gap, I have to work that much harder to close it up again. That puts me deeper in the hole.

It has to be that I am fooling myself on the way out. Once again the elevation chart shows a downhill ride in the first half. The second half is uphill. These long sections with speeds over 25 mph up a 2% grade are the ones that get me. I just don't know what I need to do to improve it.

Oh well, next week I'm going to go back to my Sunshine Cycle Shop ride. We climb nearly as much, but it is in a 28 mile ride. I don't think George will be there pushing the pace either!

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Seeing Red

I was a bull in a cycle shop yesterday seeing Red. When I stopped by Sunshine Cycle Shop to get a adjustment to my trainer bike, I was casing out the pedal systems to decide what to get for my wife. While looking in the case I noticed the full group of SRAM Red components in the display.

Nice. Though I have to admit I'm not as drawn to it now that I see it than I was back when you couldn't get your hands on the things. Really, is any difference worth the nearly $2000 price tag?

Now, the SRAM Force or Rival does interest me. The shifting is so clean and yes, the look is pretty nice as well. All in all I am reminded again how much ego plays into component choice. Really, you have to be at a pretty high level before such minute changes in weight, etc. begin to make a difference. I'm not at that level... in performance or bank account!

It still remains that the best changes you can make for your riding are with the human component. Yes, going from a 30 pound bike to an 18 pound one can make a huge difference. Going from a Shimano 105 group to a SRAM Red doesn't.

Sure makes you look fast, though!


Saturday, January 05, 2008


Yesterday I tried to decide if I would do the Sunshine Cycle Shop ride or the Upstate Winter Bicycle League ride. After stopping into the shop to have some adjustments made to my Draft, I got the impression that there wouldn't be a lot of riders out for the shop ride. I decided on the UWBL.

This time I wasn't rushing around at the last second to get there. I arrived in plenty of time to get signed in and see if there were any other riders I could connect with on the ride. Barry and Owen were there, but they were going to ride in the shorter distance group.

Jimmy Helms was there and I spoke with him a bit. He said he was going to ride in the fast group, but he would probably climb into the truck the Cyclone coach would be driving. There were a few Cyclone riders and alums there.

So, I was left kind of to ride alone. After some announcements I rolled off with the group. This time I determined I was going to get closer to the front. The last time I did this I spent more time braking then pedaling.

It worked out great. I was up in the top ten about ten miles out. I stayed there up to about 20 miles. Then we came to a stop sign. Just about that time, it was my turn to pull. So, after we crossed the intersection I pulled for a bit. Then I went back to about 20th.

It was nice up front. You could get on someone's wheel and pretty much not worry about having to brake or take evasive action. From the front row back to about 12th, everyone was riding two-by-two.

As we neared Ware Shoals, it was time for the first sprint. The attack zone was about five miles. This was all new to me the last time I rode this ride. I have never experienced riding in attack zones so long. This time, I was going to play it smart and just stay with the front pack and see what would happen.

I was moving along pretty well. We were over 30 mph and I found myself on the wheel of George Hincapie who was along for the ride. I was feeling good and went to give myself some more gear... there wasn't any. I had as much as I was going to get.

I looked down at George's wheel. He still had about four gears to give! Ha, it was pretty obvious he could crush anyone out there should he decide to give it a serious try.

A little later in the attack zone I found myself overlapping the wheel of the rider in front of me. He decided to move across me and I had to brake and move to avoid getting clipped. I know it didn't make the guys behind me very happy, but they would have been less happy had I gone down and taken them out!

I regrouped and just rode along checking out the action in front of me. I had no idea where the line was. I couldn't have any strategy. My idea was just to stay close to the guys in the team kits cause I figured they would be the ones going for points.

I looked up while in about 15th place and noticed a marker for the Ware Shoals city limit. That was the line. It was really too late for me to react and some riders got around me. I crossed the line in about 19th. At least I felt that had I tried to go for the thing, I could have gotten 10th. I was certainly in position and had the legs to do so.

From there it wasn't too eventful. We did our stop there at a station and then we headed out again. I had never been to Ware Shoals. There appears to be a cool park there I'd like to go back to sometime.

Coming out of Ware Shoals we started a climb. I moved my way up into about sixth place. Once again, I found climbing to be where I could move up. It wasn't like I was trying to race or anything, it was just that my comfortable cadence was taking me around some riders who would slow on climbs.

The road was rough! The whole bike was shaking as we climbed. Then it started feeling really rugged. I heard someone behind me say, "You've got a flat." I looked down and sure enough, my rear tire was down.

I think it was the extra light Michelin tubes that I was giving a try to do a review on for my cycling blog. Not sure they are going to get a very good one!

I had the rear wheel off by the time the SAG got to me. Cindy pulled over and opened the minivan door. I climbed in and started to change out my tube. It was interesting going around the turns while trying to fix the flat. I got it done though and was ready to get back at it.

You would think it would be nice to take a break and have a ride in the van while the others are pedaling away. Not so. When I got out I was stiff and my energy was way low. Of course, I was put out behind the group and had to catch up. So, Cindy let me draft off the back of the van until we caught back up.

From up front in sixth place to dead last with dead legs.

I never felt right after that. I did work my way back to the front -- which didn't help matters either. Just as I was reaching back into the front 20 or so, we had to do a U-turn because we missed a road. I was able to turn around and get up on the front.

I stayed up there for awhile. Then I pulled over to let fall back into the group. I was about 15th when we turned onto the road where there is normally an attack zone. Today it was inactive but still the pace picked up. Hincapie and his posse seemed to be wanting to sprint even when they didn't have to!

I hung on for a bit and then realized how stupid I was being. I eased off but I could tell that things were probably going to go south from here. My confidence was high and was sure the ride wouldn't kill me. At that point, finishing outside the main pack wasn't crossing my mind.

Once again we just rode along after the unofficial sprint ended. Nothing really to write about until we reached the final attack zone. Hey, can we just end this post now?

Hincapie and his group was right up front again. I was right behind them. The ride leader - who was next to George - said, "Now we blow the whistle." I said, "The whistle means 'stop', right?" "Riiight," he replied.

Off we went. I knew this was going to be a LONG attack zone. I let the group in front of me get away and just decided to hang with the mere mortals who were coming up behind me. My heart rate was around 160, but I was feeling some lactic build up in my legs.

It was weird. I was breathing just fine. My heart rate was great. My legs were not cramping or really hurting that badly. They just wouldn't push without me summoning a great effort.

With about 15 miles to go, negative thoughts started attacking my mind. "Oh, I just want to stop," the black angel said. "Don't stop idiot. It is going to be a lot harder to do it by yourself!" said the white angel. "Man, this is embarrassing!" was the primary thought.

After the flat and working my way up toward the front again, a Ryobi dude (that is what I call them) came by and said, "You're having a really good ride." That felt really good. Now I was hoping he was up there with George and didn't see me dropping off the back.

"Okay, we'll use this as a character building exercise," I told myself. "Don't quit. You can come in dead last, but don't stop trying to finish pushing strong." I really did try. It helped that the broom wagon came by and allowed those of us falling off the back to draft.

I suffered until we made the turn onto Augusta Road. Once at Church Street, we had to stop for a light. At that point I seemed to recuperate and I left the group I was with behind and rode in alone.

Hey, 85 miles with two attack zones. The more I think about it, the less bad I feel about it. I stayed at the front most of the day and I really think that if I didn't have that flat, I would have been able to finish a lot better. No way would I have kept up with that last sprint group, but I think I could have stayed near the back of the main pack.

Sorry for the long posting... but it was a long ride!


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Taking another draught from the Draft

Here are some more pictures of my SE Bikes Draft single speed. Sorry I haven't had a lot to post lately. Things are just kind of in down mode as far as cycling. I guess it is good for me right now.

I have been commuting to work every day. Some of that story ends up over at the cycling blog. So, it isn't as though I've stopped riding completely! Looks like the weather will be pretty good for Saturday, so I'm looking forward to getting out with the guys then.

Here it is. I've replaced the tubes with presta valves and added a Specialized Body Geometry saddle. That's all I've done. Someday I might want to replace the wheels with something that stays a little better in true.

The best addition is the mirror on the left bar. I put that on in honor of Art. It does help in traffic. You can see I also added a mount for my Garmin. That was just for fun.

And what wins the eye roll addition to the bike? My specially designed metal coffee container to help keep my coffee warm and safe on the way to the office.

Here is the simple single speed system. I do find myself reaching my fingers for the shifters at times. That will pass at some point I'm sure.

Lot's of fun on this thing. I haven't driven my car all week - just the Suburban once when the family went to church. I plan to keep it up. I've been out there when it is 19 degrees, so I think I've seen the worse of it. Okay, so maybe I won't ride it when it rains...

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

A singular happiness...

Yesterday was a fun day. After the ride in the morning, I went over to Sunshine to do some Christmas shopping. I needed to spend some gift certificates.

I walked out with a bike I had been looking at for a bit. Ever since first reading about single speed bikes, I've been drawn to them. The idea is to kind of return to your childhood when you didn't have gears. One sprocket in the front and another in the back.

Back to the SE Bikes Draft in a bit.

While I was there Mike let me take out his new Vespa 200L. Nice. He got it at BMW Touring Sports here in Greenville. I noticed it when I rode up after the ride that morning. As soon as I saw it I figured it was Mike's.

I got on it and it really reminded me of my vintage Vespa. The ergonomics and lines of sight were very similar. Of course, it was a WHOLE lot easier to ride. The bike was perfectly balanced and with no clutch or gearing you don't have to think about getting up to speed.

The transmission doesn't allow you to do burnouts, but it does have enough pep to get you up and going. The engine gives you plenty of power to reach speeds up to 80 mph. Now, I didn't go that fast :-), but I did reach 65 mph with power to spare.

When I got back, I couldn't get the smile off my face. It was so fun to be floating over the road. It's got me thinking of getting my old Vespa back on the road again...

After getting back to the house, I jumped on the single speed to give it a try. It was fun just getting out and running with the simplicity of Draft. The ride was smooth like a road bike. The downhill was nice and solid. The bike wasn't twitchy at all. Then when it came to climbing, things changed... I found myself thinking about the gears at that point!

Still, the simplicity brings a smile to your face. Want to climb that hill? You'll just have to pedal up. Your legs become the gears.

Another advantage is that it is a great bike to ride with my wife. She is just starting to ride and is working up to some bigger distances. When I have gone out with her on my road bike I outdistance her. With the Draft I really got a good work out keeping up with her on the hilly terrain in our neighborhood.

This will be my commuter bike. I plan to ride it to work when I can. It has a rack on the back and I may add some fenders for when the road is wet. It is going to be fun.

That will keep the smile on my face.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

It was a fun day... as long as I didn't kill myself

Last night I felt pretty tired. I toyed with the idea of not riding this morning. However, I set my alarm for 7 AM and dragged my body out of bed to make it to Sunshine by 7:45.

My original plan was to do the UWBL ride. However, it started out in Spartanburg today and I didn't feel up for that kind of pace and distance. It was a perfect set up for a fun ride with the guys.

As I pulled up through the fog into the parking lot, I wondered if there would be anyone there. Ah! There was Art standing by his car wondering the same thing. Turns out the ride included Art, Bob, Web, Tech, me - and some stranger named John. Actually, it was good to have John back on the ride with us.

We rolled out into the fog and kept an easy pace all the way through the Reid School Road sprint. Web took off at that point and crossed the sprint line first. At that point, I just wasn't in the mood to go for it.

As we started up Meece Bridge Road I figured I would give it a try. Web was leading out again and I was trying to conserve just behind him. Then John and Art came around. I got on Art's wheel while John led out. I figured John was going to take it easy, but you never know...

Sure enough, he slowed and I paced around Art and him. I waited until we went over the rise just before the finish line and then just hammered it. I was hoping that maybe my burst would catch Art flat-footed. I don't even know what happened because I didn't look back until I turned around at the end.

We were all warming up by that point. Vests, arm warmers, and gloves were coming off. There was no rain and the fog was lifting. At that point we were in the mid-fifties. It was really a great day for riding.

The group talked and spun along until we reached the base of the quarry road. Leading up to it, Web and Bob had a pretty big gap on us. I decided to just pace myself up and hopefully catch them at the top. Art went around me and I started to rethink my strategy.

Then John came around me. He kept looking back over his shoulder and I sensed that he was wanting me to hook up on his wheel. He knew he didn't have it for a sprint, so he was going to pull me back up to Art.

I jumped on his wheel and he paced me back nearly to Art's wheel. He peeled off and I latched onto Art. About this time we passed Web and Bob. Then it was just Art and me to the top.

John's pull up really helped. I was a little fresher than Art. I have also discovered some new power in using my big ring on these climbs. Once again, I never left the big ring today. I just did what it took for me to stay with him until we neared the top knowing that I could just stand on it and get a burst of speed. That is just about how it worked out.

Next up was the Sandy Flat sprint. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do on this one so I kind of hung back to see what would unfold. Again Web and Bob went ahead. John was pulling Art and me. John eased off and my momentum carried me around Art. Up ahead I could see Web and Bob going for the line. I decided to see if I could take them. They were caught napping as I had speed coming around them to take the line.

Next up, the State Park entrance. This started out with Web in the lead and John, Art, and me following. John dropped back and Art and I tucked in behind Web. Right as we reached the bottom of the dam, Web slowed and Art and I had to spread wide because of the momentum.

Just as I started to gather myself for the next move, John came flying around my left. "I bet he's going to go for the sprint after talking about being so out of shape," I thought. So, I stood to follow. However, after just a few yards he slowed and I was able to leisurely take it up to the top with Art following.

Oak Leaf was an epic battle. This is Art's playground. We started up the climb and I noticed Art had a much higher cadence than I did. I was still hanging in there with my big ring. I tested to see if I could make up distance and I could, but the question was would it blow me up.

I slowly worked my way even with Art. Then with about 20 feet or so to go, we both really started hammering. We were neck and neck up to the top and I thought that the higher cadence was going to win out, but I held on and gave a final push across the line. Whew. That was tough... the guy is nails.

Here is where Art does you in. Sure, I beat him on Oak Leaf, but when we got to Nature Trail he kept right on going. Perhaps I could have given him a run for his money, but I didn't get a chance to decide. He was off and steadily hammered away. I did manage to finish that climb in second -- a distant second.

That is when it started to get humorous. As we were heading back to the shop, we stopped at an intersection. The guy in the truck coming motioned us to go. I started to move not knowing that the other guys in the group motioned the driver to go. I realized this at the last second and tried to stop. You guessed it. I couldn't get my shoe released and down I went.

No more that fifty yards ahead we came to Rutherford Road. Just across that busy street is a train track. We waited at the light for it to change. Nearly as soon as it turned green it turned yellow. We were rushing to get across at that point and I was wondering why the light was so fast.

Turns out it was because a train was coming. As soon as we got across Rutherford, the bars started coming down. A couple of guys got across the track before the bars dropped. Another one went around the bars (bad boy!). I tried to stop on the downhill leading to the tracks. My rear wheel hit the paint and I was fishtailing pretty wildly. Finally, I got stopped before reaching the bar.

I gave the gift of laughter to the guys today.

But wait, that's not all! When I reached home I was trying to ride past my Suburban that was parked next to the house in the narrow driveway. As I tried to avoid the mirror on the side, my wheel slipped off the driveway and I went down hard. So hard that the back of my head hit the concrete.

That is a good reason to wear your helmet even when you think you are safe. My head was hurting a bit and my neck is sore, but the helmet did its job. Thankfully, the helmet was not cracked. It hit on the little knobs that stick out the back and they gave well enough that there was no damage.

I think it was just my day to fall and it finally happened.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

It's good to be home!

We got back to Greenville and today I had a chance to get out on my bike. I had been riding down in the swampy areas of North Carolina for the last several days. It was flat, flat, and more flat. A grin came to my face as I started up a hill near my house.

It was good to be home.

I didn't even know where I was going to go. I just wanted to ride. So, I pointed the bike through some neighborhood streets until I came to Cleveland Park. No full lap there as I turned up McDaniel to ride up to Augusta. I hadn't made up my mind, but I could feel the pull of Paris Mountain.

Augusta led me to Main Street and Main Street brought me to Broad. A simple left decided it for me as I made the decision to go over the mountain. As I rode along, I had to decide on something else. Was I going to try my "11 mph average" attempt this time?

I wasn't so sure. I had not eaten much at all. Just a couple of eggs and a cinnamon roll for breakfast and then some snack foods and a Power Bar for lunch. The HammerGel I stuck in my jersey was all I had other than water.

Nearing Altamont, I was feeling pretty good. My Garmin showed I had ridden about 18 miles to get to this point. My heart rate was in the high 140s. Hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained... so I pressed the lap button at the bottom of the road and tried to average 11 mph up.

Right away I noticed it was going to be a problem. Constantly looking down to see my speed was causing me to lose my rhythm. I would fluctuate between 9 mph and 12 mph over short distances. Finally, I just decided to check less frequently and try to go by feel.

My guess is that I was doing pretty good up until the last third of the climb. At that point I lost my momentum. Before that point if I felt myself slowing, I could turn it up a bit and get back going. However, just before the "Go Mansell" (I think that is what it says) I hit a wall. I had to completely regroup and try to recover some for the final climb.

By the time reached the speed sign before The Wall, I was at least rolling again with a constant cadence. Then when I turned the curve onto the final straight-a-way, I shifted to gears harder and stood up. Regardless how I felt, I was going to ride them up to the top.

I averaged about 8 mph up the wall and put on a burst right before the KOM line. Looking down I saw 13' 01" on my computer. Alright! It definitely worked better to go "slow and steady." The last time I tried to go all out up front and then survive, I finished in 13' 25".

Really, that last third is what killed me. It isn't that it is a hard section. It is just that I find I'm needed to recover about that time. I did notice that my heart rate stayed below 185 bpm for the entire climb. I seem to be able to motor right along at 180 bpm. Once I start consistently hitting 182+ I find I need to recover a bit.

Lots of room for improvement... That's what makes it a challenge!


Saturday, December 22, 2007

I am toast!

I've been here in the swamps of North Carolina for the last several days. Until today I had only been out for rides of about 10 to 15 miles. There has been a lot of family going on and with the shorter days I haven't gotten as many miles as I thought I would.

Well, today I went for a ride with the beautiful red head. She is doing very well. She looks like she's been doing it for years. She just hasn't gotten any base miles at all. I think I might just win her over!

After warming up with her, I headed out on my own. My goal was to go out to Highway 410 and just ride straight ahead for 20 miles and then turn around and ride 20 miles back. Once I reached Bladenboro I saw a sign that let me know the town of Chadburn would come along right about the time I reached my goal. So, I set my sights on Chadburn.

Man, I was flying! It wasn't because I was going down hill either. It doesn't get much flatter than around here. If you stop pedaling, you stop rolling. But here I was easily hitting 25 mph and holding it there. I intentionally made myself slow down because I was afraid I would wear myself out.

I made it to Chadburn averaging over 22 mph. At a couple of points in the ride, I was pedaling at 21 mph with one leg and then the other. Wow, I would be knocking these 40 miles out in no time!

My euphoria ceased when I reached Chadburn and turned around. As soon as I did, I realized why I was making such good time. I turned into a pretty strong headwind -- which of course was my tailwind on the way out. What a sinking feeling! I knew I had just as far to go back and it would be 100% into the wind.

I was lucky on the way back to get up to 19 mph. As I went between coves of trees I would get a little relief and get speeds up to 20 mph. Then I would be out in the middle of cotton fields and the wind would nearly stand me up at times. It was time to suffer.

I kept at it getting the occasional motivation from the dogs that came out to chase me. Of course, that just used up energy I needed to fight the wind. I felt like I was in some Roman myth with the wind god laughing at me. As I would speed up to fight against the wind, he would just blow all the harder.

Amazingly I was able to hold my 20 mph average speed for the trip until mile 38. That was right as I entered Bladenboro on the return. Four more miles to go... My average dropped like a rock at that point and I ended up with a 19.6 mph average. It felt so good to get off the bike. My Garmin told me I had burned 2,800 calories. I said, "Yeah, right!" I felt like I had burned away two days of my life!

I'm reminded again why I love riding in the Upstate. Sure, those climbs are hard, but there is time to recover. Around here it is just dig in and hold it. I imagine the climbing makes for stronger legs, but the constant pedaling has got to do something good for you... I think.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The beautiful red head has a bike

It is hard to keep focused on posting to my blog. There are a lot of things going on with Christmas and vacation. I've got parties to attend, shopping to accomplish, and packing for traveling. I'm squeezing in some short rides and some time on the trainer, but there really isn't that much to write about cycling wise.

One cool thing is that got a bike for my wife. She was a real sport about it. I went yesterday to Sunshine Cycle Shop to pick it up. The kids knew I was going to do it, so when I got back they came running out calling for their mom to come see "her present."

I know she isn't real excited about riding the thing on the road. She is very fearful of the cars. I knew this and while I hope she overcomes the fear and will give it a try, I didn't get her the bike primarily for that.

She was the only one in our family without a bike and when we go riding in the park we either have to borrow a bike or she doesn't ride. This takes care of that. We'll start off riding together as a family on some of the country roads where I grew up.

I think she is going to give the road a try - as long as I start her out on sections that don't have a lot of traffic. Believe me, I'll do everything I can to make it as enjoyable as possible.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Slowing down - just a little

Wednesday several of the normal Saturday morning riders went out to take on the Hour of Power ride. We killed it - finishing nearly 20 minutes faster than normal. Today those riders - and about eight others - went out to do it again. Today was slower - but not by much.

Again we started off with Art pushing the pace early. The temperatures were cooler than Wednesday. MotionBased tells me we rolled out at 46 degrees. It sure felt colder than that. We came back with the temperature only rising to 48 degrees. The main problem though was the wind. We averaged 13 mph wind speed with some winds reaching 16 mph. Why is it it always seems that the wind is a headwind?

The group strung out a little bit while Art sat off the front by himself for much of the early warm up. Then it was time to prepare for the first sprint. Louis and Bob went ahead. I argued with myself about going after them. They had a pretty good jump on me as they started up Tanner Road. When I saw them slowing slightly, I decided to see if I could take it.

I did, but it wasn't too smart. I pushed my heart rate up to 188 bpm. It was way early to be pulling those kinds of stunts! My legs didn't appreciate it and I spent a good amount of the ride from that point trying to get back in shape. My HR climbed to 186 bpm as I was coming up Meece Bridge Road to Darby Road and I wasn't even contesting the sprint!

That section started out with pretty much the same line up as Wednesday. Tony led. Billy took over and I moved up from there. Only difference was Art and Bob had taken off ahead of us. Then Owen came around us on the left and went after them. Mike, Tony, and I just watched it unfold as Art broke away toward the end to take the prize.

From there I was hurting. I knew the next big deal was the quarry road. I didn't know what shape I would be in by that point. However, as we neared the climb, I was feeling much better. Perhaps I could do something here...

Art and Mike started up together. I was right behind Mike. Then I heard Art say, "Ok, Louis, where are you?" Louis typically goes off at the beginning and bonks at the top. I heard Louis' laugh come from behind us, "What? What are you talking about?"

We continued on to the mid-point and Louis came between us. He was making his move a little later this time. I just decided to bide my time on Mike's wheel and see if Louis would bonk. Art countered though which made Mike pick up his pace. I followed.

Was that Art and Louis slowing up ahead? I thought so and picked up my pace a bit. However, it wasn't so. I backed off again to watch Louis take Art on the sprint. The good news for me was I got my heart rate back under control. I had barely topped 185 bpm on the climb.

I got in the pace line and started trying to find a rhythm with my breathing. I figured I needed to get some oxygen in there. I had my heart down to the 140s as we started the sprint on Sandy Flat. I got on Billy's wheel and followed him down to the base of the road. When he moved over just before the climb, I figured he was either wanting me to lead out and then get me or he just didn't feel he had the legs.

At that point, I put my eyes on the top of the hill and cranked it. I didn't look back until I reached the top. There was no one on my wheel. I had taken my second Sandy Flat sprint! Best of all, though I was winded, I didn't feel as burned out as earlier even after quite a bit of exertion.

The group kind of mellowed at this point and there wasn't a lot of action until we neared the State Park sprint. I had recovered significantly since before the push started. As we sat in the pace line setting up for the rush I told Billy that if he would get on my wheel, I would lead him out for the sprint. I remembered how I had jumped him on Wednesday when I should have let him go. I figured I would make amends.

It was kind of fun knowing I could just give it all I had and pull off to let the other guys duke it out. I just hoped I could led him to the right point. Louis and Bob were ahead of us as we started down the hill to where it would kick up again and the sprint would start in earnest.

Just before we reached the base, I pulled out of line and pushed to reach even with the Louis. After we bottomed out and started up the hill I broke off to the left wide to let Billy take it. I had hoped to take him further, but I was wasted and knew I would only slow him down. I shouldn't have worried, Bob hung on his wheel for just a few seconds and then Billy did what Billy does and took the sprint.

We were all groaning as we neared Oak Leaf, but Art made us do it anyway. For me it was just survival. However, I have to say that though it is still hard, I don't dread it nearly as much as I used to. I've started surprising myself on that climb.

Then it was time for Nature Trail. I knew I had to win this one because I wasn't able to claim Wednesday's. Mike and I went in with a head of steam. When Mike down shifted, I stayed in my big ring. That seemed to be what helped me Wednesday. Maybe it would work again.

I stood and just kept my rhythm. Swoosh... Swoosh... Mike was sitting beside me and was spinning at a higher cadence. Swish.. Swish.. Swish.. As we started up the final climb Mike's breathing started to speed up. I stayed right beside him.

Then he made a move. I countered by pushing down in my big ring. I didn't even need to shift to get the speed, I just increased my cadence. I heard his chain slip and then I heard "Awwww!!" I knew I had him at that point so I just pushed it on up to the top. We had averaged over 10 mph on the climb hitting up near 15 mph on the final push.

Then it was on back to the shop. Several of us guys stayed for over an hour talking around the coffee pot. That was nearly as fun as the ride... but not quite.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

What a ride!

Yesterday, Art, Billy, Tony, and myself met for a ride. We had hoped to have at least six of us, but several people had things come up and were unable to participate. Still, I knew it would be a good ride because all four of us could maintain a good pace.

We finally decided to do the Hour of Power ride. It was the best option that would 1) keep us from having to go over the mountain, and 2) would assure us that we would get back within the time limit most of us had. Once we had that decided, we mounted up and headed out.

Right off the bat I knew it was going to be a different ride. As we were going down the warehouse road that runs parallel to Rutherford, Art picked up the pace. Where on a normal HoP ride we would average 16 to 18 mph through this section, he was pulling us through over 20 mph.

That set the stage for the rest of the day. There were no bursts that come from sprints, but there was a sustained high cadence that had us blazing through the route. Coming up the toward Darby Road on Meece Bridge Road this was evident. We got in a pace line that started out with Tony pulling us up the first section from the bridge nearly to the normal sprint lanch point. Billy took over from there and pulled us up the incline to the attack zone. He was pulling us at around 18 mph. Then I moved up and once we got within the attack zone we were cruising along at 20+ mph speeds.

This was the story for most of the day. We began to notice that we were averaging 18 mph for the ride. I think it got in Art's and my heads that it would be cool to come home with that average. That would be pretty much impossible because we still had Oakleaf and Nature Trail to cover.

I was feeling good. On the quarry road I set my mind to try to maintain a 15 mph average to the top. I just settled in and looked at the highest point I could see. I didn't think about anything but reaching that point. I made it with gas still left in the tank.

Up to this point I had been riding in my big ring the entire time. I hoped to finish the day in the big ring. Why? I don't know. It was just a challenge I wanted to go for. I was kind of shaking in my boots about Oakleaf!

Turns out Oakleaf wasn't that big of a problem. I was surprised with how easily I made it up - not that it was easier than normal, but then again I don't normally climb it in the big ring.

Nature Trail was next. I thought for sure I would have to shift down on the climb. I tried to find a nice and easy cadence that would take me all the way to the top. It was like rowing a boat. Stroke, stroke, stroke... Ah, there was the top. I glanced back and saw Art coming up to pass me. I knew he was going to want to beat me. I stood and increased my speed to around 15 mph in the last 30 feet. For once I legitimately got Art on Nature Trail! Problem is, it was a "non-sprint" ride, so I guess it really doesn't count :-)

We came on in from there. We had averaged 18 mph up until we reached the Paris Mountain State Park entrance. By the time we finished the two big climbs of the day, that average had dropped to around 17.2 mph. Still, that was about twenty minutes faster than we typically ride on the Hour of Power.

What fun! I don't think it would be too smart to go that hard everytime out during thhe off season, but it sure was fun for that time. Now we'll start behaving ourselves.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

A failed attempt at a PR

Yesterday afternoon I had about two and a half hours to get in a ride. I last rode on December 1st. Of course, I logged a good number of miles on the trainer, but nothing on the road for eight days.

However, I was feeling pretty good so I decided I would try to go for a personal record up Paris Mountain. According to my Garmin the climb is 2.2 miles. If I were to average 11 mph up the climb, I would beat 12 minutes. That was my goal.

I left from home and went straight down East North Street to Pete Hollis. I then turned onto Old Buncombe Road and followed the normal route out of town. It is hard to hold back when you are feeling good. I knew I needed to save myself for the climb, but it felt so good to be back on the bike!

At the base of the mountain I went in pretty hot. My plan was to build a cushion on my average speed and maybe I could hold my own when the going got rough toward the top. The Garmin was reading 18 mph when I hit the attack line.

During the climb up to the water tower, I was in the big ring and averaging 15 mph. The only problem was that I was kinda' busted. Still, I shifted down and kept pushing. The time on my Garmin showed 5' 53" when I reached the halfway point.

At that point I knew I wouldn't make it. Still, I kept plugging away to see what time I would get. My Garmin screen was set to show me the average speed for the lap with large numbers. The number steadily dropped. By the time I reached the wall it was hovering right around 10 mph.

The last mark before the wall is a speed sign. My time at that point was 11' 53". At that moment I knew the final time was going to be over 13'. It was just a matter of how much.

I eased into the climb and when I reached the first driveway, I shifted about two rings harder and stood up. This is when you find out what you are made of! I felt like stopping about halfway up this portion, but just kept pushing it.

Ah, past the last driveway... follow the curve to the left... here comes the last short climb... where is that "You made it!" line painted on the road? Whew, there it is... push, push, push.

13' 25" was the final time. I wasn't too happy until I started thinking about it. First, it is the off season. I'm not nearly in the shape I was in back when I went under 12' 30". Of course, I also had not ridden in a week. All that together and I shouldn't feel to badly.

What a day to ride. When I started out is was 71 degrees and the temperature only dropped to 68 degrees before I got home. It seemed weird to be out in a short sleeve jersey and short riding shorts in the middle of December. Weird... but nice!

My next attempt at a PR on Paris will be different. I plan to start off easy and average 11 mph even when I feel like I can do more. It will be interesting if slow and steady will win the race. I don't know if I could average 11 mph on the wall. I probably could if that was all I was doing! Still, it will be interesting to see if it would beat 13' 25".


Saturday, December 01, 2007

That was a 2/3 of a pizza ride

The morning was going great. Since I didn't do the Sunshine ride this morning I got to sleep in a little bit. Right as I was getting ready my boss called me about a news story that broke last night. That call threw me off and I started running out of time.

Thankfully, I still made it just on time. Turns out I didn't have to worry too much because there were so many announcements and people who parked their cars in the wrong place, we didn't actually roll out until 10:20.

There were probably 120 to 150 riders there when we started off. Things were kind of back and forth as we couldn't get any type of rhythm because of the traffic lights. Once we got on highway 20 things opened up.

I quickly learned you can throw the two abreast rule out the window. I was trying to hold to the rule but it meant I kept getting boxed in and because I was so far back in the field it was frustrating. I don't think I have ever used my brakes so much.

Finally, I stopped worrying about the rule and started working my way up toward the front. About ten minutes into the ride I made it up to the top 20 riders. But that changed quickly as riders would stream by on the left and you could find yourself thirty back in minute.

This continued on for most of the ride. There really isn't much to write about. 150 people going down the road at about 20 miles an hour.

I've learned a little bit about myself. I am not a sprinter. I am a climber. If I ever found myself back, I found it very easy to make my way to the front when we came to inclines. One of those climbs put me up in the top ten riders right before the first sprint of the day.

The first problem with the sprint was that I had no idea what we were sprinting for. How long was the sprint? Was it a climbing sprint, downhill, or level? I figured I was going to have to base my decisions on what was happening around me.

I eased back a little and let some riders go around me as we neared the sprint zone. The whistle blew and things shifted into a different gear. All of a sudden we were in a pace line hitting 30 mph. Then two guys in Land Rover kits came around my left. I jumped out of line to join them. I figured they would be working together and maybe I could invite myself into the group.

The Rover guys pulled back into the main line near another Land Rover guy. I pulled in with them. We were moving along at 33 mph at that point. Then I was near the front. Two Rover guys in front of me and one behind. The first guy pulled and then moved over. The second guy pulled and then moved over. It was my turn to pull.

I remembered what John James told me. He said to not increase your speed when you pull and don't pull any longer than anybody else. When the guy in front of me started to pull, I counted how long he lead the line: Ten seconds. To avoid anybody saying I didn't pull my weight I pulled for twelve.

I then moved over for the next guy to do his turn. No one came through. They left me hanging out there. I looked back and saw that the group had busted. I wasn't about to go on by myself. Besides, I had just hit 191 bpm on my heart rate. I knew I was in trouble.

The group reformed and tried to start something up but a guy with legs that looked like oak trees led a group around us and at that point I decided it was time to save some strength for the remaining 30 miles. I have no idea who won the sprint. I was dropped like a hot potato.

At first I wondered if I was going to be able to make it. The group up and left me as I was trying to get my legs back. Thankfully, a guy who had flatted earlier came by and I jumped on his wheel. Another rider joined us and the first rider pulled us back to the group.

Finally, I was starting to feel better. I began to work my way back toward the front of the group. When I was about 20 riders back, the whistle blew again and the sprint started up again. This time I decided not to go to the front.

I just stayed in the group and just rode along. Again, I had no idea where we were going. There was no way to know how to take advantage of anything without information. I was happy that I was able to move up at will. I was glad that was able to recover.

Wow, while in the group, I was hitting the same speeds we had hit earlier - actually peaking at 40 mph. However, my max HR during that period was 172 bpm. I think I learned a little bit about sprinting from this experience.

After that sprint we just took our time back to the start point. I spent 3 hours pedaling. We rode a total of 64 miles. I averaged 20.9 mph hitting a max speed of 41 mph. I averaged 157 bpm and climbed a total of 3,300 feet.

It has been a long time since I have ridden 64 miles. Over all, I was very happy. I was discouraged after that first sprint. However, perhaps most of my troubles are mental rather than physical. The second sprint gave my confidence a little boost. There is no doubt in my mind that I can keep up with those guys - I might not be able to beat them, but I can hang with them.

Afterwards, I was tired and stopped by Little Caesars to get me a pizza. Two-thirds of a pizza and one liter of SunKist soda later, I was feeling good. Overall, I would say that the ride was fun and I'll be doing it again.


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!

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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.

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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...

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

From excitement to boredom

Yesterday the beautiful red head and I drove the bimmer up the bakery ride route. I wanted to show her the route and take her to eat a sticky bun. It was a beautiful ride, but we discovered that the Wildflour Bakery is closed on Mondays AND Tuesdays.

We followed 176 to Hendersonville where we had lunch. Then we went back down 176 through Saluda on to Tryon. I had not been to this section between the two small towns. It was an incredible weaving downgrade. Next time I ride up there I'm not going to retrace my route back to Tigerville. I'm going to go on to Tryon. It will be a blast.

We got back with plenty of light left. I decided to get in some miles. My mind was still thinking about our trip and how much fun it would be to ride that route on my bike. However, for some reason when I started riding, I had no desire. It wasn't really that cool so I wasn't uncomfortable. I just couldn't get in a rhythm and the route seemed monotonous. I just wasn't into it.

Maybe I am mentally hitting the end of the season. Sure hope I'm more into it tomorrow evening. That will be the last Thursday night ride until next year.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Bakery Ride

There are several places where you can start a favorite ride for Upstate cyclists. The Bakery Ride can start from Furman University, North Greenville University, or downtown Greenville. For this ride, we started at NGU.

We arrived shortly after 8 AM. I noticed riders parking at NGU and near the Post Office. We parked our car with those by the old store. We unloaded and prepped our bikes for the ride. It would be a 35 mile ride there and back.

The weather was great. I was concerned because I wasn't sure how to dress for the ride. I recalled my first ride to the bakery last fall. The weather was pretty cold and I was very uncomfortable. To prepare, I decided to wear a number of layers so that I could adjust as we went.

Turns out we were pretty comfortable since it was about 56 degrees when we started our ride. By the time we reached Saluda the temperature had dropped into the lower 50s and the wind was blowing. However, when we finished the ride back down in Tigerville, the temperature had risen to the mid-sixties.

A group of about 12 riders left just before us. We started out alone. Traffic was basically non-existent and we settled in to a nice easy pace talking as we rode.

By the time we reached the water shed the sun was starting to filter through the trees. At one point I looked to the right and saw the sun coming over a ridge to my right while the nearly full moon, still clearly visible in the sky, was large above the ridge to my left.

Scenes like these continued as we passed the North Saluda Reservoir. Several times we passed through canopies of trees with the sun filtering through the fall leaves. The wind would blow through the limbs above us causing the yellow, red, and gold leaves to fall in front of our path.

That was my favorite part of the ride. Sure the sticky buns were great. The ride down was fun. It took us 70 minutes to climb, but only 50 minutes to make it back. I'm ready to go again just to see the sun glinting off the rippling water of the reservoir.I'm glad for today we started from Tigerville. I'm afraid had we started from Furman, I would have been a little more tired and might have missed much of the beauty around me. Next time, I'll start from Furman just for the experience.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Change of scenery

Looks like I'm going to be doing a different ride this Saturday. I had plans to participate in the Hour of Power, but then I got invited by some friends to head up with them to Saluda on the Bakery Ride. I haven't gone in a while and this is a fall time tradition, so I'm going to make the switch.

I had it in my mind to do the Hour of Power so I could stop all this smack talking coming from Mike and Art. I guess I'll have to wait a week. Hopefully, we'll have some time to talk about it next Thursday night - I think we are still planning on giving it one more go before the time changes.

The Bakery Ride is going to be fun as well. I'm riding with some guys I haven't ridden with in a while. I realized I haven't done that ride this year! I definitely need to get it done so I can add it to my cycling blog.

We'll be leaving from Furman. I've never started from there. The ride there and back will be over 60 miles. The weather is supposed to be sunny with highs in the 70s. Ahhhh, it is going to be great!


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Getting back to normal

After racing last Saturday and basically taking the week off due to my finger issues, I got back on the bike for a normal ride this morning. It was good to get back to the Hour of Power. I had been looking forward to it because it would be the first time on my new Tarmac.

A shout out to Art who had to go to Hendersonville to be with his father. It seemed odd not having the "race boss" there. I hope your father is doing better, Art. Hope to ride with you again soon.

Thankfully, it wasn't too cold. We started out in the 50's. By the time we finished the ride it was absolutely perfect. The arm and leg warmers came in handy there at the start, but you could get by without them.

I was feeling kind of rough starting out. The cool air was making my fingers ache. The group was also somewhat depleted. There was only one guy who had hoped to run in a B group. Kirt kept apologizing, but really he was doing fine. He had only been on his bike twice after taking 15 years off!

Billy wasn't there when we rolled off either. He is always pushing me - though I'm not sure he knows it. I love having someone better than me to push me along and for right now, he's the one. Thankfully, before we got very far we came up on him. He had started out slowly waiting for us to come along.

I'll skip ahead to the Meece Bridge Road sprint. That was the first point where I was involved in any action. Well before we got into the sprint area, John started building a gap on us. My first thought was, "Boy, John is feeling pretty racy today." Then I thought about it, "Hold it, that is exactly what he keeps telling me not to do." I figured something was up.

Plus, I knew John wasn't in racing form at this point. It crossed my mind that he might be testing me to see if I would go out and try to chase him down. I didn't want to fail, so I just hooked on Billy's wheel and decided to let him pull me up to John. I guessed John would have to let up and then there would be the three of us at the sprint. I wanted to be the freshest one.

Sure enough, we caught him. Billy and I were leading out. I waited. Normally at this point I just go for it. I wanted to wait for Billy to make the move and match it right up to the line and hopefully come out of his slipstream to take the line at the last moment.

However, John made a move around our left. Seems he had recovered and was making a move. I jumped from Billy to grab John's wheel as he went by. I expected John to just drop me, but when he didn't seem to get a burst, I decided to see what I could do. I went around him and he ended up just letting me have it.

The next sprint point of interest was the quarry road sprint. On this one Chris and Webb broke away before coming to the hill. Mike and I went up after them riding pretty much side by side. Mike commented how much he missed Art at this point. We could have used his pacing.

Webb fell back but Chris kept right on trucking. Here I lost my patience and kept wanting to see the gap close. I wanted to get on his wheel before reaching the flat spot before the last incline. I managed that, but I gave a good bit to do it. I sat on his wheel trying to recover.

Suddenly I heard a gear shift behind me and I knew someone was coming. So, I shifted myself and came out of the seat. Unfortunately, there just wasn't anything there. Still, I tried to push it to the line. Billy came by on my left and beat me by about five feet.

At the top he told me what I already knew - but he was right. I had basically pulled the group up to Chris and just didn't go fast enough to make my move work. First, I should have known that we would over take Chris. He is getting better, but he couldn't have sprinted with us at the end. Had I been patient, we would have overtaken him and then we could have battled it out to the line with all of us a little more rested. I might not have won, but I might have.

The third sprint of interest to me was probably the most fun I had for the day. I was concerned I would be too tired after the quarry sprint to contest the Paris Mountain State Park sprint. However, as Mike and I rode near the front just taking it easy and talking, John and Billy came through. I figured I had better hop on if I was going to give it a try.

We passed Chris and that left Webb, Billy, John, and myself. I noticed John kept glancing back at me and I guessed he was wanting me to form up on his wheel. John was going to give me a lead out.

This allowed me just to sit there and let him pull me through the wind. Webb was overtaken just before we reached the lowest portion of the distance before the final climb up to the park entrance. Just as John pulled up to the left of Billy's rear wheel, I slingshot around his left.

I had a great run because of John's pull. In no time and with little effort, I was able to pull even to them. For just a second it was the three of us side by side. Then my momentum pushed me past them. I knew at that point, Billy was going to react. However, that is when John's tactics worked to my advantage.

In the past, Billy always killed me on this section because I would start the sprint too soon. He would just jump on my wheel and then blow past me in the last ten yards or so. However, John took this option away by coming between Billy and myself. He was unable to cross over and jump on my wheel. I was able to form a gap.

I had a sudden fear that I had made the move too soon. The top sure looked a long way off. Still, I just couldn't bear the thought of Billy doing the quarry deal to me again. I stood and gave it all I had. Looking back at my data, I see I maintained over 20 mph all the way up to the last few feet. I don't know by how much I beat the guys behind me. I really didn't care, I was just glad I made it first!

Thanks John. I know you set me up for that one, but more than that I learned something. What I need to do is learn how to create those types of situations for myself. Seeing how that worked went a long way toward that goal.

Wow, sorry for the long post. It's just I was having fun just thinking about it again.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Then there were two

I really, really think this will be the last Thursday night ride for Art, Mike, and me. Tonight it ended up being just Art and me. Mike got some kind of sinus issue and decided not to make the run with us. So, we have gone from about 8 to 10 guys on Thursdays down to just two.

We met at 5:30 so we could get the ride in before it got dangerously dark. I hadn't been on the bike since Saturday and was still feeling a little banged up. However, I can almost make fists with my hands now and I had no trouble holding the bars. Shifting made me aware of the pain, but it was just annoying.

Just as we started out, the rain began to fall. Thankfully, it was a relatively warm evening and the misty rain actually felt good. Not more than five minutes into the ride the rain stopped. We even saw the sun peek through the clouds at one point.

We rode along talking about some books I was reading and other cycling type stuff. The we kind of separated for a little bit as we were going through some of the rolling and curvy sections of the ride.

Then we reached Paris Mountain. "Well, are we going to give it the old college try?" I asked. Art responded that it would be nice to have a good tailwind so that we could get a really great time since Mike wasn't there. It would be fun to rub it in later.

We hit the start at a good pace. We averaged about 11 mph until we reached that first straight climbing section. Once we worked through that, we were averaging just over 10 mph.

Even though - or maybe because - I hadn't ridden since Saturday, I was feeling pretty spry. I'm still in love with my Tarmac. There is a definite difference in how I feel on the bike. With Art setting the pace, I had a very good feeling about tonight!

Once we hit the halfway point, Art called out the time - 6:30. That meant we were on pace to have a 13 minute climb. Oh, that would be so nice! My best time up to this point has been 13' 16". Maybe this would be the night!

Like I said, I was feeling really good - even at this point. I knew I typically gain time on the final half of the ride, so I stood and enjoyed the feel of the Tarmac's response. I was moving!

About halfway up this section I started to realize that I had made a fatal error. When I was feeling good, I should have just sat back on Art's wheel and allowed him to pace me up. As it is, I had left him behind me during my burst, but here he came steadily moving ahead.

I grabbed a hold of his wheel and tried to recover. We made it to the last marker - a caution sign saying to stay at 15 mph for the curve ahead - in 11' 18". That was probably the fastest I had ridden to that point. Unfortunately, any gains I had made were about to be negated.

I stayed with Art until we reached "The Wall." He then stood and accelerated. I tried to match it, but just didn't have it. I blew up big time. I was pedaling like you see Frankenstein walk in the movies. One laborious clomp after another. Still, I tried to give my best.

I crossed the line in 13' 22". That is only 6 seconds off of my best time. It was frustrating because I had not used my head. Art finished the climb just one second off of his best time at 12' 48".

Had I not tried to take off back there at the halfway point, I would have approached that last climb much fresher and while Art still probably would have dropped me, I still would have had more in the tank to at least beat my best time.

The ride back from there was pretty uneventful except as we came off the mountain the rain started up again. However, this time it wasn't just a mist. The drops were stinging. I rode the descent with one eye closed and the other one squinting to keep the rain from hitting my eyeballs.

I know that next Thursday is definitely out for me. I have a prior commitment. I'll be surprised if Mike and Art do it alone, but I guess it is possible. I'm looking forward to Saturday morning. It felt so good to get back on the bike after so many days off.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Critical of my crit - part 2

My run in with the official meant I got to the line later than I wanted and I didn't get on the front row like I wanted. While waiting to start the officials went around checking the numbers.

I had made sure that my number was turned correctly and to the left of my back. However, as soon as I saw my official friend walking toward me I knew it wasn't going to be accepted. A nice guy behind me was kind enough to make the very minor adjustment.

I tried to shake it off and get back the grin I had on my face the day before. I knew I had the potential do well, but I just needed to get going and move through the unknown. Then it was time to go.

Things started off kind of fast. Since I was on the outside, there were a good number of riders that got out in front of me. For a moment, I had a fear that I was caught behind some slower riders and there was a gap forming. However, as we started onto Rhett, I caught some riders on the turn and as we crested the first hill I counted about eight riders ahead.

For the next couple of laps, I stayed between the top 5 and 10 riders. I was feeling a little winded and my legs were hurting a bit. It was tough, but I knew it would pass and I would only feel better during the mid point of the race.

On lap 4 - at least I think it was - I heard an awful sound right off my rear wheel. Someone went down and crashed into the metal barrier. This was in the Camperdown/Rhett corner. It was the most technical one. I had come close to the barrier once myself.

That lap and the next, I started feeling much better. I even broke out of the line and made a move past a couple of riders on the Main Street stretch. At this point, I knew I was going to make it. So, I didn't push it and tried to stay in contact with the front so I could cover any move that might develop.

Then it happened. I think it was lap 6, but they all seemed to run together. Up to this point, I had entered most corners with other riders. This made me adjust my lines at times or work to maintain a line so I wouldn't cause problems.

On this entry into the Camperdown/Rhett corner I was on the wheel of the guy in front. No one was on either side of me and there was a slight gap to the guy behind. I decided to try to cut in on the turn to avoid getting too close to the barrier and also to get more speed going into the climb.

I went to the edge of my tire and then went over it. My bike went down right beneath me. I slid stopping before reaching the barrier. As soon as I could get unclipped I got up and pointed my bike in the right direction and hopped back on. I did all of this and there was still parts of the field coming past. I figured if I could get back on, I might be able to use some riders from the back to work to the front.

I started down Rhett toward Augusta and saw the leaders on the other side of the intersection. I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn't want to quit. I shifted to a harder gear and started after them. As I rolled I began to assess the damage.

My bike appeared to be fine. Then I realized I really couldn't feel my left hand. Just as I reached Augusta, I looked at it. My pinkie finger was sticking out to the side at a nearly 90 degree angle. It took a second for it to register and my first thought was, "How will I be able to shift with my finger sticking out like that?" My second thought was that I had broken my finger and I probably needed medical attention.

I stopped and asked the course marshal, "Can I get a medic?" He replied, "The medic tent is on the other side of the course. "Oh," I said as I showed him my hand, "I really think I need a medic." He seemed confused and then offered to carry my bike for me. I told him not to worry about it, I would walk it over.

I had to walk across the center of the course. Right now my finger started to hurt a little bit. My thought at this point was that I wished I hadn't given my camera to my nephew to take pictures round the course because this would be one cool shot for the blog!

Finally I made it to the stage area which was right across from the medic tent. I asked the officials there if they could get me a medic. They pointed across the street and said, "The medic tent is over there." At this point the pain was starting to get worse and each time I looked at my finger I didn't feel so good.

"I really would like for you to bring me a medic over here. I think I broke my finger. I want to sit down." They looked at me with non-comprehending eyes until I held up my finger for them to see. At that point, Rich Hincapie looked over and said, "Get a medic over here now."

In no time, someone from the St. Francis tent was over checking me out. She cleaned up the blood and started poking at my hand. "I think you just dislocated it," she said. I was so relieved I felt like laughing. She pulled on the finger and it went back into place and the pain was gone immediately.

That was the end of my criterium race. A rookie mistake took me out. Today I'm paying for it. My left pinkie was dislocated and is black and blue today. All my other fingers except my right pinkie and both index fingers are jammed. The road rash on my left leg now matches the rash on my right. It has taken me nearly 45 minutes to peck this out!

I'll be back next year!


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Critical of my crit

I woke up all ready to go for today's Cat 5 35+ criterium race. I went through my normal routine. I ate my McDonald's steak and egg bagel - actually, it might have been an omen. I was supposed to get a steak and egg bagel, but they gave me bacon instead.

The kids climbed in the truck with me and we headed downtown. The beautiful red head couldn't go because of a prior commitment. We had no trouble finding a parking place at 8:30 AM. I signed in and then went to get my trainer and stuff.

After setting up I started warming up while watching the Cat 5 34- racers make their laps. One rider tried to break away right off the bat. He stayed out there longer than I thought he would, but he was doomed.

Then it was our turn.

My pump didn't work. So, with about 10 minutes to go I went over to a tent where I saw a pump. I asked a guy if I could use his pump, and he made some smart remark about me doing it myself. I guess he thought I had asked him to pump it up.

Then he told me, "Just let you know, you have to wear a helmet when you ride." I looked at him with a quizzical look on my face. Of course I was going to wear a helmet. He wouldn't let it go. He went off telling me how he had ridden for 20 years in Greenville and how he was "the Hincapie before George Hincapie came to Greenville."

I told him that I was a responsible rider and I had not ridden my bike this morning without my helmet. He wanted to argue. I said, "Hey, man, thanks for the positive thoughts just before I go race." I don't care who he is. He was acting like a jerk. He was an official who seemed to be on a power trip. Turns out he is a somebody here in Greenville, but I hope visitors from out of town didn't have him as an example of cycling in our area!

-- got to go, I'll finish this later.


Friday, October 12, 2007

I can't get the silly grin off my face

If you see me today and I have a silly grin on my face, I don't care. It is a residue of my ride last night. My new Tarmac Pro put it there.

It was the supposed last Thursday night ride. I'm going to stop calling it that because we keep figuring out ways to get another one in. At this rate, we'll ride all the way through winter! Right now, I wouldn't mind, but come January I'm sure I would have other thoughts!

There were four of us, Art, Mike, Webb, and myself. We did the typical Thursday night route. It was anything but typical to me. I had been waiting several days to finally get a chance to put my new bike through the paces.

The ride was soooo smooth. I had the guys use ceramic bearings in the bottom bracket and replaced my old Speedplay pedals with a set of Speedplay X2s. Finally, the old ticking sound that I had been hearing for months disappeared! Turns out it was the pedals - mystery solved.

I relished each rise. It was a chance to feel the difference in the weight of the bike. I felt like I was dancing as I rose from the saddle to accelerate up the inclines. The Tarmac responded immediately.

The crank moved so well with the bearings that even when I stopped exerting pressure on my pedals, they kept moving pulling my legs along with them. I'm telling you, I was giddy!

Then we came to Paris Mountain. Art pulled up beside me and said, "Now remember, you aren't supposed to push it tonight. You have a race on Saturday. Mike and I will be pushing it though." For the first time of the night I shifted to the smaller front ring. We turned up Altamont.

I decided I was going to take it easy - but not too easy. I set a goal to keep my HR below 175. Typically on a climb of Altamont, I will exceed an average of 180 and will max in the high 180s. My max heart rate is 196 bpm and there have been times I'll exceed 190 as I climb "The Wall".

Using my heart rate as my speedometer, I started the climb. Sure enough, Art and Mike took off. Webb and I started the climb together. At the first sustained incline I moved the chain to the largest big rear ring. So far so good.

I was maintaining a 9 mph speed without even trying. The Tarmac Pro is certainly a climber! I was pulling over a pound less weight up the mountain - not to mention that I have lost about two pounds myself over the last week.

We reached the top and it took me 14' 33" seconds. Art made the climb in 13' 03"! Mike also broke the 14' barrier. Man! Had I just hooked onto Art's wheel and followed him up, I could have had a new Paris Mountain personal best! Still, it was wise to take it easy. After this weekend, all limitations are off.

I wondered what things would be like coming down the mountain. Would the bike show itself to be stiff enough to make handling a downhill as fun as climbing? Well, first I should point out that my maximum speed as 49.5 mph. That was without pedaling during the point where I typically push to get my max speed.

Had I tried, no doubt I would have exceeded 50 mph. But more important than that, the bike almost moves before you have a chance to think about where you want it to go. The responsiveness is not just in the pedal strokes. Carving the downside of the mountain was awesome. It really was as though the bike was an extension of myself.

I know you probably think I am overselling it. How could a bike be so different from another one? It just is. The thing about the Tarmac Pro is that you don't think about it. You almost don't notice it is there. You just go.

And you grin!


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Today is the day

Yesterday I took the Tarmac into Sunshine Cycle Shop to have the gears checked out. It had been making a racket and I seemed to imagine some resistance in my pedal stroke. Not sure what was real and what was my imagination, but whatever the case the guys were able to get it resolved.

Today I hope to be able to ride. Yesterday was just so busy, I never got a chance to swing my let over the top tube. I did take some pictures of it when I brought it home.

Funny, but I miss my Allez. It was a good bike. It is going to take me a while to get used to looking down and not seeing red. I don't think it will take too long! :-)


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Disappointing ride

Last night was a disappointment. Earlier I mentioned how my bike was having problems. A long term issue was a good sized dent in my aluminum frame. Of more immediate concern was a racket that my chain and crank were making. Not only did it seem to annoy me with what sounds like a chain being dragged across the something, it also seemed to add resistance to my stroke.

I thought I would take care of this by moving my components from my Allez to a Tarmac Pro frame. Sunshine Cycle Shop was giving me a great deal on the frame and not only would that take care of my frame problem, it would also give me a lighter bike, and I assumed that when the components were moved over the crank problems would as well.

It is a beautiful bike (except I should have used red bar tape instead of blue) and it weighs in over a pound lighter than my Allez. It was like Christmas waiting to go pick it up! Finally it was in my hands and I planned to shake it down on a short ride.

I had not gone 100 yards before I hit an incline and the racket was there just like before. Then it started to rain. My ride just fell apart at that point. I just came home.

Things will get better. I know the bike is going to be a great ride. I've just got to figure out what is causing these issues. It is obviously not the frame because the same thing happens on two different frames. Oh, and the lever for the front dérailleur is really in a bind. I'm almost afraid I'm going to break it when I try to move to the larger ring.

I'm just going to stop worrying about it and let the shop guys find the solution.


Monday, October 08, 2007


In the past, I've always put a number up in the title when something good has happened. This time it isn't a good thing. 7:15 - as in 7:15 PM - is the time that I had to get off the road because it was getting too dark.

I was told that Tuesday evening would be the last evening at Donaldson Center. I haven't heard that anywhere else. You could probably get in three laps or so. Remember, the time change is later this fall.

Tonight was a bitter sweet night. I can't really talk about it right now as I'm keeping it under wraps. Right now it centers around 19. Tomorrow night that number will change - I hope significantly smaller.

As for the ride, there were a number of cyclists out there at Cleveland Park. I didn't try to do anything too fast. I connected with Randy again and we did two laps together. He eased off to save himself for Donaldson Center.

I was wanting to get in some miles, but by 7:15 I had to pull off after 20 miles. Tomorrow night I have to stay near the house so I can watch the kids. Ever baby sat while sitting on your bike? I do it. I do a loop that takes me by my house every two minutes. Thing One can stop me if they need me.

Tomorrow could be an interesting day!


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Where did Gordon come from?

I had a funny feeling that the Talladega race was going to be kind of a sleeper for the first half. I didn't get around to seeing the race until the drivers passed the halfway point. It almost appeared to be the same line up as the start of the race.

It was odd to see Gordon, Johnson, and Mears back toward the very back. Not having seen the first half, my initial concern was that they had gotten caught up in an accident. The more I watched at that point, the more I realized they must have made the decision to go to rear and wait for the end of the race.

I made the decision not to. It was beautiful day. So, I hoped on my bike to do a home, over Piney, over Paris and back ride. I figured I would get back in time to see some of the laps before heading over to my church for the evening service.

The ride was okay, though I started having something major happen to my bike. It was as though the front dérailleur was dragging on the chain. There was something making a racket and my crank didn't seem to be turning smoothly.

Anyway, I made it back just to find that Gordon and Johnson were still in the same place. After a shower we loaded up the family and headed to church. On the way, I tuned into the race. Gordon got penalized and had a pass through penalty. I thought he might as well hang it up. Then there was a caution immediately and Gordon got the "lucky dog". When I went into the service, he was in last place on the track.

When I came out, Gordon was the winner! I was glad I recorded it. I got home and brought up the recording. NO! I had accidentally recorded the Weather Channel! I had to settle for watching the replays on SPEED.

This means that I have a four race lead now on BBuck. Super_D beat him today! I won against A_Junior_Fan. It is going to be pretty tough for BBuck to get past me, but I'm not going to count my chickens before they hatch!

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Hour of Power - Not

Sleeping hasn't been fun for me the last several nights. My road rash is doing a little better, but I still can't completely relax. Plus, my hip is bruised and it gets very stiff. When I roll over or shift it after it has been stationary, I feel a dull pain.

Yesterday afternoon I gave blood. They say it takes a couple of days to get your body back up to speed after donating. With that and a bad night's sleep, I figured this morning's ride would be kind of tough.

I came outside to ride over to Sunshine and found that my car top was down and it had rained in the night. The beautiful red head and I put some towels in there and I started off. I knew I would be late, but sometimes the group doesn't get out until nearly 8AM.

They were gone. It was up to me to catch them. About five minutes later I did after turning up the wick and chasing. It certainly wasn't the way I wanted to start my morning! At least my hip was getting loosened up.

Once I caught the group I settled in the pack to recover. I stayed there until the beginning of the first sprint point. A new rider on the group, Doug, started an attack. At this point I was behind Art and Mike - they didn't even know I was on the ride at this point.

I heard Art and Mike say something about the rider breaking away and then I thought I heard Art ask Mike if he was feeling good this day. I took that to mean that Art was wanting to run the breakaway down. I thought it would be fun to just hang back behind them and sprint around at the last second to surprise them.

It didn't take long for Art in the front, Mike behind him, and then me in the rear to catch Doug. Then Mike slowed and I knew that if I didn't get up there with Art, he would beat me. I went around Mike and started into the last 20 yards behind Art.

Since Art rides with a mirror on his left, I stayed to his right. 15 yards to go he looked back beneath his right arm and saw me. "I didn't think you were on the ride!" He said. I stood and went for it. 10 yards to go I got around him and took the sprint.

I won't go through the rest of the ride. I did take 3 of the 4 sprints (Billy was down at the Citadel vs. Wofford game) that I tried. It was the quarry road one that I lost to Art. With about 5 yards to go, he attacked and when I stood to go there just was nothing there. I got him back though at the Paris Mountain sprint!

Bottom line was I was whooped. I hope my body recuperates before next Saturday. The race is that Saturday morning and I need to be in good form.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

No, we are not fairies!

Mike, Art, and I just can’t let go of the Thursday night ride. We wheeled out just after six and managed to squeeze out our normal ride. The cloud cover made the last few minutes even darker than it would have been.

It was a pleasant ride. The rain stopped just before I went out to load up my bike. The rain returned immediately when I turned out of the Sunshine parking lot onto Pleasantburg Drive. Perfect timing…

Yesterday I was pretty sore from my crash on Tuesday evening. They always say the second day is worse than the first. I had limped around all day, but when I got on my bike the soreness disappeared after just a few moments.

By the time I returned home I was feeling great – except for where my glove had rubbed the scab off of the wound on my palm. I could never find a comfortable place to put my hand on my bars. Then the sweat got in there and, ooooo, that stings!

Riding along the base of and over Paris Mountain was really cool. There was a bank of fog about halfway up. As we rode along the base we could look up and see the cloud up where we would soon be riding.

Once we got there we seemed to be enveloped in the fog and it shut out everything around us. Our safety lights bobbed up and down blinking on and off in the mist. Some kid might have looked up the road and thought there were woodland fairies making their way to the peak.

I didn’t have my mind set on beating my record last night. It was just a recovery ride from my crash. However, as we neared the wall, Art said to me, “We’re at 12’ 07”. If you sprint you might beat your record.” I couldn’t help it. I stepped it up and went for it.

Because I had not pushed myself too much at the start, I was feeling pretty good. I started off out of the seat about three rings down. I maintained that push until I made that final left turn toward the KOM line. I went down to the easiest gear and sat. My heart rate hit 190 at that moment. I kept up a high cadence and crossed the line.

I looked down and thought I saw 12’ 43” – “No way!” I thought. In the low light, I just couldn’t make it out. Was that a 13 or a 12? I knew I had climbed that section better than ever before, but could I have done it in around 30 seconds? My mind wasn’t clear enough to process the mathematics.

Turns out it was 13’ 43” and that’s okay. At the halfway point, we were at 7’ 04” which means I had a better second half than first. I really think that 13’ is doable for me. It will get tougher as the weather gets cooler, but perhaps by spring I’ll be ready.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

My own cheering section

You can read about my wipe out at the cycling blog. One thing I didn't mention in that entry that is kind of cute is the fact that while riding the "Batesview Criterium" I had my own cheering section.

Right near the top of the 11% grade climb, there is a home with several kids. About three laps in, they were all in their front yard waiting for me to come by. As I would pass, they would cheer me on... "Go, go, go!" They would yell and a couple of them got out their bikes to ride along with me once I reached the top.

It was actually kind of neat. Here were some kids who understand cycling! My guess is it is because their dad is also a cyclist who earlier this year rode across South Carolina in five days with one good leg and a prosthesis.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Ouch, that hurt!

I'll post about exactly what hurt tomorrow. Right now, I don't feel much like writing. However, you can see my entry on the cycling blog that I put up today.

Going it alone.

That's all folks...


Saturday, September 29, 2007

The sprint fest is back

I wore leg and arm warmers for the first time today. At 6' 2" and 170 lbs, I don't have a lot of fat. It's one of the reasons why I'll never be a triathlon athlete. I sink like a rock. Plus, I get cold pretty easily.

I sensed something was up right off the bat. The heavy hitters were all sitting off the back of the lead group. Tony was there. John was there. Billy was there. Matt was there. Check. All the sprinters were on the ride.

Of course, the last few times we have ridden, there wasn't much sprinting going on. I had a feeling that today would be different. I was right.

As we neared the first sprint point, I was still feeling pretty cold and didn't want to put my 39 year old knees into that kind of hurt, so I just laid off and didn't even try. I'd save myself for later.

Once in the Stallings Road area, we rode through my sister's neighborhood. I looked over toward their house and saw my niece out on the back porch. I decided to ride over and say hello. Of course, that meant I had to chase down the group after a quick word or two.

(The U23 road race just ended - Peter Velis takes the win.)

Wouldn't you know it -- I caught the group just as we neared the next sprint point. I wanted to try for this one, but I was so tired from chasing. Still, I moved up in the group and a rider in a Michelin kit broke away. I saw Matt and John say something to each other. Matt went after the break away and John sat up. I went around to give chase. At some point along that time I decided to give it up. There was no use. The lead riders of the group behind me went tearing by.

Then it was time for the quarry sprint. This is a gradual climb that runs by a rock quarry. A group of about eight started up the incline. Art went out in front and I got caught with Billy to my left and Tony to my right. I finally worked my way onto Tony's wheel. Art slowed. Tony and I went around him. I stood and tried to drop Tony :-)

I actually did, but I think it is because he wasn't sure where the sprint line was. Sure enough, Billy came around on my left. I tried to counter, but my legs just would not go. My mind, cardio, and lungs said, "We can do it!" My legs said, "Sit down big boy. We're not going anywhere." Billy beat me.

The next sprint was a mess. Due to traffic and just the way things shook out, the sprint never really developed. We got in trouble for trying to sprint with traffic around. Honest, I looked behind and didn't see any cars before I launched.

The last sprint that I attempted was the Paris Mountain State Park entrance. I really wanted this one. We were moving along in a pace line at over 30 mph. Then something happened and the line broke. Matt had been leading off and he sat up. I moved around to follow Tony and Owen down the descent just before the final climb to the park entrance.

My momentum carried me past Tony and then I got around Owen. I knew Billy would be coming, so I just moved to the biggest ring I could stand and put all I had in it. This time my legs didn't quit. I sensed that Billy was going to try to move around my right. I moved over to take that line away from him. He adjusted and started around my left. I tried, but with about 10 feet to go, Billy just had more than I did and dusted me.

Even so, that was my favorite part of the day. At least I was there and made Billy work for it! I would never had been able to do that even a month ago. I'm really feeling stronger and stronger. I've got to keep in mind that I am building and hopefully next year I will be one of the better 40 year olds out there.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

13' 16"

I'm starting to like putting these number titles on my blog! It means I have broken a new personal record. In the same week I set a new record for Cleveland Park, I set another one on Paris Mountain.

Tonight was to be the last Thursday night get together for the guys who ride out from Sunshine Cycle Shop. It is kind of like breaking up with that beautiful girl. You know it is dangerous, but you just can't help yourself. My guess we'll be out there next week taking a shorter route with our flashers going.

This ride started out pretty well. The regulars were there - Mike, John, Art, Matt, and myself. We were joined by Jay Mappus - he is the editor of the Greenville Spinners newsletter, the Yarn Spinner. Also on board was Jimmy Helms and his son Stradford. You might have come across Strad in the latest issue of Go Magazine. He is listed as one of the up-and-coming junior racers.

Before we headed out, Jay took a picture of us for the newsletter. I have a funny feeling I won't be in the picture. He wasn't able to get the whole group in the shot. I typically get cut out of such things. It is best for the picture!

We rolled off and really it was uneventful. Art and I got a chance to catch up on the doping news and there was the normal warm up talk going on. We were joined along the way by a father and son that ride with us sometimes. I need to get their names. The dad is one big dude - and I don't mean fat - and his son is probably 11 or 12 years old.

The weather was great and I was feeling really good. We followed our normal route to the base of Altamont Road on the Furman side and then it was time to climb. Stradford was in the lead, then John, the young guy, and then I followed.

Strad was starting to check out right off the start. The next three of us stayed together for a bit, but the little guy started to back off and John built a gap. A car was coming, so I was stuck. Once the car passed, I went around and worked to close the gap up to John.

10 mph. I kept looking down and seeing double digits on my speed. "Hey, I'm feeling good and my speed is holding up. This could be a good night!" I started trying to find a rhythm for my breathing. I bet John thought I was having some type of asthma attack!

Right at the end of the first sustained climb that I hate, John moved over to let me go by. Then it was only Stradford ahead of me. At some points, it actually looked like I might be gaining on him -- yeah, right! Still for the first third of the climb, I was able to see him around the next bend.

Then, as is often the case, I was on my own. I couldn't see anyone ahead or behind. It stayed this way through the middle section. During this section I couldn't believe it as I would look down and see speeds up to 12 mph. Unfortunately, I also was starting to feel things go away.

By the time I hit the last third, my speeds dropped. Now I was looking down and seeing 7 and 8 mph. Even worse, I looked behind me and there was Art! Doggone it! It was like a bad dream. Of course, the last time I was able to hold him off. This time I knew it as soon as I saw him, it was over.

He finally caught me and we shifted back and forth for a few yards. He got on my wheel then edged up. I tried my best to ride with him until we got to "the wall." At that point, I watched him calmly shift into a harder ring, stand up, and then so smoothly ride away.

I shifted, stood up, and not so smoothly followed. I finally stopped looking at Art and just tried to suffer my way up. I didn't quit and kept pushing the whole way. I was rewarded with my best time ever up the mountain - 13 minutes and 16 seconds. Art had made it in 10 seconds less.

Of course, young Mr. Helms was waiting for us with a time of 11' 53" - that will keep you in your place! Still, I know I'm not a racer. I really have one goal - beat my last time. I was very pleased to finish with a 10 mph average up the climb. Breaking 13' is doable.

On the way back, I really had fun. At the bottom of the mountain, John wanted to compare our seat heights and take a look at my bike. He let me ride his Specialized Tarmac back to the shop! Oh my goodness... I noticed the weight difference immediately. The next thing I noticed was just how smooth and yet responsive it was.

I attacked a couple of shallow hills and it just ate them up. After riding my Allez, it was really like not riding a bike. I was just floating above the ground. Must resist... must not... succumb...


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ready for the crit? Not Rhett

Last night I wanted to ride, but couldn't decide if I wanted to go to Donaldson Center or try riding intervals of Rhett Street. I contacted my friend David and asked if he would like to ride and which one he would go for. We decided on Rhett.

The idea was to do intervals of Rhett Street in preparation for the crit in October. I figured that the street would be where you would make it or break it in the race. If I could get used to riding it and find the best rhythm for the stretch, I would have a better chance of making my first race a success.

It didn't happen. David and I arrived and there was much more traffic on the street than I thought there would be. Plus, I had overlooked that Augusta Road cuts across Rhett Street and we would have to stop every time we got to that point. Rhythm? What rhythm?

Okay, so not all is lost. I figured that I could practice that turn off of Camperdown onto Rhett. It is a sharp left turn directly into a short climb of 20 yards or less. I tried it a couple of times, but it wasn't worth it. It is such a blind turn that I could see myself coming around the turn and end up on the grill of car!

The only way to pull this off is to go out there real early in the morning and ride before there is traffic. Even then, I don't think it would be close to replicating what will happen during the race. At least I have some idea of the topography of the course. I can find safer places to work on those elements.

We ended up going to Cleveland Park and riding and riding for an hour or so. I guess we should have gone on to Donaldson Center instead of trying Rhett. Oh well, you live and you learn.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007


They say records are made to be broken. Well, I’ve added another one to the list. Of course, my records aren’t that hard to beat!

Whenever I want to test myself, I head out to Cleveland Park and do laps with the goal of going as fast as I can for one hour. For months I was never able to break the 20 mph average for one hour. Then the day came (the day I got my new Mavic wheels), when I managed to barely pass the 20 mph barrier.

Then on a Monday night in August, I upped the goal to 20.3 mph. I remember commenting at that time, “I think I'm going to have to set a new goal. It would be something to aim for to hit 20.5. That doesn't sound like much until you go out there and try to do it!” Well, last night I did it.

Actually, I hadn’t tried again since that Monday. On Saturday I got advice on my form and had my saddle height adjusted. I figured it was time to go out and give it a try to see if the changes would make any difference.

I immediately felt a difference in the way I was seated in the saddle. While before my pedal stroke would cause me to shift ever so slightly in the saddle, this time I was firmly planted. It was much easier to relax my upper body and use my legs to drive the pedals.

Some things I was already doing well – keeping my back straight, shoulders loose, and my arms inside and angled at the elbows. The biggest change for me was the angle of my ankles. I have always pointed my toes so that I was kind of paddling the bike – as I came down I would kind of push the pedal like a canoeist strokes the water back.

I was told I should try to bring my foot parallel to the ground and use the calf and hamstring muscles to put the power in the bottom part of the stroke. I tried it and I could definitely sense I was getting more power. The only thing is I had to keep concentrating not to revert back to my old way.

The first lap was a warm up and then the second was a hot lap. I finished that lap with an average of 23 mph with a time of 6:33. The key to a high speed lap on the course is to get speed on Woodland Way and Woodland Circle. On that lap I hit 20 mph on the climb.

Of course, I can’t maintain that for an hour! Laps 2 – 4 saw my time increase from 7:18 to 7:40. At that point I was starting to burn a little. I had decided to ride looking for the pain and then concentrate on riding through it.

On laps 5 and 6 I started coming back into form. The pain was that fun kind that tells you your muscles are working. I also was trying to work on my breathing to make sure I was pulling in plenty of oxygen. No diaphragm pain tonight no matter how hard I pushed!

Then on lap 7 I got behind two guys that were moving along at a good clip. I hooked on and then the guy directly in front of me pulled off. I was left behind a fellow wearing a Carolina Triathlon - Ryobi team kit. It was a little faded, so I figured he had worn it before! I had gone around him earlier in the ride while he was doing a slow ride. Now, I had caught him again and he wasn’t going slowly.

Up Woodland Way – we were going around 15 to 16 mph. Then we hit the gentler slope at the top. Ryobi dude shifted and moved up to 20 mph. I followed. Then we both shifted to our smallest rear ring and descended up to 34 mph.

Then it was time to climb Woodland Circle. I wondered how he would approach this climb – but not for long. He took off and I tried to match him up the climb. On a section where I typically congratulate myself for hitting 19 mph, we were sprinting topping out at 28 mph!

Right as we neared the top, I could tell I was about to lose him. Thankfully, I had only dropped back about a yard by the time we turned the corner. He slowed and I cheated to pull up on his wheel before he could look back and see he had almost put me in big hurt!

He looked back and gave me a grin. I like to think he was a little surprised I was still there. We continued at a normal speed around to McDaniel Avenue. At that point, he slowed enough to allow me to pull up beside him. “I’m going straight up here,” he said pointing at the intersection of Richland and McDaniel. I replied, “Thanks for the pull.”

A little more than a lap later, I hit the hour mark. I looked down to read an average speed of 20.6 - so much for my 20.5 mph goal. I guess I’ll have to start pushing for 21 mph. I bet if I could follow that guy again, I could do it!


Saturday, September 22, 2007

I try to get fit by getting fit

This morning was my first ride with the downtown Carolina Triathlon group. I had been in the shop numerous times, but typically it was just to buy clothing. I wasn't sure what to expect. The shop is kind of bohemian and definitely "downtownish." I wasn't sure how I would fit in.

Turns out it was all good. Once you click in, I've found social status and all that stuff goes out the window. It all comes down to how you ride (Oh, ok, so I admit, having a trick bike does earn you bonus points).

Here's the route, I'll talk about my ride below.We started out kind of slow. As we headed out of town, I started off near the front. I made some conversation and then pulled up behind Ben - the shop manager. I recognized his Cervélo from the rear. Turns out, I had been following him through Cleveland Park on occasion earlier this summer. I always wondered who that guy was. Now I know.

I started wondering if we were going to continue taking our time to the base of Paris Mountain. Then things started picking up and it felt good to push it some. I did one long pull on the Old Buncombe stretch and then figured I'd better back off to get ready for the climb.

Just before turning up Altamont, I couldn't get my chain out of my big ring! I dropped from near the front to the back of the pack while trying to get it adjusted. Worse, it threw me off mentally. I was afraid I might have gearing problems later in the climb. I also didn't like being at the back, so I started off a little hot.

Up the first third of the climb I was averaging over 10 mph. On some of the "level" sections I was nearing 14 mph. I passed several of the folks that started up before me, but four or five guys were long gone.

By the time I reached the halfway point my speeds dropped to the 8 to 9 mph range. At this point I couldn't see anyone behind me and just one lone guy up ahead making his way up in a larger ring. The sight of him doing that so nonchalantly made me realize again how far I have to go. Soon he turned a bend and I was alone.

In the last third of the ride, I dropped one time to about 5 mph. My hot start was coming back to haunt me. The only way I could get myself going again was to move to a harder ring. I know that sounds weird, but I felt better there and my speed improved.

It was just as I shifted that I noticed a shadow behind me. Where did that guy come from! My acceleration dropped him for a moment, but by the time I reached the wall he was back on my rear wheel. As we made the final left turn to the KOM line he moved half a wheel in front of me.

Oh, I so didn't want him to beat me!
Then it was about a half a bike lead he had. I sensed at that point he let up. I shifted and stood on the pedals and we sprinted for top. I'll say we tied, but I did cross the official KOM line first. :-) It was great fun!

Turns out my climb was 14:20. That stinks. I had hoped I had beat the 14 minute barrier for good. That day will come though.

From there it was pretty uneventful back to shop. However, once back at the shop I decided to do something I had never done before. I asked Ben to do a bike fit for me.

Turns out there were some adjustments to be made - specifically to my saddle positioning. He also gave me some pointers on posture - which thankfully I was already doing and was aware of. My feet positioning could use some work. I also asked him about the pain I sometimes get in my back.

At times when I am giving an all out exertion - like interval training for the criterium where I am sprinting as hard as I can up a hill - I get a pain in my lower back that almost cripples me. It isn't a back muscle. It actually feels like an internal organ.

He told me this was my diaphragm. He said it was my breathing. I needed to do a better job using my diaphragm and bringing in air. I'll concentrate on that a little more and see if it will help.

The new seat positioning does help. Actually, it feels a lot how things were before I got my new Toupe seat. I'll keep it where it is for several weeks and see if I still like it then.

I missed my regular Saturday morning ride, but this was a nice change of pace. It was neat to meet some new people. Oh, did I mention the smoothies?


Friday, September 21, 2007

Back in the saddle

Monday night seems a long time ago. That was the last night I went riding on my bike. The other nights of the week I did some spinning on my indoor trainer, but it just isn't the same.

Last night was the Thursday evening Sunshine ride. It was nice to connect with the guys and do some actual riding for a change. Turns out the training might not move me forward, but it seems to help keep me from sliding back.

John and Billy started off kind of fast. It made me wonder if this could be a tough night for me. Besides, I had just put a new Specialized Toupe saddle on my bike. It replaces the stock one that came on the bike. The saddle was level and I thought I was ready to ride. Problem is the new saddle is so much thinner than my old one that I needed to move the seat post up to get proper positioning for my legs.

I rode with the saddle low all the way to the base of the Furman side of Paris Mountain. By that point, my legs were beginning to feel like they were going to explode! I stopped and told the guys to go ahead and that I would catch them on the other side.

It took longer than I hoped to get the saddle fixed and I wondered if I would be able to catch them. Stopping to fix the saddle gave me some time to recover, so at least I wasn't too tired. I pointed the bike up Altamont and gave chase.

About a third of the way up, I pass a group of cyclists on the side of the road. It appeared they had ridden to this point and were now loading their bikes up in a truck. I think I recognized at least one of them - Jonathan - I knew he was taking up cycling, but hadn't seen him out. I didn't stop to find out because I was needing to catch my group.

Finally, I rounded the final turn to face the wall. Wow, very close to me was Webb, a new rider Troy was just ahead of him, and there was Art riding with him. I almost caught the end of the group after spotting them at least a minute.

Art and Troy were too far ahead for me to catch, but Webb was close enough that I figured I could pass him. I moved up two rear rings, came out of my saddle, and pushed up the wall.

I've learned that it is the wall that gives you time. If you are willing to push it and suffer those last few yards, you can take at least 15 seconds off your total time. I was suffering this time! My legs wanted to stop and my HR hit 190, but I kept going.

About 20 feet from the KOM line, I passed Webb. Up ahead I saw John, Billy, and the rest of the crew. They were joined by two of my Facebook friends, Jimmy and Scott. I had been trying to connect with Jimmy for a couple of weeks, so it was nice to finally meet him in person.

13:53 - that was my time up. Not my best time, but at least I can now consistently stay below 14 minutes. Most importantly, I am able to recover so much better right now. Before, I would do a ride like that and just crash when I got home. Last night I felt like I could have done the ride again.

I'll be writing a bit more about my new saddle on my Greenville News blog. So far, I'm liking it.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Showing some power during the Hour of Power

Before this morning's ride, I hadn't ridden since Tuesday. The time I spent on the trainer doesn't count. Unfortunately, that was all I was able to do due to other obligations that kept me busy in the evenings.

As I headed over to Sunshine Cycle Shop for the Hour of Power ride, I wondered how I would feel today. I had been told that I needed to participate in all the sprints today in preparation for my criterium race coming up in October. I wasn't so thrilled about that!

On the first sprint it is a some do it and some don't kind of thing. Webb, who always seems to breakaway about this point, was gone followed by someone I didn't know. He looked like he knew what he was doing, so I kept an eye on him.

I probably should have let them go and saved myself for some of the tougher sprints to come, but I just couldn't help myself. I came across the line first - more because they didn't want to contest it than because I was riding well. Frankly, my legs didn't feel good about that point. "It's going to be a long day," I thought to myself.

The next sprint happens on Meece Bridge Road just before you reach Darby Bridge Road. This section is a slowly rising section and the sprint typically comes out of a pace line. I was pacing with Mike and Art. Some of the better sprinters - like Billy - were behind me. I just knew one of them was going to come flying around.

I didn't want to start too soon either. Up ahead I could see a hump and on the other side the ground seemed to level out a bit. I decided to go for it after the hump. I pulled around Mike all the time expecting to hear the whir of Billy's bike coming up behind me.

Big ring and here I go. I looked between my legs and saw no shadows. Past the marker and I had taken the sprint. As I cooled down by riding back toward the group, I realized that while it was fun, it certainly didn't show anything. The big hitters were taking it easy today. They weren't even trying.

The other sprint that was fun was the one up Keller Road. It is tough because it is so long. I'm still not sure exactly where the sprint starts. It climbs and then levels off and then climbs again ending at a station near Locust Hill Road.

I broke from the group when we reached the level point. I seemed to have a little bit of a gap and thought about easing off. I glanced back beneath my arm and saw the white socks of Art spinning and gaining on me. I put a little more into it and he didn't fade, but he didn't gain either. He pushed me all the way to the line.

The rest of the ride continued pretty much the same. I won each sprint I decided to contest. On one, I have the sneaky feeling that Mike and Art were trying to get me. They both came around me with a ways to go. They were going pretty fast and I was tired from a recent sprint.

As we made a left turn with 20 yards to go, I put it in the big ring and tried to move around them on the right. I heard Art say, "Here he comes." It wasn't a sprint I was planning on contesting, but it sure was fun.

Overall, I feel pretty good. However, I have no illusions that I "won the green jersey" because I'm some hot to trot rider. Had Billy decided he wanted to sprint today (or had John or Tony been a part of the ride), I wouldn't be talking green - unless it would be the color of my face!

Still, with the way I was able to ride with the A group at Donaldson and the way I was able to out ride some folks who fall in the same Cat 5 35+ level as me, I think that I might do well in October. I just need to keep training.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Meeting something other than the road

No riding tonight. I had a work dinner that went until about 8 PM. By the time I got home it was time to spend a few minutes with the kids before putting them to bed. Then it was downstairs to do some spinning on the old trainer.

It was kind of fun. I put it in a medium gearing and just started spinning about between 115 and 125 rpm. I did that for about 15 minutes. Then I moved to the big ring and kept the revolutions over 80 rpms for 5 minutes. I then went down and spun for 5 minutes at just over 100 rpm. Then I did an all out sprint in the big ring. I could only do it for about a minute. Finally, I cooled down after 35 minutes or so of spinning.

I sure would rather have been with the Sunshine guys on their Thursday night ride or with Kirk and Brian as they did training laps in Cleveland Park. But no, I was reviewing an employee policy manual.

It has also been fun keeping up with the Tour of Missouri and writing about it in my Greenville News cycling blog. I'm not sure if anyone is reading it, but it is fun to be one of the only voices for cycling in the local media. Maybe someday cyclist in the area will find it and read.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

An "A" for effort

The good news: I did Donaldson Center again tonight.

The bad news: I did the A ride.

More good news: I stayed with the group for four laps and even pulled at the front of the group on that fourth lap.

More bad news: I got dropped on the fifth and final lap.

To end on a good note, I wasn't the last person in. After getting dropped, I passed four other riders and finished the last lap about 3 minutes off the pace.

I wasn't planning on doing Donaldson again so soon, but I was told it was great training for the criterium coming up in October. So, I head over after work to do the B ride. John at Sunshine Cycle Shop said I should try the A group. He told me, "Just get on the back and if you get dropped just wait for the B group to catch you and keep going."

I wasn't so sure. I remembered the wisdom found in the book of Proverbs not to go up to the chief seat at the king's table. It is better to take the lower seat and wait for someone to invite you up to the "place of honor." So, I paid my five bucks and got in the B group with my Saturday morning friend Webb.

Then I saw Kirk and Brian up in the A group. They were some of the guys telling me I needed to ride at Donaldson for the training. I rolled over to them and Kirk said he was surprised to see me because he thought I had something else going on. We talked a bit and he said, "Hey, give the A group a try. Just hang on the back." I had heard that somewhere before - I had been invited to the table.

We rolled off. The warm-up lap was a full two minutes faster than last week's B group warm-up. The riding was more aggressive, but smoother. The laps was a little fast for me and I tightened up a bit.

About a third of the way through the second lap I was feeling a lot better. I had shifted into an easier gear and spun some of the tightness away. Now I was settling in. The pace was was about a 17 minute lap of the 7.18 mile circuit. This was starting to be fun.

On lap three I was able to stop thinking about my body and focus on the people around me. I was noticing how riders were jockeying to use the group to protect themselves from the cross winds. I began experimenting with where to place myself.

Lap four found me moving up in the group. There was somewhat of a breakaway in front of us and I was in the chase group. I was riding within myself and feeling pretty good. Without straining I found myself within five riders of the front of the chase group.

That is where my inexperience took over. I didn't know how to handle being up front. When I am up front, all I know to do is pull. I ended up getting used up and then fading back about fifteen riders or so. For a minute or two I was just trying to get myself back together.

That was a big mistake. Even though I was feeling okay by the time we finished lap four, I didn't realize how used up I was. I saw some riders pull off and adjusted my pace not sure what to do. At that point the front ramped it up and a gap formed. Two other riders and myself hammered to hook on to the rear of the group.

That was it. I stayed with the group until the second climb and I just couldn't hang on. As I was being dropped, we rode by my friend Barry who had been in the B group. His arm was all bloody! He must have had a fall. For a moment I thought, I'll just drop back and finish up with him. Then something else inside said to keep pushing.

I pushed and finally recovered about halfway through the lap. I rolled in hitting speeds over 20 mph and up to 23 mph. It felt good to be able to pass some of the other dropped riders.

Next time, I'll do the A group again, but I'll try to be patient and learn from my mistakes. If you are interested in seeing the differences in the A and B group, these tables may help.

Group A lap information for five laps (finished in the final five):
LapTimeDist.M SpdHR/AvgHR/Max
520:22 7.1840.9175183

Group B lap information for five laps (finished in the top four):
LapTimeDist.M SpdHR/AvgHR/Max


Saturday, September 08, 2007

I try to stay with Carolina Tri

This morning as part of my plans to participate in and report on all the shop rides in the area for The Greenville News, I headed over to the Woodruff Road Carolina Triathlon shop to do my first report.

You can read the report on the ride here. Below you will find a map of the ride and some of the personal input on the ride.

I didn't know what to expect on the ride. However, I determined that I wasn't going to get stuck tooling along at 16 mph for the morning. That is when I decided to join the A group. When only four of us broke from the group to form up, I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. An A group of 10 or more is one thing... an A group of 4 with me not knowing the route is another!

Thankfully, I was saved the embarrassment of leaving the other riders to go to the B group - or getting dropped by these three other guys farther down the road. The reason was that none of the other three riders knew the route! So, the ride leader decided to go out as one group and allow it to split up later.

I ran into David McQuaid about this time. I didn't expect to see him out there, but there he was with his orange bike. It was nice to see someone I knew even though everyone else I had talked with was very friendly.

We all started out together and I was kind of surprised that we didn't do a little more warming up. We came out of the shoot pretty fast and the group did an initial split right away. This was about the time I heard someone yell "Chain!" behind me. I learned after the ride that it was David - I was wondering during the ride where he went!

From there I just tried to hang on. I tried to stay toward the back of the group so I could get a feel of the types of riders I had around me. The ones I watched closely and tried to stay near were the three guys who wanted to go A on us - along with the shop guys.

Finally, I felt comfortable enough to move toward the front and had a couple of good pulls for the group and did a big ring sprint up a hill past and away from the two leaders. I paid for it later!

One thing I need to learn is how to get back in the group after pulling. Perhaps I pull for to long, but when I am done I find myself sliding off the back of the pace line. Then I'm left to claw my way back up there and that takes a good amount of energy.

One of the more exciting events on the ride was the time we were going down a narrow road with trees on each side. We were going downhill and a guy got between me and the lead group. He was being very careful and on the narrow, winding road, I couldn't get around him. The group was putting distance on us.

Finally, I got around just as they began a slight climb. I tried to close the gap and about that time I saw two large German Shepherds and two very large Rottweilers come out of the woods to the right! They went for the rear of the group.

Of course, what I was thinking was, "Oh no! Those dogs are going to give up on those guys and then it will be just me against four dogs!" I would have to sprint uphill to get away. Thankfully, the riders up ahead slowed and gave the dogs what for. They gave up and I rode and joined the now slow group just as the dogs gave up.

From that point on, it was pretty uneventful. I was glad when we made it back. I was beginning to wear down. We passed quite a few people who were returning from the shattered B group and the slower C group. I rolled into the parking lot third in line.

In the shop I bought a Gatorade and asked if that was the normal route. I was told that it was basic area, but that the ride is mixed up each week. At that point, he said, "You were doing some strong riding out there." I told him thanks and that I had fun.

Another shop guy came up just as we were talking and he said, "Yeah, you are a strong rider. You did some big pulls out there." I replied that you have to pull if you want others to pull for you. He responded by saying, "Yeah, but you went beyond the call of duty."

Wow, that made my day! I never know what to think about my ability. I tend to think I am not that strong of a rider. I was just happy that I made it without getting dropped!


Friday, September 07, 2007


That might not mean anything to you, but 13:38 is exciting for me.

Last night, I met up with the folks at Sunshine Cycle Shop for the weekly Thursday ride. It is route that heads out behind the shop along to base of Paris Mountain, over to Furman, and then back to the shop via Altamont Road. There is a good amount of climbing and the riders are typically more advanced. It is a good work out.

We decided to skip the Furman section because our evenings are getting shorter. So, we got off of the winding roads along the base of Paris and headed down Old Buncombe to the start of Altamont. It was time to do some climbing!

I assessed the group - all of them were regular shop riders and I knew we could make a good time if I could just hang with them: especially Art and Tony. They seem to be the climbing animals. Tony was sitting on his new Orbea Orca with iPod earbuds in his ears. Art was just Art. The man is 61 - I think - and when he dies 50 years from now, they need to go inside and find out what is in there! Now, all the other guys are no slouches either, but I set my mind to try to hang with the one of these two that made a move.

First, I hooked onto Art's wheel. I had a couple of gears to spare as we headed up. We were making good time. Once we hit the first sustained incline, I used those gears up. I settled in with the group and we kept going.

Then things began to thin out and I found myself alone on Tony's wheel. He was in a zone and his cadence barely altered. I stayed with him for as long as I could and then he left me. At that point, I looked behind me and there was no one there. So, I just decided to make the best of it and kept plugging.

I felt as though I was working just as hard as I normally do, but my computer was telling me that I was doing better. My heart rate was just over 180 and I was able to go to a harder gear off and on. I could feel that I had more power.

Near the last couple of turns, I looked back and I could see Art coming up behind me. Up ahead, Tony had disappeared around the bend. I had visions of me hitting The Wall and Art powering past me. That became my motivation. Don't let Art pass me!

As I turned around the last bend to climb that last killer portion of the route, I saw Tony nearing the turn up to the KOM. He was out of the saddle and pushing along. I couldn't tell how close Art might be. I moved the gear to a smaller ring and stood to give it one last push. My heart was screaming at me, but I knew I was going to be able to get my legs over the line.

I crossed it and stopped the lap on my computer. 13:38! I had finished the climb 1:10 faster than I had ever done it before. What a feeling! On top of Paris Mountain, I was standing on top of the world - for a little while. Now, I need to get it down to 13 even :-)


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Taking wing at Donaldson Center

After work, I loaded my bike on the car with apprehension in my stomach. The plan for the evening was to ride for the first time at Donaldson Center. I had heard all kinds of stories about how tough it was to ride there. Just before leaving work, I got this message from a friend.
The first lap is a "warm up" lap. Yeah. Right. Quarters are VERY tight -- 3-4 wide on one side of the street. A bit of bumping. And lots of accelerating and deccelerating. Don't leave any gaps or someone will jump in -- a space for a wheel is a space for a bike.

And that's on the B ride. =)

Have fun!
On that note, I put the car in gear and headed over.

It took me about 15 minutes to get there from my home near downtown Greenville. The six o'clock start time kind of made for a hectic get away. I only had a banana as I drove over.

Once I got there, I was glad to see Kevin Dunn. He was cornered by some folks who where letting him know what he needed to do differently about the P3 ride. For the record, Kevin, I had a great time on Sunday and thanks for showing me where the B ride started from tonight.

There is a C, B, and A group. The C group does a longer loop around the area at a more leisurely pace. The B group I was told averages around 20 to 22 miles an hour around the seven mile loop. The A group contains the riders with racing licenses. I assume they go very fast.

I paid my five bucks for the police escort and then watched the A group pull off. We had to wait a bit before taking the course. I meet a couple of guys I ride with on Saturday mornings with the Sunshine Cycle Shop group - Jeff and Barry. It was Jeff's first time out as well.

The first lap started out okay. I found a spot and stayed there trying to be conservative. However, all the jockeying made me nervous and when I group broke away, I decided to bridge up and join them.

By the second lap, I found myself riding with a big dude with a scar on this left leg. I remembered that scar from the P3 ride on Sunday morning. The other person in this group was one of the DeFeet girls. That was probably some of the most fun of the night as the three of us broke away from the group and held our own for more than a lap.

In the third lap we got overtaken by the group. More jockeying and I found myself trying to stay near the front while at the same time trying to recover a bit. Once again, by the end of the lap, I found myself near the front.

Fourth lap - but I was confused. I wasn't sure what lap I was on and as we finished it, I made a dash to be one of the first to cross the finish. Only, it wasn't the finish! I asked a guy beside what lap we were about to start. He said, "Five of six."

Ouch. So, I dropped to the rear of the group thinking that I was done for. However, riding back there is a great way to recover and watching the near crashes in front of me was a motivation to move back toward the front. So, by the end of the fifth lap, I was once again only about 12 back - out of between 25 and 30 people.

At that point, something happened and the group split. I don't know if most of the group just stopped or what, but I was left with three other riders to finish the sixth lap. We rode it alone. It was another DeFeet girl, a guy in a t-shirt, and a younger, tall guy with Campbell soup can logos on his butt.

Again, that was fun. We paced each other with the guy in the t-shirt doing great work on the pulls. As we neared the finish, the DeFeet girl was in the lead. I moved up so my front wheel was parallel to her rear wheel and I was content to just end the night like that. Then the soup guy came blasting past us and I just couldn't help it. So, I went after him. It was too late.

Over all, I was very pleased with my effort. 43 miles in an hour and fifty-three minutes. I averaged nearly 23 mph for the ride. I also accomplished my three goals: 1) don't wreck, 2) earn respect by being willing to pull, and 3) stay with the group.

It was kind of nice to be the mystery rider who shows up for the first time and can't be dropped. I had people ride by me as we were pacing and look back at me. I could tell they were checking to see if they knew who I was. That felt good.

Maybe I've found my place in the B group.


Friday, August 31, 2007

An eventful day

Last night I arrived home from the opening meeting at BJU to find my beautiful red head in distress. Turns out Thing Three had a fever. She always feels bad when the kids get sick on a day that she has to teach. Part of it is because she doesn't want to cause me to have to miss work. However, I think another reason (a main reason) is that she is a mother and she wants to be there for the little guy.

It doesn't bother me too much. I hate to eat into my sick days, but it does allow me to get some things done around the house. With all that is going on this weekend, that is nice.

I did some work from home, cut the grass, and worked with Steve at The Greenville News to get my cycling blog set up. It is done now. I've just got to figure out how I'm going to work these two.

At 2 PM I watched the press conference for this weekend's events. The poor emcee had an awful time getting the cyclists to answer his questions. It didn't help, of course, that he was asking them "yes" or "no" questions.

Around 4 PM the wife came home and I decided to break my rest day and go for a ride. All this cycling stuff and being stuck at home was making me antsy. I was supposed to be at a reception for the cycling stuff by 6 PM. So, I hoped on and headed downtown and then looped around over Paris and then home.

I pushed early up the mountain and paid for it later toward the top. It didn't help me any as I climbed it in 14:56. The last time I climbed it I made it in 14:46. That time I paced myself. Proves that sometimes measured and easy wins the race and I felt a lot better at the top that time as well.

After a quick shower, I headed to the Wyche Pavilion for the reception. There were supposed to be some pros there. The only one that I saw during that time was Saul Raisin. Still, I met some neat people for the first time and got reacquainted with some others I hadn't seen in a while.

John from Sunshine Cycle was there with his lovely wife. Rob, a classmate of Leadership Greenville, was there. I didn't realize he rode. He was there with his wife who I learned works at Carolina Triathlon. Now, that is a nice setup! Getting shop discounts from your spouse!

After a bit I headed out to the WYFF activities. I couldn't stay long because I had to get home to the kids since my wife was going to the second meeting at school. Tomorrow night we will be all home together and I'll be glad.

I ran into Dave Shields selling his books. That was pretty cool. I ended up buying his three cycling books as well as a book he wrote called, "The Pendulum's Path." I'm not even sure what it is about... just a fiction novel. I looked around to get Saul to sign my copy of "Tour de Life", but he was gone by the time I bought it. You can look for reviews here in weeks to come.

George was there at the WYFF event, Zabriskie was there, Raisin was there, but I didn't see any other pros about. A funny part of the show was a segment with Geoff Hart riding his bike up the Furman side of Paris Mountain. I'm not sure how long he said it took him, but it was a long time! Then he had George up there later and he asked Hincapie how long it takes him - 8:30! After celebrating 14:46 the other day, I realize just how amazing these guys are.

By the way, Dave Shields had nothing buy good to say about Greenville. He said he was here last year and was excited about getting back this year. That seems to be a recurring theme. Once people can experience our great city, they keep wanting to come back.

Here are my stats for today: AM HR/WGT: 56/170.2 and PM HR/WGT: 76/170.5 I do notice that on the days that I ride, my evening resting heart rate is higher (by about 20+ beats) than on non riding days. I also learned that I lost almost the same amount of weight while riding today as I did last time - 171.6 before and 166.5 after.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tomorrow this blog will extend

I mentioned that there would be a change coming up soon. I think I can mention it now though it won't be active until later Friday, August 31. I've been given the opportunity to blog in our local paper's Web site Cycling will be the topic, of course.

I'm a little nervous. I don't want to come off as I'm setting myself up as the person who knows everything about cycling in Greenville. I'm not! There are lots more people up on the scene than I. However, I'm learning more each day and have a track record of being a pretty consistent blogger. Hopefully, the more serious biker types will be accepting.

I also picked up a new helmet today. I've been looking at this one for some time and it went on sale for the weekend. I can't wait to take it out for its first ride. Unfortunately, that wasn't today. The weather was bad - people have been struck by lightening - and I had an event to attend this evening. I also won't get to ride tomorrow evening - but that will be because I'll be hanging out with the pro riders at the sponsorship reception downtown. Good times.

Ah, my stats for today. AM HR/WGT: 64/170.9 and PM HR/WGT: 60/172.6 My heart rate was a little higher this morning because my wife put, Pippin, my male cat on top of me in bed to wake me up. He didn't like that to much and as he jumped away his rear claw (he doesn't have front ones) scratched my face. I wouldn't exactly call it a resting heart rate!

Here is my new helmet and the picture that I think they may use as my header for the cycling blog.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Something in the works

No ride today. Just didn't have the time. Still, some cycling related stuff here...

I've started reading Lance Armstrong's War. I'll give a review of the book when I'm done. Honestly, it has been hard getting into it. After all the doping and reading David Walsh's book, it is hard to not look at Lance (and this book) without a little skepticism.

I think I should be able to let you know soon of another opportunity I may get to write about cycling stuff. I should know more tomorrow and I'll give you a heads up. It really won't change too much of what I am doing now - just give me another avenue to spread the word about cycling and, I hope, open some more opportunities for me to meet more people in the Upstate cycling scene.

Oh, and here are my numbers for today - Morning weight/heart rate: 169.8/53 and Evening weight/heart rate: 171.6/58.

Two days now until the Time Trial. Three days until the Road Race and P3 Ride - my Ride for Mike. Weather wise, things are looking pretty good. How does highs in the low to mid 80's sound! There is some chances for thunderstorms, but most likely those won't get in the way.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

There is less of me now

I went out today and bought a scale to weigh myself. The last time I was weighed was several months ago when I had a medical procedure done. I was 175 (on a 6' 2" frame) at that point. However, the training stuff I read says you should keep a journal of your weight and resting heart rates so you can get a handle on whether you are training properly or not.

For fun, I weighed myself before heading out on my ride tonight: 172.8 pounds. Okay, that seems about right. Now, off on the ride.

I decided to leave from my house and head up over Paris Mountain and then back home. That would give me about 20 miles. I took one Polar bottle of water and my GelBot bottle with some Hammer Gel in it. I figured that would be plenty.

The temperature was around 86 degrees when I left and by the time I reached the upper elevations of Paris, I'm sure the temp dropped into the lower 80s. It felt pretty good.

I focused on keeping a high cadence and my pedal form. The idea is to keep the legs going up and down and not have your knees go out away from the frame on the up stroke. I find myself doing that especially when I am tired. I did increase my average cadence to nearly 10 rpm over my normal average.

Frankly, as I started up Paris and came to "The Wall" - a section that has about a 12% grade soon after you start the climb on the State Park Road side - I didn't think it was going to be a very good night. I had pushed so much the night before that my legs didn't appear to be that happy.

However, by the time I got up to some of the "flat" sections, I was feeling pretty good and cruising along at about 22 mph. Then as I made the last climb to the KOM, I was feeling really good. My legs were happy and my heart rate was just over 180.

Coming down the Furman side was kind of scary. Normally I let it go and enjoy carving up the road. Tonight there was sand everywhere. I guess they have been cleaning the shoulders in anticipation of the race this weekend. Unfortunately, it has spread sand on the descent. It won't bother the race because they will be going the other way. However, remembering my wreck a couple of weeks ago, I didn't want to take my chances on sand!

As I descended, I passed some riders going the opposite direction. At about that time, my GelBot fell out of my cage. I decided to just pick it up on the way back. I wanted to get down and start back up in hopes I would catch at least one of those riders.

I reset my lap point and headed up the Furman side. My legs really did not feel like I had just ridden 11 miles over a mountain. Things were looking good. Before long I came across the bottle and I stopped to pick it up. Then back on it. I kept looking ahead hoping to see the riders. Nothing.

My speed stayed between 7.5 mph and 12.8 mph. Mostly I was staying in the 8 to 9 mph range. It wasn't easy but I knew I wasn't going to bonk. Finally, I turned around the last right hand curve onto the straightaway before the final left hand turn of the climb. There was the last rider of the group. I came up behind him, moved into a smaller rear ring, stood up and moved around him. I stayed up and kept pushing until I reached the top.

I looked down and saw I had climbed the mountain in 14 minutes and 46 seconds. It made me wonder what time I could have gotten had I not stopped to pick up my water bottle. After that, I didn't much care to push any further. I just enjoyed a spinning ride home.

When I got back, I got on the scales again: 166.4 pounds. I had dropped over 6 pounds on the ride. Obviously, it was fluids. It is amazing to think you can sweat that much out of your body! One thing I have learned from that is the importance of being hydrated! I typically drink 64 to 80 oz. of fluids each day - and then carry up to 40 more with me on the bike for an hour or so ride.

My plan is to keep a journal (here, of course) of my resting heart rate and weight in the morning and evening. Just some more data to play with! 14:46... my goal now will be to bring it down to 14:30 and then...


Monday, August 27, 2007


What does that mean? Well, when I first started riding my bike, I had set a goal to average 20 miles an hour for one hour doing laps of Cleveland Park. It is a 2.5 mile loop that includes a good mix of terrain. You have flats, climbing, and some downhill. For months I was stuck in the 19 mph range. Then finally on the day I got my new wheel set, I broke 20 mph with a 20.2 average for one hour.

Tonight I went out and decided to try to do it again. It has been over two months since I broke the 20 mph mark. Other routes and just not being able to pull it off have kept me from breaking the barrier. I noticed that it was harder to break the mark once I got the Garmin. I figured it might be that it measures things differently than my old computer.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I did it. I averaged 20.3 mph for one hour. I think I'm going to have to set a new goal. It would be something to aim for to hit 20.5. That doesn't sound like much until you go out there and try to do it!

I did two cool down laps with Chris, Sherri, and Amber. It was Sherri's first time out at Cleveland. Up until this point she has been doing her riding in parking lots. That first climb was an eye opener! Still, she did well. Before she knows it, she'll be taking off with Amber (Amber left us all and took off ahead).

My friend Jeremy also got a bike last week. He has a newer Allez. It is a nice understated metallic color. I like it a lot. Now we just have to find a time to ride together. Something tells me he will be an animal. He is a tri guy. He is pretty fit.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

A pleasant surprise

I was watching the Sharpie 500 last night and didn't check my fantasy points except very early in the race. Hamlin went out real early and Busch (Kyle) was basically no where to be seen. Gordon was coming and going to the front and I really thought he might find his way into a top ten. That was before everything started going away on the car and he had his rear end wiped off by Michael Waltrip.

In the end, Gordon finished 19th or 20th. Hamlin had a DNF over 200 laps back. Kyle, the invisible man, ended up pulling off a top ten. I figured I was toast and that BBuck had picked up another race on me. Well, that wasn't the case! This morning I checked the scoring and I won against Draftingwithyates. Super_D scored the most points (Kurt Busch, Clint Boyer, and Ryan Newman) and beat A_Junior_Fan. BBuck stays close with an easy win against the wild card team.

Only a couple races left to the chase. I hope Gordon is able to get through this bad luck and maybe get a win. California is a mixed bag for him. We'll see how he does. A win sure would help when it comes time for setting up the chase order.

As for cycling...

I did ride today. I put in 30 miles just going from my house to Cleveland and riding around. I tried to find some new routes and ended up getting lost in Nicholtown. I wound up over at Greenville Tech! It was actually kind of fun to be exploring. However, the neighborhood isn't the kind of place a white guy in tights wants to get caught!

Another embarrassing thing was that as I was getting ready to set out, I was adjusting my Garmin. The handle bars swung suddenly to the left. When the wheel got perpendicular to the frame, the front wheel rolled and I got slammed down to the ground on my left side. I got a small, annoying cut in my hand that stings when sweat gets in it and a bruise on my left hip. Bike is okay -- it was my pride that got hurt more than anything. I'm not even sure anyone saw it happen.

My plan is to ride tomorrow and Tuesday. Wednesday I'll take off. Thursday I'll have to do some spinning because I have meetings that will keep me from getting out for a long ride. Friday I'll take off. Saturday I'll do my normal Sunshine Cycle Shop ride and then Sunday will be the P3.

I hope they will change the time for the P3 in the future. I won't participate again if they have the ride on Sunday. The funny thing is, I signed up this year thinking it would be like in the past (a Saturday ride). I didn't even think that September 2 would be a Sunday. It wasn't until I had signed up and started my fundraising that I realized that date was Sunday.

It is a great cause, but I'll have to find another fundraising ride that does not violate my conscience in the future.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

It was a bad morning

I got up and almost decided not to ride this morning. The old sinuses were still bothering me and I didn't sleep well. It had been a week since I had ridden and I knew I needed to get back in the saddle.

After getting a late start to the shop, I rode as fast as I could while eating a Power Bar. Turns out I made it in time to catch my breath before heading out with the group. A lot of regulars were there and a few first-timers.

Starting out, things seemed pretty good. My legs were feeling fine and even though my nose had been plugged earlier, things opened up during the first few warm up miles.

I didn't even try the first sprint of the morning. I knew I wasn't ready. However, on the sprint up Meese Bridge Road to the stop sign at Darby, I thought maybe I would test the legs.

As the riders started jockeying for position yards before the sprint zone, I found myself up with the top two riders. I didn't really want to be there. They started kind of laying back. I decided to start pulling and see who I could drop and then allow the faster guys to come around me. I would then jump on their wheels and hope I had enough left to pull out of their slipstream to take the sprint.

Well, it seemed to be working. We were about a third into the sprint when three riders made a move around me. One was John - I can't remember who the second one was - and the third one I thought was Mike (I just saw a Spinners jersey). I grabbed the wheel of "Mike" and stayed there until about halfway.

"Mike" then bolted and went for the win. I reacted just a little late - I was shocked at the power he left with. "Man, he has really gotten his legs!" Me, after about four strokes trying to close the gap, my legs just said, "Hey, buddy, what are you doing? Just site back down." It was like someone had a tire pump hooked to my quads and was pumping them up. They just quit.

I finished second, but I soon realized it wasn't Mike that I was following, but Billy. Just suffice to say, the last week I rode with the Sunshine guys, Billy won nearly every sprint that day.

I won't get into all the other details of the day. I tried participating in a couple more sprints, but all that did was cause me to completely blow up. I mean, I was crawling behind the group. Ultimately, I was dropped and I came into the shop by myself.

Hey, everybody has a bad day now and then. All I know is that I've got to get my legs back under me. The P3 ride is coming up and if I'm feeling like this...

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Friday, August 24, 2007

From Lance to Landis

My thoughts on the book, From Lance to Landis: Inside the American Doping Controversy at the Tour de France by David Walsh.

Perhaps the part of David Walsh’s expose of the doping culture in professional cycling – and American cycling in particular – that gripped me most was the author’s note at the conclusion. Here in a book published before the 2007 Tour is an afterthought that mentions an event that would help turn that Tour upside down.

Walsh writes, “Four years ago, I traveled to Milan to meet a young American who had recently moved from Colorado to Italy. He told a story about a friend of his, a European-born professional cyclist, who had asked this young man to bring to Italy a pair of favorite cycling shoes he had unintentionally left in the United States.” He explains how that the young man agreed to help his friend, but he had to open the shoebox in order to fit the shoes into his luggage.

Walsh continues, “Inside the package were eight cartons of bovine hemoglobin.” This, of course, was used at the time for illegal doping. Then after writing how the young American asked him not to reveal the name of the rider, Walsh describes him, “I follow the rider’s performances each year, and, over the last three seasons, he has become quite a star. He has won stages of the Tour de France and is expected to claim another in 2007.”

The rider? You already know his name, Michael Rasmussen.

If you paid attention the Rasmussen affair during the 2007 Tour de France, then you have experienced Walsh’s book in miniature. All the conjecture, his word against some other person’s word, protestations of “I have never tested positive,” and no silver bullet are all part of the book.

Walsh puts his focus, not on Rasmussen (who is not mentioned at all in the book), but on Lance Armstrong. He connects the dots of conjecture, brings in the interviews of those Lance will tell you are only trying to bring him down, tries to show that indeed Armstrong HAS tested positive, but in the end he offers no silver bullet.

Does he plant some doubt? You betcha! How does he do it? He builds a very strong case from interviews and actual events to show the culture of doping in professional cycling. He then shows how Lance fit in the profile of those who doped.

He also makes compelling arguments to show the need to dope in order to be competitive in the sport. The jump in speeds of the tour during the time EPO was introduced to the sport and the way it was measured by those clean cyclists who dropped their jaws in amazement as last year’s human riders left them in the dust just 12 months later.

Still, the word on Walsh is that he looks for a doper under every rock. Can he be trusted to be unbiased? That is the word that his detractors put out. “He’s just trying to bring down the sport. He has a personal vendetta against Lance.”
My thoughts? Did Lance dope? I don’t know – I haven’t seen the silver bullet. However, I sure can say that because of Walsh’s book I’ve seen the shell casings. Does professional cycling have a doping problem? I would say the answer is, “Without a doubt.”

I want to believe in such teams as Slipstream and those riders who have come out vocally opposed to the culture (and so does Walsh). To me, the danger for cycling is not the doping, but the lack of trust that the dopers have created. Do I want to get behind a team like Slipstream? Do I want to believe young riders like Craig Lewis will avoid getting sucked into the culture? Who can you trust?

After reading From Lance to Landis, I’m going to have to let some time pass before my level of trust will return.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

We made it!

Today Kirk, Brian, and I left Cleveland Park this morning around 7 AM and headed up for Caesars Head State Park. I'll tell you, I was a little apprehensive. I have climbed the route before, but after leaving from Slater-Marrietta which is much closer.

I ate a Power Bar and a bowl of cereal before leaving the house. I had my two Polar bottles and two smaller bottles full of water. I had the two smaller bottles stuck in my jersey along with two flasks of Hammer Gel (Raspberry) and my phone (in a plastic bag along with my license and debit card).

Feel like climbing 2000+ feet in a distance of about 6 miles?

What a beautiful day for a ride! When we started out it was 75 degrees. That early in the morning there was hardly any traffic. We just enjoyed the morning and looked forward to the climb.

As we came onto the Furman campus on our way, we ran into a kids tri there. I saw a couple of friends who must have had their children participating. From there it was pretty uneventful.

The one thing that brought some interest to our ride during the nearly 30 mile trip was the "virtual partner" on my Garmin. You can create courses and embed in them data about another rider - for instance the average speed. I had him set at 17.5 mph. We actually kept up with him pretty well. We ended up naming him Miguel Indurain. He kicked our butts for the whole course finishing well ahead of us.

Then it was time for the climb. I started off too hot (just like I normally do) and by the last two miles, I was slipping back from the Flinte brothers. I ended up finishing the climb in 46 minutes (about three minutes behind those guys). As you can see from the chart above, the incline winds up about 2000 feet in 6 miles. If that wasn't enough, there are portions with a 24% grade.

Of course, that makes it fun coming down! How great it felt to be rounding a curve and see those poor souls who were climbing where we had just suffered. How quickly you forget the pain when you are flying down that road.

Actually, by the time we got to the bottom I was feeling pain. My shoulders and neck were stiff. I am stilling dealing with the effects of the Thursday night crash. Coming downhill, I was tucked low with my neck bent so I could look for the next curve. I was hurting pretty bad. Even as I type this, I feel better but still have pain when I lift my right arm above my shoulder.

Coming back we were just wanting to get home! We stopped at least three times to get water or Gatorade. The temperature had risen to about 88 degrees, but more than that we were just bushed! About five miles out, I started cramping. Cleveland Park could not come too soon!

I made it! I almost felt like laughing, but that stopped as I found that when I went to push the accelerator on my car, my leg would cramp! I made it home and just laid down on the floor and my wonderful wife massaged my legs. I then got in the shower and just let the warm water work on my muscles.

I'll recover. However, I'm finding that it takes a little more time than it used to. I guess I'll have to start counting the cost of what will happen after I do another one of these types of rides.

For now, the pain and cramps start to fade in my memory and I just think, "I did it!"


Friday, August 17, 2007

Things are coming to a Head

Tomorrow morning Kirk, Brian, Chris, and myself will start out for Caesars Head from Cleveland Park. The ride will be about 71 miles. I'm going to be loaded up with plenty of carbs, calories, and water. Here's hoping the weather will be kind.

There are a couple of "maybes" signed up, but I really don't expect there to be anyone else joining us. Chris is going to have to turn around about an hour into the ride, so it will only be three of us going all the way.

It should be about 73 degrees when we leave. It will be getting close to 90 degrees by the time we get home. The key will be not trying to push things. There is no need to be in a hurry.

I know someone who was in a hurry today, Jeff Gordon! He took the pole in Michigan. I'm going to run Gordon (1), Kyle Busch (6), and Hamlin (8). It's going to be a showdown since I'll be going up against BBuck. If I win, I gain. If I lose, he gains. At least, he'll have to come from behind with his drivers Edwards (13), Harvick (28), and Stewart (35). Of course, as they say, that's why they do the races.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Strawberries and Garmin

I was able to make it out with the Sunshine guys tonight. We rode a route I had never ridden before. Most of the roads were unfamiliar to me. That fact led to an eventful ride!

First, I'll point out that I got my Garmin back on the bike and gave it its first road test. It passed with flying colors! The elevation readings were awesome! I was able to see the grade of the road as we rode along and all my data synced right into my current system - well almost. The Garmin Training Center didn't like the fact that I had a different serial number and wanted me to create a new user. I'll just download the history from Motion Based and bring the data up-to-date. Motion Based took the data without a problem.

Well, as we were riding along, somehow I ended up front (remember, I didn't know where we were going). As we approached one road I heard, "Turn right! Turn right!" I looked back to see where they were and then looked up to take the next right. I didn't realize that there was a fine layer of sand spread across this road. As I turned in, the bike went out from under me.

It was kind of like sliding into second. I didn't even get a chance to put my hand out (I'm actually glad because I didn't have on gloves). I came down on my right leg and right shoulder. I have a really nice strawberry on my leg (I refrained from uploading the close ups) and a burning road rash on my right shoulder. I didn't feel this until I got home and cooled down, but I have a stiff muscle in my back.

Excuse the blurry picture. We brought the camera out of the air conditioned house and the lens fogged up.

Man, I am going to have fun trying to sleep tonight. The strawberry shouldn't be a problem but the road rash is going to be annoying.

Still, the fun of the ride was worth it. Besides, that was my first crash on my bike. Now I've got that out of the way.

Interested in seeing how my Garmin is doing? Check out my dashboard.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My Garmin is back!

Three cheers for Garmin support! I got my Edge 305 back today - actually, I got someone else's Edge 305. Either way, it is back and it is working - as far as I can tell.

I sent the device to Garmin support on Wednesday of last week. They received it on Friday and I just got it back this afternoon. So, it was a total of a week counting the time it took me to ship it to them. Not too bad.

However, when I read the report that came with the device, I discovered that they replaced the device I had with a new one (new to me - I believe it is a refurbished one). I really can't tell any difference in them, other than the new one appears to be finding the elevation.

I was able to get the device calibrated, paired with my heart monitor, and synced with my computer with no problem. I did have some problem with getting it paired with my cadence monitor on the bike. Turns out the battery was dead. Once I replaced it, the two paired up right away.

The real test will come when I take it out riding tomorrow evening. I'm thinking about doing the Thursday night Sunshine ride since I won't be able to go out with the boys on Saturday morning. It is the big Cleveland Park to Caesars Head ride that day.

I'll keep you posted, but my initial grade for Garmin support is an A. If they would have shipped me a device and then allowed me to ship the defective one, that would have gotten them an A+.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Just keeping up with my miles

Just a quickie to note that I put in 20 miles tonight.  After Saturday's ride, I was having some constriction in my upper chest - not my heart, but my respiratory system.  I decided to take it easy tonight.

Frankly, after the heat we have had it was very nice.  There was some cloud cover - but not to much as well as a light breeze.  The temperature seemed to be in the 80s.  Maybe is just wasn't as humid.  Whatever the case, it was a beautiful time to ride and I enjoyed hitting Cleveland Park with friends.

It was just the way it should be.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Folks it is hot!

At 8 o'clock this morning it was 88 degrees when we started our morning Hour of Power ride. After the 105 degree day we had yesterday, that felt cool! Later today we went over 101 again, but I'm not sure how far.

Since I don't have my Garmin 305 Edge, I am grabbing the mileage stats from other folks I am riding with and recording it here. Today, I covered 33 miles. That means I got in about 80 miles this week. I'd like to be getting in 100+ miles.

Today's ride wasn't the best. I gave it a go on the first sprint and Tony (who is now manager of Gustocycles in Greer) toyed with me and beat me to the line. On the second sprint, I set myself up with Tony and John with plans to ride their wheels and try (yea, right) to at least hang with them. For some reason, they didn't sprint. I learned later that John is not allowed to let his heart rate over 150 bpm (doctor's orders). Needless to say, we got freight trained.

I got the third sprint. I eased up off the front and then when I felt the counter move, I grabbed the first wheel that came by and rode it to the last several yard and then made a move out of the draft to take the line. That was fun!

On the fourth sprint we go up a very long climb (up Keller Road). As we neared the sprint point, John pulled up and grabbed my jersey. He told me he wouldn't be able to do anything on the climb and proceeded to give me some advice on how to approach the sprint. I followed his advice and found myself all alone coming into the last 500 feet. "Hey, this is working!" I said to myself, and then I saw two riders go flying past me. I got caught flat footed and was not able to grab their wheels. I finished third.

I held back and decided not to try another sprint until the Paris Mountain State Park entrance. A mile or so out, the group starts sorting out and setting up for the attack. Just as we entered this stage, my chain dropped off. So now I was dropped by the lead group and starting from a near stand still. Being stupid, I went for it anyway.

I grabbed the wheel of a rider and drafted to the downhill before the final climb. I then went around him and tucked to get more speed. That momentum carried me up the hill. Ahead were about six riders with two nearing the top - I had about 500 feet to make up. The first four riders I passed with no problem (they had eased up). The last two would be tough. I got past second rider by surprising him. However, the front rider noticed my move and I had to climb on his wheel. I just couldn't get around him. Second again - but I felt pretty good considering how I started the sprint.

No more sprinting for the rest of the day. I was toast! My least favorite stretch - Nature Trail - was even more taxing them normal. Still, it was lots of fun as I feel more and more a part of the group. I have also enjoyed not having the computer during the ride - I just don't like not having the data after the ride! Maybe when I get my Garmin back, I can forget about it until I get home.

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Friday, August 10, 2007


I am a data hound. The more I can know about something I am interested in, the happier I am. However, last night while riding without a computer on my bike for the first time since I've started riding, I found an amount of freedom that reminds me that sometimes the data hound is chained to a tree.

We rode around 35 miles that included two times over Paris Mountain - to the Furman side and then back. It was hot! We stopped once at a station, turned on a hose, and doused ourselves.

On one stretch, the five of us had a really good pace line going. We sustained a 28 mph average for several miles before we ran out of road. That was probably the most fun I've had on a bike in awhile. It is a lot of fun to ride together than against each other.

Climbing up Paris Mountain on the way home, I think I saw Gene and Terri Bucholtz. They were moving along with Gene wearing his Assault on Mount Mitchell jersey. Terri was on a mountain bike. Wow, she is going to be in shape!

I miss not having my data now that I am off the bike. However, it made me listen to my body more while I was in the pedals. I'm not even sure how to explain it, but something about having a computer makes you ride to the device - to the data it gives you - rather than just riding and listening to the clues your body gives.

Ultimately, I'm not sure which way I like best. As with most everything in life, I probably just need to find a balance.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

P3 Ride course breakdown

If you are planning to ride the P3 Ride on September 2nd, you might want to read this. If you aren’t, go on to something else. This is my blow by blow account of each segment I rode on the USA Cycling Pro Championship Road Race course.

What I am hoping to do is average just under one hour and fifteen minutes for the first two laps and then ease off and complete a third lap in one hour and thirty minutes. You have to do the first laps that fast because the organizers will cut off any riders who approach the start/finish after 9:30 AM (the ride starts at 7 AM). So, you have to get those first two laps done in two hours and thirty minutes. Then you have until 11 AM to get that last lap.

I went out alone at around 6 PM. It was 98 degrees as I left and upon my return an hour and eighteen minutes later, the temperature had only dropped to 93. I’m certain that played a role in some of the struggles I had. That is a positive looking toward a 7 AM start time.

Segment 1: I left the intersection of Broad and Main and headed to the base of Paris Mountain. I ended up with an average a tick below 19 mph. This was a stretch of nearly 8 miles. I was really pushing it knowing that this was rolling roads and I hoped to build up some time to “give” when I started to climb. Frankly, I think I overdid it and it hurt me later in the ride. Best scenario for the ride is that I get in a group and we work together. I was banging at about 185 bpm on my HR. Don’t need to do that.

Segment 2: This segment starts at the base of Altamont Road and covers 2.25 miles up to the KOM marker. In that distance, you climb nearly 1000 feet. I have pulled out a 9+ mph average on this climb, but if I try that I don't think I'll get the time I need on the second lap. This ride I actually had to use the climb to recover from segment 1! My average was just over 7 mph. 18:06 m:s is nothing to write home about, but considering I was trying to pace myself and keep my HR low (kept it below or around 180 bpm for the climb) I feel pretty good about it.

Segment 3: Starts at the KOM marker and heads down Altamont to the light at State Park Road. It is a distance of 3.80 miles and if you don't kill yourself climbing in segment 2, you can really get some time coming down. Unfortunately, I had gear problems and had to fight that as I descended. I averaged 24.6 mph with a max speed of 44.1 mph. My HR dropped from an average of 180 bpm in segment 2 to 159 bpm during that time. It took me 9:16 m:s to get off the mountain.

Segment 4: It is a minor climb from the light at State Park Road to the top of Piney Mountain Road. It is less than a mile (.66) and even on the climb I was able to hit 21.5 mph. My average speed in this segment was 15.5 mph. After Paris the heart was happy with a max of 172 bpm and a climbing average of 164 bpm. I was at the top in 2:33 m:s.

Segment 5: This is a moderate downhill that goes from the top of Piney Mountain Road to the light at the intersection of Piney and Pleasantburg. It is roughly the same distance as the climb (.64). You are down before you know it - 1:18 m:s. I hit a top speed of 38.9 - basically without pedaling, but just tucking and coasting down. My heart rate dropped again to a 159 bpm average.

Segment 6: Pleasantburg, right on Rutherford, left of Main Street. This is a segment where I think you can pick up some time. The downhills are good for time, but there is only so much speed you can get. On this section, you can earn some time pedaling and if you still have a group together at this point, I bet you could pick up half a minute or more. Unassisted I averaged 20.3 mph in this rolling segment. On the last downhill portion, I maxed at 32.6 mph. In the 5:55 m:s it took me to complete this section, I had an average HR of 164 bpm with a top bpm of 177.

Segment 7: This is a short segment that includes the last "big" climb on Main Street - it seems big because of what you have gone through to get there! It starts right after the top of the first minor climb and continues to the intersection of Stone Ave. and Main Street. It probably shouldn't be its own segment, but that climb kind of sets it apart and you need to be prepared for it. It will only take you about 2 minutes to cover the .61 miles.

Segment 8: I call this the downtown segment. This is where if you are riding for training you can see your time go down due to the lights. In this case, it wasn't so bad. There wasn't that much stopping. This segment starts at the Stone Ave. and Main Street intersection and follows the "urban" portion of the course to the entry of Cleveland Park. It took me just under 7 minutes to complete this section. I bet you could take 30 seconds to a minute off if the roads were cleared for you. I averaged 17.6 mph and got up to 37.6 mph as I approached the park. My heart was recovering and my average was back to 160 bpm.

Segment 9: This is the Cleveland Park segment. It starts at the entrance of the park off of East Washington. This is a time when you feel good -- the riding is easy enough and you know the end is right around the corner. There are the slight climbs on Woodland Way Circle and East Broad, but I was still able to average 18 mph in this segment. I was pushing it a little to cover the 2.35 miles in 7:51 m:s. I moved my heart up to a max of 181 bpm and averaged 171 bpm.

So, overall, I finished in 1 hour and 18 minutes. In order to get a chance to do three laps on the day of the P3 ride, I will need to average under 1 hour and 15 minutes the first two laps. Then I will have 1 hour and 30 minutes to do that last one. My average of 16.8 over 22.03 miles, is just a little short. I've got to pick up a mile per hour more on my average.

Can I do it in 1:15? I really think I can. There are a number of places where I could pick up time if I pushed just a little. Plus, the roads should be clearer and if I can just connect with some riders who have the same goal I do, we should be able to work together to get more speed with less output. At least, that is my plan!

I'm starting to believe!

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Living without my Edge

I love my Garmin Edge 305 -- except for one thing, the altimeter does not work. It constantly reads 5135 feet. I have reset it, reinstalled the software, and sat it outside for over an hour trying to recalibrate the thing. No go, it just won't work.

After contacting Garmin for the second time, I got the following message from Garmin support.
Thank you for contacting Garmin International,

I am sorry but the problem you are experiencing with your unit will require it to come into GARMIN for a warranty repair. I will be happy to set up a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) for the repair, however I will need additional information to be able to do so. Please email me the following:


Address (physical address, no PO Boxes)

Phone #

Serial # of GPS unit

Description of the Problem

I will email you the address and your RMA number to have the unit shipped back to us for the warranty repair. From the time that we receive the unit, we should have it back to you within 10 days as we will ship it back to you Second Day Express.
Ten days! Let's see, I really need the device tonight, so I will have to send it out tomorrow. If it takes two days to get there (that would be Aug. 10) then I would most likely get the device back a couple of days AFTER my Caesars Head ride. :-( However, the good news is that I should have no problem getting it back before my Ride for Mike. There is even a chance that it will get back to me the day before the CH ride.

Let me go on record to say that the Garmin support has been very good. I have gotten a response within 12 hours from both a Web site request submission and e-mail. I have not had to resort to calling yet. I'll let you know how this progresses...


Saturday, August 04, 2007

My new Hincapie jersey

Yesterday I got a Facebook wall post from Dave McQuaid. He was asking me if I had heard that the cut off time for the P3 was set for 9:30 AM. I went looking on The Greenville News site and couldn't find anything, so I hoped over to Didn't see anything there, but as I was looking for it, I came across the following picture.

This is the George Hincapie autographed jersey that I got during the second fund raising blitz. The autograph isn't real clear - the ink is kind of faint and it runs into some of the jersey color. Still, I didn't raise the money to get a jersey! I'm still deciding what to do with it. It is a small, so I can't wear it. What do you typically do with these sorts of things?

Here for posterities sake is what the site looked like when I was on it...

I was disappointed to learn that the cut off time was 9:30 AM (the ride starts at 7:00 AM and you are supposed to finish as many laps as you can before the cut off). That means we have only 2.5 hours. I will be PUSHING it to get two laps! We will need to average 17.6 mph. The last time I did two laps of the course, I averaged 15.7 mph.

As I was working on this post, I got a message from Dave letting me know that the cut off time is 9:30 AM, BUT if you make the cut off, you can go ahead and finish your lap with the course closing at 11 AM. That is a little better. There is a chance we could get in three laps (about 66 miles - a metric century). Still, I hope next year that move the ride back to Saturday. Having such a short ride with the time pressure takes a lot of the fun out of the ride.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Train Right

I am sore! Last night was interval training night on Paris Mountain. That means I start at the base of the mountain and climb about 1000 feet in 2.25 miles. The first, third, and fifth laps are "easy" laps - I attempt to simply spin up the mountain and try to keep my heart rate down. Laps two and four are "hard" laps - I push myself (still setting a cap on my heart rate so I can learn to control it).

Well, the first lap, I was good and did what I was supposed to do. The second lap, I did push it, but I started focusing on the speed of my climb and did not cap my heart rate. I went into the 90 to 100% range of my max heart rate. From there, it was "down hill."

On the third lap I did ease off, but didn't work to keep my heart rate low. One of the reasons was there were lots of riders out there last night. I either rode up with other riders or got caught with the desire to pass those up ahead. I kind of destroyed my discipline!

I had climbed four times before, but this was the first time to do the fifth one. It was hard. Now this morning I woke up and my whole body was sore. I guess it pays not just to train, but to train right. Hopefully, I learned my lesson!


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Interval training

I have been training the wrong way for the last 3000 miles. I am the type that just can't stand going slow. Problem is, when it comes to cycling, you have to go slow in order to go fast.

If you go fast from the get go, you never get the most out of your muscles. Then by the end of the season, you are running out of power while those who started slow are just coming into theirs.

Here is how I'm told it works. You go slow for longer distances to slowly bring all of your muscles into play. The capillaries begin to spread and attach to the muscles that have not been used as much and this helps get oxygen to your body. This is important when you start going hard. You'll need that oxygen!

If you just hop on and go hard, the body tries to work with what it has. It tries to feed fewer muscles and those muscles get overworked. Overworked muscles are unhappy muscles. Unhappy muscles equal unhappy cyclists.

So, even though it is a little late to change my ways, I have started a plan to do more interval training rides. This is where you go easy for a set time or distance and then go hard for a set time or distance.

Here are my laps of Cleveland Park:

(mi )
M Spd

I was happy to see that on my hard laps (the red ones), I was able to stay under 7 minutes per lap. I also was able to nearly match my last hard lap to my first - only 4 seconds off. That last lap was actually not part of the training. I did a lap with some other cyclists.

The result of this was that I felt like my legs got an even better workout than when I push for an hour. By the way, my average speed was 17.2 mph for 1:26. Even though I felt my legs got a good workout, I recovered much faster. I really think this is going to help.

My plan is to do this most Tuesday or Monday evenings. Thursday evenings are for my climbing training. I'll do intervals there as well, but they will be up Paris Mountain. This Thursday, my plan is to do five "laps" which should give me about 20 miles.

I think I just might be ready for the P3 when it comes around...


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What a day!

I got home from work today to find a yellow Tour De France hat that might brother-in-law brought me from Paris. I looked at it and it felt anti-climatic. I had looked forward to getting it, but now I wondered if I would ever wear it.

It has not been a good week or so for cycling fans. All of the doping scandals made my bright yellow hat seem a little dull. Still, it is a cool hat and I'm sure it will help keep my bald head from getting sunburned.

I put up my hat and headed to the evening meeting at my church. Upon returning home around 9 PM, I turned on the TV to see a BREAKING NEWS banner going across the bottom. It was telling us that Michael Rasmussen had been removed from the Tour by his Rabobank team.

Whoa - that I didn't expect. I was pretty bummed that Rasmussen held off the Disco boys. I had hoped today that Contador would tighten the screws and crack the Dane. I wanted Rasmussen out, but not from being withdrawn - but by getting beat!

We can only hope that this will be the Tour De Changement. Is it too much to hope that this will be the beginning of reformation in the sport? These riders have almost brought the Tour De France - and cycling - to its knees.

I guess I'll put my hat on in hope of that...

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Crawling out from under a rock

I got up this morning to join David "Locomotive" McQuaid for a couple of laps of the USA Cycling Pro Championship Road Race course. We both plan to participate in the ride on Labor Day weekend. The goal is to do as many laps as you can in four hours. We figured we needed to get out there and get a feel for what it would take.

We've done a lap of the course before and I think we have done two before, but I can't remember. Anyway, going out there again today definitely showed us what we need to do! We covered 2 laps - about 44 miles in 2:49 of seat time. If you count the time we spent at stop lights and waiting for Chris Hartzler and his brother-in-law, it took us over three hours.

I felt bad about leaving Chris and Bruce. I'm certain Chris could have kept up with his, but his brother-in-law is just beginning to pick up riding. So, he was only able to hang with us until we reached the bottom of Paris Mountain. Chris connected with us at the top and told McQuaid and me to go on. I think they ended up completing one lap.

Here is a link to my upload from my Edge 305 to Motionbased account. The most relevant portion of the report is the elevation graph. Two climbs of over 1000 ft in just a couple of miles.

The big problem for me is that once I finished, I crashed -- not on the bike, but my body. I thought I would be fine as I had a chance to eat within the first 30 minutes after the ride. However, I ended up just dragging myself around and ended up dragging myself right into bed where I slept pretty solid for an hour. It wasn't until shortly before I started typing this that I felt like I was getting back in shape.

Why? Sure, the climbing was part of it. However, I think it was the way I did the climbing. My first time up I came across the remnants of the Carolina Triathlon shop ride. Of course, that is a carrot and I wanted to pass them all. I did, but my HR spiked at 192 bpm. That push combined with the rest of the ride must have done something to me. I felt better on the second climb because I didn't push myself.

Bottom line is that I've got a lot of work to do before September!

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