Back to the HOP

My last post probably gave you the indication that I was facing some motivation issues. It seems that ever since I upgraded to Category 3, I’ve been having some “lost in the weeds” moments. I’ve lost a bit of focus.

I think part of that loss of determination has had to do with the time trial bike and iBike issues. I’m just not comfortable yet on the TT bike. Part of that discomfort is due to the problems I’ve been having getting the iBike set up.

It is hard for me to follow the work out programs that my coach is giving me. The problem is determining exactly what numbers I’m working with. Now, I don’t want to blame this all on the iBike. I simply have not had the time to learn how to make sure that it is configured correctly.

Certainly, it is not nearly as easy to work with the computer than it is to work with my Garmin-Quarq CinQo combination. Still, I’ve seen enough of the potential to say that I believe I can make good use of the iBike. I’ll just need some time to devote to learning how to set it up and use it.

The other issue with the TT bike is that it isn’t as easy to find the terrain to train with. It is somewhat like a mountain bike. To make the best use of the bike, I need to have it out of traffic and without too much climbing involved. This means it takes more time getting to and from an area to train. That is one thing I just don’t have a lot of.

So, I was very happy when my coach told me to ride the Sunshine Cycle Shop Hour of Power shop ride on Saturday. I was told to “just let the meter run.” This means, I got to ride how I felt. Pressure was off and the fun was on!

There wasn’t a large group that started out. However, right from the start, Tyler Crotts went to the front and set a faster pace. We all followed. It was uncharacteristically quiet in the group. We were just rolling along in silence.

We then neared Meece Bridge Road — it was time for the Pee Tree Sprint. Knowing that this was a small group I thought I would play around a bit. I attacked early. As I set off, I knew I would hear about it because the “official” attack zone was after Meece Bridge.

Still, I wasn’t wanting a field sprint. My thought was to create a selection by attacking early. My guess was that Tyler and a French rider who has joined us on several rides would separate with me from the group. My next goal would be to start laying down a pace that would wear them down and the hold it to keep a sprint from developing in the closing meters.

I have to hand it to Tyler. He stayed right there. I would see his shadow coming up behind me as we began the final move to the straight that would lead to the sprint. It was here I made my fatal error.

It was at that point I should have laid it down hard. Instead I let the fact that I had been unable to shake him get in my brain and didn’t follow my plan to the end. Instead, I let Tyler sit there on my wheel. I entered a moment of indecision — do I try to ride him off or wait for the sprint?

I ended up doing neither very well. I did pick it up, but it was too late and then I started a half-hearted sprint. Basically, I just have him a nice little lead-out. I determined I wouldn’t do that again!

So, at the quarry road, I determined I would exact my revenge. On the way there we stopped to regroup at an intersection. While there, Mike found a long rooster feather on the road. He handed it to me and I stuck in in my helmet. Then we started off again with the feather fluttering out the back of my head.

As we neared the quarry road climb, Mike started cracking all sorts of “chicken” puns. It was just one after the other. We rode along egging him on to come up with a new one. Meanwhile, Web and Tyler went on ahead. By the time I reached the bottom they were well on their way up the climb.

It felt so good just to find a rhythm and start reeling them in. Before we reached the halfway point, I saw Tyler sit up and look back. I knew then he wouldn’t be contesting it. It didn’t matter, I wanted to let it out. So, I kept the pace strong until near the very end.

Basically, the same thing happened at the next two contested points — the Paris Mountain State Park gate and Nature Trail. I finished alone at the top of each of them simply because no one really challenged. That was okay. The main thing was that I got some angst out of my system.

I split off from the group at that point to go do another hour by climbing Paris Mountain up Audubon Road. About thirty minutes after finishing Nature Trail I was on top of the mountain by the towers looking out over a hazy Greenville. After taking it in, I headed back to the shop to grab a coffee and hang out with the guys for a bit.

These were the days that first got me into riding. It is good to return to them ever so often just to remember what it was like. I’m sure that once my race calendar picks up again I’ll be raring to go. However, it is always nice to know that I can go back to the HOP.