I am Yertle the Turtle

Back at the turn of the 20th century, there was a resort in Taylors, South Carolina named Chick Springs. It got its name because of a mineral spring located on some land owned by a man named Chick. There was even a large hotel at which travelers from all over would come to and stay. Now, a factory stands where the hotel once stood. One of the last reminders of the heyday of the resort is a road named Chick Springs Road.

Now, that is over in Taylors, but about 15 minutes away by car you come to my neighborhood in Greenville. Only about 4 minutes from my house is a short road — just over a mile — named Chick Springs Road. There is no spring near by on land owned by a man named Chick. I’m not sure how the road ended up with the name. Could it be that back around 1900 Wade Hampton Blvd. was Chick Springs and this road in Greenville once connected with the road in Taylors?

I’m sure you could care less. You’re wondering what a road named Chick Springs has to do with Yertle the Turtle. Believe it or not, there is a connection.

My Chick Springs — as opposed to the Taylors’ Chick Springs — is home to the Strava segment named “Chick Springs TT.” The story I hear is that it was created by some guys who used the section of road to do team time trials when coming back toward Greenville after riding out beyond Paris Mountain. That team drafting led to a pretty low segment time of 2:05.

When I discovered that I was within 10 seconds of the mark after trying for it, I got a little obsessed with owning the KOM award for the segment. I tried and tried and kept coming up short by one or two seconds. Well, Tuesday, I tried once more.

Monday I played golf and I woke up on Tuesday hurting in places I’m not normally sore. The extent of me playing golf is one or two charity events a year. So, I measure success more by how many balls I have left at the end rather than my score.

I got off from work around lunch so that I could get home and start working on the house in anticipation of an appraisal. I was climbing up ladders trying to clean the mildew off of my gutters and preparing to paint some trim. Finally, around 5 PM I decided to straighten things up and go ride my bike.

The Time-Crunched Cyclist Plan called for me to do 6 x 2 minute Power Intervals. Ahhhh, the perfect opportunity to go attack Chick Springs. I would do like I did before and give one good all out effort to get the KOM. Then I would back off and do what I should be doing and keep the wattage between 300 and 320 for the other five intervals.

As I headed out onto Rutherford Road to warmup, I had a bit of excitement start creeping into my thoughts. The legs were feeling really good. I was making the first climb up to the Farmers Market without a problem. I knew I would be able to get a bit more out of my legs.

I’ve learned a bit about the technique I needed to get a good time. 1) go hard on the beginning downhill section, but not too hard, 2) keep it clean through the turns, and 3) don’t stay in the normal time trial position when the road begins to kick up.

That last idea I learned the last time I attempted the segment. I came within a second of a tie for the KOM even after I had to brake because of a car turning in front of me. After the car turned, I came out of the extended bars and grabbed the bars out too the side. However, I also lowered myself so that I was nearing touching the bars with my chin. I was able to produce more power this way on the upward grade.

So, with all this in mind, I came onto the road. The gearing was perfect. I was spinning at a high rate, but still was not spinning out. Traffic was perfect. There was just one car a distance ahead of me and I soon lost sight of it in the turns.

When I hit the upward grade, I stayed seated but adjusted my grip. I used my upper body along with my legs to squeeze a bit more power into the pedals. I tucked back down as I began to go into the last turn — which I finally made (along with the other turns) without altering my line.

Now I just had to climb the few meters up to the stop sign. It seemed like it would never come and I could feel myself losing momentum. I had a moment of panic and tried to kick start again. Finally, I threw the bike forward to the line and pressed the lap button on my Garmin.

At first I couldn’t see it clearly. The contacts had dried a bit from the wind. Was that a 2:08 or a 2:03? I blinked several times and finally got focused. 2:03! It was a 3! If Strava matched up with my Garmin time, then that would mean that I beat the current KOM time by 2 seconds.

I would have to wait, I still had five more intervals at power to do. However, the possibility that I would get the KOM made the bike seem lighter and I had no trouble wrapping up the intervals and then cooling down with a ride through town.

Sure enough, Strava showed me the crown. Now, I am king of my domain. Like Yertle the Turtle I am the king of all that I see.

Of course, that is until someone burps and I come crashing down! Without thinking very hard, I can count off on two hands some folks who could go out there and knock me off the top. The point is, it isn’t the fact that I’ve “beaten everyone” that makes the award mean something. It is the fact that I beat myself and reached a goal that I first questioned.

I’ll just enjoy it while I have it!