Tag Archives: Bob Rentz

A tale of two rides

I woke up before the alarm went off.  The light of the already rising sun was coming through the window.  Over on the dresser were the various items I would need for my morning ride.  After a bit of psyching myself up, I rolled out of bed to get ready to head out to Sunshine Cycle Shop for the Hour of Power.

Friday’s recovery ride had my body feeling pretty good.  The calf that has been giving trouble still hurt slightly, but not nearly as bad as the morning before.  I figured after getting a bite to eat, I would be ready for some fun sprinting.

As I pulled into the lot, I could see a good number of riders.  A quick glance showed that the normal sprinters weren’t around.  Luis was the only one I could see.  Bob sometimes mixes it up, but there was no John, Tyler, Tony, Peter, or any of those guys.  Hmmmm, this could be interesting.

Then Mike came out and announced that we were going to do the traditional route backward.  I guess there would be no need to have anyone there going for the sprints – we wouldn’t know where to attack.  Suddenly, my morning was taking on a whole different feel.

Turns out it was okay.  It was a pretty good workout.  You think that the route will be easier because there are so many long climbs going the traditional route.  However, what goes up must come down.  The difference is that the backward route has more short “popping” climbs.

The one negative was that our stops to wait for the slower riders were much longer.  It was much harder to get the feeling of a sustained effort.  Most times it was Luis, JWinn, Billy (who joined us after the ride started), and myself building a gap and then waiting.

I’m pretty sure that if we hadn’t had the down times I would have averaged some solid wattage for the entire ride.  What that means is that this route is not easier.  As a matter of fact, my average wattage was 189 watts for the entire ride.  Compare that with 162 watts of one of my recent Hour of Power rides.  The climbing?  This morning we climbed 3038 feet cumulative.  The traditional route takes us over 3020 feet.  This route is looking harder all the time!

Still, it just didn’t seem as fun and it didn’t seem to be as good of a work out.  For most part, though, it was good to mix things up.  I’m sure we’ll be doing it some more in the future.

Once back at the shop I hung out for a bit, but I was feeling like I needed to get a bit more in on my legs.  I mentioned to Bob that I was planning on getting in some more miles and he decided to go with me.  It was a simple ride, but it was a great one.

It wasn’t the route.  It was basically an over and back of Altamont Road.  The one change was that Bob decided to take us on Audubon Road.  Other than that we headed over to Furman to cool down in the shade before heading back up to the top and then returning to the shop.

First, it was fun to hang out with Bob.  It seems like a long time since the old crew had been together on one of these rides.  With just the two of us it was kind of like old times.  We were taking it easy, so there was time to talk.

After cresting the top, I started down at an easy pace.  Bob followed.  The air was cool because of the shade and the wind created as I descended.  Over to the right I could see out toward the mountains in the distance.  The bike shifted easily beneath me as I carved my way through the curves.

It was during this section that I got hit with that thought.  It is a sensation that every cyclist experiences.  It is that almost giddy feeling that comes to your upper chest and pops up on your face as a smile.  I call it the “everything’s right with the world” feeling.  You might want to call it a “Now THIS is why I ride my bike” experience.

Of course, we had to turn around and head back.  As we started up Altamont, I told Bob I wasn’t going to press my lap button to time the climb.  This one was going to go unrecorded.  We discussed what we thought our times might be.  I guessed it could be anywhere between 16 and 18 minutes.

What a difference it makes riding with someone!  The climb seemed to go much faster with someone to talk to and get encouragement from during the hateful sections.  As we neared the top, I saw a lone rider ahead of us.  It was an encouragement to keep my pace up and perhaps we could catch him before the top.

He must have heard us talking because he picked up his pace.  As we neared the wall I said to Bob, “He can have it.”  Then we turned onto that final climb.  I put my head down and just began to pace it up.  When I glanced up, I saw that the rider ahead was much closer now.  Then I went around him.  Whew!  He was suffering!

At the top I glanced at my computer.  Yes, I didn’t use the timer, but I couldn’t help but notice the time of day as we started the climb.  Turns out we covered the two miles in 15 minutes and 30 seconds.  That really wasn’t so bad for not trying.

Right there at the first turn from the top was a dad and his two daughters with a lemonade stand.  The Life’s Little Instruction Book says to always stop and buy lemonade from these young entrepreneurs, so we pulled up and got a couple of cups.  Wow!  That was some great lemonade!

From there is was an easy ride back to Sunshine Cycle Shop.  That second 22 mile ride took as long to complete as the earlier 28 mile one.  We climbed nearly as much, though we didn’t work quite as hard.  If I had to rate the two, I’d have to give the second one the higher score.

Overall it was a good day – and a good week.  I’ve finally started getting in some +100 mile weeks.  Yep, I haven’t had a 200 mile week in ages.  This month has been my biggest month yet for the year with over 450 miles.  In the past, July has always been a good mileage month.  I’m looking forward to it.

Those Hour of Power rides can be so much fun

I had three pretty hard days of riding Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  Thursday was a very tough POA Cycling Summer Series crit.  Friday was an unplanned 2+ hour ride that included a 12 minute push up Paris Mountain in 90+ degree heat.  Then I got up early on Saturday to do the Hour of Power.

Probably most riders from Greenville were in Athens for the racing or participating in the Meal for Wheels ride.  However, there were ten of us on hand for the 8 AM ride.  We rolled out for a fun morning.

I won’t spend too much time on all the action.  There were three instances that added a little more fun to the morning.  Let’s get started on Meece Bridge Road.

We were stretching things out a bit on the road.  Bob Rentz was leading the pack as we started the climb to the sprint zone.  I was sitting on his wheel when I saw Ed Buffington come up beside Bob to say something.  Then Bob slowed just a bit, but not too much.

Then Tony Warmuth came by and the sprint was on.  Bob jumped on his wheel and I stayed where I was.  We continued until we neared the traditional spot where someone tries to close the deal.  I decided to get a jump and took off a little early.

I pushed pretty hard and then looked to see if there was anyone on my wheel.  No wheel.  No shadow.  No rider.  I twisted to get a better view.  There was no one there!  I had killed myself and no one reacted to even make it interesting!

I wondered if this meant that the morning would be just a social ride – which is just fine – it is just that normally that isn’t the case.  We always regroup for slower riders, but typically it is all on during the sprint zones.  Socialize during the neutral zones.  Kill each other in the attack zones.

We pulled up to the stop sign to regroup and Tony had to head to work.  Ed left us at that point as well.  I learned that what he had told Bob was to slow because he was breaking up the field.  Well, that broke it up.

Now there were eight of us.  We rode on together talking and recovering from the move.  We were getting closer to the quarry road.  It all started in a pace line.

We neared the turn that would take us to the climb.  Randy Hutchison, John James, Rob Crouch, and I were on the front at this point.  Randy and Rob went ahead while John and I followed at a little slower pace.

I decided to turn this into a team deal.  My plan was to hold a steady pace knowing that we would probably catch Randy and Rob on the start of the climb.  Then when we reached the climb I would lay down a steady hurting while John sat back for the final move.

It was one of the most fun points of the day because it worked to perfection.  I just kept tapping out the cadence.  We passed Randy and Rob and then there were just a couple of riders on my wheel.  I could look under my arm and see the wheel inches from mine.

I picked up the pace some more.  I started to hear labored breathing.  Then I saw John going around me.  I kept my pace.  Still the wheel was there inches away.  John was going up the road.  I had the urge to drop the rider on my wheel and took off after John.

It wasn’t my intention to try to beat him.  I wouldn’t have been able to anyway.  However, he slowed and I did catch up to him as we neared the line.  He reached his hand back to do a track sling, but I didn’t have the strength to get a good hold on his hand.  I crossed the line just behind.

John returned the favor on the Paris Mountain State Park sprint.  We were chasing down Randy who had launched the attack.  John pulled me past him.  Then he pulled off.  I was now on point with a good amount of the sprint left.  I didn’t like that.

I eased my pace just slightly so that hopefully a rider or two would come past me.  Here came John and Randy.  I jumped in behind them as we raced toward the bottom of the dam.  Then when we hit the climb, John attacked.  I followed him up.  I saw him look back and then say, “You’ve got it.”  I left him and churned up the climb.  “Keep going,” I heard John say behind me.  I picked it up a bit and reached the top first.

I’ve been doing Hour of Power for years.  This was the first one since I joined the POA Cycling Team. Back when I first started, I never dreamed that I would be doing stuff like this.  I really never thought I would be racing on the same team as John – who is someone I looked up to as a rider since the beginning.  It was really cool to have those two POA Cycling kits crossing the line on twin Giant TCR Advanced road machines.

Maybe someday we’ll be able to do that when it really counts.  However, the more I think about it, that IS when it really counts.  When you are out riding with friends and having these good natured competitions there is something you don’t get in a structured race.

Oh, I finally met John Davidson who, it turns out, lives about four blocks from me.  We rode back home together from Sunshine Cycle Shop.  Good guy.  I appreciate what he does for the Donaldson Center C ride.

Sometimes you just need a Giant carrot

First things first.  You’ll notice the sponsor section over to the right – on the main page.  I’m trying to line up some sponsors for the blog and I’m glad to say that Quarq is the first on board.  Obviously, I’m looking for sponsors who have products I use and believe in.  Quarq falls in the category.  Thanks Jim and Mieke!

Now for the ride. I sent a text message to John James early in the day.  We had been getting together to do some riding and Thursday evening was supposed to be the next opportunity.  He responded with “I’m riding easy.”  I was hoping he would say that.  A hard ride on Tuesday and Wednesday had me tired.

When I showed up I found that Bob Rentz was there.  Now things were getting to be like old times.  Mike and Art had ridden the night before so a reunion wouldn’t be complete.  Matt – Turner, that is – was there as was Anthony and Rob.  The only guy along for the ride that I hadn’t ridden with before was James Barker, the regional sales representative for Giant.

We rolled out and indeed it was a nice leisurely ride for the most part.  For the first hour we averaged 161 watts.  The only excitement during that hour was nearly having the whole group taken out by a family with a bassett hound in the middle of the road.

We came around a curve and there they were.  The poor dog didn’t even move.  I did my best to keep from taking down both Matt and myself when my wheel got caught between his wheel and deraileur.

The only other dog issue came when a little wiener dog came flying out in the road to eat me up.  I had been lulled to a false sense of safety because most of the homes in that area had hidden fencing.  So, as I saw the little runt heading across the grass toward us, I figured he would stop.  No.  He kept coming.  My fear wasn’t that he would bite me.  I was afraid he would get that pointed nose stuck in my spokes!

Then it was time to climb Altamont.  I started up behind Matt and James.  This would be James’ first attempt up the climb.  I was curious to see how he would do.

Matt eased up some and then Anthony came to join us.  Before long it was just James, Anthony, and myself.  At the halfway point, Anthony backed off and I was left to hang onto James’ wheel.

He didn’t look in trouble at all.  He was just holding a steady cadence.  I started getting into difficulty.  This was not supposed to be a night for an effort.  With about a third to go, I eased up just slightly and just focused on my own pace.

I figured the one thing I had going for me was that James had not climbed this road before.  He had never encountered “The Wall.”  I decided to recover a bit and see where he was in front of me when we were both on that stretch.

When I entered the straight, I could see him about halfway up.  I dropped my gear about three rings and stood on it to see if I could at least come up close behind him.  As I reached the halfway point, I looked up to see him in trouble.  Ah! There was a chance!

I started huffing and puffing to get around him and passed him in the last 30 to 50 meters.  I rolled across the KOM line in 12 minutes and 12 seconds – just 7 seconds off of my personal best.  My Quarq CinQo was telling me I had put out an average of 304 watts for the 12 minute climb.  Mr. Barker was a very good carrot!

I figure he came across no more that 15 seconds later.  So, his first ever attempt of Altamont was around 12 minutes and 30 seconds.  I guarantee that his second time would be better.  Matt put in a 13:12 effort – a personal best for the big man.

Of course, we still had to go down.  Anthony took off to claim that prize.  Matt and I took off after him.  Sure enough, James was right on our tail.

Matt had his best climb ever up the mountain, but when he is along on a ride I figure the downhill portion belongs to him.  He and Anthony were tearing it up and I was just along for the ride.  I’m still a little fearful after my broken finger incident so I was not taking some of the turns as hot as they.  I slowed James down a bit.

As we came off the mountain it was Matt in front with Anthony, myself, and James finishing up the train.  I tried to get some momentum to come out of the draft, but the two guys in front were just too strong to get around.

The best part?  I feel great!  This weekend is the State Criterium Championships and I’ll be joining my teammates to see how we can do.  I’ll admit that this is not my favorite style of racing, but maybe if I just do it some more I’ll get used to it.

All I know is that we have some awesome bikes to ride on out there.  Thanks, James!

Two steps forward. One step back.

The thought of climbing Altamont didn’t excite me. The only reason I got on my bike and headed toward the mountain was because I was supposed to meet Bob Rentz and we were going to attack the road together. I crested the KOM pretty well the last two times I tried for my personal best, but I just wasn’t feeling it for this attempt.

All day I had felt odd. I felt shaky and my legs were weak. Had I not known Bob was expecting me, I probably would have just done an easy ride in the park. Yet, there we were heading over the mountain for an attempt.

We started off together. At first I thought I would adjust my attempt to match what Bob was doing. However, I changed my mind and decided to let him take his pace and I would do my own. What happened was revealing.

Up until the water tower we were pretty much together. I kept up a faster pace once we got there and put a pretty good sized gap on Bob. However, it was not long after we cleared that section that Bob was back on my wheel. We continued this way for some time and reached the halfway point together in under 5 minutes and 50 seconds.

Not much to say after that. I just was watching Bob’s wheel in front of me. A couple of times I could sense I was losing it, but seeing him right there gave me motivation to keep going.

Two turns from the wall, I just couldn’t maintain the pace. I was turning as hard as I could, but I just wasn’t creating the power to keep up with him. As we turned onto the wall, Bob was about 20 yards in front of me. I saw him shift and stand as he passed the first drive to the right. After that, I was just looking down at my Garmin willing myself to keep pushing.

Way to go, Bob! He got his personal best at 11 minutes 45 seconds. I crossed the line with a respectable 12 minutes 12 seconds time. Honestly, based on how I was feeling going into it, that was pretty good.

So, after two times in a row getting a personal best, I have slipped back a few seconds. I knew that was going to happen. The bottom line is I am very close and the key is just finding the proper pacing up the mountain. The next time out I’m going to slow it down on the water tower section. Hey, it worked for Bob!

Oh, and sorry Bob for talking your ear off!

Hincapie Watch:

A couple of neat things from the world of Hincapie. The new georgehincapie.com launched officially yesterday. It is going to be pretty cool. George will be interviewed by velonews.com during the Tour de France and the video can be found on his site (and velonews.com). The data from George’s cycling computer will also be displayed on the site. You’ll be able to see what a pro goes through while completing the stages. I’ve also enjoyed the iPhone photos that get uploaded on occasion.

It was also announced yesterday that George will be participating in the Olympics. It will be his fifth! Talk about longevity. If I’m not mistaken, he is the American with the most Tour starts as well.