Tag Archives: Boyd Johnson

The trials of learning to time trial

Time flies when you are having fun. This is even true for the time-crunched cyclist. Amazingly, I have only two weeks left to use the Time-Crunched Cyclist Plan. I’d have to say that I’ve been pleased with the results so far.

The bottom line is I was able to compete in a criterium style race and mix it up. That is what the plan says it can do for you. It will be interesting to see where I am at when the full 12 weeks are complete.

Thursday night will be a new experience and we’ll see how the TCCP works out for me. It is time for the Greenville Spinnners’ Summer Time Trial series. I’ll be heading over to Donaldson Center to participate in a 10 mile out and back individual time trial.

I’ve got a goal to go after from last year. I think I’ve learned a little bit about making a time trial effort each time I have attempted one. With a little bit of mental discipline, I hope I can put it into practice and beat my PB of 23:08.

The TT cockpit helps cut down wind resistance

Yesterday, I rolled out the Felt with my time trial profile. The AR is a road bike with a lot of TT bike characteristics. It is very similar to some older Felt TT bike frames. So, by simply switching out the “cockpit” you can go from a road bike to a TT bike — with some compromises.

My plan was to get out and ride just to get comfortable with the position on the bike. Steering can be a nervous endeavor when your elbows are centered near the stem and you arms are stretched out in front of your shoulders. Speed wasn’t my goal. Confidence on the bike was the plan.

The TCCP called for me to put in 1:3o EnduranceMiles. There would be no need for intervals or hard efforts. I headed out to the Swamp Rabbit Trail.

Normally, I don’t think the SRT is a good choice for a TT bike. You aren’t supposed to be riding at high speeds on the trail and when it is crowded, a TT setup can be quite dangerous. Of course, the SRT is still the best way to get out of town. If you are looking for a smooth, relatively flat surface, it is a good option.

Once I got out there I was feeling very comfortable and put out some bursts when I reached “The Swamp” — a long section with no stopping and where you can see for a distance. The thought came into my mind to go to the Chick Springs TT segment and attempt to move up on the Strava leader board.

I saw that Boyd Johnson had moved into third place with a time of 2:09. I knew that he was trying to see if he could take the top spot. Maybe I could get it before he did.

As I was riding back toward Greenville, I happened past the new location for Boyd Cycling — it is located right off the trail beside the Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery. I saw Boyd’s van outside so I swung in for a look at the still under construction digs.

It is good to see the success that Boyd is having. I think the new location is going to be another step in the progression for his company. I’ve got a lot of respect for someone who takes a risk and works hard to turn that risk into success. I’m looking forward to the grand opening coming up in less than a month.

We talked about Chick Springs. Boyd said that the time that currently stands was part of a team time trial. That means it was going to be hard for an individual to take the top spot. He had tried it a day earlier on his time trial rig and came up about 4 seconds short.

I said goodbye to Boyd and headed for the segment. Knowing that I have a tendency to go too fast in the start and then fading toward the end, I determined I would keep myself under control for the downhill portion of the route. Then I would give what I had left when the road began to kick up. I was going to have to trust in the equipment and position to get me a good time.

I came into the segment with a rolling start. My goal of spinning my legs just under that point where I felt like I was pushing too hard seemed to be working. I was holding a speed of over 36 mph for much of this section.

The I reached the point where the road leveled a bit more. I started to feel the effort at that point. Still, I felt as though I was on top of it. Looking back, I realize that I could have pushed a bit more at that point. I still had the final kick up at the end in my mind. No use pushing hard just to lose time in the last few meters.

Then I went around the final left turn and a car was coming toward me in the turn. That sounds dangerous, but it wasn’t. I was well within my lane and he in his. However, it caused me to lose my concentration for just a moment and my bike washed toward to edge of the road. I let up to correct it and then got back into the effort.

Now I was climbing up the final little kick. I was debating with myself whether to stay in my position or stand up and attack. One would keep my momentum, but could possibly keep me from getting more power. The other would cause me to have a short drop in momentum, but with enough energy would allow me to increase my power. I stayed seated and pushed through to the end.

I got home hoping to to see a little crown beside the Chick Springs TT segment in my Strava profile. Instead, I saw that I had my second best time. Interestingly, it was the same time as Boyd’s last attempt at 2:09.

That time will fall. It might be today!

Boyd Bikes c50’s – First impression

Boyd Bikes have been mentioned here on Low Cadence before. My initial interest with the bike brand was simply because Boyd Johnson, the founder of the business, was a local rider who has been helpful to me as a novice racer. Its always nice when the sentimental interest is backed up by a solid product.

While I have not yet ridden a Boyd frame, I have had the opportunity to try some of his wheels. Yesterday presented my chance to get rolling on some of the 50mm carbon clinchers he offers. I still haven’t been disappointed.

My only complaint with this wheel set was the fact that they weren’t mine! Nicole Johnson took them off her bike. That meant I ended up with Team Kenda green tags and hubs on the wheels. I overcame this slight issue by imagining the green was black. Yeah… that’s better!

Seriously though, I wasn’t riding the wheels to see how they looked on the bike. I must admit that they do look pretty sweet and with black hubs and tags they would be perfect. The point of this test was to see what I thought of the handling and ride quality. Ultimately, I would be deciding whether to put my own set on the bike.

I had talked with Boyd about the 38mm wheels. He suggested that I consider the 50’s instead. His reasons were that the 50’s made for the best all-around wheel set. They were not too heavy on the climbs, were not so deep that they became troublesome in the crosswinds, and they were deep enough to give some aerodynamic advantage.

So, that found me heading toward Paris Mountain on a beautiful Greenville day. Why the mountain? My training called for repeats. Maybe not the best test for the wheels, but it is what I had to do. Plus, it would give me an opportunity to test the wheels climbing and descending.

Turns out I had a very good chance to get a feel for the wheels on the CVS side of Altamont Road. There is some climbing, but also some rollers that allow you to get up some speed. Of course, on the backside it is just plain old grunt and grind. I would get the whole picture.

First, there is one thing all the Boyd wheels share: the hubs. I love these things. It is the consistent thread between all the wheels and regardless of which set you are on, you are going to love these hubs. They are as smooth as corn-silk powder on a baby’s bottom.

Second, you have to take a look at the carbon rims. I go with the clinchers because I just don’t see the advantage for a rider at my level getting into the tubular stuff. It might make them a tad heavier, but the aerodynamic properties are the same. Those properties were evident as I rode my test.

The word that comes to mind is “slice.” The wheels really seemed to slice through the wind. Once the mass got spinning, it was as though it was going to run off on you. The feeling was that I was getting more speed with less power. Indeed, I beat my normal time to the top on the CVS side.

Descending was a pleasure. The wheels are stiff and you have a solid feel. Even at descending speeds going into bends, I did not feel any push from the wind cutting across the rims and spokes.

The only thing I did not like was the fact that I must have gotten Nicole’s brake pads on the wrong calipers. The wheels were screeching so badly when I started to stop at the bottom that I was glad I didn’t know the guy getting ready to start his climb. I’m assuming that this issue will go away once the pads contour themselves to the carbon surface.

As for climbing, the weight of the wheel did not set me back so much from my current wheel set of choice (Mavic Ksyrium SLs). While not the optimum wheels for climbing, they do seem to fit that part of their description of being a solid all-around wheel set.

Would I buy a set? Let me take them out again today when I have the opportunity to take in some flatter and faster sections of road, and I’ll let you know. Only, if I do get a set, they won’t be green.

Ahhhhh, a rest day

After only three days back on the bike after a rest week, I’m very happy to announce that today is a rest day! It has been a hard start to my next segment of training. Tomorrow I get back at it with repeats on Paris Mountain. Someday I think I’m going to take a real rest day.

Saturday was my FTP — a 20 minute all out time trial with a build up and cool down. Sunday really wasn’t that bad. It was my opportunity to cleanse my quads from the effort of Saturday. With the weather the way it was, I ended up doing some easy spinning on the trainer while watching some TV.

Monday was a different matter. I did my VO2 max workout with some 30-30’s. The 3 minute and 2 minutes were all over 300 watts. Then it was time for the 3 sets of 5 30 second bursts. I managed to average over 500 watts for first two sets and over 450 watts on the last one. By the end of the last one my chest was hurting. I might have thought I was having a heart attack, but the pain was on the wrong side. Maybe my right lung was getting ready to pop out!

Then last night it was time to head out to Donal… I mean, SCTAC… for the World Championships. Before the race (and it is a race, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) I was talking with Jim, my coach. He was telling me that my power was looking good and that I should have a good opportunity to participate in the action. At that point, I was wishing I could share in his optimism.

My legs were tired. They felt good… that bad kind of good… where they feel heavy and relaxed. As a cyclist you want to feel that your legs have snap. Instead my legs felt like they were on cold medicine.

To make matters worse, I had not time to warm up. The first lap was going to have to be my warm up lap. On a night when we planned to do only four laps, that is not good. The hounds would be unleashed early and things would get moving soon.

It wasn’t until about 2 and a half laps in that I felt good in my legs. Up to that point I was really struggling to stay up with the pace. My heart and lungs weren’t giving me much trouble, but my legs felt like they were working really hard. Finally, in the third lap I was able to ride at pace without feeling like I was about to drop.

By that time the break of the day had happened. Thad Dulin, Boyd Johnson, our man Hank McCullough, and a couple of other riders had a sizable gap. I wasn’t even aware that Hank was up there, so I was working a bit to help close that gap. Had I known, I would have backed off a bit.

What I discovered in the fourth lap was that while my legs were working well enough to pace in the group and even do some pulling on the front, I did not have any power to launch. This was evident as we entered the final kilometers. The pace picked up and the group surged. My legs felt like they were moving in slow motion. I ended up fading back from about 10th in the field on the last incline and just hanging onto the rear of the field.

My computer tells me I averaged 25 mph for the nearly 30 miles of racing for 1:08. The average power was over 250 watts.  It still makes me chuckle to think that an A group “ride” at Donald… I mean SCTAC… is faster and requires more power than your typical Category 4 race.

That brings us to this morning. No bike for me today. It is a rest day. My instructions for a rest day are, “Relax, nap, take a bath. Go to bed earlier. Avoid your bike and the world of cycling as much as possible today to refresh your mind as well.” Yeah, right!

I do think that on a week during my taper for an A race, I will take a REAL rest day. I’ll take a day off work and sleep in, relax, nap, get a massage, skip the blog, avoid the bike, and get to bed earlier. It would be interesting to see what a real rest day could do for me.

All I know is that after the last four days, I’ll take what I can get!

Boyd’s Bow and Aero

One of the neat things about riding the Tuesday Night World Championships is you never know what Boyd Johnson is going to have in the back of his car. This Tuesday it was a sample of one of his first Bow and Aero TT frames with the new paint scheme. I got a chance to hold it and inspect the lines up close. Nice.

Boyd Bow and Aero TT frame

Click to enlarge

The frame I was holding was a bit smaller than I would ride, but the colors would go great with my POA Cycling kit! It was light, but solid feeling. Some carbon bikes now days almost feel like you are holding paper. I’m certain once this frame gets built up, it will give a feeling of confidence.

The lines are unique – especially the front portion of the frame. You can definitely see the “Bow” in the rear and the “Areo” on the front. By the way, it is all perfectly UCI legal. There are no added on nose pieces here.

I haven’t seen one of these built up yet. However, Boyd did tweet a picture of one he is building up for his Globalbike team. I’m still partial to the red, black, and white frame. Can’t wait to see that one completed and up close. You can see pictures of the cable and component placement at BoydBikes.com.

Globalbike Bow and Aero

Click to enlarge

Actually, I have never ridden a time trial bike before. I’ve never ridden an official time trial either. Only once have I gone out to a course designated as a TT course and attempted a run. I did it with the Merckx style. For my non-cycling friends, that is a method named after famous cyclist Eddy Merckx. It is when you time trial using a traditional bicycle setup. People say you are “Merckxing it”.

I do hope to try a TT or so this year. A friend who is not currently able to ride his TT bike is going to let me borrow it. I guess I need to start practicing on it soon. The Greenville Spinners time trial events are coming up soon as well as the SC TT Championships.

Who knows, maybe someday I’ll have my own Bow and Aero.

POA had me movin and Boyd had me rollin

This first weekend of racing with the POA Cycling Team has me looking forward to the next opportunity to roll on the tarmac with my teammates. Having a team has many advantages. You have support that a lone rider would never have. With great sponsors there are opportunities to get equipment and services you would not normally afford.

One deal I have not taken advantage of are the wheels. This season I stuck with my Ksyriums. My upgrade budget got cleaned out when I got the SRAM Red group. So, I was excited with Boyd Johnson offered to let me use a set of his alloy wheels for the first weekend of the Greenville Spring Training Series.

I’ve mentioned Boyd before, but primarily to talk about his venture of starting his own line of bikes. You can see his offerings at his web site: BoydBikes.com. However, I’ve been keeping an eye on the wheels he has been turning out as well.

Boyd has his hubs specifically machined for the wheels and couples them together with top of the line spokes and rims to create a solid set of wheels. Granted, I have not tried his carbon wheel sets, but I have to say I was impressed with these.

The first things I fell in love with were the hubs. Not only are they pleasant to look at, but they are as smooth as silk. Did I mention that you aren’t hauling a lot of weight around? The front hub weighs in at around 67 grams and the rear 255 grams.

The Sapim CX Ray spokes are slightly less wide than my SLs. This is to give a balance between aerodynamics and stability in crosswinds. The rims I was rolling on weigh in at 455 grams. The setup makes for a great combination.

Granted, carbon they are not, but I’m not sure I’ll ever own a set of carbon wheels. I need a wheel set that can do double duty — light enough to be fast when I need it and tough enough for those nasty roads we get sometimes. These wheels fit the need.

Saturday’s race was at Donaldson Center. We switched the wheels right before I headed out to race. Frankly, I was a little concerned since there are some pretty rough sections — including the notorious train tracks. However, after the first pass over the tracks I was set at ease.

Over the roughest sections there was nary a rattle. The wheels took the shock well and I held control. Before long I wasn’t thinking of the wheels at all.

Sunday was a different situation. I was on a smooth test track. However, the speeds would be much higher and there was a stronger crosswind to deal with. Once again the wheels showed they had what it took to keep me upright and headed like an arrow.

It was the one thing that did come to mind during the race. The wheels performed great in the crosswind. Coming out of the corner from a headwind to a crosswind there was no push. I was very pleased and was glad to bring Boyd’s wheels across the line with a top 5 finish.

Boyd asked me what I thought. I told him that to me the greatest compliment I could give is that I didn’t think of them! Normally, you only think of your wheels when they’re doing something you don’t like. With Boyd Bike wheels I felt comfortable and confident in less than a single race.

Pick up a Boyd Bike wheel and spin it in your hands. The craftsmanship shows — and it won’t make your arm tired either. Put it on your bike and you’ll be rolling with confidence. At $500 for a set of clinchers it is well worth the price. Plus, Boyd has several color options you can go with for a custom look.

Am I biased? You bet. I want Boyd to succeed. However, I know that if I don’t tell the truth here at Low Cadence, it will come back to haunt me.  Go try your own Boyd wheel set. Tell me they aren’t as good as wheels twice the price.

Drawing with Crayons: My first UWBL of the winter

It wasn’t until this Saturday that I was able to make it to the Upstate Winter Bicycle League. It wasn’t that I hadn’t wanted to earlier, but it seemed that something kept coming up that kept me away. The first one was canceled due to weather and then I was either out of town, sick, or had another obligation. So, it was with a little bit of caution I approached my first one.

Why the caution? One reason is the fact that I hadn’t ridden over 60 miles since October. This one was slated to go 84 miles with three sprints and attack zones thrown into the mix. I was seriously wondering if I might just come dragging in behind the SAG after the four hours on the bike.

My second reason for caution is the fact that I had not ridden in a competitive group since the POA Cycling Team Fall Extravaganza. Let me tell you… UWBL A group is a competitive ride! It is a training ride not just for getting in your base miles. It is a training ride of practicing race tactics and sprint technique. It takes a little bit to get back in the swing of things going nearly 40 miles an hour down the road only a foot away from people on either side of you!

At least the weather started out nice. It was in the mid-40s, but after the days in the 20s and 30s we’ve had recently it seemed like a heat wave! By the time we finished we were in the 50s, but the rain set in and we were all wet.

I figured there were at least 80 riders out. There were a good number of POA Cycling Team members representing. It had been awhile since we had that many at the event. Jae Bowen was our man for the ride seeing how he had points towards the Pink Jersey.

It was fun to get back out there. However, it wasn’t supposed to be all fun for me. I had training to do. My instructions from coach were to 1) stay near the front and be efficient, 2) amass 350 TSS points, and 3) play around in the final sprint if my legs felt up to it.

With the final sprint in mind, I tried to tuck in and hide for a good portion of the ride. I still had memories of last year in my head.  It seemed that anytime I attempted to participate in a sprint, I would come dragging home. I didn’t want that to happen on this day.

I was helped out a bit in the first sprint. Just as we neared the attack zone, we approached an intersection. There were cars coming on our right. Some of the cyclists went on through, but as I got closer to the road so did the traffic coming toward us. Perhaps I did the wrong thing, but 1) I don’t want to get hit by a car, and 2) I don’t want motorists to hate us for being on the road. So, I disengaged my left foot and called, “Car right!” as I slowed to come to a stop.

Suddenly, I felt the force of someone running into my rear. I knew something bad had happened to my bike. However, I checked things out and it appeared that I was good to go. I got across the intersection and started going through my gears figuring the rear derailleur was going to be the issue. Sure enough, I found when I tried to go into the big ring I got a grinding sound and the chain was not moving smoothly.

I caught the rear of the group and then other guys arrived. We had a continuing “conversation” about the incident. Finally, I knew it was best to just shut my mouth and ride. However, there was a bit of pent up energy I was hoping to release on this first sprint.

It didn’t matter. First, I was at the rear of the pack when the attack started, and second, I was having to participate in my small ring. I was spinning like a mad man just to stay with the main group! The positive thing was that I moved up into the group and ended the sprint to Ware Shoals in sight of the winners.

Once we stopped after the sprint, I had time to take a look at my bike. The rear wheel was true and it didn’t seem that my hanger arm was bent. Still, I had that grinding sound. It appeared to be a front derailleur problem. As I was looking at it, Boyd Johnson came over to help me out. He just reached over and twisted the front derailleur just a fraction. The sound went away. Turns out my right foot must have jammed against the arm and bent it. Now, with Boyd’s help, I was back ready to go.

The mist started to feel a little more like rain as we neared the Dunklin Bridge attack zone. I figured we were heading for some rain ahead. I didn’t want to mix it up in a rainy sprint. I figured if I was going to “play around in a sprint” it was going to have to be this one. The Highway 20 finish would probably be soaked.

I started out near the front as one guy attacked forming a gap. I stayed with the guys at around me which included Thad Dulin and Steve Sperry. In my mind, it made sense to stay near them and see what would transpire. Then the jostling began as there were attacks and counter attacks.

“Watch and learn,” I said to myself and stayed close on Thad’s wheel. Patiently I waited staying close to him. Then he moved over to a group that was counter attacking. I hesitated because it was a little early in the attack for what I thought I could handle (it is a five mile attack zone). Looking back, I realize I should have just laid in on the line and chased after him.

The result of my hesitation was that I was now toward the front of a larger chase group. This meant more traffic. Ahead I could see the main competition flying along in a single file. Here I was with riders all around. My thought was, “Well, no way are you going to get anything out of this… just hold your position.” Some of the other riders started falling away as they must have come to a similar decision. I ended up passing a few riders ahead and finished in the first 20. I wonder what might have happened had I stayed with Thad.

Very soon after the rain started soaking the road and rooster tails were coming up from the bikes in front of me. The ride leader, Steve Sperry, stopped us to explain that the final sprint would be shorter in order to allow us to avoid some slippery train tracks that crossed the attack zone. That was fine with me, I was planning on just keeping the carbon side up!

Thankfully, I felt pretty strong even toward the end of the effort. There was something left in the tank even after the earlier efforts and several pulls on the front of the group. The day showed me that my fitness is coming. If I can just work on my sprint knowledge and confidence, I bet I could land a top ten on one of these rides. I’m really starting to believe that it isn’t so much a matter of my legs as it is my head.

As Sperry said to a guy riding near me, “Sprinting is an art.” Then he added, “Right, Jonathan?” Yes, it is an art, but I’m still drawing with Crayons!

Taking a look at some home grown stuff

Okay, so most of this stuff wasn’t made here in the Upstate, but the following goodness was designed and assembled by local racer and coach, Boyd Johnson. Not much need to talk here. Just take a look.

Road frame from Boyd Bikes

Road frame from Boyd Bikes

This is one of my favorite frames I’ve happened upon at Sunshine Cycle Shop. Sorry that the photos are not that great. An iPhone is a nice thing to have, but it doesn’t always take the best shots in lower light.

Around 600 grams here.

Around 600 grams here.

This one comes in around 800 grams

This one comes in around 800 grams

The wheels are very nice. Boyd has collected some solid components for building these things. As you can see below, there is some nice finishing work as well. Wish you could see it in person.

The logo is etched and painted

The logo is etched and painted

Good job, Boyd. I’m sure things will only progress to be better and better. Looking forward to seeing some of the stuff out on the roads this season.

Fuzzy pic of Boyd Johnson with one of his first frames

Fuzzy pic of Boyd Johnson with one of his first frames

Everyone try to stay warm out there! Matt Tebbetts posted on Facebook that his Gatorade froze in his bottles on Sunday. Hmmmm, Gatorade slushies.

11:35 or Thank you, Boyd Johnson

Funny.  Just yesterday I was talking about how I was about to go into hibernation.  That post finished with me saying, “Sometimes all it takes to get you back going is a good ride.”  Well, I can definitely say I had a good ride, but I have to give the credit to the guys who made it happen.

First I was just hoping it wouldn’t be raining.  It was cool but a little humid.  There had been times of very light rain through the day, but for now it was holding off.

Then I was hoping people would show up for the ride.  As I pulled up to the parking lot, I didn’t see anyone or the cars of the typical members of this ride.  Maybe tonight’s ride would be solo.

I went inside and found Billy White.  He was putting down a Powerbar and looking around probably wondering the same thing I was… “Hey, where is everybody?”  It was good to know that there would be at least two of us.

Boyd Johnson rolled in about the time I was getting my Powerbar finished.  The three of us went out to check the parking lot one last time.  There we found Strad Helms.  Four is definitely better than one.

We headed out at a pretty nice clip.  I was talking with Boyd about his plans to import frames and build up his own brand of bikes.  We also had some of our usual unusual sightings.  One guy passed us on a moped and he had a huge knot on his head.  Another time we saw a guy out running – sweat dripping off him – with a beer in his hand.

It was a pretty typical ride until we made a turn onto a road and I went to put weight on my right pedal.  I heard a twang and felt my leg spin around with no resistance.  My chain broke.  Of course, none of us had a chain tool.

The good news is that we were very close to Boyd’s house.  We removed my chain and I remounted my bike.   Boyd then commenced to push me the distance to his street.  Before long, I was back together sans a couple of chain links.  John James happened by.  Now there were five of us and we were back on the road.

That road led us quickly to Paris Mountain.  We started up and I could sense John had designs to get to the top a bit faster tonight.  Billy and I tucked in behind the three other riders and tried to hang on.

It wasn’t uncomfortable.  I felt I was on the edge of too much, but not quite.  When we reached halfway, I knew why.  We reached that point in just around five and a half minutes!  Hmmmmm, this could be interesting.

As we moved past that point, John eased off to join a rider we were coming around.  As he did so, he said to Strad, “Fall back and let Jonathan on your wheel.”  Strad was a bit confused about John’s intentions and ended going behind me.  It was just Boyd’s wheel ahead.

I figured he (and Strad) would end up riding off to leave me in the dust.  However, I was staying with them.  The difference was I was laboring a bit and they weren’t.

We reached a point where I thought I was going to have to ease up a bit and at that point I realized these guys weren’t going to leave me.  They had plans to coax me to the top for my personal best.  Boyd turned around and coached me to shift down a gear and encouraged me to keep going.

We were at the dreaded blue post section of the climb.  It is the point where I normally begin to lose my rhythm.  However, the realization that I had a couple of guys expecting me to give my best motivated me to do just that.  I didn’t want to let them down if they were going to be there for me.

I settled down and just tried to get some oxygen in me while concentrating on trying to avoid gaps forming between me and the riders ahead.  No doubt those gaps would have come, but Boyd and Strad were keeping the pace just high enough to push me but not drop me.

“Keep your head up,” I heard Boyd say.  “Don’t look down.  It will defeat you.”  I jerked my head up to look at the road ahead of me.  I know it is psychological, but he was right.  I concentrated on keeping my eyes focused on the road ahead instead of myself or the bike — especially the computer!

“Two minutes to go!”  Boyd and Strad were now turning around to check on my progress and push me when they noticed me begin to ease.  My spirits lifted when Strad called my attention to the fact that we were nearing the yellow turn sign that marks the beginning of The Wall.

“Forty-five seconds…” Boyd called, “you’re going to have to stand the whole finish.”  I obeyed.  “Shift down,” he instructed and I put on more resistance.  “Good,” he said.  “Now, stand.”  He had to remind me one or two more times to get off the seat, but for the most part I was pushing hard for the top.

Strad now moved behind me and I could hear Boyd ahead and Strad behind.  They were willing me to the finish.  There was no way I was going to sit up at this point.

“Fifteen seconds,” Boyd was counting the time.  “You can do anything for fifteen seconds.”  I still had enough pride left that I didn’t want to sound like I was dying – even though I felt like I was.  I tried to contain the grunts and whimpers that I felt trying to come out.

Pride be hanged!  I was riding with a guy who just days before had raced up this mountain as part of the professional peloton during the USA Cycling Professional Championships.  Of course I was going to have a harder time making it to the top!  Then there was Strad still calling encouragement from behind.  He races with the Hincapie Development team and my guess is it won’t be long before you’ll find him on one of the teams now racing in the Tour of Missouri.

I let out a grunt and what probably could be classified as a whimper.  That kind of whimper that comes from a kid getting beat up by bullies.  However, I stepped on it and attacked that last kick up to the finish.  Only once did I drop to my seat, but I was immediately up at the command from Boyd.  Finally, I pushed that infernal bike across the line.

It took awhile for me to see the computer screen in front of me.  I’m sure my blood pressure was through the roof.  As it came into focus I saw 11.  That was awesome!  However, I actually felt a chill as I noticed what followed the “:” – it was a “35”!  I had crushed my best time by 30 seconds!

I didn’t know what to think.  A goal I had been trying to break for two years fell on a night when I had no intentions of trying.  The thought crossed my mind what my time could have been without the two nearly full water bottles.  Then I wondered if I could really claim the time since I got it by being paced up the mountain.

I’ll take it.  I worked hard enough to get that time.  Take off 20 seconds as a penalty for pacing and I’ll still have a sub-twelve minute climb.  Of course, as Boyd told me as we eased up on the other side, “The bad thing about this is now you know you can do it.”

I kept waiting for some sort of feeling of elation to come over me.  It never did.  It was more of a matter of fact feeling of relief.  There was no immediate feeling of, “Okay, now I need to get an 11:30!”  No, for now I am happy with having broken 12.

As I helped my six year-old break into the bathroom that had been inadvertantly locked so he could get the all important reach extender so he could rescue a toy out of a hole, it crossed my mind how much more time and devotion it would take to knock off another 10 seconds.  “Thanks, Dad!”  Hey, it is just a number.  If it comes, it comes.  If it doesn’t?  There are more important things in life.

A Twitter Day

It is amazing the things you can learn following your Twitter.com feeds.  There was a thread of events flowing through the Greenville Twitter world yesterday that told a story within the cycling community.  It was kind of cool to see the pieces come together.

It started this morning when I came upon a feed by Tim Jackson of Masi bicycle fame.  This Tweet read, “Hello Greenville. Just passed exit for Paris Mtn… Looks quiet now.”  That got my interest.  Then he followed it up with a Twitpic…

Tim Jackson takes a photo of downtown Greenville

Tim Jackson takes a photo of downtown Greenville

His caption for the photo was “Morning in Greenville.”  Yep, I recognized that view.  So, I sent a reply giving him a welcome to Greenville and wishing him some great riding while he’s here.  I asked him what exactly brought him to our town?

Before I could get a reply, I saw a feed by Kirk Flinte over at Hincapie Sportswear.  He was pointing to his blog post of the day, “Kenda Pro Cycling Team.”  Well, I didn’t put two and two together because I thought Masi sponsored Team Inferno.  What I didn’t know was that Team Inferno is now Kenda Pro Cycling Team.

So, what was the team doing in Greenville?  They were here for their team training camp and to say hello to their clothing sponsor.  A little later this was confirmed when Tim Jackson responded to my question basically telling me what I learned from Kirk’s blog.

However, it didn’t end there because the team came together for some pictures before heading out on a ride.  Kirk was involved in that photo shoot as well.  Which was followed soon after by a shoot with George and Melanie Hincapie as they modeled some of the new denim items by Hincapie Sportswear.

Of course, everyone following George’s feeds for the day knew he was not feeling so well.  Yet, out there he went to get the job done.  I know Kirk hasn’t been feeling so hot either… maybe he is the one who got George sick!

But the Twitter story comes full circle when I see a Tweet by Oliver Blanchard (who does photo work for Hincapie) to Kirk talking about George being sick and the photo shoot.  Then I see the following by Oliver (a prodigious Twitterer, by the way), “Cyclists: I got SMOKED by these guys today while riding up Paris Mountain. Blew by me like I was standing still. http://bit.ly/ssjkZ”  Yep, it was the Kenda boys.

Last I checked, it could be that the Kenda theme continued.  Boyd Johnson put the following in his feed, “9:27 up Paris mountain today. But I was hanging onto a wheel for half of it. 375 watts.” Now, I’m wondering… just whose wheel was he hanging on to?

Could be some more news coming up later today at LowCadence.com.  I have my post op visit today!

Upstate Windy Bicycle League

Maybe I should wait until I’ve had a good night sleep before I do a ride report here at LowCadence.com for my Upstate Winter Bicycle League ride today.  The legs are pretty stiff and sore.  I can smell the roast the beautiful redhead is cooking for dinner and I’m having to restrain myself from going in there and eating half cooked!

The day started with great promise!  By the time we rolled out the temperature was probably 50 degrees and the forecast called for a high in the upper sixties.  Without a cloud in the sky, it was going to be beautiful.

The first hint that things could get interesting on the road was the fact that there weren’t as many riders as usual.  A number of those fewer riders were pros.  Typically, that means things are going to be fast.

My plan for the day was to participate in two sprints – the Princeton Hill and Dunklin Bridge sprints.  The plan for the final sprint of the day was to just finish the ride in the pack.  I didn’t have any plans on winning one!  I just wanted to hang in there as long as possible to get some good video to show how the sprint progressed.

It wasn’t long after we got out of town that a new element was going to enter the picture — wind.  If you were tucked in, you could still feel the turbulence.  If you got out of line, it was at times buffeting.  At other times, you could be in a pace line and still feel the crosswind.

The only positive thing in my mind was the fact that I wasn’t the only one having to ride through it.  Still, I was well aware that there are some riders out there that know better how to position themselves.  It’s another one of those things I still need to learn.

I had the camera in my hand and tried to move it to my helmet in anticipation of the upcoming sprint.  I just could not get it on and was fearful I would cause an accident!  We approached a stop sign and I hoped I could stop, get it on the helmet, and then catch back on.

STUPID!  I did get the camera on and then realized they moved through the intersection much more quickly than I anticipated.  Thankfully, I thought I heard someone say, “Hold up for Jonathan.”  Even with them slowing the gap was pretty big.  Another good thing was I caught up with one of the Revolution riders who was also trailing.  Once I caught him, I was able to draft off him as we caught the group.

The worse thing about all this was we stopped soon after to wait on the SAG vehicle!  I did all the work for absolutely nothing.  Next time I’ll ask.

The next thing on the agenda was the sprint.  We turned off onto Princeton Hill road.  The good thing was we had a tailwind as we started.  The bad thing was the road was extremely rough and I knew that up ahead was 12% grade.

The road was so rough that I noticed the base of my Garmin was rotating on my stem.  Also, the roughness of the road coupled with the variated light of the sun coming through the trees caused my camera to freeze up!  I wasn’t able to record the entire sprint.

The way it unfolded was that I stayed with the leaders for a good portion of the attack.  I was feeling pretty good about myself when we crossed over a bridge and then the road kicked up.  I even managed to hang on at that point as well.

Once over the climb I knew there would be an attack and attempted to position myself to go with it.  Things split up at that point though.  Boyd and Andy were off the front and the other heavy hitters followed.  Then there was the group I was with close behind.

I ended up sliding off the back of that group by about 20 yards and was there when the riders behind me came up.  I jumped on that train and came into the finish with them.  I’m never satisfied with my sprints, but to hang as long as I did was a positive.

Next thing for us was the store stop.  The B group was waiting for us.  I got some Gatorade and some Fig Newtons.  Then it was time to roll out to the next attack zone.  However, before we got there, Mr. Sperry decided to take us on an adventure.

I saw him move up in front of the group and then motion for us all to take a left turn.  That turn sent us right into a dirt and gravel road!  Thankfully, I was at the front when this happened so I didn’t have a lot of traffic around me.  I kept waiting for my tire to explode on some sharp gravel.  One tire of a rider just behind me did blow.

That lead us to a very nice newly paved road.  The next intersection of Dunklin Bridge.  Get ready to rumble!

I was riding near Steve during this time and was listening to him talk to the other GlobalBike riders on the radio.  It caused me to stop focusing on the attack and just listen to the instructions he was giving.  Next thing I knew, I was sitting on the front with a single rider trying to form a gap.  I wasn’t going after him!

Several other riders attacked.  When I saw who they were, I knew it was doomed.  I slowed hoping that the group would come around me.  Then things really started hopping and I was moving within the group trying as much as I could to conserve in the midst of the wind.

I stayed in there with the main group until it became obvious I was simply going to wear myself down for no reason since the leaders were now out of sight.  However, the thing I learned was that to be a bandit (a single rider without a team) in an attack like this is pretty hard.  The pros in the group could pull it off, but the rank and file rider isn’t going to get a win without help.

The beautiful day continued, but I wasn’t seeing a lot of it as I had my hands down in the drops and was just following the wheel in front of me.  I’m not sure what was wrong with me.  Maybe part of it was that I had only ridden once in the week, had not consumed enough fluids in the days before the ride, and I had been fighting the wind all day.

Even so, by the time the final sprint rolled around, I was feeling much better.  It even crossed my mind that I might get pulled right along in it because the group was moving very slow.  Then I glanced ahead and saw the Steve Sperry was off the front with a pretty good gap!

The pace picked up slowly, but it did increase.  I was so proud of myself!  The pack wasn’t pulling away.  We passed Matt Tebbetts.  He was going back fast.  It concerned me because he had been having some hip issues.  I hesitated and a gap formed.  When my leg came down to accelerate, I felt a cramp hit my right quad that felt like a balloon expanding.

I eased up and started trying to spin it out.  The gap to the riders behind me started to close and I held up to wait for Matt.  He came by pulling the group!  Later I learned as we rode together that his hip bothered him most climbing.

We rode together until we reached Hwy. 20.  Once again I started feeling my strength coming back.  I started to pull with the riders around me.  Then I gapped them and was riding alone.  I managed to hold 230 to 250 watts to the track.

As we got to each stop light we picked up more riders so that by the time we reached Carolina Triathlon the group was pretty much back together.  As I swung my leg over the bike, the cramps arrived.  Oh boy, I still had to make a five mile trip home with some climbing involved.

Sure enough as I made the mild climb up East North Street from Stone Avenue every muscle in my upper legs started cramping — all at one time!  I have never had that happen before.  Still, I started spinning and mentally relaxed.  They cleared and I made it home.

Sorry for the long post.  It was a long day.