Tag Archives: Chris Butler

Get behind the Furman cycling team

Here we are in the midst of the college basketball season. It’s not going to well for me. I’ve been a Tar Heel fan for as long as I can remember. I used to have Woody Durham calling the game over the radio while I would shoot baskets out in the driveway. This year, I think the team should be shooting more baskets in my driveway! They could use the practice!

However, this post isn’t about basketball — though it is related to college sports. Did you know that there is a collegiate cycling race team here in Greenville? Yep, the Furman University Cycling Team rides in purple and white during the collegiate cycling season.

I asked Spencer “Piglet” Beamer about the team and learned a lot about some students who have a desire to race their bikes — enough of a desire to start the team with very little support. They have enjoyed some success and if things hold together this year, I’m betting they’ll have some more in 2010.

They have already gotten off to a great start with Chris Butler and Jimmy Mitchel leading the way for the team. Click here to read in Velonews.com a recent report of their exploits. These guys are doing a good deed for Furman… but also the Greenville cycling community. Let’s get behind them.

LowCadence: Who are the members on the team this year?

Spencer Beamer: There are six full-time riders and about 10 more students who are active members. The six  full-time riders are Chris Butler, Spencer Beamer, Andy Baker, Jimmy Mitchell, Craig Mckinney, and Megan Lordi.

LC: Do you guys get any type of scholarships for representing the school?

SB: We get NO scholarships for representing the school. We do get a small amount of money from the club sports department but it is not even close to the amount of money needed to fund a team.

LC: So, you are not considered an official sports team of Furman athletics?

SB: We are a student-run club. This basically means that the club members do all grunt work and the majority of the money we have is from fund raising and sponsorship. We have tried to obtain varsity status but don’t have enough support within the school to make this happen. There isn’t a really great example of another club like ours because we are so much better than the other club sports at Furman (most just do the sport for fun and aren’t competitive), but the Furman Rugby team would be the most similar club to the cycling team.

LC: Do you get any support from the school?

SB: We get minimal monetary support from Furman. Owen McFadden runs the clubs sports department and he has been a tremendous help to us and has done everything in his power to help us. We have to pay our own way to the races, pay the entry fees, pay the hotel fees, and basically pay for all expenses that a normal race weekend would incur. The problem with this is that we are students with no money and no jobs, which makes affording these expenses quite difficult.

LC: When you are operational, do you get any publicity or promotion from the University?

BC: We get tons of publicity for Furman. The first year at Nationals every other cyclist asked at least once, “Who are you guys and where are you from?” We were on the front of GO Magazine this past May and have been in our own local and state newspapers.

LC: Do you guys see yourselves as the beginning of something bigger or is this an opportunity you see for now to enjoy the sport?

SB: I personally want this to be the start of something much bigger and I believe that the other members of the team want this as well. My dream is actually to come back to Furman in 20 years and be greeted by the Varsity Furman Cycling Team. I want to leave my mark on Furman and the Greenville cycling community.

Greenville is a growing hotbed for cycling. The Furman University Cycling Team certainly adds to that sense of connection between the community and cycling. These guys aren’t half-bad either! Just put the 3B’s together (Butler, Beamer, and Baker) and that is a formidable team in and of itself.

So, consider that these guys are going out riding and representing not only Furman University, but the Greenville community as well. If you have the means, why not consider sponsoring the team? You can contact Spencer at spencer.beamer@furman.edu or call him at (865) 705-3527. Can’t sponsor? Get a hold of Spencer and learn how you can donate to the club.

The man from the island of Hilton Head

Yesterday, this article appeared on GreenvilleOnline.com.  It features Hincapie Development Team rider, Chris Butler.  Reading it reminded me of a time while on vacation when I joined a group ride down in Hilton Head.

It reminded me of an experience I had down in Hilton Head back in 2008.  I’ve gone back in the archives for a bit and found this story about the group ride where Chris got his start.  I have to say they were very proud of him — not just as a rider, but as a person.

It will be interesting to see how the young rider progresses.  He certainly has the tools to not only be a good representative on the bike, but also off it.  Here’s to you, Mr. Butler, I know your friends on Hilton Head will be behind you all the way!

Get ready to rumble… or fly

My 2009 race license just arrived. It represents a number of my goals for this year. While last year I put more focus on distance and organized centuries, this year I plan to put more focus on racing. Next year? Who knows.

My 2009 USA Cycling License

My 2009 USA Cycling License

Yep, I’ll be turning 41 on the 21st of this month. Interestingly enough, that is the first race of the Greenville Spring Series. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping to do well that day. Still, the season isn’t a day and there is a good chance that we’ll have 18 plus races in the Greenville area this year.

That race will be my first real race as a cat. 4. I did double up back in October and do about nine laps in the cat. 4 criterium after racing in and winning the cat. 5 race. Doubling up is not easy! So, I consider this my first true attempt.

Track? The stars would have to align in some miraculous fashion for you to ever see me on a track. Then to get me racing on a track… There is more of a chance that you might see me someday attempting a cyclo-cross race.

I started riding on a mountain bike and I love riding one. Still, I don’t think I am cut out to be a MTB racer. Picking my way around boulders and trees is one thing… careening over and into them is entirely another!

My club is the Greenville Spinners Bicycle Club. It is also my “team.” Most of the teams out there on a given race in Greenville are not truly “teams” in the technical sense of the word. The only official teams are those sanctioned by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale).

The Spinners club is a great way to start into organized racing. Basically, if you pay the fee and wear the colors, you can be a member of the club team. There is an amount of racing as a team, but it is typically more informal and just a step above being unattached.

There are other club teams that are more selective. Perhaps if I have a good year, I’ll get invited to “move up” to one of those teams. Those teams are still simply clubs, but are smaller and have a little more structure to them come race day.

I’ll tell you one thing, there are some riders out there this year that are going to be flying — at least if the weight of their bikes counts for anything. I stopped by Hincapie Sportswear to pick up a cap I had left there this weekend. The Scott frames had just arrived.

Those frames were like paper — but very stiff. With the full range of SRAM Red components and the light weight Fi´zi:k saddles, they are going to have to find some heavier wheels just to keep those machines legal!  Can’t wait to see Chris Butler’s time up Paris Mountain with this rocket.

Developing a new view of development teams

Sorry to those of you who have come to Low Cadence expecting to find video of the Upstate Winter Bicycle League. I know I mentioned my plan was to get the Waterloo sprint and some overview video of the ride. Well, “the crash” changed things for me.  Should have a clip up tomorrow.

Another goal of the ride was to follow the Hincapie Development Team around as the UWBL progressed. This was different for me because I typically don’t focus on any particular riders or teams during the event. I would also spend some time with the team during other times of the weekend.

So, when the ride was disrupted, I had to make a choice. The HDT decided to follow Boyd Johnson on a ride up the Greenville Watershed. I either went with the UWBL or followed through on my feature with Hincapie. Of course, the guys didn’t know that when they took off after Boyd. I followed.

Well, I learned some things on that ride! It actually made things easier for me because I now had the group isolated from the hundred or so other riders they would have been mixing around. I was better able to observe their interaction and get them together on the video.

What did I learn? For one thing, I had always thought a development team would be a group of riders that were pretty raw in their experience and talent. Perhaps compared to pros that might be the case. However, these guys I was riding with were all Category 3 up to Category 1 racers. They might be young… but they can flat out handle a bike and put on a hurtin’ going uphill.

Speaking of ages, I also came to realize that on a development team, age is not necessarily a determining factor. It can include early high schoolers right up to college graduates. With age comes a certain level of fitness and life experience, and the team works to use that dynamic to its advantage.

What I came to realize is that the purpose of the development team only deals in a small way with the physical development of the riders. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t. It is just that these riders all love riding and are pretty self motivated. They would be working to get to the top of their sport with or without the team.

What the team is developing is the all around package. It provides structure for these riders who may be coming from more informal club teams. It gives them access to professional riders and older mentors who show them some of the ropes of being a racer — both off and on the bike.

Really, what I gathered is that Rich Hincapie and Steve Baker (along with a number of others) want to give these young riders an experience as close as possible to a real professional team. I know they will be the first to admit that not all of those pieces are in place yet… but you could say that is another part of what makes it a “development” team.

Churning up the Greenville Watershed with Chris Butler (cat. 1 racers and national collegiate champion) and Christian Parrett (cat. 1 racer heading to Europe this year to represent the US) taking the lead, I rode along side DLP pro racer Boyd Johnson. These guys weren’t going slow and it wasn’t but about five minutes before I was hurtin’ bad!

I don’t know if they slowed down any before the top, but the thought that came to my mind was, “Development, my foot!”

Straighten out the mountain

There is a bunch of video on my computer from this weekend.  I’m still trying to sort through it and find the best clips for a single presentation.  Might be a day or two.  For now words will have to do.

My weekend was spent with the Hincapie Development Team.  It certainly brought back memories of when I was that age!  It was a fun group… and a good group on the bike.

Update on Chris and Jim

“I have a retro and antero-grade concussion. In lay terms, I don’t recall anything prior to about 4 p.m. on Saturday and Friday night is fuzzy… Currently, I’m still having some memory issues. Further, I badly bruised my left ribs and left hand. I prefer to think my Core/Strength and Yoga training are part of the reason no ribs broke.

Chris has a concussion also (not sure of details) and some rather bad cuts on his face; one which required stitches.” — Jim Cunningham

I caught up with them on Sunday just as they were finishing their time trials up Paris Mountain.  Saturday we had sped up the Greenville Watershed and now here they were about see who would be fastest going up Altamont Road.  Ah, the resiliency of youth!

Turns out Chris Butler made the climb in 9 minutes 5 seconds.  Christian Parrett came in shortly behind that time.  All of them made us recreational racers look like turtles!

They split up after finishing their camp and I had a few minutes before it was time to get home to throw some baseball with Thing Two.  So, I turned my bike up the mountain to see what time I would get.  I recall Boyd telling me that I would need to average 333 watts in order to make it to the top in 12 minutes (almost three minutes slower than Chris).

I should have had a plan for how I would ride the different stages.  However, I just kind of jumped into it and figured I wouldn’t be able to just hold 333 watts on the way up.  It might be a good idea to put some watts in the bank for later.  I was moving at about 350 up to 475 watts in the beginning.

Another thing Boyd said was to look for ways to straighten out the curves.  I’m sure he’s done this enough that is knows you can shave off about 10 seconds on the climb doing that.  So, I did — at least when I was thinking about it.

Just past midway I started fading.  The negative self-talk started coming.  I negotiated with myself to spend a bit of time recovering and then give it a try near the end.  Maybe I wouldn’t get a good time, but I was not going to just sit up.

I had enough juice to hit over 600 watts on the wall.  As I looked down at my computer as I crossed the line, I saw 12:58.  Now, that isn’t that great, but compared with how I thought I did, it was pretty good!  I had just gotten a 13:00 climb on Thursday and I felt good on that one.

That Thursday night I had climbed with an average of 288 watts.  Saturday I climbed with 278 and still finished seconds faster.  Why?  Believe it or not the difference was probably two things… 1) I had left my water bottles and tool bag in the car, and 2) I had shortened the ride from 2.2 miles to 2.19 miles by straightening out the course.

I learned a lot this weekend about cycling and myself.  That will be the theme for this week as I share some of the things I took out of the experience.  Perhaps it will be an encouragement to other weekend warriors like myself.

Climbing the 80 foot mountain

Last night I headed over to the Bike Doctor bicycle shop on Hilton Head Island in order to participate in their Tuesday night ride.  It was so nice to find some folks to ride with since I didn’t know any routes to take solo.  Turns out it was a pretty good work out.

I found the shop on Monday while looking for some bar grips for my son’s bike.  On the way onto the island, I had seen a shop on the right called Jonathon’s Bicycle Shop.  I hopped on my fixed gear and started following the bike trails in that direction.  After pedalling for quite a while I finally came to the end of the bike trails — and side walks.  My search for Jonathon’s had come to an end.

Time to pull out the trusty Garmin 705.  I went into the “Where to?” mode and clicked into the “Recreation” menu.  My search brought up two cycle shops within three miles.  One was “Hilton Head Bicycles” and the other was “The Bike Doctor.”  Of course, I was intrigued by the name of the later, so that is where I headed.  The Garmin’s directions delivered me just fine — though I think I was freaking out the GPS by following the bike trails instead of the road.

While at the shop I overheard some people talking about a Tuesday night ride.  Ah, music to my ears!  I confirmed that they had one.  Turns out they have rides both Tuesday and Thursday nights leaving from the shop at 6 PM.  I planned to be there.

I pulled up to find about 8 riders hanging out.  Before we headed out there were about 20.  Most of them were locals, but there were people there on vacation as well.  We all got our bikes ready and then headed out on the ride.

The first several minutes were spent warming up.  It gave me a chance to talk with some of the regular riders.  I was trying to get some sense of how the ride worked.  How long was it? I was told anywhere between 20 and 40 miles.  What was the pace?  We could hit speeds of 30+ miles an hour, but probably would average around 20 mph.  The one thing I didn’t ask was whether there were sprint points or not.

Finally we got out of the residential streets and the pace picked up.  We were in a pace line running about 24 mph.  Before long it was my turn to pull on the front.  I found myself hitting 26 mph and backed down to the pace speed.  It was just so easy to put it in gear and move.  It was FLAT.

We caught a rider who must have been waiting for us.  As we rode by him I yelled, “Jump onboard the train!”  No sooner had he moved behind me into line when I heard a police siren coming around us.  He went past and instead of continuing on to his emergency he stuck his arm out the window and motioned for me to pull over.

It would have been cool if I could say he was pulling me over for speeding.  However, that wasn’t the case.  We all stopped behind the patrol car and one of the ride leaders came to talk with the officer.  I couldn’t hear everything, but it appeared that people has been complaining about the ride on that stretch of road.  He was telling us that we needed to stay single file.

Well, we were in a pace line going close to 25 mph.  I don’t think there was anyone at that point two abreast.  Even if they were, the law allows that.  I think it was more of a case where the officer was simply stopping us so he could say to the complainers that they had talked to us.  The ride leader was very respectful and things ended up okay.  We headed off again… in single file.

Then we moved out onto the Cross Island Parkway.  That is when things really picked up!  There were some pretty fast guys out there.  When I was pulling up front, we were moving along at around 28 mph in a pace line.  Then all of a sudden a couple of the guys moved up and accelerated beyond that speed.  “Hmmmmm, this is a weird pace line,” I thought to myself.  I took off after them, but reacted too late.

The guys slowed after passing below a directional sign.  We went off the exit and then swung back around onto the Parkway again.  As we regrouped there, I asked a guy beside me if that was a sprint point.  He said it was.  Ah, that explained it.

We continued down the Parkway and I looked up ahead and saw a mountain.  Well, actually it was a bridge.  I looked at the guys beside me and exclaimed, “A hill!”  He replied, “It’s all yours.  Go get it.”  I took off from the group and found myself hitting around 28 mph on the incline. I crested the “hill” and my Garmin told me we were at 80 feet above sea level.

The rest of the ride was another run down the Parkway and then some back streets back to the shop.  We ended up riding about 28 miles with an average speed of 19 mph.  My maximum speed for the ride was around 33 mph — I believe that was when I was trying to catch those guys in the sprint.

I was glad I hooked up with the Bike Doctor guys.  When they found out I was from Greenville, the first thing they wanted to know was if I knew Chris Butler.  Turns out that this was the ride where Chris got his start.  If you don’t know who Chris is, he is another up and coming rider who races for Hincapie-Barkley and Furman University.

The story these guys told me was that Chris started out in cross country here in Hilton Head, but due to some physical issues he was advised to try cycling.  He did and the rest is history in the making.  The word here was that not only was Chris a great rider, but he was a super nice guy.

If you would like check out the ride on MyGarmin, you can go here.