Tag Archives: Furman

Cranking it on a cookie ride

First, let me say thank you to David Enter, a Public Safety police officer at Furman University. I appreciated his response to my concerns about the incident I had on the campus last Saturday morning. Cyclists in the area should be appreciative of the welcome we so often receive on the campus.

Now to the subject at hand. I received some grief for my post from the weekend. I was taken to task for turning a “cookie ride” into a “crank fest.” “It’s a ride… not a race,” I was told. “You’re a racer now. You don’t have to prove anything now.”

The thing is that I agree that a charity ride is not a race. I’ll even mention that as I was getting sucked into the breakaway, I felt a tinge of remorse and even embarrassment. However, I paid the entry fee and donated my pledged amount — I was going to have as much fun on the ride as possible. For me, that means looking for a challenge.

A cookie ride is a ride with many people of varying abilities. The point is to hang out and enjoy a social time together as much as it is to reach the end of the ride. Most cookie rides are not “timed events.” This means that there is nothing to gain by going fast.

What I was getting chastised for was not being a social creature and riding along within the group. In addition the indication is that it is beneath someone who is considered fast by some to participate in a phantom race for nothing. Be cool and let the ones who have something to prove go up the road.

On the other hand, take a group of cyclist, tell them that there is a route and a finishing line, and one of them is going to want to be the first one across that line. Also, there are those who are constantly monitoring themselves and while they may not be racing the other riders around them, they are trying to better a previous time for an event. I have never been on a cookie ride where you didn’t have some people that fell in these categories.

So, why did I do it?

First, I didn’t intend to do it. I started off near the rear and really planned to stay there. However, as I mentioned in my last post, it got a little sketchy in some of the climbs. I kept saying to myself, “Okay, I’ll just move up through this one group so I can have some clear road.” Of course, I would then see another group just up the road. “Well, I might as well go catch up with them so I have someone to ride with.”

Second, the above actions ultimately left me at the front of the field. I was not attacking. I was just sitting there pedaling along waiting for the group to crest the last hill and come to me. It was at that point that David Bright came flying past me. Then John Frame caught up to us. This is the point where I argued with myself what to do.

Finally, the siren call of the front was just too strong. I could drop off and fall back into the field and take it easy for the next four hours, or I could connect with these guys and work together as a challenge to finish the ride as quickly as possible. This was not for the purpose of “being done with it.” It was for the goal of enjoying the ride.

The bottom line is that I was riding the event for Meals On Wheels. I was riding it to enjoy a day on my bike. At that moment, the way I could best do that was to accept the challenge. True, I have nothing to prove. At the same time, I am not so proud that I felt I needed to act according to a certain social construct.

Some people get great pleasure out of the cookie element of the ride. That is great! The racer who looks down his nose at these riders ignores the backbone of the cycling community. At the same time, not every rider who rides off the front to finish as fast as he can is trying to prove something. For both groups of riders, it is the same goal — enjoy the ride. They just happen to enjoy it in different ways.

Is one way right and the other wrong? I don’t think there is a moral question here. There is no need for judgment on either set of riders. The end result is the same, Meals On Wheels raised a lot of money to help feed citizens of Greenville County, and hundreds of riders had a great time.

In the end, it doesn’t matter who got to the line first — or how they got there. What mattered was that they all had fun in their own ways helping a great cause.  You can enjoy both the cookie and the crank.

Getting something off my chest

I need to get some business out of the way. Tomorrow I will be describing an event that started from the campus of Furman University. I am thankful to Furman for allowing the 2010 Wheels for Meals ride to leave from that location. However, I would like to point out that it might be a good idea to put a certain employee through some public relations classes.

After riding for 66 miles, feeling hungry, and fighting off cramps; I headed around the front of campus to go out the west gate. As I did so, I came upon a plethora of cones and signs. There were also a good number of cars going around the circle in front of McAlister Auditorium. It was very confusing and I wasn’t exactly sure what I was supposed to do.

So, I tried to stay out of the way of the cars and rode on the other side of the cones. That unfortunately led me into a lane that was intended for people dropping passengers off in front of the auditorium. That is where things went wrong.

A man with an orange vest yelled at me. “Hey, don’t you know you are in a pedestrian lane?” I replied, “I had no idea.” “Well you are, now get over there where the cars are.” I paused because I was incredulous that he would talk to me with that tone of voice. I guess because I did not act right away, he lit into me.

Finally, I just worked my way over to the road and started on my way. People who were getting out of the cars paused to take in the scene. Frankly, I was embarrassed. I am sorry to say that as I started to ride away, I couldn’t resist saying with much irony, “Well, Furman is such a wonderful place!”

All the way up the first repeat of Paris Mountain I was fuming about it. In the heat of the moment I was determining to go confirm whether the guy was an employee or not and ask his name. It was offensive enough behavior to me that I was that upset. I’m certain the fact that I was tired, hungry, and cramping had something to do with my dark mood.

By the time I finished my second repeat and started to return to campus, I was over it. I glanced over and saw that they were still there, but I ignored them. However, I did determine that I would write about it here and I hope the Furman PR department will read this and talk to the guys who were… I’m not even sure what their purpose was… out in front of McAlister Auditorium around 11:30 AM Saturday.

I’m a 42 year-old member of the Greenville community. I had just ridden in and given money in support of a Greenville charity. I was a guest on the campus. Unfortunately, I unintentionally ended up in the wrong place. The actions of this employee(?) left me feeling far from welcome on the campus.

My guess is he just thought to himself, “There goes one of those cyclists who think they can go where ever they want.” He may have even thought I was a student. I’d like to think that I look that young! 🙂 Whatever the case, there was not reason for him to act in such an offending way.

Racing comes to Greenville

The Paris Mountain Time Trial takes place in just a few hours. This is the first of three events in 2010 that allow riders to race against the clock up Paris Mountain. There will also be some collegiate racing taking place in the Greenville environs. If you get a chance, get out and check out the action.

You can find out more about the Paris Mountain Time Trial at the official PMTT Facebook page. It will be fun for spectators due to the fact that the riders will be spaced out in 30 to 60 second intervals. They also won’t be able to go too fast. 🙂 That should allow you to find different spots on the mountain to cheer on your friends.

I wish I could be there racing, but also to see Bryant Young of Amputee in Action break in his new Rocket Socket. For over 20 years, Bryant has not been able to stand to pedal his bike because he only has one leg. However, he has developed a special rig on his bike that allows him to now stand. I’m betting he gets a PR today!

The other racing going down is the Furman University Race Weekend. It starts today with the Team Time Trial at the Fork Shoals Course. It starts at 9 AM today, so you probably won’t make it if you’re just now reading this! You can make the Road Race that will take place on the same course later in the day. The first group starts off at 2 PM.

The race I would point out is Sunday’s Criterium on the campus of Furman University. It has been awhile since bicycle races have taken place on the campus there. Now it is back with a criterium. If you you are not used to cycling, this is the race you need to check out. The riders will go around a short course right on the front of campus. You’ll have plenty of times to see them pass.

It is also exciting because there are four turns in the .75 mile course. You can move from one to the other during the race to check the different angles of action. Add to that is the fact that you have young egos and school pride on the line and you have some excitement!

You can get more details by looking at the brochure for the event by clicking here. Whatever you do, I trust your have a safe and profitable day! Me? I have a picnic I’m organizing and then my Functional Threshold Test later in the day. More to come on that later.

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.


That might not mean anything to you, but 13:38 is exciting for me.

Last night, I met up with the folks at Sunshine Cycle Shop for the weekly Thursday ride. It is route that heads out behind the shop along to base of Paris Mountain, over to Furman, and then back to the shop via Altamont Road. There is a good amount of climbing and the riders are typically more advanced. It is a good work out.

We decided to skip the Furman section because our evenings are getting shorter. So, we got off of the winding roads along the base of Paris and headed down Old Buncombe to the start of Altamont. It was time to do some climbing!

I assessed the group – all of them were regular shop riders and I knew we could make a good time if I could just hang with them: especially Art and Tony. They seem to be the climbing animals. Tony was sitting on his new Orbea Orca with iPod earbuds in his ears. Art was just Art. The man is 61 – I think – and when he dies 50 years from now, they need to go inside and find out what is in there! Now, all the other guys are no slouches either, but I set my mind to try to hang with the one of these two that made a move.

First, I hooked onto Art’s wheel. I had a couple of gears to spare as we headed up. We were making good time. Once we hit the first sustained incline, I used those gears up. I settled in with the group and we kept going.

Then things began to thin out and I found myself alone on Tony’s wheel. He was in a zone and his cadence barely altered. I stayed with him for as long as I could and then he left me. At that point, I looked behind me and there was no one there. So, I just decided to make the best of it and kept plugging.

I felt as though I was working just as hard as I normally do, but my computer was telling me that I was doing better. My heart rate was just over 180 and I was able to go to a harder gear off and on. I could feel that I had more power.

Near the last couple of turns, I looked back and I could see Art coming up behind me. Up ahead, Tony had disappeared around the bend. I had visions of me hitting The Wall and Art powering past me. That became my motivation. Don’t let Art pass me!

As I turned around the last bend to climb that last killer portion of the route, I saw Tony nearing the turn up to the KOM. He was out of the saddle and pushing along. I couldn’t tell how close Art might be. I moved the gear to a smaller ring and stood to give it one last push. My heart was screaming at me, but I knew I was going to be able to get my legs over the line.

I crossed it and stopped the lap on my computer. 13:38! I had finished the climb 1:10 faster than I had ever done it before. What a feeling! On top of Paris Mountain, I was standing on top of the world – for a little while. Now, I need to get it down to 13 even 🙂