Tag Archives: George Hincapie

Well, I am doing it

A couple of days ago, I asked for you all to help me decide whether or not to do the Hincapie Gran Fondo. Well, in a couple of hours I’ll roll off on the 77 mile/10,000 feet climbing ride. This will be partly because most of you told me to.

First, why I am not riding. I am not riding because I am star struck. It isn’t the fact that there will be a number of pros there. My world doesn’t revolve around the professional cycling world. That simply isn’t the big draw. Besides, chances are I’ll only glimpse them. That is what I do on TV. At the same time, I’m not letting the fact that the pros are there keep me away from an event.

Second, it is not primarily to see George into retirement. This is partly the case. George Hincapie is a part of our Greenville community. While I am disappointed with some of the choices he made in the past, I still recognize that he is one of us. I won’t go into it again because I already wrote a blog post about it.

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I'm all geared up to ride the climbs

So, why am I doing this. Yes, partly because the majority of you said I should. However, it was not a huge majority.

The main reason I am doing it is because I know if I don’t I’ll wonder what the ride would have been like. Not just the ride on the road, but the entire experience of the Fondo. This is more than a ride, it is an event.

I’m riding it because I want to see how the event is run. From the information I have received, I believe it is going to be a class event. I’m interested to see if it lives up to that perception. There is a lot I can learn as I move forward with the I Do It For Foundation.

There is another reason I’m riding. It is the people I meet along the way who read this blog. I met a number of them on my way to the packet pickup and afterward. They asked what I had decided to do. I’m looking forward to riding with them.

What is going to happen? I don’t know. I’m going to go and give it my best shot and see what happens. My guess is I’ll start off in the crowd, work my way toward the front in the beginning and then get dropped on the first climb. I’ll then hang with various groups until I slog up the second and third climb. I’m guessing I’ll come soft-pedaling across the finish as a survivor.

That is okay. As I’ve mentioned many times before… at least it will give me something to write about!

Standing with George

Do you remember when you were a kid (or older) and found yourself in a habit that you knew was wrong. No one who could make you pay a consequence knew that you were involved in it (smoking in the boys room). You probably could have kept going along through life and might never have gotten caught. However, something changed.

Maybe it was the fact that you knew the day would come when you would get caught. Maybe you simply felt guilty about “doing wrong.” Maybe, like some of us, you were changed through a an understanding of God’s love for us and how that what you were doing flew in the face of all that he had done for you.

Whatever the cause, you determined to stop. Not only did you stop, but you encouraged others to stop as well. Some may have listened and others not. However, you changed.

I’ve thought about this over the last several months as the rumors and news swirled about those teammates of Lance Armstrong who testified about doping in the US Postal Team. In my mind, it was a no brainer. I was convinced doping was going on.

However, what was more important to me was when the doping stopped. Where are these riders now? How long have they been racing clean? What are they doing to proactively change the culture of the sport?

When I read George Hincapie’s statement today, I was not surprised at all. I could have written it. It was exactly what I anticipated. I’m not saying that to point to me being able to figure things out. I say that because it is the Big George that I have followed since the time I started cycling myself in… well, 2006.

Were these guys wrong? Yep. Should they face consequences? Yep. Should they be thrown under the bus. No.

I’m sure there will be calls for retribution. (Though, I purposefully avoided reading any articles or chatter before sitting to type this. This is just my opinion.) Perhaps there are those who do not feel the penitence matches the stated repentance. You can make your own decision.

For me, I prefer grace and mercy. I think these riders who came forward at this point after racing clean for these years are allowed this. Notice I didn’t say “deserve” it. It wouldn’t be grace or mercy if so.

I stand with you, George. I am standing with you, not to defend you, but to recognize your humanity. I am not excusing what you did. I am, as a fan, forgiving you for what you did. I am also, as a fan, thanking you for what you have done… and more importantly, what you have shown yourself to be.

Really, as we all look into our own lives, don’t we all want grace and mercy? I know I do.

Warmup for George with a little Mike

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There is a little ride being held in Greenville the week after the Ride for Mike. Some fellow named George Hincapie is putting on a Gran Fondo on October 27. You have three options for distances to cover.


We’ll be having our Ride for Mike on October 20. You’re invited to come out and do a warmup ride as we cover 100 miles. “100 miles?” you ask. “How is that a warmup for George’s 80 mile Gran Fondo?”

Well, the Ride for Mike is as flat of a course as I could put together in the Greenville area. Also, the plan is not to average much more than 15 mph. So, if you are looking to get your first century, this might be the ride for you. If you want an easy ride to get some miles in your legs before George’s ride, you might want to tag along with us.

Seriously, whether you do the Ride for Mike or not, consider giving George a big “Thank you!” by participating in the ride. Hincapie has been a great ambassador for the United States in the sport of cycling. He is a wonderful representative for us Greenville residents. You can sign up for the ride here: Gran Fondo Hincapie.

There is no cost to ride the Ride for Mike (but we won’t have nice jerseys or nearly the ride support). You can sign at RideforMike.com.  Of course, we are raising funds to start the I Do It For Foundation. You can give toward the fund even if you do not ride.

The day will come when the Ride for Mike will be a Gran Fondo. Just like George started as a pro nearly two decades ago, it takes time to reach the place where he is now. Still, he had to start somewhere. For us, that time is now.

Big George is not gone yet

The Tour de France season is upon us. Thanks to the Internet and NBCSports we have the opportunity to see more of the lead up races than ever before. It is shaping up to be an interesting July. It will also be a bittersweet event since it was announced today that it would be George Hincapie’s final Tour.

Hincapie has been racing for as long as I’ve been following the sport. He will certainly be missed. However, I’m not ready to write the epilogue of his career. He isn’t done yet. He still has the Tour de France and the USA Cycling Pro Challenge.

On a positive note, consider the number of American cyclists who will join with Big George for his 17th Tour. How things have changed over the years. Of course, not all of the participants have been named, but I imagine you will hear names like Duggan, Danielson, King, Van Garderen, and the list will grow.

So, sit back, enjoy the show and watch the American influence that Hincapie helped build. You can also check out this bit of video I shot back in 2009 when I had the opportunity to join some riders on an excursion hosted by the then USA Cycling Road Racing Champion. The highlight of the ride for me was sitting in George’s draft in a high speed pace line.

Thanks for the memories, George. Now, go out there and make a few more for us!

Speed bumps in my training

George Hincapie was recently interviewed by Neil Brown for CarolinaCyclingNews.com. He’s feeling fit and fresh at the start of his new season. He gave insight into his training over the last few weeks. I had to laugh when I compared it to my training on Tuesday.

“I’ve been at home (in Greenville, South Carolina) motorpacing four or five days a week, trying to train as hard as possible,” he told Neil. “I’ve had good weather, daily massages and am eating well. I feel strong – definitely a lot better than I did at this time last year.” Now, less you think that is “the life.” George spends hours on his bike. If you think the description above is a piece of cake, you haven’t motorpaced.

The thing is… that’s his job. Sure, it is a job he loves, but he is being paid to be out there training and preparing for the season. It is hard work. However, that singular focus is one thing that lessens the issues that we amateur racers must face.

Consider my Tuesday workout…

I rushed out of my last meeting of the day so I could get home and possibly get my 2 hour training block done before it got too dark to ride. When I rushed in the door at home, I was faced with a fifth-grader with tears in his eyes over adding fractions. No way could I just walk past him and say, “Sorry, I have to ride my bike.”

Once I got him settled down and back to finding the least common denominator, I rushed into the bedroom to change. I looked at the clock and it was now a race against time. I grabbed my LowCadence.com bibs and started to pull them on. I couldn’t get them over my knees! Oh, these belonged to my fifth-grader. After disentangling from those, I grabbed my POA kit off the drying rack and finally got ready.

So, now I had 30 minutes to ride before leaving to go pick up my daughter from play practice. Beautiful Redhead was leaving for her aerobics session. Thankfully, I have the Batesview Criterium. By tacking a little bit to my warm-up, I was able to get the first part of my training session (including a 5 minute blow-out of 320 watts) wrapped up before leaving for my daughter.

Thankfully, practice wasn’t far away. After about 20 minutes, I was back on the bike. However, the type of workouts I needed to do wouldn’t work on the personal, but very hilly criterium course. I headed for Cleveland Park.

I was supposed to do 6 x 3 minute efforts at 320 watts. I would rest 3 minutes between each. Then I would ride easy for 10 minutes before doing 4 x 2 minutes at 320 watts with 4 minutes easy spinning between each. Once I got done, I would ride easy for the 15 minutes back home. Adding up all those minutes as I headed down East North Street toward the park, I realized that I was going to be in a race against the sun.

Once in the park, I ran into a new frustration. It used to be that I could start at the intersection of Ridgeland Drive and Cleveland Park Drive and put the hammer down along Cleveland Park Drive onto Lakehurst Drive all the way to Cleveirvine Avenue. At 350 watts that takes about 1 minute and 40 seconds. Then I would turn right on Cleveirvine Avenue followed by a second right onto Woodland Way. I would then crest the hill above the park right about the 3 minute mark.

Things could be worse!

Things could be worse!

Enter the speed bumps. I don’t begrudge the bumps they put in where the Swamp Rabbit Trail intersects Cleveland Park Drive. It does slow that traffic in an area with a lot of pedestrian traffic. When I’m riding my bike, I don’t normally notice it because there is enough space around the bumps for a bike to pass easily.

During my workout they were a nuisance. It seemed that every time I got close to the bumps, a car would pull out of the nearby parking lot and then come to a complete stop as they slowly traversed the 10 inch mounds. On a couple of my efforts I had to come to a rolling stop. This meant to get my average above 320 watts, I had to punch it up Woodland Way.

Just as I was starting my second 2 minute effort the sun disappeared. Things started getting scary. Still, I hoped that I could get the final two before going home.

On the third effort I got to the bumps and the car not only went slowly over the obstacles, but I also could see two ladies in the car talking away. They continued at a very slow pace. My average was blown. I decided it was time to go home.

Thankfully, I made it to the bicycle lanes on East North Street with no mishaps. I pushed my lap button and decided to get one more two minute effort on my way home. Not bad… at the end of the session I was still able to turn out a 385 watt 2 minute effort. Of course, that meant I only got a 3 minute cool down.

Yes, it was a frustrating evening, but looking back over the ride data I have to be pretty happy. I nailed every one of the efforts (except one at 310 watts due to traffic) at 320 watts or above. This is showing me that I’m beginning to add some matches to my matchbook. I’m still not where I was last year before the wreck, but I’m starting to believe again that I can get there — even with speed bumps in my way.

Hincapie takes a piece of us with him

I’ll admit I’m a George Hincapie fan… not a fanatic, but certainly a fan. Part of it has to do with the man himself, but a large part of it is that George takes a little bit of me and my community everywhere he goes. Added to that is the fact that he has never let us down in the way he has conducted himself — both here in Greenville and around the world.

When he left HTC-Columbia, I wasn’t real thrilled. I liked Bob Stapleton and the chemistry in the team seemed genuine. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when a team dominates like they did in stage wins.

Bob is still the same and while several riders left the team, it appears the same camaraderie exists among the remaining and newer riders. However, with George moving over to BMC I find myself drawn to learn a bit more about the wild card team that is showing itself worthy in the Tour Down Under. I might find myself checking the general classifications for two teams this year!

Anyway, I happened across this article on CyclingNews.com and thought I would archive it here at LowCadence.com.  If you are a George or BMC fan, I think you will enjoy this up close look at the 2009 National Champion’s steed. The BMC STX01 RaceMaster is a nice machine!

Photo from Cyclingnews.com click image for gallery.

Photo from Cyclingnews.com click image for gallery.

After Greipel’s first win, I saw him put his arm around George’s shoulder. That Hincapie Sportswear USA National Championship kit looked pretty good standing out from the crowd around. I couldn’t help to think of the crew over off Pete Hollis Blvd when I saw it. There was a piece of Greenville right there on the roads of Australia. More than that, there was one of Greenville’s best ambassadors doing what he does best… riding a bike and encouraging a younger rider.

Unfortunately, for the big guy, he had a little tumble in the beginning of Stage 3 and had to get patched up a bit. Then he had trouble with his front wheel. However, he came back to finish with the main group – just 1 second behind the winner. That puts him in 19th place in the general classification only 20 seconds back. More important is the fact that BMC has moved into 3rd on the team classification. This bodes well for fans who want to see George and his team in the major races of the year.

Passing George Hincapie climbing Paris Mountain

Okay, I admit it. The title of this blog post was more to get you to come read this blog. It is true.  I did. However, you have to know the whole story.

Last year I became aware of a program that was brought to Greenville.  It is called the Cycling CEO Challenge. It is one of multiple types of CEO Challenges including Driving, Skiing, Tennis, Fishing, and many more.

The idea came to Ted Kennedy as he was working with Ironman America as VP of Sales and Marketing.  The first challenges were limited to the Ironman.  Go to the CEO Challenge web site and you’ll see it has expanded well beyond that!

Ted says he loves his job and I can see why! One of the neat things about this program is that you get to spend some time with a professional in each of the various sports. Here in Greenville the participants got to spend some time with George Hincapie.

On Friday, the crew got to ride with Big George up to Saluda. They also participated in other events surrounding Hincapie Sportswear including a charity fashion show — they didn’t model, they just attended! On Saturday morning they had the challenge.

Each CEO Challenge event centers around a challenge between the various CEO participants. For the cycling challenge it is the King of the Mountain Challenge. It’s pretty simple — the first CEO to make it to the top is the winner. Do you think these guys are competitive? Don’t think they would be where they are professionally if they weren’t!

Instead of writing about the event, I’ll just let you watch the video. It captures the day pretty well. The only thing I wish I had on the video was a pretty spectacular save. We were following George along the route he rides often. He made a turn and the word didn’t get back quickly enough.

I was coming in the rear. I watched as several riders tried to slow to make the turn.  Of course, this caused an accordion effect toward those of us in the back. One of the CEO participants locked up to avoid another rider in front of him. It was as if he was in a drifting competition!  His rear wheel was spewing smoke from burnt rubber as he burned through his tire sliding this rear to his left.

I cringed and looked for an escape route.  I was sure we were going to gave a pile up. However, he kept it up! As I was going pass him, I heard his tube explode as the rubber protecting it disintegrated. As those of us who continued straight came back, the pungent smell of burnt rubber was in the air.

Sorry I didn’t catch it with the camera. Of course, had I been riding with one hand on the bars, I don’t think I would have been up long enough to get a good shot. Great save!

Oh, I did pass George as we were climbing the mountain.  However, it was only because he was going back to help pace one of the participants as he worked to reach the top.  I had to go ahead so I could catch the eventual winner crossing the finish line.

Once again, Big George showed himself to be a class act. He is one of the main reasons why you have CEOs returning for a second opportunity to ride here in Greenville. If you are a CEO and a cyclist, perhaps you would like to take up the challenge and give Tim Hockey a run for his money in 2010!

Grinding through the rumor mill

Some interesting things going on in the pro racing scene. Last week Twitter and list groups were alive with chatter about various aspects of the pro peloton. Things ended up with a surprise.

We already knew that the USA Cycling Professional Championships would be in Greenville come 2010.  However, a week or so after the announcement word started going out that the time for the race would change.  The first rumor I heard was that it would be early in the year.

That would be a bummer.  That would mean that George Hincapie would have very little opportunity to race in his US Champion’s jersey.  The good news is that rumor proved to be false.  The rumor that the date would change was true, but the new date is actually later than last year’s event.

The release from USA Cycling – “The Greenville Hospital System USA Cycling Professional Championships will return to Greenville, S.C. for a fifth consecutive year in 2010, with new dates set for September 18-19, 2010. The Championship weekend features the USA Cycling Professional Time Trial Championship on Saturday and the USA Cycling Professional Road Race Championship on Sunday.”

The Greenville County Council got some undeserved negative mentions.  A committee in the council decided to scale back some of the $15,000 that was being allotted to the September event.  What wasn’t said in the Greenville News article was that the council had committed to $50,000 for the Championships for each of the next three years.  In other words, they are earmarking $150,000 for the purpose of trying to encourage the race to come back for future years as well.  Also, some of the $15,000 may still be channeled to the race.

There were plenty of other rumors going on, but only one of them reached a conclusion — at least to my knowledge!  Who would have thought that Cadel Evans would end up going to BMC?  Who would have thought that going into 2010 that BMC would have the last two World Champions and the current US Champion?  Hmmmm, wonder if they’ll get a Tour invite this year?

The Cantador rumors still pop up.  Where will he be in 2010?  One of the last ones I heard was that he would go to the old Silence-Lotto team.  I can’t imagine that he would do that.  Then again, had you asked me Friday if I thought Cadel would go to BMC…

George Hincapie finally gets to race in his own clothes

It appears that Hincapie Sportswear, “manufacturer and marketer of distinctive clothing for the performance cyclist,” has found it’s way at last into a higher profile sponsorship.  The company announced today that it has signed a sponsorship deal with the BMC Racing Team (BMC) for 2010.

Hincapie will provide BMC with premium cycling apparel and accessories.  But wait, that’s not all!  BMC riders will also be sporting Hincapie Premium Denim and protecting themselves on those long hot training days with Hincapie SkinDefense SPF 30 Sunscreen.

“We’re very excited about our new partnership with BMC Racing,” said Rich Hincapie, president of Hincapie Sportswear. “This is an awesome opportunity for us to showcase our products to the entire world through the team and the new relationship. We’re especially excited that George will be able to finally race and train in his own apparel.”

Tour de France stage winner and recently crowned US Professional Road Race Champion, George Hincapie has signed a two year contract with the BMC Racing Team. He will be racing in Hincapie Sportswear apparel for the first time in his long career.

“I’m very excited to be racing in Hincapie apparel next year,” said George Hincapie, 5-time Olympian and co-owner of Hincapie Sportswear. “I love the stuff we make and I haven’t been able to wear it that much on my other teams. The team opportunity is great for me as well. I started my professional cycling career with Jim Ochowicz, and I’m pleased to be joining him again.”

I wonder if that was one of the things that attracted Hincapie to the contract with BMC?  This could have as much impact on his future as any success he might see on the bike.  It will also be interesting to see what type of designs come out of the relationship.

Hincapie plans to make BMC Cycling Team apparel available to the public through Hincapie dealers and on the company’s website, www.Hincapie.com. Look for the new apparel design to be announced soon.

Welcome the British invasion

The Tour of Missouri is showing itself to be quite the event.  The crowds have been more than respectable and the racing interesting in its own right.  Perhaps the experience would be even better for those of us watching on Universal, but there is no doubt that I’m enjoying the one man British invasion.

It will be interesting to see how the race unfolds.  With 93 riders within one minute of the leader, time bonuses have been the only way to improve your position.  Will this continue to the end, or will some sort of break switch things up in the next five stages?  With Vande Velde out, it opens up stage five for an interesting finish in the individual time trial.

Then again, today could be a deciding day as the peloton moves into the Ozarks.  It ain’t the Alps, but the profile looks like a saw blade!  6000 feet of climbing over undulating terrain can be painful in a different kind of way.  Last year Michael Barry soloed to the win.

One thing is for certain, we get spoiled by the television coverage of the Tour de France.  Both finishes so far have been somewhat obstructed.  It almost made it more interesting to read about Cavendish’s finishes than to watch them.  I miss that overhead view where you get do analyze the decisions made by the various sprinters.

Hey! I’m not complaining though! Seeing any of the race sure beats not having anything at all.  Thank you, Universal Sports!

What can you say about that Manx Missile – Man from Man – the British Invasion?  The Columbia-HTC team is strong, but not as overwhelming as they were in the Tour de France.  From what I can tell, Cav has had to do a little more of his own work in the closing moments of the race. Yesterday’s stage was a prime example when he launched from Thor’s wheel rather than a teammate’s.

Now that is to take nothing away from the Columbia-HTC team.  They may be ranked third in the team classification, but there is no doubt they are in control.  It was good to see Craig Lewis doing yoeman’s work to put his man in position.

George is looking really good in his red, white, and blue.  However, I do wonder if he will only get stronger as the tour progresses.  I would imagine he is just getting his stage race legs back after being off the bike for so long.  I want to see how he does in stage 5.

Oh, I wasn’t listening at this point.  Perhaps it was explained, but what was Craig Lewis doing with his water bottle and front tire?  He pulled his water bottle out and then placed it lightly on the front tire.  He then moved it back and forth a bit.  Was he trying to clean something off of the tire?  Maybe he was trying to cool it down to get some more grip. 🙂

Bottom line, it is good to see another American race see some success.