Tag Archives: Greenville Spinners

Spinners trials is a fun test

Time trials. You love them and you hate them. Thanks to the Greenville Spinners, you get the chance to love what you hate several times this summer with their annual time trials series. While riding a time trial can be something you hate, its hard not to love hanging out with the Spinners.

My number for the Spinners Summer Time Trial Series

This Thursday was a trial just getting to the event! I had busted one of my aero wheels and Boyd Johnson let me borrow one of his while he was putting together a permanent replacement. I didn’t get a chance to put the wheel on the bike until 4:30. When I did, I discovered that the rear derailleur was doing something funky — like the chain was hanging up.

This got me out the door late and then it was time for the criterium race through traffic on Pleasantburg Drive — just as everyone was getting off work. I was starting to get a bit nervous because I needed to start early in the queue so that I could get to my son’s baseball practice to pick him up. My window for registering, warming up and getting to the line was shrinking with each delay.

After registering, I unloaded the bike and took it over to The Great Escape mechanic who was there supporting the riders. I got into my skin suit and then went to pick up my bike. A moment of panic flashed into my mind as I realized that my start time was only 15 minutes away! The mechanic was informing me that the chain was not meshing well with the cog on Boyd’s wheel. I told him to get it working the best he could on a particular gear and then I would go with that.

I went out and did my best to get my legs loose before returning to the line. However, I knew it was going to be a painful experience as my legs were complaining to me that they weren’t ready as I rolled up to the line. I figured I was just going to have to use the out portion as my warmup. If I could just hang in there, my legs should come around on the return.

There isn’t much to say about the actual attempt. I almost immediately started to feel that my legs were bricks. The battle was to fight the negative thoughts that I was just wasting my time. Still, each turn closer to the turn around lifted my spirits.

I looked down at the time and saw I was rolling toward the halfway point at around 11 minutes. In the past, I made this point in just over 10 minutes. Considering how I was feeling, that was actually a relief. The turn came and I determined I wouldn’t look at the wattage. I was just going to ride as best I could back to the finish.

My legs did lose that “brick” feeling. However, now they were starting to feel like noodles. As I soldiered on, I could see other riders making their out attempts. I had been passing some riders, but I couldn’t tell for sure if they were on their attempt or just out warming up. Regardless, I tried to use each one as a rabbit to overtake.

I was thankful that the gearing didn’t give me a problem. The bike was shifting well — not that I was doing a lot of it. However, I did go down to a bit harder gear as I made my way within sight of the finish. The clock stopped at 23:32 for the 10 miles.

That wasn’t what I wanted by any stretch. At the same time, I was much better than I felt I did. I had pretty much convinced myself it was going to be a 24:00+ time. Only being 20 some seconds off my best time was a surprise.

Turns out my out portion took about 11:50. That is significantly slower than previous attempts. However, the back portion took around 12:20. That is significantly better than previous attempts. I imagine there is something to learn in there… I’ve just got to figure out what it is an capitalize on it.

I had to leave before the winning times were announced. However, I figured that since I was competing in the Cat. 1/2/3 field that I wouldn’t be seeing “the podium.” Later, I was surprised to get a tweet from my friend, David McQuaid, who informed me that I had taken second by a second. Chris Calder, having returned from racing with the USA development team in Belgium, crushed all of us with a sub-twenty-one minute effort.

We’ll see how things go next time when most likely there will be a few more heavy hitters who I assume were holding off from the time trial in anticipation of the criterium in Spartanburg tonight. Folks like Eric Christophersen and Matt Tebbetts regularly turn 22 and sub-22 minute efforts. I’ll be on the outside looking in at that point!

However, that is what is so fun about the Spinners series. It really is a relaxed atmosphere. Really, for the majority of the participants it is as though we are a support group cheering each other on against the clock. If you are interested in turning your pedals in competition, this is a great venue to start with.

As for me, I’m determined to improve my time during the next few events. I’ll start by making sure I schedule things better!

Good, better, but not quite best

Sitting in my office at around 4PM I brought up the weather map. The forecast for the next several hours called for potential thunderstorms. Walking outside and taking a look at the sky showed clouds north of Paris Mountain. To the south things didn’t look so bad. Looked like the Greenville Spinners Time Trial at Donaldson Center would be on.

I rushed home to get ready. All the while the clouds continued to mass. I could hear thunder in the distance. It would be my luck that I would be all ready and get there just to get dumped on. Still, it was worth the chance.

What a surprise to find that when I arrived it was overcast, but not threatening. The bigger surprise was that normally windy Donaldson Center was dead still. The flags hung limply from their poles.

Hmmmm, low wind and cloud cover easing some of the oppressive heat from the sun just might be a good setup for a good time. The only weather condition that might be an issue was the incredible humidity. You really could feel the air around you.

I got registered and started warming up for my 6:09 PM start time. As I followed the course I took note of the road surface and the various flags and trees around the course that could give me an indication of the environmental factors. Another objective was to map out in my mind how I would approach the terrain.

When I got to the turn around spot, I hoped to find the cone so that I could practice making a quick turn around it. Unfortunately, the cone had not yet been placed. Also, traffic was heavy at that point and I had to stop with several other riders to wait for it to clear so we could start back.

Arriving back at the start I just had enough time to swallow some gel and jettison one of my water bottles before I was called to the line. I would be about fifth out. I slotted in and waited for my turn.

The track start still was uncomfortable for me. I’m sure I gave the guy holding my bike fits as I couldn’t seem to get my pedals positioned correctly and my weight shifted around. To make matters worse, I shifted my weight on the aero-bars and pushed my elbow rest down. The count down got closer to “Go!” and I tried to put all that out of my mind.

Then I was off! My goal was to beat my time of 23:32 from the previous TT I did a year ago on this course. I wanted to do well on the finish sheet, but that was not my primary focus. The person I wanted to beat the most was myself.

I had started in my big ring and about the middle of my rear cassette. I tucked in my aerodynamic position and started shifting the gears into a consistent cadence. I worked to hold myself back a bit in this first section to around 300 watts.

Immediately, I could tell this wasn’t a warm up anymore. As I started up the first incline my breathing began to change. I focused on avoiding quick draws into my lungs and tried to bring my breathing into a rhythm with my pedal strokes.

Alone, cutting through the heavy air around me, I was suddenly elated! This time a year ago, I was on pain killers with a neck brace and sleeping in my recliner. “I’m alive!” I thought to myself. “I’m not just alive, I’m competitive.” Sure, I wasn’t back to the point I had reached last year, but I was better. Suddenly, it didn’t really matter how I did. I was just enjoying the moment.

Crossing the tracks I reached a straight section where I could see ahead to the next turn. There was my minute man. Hey, maybe I could catch him. “You’ve got the majority of the whole course to do it,” I had to tell myself to keep from accelerating too quickly.

I didn’t really have an idea of how I was doing with my time. Unfortunately, all the uncertainty with my start caused me to forget to start my computer until a number of seconds into the effort. How many seconds I did not know.

My minute man got closer as I made the turn that would bring me to the turn around. I could also see several other riders ahead or coming toward me. I might not have the best time, but I certainly was going to have a time better than most.

As I got to the cone, my minute man was just starting off on his return. Going into the turn I found myself coping with another participant who was just passed by the rider in front of me. I had to negotiate around him, but my turn was still waaaay better than last year!

So, I had already overtaken the rider who started 2 minutes in front of me. By the time I made it to the first turn that would take us to 3M hill, I passed my minute man. Up ahead, I could see yet another rider. It was encouraging to have some targets.

At the same time, I was starting to feel it. I found myself wanting to mash on the pedals instead of pedal in circles. As I would get my legs back in form I could feel the lactic acid begin to build. “That’s not pain,” I would repeat to myself. “That is power.” A grin came to my face as I found myself actually enjoying that swelling feeling that comes into your legs as your heart rate nears its threshold.

I passed the third rider before I reached the rail road track. I was struggling a bit at this point and the thought of the final climb began to affect my effort. It was at this point I probably lost time that I could have gained. My power average for that section was a dismal 209 watts. My thought was on saving something for the climb.

As I started up, I could see the fourth rabbit up ahead. I put my head down and went after him. I caught him at about 1K to go. Then I knew it was just me to beat. I had the sensation that if I continued to sit I would start to fade, so I stood and began to push toward the line.

I knew immediately that I had left something out there. My calculations left me with a bit in the tank. Of course, the number one rule of time trials is to leave nothing there.

Looking at my clock, I could tell that it was going to be close. I cooled down and made my way back to the officials’ tent. The more I figured in my head, the more I began to think I might end up with a time very close to my personal best. At the same time, I wasn’t sure I beat it. Just how long was it before I pressed the start button?

I pulled up to the tent. “Could I have an unofficial time?” I asked. The volunteer took a look at the spread sheet… “23:08” Yes! I had beat my time!

Still, I knew I was far from the fastest time. People regularly turn 21:00 to 22:00 lap times. Turns out there were two Cat 4 racers with faster times (22:38 and 23:00). However, since there were only three of us in the Pro/1/2/3 field, I got a second place. I trailed Eric Christophersen by 57 seconds.

My evaluation? It was good. I followed my plan and accomplished my goal. It was certainly better than last year. However, it was obviously not my best. My power average was well below what I know I can turn out for 20 minutes.

Well, now I have a goal for when we take to the course again in July. It won’t be a time goal. It will be one simple objective: Go for broke.

Dear Greenville Spinners

Dear Spinners,

I trust everyone will have a wonderful weekend with the USA Cycling Professional Championships coming into town. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to join you all for the fun. I’ll be leaving out of town Saturday morning for the 2010 Ride for Mike.

Once the pros have left town and you find your way online to check out Interbike and your favorite cycling sites, be sure to swing by rideformike.com to follow along with me as I ride from Memphis, TN to Greenville, SC to Raleigh, NC. I’ll be covering these 700 miles in 7 days.

It would be nice to know that I have some friends following along with me! There will be links put up each day once the ride starts that will allow you to track my progress with an update every 5 minutes (depending on the AT&T network). You can also follow the blog reports each day as part of my blog Low Cadence.

Thanks to the many Spinners who have given support in any number of ways — especially after my accident in May when I broke my neck and fractured my skull. While this email is to inform everyone of the ride, it is also a way to publicly thank those who have helped me — especially, Sunshine Cycle Shop, Chris Hartzler, David Mruz at Eastside Chiropractic, and Hincapie Sportswear. There are others as well and to you all I say, “Thank you!”

Jonathan Pait

Telling the truth about the race of truth

They call it the “Race of Truth.” It is the Individual Time Trial. I did my first one ever last night at the Greenville Spinners Summer Time Trial Series. The truth is that I hated it… and loved it.

The number for my first individual time trial

The number for my first individual time trial

I realize there wasn’t a lot on the line. This isn’t a sanctioned race with all points and everything. However, I was pretty nervous. The person I was most competing with was myself. I wanted to do well and see what type of benchmark I could set for going forward.

The plan was to arrive early and take my time getting set up. I wanted to make sure I got signed up and warmed up with time to spare. Things got off to a great start.

I was early enough that there was time to go out on the course and ride it at a leisurely pace. The goal was to go out and back at an easy, but consistent pace to figure out the road and wind conditions. My thinking was that if I rode consistent I could compare the times of “out” and “back” to see which one took longest. That might help me come the real execution.

Turns out I went out and back in about 28 minutes – 14 minutes out and 14 back. Hmmm, it seemed that the wind was equally working for and against me in both directions. I tucked this information into my head and headed to the Greenville Spinners’ tent to get my number.

I would be rolling off at 6:35. The clock on my Garmin, which I was using for my timer, was several minutes off the official time. This was good to know as I saw one person miss their start and another almost arrive late. Thankfully, I had time to warm up.

Unfortunately, I was dealing with this iBike again. I’m sorry. I want to give this device a chance, but I just don’t trust it.  Every time I go to ride it, I end up trying to calibrate the thing in hopes that I can get the correct reading. In the warm up, I would look down and see either 0 watts registering or what I thought was a very low reading. Once again I stopped to do a calibration ride. Then it was time to pull up to the line.

John’s wife, Catherine James, was starting off two minutes ahead of me. An older rider doing the TT Merckx style was my minute man. Behind me was Neil Browne of CarolinaCyclingNews.com. I knew Neil was a pretty good Category 3 racer. Since this was my very first event as a Category 3 racer, I figured he would be a good measure for how I would compare with my new category compatriots. Mostly, I was hoping he wouldn’t overtake me!

My first new experience was being held at the line. What they do is get you up to the line and then they hold you there while you are completely clipped in and poised to go. “Hmmm, how do balance myself, make sure I get started strong, and start my timer without falling over?” I had visions of myself wobbling off the line and tipping over.

Thankfully, I got away okay. Though, next time, I think I will start right off in the big ring and then work my way up on the rear cassette. Still, I had the bike moving and now things were much more familiar. This was just like riding a bike and doing a 20 minute interval.

I caught my one minute man shortly before reaching the railroad tracks. I wasn’t feeling the best, but I was settling in and knew I would get a tail wind going down 3M hill. I just divided things up and focused on making it to that point. Once there, I just set my mind on making it to the turnaround.

The pace I was setting would have me at the halfway point in under 10 minutes. My mind starting wondering what that would do to me if I burned myself going out and then hit that head wind going up 3M hill. I backed things off just a bit as I started up the hill to the turnaround.

It wasn’t until I reached that point that it hit me I had never done a turnaround in a TT — I had never done a TT! What is the protocol? Are there rules for how this happens? Would I be directed what to do, or was I just expected to know what was going on?

Up ahead I could see a blinking light of a vehicle. Then I could see a cone in the middle of the road. There was my teammate Matt just passing me going the opposite direction. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see someone make the turn before me. I slowed slightly with indecision.

The cone was right at an intersection. I thought perhaps I was supposed to do my turn int he middle of that crossing. Of course, this was a little past the cone. As I passed the cone, Sam Smith was there with an incredulous look on her face. “Where are you going?” she asked. “Aren’t you going to turn around?” Finally, I got the TT rig going in the opposite direction. I’m certain I lost at least 10 seconds making that turn. Oh well, you ride and you learn!

Almost immediately after getting turned around and starting off, I felt really bad. I had made the outbound leg in just over 10 minutes. If I could have held that pace, I would have done VERY well. However, I knew I couldn’t. Now it was just a matter of hanging on and minimizing the damage.

As I neared the turn that would put me into the head wind toward 3M hill, I started to get that feeling that I often get on the second lap of Tuesday Night World Championships. It is that feeling that I am about to croak and the various body parts were saying, “You are hurting us. We can’t do this. You need to stop.” I had to put that out of my mind. My two thoughts were, “No, body parts, we have been here before and if you’ll just hang with me here we’ll feel better in a couple minutes.” The second thought was, “I will NOT get overtaken by Neil Browne!”

Coming up 3M hill I wasn’t even aware of where I was on the course. My head was down and I was only thinking about the rhythm of my pedals. As I made the turn that would take me to the railroad tracks and then the finish, I started to feel my body getting in order once again… I wasn’t feeling good, just my body parts had finally stopped their rebellion and were working together through the pain.

Just over the tracks, I caught Catherine. She was riding very strong and ended up winning the overall among the ladies. However, it is always a help when you overtake someone because it gives you a goal to aim for when you first see them and gives you motivation to show you are going fast as you ride past them.

That brought me to the dip and the finish. Going into the dip, I started to get stitches. I just kept trying to take in deep breaths and keep pushing. Finally I could see the finish. My body was again telling me, “Hey, stupid, there is the finish line. You’re basically done. Why don’t you just coast across?” Glancing at my timer I saw that it would be very possible for me to make a 23:30 time if I just kept pushing.

I did and I started to feel that nauseous sensation as I neared the line. I couldn’t push out of my saddle. I just keep the same pace across the line. I stopped my timer at 23:32 — that ended up being the official time of my very first individual time trial. The good news is that Neil didn’t overtake me. He finished 6th with a time of 23:09 and I was 7th with my time. The winner, to no one’s surprise, was my teammate Eric Christophersen. His finishing time was 21:20 – and that was after stopping to pickup his computer that had flown off going over the railroad tracks!

I’ll give some more thoughts on this act of pain called the Individual Time Trial later. I think I’ve pretty much described why I hated it — it hurts. Next time I’ll talk about why I loved it and why I’m looking forward to getting out there again.

Time to cross it up – cross racing in Greenville

Get ready to cross it up at the Greenville Spinners Cyclocross Weekend.  You can run and ride through grass, dirt, and – if you’re lucky – a little mud.  It’s waiting for you on October 17 & 18 at the former Mill Stone Village golf course.

Sign up today to join the fun!

Sign up today to join the fun!

I’m guessing that with the growing cycling culture in Greenville, we’ll be seeing more of these races so prevalent in Europe.  Perhaps before it is all said and done, they might even get me out there!  Not that weekend though, I’ve got other obligations.

My first unofficial time trial

Happy Independence Day! Of course, for us cyclists it is hard to believe that on a day like this our thoughts turn to France — the Tour De France.  Okay, so it actually starts in Monaco.  It is a city-state and not really France.

I’ll be catching the Tour action in the morning, riding some in the afternoon, and then having a great Fourth of July celebration with my family in the evening.  Yes, I will be back on my bike.  I made it back on yesterday for a 2 hour, 35 mile long ride.  I’m looking forward to getting out again.

Yesterday’s ride was one of those rides where I started out at my driveway not sure what I was going to do.  I wasn’t sure how my neck and back would hold up, so I was going to feel my way along.  I just knew the old body needed to get on the bike.

Almost immediately, the legs sent the message that they were happy.  My neck gave me no pain at all.  My right shoulder and back were not quite as happy.  However, it was nothing really painful – more like just uncomfortable.

As I rolled I loosened up more and more.  Before long I found myself heading through Cleveland Park and over to Augusta Road.  It came into my mind to ride over to Donaldson Center and put out an effort on the Time Trial course.  It would be interesting to see the time I managed.

Forty minutes after leaving the house, I rolled up to the start/finish line.  I took off hoping I might end up with a surprising time.  Something in the back of my mind was telling me I was starting out too fast.  However, that first downhill gets you going thinking you can get some good speed that will help your average later.

I was really feeling pretty good until I turned there where the country route leaves Perimeter Road.  That put me into a headwind.  Things suddenly got hard.  I kept trying to hold my speed as best I could.  However, by the time I started to climb up to the golf course where the turn around is, I was putting along.

Turning around I felt better.  This was the direction we normally head when we are doing the Tuesday Night World Championships.  There was something comforting about knowing exactly what was ahead — right down to the road surface.

I know I gave about as much as I had.  As I finished the course I had that not so happy feeling in my stomach that you get when you put out a hard effort.  My Garmin told me that my CinQo had recorded an average wattage of 294.  My time? 26.05.

There is time to gain.  First, I was not 100%.  As I finished my neck felt pretty good, but my right shoulder and my mid-back was moving out of the uncomfortable zone into the annoying ache zone.  I also had not planned on doing this, so I had not fueled up with a TT in mind.  My parfait and muffin wasn’t exactly giving me the boost I would hope.

I think I can get it up to a 300 watt average.  That should put me somewhere between 23 and 24 mph for the course.  That should get me under 26 minutes.  I would love to go out on August 6 and lay down a near 25 minute TT effort.  That wouldn’t be so bad on a road bike.

Trust you will have a wonderful day.  Don’t forget to really celebrate our country — not just the long weekend.  If you are an American, you have much to be thankful for.  I know that American Exceptionalism is frowned upon by the sophisticated of our day.  However, I never claimed to be a very cosmopolitan kind of guy.  I think we live in the greatest country on earth – even if we don’t have the Tour De France.

Someday I will do a time trial

This evening was earmarked for the Greenville Spinners Time Trial at Donaldson Center.  Word is it is a fun evening of opportunities for both serious and beginner time trial riders to complete the race of truth.  At least, that is what I hear.  I’ve never been able to make it to one.

That was going to change tonight.  However, my accident Tuesday night has left me without a bike and with a very sore neck and back.  I tried tucking in a aerodynamic position and my head let me know that it just wasn’t going to happen.  It hurts too much to hold my head up.

If you get a chance to get out there, do it.  The time trials are held at the same location as the Tuesday night rides.  However, the TT course sends riders out in the opposite direction on Perimeter Road.  You go out 5 miles and then turn around to come back.

Your time will be compared with other riders at your skill level.  There is a Pro/1/2/3 group, a Cat 4/5 group, as well as groups for Masters 50+, Women, Juniors, and a Merckx division.  That last one is where I probably would end up.  I don’t have any aerodynamic gear or a TT specific bike.  In the Merckx division, none of that stuff is allowed.

I’m sure it will be fun for all.  You do have to be a member of the Spinners to compete.  Not a Spinner?  Why not? Membership is $25 dollars.  You can have the benefits of membership, support cycling in the Upstate, and have access to tonight’s TT as well as the final one of the year on August 6th.

Hopefully, nothing will come up to keep me away from that one!

What a difference a year makes

I was checking my mail and found a message in the Greenville Spinners’ Yahoo! group.  There was a link to a YouTube video.  I clicked on it to find that it was a video I had posted to the site on April 27, 2008 — exactly a year ago yesterday.

Things have changed since that April night.  I believe we made the climb in just under 13 minutes.  Watching the video I can tell how much I was laboring to get that time up the mountain.

That was back in the day when I thought I would never get to 12:30.  Now, a year later, I regularly break that mark and have been flirting with an even 12 minutes.  It would be nice if in April of 2010 I am down around 11 minutes.  Dream on!

The video has changed as well.  YouTube has improved the quality that can be uploaded to the service.  I’d also like to think I’ve learned a thing or two about editing these things.

I guess it is about time to take the helmet cam back out there on one of these rides and see how the video compares.  Thanks to everyone who has watched my little videos.  I know there are a lot of people reading the Spinners’ Yahoo! group.  The video had been watched only 300 times when the message went out.  By this morning the views had increased to 450.

Oh, and thanks for reading LowCadence.com!

Good news in the bad

I started riding my road bike back in 2006.  My big goal was to ride the Assault on Mt. Mitchell.  Racing wasn’t a part of the picture at that time.

Then I started riding regularly with the guys at Sunshine Cycle Shop on their Saturday morning Hour of Power rides.  All through that first year of riding, I was regularly trashed by those guys.  However, I started getting a little better and by October of 2007, I agreed to join my friend David McQuaid in the traditional Fall for Greenville downtown criterium.

It was my first race and I signed up as an “unattached” rider.  That meant I was not a part of an organized race team.  I ended up crashing out of that race with a dislocated pinkie – what is it about me and my pinkie fingers?  However, the bug had taken a big bite.

2008 rolled around with a new goal on my mind – winning the October race.  Sure, I still had as my primary goal climbing Mt. Mitchell, but that October crit was now personal.  I joined the Greenville Spinners Bicycle Racing Team and, as Mike McMillan put it, officially “came over to the dark side of cycling.”

The GSBRT is a great way to get into bicycle racing.  Basically, you just need to be a member of the Greenville Spinners club and fork over the money for a kit.  Unfortunately for me, I joined a little too late and all that was available was the jersey.

While on the team I got a seventh place in my first race.  My second race was a third place finish.  Hey, this was fun!  I then came back down to earth with my worse finish of the year with an 18th.  After coming in third in the South Carolina Road Racing Championship for my category, there was no turning back!  That October, I hit back at the crit with my first ever win.

So, needless to say, I was looking forward to 2009.  I would have the new challenge of racing in a new category, but that was a challenge I welcomed.  The first Spring Series race was going to be on my birthday and I have watched my power profile trend up the last couple of weeks.  It was going to be a big day.

Then I had my accident – once again the pinkie.

While sitting here under the influence of my medication, I got a call from Blair LaMarche, manager of POA Cycling.  He was extending me an invitation to join the team for 2009.  For me, that is just awesome!

This means I will be on the same team as several riders who were instrumental in stirring my competitive juices.  John James, Billy White, Luis Sanchez, and I have spent many hours together riding in northern Greenville county.  Then Joey Sullivan and Matt Tebbetts became my brothers-in-battle as we traveled across the country together during the Challenge to Conquer Cancer ride.  Besides, I think they have some pretty cool kits!

Now, I’m really wanting to get out there Saturday.  I can wait a little longer though.  There certainly is more to look forward to.

Thanks Spinners for a great ride.  POA, I’m looking forward to a great future.

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.