Tag Archives: Hincapie

2014 Ride For Mike (Part 1)

I was thankful for the new start time for the 2014 Hincapie Gran Fondo. This meant I was able to get up at my normal weekday waking schedule. Then it was just a matter of getting the stuff I had prepared the night before into the car. In the cool (but not cold!) air of an October morning, I drove the 30 or so minutes to Hotel Domestique for the start of my 2014 Ride For Mike.

The VIP package allowed me to drive right up to the hotel and park within a stones throw of the start. The only hitch I had was with the zipper of my vest. The base came unattached and I fought with it for awhile before finally deciding to ditch it and head over for the breakfast. I could sense my nervousness. However, it wasn’t the riding that made me nervous. It was wanting to make sure I was at the right place and the right time.

The breakfast was in the dining area of the hotel. You could look out of the large pane windows beyond the pool to the mountains in the distance. The sun was just beginning to kiss the tops of the ridges as I downed my muffin, egg biscuit, second cup of coffee, and more fluids.

Probably the biggest perk of the VIP area was not the chance to meet the pro riders who showed up, but the easy access to the hotel restroom. I did see a couple of the pros — though I didn’t speak with any of them. However, I did take advantage of that restroom multiple times before the start!

Then it was time to head out to the start. Another advantage of the VIP pass was the access to the front of the LARGE pack of riders who lined up for the start. It was a chance to connect with folks that I don’t normally see except at these types of events and position myself to avoid the majority of the “scrum” that comes from a mass start like this.

Then we were off. The nervousness was gone now. The weather was AWESOME and I could see the leaders pulling off no more that 50 riders in front of me. This was going to be a good day.

The nervousness returned as we got farther underway. I was riding along in the right lane of the road as the pack got settled into a rhythm. Then I noticed a good number of riders passing on in the left lane. The 50 or so riders ahead of me continued to swell.

I was riding under the understanding that there was a yellow-line rule. What I didn’t realize was that during the “neutral” start, the marshals were creating a “rolling closure.” So, any traffic coming towards us (which was very little) was stopped and moved to the side to allow the pack access to both lanes. I could see this taking place on some of the longer straight sections of the road.

At that point, I decided to work my way toward the front. Sometimes I did this by going in the left lane and other times along the right shoulder. At other times, I just settled in to the middle of the right lane and followed others up through the riders ahead.

I was in this position when it happened. The group was taking up both sides of the road. We were in a slight right curve going down a hill. This allowed me to look ahead to see an upcoming left turn. Because of the vantage point, I could see that on the other side of the left turn a truck had been stopped by the course marshals. Suddenly the nervousness returned — at about 25 mph.

The riders ahead of me in the left lane began to call out — “Single lane! Single lane! Right lane! Slowing!” The brakes of multiple bikes were also calling out the warning of a quickly slowing mass of flesh, carbon fiber, and metal. I began to slow and look for my escape path. The wall of riders before me was beginning to compress as the riders to the left began to move over as the riders approaching the vehicle slowed.

Like an accordion the group compressed. I balanced myself on the bike fully expecting to get hit from behind. I aimed the bike to a small gap while trying to keep my momentum going forward. Just as I thought I was going to hit a rider moving across my wheel from left to right, the accordion released in front of me.

However, it was too late for a rider I could hear very near me but behind me to the right. As I was rejoicing that a lane was opening before me, I was struck once again with adrenaline as I heard brakes squeal and then carbon fiber snap. It is a hard sound to describe, but if you have ever heard it you understand. I can’t help but think of bones breaking.

Once again I just knew I was going to get hit. However, the anticipated impact never came and I rolled away. Just a second or so later an even larger sound of entangling cycling equipment erupted behind me. The sound was slightly more muted by that point as I was moving beyond the carnage.

Later I heard from a rider who had stopped to check on the group that all the people involved were okay, but that at least two bicycle frames were broken in half. At the moment of the event it sounded so much worse. After making my way past the truck (that had stopped, but had done so without moving out of the road), I set my position to the right of the field and decided to not worry about how many people might be passing me!

I knew that the craziness of the start would end when we started climbing. However, there were still a couple of technical sections I would have to make it through. I saw one more near accident as a rider was sandwiched between two others. He did a great job of using his body to protect himself and hold his position while keeping his balance.

Finally the faster guys started to pull away from me while the slower folks were beginning to fade back. Before I reached the first SAG, there was a sizable gap ahead of me and looking back I could only see a few riders interspersed along the way. So, rolling through Tryon, I knew the ride was now in my hands. There wouldn’t be a lot of pacing at this point and the climbing was about to begin.

There would be no more worrying about the riders around me. Now, I just had to worry about myself. I would find that was enough to worry about!

To be continued…

To ride or not to ride? That is the question.

This week is doing me in. After finishing the century on Saturday, I thought I would recover a few days and then be ready to get back at it. Unfortunately, this week has not gone the way I expected.

I hit the ground running at work this week. It is been one of those weeks where the days end and you wonder where it went! To compound things, I was out on Tuesday with some sort of reverse fever business. My temperature was under 97 and I just wanted to sleep.

Every evening has had some activity that has kept me off the bicycle. Needing to continue work on the foundation has kept me up later than usual. Tonight and tomorrow night don’t look to be changing that trend.

It really has me wondering if I should do the Hincapie Gran Fondo on Saturday. I haven’t ridden in a week. I’m not feeling that strong. I need a break. On the other hand, opportunities like this don’t come along every day. It’s going to be a beautiful day.

On the other hand, this was to be my “last ride” of the year. Once the fondo was in the bag, I planned to focus on off season cross training and maybe do a little more core work. Then there is that matter of having just acquired some knobby tires.

The ride is also a great opportunity to ride with some characters from the pro cycling world. Of course, the chances of me actually riding with them are pretty slim. Riding in a crowd of hundreds of other cyclists following along behind the pros isn’t really riding with them. Frankly, the thought of getting in that big crowd of riders just isn’t that appealing.

I truly am torn. I want to do the ride, but I just don’t know if I am able.

If I didn’t ride, then Thing Two and I could take out our mountain bikes for our first real ride together. That would be great, but I do realize that there will be many opportunities to do that in the future. Riding in George’s “retirement party” ride is a once in a lifetime deal.

So, I’m asking you. What should I do?

Of course, I’ll let you know what I decide.

US Pro Championships to be announced today

A formal Press Conference at Hincapie Sportswear will introduce media and invited guests to the new activities and sponsors related to the dual national championships for professional cycling – the Greenville Hospital System USA Cycling Professional Championships. This is the fourth consecutive year that Greenville will host the GHS USA Cycling Professional Championships.

The conference, held at 2:05 PM today will feature George Hincapie (professional cyclist, Team Columbia), Michael Riordan (President and CEO of Greenville Hospital System), George Acker (Southern Region Director, Duke Energy), James Bourey (City Manager of Greenville), Kevin Dunn (Director of Stars & Stripes Challenge), and Chris Aronhalt (Managing Partner of Medalist Sports)

The Professional Individual Time Trial National Championship will be held Saturday, August 29. The Professional Road Race National Championship will be held Sunday, August 30.  Both professional events are free for spectators, with hospitality packages available to purchase. Over 200,000 spectators have watched the GHS USA Cycling Professional Championships in the past three years, and more than $278,000 has been raised with Stars & Stripes Challenge events for cancer research, benefiting the Greenville Hospital System Oncology Research Institute, Activate Upstate and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Make a difference this weekend

Yesterday I finished up a couple of meetings and then couldn’t resist getting out on my bike to head out for a ride. The weather was incredible and the roads were dry from the recent rains. As I rode over Paris Mountain, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud!

I tried my best to keep my power down and my cadence high as I climbed. Wow, was that hard! I was as easy as I could go on the gears. If I tried to increase my cadence, my power would increase to around 200 watts. If I tried to lower my power, I would come to a near standstill.

Finally, I stopped trying and just rode by perceived exertion. I figured if I didn’t feel like I was riding hard, hopefully I wasn’t! Of course, going down the Furman side had my heart rate down in no time.

Tomorrow, I am planning on riding in the Breaking the Chains of Cancer ride. It is a benefit ride for one of the founding families of cycling in the Carolinas, the Sullivans. It’s close to me because one of my riding brothers from Team One on the Austin trip is Joey Sullivan.

Susan Sullivan, Joey’s wife, has been battling ovarian cancer for quite some time. Doctors have suggested she try a new series medicine due to the fact that the current regiment of chemotherapy has not been producing the most positive results. These new medicines are not covered by insurance making the costs extremely high for the family.

This ride was organized from within the Greenville cycling community to help alleviate this expense. The Sullivans have given a lot to cycling in the Upstate over the years and this is a way to show our support for the family. Besides, we have to keep Susan healthy so she can keep Joey under control!

There is still time to sign up if you are interested. George Hincapie will be joining the 65 mile ride. There will be autographed jerseys and photos from George given to the top donors. There are also special single run jerseys from Hincapie sportswear available for purchase with all proceeds going to the Sullivan Benefit Fund.

The rides will start and finish at Carolina Triathlon Downtown. Pre-Registration is $35.00 and $40.00 day of the ride. Registration can be done at www.pre-reg.com. Click on cycling and then Sullivan Family benefit ride.

Head on over to Pre-Reg.com and sign up for the ride today. It’s going to be a warm day and the rain should be spotty. You know you want to be out on your bike… why not help make a difference in a lives of a family while you ride?

Hincapie Path Dedication

George Hincapie has left another mark on the City of Greenville. Under beautiful blue skies, the Tour de France stage winner and Greenville resident lead dozens of cyclists for a ride along the newly dedicated Hincapie Path.

The Hincapie Path is part of the Swamp Rabbit Trail which many hope will someday run from Conestee to Travelers Rest. The section of the trail bearing his name stretches from Woodland Way in Greenville’s Cleveland Park to East Faris Road near Greenville First Baptist.

Greenville mayor, Knox White, began the event explaining some of the vision for trail. George Hincapie said a few well received words following the unveiling of a trail sign bearing the name “Hincapie Path.” The Hincapie family then joined him and city officials to cut the ribbon to officially open the path.

Those attending with bikes then had the opportunity to ride the path with George. The ride included a loop through some Greenville streets before returning to Cleveland Park. Following the short ceremonial ride, George headed off on a ride with friends including fellow Columbia rider, Craig Lewis.

Many members of the Palmetto Peloton Project’s Challenge to Conquer Cancer riders were there to support this great addition to an active Greenville community. These riders recently returned from a week long cycling trip to Austin, Texas to participate in the LiveStrong Challenge.

Check out the pictures from The Greenville News at GreenvilleOnline.com.

A normal Saturday

Its Saturday and no rain, so…. that means that it was time for the Sunshine Cycle Saturday morning ride. Man, was it cold! Really, it wasn’t that cold – probably the high 40s or low 50s, but when you are out in summer riding gear and you get up to speed, it gets cold.

Once we got started, I warmed up everywhere except my fingers and my toes. When the sun got up over the trees, that helped a lot as well. By the time we ended the ride I was feeling pretty good.

By next Saturday, I plan to have some cool/cold weather gear. I don’t want to be cold again… nor do I want to be accused of being a Yankee! 🙂

We did about twenty-eight and a half miles like we normally do. I was relieved we didn’t do Woodhaven. That would have croaked me. The most fun I had was on a long gradual climb. I hooked up with Ed and Tony (two of the better riders) and we dropped the whole group and finished yards ahead of everyone. I managed to finish in the top two or three of most of the sprints, but the last couple of climbs, I just ran out of gas.

I didn’t make the 100 miles this week as I had hoped, but I did get more than 70. I’ll try again this week to get in some more. I think if I can get in a ride on Tuesday night, that will help.

Oh, a funny story. My nephew Paiton rides a lot with a friend named Anthony. Well, this morning Anthony called to see if Paiton would like to ride with him around Paris Mountain. Unfortunately for Paiton, his family didn’t hear the phone ring. So, Anthony went riding without him and ended up riding with George Hincapie as they both ended up riding the same route. Anthony got his autograph on his jersey and spent some time talking with him. Paiton? He was kicking himself 🙂

Hometown George wins!

Today, I took my trusty Pro-Flex and headed to Cleveland Park. There is a spot on Woodland Circle that I thought would be a good place to take some pictures. Here I’m including some pictures from lap three of the USA Cycling Professional Championship. By the way, George Hincapie, riding on his home course, won the race.

Here the leaders (at that point) head up the hill after going through the feed zone. Most had taken on their carb load by this time. In this first group, I could only pick out Levi Leipheimer in this group. It was hard to distinguish who was who looking through a view finder. The pictures didn’t tell me much either.

There was a small group of riders between the initial group and this one. Again, I couldn’t figure out any of these riders. If you know any of them, point out which is which.

This picture is sad and kind of funny in a sick sort of way. I watched this lone rider come up the hill. He was plodding along. He then looked back and saw the sweeper car coming up behind him. Suddenly he put his head down and pushed a little harder. I’m afraid that before the day was over, he had to get off the bike and get in the van. He was fading and he still had to do Paris Mountain two more times.

I admire him though. He had already done Altamont Rd. three times. I turned to an official photographer standing nearby. I told her, “I wouldn’t need a sweeper car. I would need a scooper car!”

It was fun. I would have liked to have chased them all around to take in the whole spectical. However, I had other things to do and was not able to be at the finish line. I sure hope that they will be back next year.

More Hincapie

I guess Following Hincapie will become Following Landis. Of course, I’m still keeping up with George, but there is no way he will now win the Tour. Landis is the American best in position to take the yellow on the final day. Sure wish he rode for an American team, but I guess I’ll have to pull for Phonak.

According to Rich Hincapie, his brother came into the tour too light. He seems to start out the stages just fine, but then fades. It was obvious during the time trial that there were going to be problems. Don’t give up George!

Hincapie follows Hincapie

I’ve been following the Tour de France pretty closely again this year. It is actually kind of nice not to have Lance in the mix. There is a huge question mark this year. Eight to ten riders seem to have a legitimate opportunity to win this year. It could even be someone not on the radar (though I doubt it).

There is still a long way to go and the mountains still loom in the distance. I’m hoping that Hincapie can save up his strength and then pull an Armstrong when we get to the mountains near the end of the tour.

Yesterday the Greenville News started a blog written by George’s brother Rich. I hope it will really be a worthwhile blog and we can pick up some insights that you don’t normally get from the media more focused on all the riders. You can find the blog here: Hincapie follows Hincapie.

Yes, I have not missed the irony of a NASCAR fan following cycling in France. I guess it is an example of the changing demographics in the sport – both sports.