Tag Archives: Hour of Power

Time for a break

Three tough rides this week have left me pretty tired. Throw in some late nights with the Tour De France and I’m ready for a break. Sitting here after the morning ride before lunch, I feel like going and crawling into bed for a looooong nap. Yeah, I’m tired, but it has been fun.

There was a good group out on the Hour of Power ride this morning. I thought with the Tour being on we might have less people.  However, most of the regulars were there – and some fast men to make it interesting.

The first thing I realized was that apple butter is not a good thing to put on your toast before going on a ride. Basically, for me I’ve found that any type of fruit substance before a ride doesn’t sit that well.  By the time we got off of Tanner Road onto Reid School Road, I had indigestion.

Of course, this was right before the Meece Bridge Road sprint.  I got into the group, but didn’t even try for it.  Luis and John were up ahead and then I saw John pulling the pace line.  Jeff Cash was on his wheel.  I was afraid at that point that we had put John in a bad situation.  However, he controlled it and scored one for the POA boys.

By the time we reached the quarry road, I was feeling much better. I eased to the rear of the group and tried to get the heart rate down and catch my breath.  We hit it and there was John ahead of me again with Jeff marking him.  I eased up to them but didn’t go on the front.

Then Jeff went forward and I followed him up toward the false flat.  I moved to the front and tried to stamp out a steady cadence.  My idea was to narrow down the players and then see who would be left.  I wasn’t surprised when those players ended up being John and Jeff.

Jeff came around and then John.  I accelerated to get on John’s wheel.  Then John pulled off after bringing me to Jeff’s.  I sat there for a bit and then attacked around him.  After a short gap, I looked back to see that neither of them reacted.  Score two for POA.

It was on that climb I realized I needed a break.  I had no snap at all.  Plus by the time I reached the top I was in recover and survive mode.  For much of the next portion of the ride, I was just trying to hang on.

There was a small sprint point soon after the climb.  Billy moved to the front and followed a Spinners rider who attacked.  He was able to move around him and reach the fire hydrant first. Score three for POA.

Next up was the State Park gate sprint. As we were making our way toward that zone, I pulled up beside John near the front. “Save yourself for Mont Vonteux,” he said. I replied, “I was wanting to ask you if you could take the State Park sprint. I don’t think I can do it.”  He didn’t want to do it, but said that Billy could probably take it.

I rode up to Billy and he was good for the try.  Then it was just a matter of letting Luis know and then setting him up. Billy sat in and got ready for the train.

As we moved into the zone, Tony moved to the front.  He pulled for just a bit and then moved over, saying as we sped by him, “Just kidding!”

Luis moved to the front with me on his wheel.  I wasn’t exactly sure who was directly behind me, but I knew John would be there taking care of Billy.  Our job was to stretch out the field and leave John and Billy to launch up the hill.

Luis wasn’t pulling his normal killer pace and I heard John yell from behind us, “GO FASTER!” Luis picked it up a bit for several yards and then pulled over.  Now it was my time to pull.

I pushed it up into the 30s and once on a slight downhill tickled 40 mph.  It didn’t last too long though.  I heard John say, “Pull over for when we start down the hill.”  In my tired state it didn’t register completely and I started to move to the left.  “Not yet!” he commanded.  I got back on the pedals and decided to smash it until I was told to move.

Finally, John said, “Now!” I gladly got off the front.  John, Billy, and Jeff went flying past me like I was sitting still.  I rode just fast enough to keep them in sight as they made the turns to start up the climb to the gate.  John dropped Billy off in a great position, but Jeff was right on his wheel.  For a bit they were right there together and then I saw Billy move ahead.  Score four for POA.

Once more I was just hanging on as we suffered up Oak Leaf. By the time I hit the 12% grade at the top, I was ready to call it a day.  However, after I caught up with the group and we made our way toward Nature Trail, John asked, “Are you going to try for this one?” I gave a noncommittal, “I’ll try.”

John then moved to the front and as we descended to the bottom of the road just before the climb up Nature Trail, I got all the gear I could and tried to build my speed for the ascent.  If I was going to try this, I was going to hit it and try to coast as far up as I could!  John moved over and I took a deep breath and went for it.

At first I was in the big ring and was climbing at 20 mph plus.  For a moment I felt really good and stayed there listening to the swish – swish – swish of my wheels as I sped up the climb.  Then it ended. Just like that I didn’t feel it anymore.

Glancing behind me I couldn’t see anyone between me and the first turn. No need to kill myself.  Hopefully John was serving as a buffer.  I shifted out of the big ring and tried to make myself as comfortable as possible toward the top.

Looking back again I saw riders coming around and not at a slow pace. I could see myself getting pipped right at the top.  I searched my gears for some more leverage.  Finally I decided I didn’t care.  If they caught me, they could have it.  Turns out I didn’t have to worry. I made it to the top with time to spare.  Score five for POA.

To be fair, I have to point out that while the POA members took all of the sprints, Jeff Cash with Window Gang probably took the points jersey for the ride.  We ganged up on him every sprint, but he was there in the mix 2nd or 3rd for each of them.  He made the morning a whole lot more fun.  Thanks, Jeff!

Now I’m off for that nap! You all have fun out there Tuesday night.  I’m taking a break.  Hopefully, I’ll have my legs back for the POA Cycling Summer Series race on Thursday evening.

A tale of two rides

I woke up before the alarm went off.  The light of the already rising sun was coming through the window.  Over on the dresser were the various items I would need for my morning ride.  After a bit of psyching myself up, I rolled out of bed to get ready to head out to Sunshine Cycle Shop for the Hour of Power.

Friday’s recovery ride had my body feeling pretty good.  The calf that has been giving trouble still hurt slightly, but not nearly as bad as the morning before.  I figured after getting a bite to eat, I would be ready for some fun sprinting.

As I pulled into the lot, I could see a good number of riders.  A quick glance showed that the normal sprinters weren’t around.  Luis was the only one I could see.  Bob sometimes mixes it up, but there was no John, Tyler, Tony, Peter, or any of those guys.  Hmmmm, this could be interesting.

Then Mike came out and announced that we were going to do the traditional route backward.  I guess there would be no need to have anyone there going for the sprints – we wouldn’t know where to attack.  Suddenly, my morning was taking on a whole different feel.

Turns out it was okay.  It was a pretty good workout.  You think that the route will be easier because there are so many long climbs going the traditional route.  However, what goes up must come down.  The difference is that the backward route has more short “popping” climbs.

The one negative was that our stops to wait for the slower riders were much longer.  It was much harder to get the feeling of a sustained effort.  Most times it was Luis, JWinn, Billy (who joined us after the ride started), and myself building a gap and then waiting.

I’m pretty sure that if we hadn’t had the down times I would have averaged some solid wattage for the entire ride.  What that means is that this route is not easier.  As a matter of fact, my average wattage was 189 watts for the entire ride.  Compare that with 162 watts of one of my recent Hour of Power rides.  The climbing?  This morning we climbed 3038 feet cumulative.  The traditional route takes us over 3020 feet.  This route is looking harder all the time!

Still, it just didn’t seem as fun and it didn’t seem to be as good of a work out.  For most part, though, it was good to mix things up.  I’m sure we’ll be doing it some more in the future.

Once back at the shop I hung out for a bit, but I was feeling like I needed to get a bit more in on my legs.  I mentioned to Bob that I was planning on getting in some more miles and he decided to go with me.  It was a simple ride, but it was a great one.

It wasn’t the route.  It was basically an over and back of Altamont Road.  The one change was that Bob decided to take us on Audubon Road.  Other than that we headed over to Furman to cool down in the shade before heading back up to the top and then returning to the shop.

First, it was fun to hang out with Bob.  It seems like a long time since the old crew had been together on one of these rides.  With just the two of us it was kind of like old times.  We were taking it easy, so there was time to talk.

After cresting the top, I started down at an easy pace.  Bob followed.  The air was cool because of the shade and the wind created as I descended.  Over to the right I could see out toward the mountains in the distance.  The bike shifted easily beneath me as I carved my way through the curves.

It was during this section that I got hit with that thought.  It is a sensation that every cyclist experiences.  It is that almost giddy feeling that comes to your upper chest and pops up on your face as a smile.  I call it the “everything’s right with the world” feeling.  You might want to call it a “Now THIS is why I ride my bike” experience.

Of course, we had to turn around and head back.  As we started up Altamont, I told Bob I wasn’t going to press my lap button to time the climb.  This one was going to go unrecorded.  We discussed what we thought our times might be.  I guessed it could be anywhere between 16 and 18 minutes.

What a difference it makes riding with someone!  The climb seemed to go much faster with someone to talk to and get encouragement from during the hateful sections.  As we neared the top, I saw a lone rider ahead of us.  It was an encouragement to keep my pace up and perhaps we could catch him before the top.

He must have heard us talking because he picked up his pace.  As we neared the wall I said to Bob, “He can have it.”  Then we turned onto that final climb.  I put my head down and just began to pace it up.  When I glanced up, I saw that the rider ahead was much closer now.  Then I went around him.  Whew!  He was suffering!

At the top I glanced at my computer.  Yes, I didn’t use the timer, but I couldn’t help but notice the time of day as we started the climb.  Turns out we covered the two miles in 15 minutes and 30 seconds.  That really wasn’t so bad for not trying.

Right there at the first turn from the top was a dad and his two daughters with a lemonade stand.  The Life’s Little Instruction Book says to always stop and buy lemonade from these young entrepreneurs, so we pulled up and got a couple of cups.  Wow!  That was some great lemonade!

From there is was an easy ride back to Sunshine Cycle Shop.  That second 22 mile ride took as long to complete as the earlier 28 mile one.  We climbed nearly as much, though we didn’t work quite as hard.  If I had to rate the two, I’d have to give the second one the higher score.

Overall it was a good day – and a good week.  I’ve finally started getting in some +100 mile weeks.  Yep, I haven’t had a 200 mile week in ages.  This month has been my biggest month yet for the year with over 450 miles.  In the past, July has always been a good mileage month.  I’m looking forward to it.

Talking Trash

Trash talking can be fun.  It always reaches that point where it gets old and you hope everyone has the maturity to just shut up before it gets on everyone’s nerves.  However, at this point, trash talking with Tyler Crotts has not reached that point.  It is even better when the talk leads to some fun competition on the road.  It can spice up an otherwise routine ride.

Tyler is a freshman at Brevard College.  He is a member of their cycling team (not a bad crew in mountain biking).  Most recently he is known as one of the newest members of the Sunshine Cycle Shop staff.

I don’t know why I started ribbing him.  I guess some of it is because everyone else at the shop was doing it.  On top of that, he gives as good as he gets and does it with a smile.

After showing up for a ride Thursday evening to find no one there to ride with, it was nice to pull up to the Sunshine Cycle Shop parking lot and find a good crowd of riders ready to roll out.  There were several riders I did not know well – or at all.  Molly was the lone lady in the group – a rose among thorns.

I knew that before the ride was over there would be some fireworks sparked by the trash talk.  It would be welcome since the group seemed quieter than normal.  We all just needed to warm up first.

I was feeling pretty melancholy at the start so I led us out from the shop.  The point was my position until we reached Rutherford Road.  At that point, I slid back a bit to socialize some with the group.  The melancholy was passing.

We headed up Tanner to Reid School Road and then a quick dive over to Stallings Road.  As we were riding along this extension, I heard Art say, “Cop!”  I didn’t turn to look for myself, but as I made my right turn onto Stallings, I pulled over.  My mind was trying to figure out what we had done wrong that would get us pulled over.

I heard the engine pulling up behind me.  I decided that if the police asked me any questions, I would point them to John, our ride leader.  Hey, that’s his job, right?

Turns out it wasn’t a police car at all.  It was a wrecker truck!  The lights were flashing and I guess the lights made it look like a police car from a distance in Art’s little rearview mirror.

With that bit of excitement over, we headed toward our rendezvous with Meece Bridge Road.  This is a favorite sprint point.  However, most riders know it by another name.

When I first started the ride, I thought they were calling it the “Peach Tree” sprint.  I never did see a peach tree though.  There was a magnolia type tree with low branches at the conclusion of the zone where riders would often take a nature break.  Ahhhhhh, now I understand… they weren’t saying “peach.”

My hope was that I could get a pull going that would bring Tyler up behind me.  I would stretch it out and then either attack when he attempted to come around me, or wear him down and let John finish him off at the line.

Things were going as planned though I admit I was about ready for the pull to end.  I could see Tyler’s wheel just behind my own.  I knew he would sit there until the last second.  The finish was coming up and I decided to try and get a jump on him.

I stood and attacked.  Tyler responded.  I was spinning for all I was worth.  Tyler pulled even.  I tried to get a little more.  Tyler passed me.  I felt like I was sitting still!  Tyler left me.  I looked down to see I had only put out 800 watts.

As he took his blue Giant over the finish, I looked down at my feet.  Well, that explains it!  I had been riding in my 39 ring the whole time.  I had forgotten to shift out of it during the climb up to the attack zone.

My confidence returning, I waited to redeem myself on the quarry road sprint.  Tyler had a bit of a lead heading up to the base of the climb.  John and I were riding side-by-side at that point.

“Let’s crush him,” I said to John.  “I’ll pull you and wear him down and then you finish him off.”  “No,” he replied.  “I’ll pull you and you finish him off.”  We both knew the work would be at the finish.

About that time John Davidson came by us and said, “I’ll give you guys a pull to get you started.”  So, I jumped in behind him and then John came around and we entered the climb in that order.  There was Tyler and one other rider ahead of us.

I was in my big ring and I didn’t even shift out of it.  As I came around Tyler I thought I heard him say something like, “You’ve got it.”  I forgot to ask later if he indeed conceded the sprint, but based on our finish I imagine he did.

The attack felt great!  I was going over 20 mph up the climb in that first section.  The effort didn’t hit my legs until just before the false flat.  If my legs would just get me over the rise, there was no way anyone was going to get me.

As I neared the tree line that means there is only about 150 meters to go, I looked back.  I saw a lone rider at least 150 meters behind me.  It was Bob.  Farther back behind him were a number of riders.  All I had to do was keep my cushion and this sprint would be mine!

Nobody tried anything until we reached the State Park entrance sprint.  Actually, I was the one that lead the group out.  It is so fun to have a line of bikes pacing along at over 30 mph as we head toward the dip in the road near the dam.

From behind, I heard John tell me to pull off.  He went flying past me with Tyler right on his wheel.  There was a small gap behind him to the next rider, but I couldn’t fill it fast enough.  As we neared the climb up to the entrance, John and Tyler had a gap with a couple of riders between us.

I almost gave it to them, but I simply couldn’t let Tyler get there first – not today!  So, I sucked it up and went after them.  I think the gap worked in my favor.  Both riders eased up a bit and appeared to be measuring each other.  It gave me the element of surprise and with my momentum; I came around both of them with not enough time for them to react.  Sweet!

After suffering up Oak Leaf, I really felt that Nature Trail was not in the cards for me.  However, by the time we reached base of that final climb of the day, I started feeling better.  Once again I stayed in the big ring.  If I could just get the momentum going, I could make good time.

Bob took off and got a good-sized gap on us all.  I slipped in behind John and Tyler.  The plan was to stay and attack Tyler when the time felt right.  The problem was, being in a bigger gear; I couldn’t go as slow as they were.  To keep my momentum, I had to come around them.

Once again I felt the bike start getting faster and faster beneath me.  Turning the big gear felt easier because it was as though I was on a fixie.  The pedal motion kept building with each stroke.

Looking back between my legs I could see a wheel.  I assumed it was Tyler.  I kept going in hopes of riding him off.  My next glance back showed empty asphalt.  Now, I just needed to catch Bob.

Yes!  Nature Trail was mine.  The point being, it wasn’t Tyler’s.  Of course, that didn’t stop the trash talk.  Really, Tyler might have a point.  It is one thing to finish first in a race.  It is another one to finish first on a shop ride.

Wait a minute.  It is true that Tyler finished in front of me during the last Blair Cup.  However, I finished in front of him in the first one.  Hmmmm, that means we are tied.  Guess that means the trash talking (and the fun) will continue until June 25th when we face off again in a points race.

The quarry road sprint gave me my highest one-minute peak wattage at 625 watts.  That put that bar on my power profile over the cat 3 line!  One more bar to raise and I’ll have the goal of getting all of them over the line.

Remember the joy of “just riding”

I have a confession to make.  My bike sat in the basement from Monday to this Saturday morning.  Actually, I didn’t even know where it was.  Was it in the basement or was it still in the back of the Suburban?

Thankfully the beautiful redhead was watching out for me and had moved the bike out of the truck to its spot downstairs.  I crawled out of bed with just enough time to wake up a bit and then go look at the Giant that was waiting for me in the darkness of the unfinished portion of basement.

It was unchanged.  I looked at it for a bit.  Did I really want to go out there?  Unlike a dog, the bike couldn’t wag its tail and act excited.  The desire to get back on that thing had to come from within me.  I’d like to say that at that moment the desire washed over me.  Nope.  What made me get on the bike was the realization that the guys were going to be waiting for me and I would soon be late.

My Saturday morning ride

My Saturday morning ride

It was the Sunshine Cycle Shop’s Hour of Power ride that I was leaving for.  Almost immediately after getting in the group I started to feel better.  Group riding isn’t just about how “I” feel – it is really like an organism.  Sometimes you can receive strength and encouragement from those around you.  Yes, on the flip side, it can also be a drain.  However, with these guys it is always good.

There is plenty of time for socializing as we ride easy during the “neutral” sections.  However, as we neared the first sprint of the day, John talked to Luis and me about the upcoming effort.  “Let’s do this like a race.  One of us go for it and the others cover any moves that come.”  Tony was nearby and I got the impression he figured something was up with those POA kits grouping together like that.

Sure enough he went uncharacteristically early.  Luis went with him.  “Oh good,” I thought.  “I don’t have to work on this one.”  John and I sat back to let Luis go man-on-man with Tony.  Just for good measure I did a short sprint to see how the legs would do.  Hmmmmm, not bad – at less than 100% I put out 1100+ watts.

Tony held off Luis at that point.  I determined he wasn’t going to get the next one.  That one would be the quarry road.  We made the left turn out of a pace line and then headed toward the base of the climb.  Bryant had taken the lead so he could get a head start up the climb.  I drafted off of him – he just never ceases to amaze me.

As the road kicked up, Web moved to the front and I sat on his wheel.  Earlier I told John I would try to stretch out the field and let him conserve for a final sprint at the top.  However, I had enough of a lead that as I went around a right hand bend that would obscure me from their view, I attacked in hopes that I could get a lead before they realized what happened.

Sure enough as I topped the false flat and made the left hand turn toward the uphill finish, I could not see anyone behind me.  I eased up to rest.  My heart rate was knocking on 180 bpm at this point and there was no need to make things worse.

I looked back again and here they came with Tony at the lead.  I picked up the pace just slightly.  There was a full on field sprint coming behind me!  I tried to time it so that I could go as slow as I could and still make it before the group.  As I was passing the finish, John came out of nowhere to take second.

The State Park finish was fun as usual.  Tony and I had another battle on that one.  It was one of the funnest of the day for me as it was neck and neck to the finish.  Mt. Mitchell hadn’t taken the kick out of my legs and I was able to barely hold Tony off.

Nature Trail has always been a climb I hate.  However, I’m finding that it is coming to me.  I started near the end of the group today and still managed to work my way up to finish 1-2-3 with John and Luis.  I’m starting to enjoy that little stretch of road.

At the top most of the guys headed toward the shop, but John and I headed toward Paris Mountain.  He was on his way home and I was enjoying riding so much that I didn’t want to call it a day quite yet.  We talked as we climbed Altamont and then separated as we neared his home on the way to Travelers Rest.

I went on to TR and stopped at Leopard Forest Coffee Shop.  It was nice to sit for a bit with a muffin and coffee checking my Twitter and e-mail (have I mentioned that I am LOVING my new iPhone?) before heading back home.

I hopped on the Swamp Rabbit Trail right there and started home.  I wanted to see how far I could go.  The trail went quite a ways out of TR, through the back of the Furman campus, and then finally to section where they said not to enter.

At that point I wasn’t sure where I was.  I turned in the general direction of Greenville and started pedaling.  This led me to Berea.  Things seemed a little more familiar as I continued until I got to Highway 25.  This was a section of Greenville I don’t frequent every often.

At long last I came upon a sign telling me that Greenville was only 3 miles away if I would just take a turn.  Otherwise, I would end up in Easley.  I made the turn and after a solid 3 hours on the bike I arrived at home after 53 miles.  I didn’t see that coming while I was looking at the Giant in the basement this morning!

Sometimes it just pays to get on your bike and ride.  No big event.  No big goal to train for.  Just ride.

Those Hour of Power rides can be so much fun

I had three pretty hard days of riding Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  Thursday was a very tough POA Cycling Summer Series crit.  Friday was an unplanned 2+ hour ride that included a 12 minute push up Paris Mountain in 90+ degree heat.  Then I got up early on Saturday to do the Hour of Power.

Probably most riders from Greenville were in Athens for the racing or participating in the Meal for Wheels ride.  However, there were ten of us on hand for the 8 AM ride.  We rolled out for a fun morning.

I won’t spend too much time on all the action.  There were three instances that added a little more fun to the morning.  Let’s get started on Meece Bridge Road.

We were stretching things out a bit on the road.  Bob Rentz was leading the pack as we started the climb to the sprint zone.  I was sitting on his wheel when I saw Ed Buffington come up beside Bob to say something.  Then Bob slowed just a bit, but not too much.

Then Tony Warmuth came by and the sprint was on.  Bob jumped on his wheel and I stayed where I was.  We continued until we neared the traditional spot where someone tries to close the deal.  I decided to get a jump and took off a little early.

I pushed pretty hard and then looked to see if there was anyone on my wheel.  No wheel.  No shadow.  No rider.  I twisted to get a better view.  There was no one there!  I had killed myself and no one reacted to even make it interesting!

I wondered if this meant that the morning would be just a social ride – which is just fine – it is just that normally that isn’t the case.  We always regroup for slower riders, but typically it is all on during the sprint zones.  Socialize during the neutral zones.  Kill each other in the attack zones.

We pulled up to the stop sign to regroup and Tony had to head to work.  Ed left us at that point as well.  I learned that what he had told Bob was to slow because he was breaking up the field.  Well, that broke it up.

Now there were eight of us.  We rode on together talking and recovering from the move.  We were getting closer to the quarry road.  It all started in a pace line.

We neared the turn that would take us to the climb.  Randy Hutchison, John James, Rob Crouch, and I were on the front at this point.  Randy and Rob went ahead while John and I followed at a little slower pace.

I decided to turn this into a team deal.  My plan was to hold a steady pace knowing that we would probably catch Randy and Rob on the start of the climb.  Then when we reached the climb I would lay down a steady hurting while John sat back for the final move.

It was one of the most fun points of the day because it worked to perfection.  I just kept tapping out the cadence.  We passed Randy and Rob and then there were just a couple of riders on my wheel.  I could look under my arm and see the wheel inches from mine.

I picked up the pace some more.  I started to hear labored breathing.  Then I saw John going around me.  I kept my pace.  Still the wheel was there inches away.  John was going up the road.  I had the urge to drop the rider on my wheel and took off after John.

It wasn’t my intention to try to beat him.  I wouldn’t have been able to anyway.  However, he slowed and I did catch up to him as we neared the line.  He reached his hand back to do a track sling, but I didn’t have the strength to get a good hold on his hand.  I crossed the line just behind.

John returned the favor on the Paris Mountain State Park sprint.  We were chasing down Randy who had launched the attack.  John pulled me past him.  Then he pulled off.  I was now on point with a good amount of the sprint left.  I didn’t like that.

I eased my pace just slightly so that hopefully a rider or two would come past me.  Here came John and Randy.  I jumped in behind them as we raced toward the bottom of the dam.  Then when we hit the climb, John attacked.  I followed him up.  I saw him look back and then say, “You’ve got it.”  I left him and churned up the climb.  “Keep going,” I heard John say behind me.  I picked it up a bit and reached the top first.

I’ve been doing Hour of Power for years.  This was the first one since I joined the POA Cycling Team. Back when I first started, I never dreamed that I would be doing stuff like this.  I really never thought I would be racing on the same team as John – who is someone I looked up to as a rider since the beginning.  It was really cool to have those two POA Cycling kits crossing the line on twin Giant TCR Advanced road machines.

Maybe someday we’ll be able to do that when it really counts.  However, the more I think about it, that IS when it really counts.  When you are out riding with friends and having these good natured competitions there is something you don’t get in a structured race.

Oh, I finally met John Davidson who, it turns out, lives about four blocks from me.  We rode back home together from Sunshine Cycle Shop.  Good guy.  I appreciate what he does for the Donaldson Center C ride.

The other side of the mountain was all that I could see

Had George Hincapie not gone down in the race yesterday, it would have been a perfect day!  The bad news is that he got caught in the crash coming into the final sprint of the Tour of Flanders.  The good news is that he is all in one piece and will be able to put this behind him for Paris-Roubaix.

After lunch, I could not resist getting back on the bike and heading out for a ride.  The original plan was just to go out for an hour ride keeping under a certain wattage.  I even got the Garmin out and set the alert to let me know if I started going over.  My Quarq CinQo was sending the data and the Garmin was my nanny.

I then headed out on the Hour of Power route.  Seeing how that I would end up being out too long if I did the whole route, I took a short cut and headed down West Darby Road.  Unfortunately for my hour goal, I decided to see where West Darby led me instead of taking the traditional turn away from the road.  Turns out Darby ends in State Park Road.

I turned right on State Park and could see Paris Mountain on my left.  I kept moving along and realized that if I stayed on State Park Road, I would end up out in Travelers Rest.  Now I was already an hour out and needed to start heading toward home.

I turned onto a road that I had never been on and wasn’t even sure where it would take me.  All I knew is that it was taking me toward the mountain.  Ah! then I came upon Little Texas Road.  Now I realized I would be able to work my way to Poinsett Park which would put me on Frontage Road and I could then head down Old Buncombe to Downtown and home.

Around the mountain.

Around the mountain

All the while, I was trying to keep my wattage under 218 watts.  That was hard!  There was one spot on Little Texas where the grade was steep enough that with a head wind coming at me, I simply could not avoid setting off the alarm or I would have fallen over!

That one hour turned into 2 hours and 30 minutes.  I enjoyed every minute of it.  I’ll do this one again… but probably not with that alert set!

I already want my bike back!

I woke up a little sore this morning.  Nothing drastic, just enough to notice a little more tenderness in certain regions and stiffness in some of my muscles.  I think I can trace it back to two things: 1) Nintendo Wii and 2) my Specialized Allez with a “new” saddle.

Last week I made the decision to skip the Upstate Winter Bicycle League. It isn’t that the ride had lost its lustre for me.  It was simply a matter that with the race season starting for us next week, I wanted to be well rested going into that weekend after a long winter of riding.

By the way, the final points was extremely close.  Rodney and Yuan were only one half point from each other going into the final ride.  Rodney won the final sprint, but Yuan took second.  Because of the handicaps given in the various categories of riders, this gave Yuan the yellow vest.

Paul Mills easily held onto the green vest, which is awarded to the rider collecting the most points during the various sprint zones during the ride.  I like to think I helped Paul to his victory by helping him pace around Cleveland Park the night before.  Right!  Good job guys!  See you next year.

My plan was to ride with the Sunshine Cycle Shop guys on the Hour of Power.  However, I stayed up too late the night before trying to finish my vlog after a Wii party.  Saturday morning I ended up sleeping past the start time for the ride.  It wasn’t until that afternoon that I got out.

Shortly before lunch I dropped my Specialized Tarmac off at Sunshine to have a tune job done in anticipation of next Saturday.  I told them not to be in a hurry because I planned to ride my “old” Specialized Allez while the Tarmac was in the shop.  However, I would appreciate it if they could give me a used seat to replace the current one I had covered with duct tape.

The ride that afternoon was one of the best I have enjoyed.  After a cloudy rainy start to the day, the sun came out and the temperatures were in the middle to high 60s.  I easily worked my way toward Travelers Rest and headed toward the mountains.

I didn’t make it to the blue elevations before me in the distance, but everything seemed so right with the world, I felt like I could have kept riding to the Rockies!  I had stuck my iPod in my jersey for listening once I got out of town, but it wasn’t needed. This was one of those time when the thoughts in my mind and the sound of the rubber on the asphalt – swish, swish, swish – was the only music I needed.

So, why do I want my bike back?  Well, while the Allez is a very good bike, it just isn’t the Tarmac.  The steering geometry is different and I definitely missed my Specialized Toupe saddle.  My guess is I really need to get a bike fit on the Allez.  Some of the soreness I think can be attributed to that.  What I would like to do is take my old Toupe and put it on the Allez and get a new one for the Tarmac.

I’ll have to wait on that.  John texted me to let me know I was going to have to put on new rubber.  Seems I had all kinds of stuff embedded in the Michelins.  New bar tape to replace my current peeling grips also end up finishing off my budget for the month!

Enjoy the Tour of California.  I won’t be mentioning it much here.  You can find it all over the place elsewhere with coverage from people who are actually there.  I really don’t have much to add.

Thanks for reading LowCadence.com!

From cool to hot

Saturday’s Hour of Power started with leg and arm warmers along with a vest. The morning temperatures are definitely getting cooler. However, even as we waited in the parking lot the sun came up over the trees and you could tell things would get warmer soon.

We started with a good number of riders. One of them was a colleague of mine from work. I was kind of surprised to see him there because he had just gotten his bike and probably had only ridden it for 50 miles before that morning.

We rolled out a little late headed out on our normal route. I talked along with some of my riding buddies and stayed close to Mike, the new one to the group, to help encourage him along should the time come. So far, so good for him.

I warned him about the sprints. “When you see several of us take off,” I told him, “don’t chase us. Let us go and hold your pace. We’ll wait for you at the end of the sprint.” I’ll be honest, I figured he would need to head back at the end of Meece Bridge Road.

It was during a conversation about gearing that I noticed Peter up ahead making a move toward the Tanner Road sprint line. Fifty yards separated us, but I thought I might be able to get him if I could sneak up on him. It almost worked. He got me though with my front wheel up to his crank.

Mike wasn’t the one I needed to worry about at Meece Bridge. It was me! John and Bob got the train moving and I did my best to jump on to follow. It just wasn’t there. I was spinning and I could feel the effort needed to keep the pace escalate. The feeling that I was about to blow came over me and I felt very tired. I sat up and eased to the finish.

There are several miles between the Meece Bridge Road finish and 290. As we pulled up for a stop to regroup, I saw Mike coming along after just a short wait. He was doing very well!

Then we started the engine again to chase up the quarry road. About ten of us hit the bottom of the climb. After my feelings on Meece Bridge, I wasn’t so sure where I would be at the end!

The speeds were pretty fast going up. Peter and John were two of the main players — as usual. John jumped out to take the lead. Just over the false flat, John pulled over to the right. Since he was the rider I was most worried about, I eased up with him.

“If you slow down,” he said, “they’ll come back to you. You need to keep going.” Of course, I felt like saying, “You just eased up. Aren’t you afraid they’ll come back to you?” Problem was, I don’t think I had the breath to say it!

I kept pushing it and was getting a pretty good speed. I could tell there was someone right behind me. How many were there, I didn’t know. Then John came around me. Grrrrr. I knew he was going to do that to me.

Then John eased up just as we neared the finish line. I went around him. He explained, “I felt bad about telling you to go on back there. I didn’t realize there were only three of us in play at that point.”

It wasn’t long after we finished that Mike came up the road. Now I was really impressed. Obviously, he had a good level of fitness before picking up the bike. He would have no trouble making it from here.

Just before the climb, we had two other riders join us. Daniel, the son, was riding a steel frame Specialized. It was obvious by his gear and bike that he was just starting to ride. However, he certainly had the strength!

He was staying right with us up to the state park entrance sprint. I felt sorry for him because his bike was simply in need of a tune-up. He defnitely had a chain problem. Still, he was right there.

My plan was to pull at the front on the sprint. However, Peter and Anthony came around us early and took off. I was just doing well to hang on to the caboose of that train!

We settled down to a 30 mph pace and I was able to recover a little. Then John, who was right in front of me, moved around the two in front. He was indicating for me to follow. He was going to lead out.

I had no idea what was going to happen at the bottom. Would my legs be there? John moved over and I started to sprint up the climb. As I started, Peter came right up beside me. For quite a while we were neck-and-neck. Then I started to lose my punch.

Perhaps my body is getting tired after a summer of riding, but that feeling came back. It isn’t a feeling pain, just a feeling of no power. I putting out effort that normally would have propelled me to the front, but I just watched Peter ride away. He beat me by about ten yards.

After that, it was just a goal to ride into the shop. I did Oak Leaf and watched Bob blow everyone away on Nature Trail. We rolled in for coffee and donuts.

Mike came in pretty pumped about his ride — which he should have. “I have a new respect for cyclists!” he said. I think he’s hooked. Bet we’ll see him out there again.

Turns out Daniel had a stiff chain link. I’d like to see him ride on a nice bike. I bet he would be in the mix after a couple of times out there. Maybe he’ll join us again.

Quick turn around

Last night I went out on a night ride for group training before heading out next month on the Challenge to Conquer Cancer rider. We did 44 miles and finished up shortly before 10 PM. By the time I got home and in bed, it was after 11 PM. The morning came early!

Still, I rolled out of bed and got myself ready to head over to Sunshine Cycle Shop for the Hour of Power. Thankfully, I had left my bike and everything in the truck from the night before. Instead of riding my bike over to the shop, I just jumped in the truck to drive.

Right before getting to the truck I realized I had left my water bottles at home. Turning the truck around, I headed home to grab the fluids and rushed back to get to the shop. I arrived to find just a couple of riders waiting.

We waited until about 8 PM and finally decided to roll out. The group was small with Art, Web, Peter, Owen, and myself being the “old-timers.” Paul, Anthony, (and I ashamed to say) one more rider whose name I can’t recall right now, were the newer riders who have been on some of the more recent rides.

Peter and I led the group out and the speeds picked up right away. We were making a pretty good pace until we reached the sprint up Tanner to Reid School Road. Things didn’t slow down much after that! Here is a rundown of the sprint zones….

Tanner: Peter took off and Anthony followed. I followed Anthony’s wheel until he brought me up to Peter. Peter launched and I went with him. I was able to push the ol’ Tarmac up to the line first.

Meece Bridge: The group riders would know this sprint as the “Pee Tree Sprint.” On this one Web and Art made a move a little early coming up to the attack zone. I stayed with them until Peter and Anthony once again moved to the front and started the attack in earnest.

Unfortunately, I had the earlier problem of getting my chain on the big ring. Peter and Anthony had a 20 foot or more gap on me. Still, there was enough road left that I figured if I could get up to them, I could recover a little for a final kick…. and that is exactly what happened. I moved around Peter following Anthony and then pushed to finish ahead of him.

Quarry Road: At the end of the pace line on 290 I found myself in the front turning on the road to take us to the climb. I argued with myself whether to attack or wait. I ended up just holding my position and getting the heart rate down.

Art came around and then Owen. I stayed in the big ring and started a steady pace up. If Art made it, he deserved it. However, in case he fell back, I wanted to be in position.

Owen faded and then there was just Art ahead. I could tell I was starting to gain on him and I was climbing the grade at about 14 mph. Once I got past the false flat, I started moving into the 20 mph range. I realized I had a real chance to beat him.

Closer and closer I moved up to Art. I knew he could see me in his mirror, so there would be no element of surprise. Sure enough, he started reacting. I had to pick up the speed some more, but was able to get around him just in time to cross the line first. Wow, I really didn’t expect that!

Fire Hydrants: Art got revenge there. He took off and I didn’t even try. Peter did, but didn’t catch him. Art passed the first hydrant and then the second. He basically looked like a speck in the distance.

State Park: I had planned to do a lead out on this one. John had told me I needed to do some more of that to work on my sustained speed. Unfortunately, I was at the back of the group and as I moved into the group on the right side, I found myself boxed in with Web to my left and Anthony and Peter in front of me.

We stayed there well past the point where I could have started the lead out. Then the line stretched out and I found myself behind Peter. He looked back and took off. I figured he was planning to do another one of his lead outs.

Ahead of us was Anthony and Web. Peter and I dropped down to the base of the hill. As we did, Peter moved over… sooner than he normally would on a lead out. That moved me forward as we went past the two riders ahead.

I knew Peter was back there, but I simply did not feel like killing myself up the climb. Still, I went into the climb participating in the sprint. Peter was still on my wheel. Then my legs just quit. Yes, I could have ridden through the pain and pushed it, but my guess is the result would have been the same.

“Oh, come on!” Peter encouraged me to race him. I even tried it, but my legs yelled at me louder than Peter. “I can’t do it. I can’t do it,” I told him. I sat up and Art came around me. Peter took the sprint easily with Art in second.

Oak Leaf: I followed Art and Peter up this steep but short climb. I wasn’t in the picture for the top though. I’m not even sure who took the climb. From my vantage point suffering behind them, it looked like they reached the top together.

Nature Trail: I recovered somewhat before the stretch of road I hate the most — Nature Trail. Anthony took off and got a huge gap right off the bat. Then he slowed, but I figured all he had to do at that point was maintain the gap. Peter and I commented on his attack and just kept our pace.

Peter moved away from me and I kept a distance of a few yards behind him. I wondered how my legs would do this time. They did feel better than they did at State Park. Perhaps I could make this work.

Anthony was falling back to us pretty quickly at this point. I moved up closer to Peter and followed him up to Anthony. Then I jumped first leaving Peter and then overtaking Anthony. At that point, that old pain came back. However, this time I decided to ride through it. I just aimed for the manhole cover that marked the end and pushed for the top. Whew, I did it!

Then it was time to head back to the shop. Once there, I started to feel that shakiness that comes from major exertion. Those two rides bookending my night, really wore me out. Tonight I think I will sleep like a baby!

Two jerseys and a rainy day

Last night just before going to ball game, I connected with Precise Imprintable Products and picked up my Ride for Mike jersey. We were rushing to get it done by Friday evening so that I could have it this morning when I was to be presented a George Hincapie autographed jersey before the Sunshine Cycle Shop ride.

Here is my RideforMike.com jersey! After riding in the rain…

I woke up to find it raining. Oops. Not sure we would ride, but I knew someone was going to be coming to the shop to present the jersey. So I loaded up the bike on my car and drove over. No one was there. As I started to drive away, Art (a Saturday morning regular) pulled up. We decided to wait and see if anyone else would show up.

That is when Kevin showed up with the jersey. We talked a little bit about Mike and the P3 ride. Since no one else was there, he went ahead and took a picture of me with the Hincapie jersey and went on his way. Shortly after, Tyler (a shop employee) showed up with his mother and the four of us rode an abbreviated course in the rain.

Got home and turned on the TV to check out the time trial of the Tour De France. What a finish! I’m so glad I was able to see it. Levi turned on the afterburner and to have just around 30 seconds between the yellow and third place is amazing after thousands of miles is amazing!

Just crossing my fingers on the doping stuff. There is a rumor that another rider has tested positive.