Today was Tyler Crotts’ last official Hour of Power ride before he heads off to Brevard College for the year. I don’t think it will be his last Hour of Power for the year though. I’m sure he’ll be coming back so his elders can help keep him humble.
I was still feeling the effects of Thursday night’s ride. It was a tough one, and I didn’t sleep that well Thursday or Friday night. I knew the alarm was about to go off before it rang. After an inner battle, I finally rolled out so I could be there to kick Tyler’s you-know-what.
The first order of business was to pump up my tires that had been switched a bit. I had taken my tires from my race wheel set and moved them to my training wheel set. My regular riders were starting to show threads. It seemed like a good idea to get some more out of the race tires while getting my race wheels all prepped with new rubber for the SC Road Race Championships.
Wouldn’t you know it… the tube exploded at 100 psi. I didn’t have time to change the flat. I just threw my front SL on the bike and headed for the shop.
Pulling up I found a good crowd ready to roll out! There were several levels of riders represented. Of course, the ones I noticed first were the number of Greenville Spinners Bicycle Race Team members. Randy was bringing some reinforcements!
Hmmmm, John James was the only other POA guy there. It would be just the two of us. Oh boy, and there was Jeff Cash. Tony was there as well, but he was riding his cross bike. The sprints could be interesting today. I’m sure Tyler would be gunning for one himself.
The first test came at the pee-tree sprint on Meece Bridge Road (click to see the infamous tree). The Spinners started the train. Looking ahead, I saw Jeff, Randy, and one other rider breaking away. John was sitting holding a steady pace and letting them move. I decided to bridge up so I could recover a bit before fighting it out.
I caught them and moved onto Jeff’s wheel. He was the one I was watching out for. The plan was to match his acceleration until we crested the small rise about 300 meters or so from the finish. Then I would attack from third wheel.
It never happened. John came flying around and Jeff jumped on his wheel. I held my pace to let those two guys go for it. I figured my chances were pretty good with John. I might as well save myself for the next battle.
It came sooner than I thought it would! Before I knew it we were pulling onto Grove Meadow Road. This is the “pace-line road.” It is a long stretch without stop signs. We typically end up getting in a single line pace-line and move along at around 22 – 24 mph.
I got on the front first. I figured I would get my pain out of the way early so I could recover before turning up the quarry road. It worked like a charm. As we turned onto Keller Road, I was about 10th and sat in for the next couple of minutes before we hit the bottom of the climb.
John started them up with a nice steady pace. I stayed in my 53 and just launched a do-or-die attack from behind. Looking back was not an option. However, I know now that John picked up a “false” pace as though he was coming after me and others sat on his wheel. It bought me some more time.
My goal was to stay in this attack mode until I reached the false flat. I didn’t make it. I had to shift down and recover about 50 meters from my target. Later I noticed that my computer had me pegging 197 bpm at that point!
Once I did make it over the hump, I hazarded a glance behind and didn’t see anyone. I was now moving at around 16 mph and trying to recover a bit. Then I looked back again to see a lone rider coming up behind me. It was Jeff. He was just coming around this corner – this picture is from the vantage point about where I was.
No way was I going to give it up after suffering so much! I grabbed some more gear and tried to stay over 20 mph. Thankfully, it worked and my go-for-broke attack paid off… but I’d say two matches went up in smoke at once with that one!
It took me until the State Park entrance sprint before I was recovered enough to give it another go. Right away I messed up because I got separated from John’s lead out because I got caught behind some slower riders. Things worked out though because the break came to a halt due to a car stopped in the middle of the road.
Seems that these folks stopped to talk to some people standing on the shoulder of the road. As we came up on them and began to make our way around the stopped vehicle, we noticed that the people on the shoulder of the road were attempting to coax a pot-bellied pig to move out of the ditch.
The pig out of the way, we started ratcheting things up again. I got on Jeff’s wheel as he was following Tyler. Web Fitton and Randy Hutchison were also in the mix at that point. However, as we hit the bottom of the climb… it was Tyler, Jeff, and me.
Then things got dicey – and it had nothing to do with a pig. Jeff and I had momentum taking us right onto Tyler’s wheel. I could see Jeff was getting ready to move on Tyler, but I realized I could get the jump on him by pinning him behind Tyler while I moved up the right side.
I made my move, but Tyler must have been aware of Jeff because he moved to the right. That brought Jeff over to me and for a moment the three of us were bar-to-bar with me tight-rope-riding the white line. Thankfully, none of us touched and Jeff and I drag raced for the line.
After that, John played spoiler for Art and took Oak Leaf. On Nature Trail Jeff finished strong by holding off John. We all rolled into the shop pretty tired, but with lots of stories to tell.
It was such a beautiful day, I decided to put in some extra miles and did an easy spin down Chick Springs to Main Street. From there I did a couple laps of Cleveland Park and then went home. A very profitable 45 mile morning.
Speaking of beautiful… If you get a chance, click on the links I’ve placed in the post. They are Google Street Views of some of the points on our ride. Of course, these were taken in the winter, but if you play around with the views, you can get a good idea of the terrain and scenery that we get to enjoy around here.