Tag Archives: John Davidson

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.

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.

When it’s done right, it’s really really really fun!

Yep, it’s Tuesday.  Time once again for the Tuesday Night World Championships at Donaldson Center.  I didn’t get to go last week, but plan to be out there this evening.  I’ll be doing the A ride, but if it is your first time out you might consider one of the C ride excursions into the country.

Here is John Davidson’s account of last week’s country route ride.  You can read it at his blog as well.

Can it be done wrong, these Tuesdays at Donaldson?  Well, first, you should know what Tuesdays at Donaldson is all about.  It’s about a lot of sweat, some groaning, a lot of grunting.  It’s rippling muscles with the sheen of sweat glistening in the setting sun, bodies working in unison extracting pleasure along with some pain.  It’s intimacy and closeness.  All of this in the beautiful setting of the Piedmont.  Tonight was an excellent example of how a group of ‘strangers’ can extract every ounce of pleasure from 29 miles of rolling country roads.

I’m talking about group bicycle rides leaving from Southern Greenville County’s Donaldson Industrial Park.  Tonight (3/10/09) was the first ride of the year.  Many thanks to the Greenville Spinners for putting together such a great event (and it’s free too!!).  Extra special thanks to Dan McNamara who led the country II ride (18-19mph pace) for the 29 mile loop.  For Dan’s benefit, I’m the guy in the Michelin jersey who gave you a break from the pull for that section leading up to W. Georgia Road early in the ride.

Dan started us out at a great warm-up pace.  I had us clocked at an average of 17.3mph for about the first four miles or so (just about the time I gave Dan a break on the pull).  I won’t claim to be the guy who picked up the pace, as we were in two lines and the guy next to me was wearing a Lance Armstrong look-alike helmet….but, nonetheless, from early in the ride, the average pace gradually crept up.

As we rolled through the perfect evening and beautiful countryside, spirits were very high.  I felt the group was very interested in staying together.  We watched out for each other, slowing and stopping where appropriate.  This really helped keep that spirit.

One of the best parts of a group ride is, yes, the group.  When you get a bunch of people riding at the same speed, in twin pace lines, it is really awesome.  Many different people pulled our group tonight.  There was a few standouts who seemed to want to pull a little more than others.  There was Ron in his bright orange jersey pulling like a madman for big sections.  There was John (Lance A helmet) who seemed to have a reputation early on as a hammer (he was kind to us however), and there was Bryant who sprinted out in front of us on the flats and / or downhills as we approached the hills.  If you don’t know him, he’s easy to recognize – he kept pace with our group pedaling with only one leg. Incredibly strong individual.

As we crossed 418 for the first time, our average pace had climbed into the advertised zone (now over 18mph).  The group was sticking together and working together.  After that first crossing of 418, we enter the best section of the ride (my opinion) – a rolling, twisting fast section with a short but steep climb as we re-approach Reedy Fork Road.  I always have a blast in this section and there is usually a small breakaway.  Tonight there was something that may have started as a small breakaway, but we never really broke away – the group was right on our heels throughout.  This is what makes group riding fun – moving fast, riding close, pumping hard – the adrenaline was really flowing!

As we re-entered Reedy Fork road for the long stretch back towards Donaldson, new riders came to the front to pull the group.  We maintained a strong pace and our average continued to climb towards 19 mph.  It’s a great feeling to sit back in the second or third position and just watch the riders in front as I maintain my position in the pace line.  The beauty of the pace line is absolutely not appreciated by someone who does not ride a road bike – those NASCAR guys talk about the draft, but I’ll never drive a race car at 200 mph, so I’ll settle for finding that pocket behind the rider in front of me.

As we pulled back on to perimeter road, you could feel the excitement building for the final sprint to the finish.  We had several guys pulling for us, but on that last hill, knowing I don’t really have a sprint, I decided to give a little grunt to get up the hill.  That put me out front mid-way up the hill and that seemed to push others over the edge. As we approached the top, the sprint was on.  I laughed (at myself) as most of the group motored past me for a strong finish.  Thanks to everyone who helped pull me through the ride tonight, I think it ranks as my most enjoyable ride at Donaldson.  I clocked the ride with an average pace of 18.9mph – perfect (if you ask me anyway).

So, I never answered the question about how you can do Tuesdays at Donaldson wrong did I?  Well, if you haven’t joined the Greenville Spinners on Tuesday nights at Donaldson, you’re doing it wrong.