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.