Tag Archives: Palmetto Peloton Project

I am 9 minutes slower than Captain America

The bicycle has allowed me to do some pretty incredible things over the last decade. As I look back, racing has been a part of it, but my greatest memories haven’t happened in competition. They center around people, places and events associated with helping others. I’m talking about “charity rides.” Well, I have another thing to add to my “that was incredible!” list.

Definitely one to add to the "that was incredible list!" (photo Eddie J. Helton)

As you know, I signed up to ride in the Stars and Stripes Challenge as a way to remember my friend Michael T. McCaskill and raise money for the fight against cancer. The ride is scheduled for Monday and I’m still planning to roll out with everyone that morning. However, something I didn’t expect came my way.

Because of the generosity of those supporting me in the cause, I was given the opportunity to race the USA Cycling Professional Time Trial Championship course. At 9:49 AM Saturday morning, I was slated to start from the same ramp that the pros would use at 11:30 AM. There would be a dozen of us rolling off to see how fast we could make it around the course.

I had no idea how I would do. I really didn’t care about where I fell within the group. What I wanted was to get the best time I could and then see how that would measure up to the pros. In my mind, I was thinking I would be happy to come in within 20 minutes of the winning time.

As I got there it was like a reunion. I was running into various people associated with my Palmetto Peloton Project days. Some of these folks I had ridden with from Greenville to Austin — twice. I also had the pleasure of meeting some new folks. I will admit that it is kind of cool to say, “Hi, I’m Jonathan” and then have the person say, “Wait, Jonathan P… P… Pait, right? The guy with the blog?”

John Cash finished in 51:20 on his Trek (photo by Lance Footer)

John Cash showed up. “The Man in Black” is a great guy. He absolutely knows no stranger. He has a few years on me, but he is fit and has enough energy for both of us! I knew if there was anyone there that was going to get a faster time than me, it would be him. As the previous “winner” of the ride, he would start last with me right before him.

However, the thing about it was even though we had fun trash talking, mostly we just had a great time talking about the things we were doing to help others. I caught him up on what was happening with Ride for Mike and pointed him to Helping Hands Ministries for a project he was interested in doing. He told me some stuff that LiveStrong was doing (he is a LiveStrong ambassador) that I was not aware of and I was glad to hear about.

Then we got in the starting chute.We weighed our bikes and John’s Trek was just a tad heavier than my Felt — and I had a disc wheel. His sure looked faster though! The Felt weighed in at 8.51 kilograms (18.8 lbs) so I was well above the UCI requirement — not that it mattered.

The tool for the day -- got lots of nice comments

Then I had a moment that really stuck out to me the most. Tom Wennogle was standing in line before me. He was kitted out in normal riding gear on a typical road bike. He looked at me sheepishly and said, “Don’t mind me when you go by. You’ll probably catch me right away.” He continued, “I don’t think I’ll get anywhere near your time.”

I asked him, “Yes, but how much money did you raise?” He got a perplexed look on his face and replied in a questioning tone, “$5000” “See,” I told him. “You beat me. The money we’ve raised means a lot more than the times we’re going to get out on the course!” It did me good to see him smile. “Thank you for saying that,” he said. Well, I meant it.

Wow. I’m not ashamed to say that I was pretty pumped about standing at the top of the ramp getting ready to go out on the course. Later that day, Dave Zabriskie would be preparing to roll down that same ramp to claim his 7th US Pro Time Trial Championship. Here I was about to roll off with the same officials following the same process. Even the race announcers were calling the event as we slow dozen started our attempts.

With about 20 seconds to go I started to wonder if anyone had ever fallen off the ramp. I fleeting moment of panic passed over me that I might be the first one. It passed and I just got ready to roll off when the official waved me to go.

I was away. I could hear my family and some other folks cheering me on. The voices of the announcers were saying something about John and I battling it out (I was John’s one minute man). Then I started up the long climb up to Old Sulpher Springs.

Before long all I could hear was the sound of the solid disc wheel turning beneath me. I tried to keep right on the edge of my comfort level. I knew I would turn left and then have a roller with more downhill than up. I could recover a bit then.

It seemed to be working as I made the turn onto Verdae Blvd., I was starting to feel my legs loosen up a bit. Then the tightness came back as I had to climb a short punchy stretch coming back up Old Sulpher Springs. That led right into some more shallow, but painful, climbing up to the turn around before flying quite a distance downhill to reach Innovation Drive.

That was the place where you got a rush! At nearly 40 mph I entered a sweeping left turn. I was thankful for those fast descents I had been making on the west side of Paris Mountain! I was hanging on as the bike screamed through the corner.

Then it was time to climb again. Innovation Drive was basically a climb (with one short downhill break) all the way up to Laurens Road. However, once up to Laurens there was a long downhill where I was able to recover a bit. One short climb near the turn onto Millennium Blvd and then it was like riding a shallow bowl from end-to-end up to the finish line.

I made the first lap in 16:16. I had no idea if that was a bad or good time. I just knew that it was a time that was fast as I thought I could go knowing that I had to do it two more times!

The second lap was 17:01. I felt that it was slower than that. However, starting that final climb away from the start — I felt it was REALLY slow. I just tried to imagine that John Cash was getting ready to catch me. I searched for a comfortable cadence and tried to get my wattage up to 300 if I could.

Checking the wattage while starting the climb from the start (Eddie J. Helton)

By this time I had passed all the riders in front of me except for Scott Tetzlaff. He was out there Merckx style and I just could not close the deal. I could see that I was gaining, but he finished probably 200 meters in front of me.

As I was coming down Laurens for the last time, I looked at the clock. By that time, I had realized the times I was getting and I so wanted to come in under 50 minutes. I knew it wasn’t going to happen, but I set it as a goal to see how close I could get to that time.

All during the ride, I could hear people cheering. As I would come by the start/finish, I could hear the announcers calling. Somehow, someone had gotten them the story of Michael T., Ride for Mike and Low Cadence. I was lifted during the earlier laps by hearing them telling people to go by the blog and learn more about it. That made it all worth it. I as also encouraged that John Cash never came around me!

As it turns out, I learned that I am 9+ minutes slower than a pro on his best day and about 2+ minutes slower than a pro on his worst day. That was the spread between the top pro finisher and my time and the final pro finisher and my time of 50:39. Still, for me, coming within 5 minutes of much of the pro field was pretty cool!

I went to bed Saturday night with a smile on my face.

Another bib number to add to the collection of fun!

Thank you to the Palmetto Peloton Project, Sunshine Cycle Shop, Boyd Cycling, Eddie J. Helton Photography and the wonderful supporters of Low Cadence and Ride for Mike. You all made for a pretty great day.

2012 Ride for Mike, Part One is days away

Much thanks to those who have supported my return to the Stars and Stripes Challenge. It is the first part of a two part 2012 Ride for Mike. This one has come about rather quickly and I wasn’t expecting too much. However, the support has already exceeded my expectations. You folks are awesome!

This first part endeavor is to complete as many laps of the USA Cycling Professional Road Race Championship course as I am allowed. What makes this event special to me is that it was the first ever Ride for Mike. During that first time I was going to try to do three laps. While I finished the first two laps in enough time to start my third attempt, I did not do it. Looking back it is something I regret. I have some unfinished business with this ride!

Please support the 2012 Ride for Mike

Please support me in the Stars and Stripes Challenge on May 28, 2012. It is part of the 2012 Ride for Mike. Click the logo above and designate your gift to Jonathan Pait.

You can still give!Just make sure you choose my name, Jonathan Pait, from the drop-down list when choosing a rider to support. Once you do that, you just complete the rest of the form and submit it. It’s easy!

The ride takes place this Monday, May 28. We’ll be going out on the pro course before the professionals come out for the actual race later in the day. Come on out and cheer us along! You can learn more details at the Palmetto Peloton Project website.

I’m taking Tuesday and Wednesday off the bike to let the old hip and knees recovery a bit. Thursday and Friday I’ll put in a bit of a tougher ride and an easier spin. Saturday and Sunday I’ll spin about a bit to keep the legs loose. Then on Monday, I’ll be ready to roll!

Again, thank you to those who have shown their support!

  • Windell and Linda Pait
  • Nick and Bette Uwarow
  • Bill Thomson
  • Cheryl Slocum
  • The McCaskill Family
  • Stephen and Suzanne Dersch
  • Scottie Weiss

Here is the plan for 2012 Ride for Mike

Some call it coincidence. I call it Providence, but there are those times when small things happen that really encourage you along the way or let light into a time of confusion. One of those instances happened to me yesterday.

If you read yesterday’s post, you probably sensed that I have been struggling with how I planned to approach the 2012 Ride for Mike. I hinted at a short-term goal (that I will share this morning), talked about the longer-term goal (idoitfor.org) and then expressed my loss at what to do on a “big scale” as I have in years past. Well, yesterday afternoon someone showed up in my office unexpectedly and cleared it all up for me.

So, here is the plan for the 2012 Ride for Mike.

Stars and Stripes Challenge

The short-term plans for the 2012 Ride for Mike is for me to participate in the 2012 Stars and Stripes Challenge. Yes, I realize that it is less than two weeks away.  You may ask why the sudden decision to make this charity event a focus this year.

The first Ride for Mike website

I need to take you back to the first ever Ride for Mike. Though not called the Stars and Stripes Challenge at that time, September 2, 2007 was the first one. Now, I bring you up to this month when we learned that the US Pro championships would now be leaving Greenville for Chattanooga. While I am sure that the P3 organization will continue to have a charity ride in Greenville, the entire nature of the ride will change because it will not be associated with the Pro race.

That is why I want to make this event part of the 2012 Ride for Mike. It could very well be the last opportunity to repeat that first ride that started all of this! No doubt it will be emotional for me as it brings together so many aspects of the last five or six years.

So, I do ask for your support. If you have enjoyed LowCadence.com over these years, consider a gift. If you want to join in the battle against cancer, consider a gift. I realize the time is short. I realize that finances are tight for many of us. Just know that your gift is appreciated more than you know.

Objective: Finish what I started. In that first ride I set a goal to ride the Pro course three times before the time cutoff. In 2007, I only did two laps. This year (depending on what we are allowed) I want to get in that third lap.

How do you give? Go to the Palmetto Peloton Project’s website and access the giving form. There is a drop down list for participants. Find my name, Jonathan Pait, and then finish filling out the form. Proceeds from the event will support Breakaway from Cancer’s Nonprofit Partners, and the Greenville Hospital System’s Institute of Translational Oncology Research.

I’m excited about that opportunity, but not nearly as excited about the next one! This will help explain what I was talking about in the first paragraph.

Mike Rides a Century for Mike

I was sitting in my office when I heard a familiar voice out in the lobby. The voice said, “Is Jonathan Pait in?” The receptionist came to my door and said, “There is someone here to see you. Are you available to speak with him?” I jokingly replied, “Well, it depends on who it is!” I then stood and approached the door to find Michael T. McCaskill’s dad standing just on the other side.

This was a surprise! I didn’t expect him to come in my door (the McCaskill’s live in Tennessee) — especially on the very day that I wrote the post about the 2012 plans. We talked a bit and then I brought up my blog post and the change of plans from my initial big dreams of a multistaged charity ride in Memphis. I didn’t want to disappoint Mike.

As always, Mike was extremely gracious and understanding. He expressed that he and the family were behind anything that I decided to do. He reaffirmed his desire to see the I Do It For Foundation go forward in his son’s memory.

I then brought up another subject. That subject was his first ever century. We had talked about it during the Family Fun Ride in 2011 and mentioned it in passing since that time. However, this time, I wanted to nail him down on a date.

That is when Mike gave me the best idea of all for the 2012 Ride for Mike. Why not make Michael T.’s dad’s first century ride the 2012 Ride for Mike? Talking about an emotional culmination of purposes! This would be huge!

Mike tied up the loose ends by saying, “Why don’t we do that and use it as the springboard for the I Do It For Foundation?” So, now we had an event with incredible meaning and a cause that would extend that meaning into many other lives. In a future post, I will tell the whole story. When you read that story, you will understand why symbolically that 100 miles means more to me than the hundreds of miles I have ridden over the years for the Ride for Mike.

So, stay tuned! That story will be coming. Also, we’ll be sharing the date and place for the event. Both Mike and I wouldn’t mind having some company should anyone decide to join us. Finally, we’ll be working to provide the logistics of how you can give toward the I Do It For Foundation — the purpose of the funds will go to getting the foundation off the ground and get us started funding the development of the tools the foundation seeks to create to serve others.

Hey, I’m starting to get excited!

The battle continues

With the start of Challenge to Conquer Cancer ride now nearly a month in the past and the miles behind us, it is easy for me to “check it off” as one goal complete. I tend to place finished goals on the shelf and start focusing on the next one. It is good for me to be reminded that the ride isn’t over. The goal didn’t end when I dismounted my bike.

The Challenge to Conquer Cancer and the Palmetto Peloton Project is more than just a set of dates on the calendar and miles to be ridden. This organization is made up of people. Some of those people are constantly in the true challenge to conquer cancer. For them it is most certainly more than a ride.

Whether is be one of our colleagues going through a struggle with chemo or a new instance of someone finding they have a tumor, it all comes back to the realization that I can’t say to myself, “Well, I’ve done my part. I rode the miles. Now, on to the next thing.”

The battle continues.

Raising funds for the battle is just part of our responsibility. We also have the responsibility to encourage and hold up in prayer those who are on the front lines of the war each day. Even for those of us free from the immediate effects of cancer this can be emotionally overwhelming. How strong these warriors are.

I begin to glimpse the truth in the simple statement: LiveSTRONG.

All in one place

Pretty soon I’ll be sending a DVD and a jersey of my Ride For Mike to his parents.  I’ll also be sending one to his wife and little girl.  It will be something for them to remember him by and to remind them that people still love him.

I figured I would go ahead and combine all the videos of the week in one place for archive sake.  So, below are all the videos you may have seen last week during the Palmetto Peloton Project’s Challenge to Conquer Cancer ride.  Then again, you may have missed one.  Check them out.

The Overview

Day One

Day Two

Day Three/Four

Day Five

Day Six

Day Seven – LiveSTRONG Challenge

Remember last year?

Why not make your plans for 2010?

I didn’t ride with Lance

Last week my teammates and I did a lot of riding:  100 plus miles on the beautiful Natchez Trace – in the dark, 80+ wonderful miles through the walking horse country of Tennessee, dozens of miles here and there, and – not to be overlooked – 85 miles that included 2.5 hours through tropical storm Rick.  However, the miles I was looking forward to all week were those in Austin when I would once again try to catch Lance Armstrong during the LiveSTRONG Challenge.

I did it last year. A few of us riders took off from the start and caught Armstrong about 15 minutes into the ride. It was a once and a life time experience – at least I know that now!

This year I took off once again to relive the excitement of the past. Fifteen minutes into the ride there was no Lance and my teammates who started with me were no longer around me.  One succumbed to cramps and another to a mechanical. I wasn’t sure of the status of the third.  All I knew is that I was hurting and trying to stay with about 6 other riders who were putting the hammer down.

My mind went back to last year when I was on the super team of the Palmetto Peloton Project. We had a strong collection of riders and I came to Austin much fresher that year. It was a different experience entirely. That year we gloried in our strength – and I loved it. It culminated with enough reserves in the tank to ride with Lance.

Here I was again in 2009 trying to bring back some of that magic. I kept hanging on to the chase group knowing that if I could stay there then the crud would pass and catching Lance would still be a possibility. I was right.  Twenty miles into the ride I was starting to feel better.  I took my turns on the front and then slid back to recover.

Nearing mile 24, I was on the front.  We were going through a small town when we came to an intersection with some policemen directing traffic.  It wasn’t clear what we were supposed to do.  I motioned to the guardians to give me a signal of how to continue you.  They waved us directly ahead.

We then approached another one.  There was on policeman on duty here and I motioned to him for a sign as well.  He made a small motion with his hand and in a split second I realized I misread his signal.  He told us to go right.  I continued straight.

Unfortunately for me, all the other riders were paying better attention to the road markers.  They whizzed through the turn and took off.  The one guy who went straight with me got turned around faster and took off after them.  By the time I got back to the turn, the group was out of sight.

I chased to get back on.  However, I knew at that point it was fruitless. To be honest, I knew it was going to be tough the day before when I went for an easy spin around the city of Austin. A couple of times I gave my legs a test, but the screamed back at me and simply did not offer me any power.

My team this year was much different. Most of them had taken up cycling just recently. I was not on the “super-team” this year. My miles from Greenville to Austin included a fair amount of pulling my teammates through headwinds. There simply was not enough fuel left in the tank. Had I been able to catch Lance, I probably wouldn’t have been able to stay with him because I would have shot my wad to get there.

Now, does that mean that this wasn’t as good of a week? No – not by any means. It was simply different. This year’s team gloried in each new accomplishment – and we loved it. This year it wasn’t about me going fast with a bunch of racers. It was about watching relatively new cyclists grow by going farther than they thought they could. It was with pleasure and a sense of ownership that I pulled them (not to say they didn’t work hard!)

All alone somewhere in cattle country of Dripping Springs, Texas I had opportunity to think through these things. Finally, some other riders came along and swallowed me up. I gladly jumped into their pace line and began to think that while I might not catch Lance, at least I could get a good finish.

Will Flanagan was in the group and we stuck together for many miles. I owe him big time. Here I was the “racer” the “Lance chaser” and I was trash. Will had to pull me along. He didn’t complain when I began to ask to stop at the various SAG stops along the way.

Then with around ten miles to go I came upon Sally Dunn.  I knew it was her because she had her pink cape on.  As we approached her we called out her name.  “Oh, hi, Jonathan! Your wife is just ahead!”

One thing I didn’t mention is that my beautiful redhead decided on Friday to do the 45 mile ride of the LiveSTRONG Challenge! She had never ridden over 20 miles in her life and here she was biting off quite a piece of cycling! I was a little concerned knowing the rolling nature and rough roads of the Dripping Springs area.

I caught her and we began to ride together. She was doing her best, but after the 20 mile mark she was starting to have some pain in her knees.  She was really suffering up the hills. It caused me to slow down to nearly a coast.

Rider after rider passed me.  Racer types, overweight types, older riders, and kids finishing their shorter distances.  I recognized some of them from pace lines I had left behind earlier in the day. My competitive nature cringed as I watched them leave me in the dust.

I urged Annette on and we continued together. Rather than being frustrated about being passed, I put my focus on the fact that she was doing this for me. She isn’t a cyclist. She doesn’t want to be one. However, she wanted to experience this with me.

We rolled into the finishing shoot together.  She was hurting so badly that she couldn’t put much pressure on the pedals. I looked back and she gave me a smile through a painful grimace. I finished my 90 and she her 45 together.

No, I didn’t ride with Lance. I rode with Annette — and I grew to love every minute of it.

For memories sake, I am also including last year’s video.

A day in Austin

Once again it is getting late at night… at least considering that I will be getting up at 4:30 AM in order to get to Dripping Springs, Texas for the LiveSTRONG Challenge 90 mile ride.  However, I do want to get this uploaded before I go to bed.  I don’t know when I’ll be able to get back on the computer tomorrow.

I hope I will have a little time to breathe tomorrow and I will begin to tell some of the stories I’ve experienced during these days.  Unfortunately, editing these videos seems to take up more time than I remember them taking!  It is leaving me with less time to type the thoughts in my mind.

If things go well in Dripping Springs, I hope to have some good video of the LiveSTRONG Challenge ride.  Arthur, Bob, and I are planning on making a mad dash to the front like we did last year.  Who know who we might see up there…

Riding into Austin

This video uploaded while I was sleeping last night.  Think I stayed up a bit too late getting these done.  I have that very groggy feeling going on in my head… coffee… coffeeeeee…

It was an emotional day all around.  The video of the actual LiveSTRONG Challenge ride may not get up until sometime early next week.  It all depends on how things go on Sunday.

If you enjoyed this video, be sure you go back into previous posts to check out the rest of this year’s segments.  I sure have enjoyed living them!  Thanks, Team Awesome!  I’ll be your exit buddy any day.

Have you ever ridden in the middle of a named storm?

We have.  We rode through tropical storm Rick as it moved across Texas.  It certainly was a dark and stormy night.  Team Green was ready.

I’ll spend some time later blogging about exactly how the ride progressed.  For now, I am still very tired and after a busy day of Palmetto Peloton Project related activities, I’m ready to hit the sack.  I’ve got to get some rest for the ride coming up Sunday.

However, before I climb in the bed, I’m putting up two new videos for you all.  By the way, thank you so much to those who let me know they actually watch these things.  I do wish they could better capture what happens out there.  At least I know that as my teammates come back to view them the videos will serve as a spring board for bringing back to their minds the events surrounding these feeble attempts to portray those memories.

First, Part One of Day Four – it was a very interesting day on the road — in the van that is.  We learned to practice that informal motto of the Marine Corp: adapt, improvise, and overcome.  Team Green did!

Next up is Part Two of Day Four – or was that the beginning of Day 5? Hmmmm, it started at midnight and ended around 6 AM in the morning.  Most amazing was that once it was all pedaled and done we learned we had ridden straight through the middle of a named tropical storm!  Rick dumped his best on us, but we came through together as a team.

I believe that the connection that cyclists have with cancer warriors is the suffering.  A cyclist may be 70 miles into a ride with a 20 mph headwind and rain beating down on him.  His body is cold with his muscles and joints aching from the exposure to the elements and exertion.  Yet, he pedals on to reach the goal ahead of him.  He attacks the pain – or at times locks it away in the corner of his mind.  He finds away to go through the pain.

I do not have cancer and don’t mean to speak for those who have fought – or are fighting that battle.  However, I have seen in those whom I have been privileged to know that same spirit.  I cancer patient has much more pain and aching than I’ll ever know on the bike.  Still, she will attack this invader and go on with courage.  What an inspiration these brave warriors are to all of us.

Thank you.

Oh, deer!

I’m pretty tired right now.  We rolled into Vidalia, LA last night at midnight.  I slept pretty well, but the effort of the last couple days is beginning to show a bit.  Forgive me if this blog is a little short… but at least there is some video today.

We started the morning in Tupelo, MS and got in the van to ride to a rest area on the Natchez Trace.  This is a scenic highway that cuts through Mississippi.  It has become a favorite route for cyclists, and I can tell why.  It was a wonderful ride on some great road.

Being pumped on the way out we thought we could get in over 100 miles for the day.  However, no sooner had we gotten started when Jerry’s rear wheel flatted.  It was a little frustrating because the follow vehicles had been told it was against the law to do so on the the Natchez Trace.  So, we were scrambling to get the tire changed.

Thankfully, Bob Cramer, with Great Escape, was starting the leg with us.  He was able to help us out.  I know we wouldn’t have been able to do it as quickly!  He had us back up and going in no time.

From there there isn’t a lot to describe — one light in front of me… one light in the back of me.  We just kept going into a setting sun.  We had no incident following the flat and so we were making great time.

The most eventful part of the trip were the deer.  We could hear them off in the woods to either side.  Then we started seeing them dart out across the road.  There was one time that a doe came across the road IMMEDIATELY in front of me.  The riders behind me were freaking out because from their perspective the deer was about to take me out!  However, it was really about 10 feet in front of me.  I could hear the hoofs tapping the asphalt as she crossed.

Toward the end of the ride Bo, the closer, started smelling the barn.  We had to hold him back — as well as Meggan (who we always have to hold back) — because Nikki was feeling the effects of her accident a couple days earlier.  At first it was frustrating because we were afraid we wouldn’t get our century ride if we had to slow too much.  However, it ended up be a good experience because Nikki really worked hard to stay up and the team began to work for her.

Working together helped pull her through some slight climbs along the way and then we would bomb downhill for a bit.  As a team we neared our transition point and the century was right at our fingertips.  Then we were afraid that the transition would be BEFORE the magical 100 mile mark.  We were on pins and needles, but shortly after we crossed the Mississippi River the computer flipped to to triple digits!

For me it was a great night.  I tried to pull on the front as much as possible to help the crew keep it moving.  Three of the five of us had never had finished a century.  It was encouraging to think that I was helping them reach that goal that most cyclists aim for.

Today we have some time down.  Unfortunately, it will be hard to spend any of that time sleeping.  Maybe we can find some hot spots so that other members can get in their blogs.  I’m certain there are some spots out there as we drive today to College Station, TX.

Texas… ah, that word sounds good!  We’re almost there!