Tag Archives: Randy Hutchison

Hello, Max Heart Rate

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.

Better to hit the grass than an SUV

In an effort to pull myself out of my funk, I decided not to do the Asheville race on Saturday. The plan was to go out and just have some fun riding with the guys. Turns out what should have been a simple effort turned into a ride of survival.

I showed up at the Hour of Power ride with my Garmin set to show only my speed and distance. No heart rate readings and no power data was going to distract me from just having some fun. I might ride hard. I might take it easy. I had no agenda.

Things started off well enough and I even did a number on the guys and took the Meece Bridge Road sprint in commanding fashion. Better yet, I was still feeling pretty good afterward. Perhaps this could be the day that things would turn around.

Between that sprint and the quarry road sprint, we have a section where we form a pace line and go for a couple of miles at a good pace. I got on front early on and started to pull the line. Looking down I could see I was holding a steady pace of around 23 mph and feeling more power was in the tank.

As we hit the base of the quarry road challenge, I wasn’t sure how I was going to work things with Tyler. He had said he was going to go for it on this one. It didn’t matter to me, but I wasn’t sure if he would prefer that I help pace him up for the win or if he would want to beat me. I decided he would probably prefer to beat me.

Turns out he wasn’t the one I needed to be concerned with. Randy Hutchison was there in his Greenville Spinners’ Race Team kit. He had given me a run for my money on Meece Bridge and now he was attacking right away on this climb following the wheel of Luis.

I love Luis, and he is a great guy to get behind at the start of an attack, but I knew he wasn’t going to sustain that all the way to the top. Randy on the other hand might easily use the pull to get a good jump on me. It was time to move.

They stayed ahead until we reached the false flat. By just putting out a steady tempo, I managed to pull myself and Tyler up to them without overdoing it. Then it was time to sit and recover before the next effort.

Randy was behind Luis (who was still there on the front as we neared the final turn) and I began to move out around them. My plan was to trap Randy behind Luis as I attacked. It would allow me to get a bit of a gap on him and that might be all the difference.

As I attacked I swung just a little too wide to the left and it opened a space for Randy. I just had to put the hammer down. It seemed to be working because a quick glance between my legs showed empty road. There was still some time.

However, rather than just spinning it out to the end, I eased slightly to shift to my big ring thinking I could bring that up to speed and put the nail in the coffin. Problem is, I never got the chance. Just as I starting to turn the pedals Randy came by me. Of course, I was in too big of a ring to respond. I let him go. He played that one well.

Then the ride went south.

Not nearly as bad as it looks.

Not nearly as bad as it looks.

I have become experienced on the bike enough that I don’t cause other people to wreck. However, I have not yet learned those bike handling skills that help keep me from being wrecked by other people. Is there a text book out there I could study?

We were in an easy pace line between zones. I had moved to the back just taking it easy. My wheel was lined up right behind the rider before me. Suddenly, he slowed and moved to the left.

I avoided my brakes in attempt to keep from having the rider behind me plow into me. My bike shifted slightly to the right and my momentum carried my front wheel up near axle of the rider in front. This is called overlapping – or crossing wheels.

The ride ahead weaved back toward the right pushing me near the edge of the road. I was flirting with the edge of the asphalt when he served back toward the left. Ahhhhh, I slowed some and moved back away from the edge. Unfortunately, he moved back my way one more time and I couldn’t avoid it this time. It had only taken a couple of seconds.

My bike slipped off the road into the thick grass and I did a Jens Voigt into the shoulder of the road. The first thing I felt hit was my head. It turned and I felt my neck wrench. Then it was my right arm and shoulder. I was too worried at that moment about my head hitting to think about what was happening to my legs.

Embarrassed, I disentangled myself and jumped up. Because I went down in the grass, the bike appeared to be in good shape. There were no wounds on my upper body, but I could see blood pouring from my knee. All in all, I felt pretty good with the fact I hadn’t broken anything.

Then someone pointed out that my right shifter was broken. No way! This is the second SRAM Force shifter I have had to break in the same place. Yes, I know, I wrecked, but still! Two times in the same spot tells me that they could come up with a better design.

The day wasn’t over. Thankfully, the bike shifted fine and if I held the lever a certain way, I could still brake. There was still opportunity to salvage the ride.

Randy attacked early on the State Park Road sprint. I was pacing myself to slowly pull him back when Luis came around me and yelled for me to hop on. I did and it was fun to watch the space between Randy and us get eaten up without me having to work hardly at all.

As we neared him, I saw him glance back. He was aware of us and I knew he would tried to accelerate and get in our train. I needed to break his draft. As Luis began to come around him, sure enough Randy sped up. However, I swung wide left which disrupted the draft for him. Once I saw we had gapped him, I moved back to Luis’ wheel. It worked.

We really needed one more rider, but I had to do what I was dealt. Luis had to drop off before the descent to the bottom of the dam. I was going to have to work a bit for this one. I put the hammer down and came around the turn that is followed by the quick descent.

Up ahead I saw a truck in the road. He looked to be driving slowly along. I was moving at nearly 40 mph by this point. There were no brake lights, but suddenly it dawned on me that the guy wasn’t moving! The distance was closing fast.

There was no way I was going to be able to stop. I looked ahead and saw there were no cars coming. About that time he saw me and put his truck in gear. All I could do was swing wide to the left and come around him.

My momentum was messed up and my timing was as well. I have the timing down for exactly when I need to shift my gearing for the climb. The truck incident messed me up and I was caught in too big a gear with no momentum. Tyler came around me and there was nothing I could do.

Still, the success was in the fact I didn’t plaster myself to the back of an SUV!

This morning I am soooooore. My neck is stiff and my right shoulder hurts. It will work out. Maybe yesterday was just what I needed to purge myself of the bad vibes. You’ve got to think that things will turn for the better at some point.

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.