Tag Archives: Sunshine Cycle Shop

Tour of Confusion

After basically spending my week on Zwift’s Watopia, I was looking forward to getting outside for my weekly Saturday morning excursion with the guys. The only thing I was not looking forward to was the 2,500 feet of climbing we typically do over the 28 mile route. I could only hope it wouldn’t be a slugfest at the numerous sprint zones along the way.

I pulled into the shop to find Luis, Matt, and Art just arriving. There were also two other guys I had not met before; Mitch and Adam. We waited for a few minutes to see if anyone else would show. While waiting, we discussed the plans for the day.

Only Art and Luis seemed to have a strong desire to ride a certain route. So, we all decided to repeat last Saturday morning’s route with a little alteration on the other side of Paris Mountain. With that all decided it was time to execute.

Matt and I took the front and we headed out talking as we moved along on a beautiful morning. It was a little humid, but there was also a breeze and the sun was still low enough that it wasn’t using the humidity to boil our already sweating skin. It was going to be a good ride!

satmorn

The first part of the ride takes you along the base of Paris Mountain. There are no large climbs, but there are numerous rollers that can have a sting if you take them fast enough. Thankfully, I didn’t think we were setting too hard of a pace.

Then we reached the smooth tarmac of Parker Road and we headed up what is called the Evangelical Climb due to a camp along the road. I don’t think I have ever attempted this segment at full gas. It is deceptive in that it appears you could fly along it, but you gain over 130 feet over the mile distance.

It was here I noticed Mitch starting to wain. Everyone else was tapping out a tempo that suited each individual and they were all moving away from the slower rider. So, I backed off and allowed myself to get overtaken.

Mitch was riding a new Giant bicycle with road disc brakes. It was the first time I had ridden with anyone who had a full on road setup with disc brakes. I asked him if his name was Mitch. He replied in affirmative with somewhat of a surprise as if to say, “How did you know?” I told him I had heard the guys in the shop talking about his new ride.

We continued along until we came to the first direct turn since we had been dropped by the others. They weren’t there waiting for us. So, I led Mitch off of Parker onto Phillips Trail.

Phillips Trail is currently packed dirt and gravel as it awaits resurfacing. It makes it a nice diversion from the normal asphalt, but it also has some biting little rises in it. I knew it would take some time for the two of us to make it. I was hoping the guys would be waiting for us as we intersected Patrol Club Road.

They weren’t there. “Man,” I said to Mitch. “I can’t believe they didn’t wait for us!” Surely they would be at the next stop sign. So, we pushed on along the long stretch of Pilot Road to Old Buncombe Road. They just had to be there.

I looked at my phone. There was a text message. “Where did you go?” Matt was asking.

“I had to drop back with Mitch.” I replied. “Pick a stop sign and wait for us. We are just now on Buncombe.” I put the phone back in my pocket and began to pull Mitch in my draft toward the next stop sign at Poinsett Highway.

Ahead I could see some riders. That might be our missing comrades. So, I put my head down a bit and picked up the pace. However, as we got closer, I could see it was a different group.

Once again I pulled out my phone. There was a new message from Matt. It had me staring at the phone in disbelief.

“We are at Philips and Patrol. We will head to Buncombe.”

I then replied to Matt as a plan began to form in my mind.

“How did that happen? We turned right onto Phillips and I never saw you. Just keep riding and we will meet you at Tandem.”

My thought was that I could take Mitch on a short cut and cut off the loop that would take the route out to the Green Valley Country Club. I could do this by turning off of Roe Ford Road onto the Swamp Rabbit Trail. The SRT and the full route would then meet up again at the crepe and coffee shop named Tandem. This way the guys could get in their full miles and Mitch could take his time and get ready for the push back to the shop.

Then something unexpected happened. I pulled out my phone to see Matt’s reply to my message. Mitch and I were now rolling peacefully along the bike path. That peace was shattered when I noticed my message to Matt was hung.

The Message app had not sent it. I closed and reopened the app and all my messages were gone! ALL of them. So, I rebooted the phone and by the time I got the new message composed and sent, Mitch and I were almost in TR proper.

Then came Matt’s reply. “Ha. We are now at Old Parker and Buncombe. We will meet you at Pilot and Old Buncombe. We never turned on Phillips.” Well, that wasn’t going to work.

I tried to salvage my idea. “Sorry. My text messaging crashed. We are on the SRT headed to Travelers Rest. Keep riding along the normal route at a good speed. We will go to Tandem and then backtrack on the route. We will meet you then.”

Mitch and I passed Tandem and then headed along the route as I mentioned. I decided to keep the guys up-to-date with where we were so we could make a proper junction. Then I got another text from Matt.

“We are at Tandem.”

What?

“So you guys did not continue on the normal route? Mitch is having trouble staying up. He would not be able to maintain the pace. We are headed back to you on Sweetgum and McElhaney.”

Finally, we were all back together and we decided to take the direct route to the base of Paris Mountain. A couple of the guys had time constraints and we had already gotten too far behind the clock. Not everyone was happy with it, but we had to do what we had to do.

We were all looking forward to the top.

We were all looking forward to the top.

At the base of Altamont Road, Luis decided to roll on in a different direction to get some more miles. He would later return to the mountain and cross over it to the shop and his waiting truck. The rest of us headed up the 2.2 miles climb.

I was rolling talking with Matt and noticed on the water tower section that I was still riding in my 53 though I was all the way up on my 32 cog. I decided to ride the rest of the way in the big ring. It would give me a challenge.

The slower pace in the first part of the climb had me feeling a little spritely for the last third or so. Another rider who was just descending the mountain when we turned up it had joined us and he was just on Matt’s wheel as I looked back to see a gap had formed. I couldn’t help it. I just had to keep him behind me.

From that point on I rode pretty much at around 350 to 400 watts with that rider slowly pulling himself towards me. Then right before the wall as he was about to make contact, I stood and pushed to the top. I could see his shadow disappear from behind me and I cross the line with a few seconds to spare.

As he crested I called out, “Good job!” And he replied with, “Thanks for the extra motivation!” as he kept rolling. I stopped to wait for my crew.

Matt came up. Then Art followed. Art said he was just going to roll on. He was supposed to meet his wife and extend his ride.

Then Adam came and went. Matt then said that he would need to roll. Mitch had not yet arrived.

I headed down to find him. I did as he was suffering through the dreaded section I call the “Box of Death” (named after a box at the top of the section where I typically begin to feel the full brunt of an effort up Altamont). He was standing along side the road.

I encouraged him to mount up again and turn the pedals just enough to keep the bike moving. There was no need to kill himself on the climb. I’d stay with him.

During conversation along the route, I had learned that this was his first real ride on the Giant and that he had only ridden the shop ride twice. Both other attempts had been the traditional Hour of Power route. Something dawned on me.

“So,” I slowly said. “This is your first climb of Paris Mountain?”

Wow, poor Mitch and his Giant were getting a baptism by fire! All the more reason I wanted to help him to keep the pedals turning. I was offering words of encouragement and finding an excuse here or there to stop.

Mitch crests the top of Paris Mountain for the first time!

Mitch crests the top of Paris Mountain for the first time!

Finally, we made it.

The way back to the shop was uneventful. Where Mitch had to struggle on the climb, he seemed very comfortable descending on his machine. Before we knew it, we were standing drinking a cup of coffee and enjoying his accomplishment.

“I’m sorry I held you guys up,” Mitch said. “No.” I replied. “I’m glad you came. Otherwise all we would have done was what we always do.” I let him know I was happy to experience his adventure with him.

And I meant it.

HOP: John James’ Wild Thursday Night Ride Route

This video breaks a record. It is the longest video I’ve published to YouTube. However, the video does not capture the entire metric century that I rode that day. It does get the best part which is the Saturday morning Sunshine Cycle Shop group ride that leaves each week shortly before 8 AM.

Even if you don’t sit and watch the whole thing, you can skip through to watch portions of the ride in order to get an idea of the awesome riding we have here in the Greenville, SC area. This route is generally rolling with one climb of Paris Mountain’s Altamont Road thrown in near the end.

I call this one “John James’ Wild Thursday Night Ride Route” because it is a route we used for an “unofficial” shop ride. It wasn’t announced publicly and mainly the racer types showed up. It was fast! If you got dropped… Well, you knew the way home. The one regrouping spot was at the top of Paris.

Of course, the Saturday morning rides are not that way. It is more of a social ride with plenty of opportunities to regroup. I believe this year they may be changing up the routes each Saturday, so if you show up don’t necessarily expect to do this route. Don’t worry, I don’t think there are any bad ones.

Here is another little excerpt I took out of the video for Neal Herring. We were going up a little grade and Zac Webb attacked. I jumped on his wheel and then Neal lifted his pace to catch us and then come around. Knowing I had the two camera’s on the bicycle, he asked me if I captured that move. I sure did and here it is, just for Neal.

Hope to see you out there soon!

Back to 2006

Tomorrow is the first Hour of Power shop ride out of Sunshine Cycle Shop. The group heads out at 8 AM for about 28 miles on rolling terrain. I’ve got a lot of history on that route and it got me to thinking of how far back in my blogging past I could find information about the ride.

It got me to thinking of when did I first start blogging about cycling? I have blogged consistently since 2004. Wow! Soon it will be a decade. I found this post from August 2, 2006 where I first started transitioning to an all cycling blog.

If you want to start your own adventure at the Sunshine Cycle Shop Hour of Power, you can learn more about it at SunshineCycle.com.

Now I’ve gone and done it – August 2, 2006

I’ve always enjoyed the energy that comes from a regular exercise routine. However, it has been hard to find a sport that I could do that would fit into my lifestyle. I don’t like “stationary” exercise. I want to be out doing something. Running is okay and I have run extensively in the past, but it just doesn’t have that element that keeps me coming back for more.

Mountain biking has been more my speed and riding gives me a workout while at the same time allowing me to incorporate the technical sides of riding and the social side of thrashing a trail with other pedal pushers. The only problem is that with a family and all the work responsibilities it has become harder and harder to load up the bike and find a trail. The trail that was once behind my house has basically be destroyed, so I would have to drive to the nearest trails.

One of my early Sunshine Cycle Shop rides. I am second in the red helmet.

One of my early Sunshine Cycle Shop rides. I am second in the red helmet.

Enter road biking. I have recently worked out a deal so I could get a Specialized Allez Elite Triple. It isn’t a fancy bike, but is a solid beginners bike. Now, my rides begin at the end of my driveway! I’ve been able to work out a system of riding Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. After my first full week of riding, I have logged over 100 miles.

Where I have gotten myself in trouble is that I have signed up for my first Metric Century ride on September 1st! That means I have only a month to prepare to ride over 62 miles. So far the longest I have ridden is 30 miles. I hope I’ll be able to do it. But really, a goal like that is what I need to keep me in the saddle and pushing for improvement. It is what turns exercise into a sport – a game where I play against myself to go farther than I thought I could.

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Little did I know as I wrote that what I was beginning! I’m glad I bought that red Allez. Parts of me wishes I could go back to those innocent, wide-eyed days on the bicycle. I guess that is one good thing about a blog… at least I can read about them.

I then went searching for the first record of a Sunshine Cycle Shop ride. I found it in September 2006. It isn’t the “blow-by-blow” style of some of the later descriptions of the ride, but I’m putting it here for nostalgia.

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A normal Saturday – September 30, 2006

Its Saturday and no rain, so…. that means that it was time for the Sunshine Cycle Saturday morning ride. Man, was it cold! Really, it wasn’t that cold – probably the high 40s or low 50s, but when you are out in summer riding gear and you get up to speed, it gets cold.

Once we got started, I warmed up everywhere except my fingers and my toes. When the sun got up over the trees, that helped a lot as well. By the time we ended the ride I was feeling pretty good.

By next Saturday, I plan to have some cool/cold weather gear. I don’t want to be cold again… nor do I want to be accused of being a Yankee! 🙂

We did about twenty-eight and a half miles like we normally do. I was relieved we didn’t do Woodhaven. That would have croaked me. The most fun I had was on a long gradual climb. I hooked up with Ed and Tony (two of the better riders) and we dropped the whole group and finished yards ahead of everyone. I managed to finish in the top two or three of most of the sprints, but the last couple of climbs, I just ran out of gas.

I didn’t make the 100 miles this week as I had hoped, but I did get more than 70. I’ll try again this week to get in some more. I think if I can get in a ride on Tuesday night, that will help.

Oh, a funny story. My nephew Paiton rides a lot with a friend named Andy. Well, this morning Andy called to see if Paiton would like to ride with him around Paris Mountain. Unfortunately for Paiton, his family didn’t hear the phone ring. So, Andy went riding without him and ended up riding with George Hincapie as they both ended up riding the same route. Andy got his autograph on his jersey and spent some time talking with him. Paiton? He was kicking himself 🙂

Giving birth in a bicycle shop

I met Leroy several weeks ago. Leroy is a scorpion. Leroy looked more like a crab. Now I know why.

The scorpion named Leroy is the pet at Sunshine Cycle Shop in Greenville, South Carolina. I remember on day coming in and Mike saying, “Hey, come check out our scorpion.” My response was, “Your what?!” Sure enough, in a terrarium near the service area was the arachnid.

I expected to find something fierce, but instead found a lethargic creature that just seemed to lay around doing nothing. I was told it would eat the crickets that I saw hoping around on the sand warmed by a heat lamp, but I never saw action.

Really, it looked more like a crab. Each time I came in the shop things just seemed the same. Then that changed.

Leroy and babies

"Leroy" and her 14 babies

I learned of the change on John James’ Facebook page. He isn’t known to be a heavy social media user, so when I saw the post, “Leroy is a girl! Now a mother!” I took a look at the picture he posted. Sure enough, there was the scorpion with several white things on its back.

Whoa! What a transformation! The picture above was taken at the shop yesterday — several days after the birthing. John’s picture showed three little maggots. By the time all was said and done there were 15. Unfortunately, one of them met his demise as his mother’s afternoon snack.

It appears that baby scorpions are born live as they crawl out of their mother through a canal just behind her head. They crawl out onto her back and stay there for weeks. If they fall off, they are in danger of being eaten.

I’ll be interested in seeing what happens going forward. Scorpions molt. These little guys are going to lose their skins at some point as they grow. After they do this for the first time, things could get VERY interesting. At that point the spiderlings will be mature enough to be on their own and some territorial conflicts could ensue.

One thing I know is that the fat crab is gone. This girl looks mean! Actually, she now reminds me of an opossum carrying her babies around. However, I’m not going to say that to Leroy’s (or should it be Loraine’s), ummm, tail.

Fear and loving

Let’s start with the loving. Saturday morning I was back on the Sunshine Cycle Shop Hour of Power. It was great to be back out there where it really all began for me. The problem is it didn’t go exactly the way I wished.

The beautiful redhead was getting ready to leave for her exercise that morning. As I walked by with my cup of coffee I said, “Well, I’ll go get my torture suit on.” She gave me a sideways glance that said, “Don’t you go talking like that when I’ve heard you complain for three months about not getting to ride your bike!” Yes ma’am. “Now get out there and ride!”

As soon as I started rolling down the driveway, I was glad I got up early on a Saturday to head out with the boys. My next concern was who would show up. It has been so long since I showed up at the shop for a ride, I was afraid I might not find any of my old friends there.

Thankfully, I found John, Tony, Web, Luis, and Gary waiting. There were a few faces I either recognized without names to go with them, or with no recognition at all. I guess it all came together when Art rolled up. Now there were three or four of us from the original rides.

The day was wonderful. It was cool and there were intermittent clouds. We started out at an easy pace. About 10 minutes in, Art moved to the front and really started to get us moving. Now, understand that Art is over 60 years-old. He can still turn the screws.

As we rode along, I pulled up beside one of the “new” riders. Turns out he has been on several of the rides since I had my accident. What attracted my attention was his green Ireland jersey. I asked him where he got the jersey. With an unfeigned Irish accent he said, “On the Internet.” I’ve met riders from several different countries on my HOP rides. Now I can add Ireland to the list.

Things started going downhill for me as we started the first climb. I can tell my bike handling skills are still a little rusty. As I started up the hill I shifted to an easier gear. The spinning certainly got easier, but I didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Ah, the chain dropped! I started to pull over to the side as I tried to get my derailleur to pull the chain back in place.

Just about the time I slowed. A rider came around on my right side. Thankfully, we didn’t touch. The group went on up the hill as I got myself back in shape. As the group disappeared over the rise in front of me, I chuckled that they must still think I’m in shape seeing how they’ve gone off and left me!

Turns out that being off the back kept me from another possible accident. Gary’s cleat broke as he was spinning up another hill. I learned later that his foot slipped off and kicked his front wheel almost taking him and the riders around him down. Of course, I didn’t see it because I was still trying to catch back up.

On Meece Bridge Road things got back to normal as the three POA riders lined up to easily take the sprint to the Pee Tree. Knowing who was in the group, I wasn’t sure who might be the competition. There were a couple of guys who looked pretty fast, but I wasn’t sure. Turns out in this instance John and Luis left me sitting pretty and I took the line with no problem.

There was a rider in a Cycledrome kit who came in after me and I got the impression the main reason he didn’t give me more of a run for my money was because he wasn’t aware of the distances and terrain. I’d need to keep an eye out on him as the day progressed. Having him there to push me along brought some more interest to the ride.

Turns out it didn’t matter. A few minutes after Meece Bridge we headed toward the stop sign at the end of East Darby Road. Everyone is relaxed after the recent sprint and there is a short climb followed by a long downhill. Finally there is a short uphill to the sign.

I was off the back again as I was taking it easy after the effort. John was just in front of me as we started to gain on the group that was tightly bunched. Suddenly, a small dog ran out into the pack. The group swung to the left and several riders put on their brakes. The rider with the Ireland jersey locked up his rear and slid his bike sideways. Smoke poured from his rear tire as the rubber was burned by the friction from the asphalt.

It all happened in a split second. Once the sliding bike was righted and going forward I relaxed. I thought it was over. Then suddenly I saw Art thrown violently over the handlebars into the ground! I didn’t even see if he hit anyone. No one else went down.

John came over to the side of the road to avoid the suddenly arrested group. This was just as I was starting to pull up to his right. I went off the road to avoid him. The group stopped like a single organism — other than me. I kept going. I was shaking. Seeing Art go over the bars and land on his head was… well, a little unsettling. I didn’t want to see him if he was bad off.

The good news is that there was not any obvious broken bones. His shoulder was sore and he seemed a bit groggy, but he started to get more comfortable as we waited for transportation to take Art to a doctor. To be honest, that was the most important thing of the whole day. I was glad to receive a message later from Art letting me know he was okay.

When I’m in my sixties, I hope I am as tough as Art the Dart!

The rest of the ride was cut short because of the amount of time we spent waiting for Art to be picked up. The group could have split up and just a couple of riders could have waited with Art, but it just didn’t seem right to leave him. No one wanted to be the person to say, “Okay, I’m going to go ahead and finish the ride” while Art was sitting in the ditch holding his shoulder!

I love riding and I love the Hour of Power. However, I was introduced once again to the fear of going down. The good news is that the love won out over the fear today.

Back to the HOP

My last post probably gave you the indication that I was facing some motivation issues. It seems that ever since I upgraded to Category 3, I’ve been having some “lost in the weeds” moments. I’ve lost a bit of focus.

I think part of that loss of determination has had to do with the time trial bike and iBike issues. I’m just not comfortable yet on the TT bike. Part of that discomfort is due to the problems I’ve been having getting the iBike set up.

It is hard for me to follow the work out programs that my coach is giving me. The problem is determining exactly what numbers I’m working with. Now, I don’t want to blame this all on the iBike. I simply have not had the time to learn how to make sure that it is configured correctly.

Certainly, it is not nearly as easy to work with the computer than it is to work with my Garmin-Quarq CinQo combination. Still, I’ve seen enough of the potential to say that I believe I can make good use of the iBike. I’ll just need some time to devote to learning how to set it up and use it.

The other issue with the TT bike is that it isn’t as easy to find the terrain to train with. It is somewhat like a mountain bike. To make the best use of the bike, I need to have it out of traffic and without too much climbing involved. This means it takes more time getting to and from an area to train. That is one thing I just don’t have a lot of.

So, I was very happy when my coach told me to ride the Sunshine Cycle Shop Hour of Power shop ride on Saturday. I was told to “just let the meter run.” This means, I got to ride how I felt. Pressure was off and the fun was on!

There wasn’t a large group that started out. However, right from the start, Tyler Crotts went to the front and set a faster pace. We all followed. It was uncharacteristically quiet in the group. We were just rolling along in silence.

We then neared Meece Bridge Road — it was time for the Pee Tree Sprint. Knowing that this was a small group I thought I would play around a bit. I attacked early. As I set off, I knew I would hear about it because the “official” attack zone was after Meece Bridge.

Still, I wasn’t wanting a field sprint. My thought was to create a selection by attacking early. My guess was that Tyler and a French rider who has joined us on several rides would separate with me from the group. My next goal would be to start laying down a pace that would wear them down and the hold it to keep a sprint from developing in the closing meters.

I have to hand it to Tyler. He stayed right there. I would see his shadow coming up behind me as we began the final move to the straight that would lead to the sprint. It was here I made my fatal error.

It was at that point I should have laid it down hard. Instead I let the fact that I had been unable to shake him get in my brain and didn’t follow my plan to the end. Instead, I let Tyler sit there on my wheel. I entered a moment of indecision — do I try to ride him off or wait for the sprint?

I ended up doing neither very well. I did pick it up, but it was too late and then I started a half-hearted sprint. Basically, I just have him a nice little lead-out. I determined I wouldn’t do that again!

So, at the quarry road, I determined I would exact my revenge. On the way there we stopped to regroup at an intersection. While there, Mike found a long rooster feather on the road. He handed it to me and I stuck in in my helmet. Then we started off again with the feather fluttering out the back of my head.

As we neared the quarry road climb, Mike started cracking all sorts of “chicken” puns. It was just one after the other. We rode along egging him on to come up with a new one. Meanwhile, Web and Tyler went on ahead. By the time I reached the bottom they were well on their way up the climb.

It felt so good just to find a rhythm and start reeling them in. Before we reached the halfway point, I saw Tyler sit up and look back. I knew then he wouldn’t be contesting it. It didn’t matter, I wanted to let it out. So, I kept the pace strong until near the very end.

Basically, the same thing happened at the next two contested points — the Paris Mountain State Park gate and Nature Trail. I finished alone at the top of each of them simply because no one really challenged. That was okay. The main thing was that I got some angst out of my system.

I split off from the group at that point to go do another hour by climbing Paris Mountain up Audubon Road. About thirty minutes after finishing Nature Trail I was on top of the mountain by the towers looking out over a hazy Greenville. After taking it in, I headed back to the shop to grab a coffee and hang out with the guys for a bit.

These were the days that first got me into riding. It is good to return to them ever so often just to remember what it was like. I’m sure that once my race calendar picks up again I’ll be raring to go. However, it is always nice to know that I can go back to the HOP.

Good luck, John

At 9 AM my friend, John, will head into St. Francis for surgery to repair a broken collar bone. It will be his first time to go under the knife. When I talked to him yesterday, he was nervous and excited — but more just relieved that it would soon be over. Here’s to quick and solid healing to one of the guys that has most influenced me on the bike.

John James

John James awaits the 2009 SC Criterium Championshps

I first met John in the early 90s when I was in grad school. Newly married with no kids, I got me a mountain bike to ride some of the trails that existed back in those days. It was the first time riding a bike since my early childhood.

It was Mike McMillan that invited me to join the shop crew on some of the rides on Piney Mountain (yes, there used to be mountain bike trails where George Hincapie’s house is now located) and sneaking into the back of Paris Mountain State Park to ride on the fire roads. John was in the group, but I thought he was a mute. He didn’t talk much and he seemed to have one expression on his face all the time.

After a time, I eased off of the shop rides. They were just way to fast and technical for me! I started to do more riding by myself as I tried to improve my handling and endurance. Of course, the headquarters for all of this was Sunshine Cycle Shop.

Then I had kids, started a business, got involved in politics, and all kinds of other stuff. It wasn’t long before the bike was gathering dust in the garage. It was actually a vintage Vespa that brought me back into the shop. Mike McMillan was trying to help me get it running.

That introduced me once again to the bicycle. However, this time it was a road bike. I found it was a bit easier to keep up with the group and that is when I started to get to know John a little better.

At first it wasn’t very positive. I thought John was a snob. Turns out, he didn’t think that much of me either. He thought I was one of those flash-in-the-pan riders that would never learn anything and just be in the way.

At first I just avoided him on rides. However, as I slowly started to get stronger, I would end up around him more and more. I also started to hang out at the shop a bit asking questions about how I could be a better rider.

It wasn’t long before I learned that first impressions — even ones that go on for awhile — can’t always be trusted. Ultimately, it was John who ended up making me believe that I could actually ride the bike quite well. He was the one that took me under his wing to explain how you are supposed to behave in a group ride — or race.

That is really one of the great things about cycling. It is an activity that gives you common ground with people across social, cultural, and personality divides. Before long you find that you are knocking down some of your preconceived notions and you discover a friend.

John will probably kill me for posting this. He doesn’t like the attention. Maybe that is why I’m enjoying doing it!

Thanks, John, for being a mentor and a friend. Get that collar bone set and get better soon. Summer is coming and I’ll miss you on the Thursday night death march!

Happy Birthday to me — I hope

This is for my wife. She asked me last night what I wanted for my birthday. So, I went back to my Christmas list and then added a couple things.

Here you go, Beautiful Redhead…

pgnc1-2331845t300x300I’m really in need of some more Cytomax. I’ve been using Heed for awhile and it is fine, but I like the taste of the Cytomax better. Race season is nearly upon me (as a matter of fact, it starts before my birthday!) and I know I’m going to need to be properly fueled.

matltodextrinWhile you are at it, I’ll take some maltodextrin. This is the complex carb I mix with the Cytomax to make my “meal bottles.” You can find both of these at Performance Fuel over on Orchard Park, or you can order it online. Oh, and make it a BIG bottle. My body thanks you!

I realize that some people don’t like getting money as a gift — or even a gift card. However, it will soon be time to build up my black TCR Advanced. The parts should arrive at any time, but I’m certain there is going to be something I have overlooked. It would be pretty nice to have a gift card from Sunshine Cycle Shop in that card beside my birthday cake.

Here is something for me that might be good for you! You know how I sweat like a horse. How about ordering me some of these? Action Wipes are bigger than those little baby towels. This way I can get myself cleaned up a bit before I get home. However, I still like those baby wipes for the bike. There most be some chemical in them that just cuts right through the chain crud.  You can get me a BIG package of those as well.

Okay, but here is the biggie… my birthday is February 21. I know that is typically the time when we would celebrate at your parents’ place. However, there is the 2010 Greenville Spring Training Series races that weekend and it will be the first race at the BMW Performance Test Track for the year. I know you can’t give me a win for my birthday, but it sure would be nice if I we could celebrate the birthday another time and I could give it a try for a win as my present to myself.

Vacation and rest – not always the same thing

Normally when I post here on LowCadence.com I have an idea what I’m going to write about. The title goes in first and then I flesh out what has been stewing in my brain looking to get dished out. Today I realize I need to get something served up, but the broth doesn’t seem very thick today. Maybe it has something to do with vacations and rest weeks.

Last week I was out of town visiting my parents for Christmas. Jim had me take along the bike and I put in some good miles there on the flat roads of southeastern North Carolina. The only proscribed ride that I did not finish was the last one. It was supposed to be a 3 hour ride with three low cadence 10 minute efforts spread through it.

I went out side the night before to make sure everything was ready on the bike. The ride was going to have to start early because I was supposed to leave the swamp and by lunch head back to Greenville. It pays to get prepared the night before. However, going out there showed me it also helps to be prepared before you go on vacation!

My rear tire was as flat as could be. I tried putting air in it to find the leak.  I had some patches I could use to get me going. PSSSSSST. I knew right away I was doomed. It was the stem. Patches don’t work on stems and I didn’t bring an extra tube!

I emailed Jim and told him what was happening. He said to learn my lesson and plan on doing the ride when I got back. Of course, my first real rest week since I started training was supposed to start on Monday. This change of plans would shorten that a bit.

Monday rolled around and I was ready to go… or so I thought. I didn’t have an extra tube at home and Sunshine Cycle Shop wasn’t open yet. I put on a second set of wheels and headed out the door.

It was very frustrating getting out of town. It seemed that I was hitting every red light. Those of you who are on a training plan know how frustrating this is when you are supposed to be holding a steady cadence and wattage. Finally I made it to Old Buncombe and things began to settle.

The plan was to continue down Old Buncombe Road and then cut behind Furman to ride towards 186 and then toward the mountains. Of course, I would have to turn and around and come back to make it only a three hour ride. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance.

Right as I neared Poinsett Highway on Old Buncombe, I started to feel my rear wheel go soft. I looked down and sure enough, the tire was sagging. Within seconds it went completely flat. I pulled off to the side of the road and tried to call my wife. Remember, I didn’t have an extra tube.

After trying several times to contact the Beautiful Redhead, I started walking. In my mind I knew I wouldn’t have to walk the entire distance. I was certain that someone would stop and pick me up. So, I slung the bike over my shoulder and started to make my way toward Cherrydale along Poinsett.

Twenty minutes later, Jason, a triathlete, pulled over and offered me a ride. He was kind enough to take me all the way to Sunshine (the shop was open by this time). I learned he had been going the opposite direction when he saw me. Having pity, he found a place to turn around and come pick me up. Thanks, Jason – and Alex.

At Sunshine John told me I should have called and he would have come to pick me up. That has crossed my mind, but I’m always taking advantage of their service and that just seemed a little too far to go on a cold December morning just as they were opening. John was kind enough to change out my wheels for me.

Turns out it is time for new rubber. My tires were potted with holes and in some spots were getting bare. So, I had new heavy duty training type tires put on with new tubes to fill them out.

Then I got back on the road. However, my schedule cut me short. I still managed to get in the requisite 3 x 10 minute sessions, but my 3 hour ride got cut back to 2. We’ll see what Jim thinks of the effort when I get his report.

So, that leads me to today. I’m not on the bike today, Wednesday, or Thursday. It is a good thing. Three solid days of no stress on my hip should be a good thing. It has been pretty sore for weeks now. I’ve seen some improvement, but then something tweaks it and I have a flare up again. I think this is just what I need.

On the other hand, it is hard to know what to do with myself. It isn’t that I don’t have anything to do! I have plenty! It is more a mental thing. In the back of my mind I’m still operating under that compulsion, “Oh, I’ve got to figure out how I’m going to work my training into the schedule today!”

Stop. Take a deep breath. It is a rest week. Do what you are supposed to do… rest.

The siren call of white

After meeting with Dave Mruz with Eastside Chiropractic, I knew I needed to do something about my saddle. It crossed my mind to see if somehow I could repair it. I realized that was playing with fire seeing all the trouble I was having. The decision was made to get a new one.

On my way to Sunshine Cycle Shop, I thought it through and it only made sense to get the same saddle this time around. First, I love the Toupe saddle. It is the saddle I have used since I started riding the road bike. Second, it would make the adjustment of the bike much easier seeing that the measurements could be moved from the old to the new and there would be less chance for an ill fit.

Then it was time for the most important question of all… What color should I get?

Specialized Toupe Saddle - White

Specialized Toupe Saddle - White

I decided on white. When I first got the white frame, I determined I would not go euro and turn it into an all white bike. The temptation was there and I was even encouraged to do so. However, I resisted.

I grabbed several saddles and put them in position on the seat post. After alternating back and forth between the white and black, I just couldn’t get away from the white. The black and gray accents just seemed to be made for my Giant TCR Advanced frame — which is white, gray, and black. I just had to do it.

Looking good with the white Giant TCR Advanced

Looking good with the white Giant TCR Advanced

Now I’m pretty pleased with the look. I still have the black bar tape going. I really don’t see myself going white with that. However, I might try a gray tape at some point when my current black wears out.

Yep, the white is taking over. Next up? Check it out!

Specialized BG S-WORKS Road Shoe

Specialized BG S-WORKS Road Shoe

Purrrfect!  White out!