Tag Archives: TNWC

Tuesday Night Worlds – Just call me One-Hour Wonder

I left Watopia for a ride in the real world. It would be my first Tuesday Night Worlds with the Greenville Spinners. It would be my largest group ride since I raced back in February on the same course. I was interested to see what would happen.

I got off work and the wrestling began in my mind. It would take me 30 minutes just to get to the location for the ride. Once there I would be a bit of an outcast since I am not on a team and do most of my riding alone. The social aspect of the ride would not be a major attraction.

The other thing that caused me pause was that the group is a very mixed group with semi-pros to juniors and everyone in-between. Everyone is supposed to have race experience, but that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been wrecks on these ride/races. On a windy day, it can be pretty hairy! Note: I just learned that a rider did go down and suffered multiple injuries (abrasions and broken bones).

The easy thing for me would be to just hop on the trainer or go out and ride my normal routes alone. I knew at 6PM the Tuesday Night Worlds training race would start on Zwift. Doing that would save me over an hour of my evening.

As I walked out the door of my office, I knew what I would do. The weather was beautiful and the wind was low — unlike it had been in the days leading up to this one. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t head out to Donaldson to ride.

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Once there I paid my five dollars for the police escort, porta-johns, and rental of the parking lot. I ran into some folks I knew right off the bat and enjoyed some conversation before heading into the field to get ready to roll out. Here was going to be the test of the work I had been doing on the trainer.

We rolled off and I expected that on the first lap we would allow everyone to get their legs loose. Well, I had to amend that to less that half a lap! Things started picking up right away and it was on.

At first I played it smart and just sat in the field hiding from the wind and trying to find good wheels to follow. I was only able to do that for a little bit. It just isn’t my nature to just sit there and ride around in a training ride.

The way I see it is that if it is a training race, I should be learning something. I’m not going to get an education sitting back in the back. I would rather get up there with the fast guys and hang on for as long as I can. When I get into a real race, then I’ll think about sitting in and conserving.

It was on the second lap (of five) that Matt Tebbetts moved up to the front. We were climbing “Golf Course Hill” when he attacked up the white line. I saw him moving past and I was about fifth wheel. I jumped over and followed his attack.

We had a gap almost immediately. I looked down for a moment and saw my heart rate at 174 bpm and by computer reading a steady 400+ watts. We were nearing the turn at the top of the hill when I exclaimed, “Matt, I can’t hold this.”

Matt and I go back. We were on the same team together. I remember fondly our last Category 4 race together. It was a criterium in Spartanburg, South Carolina. We went one-two with Matt winning with me marking any moves to attempt to bridge over to him. With a kilometer to go I attacked and took second.

After that day things changed. I crashed and broke my neck in my first Category 3 race. That set me on a path out of competition. Matt took a different path. If anything, he became more committed to the bike and it shows in the way he looks and the way he rides the bike! Here we were in the break, a guy who just rides his trainer and another who had just the week before won the 40+ amateur race at the USA Cycling Professionals Criterium Championships.

We held the gap down off of the the Golf Course Hill and up the next climb to the right hand turn to follow. Matt had been coaxing me along taking longer pulls as we attempted to maintain our gap. I took a fugitive look beneath my arm to see the field. They were closing. I was just a dead weight on Matt’s wheel.

Here we were two laps in. I was well into my threshold. There was just absolutely no way I could maintain this pace for three more laps (each lap 7+ miles long). Perhaps if there were more of us we could manage, but not just two. “I’ve got to go back!” I shouted up to Matt and then waited to be enveloped by the group coming up fast.

Not much exciting to add from that point. I got in and recovered. Before long I was feeling better so I moved back up to the front. I chased down two breaks bringing the field with me. Then finally I covered a break that was followed by a counter attack that I also tried to follow. I knew at that point I was in trouble.

Every racer has a certain number of matches in his box. Tonight, I was out to find out how many I could strike. Well, I slid open the cardboard box of my fitness and looked inside. It was empty.

Realizing I was hurting, I let up and tried to recover some as the field started to pass me. The problem is I couldn’t find a gap in the line and I kept fading back. When I finally did get in, it turned out I got into a group that was falling off the back of the main field.

I tried with one other rider to bridge over, but it was a futile attempt. At first, we seemed to be making headway. Then we just seemed to be stuck one hundred yards off the back. Finally, the field moved away.

It was time to call it a night. Still, I felt pretty good about the effort. As usual, my fears about the ride were unfounded. It was great to once again ride with guys I’ve ridden with over the years. Pushing myself up on the front assured me that I can still do this.

Next goal? Do what it takes to finish.

Hey! You are going backward!

The Tuesday Night World Championships shaped up last night to be lots of fun. The weather was great and there was a good crowd on hand. The old legs were feeling pretty good and I even had a little bit of time to warm up for a change before the ride started in earnest. Little did I know I would finish out the evening riding alone and backward on the course.

As usual things started out just a little slow. A small group started off right away to attempt a break. However, by the time we passed the golf course and headed for the turn onto 3M hill, John James started to move up toward the front with me on his wheel. On the hill itself Eric Christophersen went to the front to close down the gap. By the time we were reaching the next turn there was a lot of close racing. You could feel a little bit of nervousness in the group. It made it fun, but a little scary.

Things sorted out and the first lap was finished without incident. We were certainly up to speed by that time and now more people were making moves in an attempt to get some separation. The main field wasn’t having it and for much of the second lap the small gaps that would form got shut down in a hurry.

We were nearing the railroad tracks and I was in the front group of the field. A sizable group was beginning to form a gap. One by one another rider would bridge up the lead group. None of the riders in the front group were from POA. However, there were three of us in the front of the field.

My thoughts were that this early in the ride the break would probably not survive. However, I wasn’t sure exactly who was up there. If some of the better riders were up there they could use the group as cover to attack off the front and build more of a gap on us. Of course, it was the job of one of us to represent the team in a possible break, so I started to bridge over myself.

I hit the railroad tracks hard and immediately began to hear a strange thumping sound coming from my bike. I was still rolling so I didn’t think about it much and just kept spinning away to get on the back of the group in front of me. I got there soon after we reached the smooth pavement after the tracks.

It was then that the sound started to get on my nerves. My initial thought was that perhaps I had broken a spoke. Ahhhh, then I realized what it was. The speed sensor for the iBike had gotten knocked askew and the magnet hit it with each revolution.

Knowing it wasn’t a structural problem, I first decided to just keep going. The field had followed me up to the break and now I was on the front with some pretty heavy hitters. Now as we were beginning the third lap, a lasting break could possibly form. I was in a position to get into it.

Now I was on the point and setting the pace. I started to look down to assess what was going on with the sensor. The thumping was getting worse. Boyd Johnson rolled by and I heard him say, “You have the sensor turned the wrong way. That is your speed sensor making that noise.” For a second it crossed my mind to slow and reach back and adjust it on the roll. Nah, that would be stupid. Then I considered just going on with the thing banging away. However, I didn’t want to mess up the sensor — or possibly the bike.

As we neared the fire station, I went to the yellow line and slowed. My decision was to stop fix the sensor and then ride slowly until I was overtaken again by the A group. I could then at least get in at the rear of the field and get some good laps even if I wouldn’t make a winning break. I guess I should also mention it did cross my mind to fix it and then attempt to chase back on. That thought didn’t last long!

I adjusted the sensor and started off. Looking at the iBike I realized it wasn’t reading correctly. So, I had to stop again reposition the sensor once more. Finally, it was working and rolling along. Now I just had to wait to get caught.

Just as I reached the golf course I could see the pace car of the B group coming up behind me. At this rate, I could be back around to the railroad tracks before the A group caught me. I guess I would be well rested when I got back in!

Thinking about how I was going to get out of the way of the groups coming behind me, I noticed a number of riders off in the distance with similar red kits. “Hmmmm,” I thought to myself. “Why are all those Hincapie riders going the opposite direction?” I then started looking down and playing around with the iBike computer and checking periodically behind me to see how the B group was progressing.

The next time I looked at the group coming toward me, they were almost next to me. I realized it wasn’t a group of Hincapie riders. It was a number of my POA teammates. What were they doing? Maybe they had plans for an alternate ride? John was one of them and he yelled to join them. Well, that wasn’t the plan, but he was now dropping back to pick me up and I was curious what was going on.

I turned and then caught up with them. Turns out they were just finishing out the evening going backward around the circuit. I looked at my clock. I still had nearly an hour and a half to go in order to meet my training goal for the evening. Maybe I would just hang with them until the A group came by and then jump in.

Of course, we then got caught up in conversation and I was discussing iBike issues with Eric as the break off the front of the A group went past us. It crossed my mind that I could have been in that group. The field followed and I just let them go.

The next lap most of the other riders dropped off and it was just Thomas Woodson – a Gamecock Team rider – and myself. Once again we passed the break and then I saw the field with Rodney Dender near the front trying to pull them back. Billy and Reece were also still in there. I was feeling some pangs of regret that I wasn’t there helping them out.

There was nothing to do about it now. I just had to get another hour of riding in. Finally, Thomas also dropped off and I ended up doing a couple laps alone. By the time I reached the parking area the sun was starting to drop on the horizon and there were hardly any cars left.

I did ride past Steve Sperry talking to Rodney as he was driving out. I overheard, “… and your team is going around backward…” I only caught that phrase and I could only assume that Rodney was talking about the effort he put out toward the end and the fact that he had no teammates to help him out. The pang or regret hit again. Yes, I had a “mechanical” that was a reasonable excuse for stopping. However, fact is, I could have gotten back in.

Oh well, that is just the way it worked out. I’m looking forward to this weekend’s race聽 and then an opportunity to redeem myself next Tuesday night!

TNWC by the numbers

Last night was a night most cyclists look forward to in the Greenville area. It was the first Tuesday after the time change… so that means it was time for the first Tuesday Night World Championships of the year! Nearly 200 hundred riders showed up for the first night.

All the groups remembered Perry Lyles who passed away recently. In the country route John Davidson arranged for a “missing man” tribute. The A and B group rides had a moment of silence in Perry’s memory. Perry was not there with us as we pedaled out for the first night, but his memory rode along.

We would only do four laps — though I think we could have squeezed five in before it started getting too dark. However, it is early in the season and some of the riders just came off a busy weekend of racing in Columbia. So, four laps it was, but don’t think it was just a ride in the park!

My instructions for the night were: “Work on your pack skills. Staying up front, being on correct side of road, picking good wheels to draft, safety, etc. Leave this race feeling you could have done more.” Want to work on you pack skills and placing yourself in a field of cyclists? TNWC at Donaldson (I just can’t call it SCTAC) is your opportunity.

The first lap started out as though we would be warming up. Later in the season the easy pedaling can last almost the entire first lap. However, things picked up a bit as we went up 3M hill and the race was on! The first lap was a “slow” 17 minute circuit.

In the second lap I started to work my way toward the front. Jim told me to try to maintain my position up there, so I knew I needed to give it an effort. I tried to make my way there through the middle of the pack as much as possible. One thing that helped me was I got on the wheel of my teammate Eric Christophersen. He has a way of making openings!

The POA guys were making some moves at the front as were some riders of other teams. I wanted to do my part — though I am still in kindergarten when it comes to understanding team tactics. However, I knew that it was a good idea to have a POA rider in any group that tried to go up the road and if we had a guy up there it was best to hold a pace that would slow the field.

One of our riders was dangling off the front of the field as we approached 3M hill. I was near the front when some riders attacked to bridge up to the break. I reacted and got on their wheel. I wouldn’t work to help them chase my guy, but if they were going I would go with them to help our numbers.

They bridged up but really all we did was pull the entire field up to them. I watched Reece fade back and now I was near the point. When the field caught the break, another group of riders surged and I went with them. A weak pace line formed and soon I found myself on front.

I was feeling pretty good so I just set a tempo that I figured would keep the field moving at a good pace and allow my guys to sit in for a bit. Suddenly two riders came fast around my right just before the train tracks. I moved to cover their wheels.

One of the riders was Boyd Johnson and the other was a Colavita rider I did not know. Immediately I was trying to close a gap because of the speed at which they passed me. It meant that for several seconds I was working much harder than they were. Closer and closer I got, but finally I knew I would blow if I kept it up.

I eased off and fell into the clutches of the peloton. I kept sliding back and back and it seemed that the speed was more than I could handle. In the past, I probably would of slid right off the back. However, I knew that if I just put in a bit of effort, I could get back in the draft and catch my breathe.

A gap opened and I ducked in. By the time we rode through the dip and started to coast up to the start/finish line I was back at the pace. Now my legs just needed to come back and I would be okay. We crossed the line that time in 16 minutes and 11 seconds.

Interestingly, I found myself in the exact same position going up 3M hill on the third lap. I had fully recovered by this point, but determined I wasn’t going to go off the front this time. I simply settled into the pack near the front and rode it out. This time we covered the 7 mile loop in 16 minutes flat.

Then the racing started in earnest. Remembering my instructions, I worked to stay in the mix at the front. It is so completely different mixing it up with these higher category guys than racing in a category 4 race! It is faster, but more than that it is a constant ebb and flow with tactics clearly evident. It isn’t just a bunch together until the end and then the fastest man to the line wins.

Approaching the tracks I was about 10th in a line being stretched out by Boyd and Eric up ahead. It was a neat vantage point, but once we entered the dip I was starting to have riders coming around me. It didn’t bother me because I have learned that once we start the climb on the other side, I typically get all of my places back.

Sure enough, as we neared the 1K to go line, I was right there in the finishing bunch. Now things were going to get exciting! It was obvious that Boyd and Eric were going to close the deal, but the field surged into a final sprint.

Me? Once we reached the fire station, I simply worked to maintain my position about 20 riders back. I figured that wasn’t so bad out of 60 to 70 riders. Besides, I was supposed to finish “feeling you could have done more.” At the end of that 15 minute and 45 second lap, I felt I had accomplished my goals.

Consider that in my last Category 4 race at Donaldson I averaged 210 watts for the race. Tuesday night in an unofficial race I averaged 242 watts. The race averaged 23.5 mph. The first TNWC? 26.5 mph. Oh, and that little section where I was chasing Boyd? 370 watts for 3 minutes — and I didn’t catch him.

If you can learn to race up front in the A group, you are ready to race Category 4!