Tag Archives: USA Cycling Professional Championships

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.

What a Friday

I didn’t really have much to blog about going into Friday. Now it is Friday evening and I’m sitting here with ice on my knee to keep my jumpers knee in check, but overall I’m feeling great! It has been a really cool Friday!

Starbucks after a Paris Mountain climb

The morning started with a great opportunity to join the Roger C. Peace Paracycling Team as they did recon of the US Pro Cycling Time Trial course. Here I was able to kill two birds with one stone. First, I was able to ride with the guys — coached by Jim Cunningham — with the group including the friend and neighbor, Bryant Young. Second, this meant I would get the opportunity to ride the course with people who had done it before. That would be a big help for me because I’d be turning the pedals in anger there Saturday morning.

These guys are awesome. Bryant can out ride many cyclists up Paris Mountain. One thing for sure is that he can out ride them up it if they use one leg! The hand cyclists were equally impressive. They can make a leg cyclist work hard keeping up with them.

One moment will stick in my mind. I was following David, one of the hand cyclists, in order to make him noticeable to any cars that might come up on us. We pulled up to a light and I was looking for a break in the traffic. I turned from looking left to my right and there was Ben King.

We all turned right along Laurens road and Ben was pulling away from us. Then David picked up the pace and chased Ben down. Now, obviously, the professional rider with Radio Shack Leopard Trek was not riding a full gas, but I can tell you he was not soft pedaling. I also know that David got a gap on me and I was having to put my head down to hold off the wind so I could catch his wheel! Then we were in a drafting line. One the front was Ben followed by David and then me trying to get my breath!

Unfortunately, I had to leave before getting a chance to ride with the rest of the guys. It was neat to see several other pros out on the course including a contingent of Garmin riders. Alas, I had to get my bike over to Sunshine Cycle Shop so I could get it converted over to its time trial configuration and then I needed to watch over the appraiser that was coming to appraise my house.

I really, really appreciate the guys at Sunshine Cycle Shop who were pretty busy but took the time to get me set up with my bars and the disc wheel that Boyd Johnson let me borrow. They also got the Giant all set up for me to ride on Monday. Now I feel a pretty strong need to do well so their work won’t be wasted.

While they were working on the TT bike, I took the Giant out for a ride over Paris Mountain. I named the ride, “Friday afternoon blowout special with coffee.” This was a 15:30 climb up the east side of Altamont and then a descent down the west side and then along the Swamp Rabbit Trail to the Starbucks on Main Street in Greenville.

It was a warm day, but in the shade it was great. I sat for some time watching the traffic cops trying to keep the parking places clear for the setup of an event for the evening. Several conversations got started as well. One was with a visitor from out of town who said he knew the Hincapies when they were up in New York. Another guy stopped to ask me about the Boyd wheels I was sporting on the Giant.

Finally, I rolled easily home — after going through downtown and seeing a couple of cycling related vehicles. A couple of USA Cycling Official cars were around and a van for a team loaded with bicycles on top. The streets were also starting to get crowded with people beginning to show up for the evening.

That leads me back here. A good dinner and then board games with the girls. My sons are both out with friends. Then it will be time to get some rest for tomorrow.

If Saturday goes as well as Friday, it is going to be awesome!

US Professional Championships leaving Greenville

UPDATE: New story link added

I knew the time would come. Really the presence of the USA Cycling Professional Championships has always been tenuous here in Greenville. Now that tension is broken as word is out that the event will move to Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2013.

Perhaps it was the fact that Philadelphia had hosted the event for a couple of decades lulled us into thinking that the event might find a new home that could give it the same longevity. However, the hints came early that the event was more likely to be “shopped” around on a regular basis.

Seems like just yesterday this sign appeared in Cleveland Park

I remember distinctly the behind the scenes movements to get the race to come back to Greenville. It seemed that each year was another crisis. While on the outside it was given a positive spin, behind the scenes it was pretty clear that at any moment the decision could come down from USA Cycling to move to a new venue.

It wasn’t a matter of Greenville being a good venue. The racing was good. The hospitality was great. Medalist Sports clearly stated they liked the Greenville locale. It all seemed to balance on money and exposure. Would USA Cycling keep looking for ever greener grass after getting loose from the corral in Pennsylvania?

Could we have kept the event? Well, the simple answer to that is that with enough money, sure we could have. However, I wonder if ultimately even money could have kept the event here. Beyond money is the opportunity to expose new audiences to the sport and bring the freshness and excitement that a new venue brings.

So, good for you, Chattanooga. Having the USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial Championships in your city will be something you will enjoy. It is a wonderful opportunity for you and as one friend said, “At least it will stay in the south!”

We shouldn’t mind too much here in Greenville. We enjoyed the race for several years. We’ve proven we can handle world class cycling events. Who knows, if USA Cycling continues to take this approach, we may see the pros racing down Main Street once again.

Really? I won’t race

Yesterday I commented on how often I have been asked about doping in cycling over the last week. There is another question I’ve been asked over the last couple of days. My first response to the questions is incredulity. Then I realize how the question reflects how far cycling has to go in the USA.

“Are you racing in the big race coming to town this weekend?”

No. I am not. Asking me that question is like asking if the guys in the local church softball league are planning on playing in a series against a major league baseball team. On a very good day, I might make it to the base of Paris Mountain sitting in the group of these professional riders, but there is no doubt in my mind I would be left behind on the climb to the top.

I don’t blame people for asking that question. Cycling is a very hard sport to get an understanding of unless you have participated in the sport. Stand me up beside a professional rider and the uninitiated probably couldn’t tell much of a difference.

Put us on the bikes and that all changes. It is hard to explain, but the professional would simply ride me into the ground. His training and fitness allow him to create and maintain more power. The power I can create and maintain for 20 minutes, he would be able to hold for hours.

The down side to this is that I don’t think professional riders get the credit they deserve from the general population. It isn’t that people think cycling is easy. It is more that they just don’t know how hard it actually is.

Well, if you want some idea of what it is like to be a professional cyclist, take your bicycle to the Furman side of Altamont road. Start at the bottom and ride up it as fast as you can. You cannot stop. No matter how rotten you feel, you must push your way to the top. If you make it up in 18 minutes, pat yourself on the back.

Now, turn around and ride down the winding road as fast as you can. You thought going up was hard! If you have the guts to take those corners without braking, I bet there will be numerous times you will have your heart in your throat!

Once at the bottom, repeat the above sequence four times. Trust me, you won’t do 18 minutes again. If you really give it your all, you will probably find yourself feeling sick by the time you reach the top on the second or third attempt.

Consider that a top professional will do those four climbs in half the time. It doesn’t mean that he can do that without breaking a sweat. There are times when a professional will feel the same sensations that you might during one of your climbs. The difference is that when he feels that way, he is going much, much faster and can ride well beyond the point where we would get off the bike and start pushing.

The up side to this is that it shows just how grass roots cycling is as a sport. Do baseball fans, basketball fans, etc. have the opportunity to train on in the same facilities as those they enjoy watching on TV? Do you have the opportunity to end up throwing baseball with a major league star who just so happens to show up in a local park? It is that common experience that fans can have with the pros that is unique to cycling.

So, no, I won’t be racing this weekend in the USA Cycling Professional Road Race Championship. I will be there for the SC State Road Race Championship. I’ll be racing for about 54 miles. The pros will go for 115.

Finally, let me add… even some amateur racers in our area could put in a good show with some of the pros. There are racers in the area that may one day be professional. There are some others whose time to make that cut is past, but can rise to a level beyond your typical weekend warrior.

That is one of the beauties of professional cycling. It is all relative. We all get to know what it is like to suffer. It is just that some are faster while they suffer.

Yo, are you a pro?

There is quite the excitement building up here in Greenville in advance of the 2010 USA Cycling Professional Championships. Tomorrow the Time Trial gets underway and then on Sunday it is the race that people in G-Vegas will be able to get up close and personal with — the road race. Just take a ride out around town and you’ll know something is up.

It isn’t just the banners that hang from the light and power poles. It isn’t just the various team vehicles that you see parked at hotels or moving slowly down Main Street. One of the most obvious signs that something is up are the numerous people you see out riding bikes… and they ain’t from around here.

Yesterday evening I went for a ride that included a portion of the road race course. I’m used to seeing people when I make this loop, but typically I recognize them or at least their colors as some local club or team. This time I was seeing people I did not recognize and who had this look on their face that gave the impression this was new territory for them.

The thing that made me chuckle was the times people would see me go by and out of the corner of my eye, I could tell they were “checking me out.” I was being subjected to a “Pro Scan.” This happened numerous times in the 20 or so miles I rode.

The “Pro Scan” is when people see you coming and you see them looking at you with an intent look on their face. Then as you are going by, their eyes follow you with squinting eyes. The unspoken question is, “Yo, are you a pro?”

Obviously, I am not. However, my POA Cycling Team kit is pretty awesome. I think any pro team would be cool with wearing the outfit. It certainly gives off a professional vibe. I think that is why it gets the attention.

The coolest thing about this weekend is that you actually do have the opportunity to do a Pro Scan with a positive result. There are pros all about the place. You see some alone on the streets within the city and others riding together out in the rural areas or over Paris Mountain.

I’m really going to miss the excitement of those days. The closer we get to them the more I remember the fun of last year. Oh well, for me personally, the Ride for Mike is a much more important event. I’m certain once I get zeroed in on starting that adventure, the excitement will far exceed what I would feel during USPros.

You all have fun! I’m leaving out tomorrow morning. I’ll be following my Twitter pals to keep up with what is happening in the races. Please keep the tweets coming!

Could someone take the place of this bum?

It is August 10. That means there are only 10 more days until I can take my bike back on the road again and 39 days until I head out to Memphis to begin the 2010 Ride for Mike. That also means there are only 39 days until the USA Cycling Professional Championships come to Greenville.

That is right. I’m going to miss the South Carolina Road Race Championship and the events with the USPros. I didn’t start out to plan it that way, it was just a matter of not having an option. That weekend is such a blast! I hate to miss it.

However, I do want to help out here. Actually, the truth is, I feel guilty. I want to encourage you to help out volunteer organizer extraordinaire, Kimberly Morgan, as she helps make this event in Greenville a success. Perhaps you can help out since I am skipping out on her.

Here is an email she sent out recently…

Hello, everyone!

I certainly hope that this email finds you enjoying this hot but great Summer. I am, once again, the volunteer director for the USA Professional Cycling Championships that will roll into Greenville for the 5th year this September 18th and 19th.

If you are getting this email, please feel free to forward it on to anyone and everyone that you think might be interested in helping us out for the weekend’s activities; tweet and FB for me, too. I will need 100 volunteers on Saturday the 18th for the ITT which will be at CU-ICAR and I will need closer to 200 for Sunday’s road race that will climb over Paris Mountain and run through downtown several times!

My biggest need is always Course Marshals, and I am ready to begin placing you where you want to be! The city of Greenville is allowing us to use their computer system to register volunteers, so here are the directions to sign up for this year:

1. Fill out an application at: http://www.volgistics.com/ex/portal.dll/ap?AP=1947161640

2. You can click on an organization that you are affiliated with or choose none for you out-of-towners…

3. A confirmation with your password and directions will be sent to you within 24-48 hours from Elane Fleming, Greenville’s Volunteer Director for ALL city events.

4. Once you log in and complete your info, you will have access to choose the position and day you would like to help me with. There is a PDF file on the HOME page of each volunteer’s account that has directions on how to use the system. But, as long as you are registered, I will be able to contact you as well. And if you do not want to be contacted by the city for future volunteer opportunities, make sure you check that box to opt out of that as well.

Lastly, if you need me for specific USA Pro info, please feel free to use my USPro email:

kimberlym@usacyclingchampionships.com

Have a great Friday and a fabulous weekend! I am looking forward to seeing all of you soon!

Kimberly

So, how about a little help here? You don’t even need to be a cyclist. Kimberly can find a spot for you and you can learn a lot about this incredible sport during a very exciting event that is helping to put Greenville on the map.

USA Cycling Professional Championships a go in Greenville

Would have loved to attend the press conference yesterday for the official announcement of the USA Cycling Professional Championships to be held here in Greenville, September 18 and 19. So, I went out on the Web today to see what I could find about it and here are some links for your reading enjoyment. Welcome back to Greenville, professional cycling!

GHS Cycling championship set for another year in Greenville
GreenvilleOnline.com

“The people do vote with their feet in many respects, and they come out in droves,” Mayor Knox White said Wednesday during a press conference at Falls Park.

“That’s the really wonderful thing about this sport for Greenville, South Carolina. People are adopting it, embracing it in their day-to-day lives throughout the entire year by becoming cyclists themselves, and then when the event happens, it’s the only sport I can think of where in some cases, people don’t even have to leave their homes.”

Greenville looks forward to the USA Cycling Championships
CarolinaCyclingNews.com

According to Chris Aronhalt, Managing Partner of Medalist Sports, the USA Cycling Professional Championships have continued to gain popularity with each passing year, and last year, drew nearly 75,000 spectators over the course of the event weekend. Aronhalt attributes the Championships’ popularity to several factors: level of competition and terrain, community and sponsor support and the variety of events and activities that take place over the course of the weekend. “There is no question that this event offers fans an opportunity to see the nation’s best professional cyclists compete and that Greenville provides an ideal setting to host the Championships,” said Aronhalt. “In addition to that, however, I think the fact that fans are not kept at arm’s length, but rather can be actively engaged in the event, is a significant aspect of its appeal.”

USA Pro Cycling Championship Coming to Upstate
WYFF.com

For the 5th year in a row, the USA Cycling Professional Championship is making its home in the Upstate.

Interestingly enough, there was not any coverage on the larger news sources such as CyclingNews.com, Velonews.com, or even USACycling.org. I believe this is because this initial press conference is focused on getting the ball rolling on some local initiatives. The push for more national — and international — attention will come later.

Who needs race radio when you have Twitter?

What a satisfying day! Greenville was all abuzz with the USA Cycling Road Race Championship.  We learned that the race would return in 2010! That was just the platter… the cake and the icing was that George Hincapie won the Stars and Stripes jersey and will be representing as champion the US and his town, Greenville, for the next year.

It was fun to get out and see the action first hand, but you can be in an information hole when you are sitting up on top of Paris Mountain waiting for the peloton to come.  How do you keep up the action going on downtown?  Enter the age of Twitter!

Check out the action with these Twitter reporters (you’ll find that the more time that passes since this was published, the farther back you will have to go): BikeHugger, NeilRoad, PodiumInsight, WilliamDorn, DHMruz, USACPRO, and don’t forget BroomWagon.  These were just a few of the fans along the route (and in the media cars and media room) keeping us fans on the course informed.  You can also check out the hash tags – USPROS, USPRO, and USPROCYCLING.

Speaking with William Dorn last night, I mentioned it might be cool next year to organize things a bit more.  We could post “reporters” and different strategic places around the course.  We could all post to a common Twitter account – or probably best at hash tag – the information from that spot.  Add that to the chase car stuff from the lucky guys able to follow the race from there, and you could have a great way for fans to follow the event.

Other thoughts…

I’m excited to know that the USA Cycling Professional Championships will be coming back in 2010. I think Greenville is on the cusp of really finding a niche for cycling on the east coast.  It isn’t going to be without pain though.  It is definitely a cultural shift for many people.  That isn’t to say that cycling isn’t open to everyone.  I’m certainly as straight-laced and conservative as they come.  That isn’t the type of cultural shift I’m talking about.

What I am talking about is the willingness to accommodate bicycles in our community.  It is obvious that the city leaders recognize this.  Steps are being taken to win Greenville “bike friendly city” status.  This is a great step.  However, it is the willingness of the larger county region to accept – or at least tolerate – cyclist of all types that is needed.

Greenville is a natural place to ride a bike.  Now when people say Greenville in relationship to cycling, they don’t tag on the South Carolina.  A simple Greenville suffices.  That isn’t going to change.  Cycling will continue to grow here.  With that growth will come some tension.  Hopefully, the good of cycling will ultimately win the day.

Please, wear your helmet! While on Paris Mountain, I spent some time talking with a group of spectators.  Soon after a couple of those in the group headed down the Furman side of Altamont Road.  As they neared the end one of them got entangled with another rider.  He went down and hit his head.  He didn’t have a helmet.  He did receive head trauma and had to be immobilized.

It shows the importance of wearing your helmet – even when you think you are just a spectator.  When we start those two wheels rolling, we are no longer spectators – we are participants.  We need to be prepared – our lives may depend on it.

Reliving the day!

Big time racing comes to Greenville – where to watch

Tomorrow is the USA Cycling Professional Championships.  Greenville is crawling with professional cyclists and bicycle lovers.  I’m not sure the rest of Greenville has caught onto the great coup this is for the city, but the cycling community certainly knows and we’re crossing our fingers for the future.  But, hey, let’s just enjoy what we have for today!

First, I’m compiling for you links to some of the official stuff out there concerning the race.  No need repeating what more knowledgeable people can tell you.  Enjoy!

I’ve also added a link to the official USA Cycling Professional Championships Twitter.  There has been a good amount of Twitter traffic concerning the event and a number of Twitter cycling fans will be meeting this afternoon.  I’m hoping I can stop by and meet some of the characters behind the 140 characters or less.

Now, where to watch the race Sunday?  Well, the obvious place is anywhere on Paris Mountain.  If you can get there early enough, you can find some spots on the shoulder that are large enough to set up a little picnic.  However, much of the road has narrow shoulders and peoples’ front lawns.

If you want to get up close and personal with the racers, then find a spot along the Furman side of the mountain.  They’ll be going slower up this stretch than they will be anywhere else on the course.  Still, slow is a relative term, 14 to 15 mph can seem pretty fast when a bike is going past you.

If you want to see them get up speed and scare you to death, then find a spot along the State Park Road side of the mountain.  There are more homes in this area, but there are still some spots you could set up a couple chairs and a cooler.  They’ll be screaming fast at this point.  No doubt they could hit as fast as 60 mph as they come off the mountain.  Wow!

You have to be careful on the mountain though, because you can get trapped up there and miss other parts of the race.  Of course, you could be downtown where all the organized action is going on.  Even if you don’t stay there for long, be sure to take in the atmosphere near the start finish line.  You might even be able to pick you up some nice cycling swag while you are there.

However, there are a couple of spots that I found last year that were pretty cool.  There weren’t a lot of spectators in these areas, but the terrain made it so that I was able to get a good view of the racers as they past.  They also were pretty comfortable spots.

This turn on Woodland Way Circle is my favorite spot.  It is shaded and on a slight climb.  The turn allows you to see the pros coming straight at you and then they turn right in front of you.  Take a look at this street view and you can see how you can catch them coming and going.  In the past this has also been right after a feed zone.  That makes it interesting as well.

Another spot that I enjoyed was on North Main.  This is a place of the course that most people don’t talk much about.  However, it can be a tough spot for these pros.  It happens near the end of the lap and the course has some pretty big rollers here.  Here is one of the spots that I used to take in some of the suffering near the end of the race last year.  Move up and down the street with this view and you can see the grade.

Here is another place on North Main where I think it would be cool if you could get in this little traffic divider area.  Imagine sitting at the tip of this thing watching the racers get ready to climb the hill behind you.  My guess is they’ll be flying at this point as they are coming down a hill and trying to get momentum for the climb to come.

If you can, bring you bike.  I found it helpful to be able to cycle from point-to-point.  With five laps, it is possible to move from one location to the next and catch the action from different views.  You will want to finish the race at the start finish.  It can be pretty exciting.  You will also have a better idea what is happening in the race as the announcer will have access to race radio and give you updates.

I hope this will be a bit of help to you.  Maybe I’ll see you out there!

Where did the pros go?

All this talk about the USA Cycling Professional Championships got me looking back at some old posts I have about the course.  I found the following video of the climb up Altamont Road on Paris Mountain.  It was my very first video to post to YouTube.com (and you can tell it). Still, if you are not familiar with the climb, this gives you a blow by blow view.

I did make it on my bike yesterday.  First, it was the mountain bike.  Much of my afternoon was spent trying to mark out a course for a 5K run.  I kept trying different configurations to come up with the proper distance.  It was pretty frustrating and I was dripping with sweat.  So, when I got home I figured I would just jump on the road bike and cool down.

Okay, I admit, I was kind of hoping to run across some pros.  I heard that Ted King was in town and had been riding with George earlier.  One guy mentioned how as he as going up Paris Mountain a rider in a Cervelo kit came flying around him on the way to the top.

I did see a couple of riders as I was making my way through downtown.  However, once I got on Old Buncombe (following the USPros course), I didn’t see another cyclist – on a bike at least – for the rest of the ride.  There was one time just before turning up Altamont Road that a truck slowed beside me and kept pace with me.  “What’s up with that?” I thought and looked over.  It was a local rider with a phone camera.  He snapped the picture and said, “Gotcha’ Pait!”

This time I was saving my legs.  I eased my way to the top with a 16 minute time.  The pros are going to come pretty close to halving that on Saturday.  Word is that George Hincapie just recently had his best time up the hill.  That would be somewhere around 8 minutes and 30 seconds.  Even the pros getting shelled out the back on the climb are going to be putting out times around 10 minutes.

The human body is pretty amazing.  I try to imagine having the power to do what those guys do.  To me it would be almost like sprinting up the road!