Riding This Week


Chainbuster MTB Racing Series - Georgia's friendliest MTB racing. 6 & 9 Hour Endurance racing for solo or teams.

Dirty Spokes - Duathlon and Trail running series. Love these guys. First class events.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Racing at Road Atlanta

I love to ride my bike in new places. I like traveling to a new trail or doing a century ride on roads I've never seen before. There was a guy who beat me in a 6 hour Mountain Bike race at Jackrabbit in Hayesville, NC last year who heard me complaining about not knowing the course before hand. He said he prefers it. In a race that long he said it was better to ride the course and get better with each lap. Keeps him from going too hard in the beginning and running out of energy at the end. Not sure if I believe that for racing but it sure is true about riding for fun. Some place fresh is always fun.
Me and Chris Horner, Tour de Georgia TTT, Road Atlanta
This past week I got to race on a track usually reserved for motorized vehicles. Road Atlanta is host to some pretty major events from LeMans to Drifting. The last year of the Tour de Georgia it hosted the team time trial stage. I was there for that and got to meet a lot of my favorite riders and even got to ride on one of the moto's during Astana's TTT. I wasn't a serious racer then but boy did it give the fever. For those who don't know, Team Garmin won the TTT that day.
After leaving work early on Wednesday I met my family at the entrance of Road Atlanta and we headed in. It was the first stage of the Georgia Gran Prix.
I had two friends with me in the CAT4 race; Trace Nabors and Sean Philyaw. It would be Sean's first race as a CAT4 and he was considering doing the whole series so I wanted to help him finish high up and get some points. We came up with a plan: with two to go find Chad and sit on his wheel. I wanted to keep us near the front and then sprint from too far out hoping to lead out Sean. Trace would spend the race helping keep the pace high so breaks might not stick. That was the plan. Yep, the plan was fool proof. The plan was our blueprint for victory.
I'll tell you something about plans in a CAT4 race, they hardly ever work. There are too many variables. Teams that do or don't work together, individuals who are strong as death and can't be contained, people who think they are as strong as death so you work with them only to find out they suck. We made a plan so we'd have one but ultimately here's how it turned out.
We started with 68 racers. Sean was involved in a crash early on and had to abandon. Trace and I didn't know it so with two to go I worked my way up to Trace and asked if he knew where Sean was. He didn't and so we raced our own race. Now I'll tell you something about Trace Nabors, he's a diesel. There's nobody I'd rather go to battle with. He stayed at the front for the entire race and with two to go he chased a break down then helped ramp up the pace to a super speed. It was massive. So massive in fact that on the last lap I didn't want to risk pulling out of the single line of about 15 riders flying down the back stretch. I thought that once I used the energy to move up and nobody would let me in I'd be stuck out in the wind and my race would be over. So I stayed and waited for the bottom of the hill. You see, the way the finish is set up you have to drop down into the "pit lane" and sprint four hundred meters to the finish. If your already at your limit that's too far to go. As soon as I hit the bottom I went as hard as I could for as long as I could. My legs were burning like crazy when I crossed the finish in what ended up being 11th place. My family and Traces were cheering us on each lap. It was great fun. Oh, and my Mom was there too. How cool is that!

How about the Tour de France!!!! I told my wife that it would be the first DVD of the Tour I'll buy. It was so awesome from start to finish. Even my Dad got sucked in to it. And he only likes golf! The only thing I didn't like was that Chris Horner didn't get his shot. Stupid crashes. And I truly see clean racing going on. There's some pain and suffering in the faces of the leaders. I agree with this statement from Jonathan Vaughters :

GAP, France (VN) — Jonathan Vaughters (Garmin-Cervelo) says he’s encouraged by signs that this Tour de France is a cleaner race.
The team manager cited the climbing stage up Plateau de Beille last weekend as one example. The climbing speed was slowest in five climbs up the mountain (44:03 for Alberto Contador in 2007 versus 46:08 for Jelle Vanendert) and nearly three minutes slower than Pantani in 1998 (though the finish line was slightly lower on the mountain).
“One, they went up the Beille three minutes slower than Pantani did in 1998. Three minutes slower,” Vaughters told VeloNews. “The speed on the climbs is down. The best climbers in the world cannot come close to matching what guys did back in the 1990s, even with bikes that are two kilograms lighter.
“Those are all kinds of signs that the racing is much cleaner. It’s there in the math. The time up this is 10 percent slower and oxygen consumption is 10 percent lower, on average with the top guys. I think it’s great that you see the top guys on a very close playing field.”
Vaughters also said the tight GC picture is another sign that cycling is slowly cleaning up its act.
“These are high-level athletes within micro-percentages of training, talent and ability of one another. I think it’s great to see,” Vaughters continued. “The proof’s in the pudding. The data has been there that the racing is much cleaner. It’s been a little bit sad that there have been these scandals here and there that make people think otherwise, but quite frankly, the science points to the fact the racing is cleaner — period. You can see that in the speeds of the climb and you can see that in the tightness of the competition.”

Have a great week! Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Trail Near Lake Hartwell, Georgia

My family and I visit Lake Hartwell in North Georgia often and just recently SORBA built a new trail at Paynes Creek Campground. It called to me. So at 6:30am I got up and went to find out what it wanted. When I got there I was alone until a nice couple drove up in a compact car with no bikes on it. Once they got out I could see they were trail runners so I asked if they'd be running clockwise or counter clockwise. I wanted to head in the direction they would be running so I wouldn't run into them. They smiled and said "We appreciate you clearing the spider webs for us." Doh!...You're welcome.
The trail is fast in the clockwise direction, which is the way I went and only slightly tougher the other way. There are plenty of jumps and rollers. You get to ride along next to the lake at times which is cool. It's a little over 6 miles long. During my first lap I took pictures and rode easy and it took me 45 mins. Once back and refilled I went hard and got it done in about 30 minutes. I'll tell you this, it's better the faster you go. There are rolling sections that remind me of Tsali. You can put it in a big gear and roll across the ridge line super fast because you can see all the way to the end. I loved it!

Paynes Creek Trail, Hartwell, Georgia

After my second lap there were four more vehicles in the parking lot and I could hear people in the trails. By that time I could also smell breakfast being cooked back at the house. It's July in North Georgia and there's nothing more refreshing than a swim in the lake before you go eat. So I took a plunge and then returned home to complete a great day with the family. I love my life!

Some great Mountain Bike Racing happened this weekend at Unicoi State Park in Helen, GA. The final race of the Georgia Championship Series was held there. The results weren't posted yet but I understand that a rider from Fit2Tri won the 20-29 category and Dustin finished 7th. Great job in the mountains! I'm looking forward to racing at Tribble Mill Park in Lawrenceville next month in the Chainbuster Series.

Stay tuned next week for details of the Georgia Cycling Gran Prix 5 day stage race. I'll only be doing the first one at Road Atlanta but there are plenty of guys going for the whole thing. I can't wait to hear the stories and pass them along. Admission is free!

Looking for a ride? Check out my ride pages on the right of this page. Updated frequently.

Have a great week!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pretending I'm a Pro Bike Racer

I've been watching the Tour de France and the first week has been brutal! Let's see, so if you somehow manage not to get taken out by the other riders and then you keep from making your own mistakes and crashing they'll send a car after you so you can see how it feels to tangle with a barbed wire fence. I'm beginning to compare Pro Cycling to Bull Riding. Hold on boys we're going for a ride!
I've spent a considerable amount of time in the last few years trying to act like a professional cyclist. It's a stated goal actually. Last year I told my wife I wanted to compete in a stage race and do everything like the pro's. Ice baths, massage, nutrition and as it turned out "road rash". I crashed twice in the first two races. Without her help I never would have made it through all six races in five days in JULY. She's very competitive and wouldn't let me quit. There I said it.
That and many other experiences have given me great respect for what the pro's have to endure. I enjoy knowing what TJ Van Garderen was feeling in Stage 8. My legs actually ache sometimes just watching certain efforts by these great athletes. I've given too much early in a race and paid for it later. I understand that a skinny guy like me can't take a bigger, more muscular guy to the finish on flat terrain. I've been beaten both mentally and physically by other riders. Bike racing can be as complex or as simple as you want to make it. I choose to make it very complex because that's my personality. I like the details, the strategy, the goal setting. If I try my best and still don't hit my goal I feel accomplished as long as I did the best I could. Some people can't live with that. I enjoy the preparation, the event, and the outcome (if it's good) is just gravy. Now don't get me wrong. I love to WIN! But I decided a long time ago to enjoy the experience regardless of the outcome. I guess that would be my advice to anyone considering racing for the first time. Enjoy everything about everything. Although I have to admit, the farther time passes from my the last event the better the event seems to have been. If that makes sense at all.

This weekend I raced the CAT4 Georgia State Championship. My friend Sean Philyaw took the trip with me so he could race the CAT5 race. We got there in good time and had about an hour before our 8:30am starts. After registering and a visit to the "sweat box" to lighten my load I got dressed and rode down the course for a preview of the last 600 meters. My race was to be three laps of 17 miles so I'd see it a few more times before having to sprint it. The roads where wet from rain only an hour earlier and boy was it muggy. We started with more than 50 racers and during the race several attacks were attempted (mostly right after the feed zone) but all were brought back until the last lap when two stayed away (Team Arrons and Dupala?). Here's where having team mates pays off. You see, when you have a team mate in the break, if you're a good team, you move to the front and try to slow everyone down. Believe it or not it actually works. Those who understand it start trying to recruit other single riders to lend a hand with the chase. We saw the breakaway as we approached 1K to go and things started getting crazy. A crash happened that split us up and I was just ahead of it. Some guys started yelling "Split! Let's go, let's go!" so up we went. I managed to hold my position and not begin sprinting until 200 meters. I could only pass a few riders and held off a hard challenge from a rider behind to get 5th in the field sprint and 7th overall. Not bad I think.
Chad's Positive Spin: Great job for a 40 year old time crunched cyclist with no team mates.
Sean Philyaw, Mike Long, Mat Sexton, Chad Hayes

Sean got 6th in his race and get this...he won the crit the next day!! Time to CAT up big dog!
Sean Philyaw, 1st Place Georgia Games Crit
Note worthy mention: The "Old School Racer" Star Bridges was present at the Georgia Games Crit as well and took 7th Place in the CAT 4 race. Great job Star!! BTW - Star needs a hotline "1-800-RaceTactics". If you need advice about a particular course or how you should race he's the best resource. He started racing on wagon wheels!

Well that wraps up this posting. Please sign up to receive all my ramblings if you like. And send me your own ramblings. I think some people actually like reading this stuff. There are a lot of other pages to the right with great stuff about riding in North Georgia. I update it regularly so check back often. I want this to be a resource for you guys.

Be safe!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

4th of July Ride - Still Learning

Michael Griffith, Darryl Bagwell, Michele Jackson, Stephen, Tom Vaughan, Scott French, Michael Burgess, Trace Nabors

It's 2011. It's July in North Georgia and the only way to beat the heat is by going to the mountains. Early in the morning. Before the rest of the world is aware. Before the motorcycles and the sight seer's. Before the beautiful people in my house even turn over in bed. It has traditionally been a time to hang out with a select group of friends that ride and train at the same level I do. But events in the past year have changed my group riding philosophy. My family prefers that I stay with big groups. I love them more than I love riding so despite my desire to hammer away I resigned myself to the fact that I'd be in a perpetual state of "re-grouping". As it turned out, I had one of the best times on a bike in the mountains ever.
I joined a large group organized by Michael Griffin at 7:30AM from Turner's Corner. My good friend Trace Nabors showed up and we began climbing Neels Gap and talking. Once we reached the top we sat there for a long time waiting. So long in fact that a bunch of us decided to ride back down and check on the rest of our group. It was then that the epiphany occurred. We rode up with the "laughing group" and loved it. So on the next climb, Wolf Pen Gap, we did the same thing. It was like climbing hard, making friends, and then going halfway back down to make more. And we still got a great workout! Who knew! Of course the people we rode with we not jerks. They were awesome folks. That helped. The lone female in the group, Michele Jackson, kept us all in line. She was loads of fun. A great guy named Michael Burgess had a really hard time on the climbs but then bombed the downhills like a maniac! It was a route I've done a hundred times but I can't remember ever having that much fun AND getting a great workout.

After that I joined my family and the Pattillo's for some more fun that I just have to mention. We went to Braselton, Georgia where they had an 80's tribute band named Moby Dick perform before the fireworks. How great is that!! It was the best 4th of July! You should have heard the singer's voice crack like a bad karaoke singer on GnR's Sweet Child of Mine. Priceless memories. People watching taken to all new heights. Can you say "mosh pit of thirty somethings". God Bless America!

I hope you all had a great 4th of July weekend and your family's were kept safe. This is the land of the free and home of the brave! If you can read this thank a Teacher, if you can read this in English thank a Soldier.

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