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

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2012 Hincapie Training Series

It was 6:30am in the morning when Stephen Sisk came rolling down my driveway with his bike mounted in the bed of his truck. It's a familiar sight. Stephen has been coming to my house to meet me and ride for years. We greeted each other with a smile that said all it needed to. This weekend had been planned for a year. Last year at this time we spent a Saturday and Sunday in Greenville, South Carolina at the Hincapie Training Series. It was so much fun. It was the perfect mix of friends and racing and food. We decided then that we had to do it again next year. And this was it.
We loaded up my minivan with bikes and coffee, programmed the GPS, and headed North to Pelzer, South Carolina to meet David Shabat for a road race to start things off. On the way up we covered the usual subjects; family, work, and biking. As I started explaining my "plan" for the race I had the strange sensation I was being watched. It was David who somehow met us on I-85 driving like the speed demon he is. He was already resplendent in our team colors and raring to go. His excitement is so contagious. Stephen and I knew then that our weekend was going to be a guaranteed success.
Stephen Sisk and David Shabat, CAT5 35+, 30 Mile Road Race
This was the second weekend of the series and the day's road race was on a course familiar to the local S.C. racing regulars. Not only is it the same course for this series every year but it's also the South Carolina State Championship course. We had never been here before. If you look at the race list you'll see that we were definitely strangers in a strange land. The only familiar people I saw there were my Stephen, David, and crazy Eddie Hsu. Under normal circumstances I'd have been nervous, but not this time. There didn't seem to be any pressure. It wasn't what the weekend was about.

Lining up for the the start.
All is well after the race.
Stephen and David's race was first. I helped them get ready and watched them start. Then I went to the van to get myself ready. The CAT5 35+ race would be two laps of 30 miles. I saw the lead police car coming and ran over to get a picture. There was David...on the front. A perfect "Money Shot". I like to call it that when you get a great picture taken of you in a race. David was having fun.
David's "Money Shot" #1
During their final lap I rode the course backwards to get a feel for the finishing miles and waited to see them come by. It turns out I basically rode the easiest part of the course. Once their race was over it was time for mine. We talked for awhile about how it went. I took a quick pic and gave my phone to Stephen so I could warm up. When I finished warming up there were a lot of riders getting ready to start. The CAT4's (my race) would be on course at the same time as the PRO1/2's.

Ready to roll, CAT4, 45 Miles
I couldn't tell who was who so I just rolled up and stopped until it was announced. I'd been sitting there for 5 minutes before I realized that right in front of me was George Hincapie! He had one foot clipped in and was just leaning on his handle bars talking to everyone. I had no camera, no ink pen, not even a stitch of Hincapie clothing on. And I have a ton of the stuff. I even had some Hincapie jeans in the car! So I introduced myself, thanked him for donating a jersey to the Lt. Governor's ride, and watched him start the PRO race. He was very casual and soft spoken. I hope he destroys them all this year.

My race started with 98 riders. That's NINETY EIGHT RIDERS! Biggest field I've ever been in. And it sucked! We raced for 45 miles and it sucked for one reason...the yellow line rule. Imagine 98 riders who all want to be in the top 15. Constantly trying to move up. But you can't do it easily because your not allowed to cross the center line. Stupid safety regulations. Who do those officials think they are?  Protecting us like that?
Lap#1, 98 Riders in the field.
Anyway, I pack finished, which is to say that despite my failed breakaway attempt on the last lap I finished with the field. But I'll count my blessings... no crashes.
Happy Cow Creamery, Pelzer, SC
We left the race and visited the Happy Cow Creamery. Stephen new about it because his wife and kids visited there one time. He wanted to treat us to some pure, 100% natural recovery fluid (a.k.a., chocolate milk).

I was feeling particularly energetic when we got there and had to be reminded more than once to call it a creamery NOT a crematory. I bought my beautiful wife some blueberry pancake mix and we headed for Greenville.

Reedy Bridge, Downtown Greenville, S.C.
Downtown Greenville was great, as usual. After checking in at the hotel and getting a shower we rolled into town hungry. The BI-LO Center was attracting large crowds so we looked at the sign to find out what was going on. After several minutes of debating the virtues of a band named BASSNECTAR we discovered that they wouldn't be there until April and the throngs of people lining up outside were there to see  Disney's Phineas and Ferb: The Best LIVE Tour Ever!
French Toast and Angus Steak Salad

We parked and found a nice place on Main Street called The Green Room. It was great. I had French Toast, Stephen had Angus Steak Salad, and David had a Gyro. How's that for diverse? The waitress even told us the secret marinade for the steak...wait for it... Worcestershire Sauce and Dr. Pepper. Oh yeah, Be a Pepper. We told fish stories and I showed David all his "money shots" I took from my phone.

A prayer before racing.
After 9 hours of sleep we were ready for the final day of racing at the BMW Test Track. What a great venue! During each race, in the middle of the track, the pro drivers would give people a thrill ride. Imagine racing around the track while cars are drifting and spinning beside you. Pretty cool. I even took a ride after my race was over. When I got in I told the driver something he'd never heard before..."this looked lame but I thought I'd try it anyway". He did two donuts in a row.
My first foray in the Masters Category would be here. The Masters 40+ Category seems to have a reputation for having in it ex-pros who don't mind hammering and attacking at every opportunity. The 25+ MPH average for 45 minutes will attest to that. Usually in CAT4 races there are periods of max efforts and then relaxing times after a break is caught or something. Not so in the Master's. If there's the slightest bit of slowing in the peloton then someone always attacks off the front and we're back on the gas. I forgot my Garmin today or I'd tell you my watts. I'll try and update it later. My skinny legs did all they could to stay with those guys. It's been a long time since I thought about quitting and I thought about it twice during this race. That is why I'm very proud of my 18th place finish. A breakaway of 7 riders got away. It had the 2011 Masters National Champion and the 2010 National Track Champion in it. I can't imagine the watts they were putting out.
Warming up.
Then it was time for Stephen and David to lay it all out there in the CAT5 35+ race. I have to tell you I was worried about Stephen. He's got two titanium vertebrae in his back. I had already watched the CAT5 34- guys crash so it put me in worry mode.

All during the race I would jog back and forth in the in field like some worried parent. But Stephen stayed mid pack or at the front the whole race. He was totally focused on fighting for his position and not tailing off the back.

Stephen and David CAT5 35+ BMW Test Track
I wasn't worried about David. He went nuts...as usual. If he wasn't on the outside, in the wind, he was on the front driving the pace. He chased breakaway attempts. He elbowed people who got in his way. I think I even saw him spit on a guys brand new carbon bike and yell, "Titanium Rules!" It was embarrassing.
David Shabat - Money Shot #2
They both pack finished in fine fashion. I was so excited for them. What great fun!
CAT5 35+ Field
We checked our standings and packed up for the drive home. Another great weekend of racing and then some. Because we couldn't stay I missed the season debut of our team mate Robert Loomis in the 2:30pm CAT4 race. His finish was almost ruined by a crash at the finish but thankfully he was not in it. Great job Robert!
Robert is on the left (Blue with white arms). Look carefully and see the crash.

Daddy/Daughter Night

Our church put on a special event for those of us fortunate enough to have daughters. And I have two of the greatest ones ever. Molly and Ellie got all dressed up in their best "Ball Gowns" and I put on a suit and tie. I took them out to eat at O'Charley's (they love the bread) and then we went to event. Blackshear Place Baptist Church had a ton of deserts and punch for everyone. There was a Photo Booth, you know like where you pull the curtain and it takes several pictures of you making faces or whatever? Then we went in the sanctuary where they had a slide show and played the newly wed game accept with Daddy's and Daughters. Funny stuff.

We sang and heard a good message from the Pastor. On the way out they gave every dad a Snickers cup cake and every daughter...some other kind of cup cake. A magical night for us all. And another great weekend in the life of me.

The Southern Cross

I had planned to race this one but Ritchey decided not to sell me the cyclocross frame I want until June so we headed to the Greenville Training Series. But my good friends Stan White and Melinda Seamans did it. Stan sent me a quick note to tell me how it went for him.
While some of you raced in Greenville this last weekend, Melinda Seamans and I did the Southern Cross “Ultra Cross” race near Dahlonega starting at the Montaluce Winery.   The course started with a traditional cyclocross mix of grass, pavement, dirt, and run-ups then left the winery and headed north into the mountains, at first on pavement then forest service roads.  This began the first climb up Springer Mountain that was about 9 miles looong, after which we did rolling terrain for several miles and decended Springer off the northwest side of the mountain where I reached 38 mph on dirt, on a mountain bike, wheeeeee, big fun. 
After a couple miles of pavement it was back to the forest service roads and another monster climb back up Springer that I believe was about 7 miles (I was not thinking clearly by now as the odometer had become painful to look at) to the sage stop, yep a sag stop in a race.   After changing bottles and replenishing my food supplies it was time for more climbing, where did they find so much climbing, I thought I was supposed to be in Georgia, not Nepal. 
Finally we reached the highest point and began rolling terrain for a while, then came the big descent towards Dahlonega and the winery.  This time the max speed was 39 mph but I might be a wuss in old age as last years terminal velocity was 40.  After getting back to civilization we had several miles of pavement back to the winery and started the traditional cyclocross stuff again with a crawl up, not to be confused with a run up.   By now I just wanted to be done with this beast of a race but there were a couple of racers within sight, so no time for slacker riding to the finish line.   I did pass them but it was like 3 drunks staggering towards the last bar of the night.   Melinda proclaimed this race harder than Assault on Mt Mitchell she did a couple of years ago that finished in rain and sleet, and Melinda hates cold wet conditions.   She also let me know NOT to invite her back to the Southern Cross, that it was off her “bucket list”.   We hope the rest of you had a good weekend in Greenville.
Stan White
Thanks for reading!

Chad Hayes

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