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, May 29, 2012

Biking with the Family

This weekend I taught my oldest daughter how to ride with clipless pedals. She did great in the back yard so I decided to take her and her sister out to the trails the next day. We had so much fun I can't begin to explain it...so I made a video.

After the ride we had ice cream and Ellie, my ten year old, asked a question I couldn't really answer. "Daddy, why do you call them clip "less" pedals if they actually do clip in?" Hmm. I had no answer. So when we got home I google'd it. Here's the quick answer:

But why are they called "clipless" when they are actually "clips"?  Good question.  These days you'll hear them being called clipless pedals and clipped pedals just to confuse you even more.  Originally they were called clipless to explain how they were different from the old fashioned "toe-clips" we described above.  Hence "clipless" meant "not-toe-clips" but something new and different.  The name has stayed with us and only recently are people calling them "clip pedals" now that toe clips aren't seen as much.

 And there you have it. More miscellaneous information to fill your brains with.

And now I'll pass along the story of Trace Nabors race in Huntsville, Alabama. A race that would not have been possible for him if he wasn't my friend. Let me explain. I called to see if he wanted to ride on Saturday and he said we'd have to go early because he was heading to Alabama with the family. At which I said, "You should race in Huntsville if you're close." Turn's out...they were planning on staying right there.

I'm a magnificent friend...just sayin'.

So here's the story from Trace Nabors.

This past weekend, I headed to Alabama to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th birthday.  It was an amazing time.  My grandfather has seen and done a lot, and it was fun to celebrate that with him.  My kids finished up school talking about space, and since we were going to be an hour and a half away from Huntsville for the party, my wife decided it would be fun to stay Saturday night there and go see the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center on Sunday.  I had mentioned this to Chad and he told me about a race weekend that was going on in Huntsville that looked pretty good.  I checked it out and found that the race Sunday was about a mile from the hotel we were staying in.  Hmm…a plan was hatched.  I brought my road bike with me and we decided to take a long lunch break on Sunday for me to go do the race.  We started the day with a little church service in our hotel room.  Then we headed out to find the race registration area to go ahead and get signed up.  We found the place and the plan almost ended right there.  I never carry cash with me.  While I was filling out the paperwork, they told me that they only accepted cash or checks.  Oops.  I was about ready to give up, when my daughter piped up and said she had her wallet in the car.  Maegan is my youngest and she rarely spends her money.  She gets some for birthdays, Christmas, etc. and usually it piles up in her wallet.  If she does spend money, it’s usually to get something for someone else.  She offered to pay for me to race!  She is a sweetheart.  She will be paid back, but I thought it was a nice gesture. With that done, we headed to McDonalds for breakfast.  
The Nabors. Suited up and ready to fly.

After that, we were able to get to the space center right as they opened at 9:00.  We spend about an hour there and then went back for me to race.  I started with a warm-up.  The course was a 3 mile loop in an industrial park.  There were races going on so the only part of the course I could see before my race was the finishing straight.  That’s all I needed to see to know that a win was not going to happen for me.  It was a hard right hand turn and then about a 200 yard flat sprint to the finish.  I am cautious and knew that I would not take the corner like the crazies.  My goal at that point was that if there was a break-away, I would be in it.  The race started at 11:05 and it was a pretty big field.  Probably 30 or so.  All the cat 5 age groups were together.  I picked out one guy that looked like a sprinter and decided to follow him.  As soon as the race started that proved to be a good idea.  He was always at the front and attacking to try to get away.  He was brought back every time and after 3-4 laps things settled down.  For a little while.

During the 4th lap, I believe, the big sprinter guy came up alongside a smaller guy, in a red jersey that I had not noticed and began talking.  I listened in as the big sprinter guy was asking red jersey guy things like “so, when are you going”, and “are you going to solo in this time”.  That’s when I decided to start watching red jersey guy.  I had lost track of the laps and the whole group was all still together, when we crossed the line and got the 2 to go sign.  About 200 yards after we got the 2 to go sign there was a big crash.  The guy to my right crossed wheels with the guy in front of him.  He shot to the left, right behind me and went down hard.  All I could hear was screaming brakes and the popping of carbon.  I looked back to see a big pile of bikes and people.  I found out later that everyone walked away, but half the field was done.  

The Sprint
While we were looking back at the carnage, red jersey guy decided to attack.  The rest of us turned around and he was 50 yards or so off the front.  He was chased down, but he attacked again on a small climb on the back side of the course.  I was right on his wheel and when we got to the top of the hill I heard someone say there was a gap.  I looked back and there were 4 of us and a small gap.  Usually Cat 5’s don’t work well together, but we took quick turns pulling and by the time we got back around for the last lap, we could no longer see the field.  That’s when 2 of the 4 decided to sit on and let me and red jersey dude work.  It was fine with me, since my goal was happening.  We came to the last turn and, as usual, they gapped me a little bit and the sprint began.  I was able to catch back up but didn’t have enough to go around anyone and finished 4th.  One of the wheel sitters won and red jersey guy got second.  It was a really fun race.  Then we headed back over to the space museum to finish our tour.  The plan came together.

Trace Nabors

Trace Nabors and his girls, Anna and Megan.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I think I do a pretty good job of supporting cycling in North Georgia and I defended that reputation this weekend when I decided to do the LAP Century in the morning and the Gainesville Gran Prix Road Race that afternoon. I new it was not going to work out well but I didn't care...it would be fun...maybe.
Riders assemble for the LAP Century, Lula, Georgia

The LAP (Lula Assembly of Praise) Century is one of my favorite rides each year. The church puts on a first class event every time because of the massive church member volunteers. I mean think about it? There's great food because everyone knows that Baptist's love to eat. Things like breakfast brownies and apple pies to go along with the usual fare of Fig Newtons, PB&J, cookies, fruit and more. Then there's the meal after the ride...yeah baby! And they love to decorate or theme their SAG stations. Last year I voted the Hawaiian themed SAG the best because they actually tried to give me a leis. Those little ladies are so funny. Their redneck husbands are funny too. "Hey man open yer bottle and I'll pour you some ice cold Poweraid." They think we're all crazy for paying money to pedal our bikes up all the hills. Sometimes I tend to agree.
LAP SAG Stations are the best!

The ride leaves from Downtown Lula and travels east through the North Georgia county side. Depending on the route you choose (20, 35, 50, 66, and 100 miles) you'll do some climbing but only in small amounts with BIG inclines. All the riding is on back roads and through old towns like Maysville. There's no traffic to worry about but even so they employ a Sheriff's deputy to lead the ride and have several SAG vehicles all over the place. The vehicles are clearly marked with shoe polish on the back windows. I think they have around 200 riders or more each year.
Alex "Old School" Sloan

Best Mother-N-Law ever!
This year I was looking forward to riding my new Ritchey Breakaway bike for some long miles to see how it felt. Since I was going to race at 12:45pm I tried to figure out how to ride with my friends in the LAP for the longest time without riding a thousand miles. After studying the route I came up with this devious plan. My mother in law lives near Maysville. I drove to her house and picked her up so she could drive my van back to her house. Then I could ride the 50 mile route but cut it short by stopping at her house. It was perfect!

Stephen Sisk on his Litespeed Titanium Road Bike
I knew I couldn't hammer with the lead group if I wanted to race well later. That turned out to be a happy thing because I got to spend some time with my friend Stephen Sisk. He's one of my best friends. We've been riding together for years. He knew me when I first started riding and is a great listener. I guess I've told him every thought or tactic or emotion that I've experienced in my riding/racing career. Stephen is a very humble and soft spoken man who loves his family more than anything else on the planet. He's a great example of how a real man keeps his priorities in order. He also has a wife, Charlotte, who's almost as great as mine. :)

This isn't going to come as a big surprise to those of you who read my blog regularly...The Shabat's were there! Yep, and this time David Shabat was "running" the 20 mile route instead of riding. What a nut. You should have seen him jog away from us as we listened to the pre-ride announcements. Others at the start were Dustin Mealor, Star Bridges, Taylor Graham, Tim Evans and so many more smiling faces. I saw Bike Town, Northstar, and Baxter's jerseys. There were some jersey's with "unmentionables" on them too. (Um, Church ride!?) But mostly just shiny happy people hanging out.

Stephen and I rode together and reminisced about our lives. We talked about his intention to upgrade the components on his steed. He's ridden the same Shimano 105 components for years. It's a testament to the timeless quality of titanium. Ti frames ride great and last forever. Buff out scratches, renew stickers, update components but never need to replace the frame. More than bikes, we talked about his Grandfather, Austin Pethel, who passed away the day before. What a great man. The best indicator I can give for that fact is how often Stephen told stories on our rides about him. I never got a chance to meet Mr. Pethel but after years of stories I feel like I knew him.

We rode through Hall and Banks counties in 60 degree weather fit for kings...and queens. At the 3rd SAG of the day I took a left instead of a right to leave my friend and go race. He was in good hands though because we were caught by a group of riders containing the likes of Craig Tinsley, Ron Coker, Joe Burch and many other familiar faces. I was real sorry to go. I could smell the Apple Pies.

Gainesville Gran Prix presented by Dingo Race Productions
After 45 miles of fun I left the comfortable benefits of the LAP to go race another 45 miles. This would be to support local bike racing and support the efforts of my friend Nathan O'Neill. He got two races put on the USA Cycling schedule and was very excited about putting on a first class event.
I got there about an hour before my race time. The event was buzzing. There was a food vendor and plenty of volunteers. The finish line was...exciting looking. The officials sat up on a stage and the race finished under a cool Dingo Racing banner. I found a great spot to park and walked over to register. Looking around I could see all the usual suspects warming up. I myself did not feel the need to warm up. I sat on the tailgate of my minivan and properly attached my numbers to my jersey. To this point I had been eating and drinking what I calculated should be the right amounts. One problem I didn't plan for was the fact that I'm drinking but not exercising. This will become important later.

I found Sean "Seriously Hooked" Philyaw and let him share his morning Time Trial with me. He's written a little something about it I'll post below. We formulated a "plan" for the race...just so we'd have one. Before we knew it we were lining up to start 4 laps of 11 miles. Included in each lap, at no extra charge, was the multi-leveled climb on Glade Farm Road. I felt pretty confident.
One thing that made the course great was the amount of support we had. There were USA Cycling officials AND Hall County Sheriff officers on motorbikes with us the entire race. And there were patrol cars at the turns. And volunteers at the KOM. If I didn't know any better I would have thought it was a PRO race.

I was having fun for the first two laps. And then it hit me. No, not the dreaded bonk. Not a massive cramp. No my friends I was struck by the last thing in the world I had a plan for. I had to pee.
Lisa hates it when I say it like that. But to say it that way isn't even strong enough. I need to hearken back to my childhood and bring back an old phrase that even my Mom hated. I had to pee like a Russian race horse!
So let me ask you a question. What's the last thing you want to do if you have to pee? Answer: Drink
So there I was...not thinking about anything accept what I couldn't do. Unless I wanted to stop and do it and then chase back on. Or I could have taken Sean's advice and soiled myself.
What a rookie. We ain't Pro's.
So, by the time the last lap began I was busy trying to ignore the "urge" and concentrate on staying near the front. By the way, Sean was all over the front. He felt great! He was attacking and bringing back breaks. He had no problem with the Glade Farm climb(s).
On the Glade Farm Road climb.
The last lap was good for me. Right up until 5K to go. The finish line is only about 2K from the top of the Glade Farm climb so making it over the top in the lead group is essential. The climb itself happens in three distinct pitches. I kept my position on each lap up until the last one.
On the first pitch up, I stood up and powered almost to the top with the leaders. But when I sat down my legs quit on me. My head felt heavy. My arms tingled. I hit some kind of wall physically and all I could do was watch the leaders ride away. I had no power. So...I stopped to pee.

The race data; Red is Heart Rate, Green is Elevation.

Just kidding. I pedaled as hard as I could to get myself a result. 25th I think. But my friend Sean raced his best road race ever and brought home 5th place! And that along with his messed up TT from the morning earned him 3rd Overall. Great job Sean!
Gainesville Cycling Gran Prix Omnium CAT4 Podium
And now I bring you the highly melodramatic writings of Mr. Philyaw as he regales us with the facts as he saw them. Take it away Sean!

Excitement filled the cool damp air and as is usually the case with my brain, I lost track of time.  It was race day on the home course with Dingo Race Productions and distractions were aplenty. I was scheduled to go off of the time trial start ramp at 9 AM and it was now 8:30.  So much for a good warmup. I quickly changed into my kit, threw the bike in the trainer and began an abbreviated warmup at 8:35.  15 minutes to warm up for a TT is not long enough, but it's better than nothing.  I gradually built my heart rate up to sub-threshold and then wound down with a couple of minutes of easy spinning.  It was now 8:50 and I had plenty of time to switch out the rear wheel and roll to the start ramp, or did I?

I QUICKLY removed the bike from the trainer and leaned it against a picnic table.  What's wrong with the front tire?  The front tubular went flat during the short stint on the trainer.  I grab a bottle of Hutchinson Fast Air, aka tubular fix-a-flat, and inject the contents into the tire.  It seemed to do the trick, so I grabbed the pump and topped off the pressure.  5 minutes had elapsed, but I still had 5 minutes to swap the rear wheel, visit the steam house to relieve my bladder and roll to the start ramp.  Wishful thinking on my part.........

I tap the shifter to run the chain down the cog for the wheel removal and nothing happened. Oh no, did the battery take an inopportune break? Now I was in full panic mode.  The announcer at the start ramp was calling my name, "Sean Philyaw, 2 minutes to start".  I wave at Nate and he runs over to see why I'm not ready to go.  Quick check of the battery....full charge.  He looks back at the rear derailleur, "cable is unplugged Mate".  He plugs it in, WHEW, it shifts!  I had inadvertently snagged the cable on the trainer and unplugged it when removing the bike.  Ooops!

I left the training wheel and quick release on the bike and rolled down to the ramp with 10 seconds to spare.  Onto the bike and away I go.  The training wheel is wider than the race wheel, so the rear brakes are dragging every time I really hammer on the pedals.  Oh well, it's my first ever time trial and I'm simply happy to be there.

Fast forward to the CAT 4 road race a few hours later.  4's and 5's were supposed to race together, but the promoter decided to bust the two fields up and I had no complaints about that whatsoever.  It did mess up the plan of attack with Mr. Hayes, Mr. Loomis and yours truly, but isn't that racing?  Expect the unexpected and deal with it.

Talking with Chad before the race, we decided to watch a certain team and mirror their guy.  Turns out their guy had an off day, so we were improvising by the end of the race.  I was having fun riding with Chad and we encouraged each other in the peloton whenever the opportunity presented itself.  The weather was perfect, cloudy and 70 degrees, and I was feeling really good during the race, so I took the liberty to attack a few times to speed things up a bit.  There was a fellow off of the front for the first two laps and the group needed a bit of goading to close the 1 minute gap he had on us.  We finally reined him in on the third of four total laps, so everyone then took it easy, conserving and waiting for the final climb up Glade Farm.

Speaking of the final climb, I had positioned myself in the lead group at the base of the third and final stair step.  I was hoping to catch the wheel of a good climber and dig deep to hold it to the top.  Well, the opposite happened.  I got on the wheel of a guy that was fading fast.  We were on the white line and I was boxed in with nowhere to go while the first group and then the second group went up, up, up.  (Insert expletive here.)  When I finally got clear of Pokey's wheel, I had to make my way through the stragglers and hope to have enough time to bridge to the front group before the pace quickened to the finish line.  Up ahead I spy a young rider in a Peachtree Bikes kit that appears to have the desire to bridge to the lead group and fresh enough legs to pull me along for the ride.  We made the bridge and I continued on up to the front of the lead group and over the last little bump, with nothing but downhill goodness leading to the finish.  No time to thank him for the bridge, so maybe I can return the favor in the future.

The previous day, I had practiced giving Robert Loomis a lead out on this downhill stretch and I learned two things.  One, you can attain high speeds while hammering in the saddle and two, when you reach the flats at the finish line, it's not an easy thing for the sprinters to come around you unless they have a really good kick.  I was swarmed by sprinters at the line, but it was gratifying knowing that they had to work for it and we all crossed the line safely.

A good clean race with no crashes and a fast finish.  That's a great day in my book!

Kudos to Dingo Race Productions for a job well done.

-Sean P.

And there you have it people. Another great weekend of riding and racing in Georgia. I second the kudos to Dingo and send a great big THANK YOU to the awesome people at Lula Assembly of Praise. I'll be back!

Stay tuned for more adventures from around Georgia. Coming soon:
Healthy Newton Omnium
Jackson Brevet

I'll leave you with this great piece of advice I was given this week:

Never laugh at your wife's choices...you are one of them.

And another friend send me this link to Ben Stiller telling Leno about his first Night Mountain Bike Ride. You guys will love this!

Until next time.

Chad Hayes

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2012 Army Mountain Ranger Race

This day was on the calender for a long time. Only it wasn't supposed to be a mountain bike race in Dahlonega, Georgia. It was supposed to be a team race in Winder, Georgia. I had planned on competing with my good friend Trace Nabors in the Dirty Spokes 6 Hr MTB Race at Fort Yargo. I was ready to spend the day suffering, but with friends. It's not an uncommon plan. But as I got ready to register us I needed Traces address so I emailed him.
He responded and also let me know that the Ranger Race was the same day. He loves that race. He's won it before. Trace likes the solitary pain of a solo XC race I guess. I've heard about it for years. The race begins with a 3 mile climb up some crazy dirt road. The whole thing basically takes place on gravel roads that traverse around the Chattahoochee National Forest where the Army Rangers at Camp Frank Merrill train. There are 5K & 15K runs for people in every category. But for the mountain bike race there's only two categories, Male and Female. And the course...ain't easy.

I could tell that Trace really wanted me to do this race with him. I told him at the beginning of the year we'd do "whatever". No committing to a championship series. We'd just go do what we wanted to do. So, to stay true to that I told him we'd go race this thing as two solo's instead of the team race at Yargo.

Keep in mind that I've never done this race. Heck I've never even been to Camp Frank Merrill. I was excited and nervous. But with my Ranger Race veteran with me everything should be great. I can just follow his lead when it comes to the pace because otherwise I had no idea how far it was to the top of the climbs we faced. Easy. I'll pick him up, he shows me the way, I just have to pedal. Me likey.

Trace calls my cell as I'm very quietly trying to get ready. He can't go. A soap opera has erupted at his house and there's nothing he can do. OK...I'll just break out the old GPS and get myself to camp. I'm no coward after all. There's bound to be someone there I know. So off I went.

Racers line up for the 5K
When I got there I parked in a field at the top of a mountain. They directed me down to registration where I saw all the runners gathering for the start of the 5K. I looked around but didn't see anyone I new. I went inside the gym to registration. They were very organized and helpful. I glanced at the registration list but didn't see anyone on it that I new. Before leaving the gym I found the restroom. And there he was...David Shabat. My good friend and team mate from last season. He was there with his wife Linka and son Ben. (Not all in the same restroom).  Linka was running the 15K and he was racing the bike race with Ben.
Ben and David Shabat
I started feeling better. David gave me some additional advice. Trace had been texting me advice all morning (he felt so bad). I went back to the car and suited up.
Kirk Lindquist
When I came back down to the finish line I met a new friend named Kirk Lindquist. He's a really nice guy and it turns out he's friends with Chad Edwards and Stephen Dean. But I don't hold that against him. He gave me some advice as well and soon we were lining up at the starting line.
I looked around at the other racers. I didn't recognize any of them. I did pick out a guy on a cyclocross bike though. I was lined up on the very front with Kirk to my right. I told him I was worried about the guy on the cross bike. He'll probably be able to go up the hills really fast.

The Start
Here's something I knew...but forgot. A guy with a bull horn came up and said, "OK riders, I'll say riders set!... and you'll know when to go". Everyone laughed?
Um, Okaay? I looked at Kirk who just smiled at me. The guy with the bull horn stepped back out of the way... said Riders Set! and...


I completely forgot that one of the unique things they do at this race is to start the races with a Hand Grenade Simulator. I jumped when it happened and couldn't get clipped in like I usually do. The field took off all around me and we headed straight into the first climb. I had no idea where I was and assumed Kirk knew what he was doing when he blasted up the first 200 meters. I followed him until he looked back at me and decided to stop. We looked around as we pedaled and could see there was about 5 of us off the front early.The cyclocross guy was there too (his name is Max Perethian).

Tracy Saine
Then I met Tracy Saine. I know now that he's a really nice guy. He made his way to the front and set a tough pace. After about 5 minutes I began to wonder what kind of group we had left so I looked back and realized it was just us. I thought as we climbed that we can't possibly hold this pace for over 2 more miles. Well he could. As the climb pitched up at the last mile he kept the same pace. I could not. I was too nervous about what the next 20 miles of unknown racing had in store. I had no idea what obstacles lay ahead. I justified that if I max myself out to stay on his wheel I'll burn too many matches and have nothing left. So I let him go and kept my pace.

I regret that decision now because despite my best efforts for the next hour and a half I never saw him again. Here's what I know about Tracy now; he's a former PRO1/2 racer, he's finished first at Six Gap, he probably weighs...I'm guessing...130 pounds. He's a local who pre-rode the course the weekend before the race. In fact when I was with him on the climb I thought I was chasing a young punk when actually he's 40 years old...like me! I'm actually telling you guys all this to make myself feel better about getting my legs ripped off by him.

I chased my brains out and couldn't catch him. The fresh gravel on the road at the back side of the mountain made for some difficult pedaling. It reminded me of pedaling through a grassy field. There were several miles of rollers on the gravel road before making a left turn and descending the famous Winding Stair road. Holy Cow! I've heard about it. I even heard some guys at the start saying how they thought they could get 40 MPH going down it today. I thought, "Right, 40MPH on a mountain bike." Well guess what my max speed for the day was...41 MPH! I was really hoping that Tracy was a wimp at descending. Wrong. He's a kamikaze like me.

So... 2nd place for me. But it did help me stay in front of Max the cyclocross guy who took 3rd Place. An impressive finish since he had to troll his way through the fresh crush and run gravel with those thin road wheels. While I waited at the finish line to get a photo of David and Ben my friend Gary Martin walked up. He's a teacher and he brought a student with him to run the 5K. Trouble was they missed the start...but didn't realize it and joined the 15K that started afterwards. Ouch. Great job Gary!? Really taught him a lesson!

Me...totally blown.
I changed clothes and met up with the Shabat Family, Kirk, and Tracy for the awards. Linka got 2nd in her race. Cool! I received a piton (I think that's what it's called) with Second Place on it...very cool.
Tracy received a Rock Climbing Ax!! Boy was I jealous. Trace Nabors told me they give plaque's! This ax was the coolest thing I've ever seen!

Tracy let me hold it.
After collecting myself I headed back to the truck and hurried home. My family was at a school festival and I didn't want to miss a thing. On the way out I slipped through about 100 vehicles parked on the sides of the road. Folks were coming out for the Camp's Open House. You see the races are just the appetizer. The Rangers put on clinics and demonstrations. They open the place up for anyone to come hang out. I'd have loved to stay and see all the cool stuff going on.

Oh well. Maybe next year I'll bring the kids. It looks really cool doesn't it?

So that's this weekends adventure. I'm looking forward to the next one which it seems will be a combo. I plan to ride in the LAP Century (45 miles) on Saturday morning and then do the Gainesville Cycling Gran Prix (44 miles) in the afternoon. Pretty stupid but I want to support both events.

Until next time...don't do anything I wouldn't do! (gives you a lot of room for error)

Chad Hayes

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

2012 Athens Twilight and Roswell Criteriums

Athens Twilight Criterium has grown over the years to become the biggest, baddest, craziest cycling crit in the world. Believe me I'm not exaggerating. The event draws thousands of spectators and includes a huge bike festival with vendors selling food, charities giving out swag, BMX bike show, jumpy things, Kid's Crit, a century ride (The Gambler), a 5K run, and best of all Professional Teams bring their best riders to race around downtown at speeds I dare not mention.

I don't mention the speed because I don't want to loose my nerve to continue to try and qualify for this thing. You see those of us lowly wanna be racers have to qualify at the AM Races in order to race in the big boy one down town. This has been my 3rd attempt to do so.  If you hold a USA Cycling license and want to race against 70+ other wacked out bike racers then you too can give it a shot. Here's how high you have to finish in order to qualify for the big dance.

The following places qualify based on the top finishers:
  • Cat 1/2 (35)
  • Cat 3 (25)
  • Cat 4 (10)
  • Masters 35+ (15)
  • Masters 45+ (10)
  • Juniors 15+ (5)
  • Women 3/4 (5)

Let me quickly recap my last two attempts. Keep in mind that as a CAT4 I have to Top 10.

2010 Twilight AM Qualifiers
Attempt #1 (2010)
It was raining. The race was the fastest I'd done to that point in my crit experience. On the last lap...in the last corner...I started my sprint somewhere inside the top 20. A crash happened behind me and a rider fell into my back wheel. It only caused my derailleur to skip a gear and I was able to restart my sprint. I finished in 11th. One spot out of qualifying. That year I was scared and alone. I was jacked up on caffeine gels and just knew we were all going to slide into the fences. When it was over I felt relieved just to finish. I went on home but heard stories of the night time race being a crash fest in the pouring rain. When I recounted the experience and my failure to qualify to Star Bridges he told me something I'll never forget, "Sometimes God does for you what you're too stupid to do for yourself."

 Attempt #2 (2011)
2011 Twilight AM Qualifiers
This time the weather was great and I felt confident. My warm up told me I had good legs and I started the race at the front. It was fast but I felt in control and easily kept myself inside the top 15. With 5 laps to go I move into the top 10 and with 3 laps to go I was sitting perfectly positioned in 5th. We were flying down into turn one. It was all stretched out because of the speed. When we swung wide the guy in 3rd position caught his handle bar on the fence and took us all out. I landed on someones bike and slid into the concrete gutter. My race was over. With two laps to go. It did however provide me with this photo which is one of my favorite racing shots ever.

Attempt #3 (2012)
This year I had some friends in the race. Sean Philyaw and Star Bridges started and finished without incident. I arrived an hour and a half before my start time and parked
in the gravel lot across from Jittery Joes. These days I get there early so I can warm up. I also wanted to watch Robert Loomis race CAT5. As I drove through downtown I could see cyclist's everywhere already. The temperature was perfect in the 70's. I walked over to registration and spotted Sean Philyaw pulling in. He's looking fit. I couldn't tell if he was nervous. I went back to the truck, got ready, and then headed to the starting line to watch Robert finish. I got there with 5 to go and Robert looked good close to the front. His girl friend was there taking pictures and looking nervous. As the laps counted down I started cheering for him as they went by. Robert hasn't exactly been stellar in the final laps so I was hoping to see him finish this one off. 
When they came through on the bell lap I couldn't tell how Robert was feeling. He was focused though.
You can't see the final turn from up at the finish line so when the lead car finally popped around the corner I almost fell over from leaning out to try and see if Robert was coming. I caught myself holding my hand over my mouth like a little girl. A furious sprint took place in which a guy got a great lead out from his team mate to take the win. Robert  was alone and in the wind but still managed to get 3rd. He's an ox. Pure power. If we can just keep him upright he's a sprinting star. This time he got a chance to prove it. Great job Robert!

Then it was time for my race. A field of 61 Category 4 racers trying to finish in the top 10. I got to the line with Star and Sean and we were off. The pace was high from the start. Riders would advance on the outside when we hit the back side of the course so I had to continue to advance as well. Thankfully I stayed out of trouble because I think there were some crashes near the back. Star had no intention of doing the final in the evening so he told me that if he was able he would come up the outside on the last lap and take me to the front. With around 10 laps to go my family and friends showed up to cheer for me. They would be my Wife, Lisa, my kids Molly and Ellie and the Pattillo's, Jessica, Thomas and EG.
With 3 to go I made my way to the outside and tried to stay near the front. At one to go I was sitting in the top 20 as the field was spread wide on the back straight. Star never made it up there so I was prepared to swing wide in the final two corners and then sprint like a mad man. As we entered the final corner some guys up in front crossed wheels and took themselves down and a few others...right in front of me. I slammed on my brakes but couldn't get stopped before slamming into a guy with my front wheel. In order to save my bike from harm I ducked my head and flipped over onto the guy. He was dazed and confused. I was...upset.

The entire race passed by and then Star rode up. His wife Lisa was on that corner and saw the whole thing. We rode together to the finish line where my worried wife awaited the reason I wasn't in the finishing sprint. I got my result..46th place. Yippee.

This is the race I've been trying to get to: 2012 Athens Twilight Amateur Final

So after yet another failure to launch I declared my future CAT4 crit racing intentions. They are as follows: Attack...then attack some more. If I'm off the front I won't be in a crash. Most likely. The other rule I'm making for myself is to race Master's whenever possible. Yeah, I may get my butt handed to me but at least I won't be sitting on it on the last lap. No more relying on CAT4's to hold their lines.

The beauty of Twilight is that there's more to do than just race my bike. There's a Kid's Crit. And a Kid's Parade Lap. And lots of other cool stuff for the family to enjoy. And so we did.
We like to park in the parking garage at turn three so we have a great view and the safety of the vehicles close by. The plan was to have a picnic lunch and then order take out from Little Italy in the evening. The kids were resplendent in their cycling jersey's and ready for the Kid's Crit and the festival. I was ready too let the fun begin!
The Kid's Crit takes place on the back side of the course at the top of the hill. They race in groups by age. I made a quick video.

After the Crit we enjoyed the festival. The kids favorite is the BMX show. My favorite was watching them do the rock climbing wall. My favorite vendor was the SeaSucker guy from New Jersey. That guy loved his job and loved his product. I also enjoyed talking with the owner of Snyder Cycles. His company is in Atlanta and they make custom frames. Very nice stuff.
Jessica Pattillo liked the 24 Hours of Booty tent. Not real sure why. She's lost like 300 pounds and half the booty. Maybe they take donations? I don't know.

After we wore out the festival we found ourselves a little patch of heaven on turn 4 where we could watch the carnage. The racing was fantastic! We saw some close calls and some down right failures.
It was a great day despite my failure to qualify and be involved in this. I guess I can't wait to do it again. I guess.

Sean Philyaw now brings you his story from the Roswell Crit. A story that confirms my new crit strategy. Sean did fantastic...however if he continues in this manner he'll accumulate enough points to be CAT'd up to a 3. Are you sure you want that Sean?

As experienced by Sean Philyaw
Photo's courtesy of Marc Hetzel

I arrived in Roswell at 8:15 Sunday morning and found a nice shaded parking lot behind a local business to set up my trainer for the warmup.  Went to register and saw Mike Ingmire there from Reality Bikes.  Mike is a bigger guy like me and when I saw him at registration, I said uh-oh.  As I suspected, he stayed up front, or close to it and pulled his teammates for the duration.  He's a machine and I was not looking forward to him setting the pace.
Sean Philyaw on the front in Roswell.
Did a good 25 minutes on the trainer and rolled to the holding pen for the roll out to the start / finish line.  I arrived 15 minutes before the race start and ended up with a crappy position after rolling down to the start / finish line.

Did the Masters 35+ CAT 4-5 race first at 10AM.  This was a 30 minute race.  As you would expect, all of us older guys with mortgages and kids had a nice clean crash free race.  Avg speed was 26.1 mph and avg power was 298 watts.  I planned to use this race to practice moving around the pack.  Went to the front for a couple of laps to check the view (haven't seen that view lately) and then stayed with the pack as the front group took off to run down a chance at a preem.  As is usually the case, the outside line is the best through the turns, but there are a couple of places in Roswell where the inside, or left side, is the best place to be.  Especially at the left turn in front of the fire station and up the riser on the back of the course.  You can really make up some spots on that riser.  I ended up 26th out of 50 something finishers.  The race started with a field of 75 and many were pulled by the officials.

After the first race, I rolled back to my car, had a Nutella sandwich, copious amounts of fluids and put my feet up to rest for the next race. 
Again I rolled up to the holding pen 15 minutes before the race start.......and you know the rest.  I guess you had to get there half an hour early to get good position.  I ate a quick gel while sitting there baking in the sun.  On the roll down to the start line, two guys got tangled up and went down.  Was this a preview of things to come?

Did the regular CAT 4-5 race at 11:55 AM.  This was scheduled to be a 40 minute race, but it ended up being 35 minutes.  Why?  CRASHES!  Again, we started with a field of 75 and it seemed that crashes were taking them out at the rate of 5 per lap.  First two crashes happened and I was gapped off the back.  Chased hard and caught the pack just in time to see overlapped wheels and cascading riders at the end of the long straightaway.  It was ugly!  At least 20 guys went down and there were bikes everywhere.  Picture a bunch of 20 dominoes falling all at once. 
A small 3 ft wide lane opened up on the left side and some of us were able to make it through.  The field was way ahead at this point and it seemed as though another chase was forthcoming.  Thankfully, the officials neutralized the race and we all sat at the start / finish line for 5 minutes while they cleaned up the carnage.  Riders came walking up the sidewalk with carbon bikes in two pieces, shredded kits and blood oozing from wounds that will later be displayed as trophies as the scars form.  You would have thought that seeing this would have helped to put some sense into the group.  The whistle blew again.........and off we went.

Guess what happened next? A crash you say....why yes, in turn 5, not even a full lap into the restart.  I guess there were still a few squirrels that had yet to be culled.  Now turn 5 at Roswell is the nastiest of all 5 turns on the course.  It's a hard left with an angle of maybe 75-80 degrees, so if you go in too hot, you will go bouncy-bouncy on the air bags that are secured to the barricades.  Turn
5 is where many of the spectators sit just to see the carnage.  This race did not disappoint.  I was entering turn 5 as the bikes and riders began to hit the pavement, so I had time to grab a handful of brake and get stopped.  I was lightly tapped from the rear, but I stayed upright and weaved my way through the carnage to chase on yet again.

We finally settled in and laid down a few laps without disruption. 
Ended up finishing 20th in this race.  Avg speed was 26.3 and avg power was 268 watts.  There were 32 finishers out of the 75 that began the race.  One positive to the crashes is that while I was chasing after each crash, I was able to easily catch the group by having the whole street to myself and taking the best lines through the turns.  You know, just like the Masters do during the whole race.  Steady, smooth and fast.  I plan to do some Masters 1/2/3/4 races from now on to learn from the best and to have my legs ripped off.

Until next time,

-Sean Philyaw

And so ends another great adventure in the life of your average roadies in Georgia. Stay tuned for more tales of woe from yours truly and my gang of friends.

Have a great week!

Chad Hayes

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ritchey Ti Breakaway Cross - The New Hottness

It's finally  gone from dream to reality. The do everything, go anywhere, just plain fun bike I've been trying to create for myself arrived last week at the shop. I hurried down to look at it.
Inside this box was a frame set I've been waiting on for 6 months. And it isn't even the frame I originally ordered. Sound funny? Think there might be a story behind it? Well, you would be correct.

8 months ago, at Habersham Bicycles, I hatched a plan while I stared at a used Giant Cyclocross bike that Joe had been trying to sell for about a year. This kind of plan is very common among roadies. In general it goes like this; "I can buy this bike for the components and then sell the frame. Then I can buy the frame I really want and put these components on it. And I'll have the bike I want for less than I would have spent on a new one!" Sometimes we actually go through with the plan. Sometimes the plan is more like a fiendish plot that never comes to fruition. Mostly we end up with boxes full of unrealized biking dreams and the realization that it's ultimately cheaper to buy a complete new bike.

I'm not tooting my own horn or anything, but I usually finish what I start. The "result" is the only thing that may change during the process. That's the case with this new bike.
So I bought the cross bike from Joe, sold the frame and fork along with the stem and seat post, and bought a new stem and seat post in anticipation of my new Ritchey Breakaway frame. That right there took me about a month to do. This isn't exactly my job or anything, just my hobby.

The frame I wanted was a White 2012 model steel breakaway cross I'd seen pictures of from the internet. I even downloaded the 2012 Ritchey Catalog to get the specs right. They've updated the frame with a bigger bottom bracket and braze-ons. Plus I loved the look of the color matched fork and new paint job. So I went to my good friend Joe and asked him to become a Ritchey dealer and order the frame. He ordered it in November '11 and was told they wouldn't release the new frames until January. So...I waited.

You might be wondering "why a cross frame?" Well, after reading many accounts from travelers around the world it just made the most sense. A cross frame is built to handle bigger tires which are good for handling any terrain you may find yourself on. In my case that could be vacation destinations with dirt paths or shell infused sidewalks. Then there's the dream of travel biking or multi-day events where the ability to add a pannier to the back for attaching bags would be ideal. All this type of riding is of the "non-competitive" nature and a cross geometry puts the rider more upright and stable. That part is needed in my case because it's already an act of contortion to ride and reach over to push a child at the same time. I need to sit up more and having the cyclocross brakes in the center of the handlebar are a plus for that reason too. Ultimately, for what I intended to use it for, the cross bike made sense. Not to mention the "breakaway" ability for airplane travel. And maybe a cross race. OK...for sure a cross race.

But the bike in the pictures isn't steel it's titanium?
That's true. And the story continues. January came and the promise of my new bike was delayed until March. It seems there are too many older models of steel out there in the market and Ritchey is not sufficiently motivated by my order to ship mine until more of the current stock is sold. Their suggestion...buy last years model. Unfortunately I was born with just enough vanity that I would rather wait for the pretty bike than settle for a bike that doesn't match my shoes. So I waited.

March arrives! Yes! That frame should be arriving soon! I got with Joe to get an ETA and... they pushed back the availability of the 2012's until June 2012. And there ain't nothin' you can do about it.

To this point I've been laid back about the whole thing. I mean this is just a bicycle. I'm an accountant in a car business. I understand how supply and demand works. I understand how tough it is in the retail world these days. I don't blame anyone for the decisions that are keeping my dream from becoming reality. However, the fact is I want to go on vacation in June with my new travel bike. And the box full of components are getting lonely. I imagine them as Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the toys in Toy Story. It's not right to leave them boxed up like that.

So I re-hatched my plan. You see the titanium version of the B/A Cross is available. Titanium is almost 2 pounds lighter than the steel frame. It's also almost double the price at retail. I've wanted to have a Ti bike back in the stable ever since I sold my Litespeed Vortex years ago. I loved riding it but could only afford so many bikes at the time. I asked Joe to call Ritchey and plead my case for a great price on the Ti. Needless to say after much debate, crying and gnashing of teeth we reached an agreement that changed my new bikes name. Why's that? Well you see students, in Biblical times when a man became a new person in Christ his Hebrew name would sometimes change to reflect his change in personality; ie Simon became Peter (The Rock). No, not the wrasler (intentionally misspelled). And with this in mind my bike went from being called the "New Bike" to the "New Hottness". I realize that statement is borderline sacrilegious but I'll leave it there to help express my delight with the New Hottness purchase. Don't judge me.

Joe Elam, Habersham Bicycles finishes the "New Hottness"
Once it arrived I started learning what every roadie who has hatched a plan learns. Some of my components won't work with my new frame. Namely the bottom bracket and the front derailleur. No problem. I took time to sell the old and then buy the new. My goal was an empty parts box. No lonely bike parts.
Watching the bike being put together was very exciting. I'm one of those guys who likes to enjoy every aspect of biking. Working on them is half the fun. Watching someone skilled work on them is even better. I can do most things on a bike but Joe makes it a work of art.

I also have to say how impressed I am with Ritchey. Everything I purchased from them is top quality and well thought out. The "One Bolt" seat post is the bomb. It's easily adjustable to the finest degree on the angle of the saddle. Tightens with one turn. Very nice. And the frame is beautiful. The bead blasted graphics were a hit with folks who looked at it during it's time at the shop. It's cut so well you can hardly tell there's a separation at the seat clamp. The Ti Breakaway purchase reminds me of going to Disney World...expensive but worth it.

New Hottness weighs in. 17.1 pounds (7756 grams)
Of course there's only one true way to enjoy a new to you bicycle...get out and ride! The maiden voyage happened to take place at a Tuesday Night Throwdown with some good friends. Under normal circumstances the Throwdown is race bike territory. It can be a nasty, rip your legs off type of ride if you want to stay with the leaders. But today I was on New Hottness and beyond testing her with a little sprinting I was happy to just ride with the main group.
I've been riding my Giant Advanced SL exclusively for about three years and so I knew there would be a big difference. And there was. The bike does everything differently. It's actually more rigid at the saddle than my Giant. It's hard to judge after just 1.5 hrs on the bike but I may consider upgrading to a carbon seat post. I was afraid the Ti would be to flexy in the sprints or wobble on the down hills but that wasn't the case. I tested it in every way possible including a fast decent down Tower Mountain in Cornelia and never once felt nervous. And I completely forgot it was a breakaway bike. Outstanding!

Chad and New Hotness at the top of Tower Mountain, Cornelia, GA
Stephen Sisk, Benny Bohanan, Craig Tinsley
And so begins the story of my new adventure bike. I say that because it will probably see as much action as my race bike but without the drama. It will go more places and do more things. I'd say "boldly go" but then I'd have to change it's name to The Enterprise. And I'm not that big of a Trekie. And it's not a Trek it's a Ritchey.

But I digress.

I'll be riding my new steed at the LAP Century the Hartwell Challenge of the Centuries and the Jackson Brevet so look for me and New Hottness to be happily stopping at every SAG to partake of the baked goodness.

This weekend was the Athens Twilight Races in Athens, Georgia. There's so much to tell with pictures and video that I can't put it all together in time so you'll all have to wait. But it's good stuff. Here's a teaser.
CAT5 AM Race, Robert Loomis took 3rd!


Thanks for reading!

Chad Hayes