|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!|
|Stephen Sisk on his Litespeed Titanium Road Bike|
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.
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.
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.|
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|
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.
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
I'll leave you with this great piece of advice I was given this week:
Until next time.