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, August 28, 2012

2012 Chainbuster Heritage Park Race

 6/9 Hour Mountain Bike Race
 In the past this course has been the worst one I do all year. It starts out with a about 2 miles of fun, mostly downhill single track. But after that it becomes anything but smooth or downhill. For some reason I always found my way onto the ground multiple times on this trail. My first time racing here was after an evening of rain. The roots were greasy. The mud was soupy. The corners were loose. I went down 4 times during that race alone. It put this trail in my head and every time I race there I crash... and it hurts. So when the race at Paynes Creek in Hartwell, Georgia was moved to this trail I was not a happy camper.
Now to be fair they have improved the trail since then. No more soup mud, they built bridges and filled in bad spots. No more ridiculous 90 degree turns for no reason. The trail does flow better. It's just not ever going to be smooth and rolling. It will still beat you to death.

I immediately started trying to enlist team mates who would race at a friendly, more subdued pace.

I couldn't find any.
Trace "Pretty Boy" Nabors
So I settled for my usual ultra competitive friends Trace Nabors and David Shabat. They were definitely up for the challenge. And not nearly as scared of this trail as I am.

Our team was set. A motivated 3 Man team of friends dedicated to high degrees of suffering. Because we all know that pain is temporary...but results posted on the Internet last forever.

David "Zombie" Shabat
I arrived early so I could lead the 8:30am Kids Race. I love doing that. We had some really super cool kids who got goodie bags and a podium shot for racing.

Kid's Race!!
I found Kenny (Mr. Chainbuster) who was putting the finishing touches on everything before the start. He looked a lot less stressed than I predicted. His wife is pregnant and due any second. She was there working under strict instructions to keep her feet up. I was also surprised that she wasn't completely miserable. She was...having fun?

What a woman!

Dustin Mealor & Rob Butler
Then it was time to get psyched up for the start. I got our spot under the pavilion set up and then proceeded to get my "fuel" organized. While I was doing that along came Dustin Mealor. He and his team mate Rob Butler were gunning for a win in the 2 Person 6 Hour Category. I was sure glad not to be racing against them today. I follow Rob on Strava and he's been killing it out there for the past few weeks. I was sure he knew every inch of the course. And he weighs about 24 pounds. Dustin always buries himself in every race he does. He may actually be the king of suffering.
Personally I think Dustin will treat his body like a playground until it decides to fail him so badly that he's in the hospital. Then he may take it easy. Maybe.

The Start
 I lined up for the start next to John Galley. I've never met him before. But because we both had the same American Classic wheels we struck up a conversation. He's leading the Beginner 6 Hour Solo Division. (BTW - He won again today) I liked him. Very friendly and excited about racing.

The start was the usual craziness. Everyone wants to be the first into the woods. It's......safer.?

We busted it around the "parade" loop and flew into the woods. I was in the lead group with only 4 or 5 ahead of me. At least until the crash. I found out later that Rob was cut off in the first sharp turn and caught his handle bar. It allowed several riders to get a big gap on the rest of us. With Rob behind me somewhere I lost my rabbit to chase. But that didn't last long...he passed me about 15 minutes later.

Bill Mashburn
I forgot to mention the presence of my hero Bill Mashburn. Bill is an old school racer who still likes to torture himself in vain on a hard tail mountain bike. He owns his own business in construction and renovation. No time to train. But still he signs up for 6 Hour Solo efforts and gives everything he has. You gotta love a guy like that. He's great fun to hang out with. I just need to get him  on a road bike with us.

The field spread out during the first lap. I found myself all alone toward the end of the lap. When I handing off the chip to Trace we were in second place. That's where we stayed for 6 hours.

Trace handed off to David Shabat. A man who had worked until 3:00am that morning. I man who was already in a fog of sleepiness now had to muster the intestinal fortitude to power out a lap that would keep us on the podium.
No pressure.

He did it though. His first of two laps was enough to hold our position. I took the chip and took off. David took a nap.

Rob Butler
Meanwhile the race in the 2 Person 6 Hour was heating up. Team Maverick and the Goose (Rob & Dustin, not necessarily in that order) were in first place even after multiple incidents of heresy including Rob's 2nd crash and Dustin's broken spokes. It's the trail guys...I'm telling you that trail is evil.
They were being chased by our friends Dave and Matt (Team Engine) who's troubles started from the moment they got in the car that morning. It wouldn't start. Then Matt had a problem with his geared bike and had to race on his single speed...hard tail. Yikes!
I blame the trail. Still.

Dustin Mealor
Toward the end of every race Dustin does he is visited by the cramp monster. It's like clockwork. It will happen. I can't figure out how to help him. He says he drinks and stuff but none the less he always ends up rolling around in the transition area grabbing one muscle or another.
Wait. That didn't sound right.

Anyway, we all battled our own demon's out there. Lately both Trace and I have had some problems finding the time to train like we're used to. We both suffered more than we wanted to. And David has been running... not biking. So for him it was even tougher. (Is that a word?)

Trace Nabors
 Our fun finally ended with 7 laps done and 2 Place. We gave a big push to win but it wasn't enough. Trace had to leave early so that's why he's not on the podium with us.
6 Hour 3 Person Team Podium
Bill had to give up his dream after about 4 hours in the saddle. I couldn't believe he lasted that long.

Dustin and Rob brought it home and took 1st in their race. I was really happy for those guys. They were so nasty. They had so much dirt on them I called it mountain biking War Paint. I'm sure they smelled bad too but I couldn't get past my own manly odor.

6 Hour 2 Person Team Podium
Chicken Legs
And so we put another great race in the books. Oh, and in case you're wondering, I did not crash. Not once. I hammered with reckless abandon but found my way into nary a tree. The cramp monster was too busy with everyone else. And I felt really darn good.
I was very dirty though.

Congrats to everyone who gave their best! That's really all that matters in the end.

Now I look forward to the plethora of charity rides coming up in the next three months. I hope to see many of you out there! Save me a PB&J!

Thanks for reading!

Chad Hayes

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

2012 Georgia Cycling Gran Prix - Robert Loomis

This weeks entry is written by my friend Robert Loomis. He's a 22 year old first year bike racer who may be on his way to something us "old guys" have only dreamed of. His potential was first recognized by veteran racer Star Bridges who met him while riding in the GAP's. I still remember Star telling me about this kid with lots of natural power. Then Robert showed up at some Tuesday Night Throwdowns and I became a believer.

If you look back at my blog posts from the past you'll find it riddled with stories of potential and of failure. Robert has learned quickly about things we all take for granted like "the draft", "pedal-up cornering", and "crossing wheels". Star told us early on that when it comes to Robert and racing, "He's either going to crash...or win!" That pretty much explains the first half of our season racing with him. But the proverbial "back nine" for Robert has been truly unbelievable. He's won or been on the podium in countless races since June including the CAT4 State Championship, The Georgia Cycling Gran Prix Championship (5 Day Stage Race), and this weekend he won back to back at the Litespeed BMW Crit and Grant Park Crit's. It makes those of us who've been racing a long time just sit back and smile. The kid has real, God given talent.

Robert is being coached now by former Pro Cyclist Nathan O'Neill and it's paying off big time. We're expecting to wave bye bye to our phenom friend when he's forced up the ladder of pain to race CAT3. I'll miss being a small part of his successes but I look forward to watching his progress and living vicariously through him. So Robert...RACE HARD! You carry the dreams of all us "masters" who wish we'd have found cycling in our twenties.

I asked Robert to take his time and write down how the Georgia Cycling Gran Prix went down. What he sent me needed a little help but to preserve the integrity of his words I've limited my corrections to grammar only. You all will undoubtedly recognize youthful bravado in his writing. You may even mistake his confidence for arrogance. But trust me when I say that Robert is a good guy with a big heart. He's just not a writer.
Happily though, he does have a killer instinct to go along with his naturally twitchy muscle fibers.

Enjoy! And thanks Robert! 

2012 Georgia Cycling Grand Prix
The Story
Wed- Road Atlanta
I was pretty excited about this race. It was the opener of my first stage race, my family was going to be there, and it was on Road Atlanta. I arrived 2 hours before race time, just to relax and take my time warming up. I parked in one of the only shaded spots available and waited for the guys to start showing up. When all the guys, Chad, Sean, Marcus, Jesus or chewy I like to call him or Ovi (well he has many names…), Stephen and Trace all arrived we decided to take a few laps around the circuit. It was my first time riding around the track and I was very excited! I mean it's Road Atlanta! Well after we talked over our game plans we headed to the line. I was late to the line so that meant straight to the back of about 80 guys. I met Chad there and he reassured me that there was going to be plenty of time to make up the ground.

Off went the whistle and the race began! We headed up the 18% climb right out of the gate! I was sure that the climb was going to blow a lot of people off the back. My plan was to sit in as much as possible to keep energy for the rest of the week but I guess all the other guys had a different idea. Chad, Sean, Ovi, and Marcus stayed on the front and attacked one after the other. They were awesome! Sean and Chad went off the front and stayed there for about two laps. They were slowly brought back and right when they were back in the group Ovi and Marcus countered perfectly. They created a great gap and held it for a couple of laps. Some guys started to think that this was “the” break so three bridged across. Marcus and Ovi were slowly grabbed up by the field but the chasing three stayed off the front for the remainder of the lap.

When we started our climb up the hill yet again, I saw a guy move to the front and heard his teammate/coach yell, “BLOCK, BLOCK, BLOCK!!!” from the sidelines. So I knew he had a team mate up the road. I didn’t want him to hold me back so I went around him and started to bridge. I looked back and was amazed that I already had about a 15 second gap and the “blocker” was doing his job perfectly, so I lowered my head and hammered to the breakaway. As soon as I got there I told them that their team mate was going to block and I know my guys have my back as well. But I also told them that everyone has to work! I talked everyone up and told them how strong they were, how hard their pulls were, and anything else I could to get them to do more work than me. I can honestly say it paid off! I kept encouraging the guys and putting in some work of my own. We worked well together and listened to each other.
Then we crossed the finish line for what I thought was the last lap, although I didn’t hear a bell. I pulled hard for the first half to break everyone for the sprint then looked over and asked, “this is the last lap right??” Oh boy was I wrong; the guy looked over to me, smiled and said, “The bell lap is coming up….” So I sat in and when it was my turn to pull I wasn’t ready. I just yelled, “Not yet!” I stayed on his wheel for about 30 seconds more and felt recovered. I pulled hard to the next hill so I wouldn’t be on the front when the sprint came around. When I rotated back I moved immediately into second wheel and stayed there. INTO PIT ROW WE WENT!! About half a mile left.  I stuck to his wheel and tried to figure out when to sprint. I kept running through the advice Chad gave me about the sprint and how not to go too early! I got into the perfect gear for the sprint and just waited. I heard someone behind me click into a gear and stand up. It was now or never. I stood up and sprinted towards the line!! I made a good gap so I was able to cross the line first with my hands up!!  I rolled back towards the 18% hill and thought, “No way am I climbing that now!” so I cut through the grass and rolled back on the straight away next to the pit. I was excited and then realized I have a whole week of this?!
 I got back to the North Georgia guys who finished with me and congratulated everyone on their hard work. What a great race!
2012 Georgia Cycling Road Atlanta Race CAT4

Thurs- Gwinnett Center
Well this is how the day started off; I was meeting Sean to carpool from the Friendship Road exit at Publix. I got there about 15 minutes ahead of time. I sat there a while, wondering where Sean was when I got a phone call from him asking where I was. What?  I got out of my car and Sean said he was standing on his. He was nowhere to be seen! Then I realized… I got off an exit early! I’m at the wrong Publix! So I threw all my stuff back into my car and met Sean at the Gwinnett Center.
 One thing Sean is great at is finding shade, even when there isn’t any.  After circling the lot, he backed into a parking spot next to a small tree. In about 15 minutes his car was in complete shade!! I was very impressed.  
My mom and nephew arrived! I love having my family there.  I get my own cheering squad and it gives me a little extra motivation to do better. We rolled around the course and lined up. We were sitting there talking tactics when all of a sudden my sister Katie yelled my name? She was standing there with her husband, Jimmy.  I had no idea they were coming since they recently moved to Tennessee. Now the pressure was really on me.
The race began and the pace was high. There were attacks on every lap. I had to stay on the front and bring most of them back since everyone was already watching me for the points lead.  I had no idea who to watch and wasn’t thinking about the whole picture at the time, just concentrating on staying at the front. There were about 4 sharp corners that we took going about 35mph. During the first few laps we were flying down the back stretch and into a technical section. Just as we reached this section the guy on the front had a front tire blowout while cornering. I had only seconds to think about how to get out of the mess since I was only three wheels back. He took out the guy in front of me too. I cut as hard as I could to the inside and made it around the carnage. I guess a couple of guys followed me and others were blocked off because all I heard in the back was, “GO!  GO!  GO!” So I pushed to keep the pace high and then pulled off to look for Sean. I heard another crash but was not in a place where I could see it. Apparently someone crashed in front of Sean so he had a choice of either eating pavement or grass. He chose grass. Good choice Sean, good choice!!
There were about three laps to go and a guy jumped off the front. He had a gap in no time. I looked back at Sean and told him that no one wanted to work. So he changed that and held an incredible pace for the last laps! Just what I needed for the sprint, I found out this week that having a teammate like Sean makes things a lot easier for you in the end and harder on everyone else! We were flying down the backside straight when two Frazier juniors jumped and tried to create a gap. I grabbed their wheel and stayed on it until the final stretch. We rocketed up the hill and I went to the left to try and make it around him! When all of a sudden a big sprinter named Marcelo arrived in my peripheral, he had a great jump and nipped me right at the line! I placed third and was very happy I could post a result for my sister and brother-in-law!

If you're interested in Friday's Road Race story you should check out Sean Philyaw's recollection of the race. Friday - Oxford Hills Road Race He WON IT in a solo breakaway!

Sat- Covington Crit/TT
It was 6:15am as I started my lonely drive down to Covington.  I was now three races into the six race series and feeling it. Sean won the Oxford Road Race in a solo breakaway the day before and I was hoping he felt so good about his win and his 30 points that he would crave a few more points and join me for the morning time trial. But he decided to make it a family morning and stayed home. He would join me for the crit at 6pm that night.
I arrived at 7:55 to warm up before my start time, which I didn’t know so I was in a little state of panic. I saw our friend Scott Morris from Lifetime Bikes and asked him if he knew my start time. He just replied that he didn’t know and that I needed to hurry and get warm so my legs felt good going from 0-100! So I quickly got all of my clothes on and got my bike ready to ride and went over to the start block to check the times, I went off at 8:34:30. It was 8:10 then so I had a little time. I went down and back on a small road and waited for my start time. There is not much to say about the TT, it was 3.16 miles down and back. It was down and back since we went downhill for most of the first 3.16 turned around and then came back up the hill. Since it was a TT I went as hard as I could from the start.  Once I got clipped in! There was no start ramp and no one holding you up so you had to get clipped upon starting. I fumbled with my cleat for what felt like forever and finally got clipped in and took off! I passed a couple of guys which felt good, but knew I was still at a disadvantage with my regular road bike and everyone else had some super awesome time trial bikes, disc wheels, and aero helmets.
While we waited for the times to be posted I rode around to cool down. I talked to Terry O’Toole, a master’s rider with the points lead. We cooled down and talked about White County for a little since he used to be Truett McConnell’s, a college in Cleveland, athletic director. Then he said to me, “You know if you win you’re going to have to shave your legs!” I just smiled and said yeah. He then said, “Once you do it you will never go back, my wife won’t even let me, she says if I stop riding I can’t stop shaving my legs.” I laughed and just shook my head. We talked for a few more minutes and wished each other good luck and parted ways.
I rolled back to the starting block and checked the results. I placed 7th and the guy behind me in the points lead placed 8th. That’s what I needed. I was 30 seconds down on first place. I felt good about the result. Our friend Scott Morris placed 2nd. Congrats to him! Well now what to do? It was only 9:30 and our race didn’t start until 6pm. So I headed over to Dunkin Doughnuts and grabbed a coffee and of course a doughnut. I was talking to Sean about my plans that day and just told him I was hoping to take a nap somewhere! He then said, “What about a library?” Genius! So I typed it in to the GPS and found one close by. Of course it was closed on Saturdays. But another was only two miles away. I drove there and they were opened until 5. I grabbed a couple of Nat Geos along with a MADD magazine, popped in some head phones and sat down on a sofa. I gradually fell asleep for about an hour and half! I felt great after the nap, but it was still only 1pm.  I typed in Smoothie King and drove 20 minutes to where there was no Smoothie King, only a pasture. Oh well at least I wasted some time.
Around 4:45pm the guys started showing up. Sean then Marcus then Ovi. I was excited because I didn’t know that Marcus or Ovi were coming. It makes a race that much more fun when you have guys you can work with. So we rolled around for about an hour and then saw all the guys lining up. We rolled over and the officials said to take a lap. We waited about 2 minutes and then slowly made our way to the very front. I was excited because I was right next to the barricades and could keep both feet clipped in. No fooling with my pedal this time!! The whistle blew and off we went. Sean immediately put everyone in the pain cave and kept it there for the first 15 minutes.  Marcus then went to the front and helped Sean out. They both did a great job because the field started out with about 80 and within the first few laps we were down to about 40! They kept on the front for 30 of the 40 minute race. The pace was very very high. Then Sean looked over to me and said, “Looks like you have a shadow!” I simply replied, “yeah I have a little puppy dog…” It was the junior rider second in series points. I guess his goal for the race was to stay where ever I was. I decided to make it a race so when we reached the sprint point with 5 laps to go I hammered up to the front and tried to shake him. I kept the pace up for a few laps then decided to let someone else do the work and save for the finish.

With two to go I was second wheel. The guy in front didn’t want to be there and kept telling me to move up. I just shook my head and stuck to his wheel. We rolled back through the finish for the FINAL LAP. The guy in front slowed down just enough to allow two guys to squeeze by. I followed their wheels and wouldn’t let them out of my sight. Sean and I looked at the finishing sprint before the race and gathered that there wasn’t enough room to make up any places, maybe one position. So the whole race I was looking for the spot to make my move. It was right after a left hand corner on an uphill stretch that led to a right-left chicane. After the last corner there was about 100m left to the finish. So right after the left hand corner I started my sprint. I went around the two guys in front and kept hammering all the way through the chicane to the finish. I held everyone off and crossed the line in first place with my hands in the air. The Frazier kid did a great job and stayed with me to finish second.  After the race the he and I talked on our cool down lap and congratulated each other on the race.
I finished my lap and there was Brandon Pruett and his family. They congratulated me on the win and we talked about the course and how the race went. Brandon and I started talking about his trip to Belgium. I was pretty impressed. He said he was nervous and excited, which is understandable. After our talk I clipped one foot in to go find the guys. Right when I did I saw a couple walking around me so I hit the brakes and tried to keep up right but it was too late. I had my weight on my left side and could not get my foot out quick enough. I fell right over onto the lady. Thankfully she had great reflexes and kept me up right but man did I feel embarrassed. After I said I was sorry about ten times, Brandon and his family and I talked about some of the other embarrassing things that have happened to us. I won’t mention any of them to save Brandon and me from any further humiliation. 
After I got my nerves back I checked the area for pedestrians, clipped in a rode back to the guys. I was telling Sean about the whole incident when Marcus over heard and said that his Mom told him the same story. She was the lady!! I spent the rest of our time trying to get back on her good side while we ate at the Italian restaurant on the square, which wasn’t very hard to do! We all had a great time and after dinner headed back home to get some rest.

Sun- Bates Circuit
The last race of the series!! It was down to me and the Frazier kid, or my “shadow” from Saturday named Alexander. I had an 11 point lead on second place so that would give me about 5 places to lose. I was coming into the race confident that Sean would be able to tear the field apart to give me the comfort room for the 5 spots. After talking to my coach Nate O’Neill, he said I should just watch Alexander and make sure he doesn’t get into a break.
Jesus, Chewy, Ovi, Sean and I lined up with Nate right at our side giving us more tactics and inspirational Aussie quotes. We were stuck a little far back so we quickly made our way up to the front and I grabbed Alexander’s wheel. Sean and I watched his every move and wouldn’t let him try anything. Of course Sean got on the front and hammered to keep everyone from attacking and it sure did work. A couple of people tried to attack but never really got too far. Sean just stayed on the front and brought everyone back. When the intermediate sprite came up, which had 3, 2, and 1 bonus points available for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respectively, Sean stayed on the front and I moved up next to him. Alexander was right on Sean’s wheel hoping to jump out at the sprint and gain a few more points. I rolled up next to him and boxed him in behind Sean. This was a funny ¾ mile because the kid was trying so hard to move around and get around us but we just stayed in the formation and kept him boxed in.  So when the sprint came up I was able to make an easy sprint to gain the 3 bonus points. Alexander came in second but with those points I then had 6 places I could afford to give up to him.
So the race went on and Sean kept killing everyone. The race was getting close to the end, 2 laps to go! At the hill on the back stretch I moved to the front and hammered to the top. My Shadow was back! Alexander followed me just like he did on Saturday. With the last lap to go I knew he was going to watch my wheel.  I allowed a couple of riders to attack and move up the inside before the last lap. I knew this was driving him crazy. I looked over my shoulder and told him, “All of your points are going up the road!” He needed to be one of the first guys across the line to gain enough points. So when he knew it was now or never he attacked. I grabbed his wheel and we caught up to the break. We were on our last lap!! We rolled into the right hand corner and into the back straight. Alexander’s teammate tried to block me against a rider and the yellow line and yelled, “GO, GO, GO!” I saw a hole over to the right and swung over to grab Alex’s wheel when he decided to take off. The group caught on behind us and everyone was riding together towards the sprint. I was right behind Alex in third wheel. We were getting close! I saw Chewy and told him to grab my wheel. He said he wanted to podium so I thought I would give him the lead out he was looking for.
 We were 500 meters to the line when all of a sudden I felt someone’s front wheel rubbing hard against my back wheel. I focused 100% on just keeping both wheels on the ground, then the rubbing slipped off and I heard a big crash. Chewy was right behind me so I worried it was him in the crash. But I couldn’t look back now or slow down or else I might cause another crash. I was glued to Alex’s wheel when finally he jumped out at 200 meters. We both sprinted as hard as we could. As we rounded the sweeping corner to the finish I passed Alex and took another first place finish. All the hard work that my teammates and I laid down throughout the week had paid off.  It felt awesome having all these guys there to race with and to represent racing in North Georgia.  All the guys did awesome, Chad, Marcus, Jesus, Chewy, Ovi, Nate and Sean. I couldn’t have done it without all your help on the road!!
I would say Dingo Racing had a great week as well, 5 out of 6 podiums and 4 out of the 5 were first places!! It feels good to represent our team so well!! Thanks again to Sean who every day was there at his own expense trying to work everyone over. He showed how great a cyclist/teammate he is!! The week was a great experience and I can’t wait to do it again and maybe work for someone else next time around!! Thanks again guys!!

Robert Loomis
2012 Georgia State Champion CAT 4
2012 Georgia Cycling Gran Prix CAT 4/5 Champion

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

2012 Casey Cagle Tune Up Ride

Riders leave out with the sun coming up behind them.
Georgia Lt. Governor Casey Cagle puts on a Century Ride in October. I am the ride director and this year I decided we'd have a "Tune Up" ride. I put it out there and 20 riders showed up to collect 50 miles of road time. The ride was free and included a support vehicle with ice water and a goodie bag. I really had no idea who to expect.

I was glad to see some good friends and some roadies I haven't ridden with in a long time. We met at Chestnut Mt. Church where the event will actually start. There were storms over night and I wasn't sure the rain would be gone by the time we started. Boy was I wrong. The rain was gone and the overcast clouds remained. It kept the temperature from rising and that gave us a few hours to ride in 70 degree weather for the first time in months! We prayed and headed toward Talmo, Georgia.

I decided to have a KOM competition just to spice things up. I created a cool prize bottle filled with SWAG and let everyone know where the sprint would start. In case you're familiar with the course, the KOM was at the top of the climb on Candler Hwy 60 before we turn left on McNeal Rd. I did not participate in the KOM. It seemed...wrong to do so. Plus it might hurt.

Super roadie Sean Philyaw took it.

After that we went to Talmo by way of Pendergrass. McNeal Road in that direction is so much better. Rolling down hills.
I drifted back and forth between groups and to the van most of the time. I felt like I needed to watch out for everyone. Our driver, Peter Kite with Team Green, was in rare form. He kept us well hydrated and more than that he kept us laughing. I like Peter. He's a great guy.

We stopped in Talmo and then headed north to see what was going on in the country. A few brainless canines later we rode up to the Plainview Road Fire Station where Peter filled our bottles with ice cold water. The sun was still behind the clouds. The weather was perfect. The roads were all ours. It was a great day to be on a bicycle!

At one point I found myself way off the back of the group. It took me 15 minutes of hard chasing to catch them. (They averaged 19.5 MPH). Once I caught on I went to the front just to see what it was like up there. I talked to my friends Stephen Sisk, Star Bridges and Sean Philyaw for a while.
 They were not tired. As we flew along Hwy 332 all by ourselves there came a place where the uncut road turned slightly to the right. The tall grass slapped at our calves. As the group flew down the road I looked up just in time to see a small kitten standing on the white line frozen with fear as we descended upon it. It was really funny. I've seen a lot of animals in the road while riding my bike. Snakes, turtles, big rats, stupid dogs, beaver, deer, cows, chickens, stupid squirrels and even a pig. But this was the first time I've seen a kitten so I thought I'd mention it.
It's every one's responsibility on a ride to point out hazards for the riders behind. Cycling is cool that way. We look out for each other. So I found it hilarious to hear everyone yelling "Kitten!" as we blew by the frozen feline.

The first 10 miles were fast.
After we passed through Talmo I stayed back to help the B Group get home safely. The main group was flying down the road and obviously they were ready to get on back. We eased our way up the final hills and completed what for some was the farthest they'd ever been on a bike. Now that's cool.
Everyone was very grateful for the opportunity to ride. I understand that the KOM and the SAG vehicle and the weather made this more than just another group ride. Maybe we can do it again soon. Otherwise there are so many Charity rides coming up that I could do one every weekend until Christmas. I love riding in Georgia!

This weekend I'll be mountain bike racing with my friends Trace Nabors and David Shabat. We're racing the 3 Person Team category at the Chainbuster Heritage Park race in Watkinsville, GA. I hate the course. Always have. But what better reason to go race on it, eh.

I stopped by my favorite drug store in Toccoa, GA, Sanders Drugs, to pick up some Hammer products. Clint Sanders showed me some new stuff he ordered called Frog Fuel that I'm going to try tonight at the Tuesday Night Throwdown. I would never "try" something in a race. So if it's no good for my stomach we'll need to change the name to the Tuesday Night ThrowUP. But don't worry guys... I'll drift to the back before I do.

School is back open in Georgia. My kids are sort of excited. They were having a great summer so it's been hard on them. Poor things. It's tough having 3 months off.
I thought I'd share these photos that tell you everything I want to say about our current government education system...so I don't have to say it.

Thanks for reading!

Chad Hayes

Friday, August 3, 2012

2012 Georgia Cycling Gran Prix

Have mercy on my soul it was so Hot!

CAT4/5 Race waiting in the shade of the Pit Tower.
That pretty much sums up my experience with this years edition of the Georgia Cycling Gran Prix. Although I only did the first race at Road Atlanta I could tell it was going to come down to who could recover the best over 5 days of racing to become the king in this series. I joined the usual suspects on a Wednesday afternoon for a CAT4/5 race on the famous track. We'd be going counter clockwise for 10 laps on the 2.5 mile track. (That's 25 miles for you English majors).  The temperature of the outside air when I stepped out of conditioned air in my van was 98 degrees. The temperature of the asphalt (according to the track director) was 145 degrees. The temperature under my helmet during the race was somewhere between french fry grease and molten lava.
The usual suspects were Stephen Sisk, Robert Loomis, Trace Nabors, and Sean Philyaw. I knew Sean and Robert would be feeling great. They've been training like I wish I could and have been on the podium a lot so far. My goal, besides survival, was to support Robert by keeping things together for the sprint. A goal I should have shared with Trace.
More on that later.

With zip lock bags of ice dripping down our backs we started the race. I only felt good for the first few laps (until the ice melted), then it became clear that I would not be winning the race.
Attacks were brought back. Tactics failed. Riders dropped out on every lap. Life became a vacuum. I just kept pedaling and sweating. I started using the wide track on the decents to advance back up to the front in efforts to set an easy pace. On one lap I found myself off the front with Sean. We pushed a little and didn't get a bigger gap on the peloton. Sean looked at me and said, "they're letting us dangle out here". So we settled into a comfortable pace and let ourselves get brought back. It was way to hot to dangle.

Trace Nabors on the front.
We stayed on the front with 4 laps to go until the next time up the tough climb at the bridge. Several riders attacked and Robert ended up going with them. Sean and I both moved to the front and rode a steady pace hoping nobody would chase. Wrong! A few riders went up the left side in persuite.
It took a second to recognize that the leader of the chase was none other than our friend Trace Nabors. As soon as I recognized it I called his name. Then I called it a little louder. Then both Sean and I found ourselves yelling at him but the wind on the back side kept him from hearing us.

So he chased down Robert and the breakaway. But that whole thing was enough to cause the racers to sit in and wait for the sprint. I only hoped Robert had enough left to sprint with.

CAT4 Podium, Road Atlanta, Race#1
He did. Robert is like a sponge when it comes to advise. Before the race I told him not to start his sprint until he was 3/4 of the way down pit road. There's a hill before the sprint and guys will go up that thing too hard. Then they get excited when they speed onto pit road and start sprinting right away. He waited and jumped them for the win. Nice job Robert!

I watched it happen with satisfaction. Then I realized how finished I really was. We started with 75 racers and finished with about 40. I made my way back to my loving family. Lisa was ready to douse me with freezing cold water and made my recovery drink. I sat down in a chair and thought I was feeling better. When I got up I fell back down on the nicest old man sitting next to me. He just laughed. He couldn't understand why any of us were out there in that heat. I couldn't argue with his logic.

That was the only race in the series I had time to do. Thank goodness. But Sean and Robert were committed to the whole thing. I've been waiting impatiently for a story from them about what they experienced. Here's the story from Sean of his victory in the Oxford Road Race.

Georgia Cycling Gran Prix Road Race as told by Sean Philyaw (Winner)

A short preface from the day before to show how things can change on a dime in cycling:
Day 2, at the Gwinnett Center Crit, was a miserable day for me.  The GPS showed 104° Fahrenheit and I went down on the third lap when a rider in front of me checked up on his brakes.  Thankfully, I was able to halfway jump the curb and go down in the grass.  I did bend the rear wheel and pick up some road / grass / dirt rash in the process. I jumped back on the bike and went to the wheel pit for a free lap.  Thanks to the moto-official Bill for that one lap reprieve.  I finished the race pretty far back in the pack and my confidence was dropping like a rock.
After the race, I drank my recovery drink and sipped water every 10-15 minutes until going to bed, to be hydrated for the road race the next day at noon. I grilled chicken and asparagus, my wife boiled orzo pasta and I ate a good meal with my family.  Good quality time to get things back in perspective.  After supper, I called my coach, Nate O’Neill, and told him about what had transpired during Day 2.  He told me, “No pressure mate. Chin up and tomorrow’s race is a whole new day.”
I hopped into the shower, scrubbed the wounds on my leg until they bled and covered them with Tegaderm, so I would not stick to the sheets that night. As a cyclist, when, not if, you get road rash, Tegaderm is the bomb!
That was Thursday night and the first night in three where I actually got good sound sleep. I was physically exhausted from the racing, as well as the heat, and mentally exhausted from the stress and pressure of racing.

Day 3
Robert and I had agreed to meet at my office at 8:15 and carpool to Covington for the Oxford Hills Road Race.
Great, I thought, now I have to listen to Robert brag about how good a cyclist he is for an hour and a half home and an hour and a half back………………..
Just kidding!  Robert is a very gifted athlete and an extremely humble too.
One of the benefits of racing in Georgia is that you get to see so much of our beautiful state when traveling to and fro.  This is the icing on the cake for sure.  We were close to the racing venue when I decided that we should drive the last third of the course.  I had studied the road race map, along with the topo data, and found a spot that I thought would be a good point to start a breakaway. After seeing the area in person, I wasn’t so sure.  We got a good look at the finish line, parked the car and made a dash to the steam house, only to find that since we were utilizing a church property for the race, the church had graciously allowed us to pollute their building instead. On the way up to the building Robert said, “Always bet on the last horse to poop before a race.” Then he graciously allowed me to proceed into the facilities ahead of him.  He’s a crafty racer for sure.
We kitted up, fixed our bottles, aired up our tires and rolled down to the staging area for the start with our spare wheelsets to go in the wheel truck. Johnny Mayero, a strong rider from Frazier Cycling, was sitting there with us baking in the sun when he asked Robert, “Why are you so strong and you don’t shave your legs?”  This was a recurring question from members of the peloton for the remaining races. Robert always smiled at them and laughed because he is used to the abuse and pays it no mind.
From the moto-official John Patterson, “CAT 4-5 Riders, there are 59 of you racing and we will be enforcing the yellow line rule. You will be doing 4 laps, or 42 miles today. Do not litter on the course.  If you have a flat or mechanical, raise your hand and the wheel truck will assist you………..Riders ready?”, and then the whistle blows. At this point, your heart is pounding furiously and if you are an adrenaline junky, these are the types of moments you live for.
I hit the start button on my Garmin, push off, clip in (this is where Speedplays come in handy) and accelerate to get up close to the front to stay out of any possible early crashes.  Robert and I didn’t really have a team plan per se for this race, other than trying to keep Robert out of danger so he could continue his quest to win the omnium.
The course is a 10.25 mile loop with two good long gradual climbs and a bunch of rollers thrown in for good measure. 

This is my kind of course!
Why?  Well, I’m a big guy, by cycling standards anyway, and climbing is not my strong suit.  I really love powering over rollers and putting the hammer down on long gradual climbs.  Cyclists always say to race your strengths and this course suited my strengths well.
I ended up riding on the white line for the first half of the first lap, about half way back in the peloton.  It’s not a place I like to be, but hey, there’s nowhere to go at the moment.  Lifetime Bikes has a guy or two up the road in an early six man break and all you can see at the front are Lifetime Bikes jerseys.  Hey, if you’ve got enough guys on the road, why not? There were rumblings from the peloton. Some of the riders were getting antsy. I love it when guys complain about the pace, yet they are not up at the front doing anything about it. If you want to go faster, get up there and do it yourself!
That blasted yellow line was in the way too and no one could move up.  A guy about seven or eight riders up from me on the white line slid over onto a nicely manicured lawn and proceeded to move up on the shoulder of the road gaining at least ten positions in the process.  It was a thing of beauty.  Star Bridges, who has seen it all in cycling at least twice, once told me of a guy that did this just before the field sprint to gain a better position. My appreciation goes out the rider that made the gutsy move on this particular day. He initiated the beginning of the downfall of the Lifetime Bikes blockade.
A few riders then went up the road to try and bridge, including Robert, but most came slowly back to the peloton as we began to pick up speed. Three of the six that were off the front in the beginning came back to us and we could see the remnants of the first break just up the road when we began the second lap.  They would be back with us shortly.
As we started up the first of long climb of the second lap, the pace quickened and I was able to swing over to the yellow line side of the peloton.  As the group began forming a two abreast line, I took the opportunity to move up near the front on the left side.  There were a few of us up at the front of the peloton that were ready to reel the danglers back into the group, so we began attacking and taking  good hard pulls to up the pace. At this point I was sitting third wheel and the guy up front peeled off.  The second rider, who was now in front, called out “bridge” as if he were going to bridge up but then he peeled off after 5 seconds to let me take my turn. 
Huh? Never heard nor seen that before.  So I took his call out literally and laid down a good hard pull to bring the group back to the break.  That was fun I said to myself and I rolled back to fourth or fifth wheel to watch what transpired for a moment.
I feel good and there’s no need to let people recover, so I hit them again.  Other guys attack, I attack again and we continue to do this through the halfway point of the third lap.  Wow, a full lap of attacking in the CAT 4’s. I can honestly say I was having a blast. This is real racing, not the wait for the sprint at the end stuff you see so much of the time in the lower categories. It took a while to wear the group down, but they finally allowed me to roll off the front all alone and get a small gap with 14 miles to go.
Well, it just so happened that we were right in the area where I had told Robert during our drive in earlier that morning would be a good place to go.  There were rollers, lots of turns and a lot of trees to limit visibility. When I was studying the map before the race, I thought that this was a good place to sneak away using the “out of sight, out of mind” tactic. Of course, all of this is moot if the group is not tired and unwilling to chase.  So much in a cycling race is being at the right place at the right time.  You cannot force things to happen.  You have to have good fitness that you can rely upon and be able to take advantage of opportunities, if and when they are presented to you. I can’t leave out Lady Luck either. Who doesn’t like a little bit of luck every now and then?
A right hand turn comes up and then quickly around a curve. I jumped on the pain train and began time trialing to get a good gap. I did not look back for a while.  I crawled inside the pain cave and built a fire.
I have to say that it’s Robert’s fault that the group let me go.  He was the omnium points leader and they were happy to let me go, as I was seen as a non-threat. During all of the attacking before I got away I was next to Robert and asked him how he felt.  His reply was “not good”.  Just after that quick exchange is when I rolled up to the front. I luckily missing a crash that occurred 6-8 wheels back where a few of the stronger guys went down and would not continue in the race.
So I’m off the front in my own painful breakaway. I made a left hand turn onto a mostly downhill stretch of curvy road with a nice tailwind. I buried myself to increase the gap, staying right on the edge of maximal output without blowing up.  As I made the next turn, I took a moment to peek behind me and there was no one in sight. Keep pedaling and maintain, maintain, maintain is what I repeated to myself.
Being in a breakaway is something that is new to me, as I’ve only recently obtained good enough fitness to put myself into them. As far as solo breakaways go, this was my first.  What do I do?  Can I make it 14 miles alone?  Your mind plays out scenarios and you tell yourself, “I can maintain this heartrate / wattage for only so long , so you begin to wonder if you will make it to the end before running out of gas.
I roll across the start / finish line and through the feed zone with one lap to go.  I feel pretty good and look back to see that the chase group is nowhere in sight. I make a right hand turn onto the busy road with the two long climbs, while the Newton County Deputy blocks traffic for me.  After I’m safely through the intersection, he allows a large box truck on continue down the road behind me.  The red Volvo pace car is out front with the flashers flashing, which tends to be very hypnotic when your heart rate is sky high.  The truck stays behind me for a couple of miles on the long straights, which helps me to hide from the peloton.  After the truck passes me and the pace car, I settle in for the last time up the two long climbs.  Looking behind me, there’s nothing but open road, so I decide to ease off just a bit up the climbs to save energy.
At the top of the second climb, I look back and see the group way back down the road.  I make a right hand turn and disappear from their view. A few rollers and two right hand turns later, I’m making the left again onto the slightly downhill run with the tailwind. I’m trying once again to time trial this section, but my legs are beginning to feel the effects of soloing for 12 miles.  I dig deep and push as hard as I can on the ups and coasting on the downs to rest my legs.  I’m okay on nutrition and managed my hydration well, but at some point your body begins to say enough is enough.
I make the final right hander with one mile to go.  I know that there is one good little hill on this section and then a nice downhill to the small rise at the finish line.  I get to the bottom of the last hill and look back to see the chase group closing quickly.  I panic and stand on the pedals, mashing with all I have.  Uh-oh, this was not a good idea.  I almost blew up. I ease off and begin making the calculation of how hard I should go to make it up the last hill with time to spare.  I crest the hill, look back and they are close.  I push onward down the hill and have just enough energy to roll across the line ahead of the group. I did my best job of posting up when I crossed the line, but my head and arms were not willing participants.  I was able to manage a smile though.
CAT4-5 Oxford Road Race Podium
I somehow pedaled the bike through the parking lot to my car and collapsed onto my cooler after removing a cold bottle of water from it.  Robert finished sixth, in spite of the visit from the cramp monster and when he rolled up, he collapsed onto the ground and we sat there for 20-25 minutes savoring the race and trying to get our core temps down.
Whew! What a difference from the day before. Cloud nine does not begin to describe the way I felt when standing on the podium after having had such a bad day 24 hours earlier.  All of the hours of training had finally paid off!
Yes, winning is good, but you know what else I discovered during this 5 days of racing, helping your teammate(s) is even more rewarding.  I had a blast riding for and with Robert in his pursuit of the omnium win.  Robert did ultimately win the whole enchilada and we had to race until the very last day to secure his points for the overall win.

Sean Philyaw
2012 Georgia Cycling Gran Prix Overall Podium
Congratulations Robert Loomis!

Robert is supposed to be working on his own write up of the series. I look forward to sharing that with you next week some time.

Thanks for reading!

Chad Hayes