Sunday, May 25, 2008

Tomato Head Road Race Results:

Today was my first Cat 3 road race. Little did I know I would be racing with my buddies Michael Jackson and OJ Simpson. We Beat It down with a Butcher knife!

Our team results:
Andre 5th - The master sprinter sprinting in his junior gear!
Adam 20th? (after a busting his butt to bridge gaps, catch multiple break aways and great lead out for Andre)
Frank 25th (actually finished a long time after the field finished....but he DID finish!)
OJ 26th (rode with frank for much of the ride, made some good jokes about the locals)

A colorful race:
Lots of horses, trucks with trailers backing onto the race course, more horses and caravans, people thrown from horses, horses backing into cyclist after they were spooked, horse poop, a couple dogs, some rollers, road-side garbage, lots of head wind, did I say horse poop?, and horses. What a fun and COLORFUL bicycle ride in TN!

1st Favorite Quote of the Day from OJ: "Did that just happen?" Referring to the pausing-seconds immediately after he and Frank passed the horse and carriage caravan while they were pulling onto the race course. "Oh, look at the bicyclist".....little did they know what was in store for them.
2nd Favorite quote of the day from Frank: "STOP!" Frank yelling at a driver backing his trailer onto the course just before the masters field came through. (Oj and Frank had been dropped from the cat 3 and were getting caught by the masters field.)
3rd Favorite quote of the day from a lady thrown from her horse: "I just want my horse back." Frank and Oj turn and look into a field on the side of the road, there were 3 horse galloping about and returning to the road......Oh my, lets get out of here!

And no, we didn't almost get lost going to the race and nobody got car sick and the bananas didn't stink up the car after they were sitting on top of the dash board in the sun. :-)

However, I did see Uncle Jesse!

(Bart Nave has generously allowed us to license his photos for your own limited use at the highest resolution:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ring of Fire: rtp1

This was the second Ring of Fire event in Asheville this year. The race happens every other Wednesday. I've been racing the A race which has all the pro, cat 1,2,3s racing in it. The race is 60 laps on a 0.3 mile track. Every 5th lap there are points scored for the first 4 across the line.

The first race a few weeks ago, I took a free lap about 25 laps into the 60 lap race after getting off the front and out in the wind. Last night I bridged a gap with 15 laps to go and then took a lap. It is hard for me to recover, but I can feel I am getting stronger. I have not contested many of the sprints other than to try to get in the top 10 on some of the points lap. Definitely try to be in there on the last lap as it counts for double points.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Making the podium at the 12 hours of Tsali

We assembled two 4-man squads for the 12 Hours of Tsali mountain bike race, the sport class. There would be Team Velosports Sqaud #1 and #2. I was on Sqaud #2. Each of our squads had one expert class racer (Billy McCracken and OJ Simpson). The rest of us are sport class racers. (For reference there is a beginning class and only one expert class racer can race on a Sport Team squad.)

We even had a national-local celebrity, David Hall from Deltec Homes, on Squad #1. Stupid me, at the time, didn't realize the true significance of David and what he has done to help others.

This was my first mountain bike race and I loved it! I had ridden about 4 or 5 times in the last 3 years. But, my skills from my first bike-love were still in tact. The rush of flying through the fast trails of Tsali were recalled from years ago.....didn't really have time to pay attention to the scenery though.

In those 12 hours I was able to get in 3 laps on the 10.5 mile course. Two of our teammates got in 4 laps. Each lap was an all out effort for me to maintain position and to get by as many other racers as I could. I only had one guy pass me on the course all day.....and he was on the winning Expert Class team.

On my first lap I started about 2 minutes behind one of my teammates on our other 4-man squad. On the last climb I saw Doug at the top and I closed the 20 second gap within the last 0.5 miles and we road in together and transitions with our respective teammates. The guys on my squad were happy to see that I had closed the gap to Doug.....which was a great way to prove myself in my first race. That helped us out a lot in our intra-team competition. From then on we were it (Team Velosports Sqaud #2) and podium bound as both of our squads were 3rd/4th in a field of 14 teams. After my 1st lap I ate and tried to take a nap. The "trying to take a nap" part was not a good idea.

I stared off my 2nd lap with tired legs and body. The nap was not a good idea. I hurt like crazy on the last two climbs. There was a sharp pain in my lower right side that kept my performance at bay. I even hit a root that was at a diagonal angle and it took me down, but I was able to soften my fall and get back on the trail. My 2nd lap was a bit faster than my first. Our squad was in a battle for 3rd and I put in 6 minutes on my Sycamore Cycles counter part rider. Our Team Velosports Squad #1 was dropping in the placings. So we started to strategize.

The 3rd lap would have me put on my lights and finish in the dark. I saw my Sycamore Cycles counter part on the trail side with a mechanical after he started two minutes ahead of me. So, I caught him and finished the night lap about 6 minutes in front of him. One of our teammates decided to not ride and we went to a 3-man team to maintain our 3rd place position.

Team Velosports takes 3rd place podium in the 12 Hours of Tsali! .....and gets some SWAG! One of our teammates sat out a lap so that we could stay in contention for the podium. This was my first podium in any event. Just does not seem like there are too many podium opportunities in road racing unless you are a Pro 1 2 category. So, there will be more mountain bike races in my future.

Thanks to Nathan Wyatt at Carolina Fatz (Team Sponsor) for letting me use the Orbea Occam. That was my first ride on a full suspension and the shifting was quick and snappy!

Other results:
Nathan Wyatt did the 6 hour solo version of the race and placed 3rd! This boy is strong. Andy Applegate's team of two finished 3rd in the 12-hour expert class race. And team BioWheels had great results. Asheville racers are strong!

OJ finishes the night coming across the line swearing that a bat had become lodged in his helmet.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Track Racing: Fixed Gear

One of the other bicycle race formats that I have been participating in over the last 6 weeks is fixed gear track racing. This is a weekly event called the Mellowdrome Cup Series. Check out the website. There are usually pictures being taken at these events and posted online. I finally made it one of them.

Here is a shot of our C race during the neutral lap before the scratch race (picture taken by "retro"). Since I am relatively new to fixed gear racing I have to start out in the C group, as do all newbies. Last night I got a 2nd place in the podium results with a silver medal. Soon they'll be sure to move me up to the B group. But this is a ton of fun and we have teammates to race with which gives all kinds of options for strategies and testing things out.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Prepping for a 12 hour race

A few members of Team Velosports were seen at Bent Creek brushing up on their mountain bike skills in prepartaion for the upcoming 12-hour race at Tsali this weekend. Team Velosports will send two 4-man squads to the race. This will be my first mountain bike race! I started out mountain biking in 2001 and used to be a fanatic about it, traveling to get in as many camping-riding weekends as possible. Stay tuned for a full report!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Folky Elk-Painted Ox

So what kind of ride was in store for today? There is no racing, we have our new kits and there are super cool roads near Asheville to ride. Lets do a little climbing. Plus, we need to get used to the climbing feeling in the legs before the Roan Groan race on June 7th.

61 miles and 6700 feet of climbing. Any ride that is more than a 100 meet per mile, is a good climbing ride. The profiles shows the main climbs of the day.

The start up the BlueRidge Parkway from the US 74 exit is a familiar one. It looks really cool when you increase the vertical exaggeration and look it over several miles. This is a great section to get in some good interval work. You can go hard for a good 3 miles without much change in grade. For kicks and giggles, you can even circle back and repeat!

Elk Mtn is a climb that I really don't enjoy that much, but if you live in Asheville and you're a cyclist, then Elk is a must-do climb if you haven't done it before. So the main objective of today was to introduce these climbs to someone who hasn't done them before.

Paint Fork Gap is another one of "those climbs" that is a short one, but a beastly climb. It has pitches and grades approaching 18% if you hit it head-on. After the first initial grades it lets up to 8% to 10% before it tops out. Get in your granny gear and try out Paint Fork Gap.

The last climb of the day was Ox Creek. It is a good one to finish on and the bottom mile is a stiff 8% to 10% until the right hand hook part way up. After that it lets up to a nice 6% to 8% until it tops out. Time to descend the parkway to Folk Art Center.

"I've never done a bike ride like that before" was the comment I got after the ride. Then a little later, "that was the best bike ride I've done since I've been riding".

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Which one of these things is not like the other?

Sing along with me!
One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

Did you guess which thing was not like the others?
Did you guess which thing just doesn't belong?
If you guessed this one is not like the others,
Then you're absolutely...right!

Three of these things belong together
Three of these things are kind of the same
Can you guess which one of these doesn't belong here?
Now it's time to play our game (time to play our game).

(Words and Music by Joe Raposo and Jon Stone)

Team Velosports got their new team kits on Thursday. Look out for us on the road and in the races!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The more I bless the more I bleed, part 1

I blessed the family of a tow-truck driver $150 last night! I hope the kids eat well and mom gets some purdy flowers for Mother's Day!

The blessing took place after a great A-race (for me) at the 1st Ring of Fire event of the year and a specially-wonderful meal at Jack of the Wood (....don't park in the Commerce parking lot near by!)

Oh yeah.....NC-SC Cycling Association finally posted my Cat 3 upgrade!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Joe Frank Jittery

So while in Athens last weekend I picked up some Jittery Joes Coffee. I love African coffees! I noticed they had a Zimbabwe roast and I wanted to try that. So I picked up a can of that. And of course my very favorite coffee in the entire world, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe! I've been deprived of this roast over the last year or so. Now when I see it, I get some for sure! Yirgacheffe has a nice winey overtone to it and I just love it! So, if you want to be my buddy, you'll score big points if you get me some Yirgacheffe!

Oh yeah, I am supposed to do my first Cat 3 race in Dilworth today! Stay tuned for how that turns out. Hope it does not rain!