Glad you could join me...

... thoughts and stories accounted by me as accurate as I deem possible. Sit back, tilt a pint and enjoy the journey.

Patterson & Humphrey

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

All in a Day - August 24th

What a long day.  Bed by midnight, couldn't sleep, up at 4a, ate and bored but only wish I was tired.  Mine as well do the 5:15 local group ride.  35+ regular attendees that meet at Carmel & Colony each day, but Tuesdays & Thursdays being the fast days.  Always lead by Spencer Leuders, who is just a machine and always looking some friendly competition.  I would assume his motto is "ride hard or don't ride at all, especially if I have to get up at 4:30 in the  morning".

I was still asleep until we hit Park and I actually like to start on the back and move my way up through triathletes, rec riders and the like to see the players.   Woodworth, Hathcock, Cooley, Leuders, etc.   These guys don't waste time.  Not sure where they get the energy, but I understand the enjoyment (kind of), no traffic, cool morning, no lights because of no traffic and smooth sailing through the city.  Spencer is constantly pushing the pace and then throwing solid attacks.  My plan was not to attack, but to follow any moves bouncing from one to another and then bridging long to Spencer.  I believe he intimidates these guys although Hathcock doesn't mind giving chase and dishing out his own pain from time to time.  My goal wasn't to smart since I knew I would be riding hard again in about 12 hours.   I found myself expending too much energy, effort and pain, but I enjoy the game and somebody has to play with Spencer.  Great time, cool down solo with the Mayor, Riley Greer, and 40 miles later and home by 6:45a.

Training for the State Road Race Championship this weekend, so no need for Orr Road.  Went out to a local group ride where I knew there would be some road simulation games, attacks, varied terrain, etc.   The ride was rather tame in comparison to past weeks, but there was still a selection made and it ended with 3 roadies and 3 triathletes.  Before you laugh, these 3 triathletes are pretty darn fast and love to ride hard and show their roadie friends how strong they are.  It was fun watching them take those long manly pulls to pull over and expect us to contribute in that manner.  Our mo jo is to draft, draft and draft again until the end.  Their mo jo is no drafting and see who can pull the longest and hardest.  The roadies were game in watching and riding wheels.  We took our obligatory pulls, but they absolutely despised us for taking them on the hills and at the sprints.   What did they expect, right?  I do give them credit for putting it out there, allowing us to join their ride and for being good sports.   I am sure it is nice training for them too.  I don't think they realize how different our strategies, skills and abilities.  At one time I use to be able to time trial with the best of them, but this roadie thing has put a wrench into that specialty, or maybe I just put my own wrench into it.

We kept the pace high and consistent and it was nice turning average speed higher than normal.  The steady effort was great training too.   Just a nice variation to the normal weekday rides.   And the West side of Charlotte although not desirable to reside is a great place to ride and much, much safer than the North side and especially the South side of Charlotte.   The folks that live and drive out there are very respectful citizens and it is much appreciated by the local cyclists.   Dropped by a.m. Douger's place where Mr. Smith and I enjoyed an adult beverage on the way to the South side.  Home by 8:30p and 57 miles later.  What a day!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Tri Shootout - Interesting Twist of Training - Sat, August 21st

Nick Frank is the Mastermind behind the Charlotte Triathlete scene and this new game of Shootout at the Spamerton Corral. Nick is a former professional triathlete and could certainly still be, but the fact that he got bored and frustrated dedicating so much effort to that sport and the most important fact is that he and his wife just had a child. Although Nick took quite a bit of time off, he has come back and appears on fire.

He runs this "shootout" on Saturday mornings from The Booty Loop at 7a - 62 miles - Spamerton route. And man does he have the rules in effect, published, agreed upon and quite an ordeal. Essentially it is Nick and his team of faithful (whoever shows up and is not wearing a Triple Threat kit) vs. the local elite triathlon team, Triple Threat. They are made up of some strong dudes, but unfortunately some of them have as strong an ego. 5 sprints, 3 KOMs and many other detailed rules that create a sense of competition, award for putting it out there and plenty of opportunity for anybody to stake a claim on one of the prizes.

This Saturday none of the Triple Threat guys showed up. Not sure if that was intimidation by Nick or they just had other races in other places, but none the less we had about 10 guys show up and Nick split up teams accordingly (he knows everybody). I captained one team and he the other - fair play. Keep in mind that I have known and rode with Nick for years. He is a fascinating rider who I truly believe could be something special on the roadie circuit, but his passion was around tris and is now around running races. The dude can ride a freaking bike, but he can run even faster, so no wonder he was a professional.

I dragged Lars along, the only other true roadie. I realized pretty quickly that we were at a slight disadvantage being the only two with road bikes. But that is why you play the game. We are neutral heading out West Blvd. A nice time to make sure we know the teams, have some quick chit chat, strategy discussion and a little trash talking. Once we hit the airport... game on. Nick and I sat on the front catching up for a mile or so before he took a pull. I sat second wheel and he gave me about 1/4 mile, but when he came off I launched the first attack and went solo. For rule purposes, if you are in a break without a member of the other team for 3 minutes or more, 10 points. I felt good and thought I could pick up 10, but on the downhill at Old Dowd (or whatever road as I can't recall the names of these country roads), Nick had to single handily bring me back. I believe I had 1:40, but certainly not enough. Today will be about learning the route, where the signs are, the players, the strategy, etc.

We got out near the Whitewater Center before the attacks began again. My job was to mark Nick all day. One of his guys attacks and one of mine follows. Perfect, but you can't just wait. Those two could possibly make it to a sprint or KOM and depending upon who is representing it may not be your best card to play. Nick jumped and went across and i was directly on him. The four of us made a pretty significant gap and stayed on it because the first sprint was a mile or two ahead. There is no way I should be beat in a sprint with these guys period. Well, today I was. I read the sign location wrong and Derrick got a great jump on me as I was watching Nick. I picked up 2nd and Nick 3rd, so his team is up 2 (1st=3, 2nd=2, 3rd=1). The others roll up on us in Mt. Holly or is it Belmont.

The next section is a false flat for about 7 miles. Nick jumps and my guy, Jeff, goes with him. I am comfortable with that since it would take too much work to get to them and worry about a point. I figured we would get 2nd and 3rd and cancel 1st out, which is exactly what happened. But I saved a bullet and when we accelerated hard, we popped Seth and David, but our slowdown effort allowed my other two teammates to catch back on.

The next points are on Spencer Mountain... KOM (1st=5, 2nd=3, 3rd=1). I am usually pretty good on Spencer, but granted I am not the best climber. It is steep in the beginning, but rather short before flatting out. Nick puts in a slow attack of acceleration and Lars follows. I tell him to stay with Nick. Jeff and I are sitting 3rd and 4th. Nicks pace pops Jeff and I and I am good with that since Lars can climb but can't sprint, so we have essentially 2nd and 3rd (since Jeff stays on gas and away), which still puts us down a point, but plenty to go in my mind.

We regroup and head towards Lowell/McAdenville and a sprint coming up. Again, perfect for me. Again, I screw it up with two triathletes on both sides of me trying to sprint on tri bikes and barely hanging on to control those machines. This is where I fully trust roadies to hold their line and play the game fairly. These guys I did not and am already down some skin. Not sure of the results on this one, but I either got 2nd or 3rd and the other two spots by Nick and his teammate. We are down 2 on this one. My mistake. My man Jeff attacks beautifully. Nick has to cover. I cover him and Jeff gets in a little over 2 minutes, so almost picks up points for us. I couldn't counter because Nick catches him at a red light. In the rules, and rightfully so, you can't take an advantage at a stop light or stop sign.

We all regroup and head into Christmas town. KOM coming up. This one suits me well because it truly is a power climb. I roll off the front before we make the turn to start the climb. Nick has a slight mechanical but quickly recovers and comes across. He accelerates. I get on his wheel and not long after attack him and solo up for KOM. Not sure of the order from there, so with all of this unknown it truly is hard for me to tally the score, but Nick doesn't miss a beat or a number. Rest stop.

Next up is KOM in Cramerton. This is typically not a good climb for me. It starts out mild, is medium to short distance and kicks up at the end near the school. Nick is surely aggressive and confident today. He accelerates again and takes the pack up. David is sitting second wheel and I am third. Nick is winding it up and creating some gaps. He looks back, David is on the rivet and cramping it appears. I jump Nick, but am not sure where the sign he. He is gentlemen enough to tell me as we battle to the top. I put in another acceleration and pick up KOM. Nick 2nd. Not sure of 3rd, but about lose my breakfast on that one.

Next up is a sprint on Armstrong Ford Road. Nick tells me how far and the terrain. Sounds like it is on a slight roller up a few miles down the road. Everybody seems to know where it is. Nick sends one of his guys off. My guy, Jeff, follows and Nick jumps on and me on Nick. Nick's other guy launches and Nick follows, so I figure it is near. Yes and I jump and am taking Nick to the line. We get the sprint and Nick and his guy take points that equal it all out. I keep the pace high until we get redlights and downtown Belmont and then we regroup.

The fireworks are soon to follow. We get near the last sprint and common theme today, I mis-read the location/distance of the sign and battle two triathletes that may or may not know how to handle their machines, but they do put a bit of fear in me as they sway back and forth. Sprint after the Gaston County line bridge is won by Nick and his guy, Derrick, gets 2nd and me 3rd. Embarrassing. It won't happen again.

No more designated points, so now we are down three points and will need a breakaway to win. I send Lars off the front. He gets a nice gap before Tyler goes across to him. He probably was solo for 45 seconds. I am comfortable with Lars being up the road (assuming he knows strategy and what needs to be done) with Tyler. Nick and I can recover and prepare for battle. We aren't that far behind, but a couple of miles later I see Tyler unhitching Lars on the Old Dowd Hill and the clock has started. Lars is losing time quickly and I get to the front and start the chase. I am making ground but not enough to cover 3 minutes. I pull Nick up the hill and stretch out on the airport flat, but start cramping and my time window is closing very quickly. Tyler picks up 10 points. I blow and Nick attacks me. Perfect execution. David tries to cover, but Nick is a machine and has been waiting for this move. I put it down in hopes to catch him and have some help from Tyler, but not enough and Nick picks up 10 points. We finally latch on, but game is over and my team loses, but we certainly put in a valiant effort. Jeff, Lars, David and Seth - great job guys.

Get home with 75 miles and a great workout with a lot of fun and mental stimulation. Very refreshing to change up the route, the players, the antics and terrain. The Saturday morning BikeSouth ride is just too predictable anymore. At least Nick and I will be teammates next time out.

Monday, August 16, 2010

CrossRoads - Harrisburg & Doping Control - Aug 7th

I wish I could tell you more about the events of the day since this seemed to be the highlight of conversation this day and the rest since.   The race was quite eventful in that Fraham watched Charlie's wheel so hard that he missed the fact that Grant went up the road with the ability to take over yellow and win the omnium.   Sometimes other's strategies puzzle me.  That is exactly what happened.   Grant picks up 4th and the yellow jersey and wins the omnium.  Grant has had a fantastic year.  He is the State Road Race Champion.  He is the State Criterium Champion.  And now is the yellow jersey and omnium winner of Crossroads.  Quite an accomplishment.  Bravo!  Fraham totally falls apart and Charlie takes over 2nd on the podium.  One point separates Grant and Charlie.  WOW!

Now as far as doping control, here is what I know - remember I wasn't there.  I was at home in bed sick from a week of tough races, one crash and nasty case of road rash, late nights arriving home from these rural towns, working full time and helping the promoter set up the race course.   As a matter of fact, I didn't ride my bike nor workout, on Saturday, Sunday or Monday.   I didn't hear, however, on Thursday of the following week that my number was one of the "random" numbers picked for screening.  Very interesting that I would be chosen since I was for all practical purposes last each night, even being dropped in Statesville.

Here is the interesting part... I received an email of a picture somebody had taken of the 35+ list and it contained 10 numbers, two of which were the same, thus bringing the total to 9.   I was told it consisted of the top 3 finishers from Saturdays race and 6 randoms.  Very, very interesting and frankly absolute bullshit that 4 of the 6 "randoms" were from Carolina Masters.  This is nothing but a disguised and cowardly attempt for a modern day witchhunt.   So, Grant, Charlie and Ryan peed in a cup so the world will now know they ride and race clean, as does our entire team.   I hope the others come out "negative" too... Bixby, TSmith, Dender, Tobbee.  And the other "random" was Shane Martin - could have been an error on whoever wrote the numbers down, but Shane didn't even race Crossroads, so not sure of the circumstances behind that one.   Oh well.  For the guys that might be considering or taking performance enhancing drugs, know that you might have escaped this time around, but there is always your next race.  I really do hope that all the Masters guys believe in the philosophy of racing clean.  There is absolutely no reason what so ever to race otherwise.  You are only fooling yourself, tainting your own body and absolutely without a doubt cheating the others you race against.  You are a coward and a disgrace to us, your team and sport.   Enough said!

Congratulations Grant McAllister for winning the Crossroads overall. 

1.  Grant McAllister
2.  Charlie Brown
3.  Aaron Fraham

Sunday, August 15, 2010

CrossRoads - Statesville - Aug 6th

Already Friday and three races under out belt.  This time we were running with a much smaller squad and had to change tactics a bit.  We had Grant, Charlie, Keith and I.  We realized that IHS (Bixby, Fraham and Craven) were just worried about Charlie and planned their entire strategy around him.  That left Grant to fly and we knew it, so we understood first in the omnium.  Now we had to race for 2nd.  Isn't that the irony here, somebody is always racing for 2nd and against Carolina Masters that seems to be an accomplishment. 

From the gun, I jump on the front and set tempo, a pretty hard tempo, single file, for 3 or 4 laps before seeing how things would play out.   I could tell real quickly that the wheels were getting ready to fall off.   I stayed on, pushed my way back through and up to the front for one more dig and had Charlie on my wheel for all I had left.  I really didn't want to pop, nor do we ever, but this night it was inevitable.   So, finally there I go, but not before Grant and Keith are in a move with two others.  Unfortunately the two others are not strong and one is The Cheat.   Why is he referred to as The Cheat you may ask... well, Mike clearly articulated to Grant during the break that he would not contest the finish since Keith and Grant were doing all the work to stay away.   I rode on the back of the break for a while and finally popped again.  Tactical mistake again as they could have eventually pulled me back to the pack.  The field lapped me and I stayed on the back to finish my workout.

Grant gets 2nd, Keith gets 3rd and the sprint finish from the field was the most important race of the entire series and it came down to this.  Charlie jumps Fraham and the field right after turn number five and has separation.  Fraham's teammates fight like hell to get him up there and here he and Charlie come to the line like a drag race.  The Judge gives Fraham a little bit of his own medicine and defeats him for the sprint and the yellow jersey.   OUCH!   Grant is only a point or so behind.  The guys looked great and I wish I could have contributed more.  I felt like hell and it had been a long week already including my crash in the Cat 3 field in Mocksville.  Oh, did I leave that off?  Yes, after that my body decided it wasn't going to participate in anymore Cat 3 races during the week.  I couldn't afford any more pain and the races were back to back.  Plus the Master's races are much faster than the Cat 3 races, so I had plenty to worry about.

CrossRoads - Salisbury - Aug 5th

Our home course in Salisbury and we came out in force, but not before watching a lot of unnecessary crashes in the 4/5 race.  I was extremely disappointed in the promoter and the officials for this because many guys were carted off, four with broken collar bones.  A little wisdom and experience could have prevented this instead of putting cones up in the middle of their freaking race, which obviously demonstrates fault.

We were ready to roll with deflated tires and needed a good showing in this one.   Started out fairly cautious just to make sure we all knew the turns, but it quickly picked up pace.   JP kept the pace very high for more laps than my legs realized.  I finally weaved through and made it up to the front to try and help.  He looked back and I attacked from 3 or 4 deep.  Solo suicide as I call it, but gave it my best for 2 laps before the sprint competition bell rang and the sprinters came forward to take over.   Again, bad tactical move to go solo and draw no one out. 

Not long after Ryan is able to jump free, solo, where he is a master time trialist (and obviously I am not).  He went on to win solo, which is great for him and for the team.  Ryan had just gotten back from Masters Nationals and put in a hard effort at Lowe's the night before.  He was feeling it.  On the other hand, I was not and just couldn't get my legs moving nor the mind after seeing all of those crashes and knowing I could go down, again, if not careful.  The Judge pulled out 2nd and JP 4th.  The Judge still wore blue and Fraham in yellow.  Grant is still in contention so we still have a few cards to play. 

CrossRoads - Concord - Aug 4th

Probably the fastest of all the courses and the favorite is Concord.  What a wonderful venue, town and spectators.   We had changed our tactic a bit and wanted to sit in and watch others to see how it might play out if we didn't take charge.  The usual onesies here and onesies there, but nothing serious or threatening.   Finally after keeping the field strung out and the pace high, a lull existed and Grant had the opportunity to roll off and pick up pace.   This is exactly how we discussed it and designed it, but it never happens like you discuss.  This night it did.  Grant is on great form.   Immediately, Keith and I got on the front and kept the pace tempo, which did it's job at preventing others from attacking.  Not sure why they didn't because it was a great time to do so, but I think the pace had been so high for so long that guys were glad to have a break, us in control and thoughts that one guy couldn't stay away solo for that long.  Guess again my friends. 

Grant soloed to victory.   Late in the race, Pat Raines made a great move to get away solo and looked as though he might have it timed to perfection, but good ole Marcus Morgan used the sprint point competition to launch himself solo.  He made it across to Raines and pulled out 2nd.  Glad for the Charlotte boy.  Again my finish left a lot to be desired.  The legs are already tiring.  I believe The Judge was 5th and still out of yellow, but we don't mind being the underdog.  It is how you finish that counts.

CrossRoads - Mocksville - Aug 3rd

This course has never been kind to me.  Last year I had season ending shoulder reconstruction surgery.  OUCH!   I always say you have to get back on that horse and chase the deamons away.   I had registered for the series for Masters and 3's.  That didn't last long - more to come.   Masters was the usual stacked field.  The field was mixed with 35+ & 45+.  Grant, Charlie, Keith and I were the only guys that were signed up for the omnium.   We also had Derrick and Mark racing this night.   Almost a full squad.  As usual the race started out with a bang although there was still a lot of watching going on to see which contender would strike first and how the cards would be dealt from there.  

I rolled off with a guy from MOB, Mike, who will be referred to as The Cheat from here on out because of a card he played in Statesville - more to come.   We stayed away for what seemed about 8 laps or so building as much as a 20 second gap, but two problems here, first Crossroads race, weaker guys from our two teams and not the right mix or enough in the mix.   It came down quickly, but unfortunately I had cooked the legs quite a bit being in the break.  It wasn't the smartest move for me and would be followed by small other tactical mistakes during the course of the week.   And this year a Sprints point competition was sponsored to shake things up and add another jersey to the mix, so that changed the dynamics of the race and created a different race within the race. 

Before The Cheat and I got caught by the field, we were also caught by a 3 man break, which should really have been a two man break.  The officials let one of the POA guys in the break from the pit, when he should have been placed in the field.  Charlie and co. came up to us and I gave a hard effort, but just couldn't match their pace after our 8 laps, so tactical mistake blunder.  Back in the field, we just kept an eye on any other moves making sure Charlie stayed away.  I did get into with SWaddle, who has to be one of the biggest pricks in the sport.   A total jackass this guy is.  We had some words and battled for a wheel before Waddel had the nerve to purposefully come over 3 or so bike lengths and run right into me and tryed like hell to hook me.  I kept it upright and finally the jackass, who has obviously got some anger management issues and is obviously on something that causes his temper and outrage as well as ability to throw in multiple attacks beyond what most of us can do.    My finish was not good and the night ended with AFraham in yellow and The Judge in Blue (sprints).   The irony in that is that Fraham beat The Judge in the sprint.  Much more racing to come.