2011 Christmas eve ride

This year was a bitter sweet Christmas eve ride as we enjoyed our time together on the trails.
We got the dogs out for a short ride before most folks showed up, then headed out for the group ride around 11am. There was a bunch of climbing, and we ended up exploring an unknown trail which ended up looping us back around to mid-climb, then we got to bomb back down the trail again – good times!

We had a water crossing that had no bridge – w/ a smart phone in my pocket, I figured it was safer to walk than take a $200+ dunk/phone renewal.

Post ride we hung out with our friends and the dogs, and remembered our friend Jeff.

Good times with Great friends!

Hope you have very Happy Holidays and enjoy time spent with friends and family!!

Winter Bike League Maysville 2011

You know that Winter is about to cast her steely grip across the US when anybody whose is a cyclist rushes to Athens, GA to join into the Winter Bike League. They go in hopes of Fame and fortune that but a few have been able to attain, the stories of which have never been told – unless several adult beverages have been consumed.

Mineral Man and StrongerCyclist

I got a call from the Mighty Mineral Man himself, telling me that he was returning to grand form & was making preparations to rip the legs off any non battled hardened cyclists that dare forget his story. It had been a mere seven years since Mineral Man and your’s truly left their own mark in the Archives of the WBL.

As I do every year, I re-read last years WBL report . This year I was determined that my lack of mileage (from recovering from a recent Mt bike crash) wasn’t going to be the source of my suffering.
Greenville WBLer Derek.

Luckily, I talked my friend Derek into coming from Greenville to the original WBL & luckily he gave me 2 NUUN tablets at the start. I also filled up 2 flasks full of Hammer Gel, a clif bar, and a secret weapon, a pack of pop-tarts – yeah, I’m going old skool! I wasn’t going to let a lack of nutrition keep me from holding onto the front group.

WBL start Dec3, 2011

As the ride gently rolled out of town, everyone was all chatter and festive, seeing old friends, meeting new friends. Little did I realize the depth of the days field, but why would that surprise me? this is the WBL! I saw some great riders, a @Team Type1 rider, 2 Team Mountain Kakis riders, a Real Cyclist.com, Jered Gruber, Clay Parks, Hammerin’ HillBilly, FarmerG, the PACK SHOUTER, old motorcycle racers, and a score of cyclists that race! It was a stacked, packed, jacked field of 2 wheeled craziness about to embark on a slugfest. As we rolled outta town, you could tell everyone was giddy with anticipation!

Then, came the rolling hills. At the mid-field riders were being made into diamonds via the intense pressure of the leaders. All you can hear is the weazing wind of those putting in monumental efforts to keep themselves with the herd. As I looked up I realized that we were only half way up this roller and you have to pay attention as riders start to fall off the pace.

Pack is spread out on 2nd lap

I see a couple riders swerve around and then suddenly see why, 1 gal was lost in her personal hurt locker, I checked traffic, played frogger and eased over and became a pusher. I geared down, and asked if she wanted a push, when she looked over her shoulder I realized it was her weazing I heard. She was nearly hyper-ventilating. I got the two of us up to the same speed, but we still had a ways to get over this hill, and now I’m nearly weazing also. PUSH! Finally, I got her onto the flats, let her catch her breathe, and the ride continued along.

Once at the store stop, I filled the bottles, popped in the extra Nuun tablet, ate on a smore pop-tart and checked in with the Mineral Man & Gainesville fella’s. So far, so good! But as the group was knocking out the 2nd half of the ride, the rollers were back. Funny how you can’t remember much about a route, but once you are hurting you can realize this is where the hurt was put to you last time. We were on a skyward ascent, under I-85 when I had deja-vue. I dug down and my quads were talking to me, but I was able to throttle enough to keep my placing in the pack.

By now, I’m going through my second flask of gel. The quads and hamstrings are mumbling, but no mutiny yet. Onward, we march. I take every chance to throttle my pace. After each surge ahead of me, I catch up slowly – no big efforts. And no one is in any hurry to get around me either. Everyone is suffering.

Finally we round a corner and I realize we are just outside Athens, and have 2 climbs left. But the first climb I loathe. It is somewhat short, but man is it steep. Suddenly the pack starts to move all over the road nearly everyone is out of the saddle, rocking their bikes. Again, I make it with the group, and my mood improves, Athens is on a hill, and now that is the only hill left. Post ride Food and Beer awaits!

Interesting to hear the stories when your done and finally relaxing. Man, was I suffering when we were going past that white picket fence. “yeah, I remember that fence, that section SUCKED!”

You are suffering? Remember everyone is hurting, you just have to hurt just a little more to stay with them!
Most races come down to 3-5 minutes of who can suffer the most and that often determines the winner.

How to paceline

A few weeks ago, I was doing a road ride with the Wednesday night group. We were rolling down the road with a rotating pace-line. As we got to a slight downhill, I noticed that some riders that I hadn’t seen at the front suddenly hopped into the pace-line – but instead of keeping things smooth, it suddenly got all messed up. Riders were either pulling too hard through the pace-line or riders were pulling up to the front rider, and NOT pulling through.

It was like they got themselves to the front of the group ride and suddenly realized they were in a little over their head, and didn’t know how to get themselves out of it. So, I attempted (in a helpful tone) to get them to move over to the left and allow the rotation to continue again.

I have read several articles that tell you how you are supposed to do a paceline, but I think they all miss the mark for 1 important reason:

The paceline is an ever changing thing, and you have to adapt accordingly.

There isn’t always a proper rotation.
1) The lead rider should gradually pull off the front – no sudden side motions. (also, there is no need to point if you make your movements gradually and steady).

2) The lead rider should pull off into the Headwind.

3) Once the lead rider pulls off the front, they should also gradually and slightly reduce intensity and speed to allow the next rider to pull in front of them and then draft off the next rider (assuming a consistent rotating paceline) – think of it from an over-head view, the cyclists going through the paceline should draw an oval, not a rectangle.

A good video example:

4) If there is no headwind then it doesn’t matter which way the paceline rotates. Sometimes you will pull through and no one will be behind you, and suddenly the pack is single-file with you at the front. You can continue your effort if you like, and wait until someone pulls through allowing you to draft, or you can simply flick your elbow and ease back to the other side of the road, hoping that the rider who is now behind you will pull through. If he does, then the paceline has just switched rotation.

There isn’t always a specific amount of time on the front.
Generally in the U.S. we keep a steady rotating paceline, so as soon as you are at the front, you gradually begin to slide over in front of the next rider – this allows the rider being passed to adjust speed to get into your draft, and it allows the next rider in the paceline to adjust intensity to keep the pace steady.

If your group wants each rider to ride at the front for a longer period of time then the intensity of the effort will have to be your gauge for how long you stay on the front. This should allow the weaker rider to rotate off the front sooner, and the stronger rider to stay on the front longer.

All of these things may change on the fly – and being able to adapt is what is important. And always remember that your actions will cause reactions to those behind you, and visa versa, so be steady and as predictable as possible.
When pacelines run smoothly it is the Faster Cycling way for a group to ride together!

I am a Pusher

Yes, I am a Pusher, a pusher of many things including:
A) health
B) outdoors lifestyle
C) good food
D) adult beverages
E) more Ladies in cycling

I got pretty upset and heated this weekend at the WBL. This past weekend was the Ladies only Sprint of the WBL. After about 75 miles in the saddle – the women were called to the front of the pack.

I was lucky enough to be near the front of the field as 100 or more riders hooted and hollered at the 5 woman sprint that took place to all manner of encouragement and cat-calls to the extent of wondering if they were sprinting or mud-wrestling?

After the women’s sprint I watched guys go around a chic that had been in the sprint. She had put out a solid effort & was now not quite up to the accelerations of the pack. I was giving her a push when needed…. keeping her intact with the field, not unlike the assistance that was given me last week . Yet still I noticed something that was rather disturbing & I couldn’t help but be curious and yet disappointed at the same time…..

Why do guys pass a chic that are in a spot of bother? Here we are, in a major sword fight amongst each other and yet when a lady does show up to a big ride, she is passed up like a weaker species. Why? Because the guys think they will get dropped if they help, or because chics wanted to be treated just like another rider. Well, I’ve been dropped on many rides in my lackluster career of cycling & let me tell you it is frustrating & humiliating… to put it another way – it just sucks!

That’s why I’m a pusher. Ever since I dated a chic in the peleton that would occasionally be put into the hurt locker, I learned that assisting the fairer sex was a noble experience that gave me A) a better workout and B) kept them coming out to the rides.

Have you not heard the infamous story of Mario Cipollini at the Tour de Georgia…. His favorite English words were ‘PUSH’ and ‘I love America (women)’.

There were 2 chics that had boyfriends there this weekend that when the ‘vacation real estate’ (drafting) wasn’t enough they got just enough of a nudge as to keep them in the game. Their guys were both veterans of the Pro1,2 field. Guess what impressed the ladies – that the guy put the hammer down and nearly dropped them, or that the guy took care of a chic.

Besides, I would rather we have more ladies in the field of guys! You think I like riding for 70+ miles & looking at your butt?! NO! Put a female in front of me & I will keep her ‘behind’ in front of mine. And if you like having the fairer sex along for the ride, I suggest you do the same, in a gentlemanly fashion.
I’ve assisted chics that ‘wanted to do it on their own’ & I totally respect that. She said “I got it, thanks”. No problem, You go girl! But, fella’s please don’t hinder their experience, nor their enjoyment of riding in a group…..

I’ve seen guys move-up and purposely push a chic out of a paceline, so they could get ahead of her. I’ve seen guys sprint just to get around chics after a turn, I’ve seen guys let a chic pull on the front of the pack, only to attack after they pull off.

Guess who is the weaker rider now?

I would not do this to a rider that wasn’t comfortable or steady on their bike – but they usually aren’t in our groups anyway. To give a little assistance to anyone, all I do is, usually downshift into a harder gear because I want to mash more, place my hand on or just above the back pockets. Now I can do 2 things. 1) Pedal faster while pushing, which will raise both our speeds. 2) give a steady push of that person, which speeds them up, but slows me down.

The biggest mistake is to push in any direction other than straight forward. Usually if you push forward all the rider has to do keep their handle bars straight, look straight ahead and they will get a nice little boost of speed. And it is amazing the difference 1-2 mph will make when you are coming unglued at the back of a group. Again, make sure the rider is comfortable with the push before you do it, everyone is safer that way.