Monthly Archives: July 2010

Nashville Criterium Race Series #7 and #8

What a great weekend of racing put on by Tim Hall ( at the Tennessee Titans stadium in Nashville, TN. The races were #7 and #8 of a summer long series that continues through August. The setup is not like any other parking lot crit you may have raced in – we’re talking about the Tennessee Titans, and the parking lot is enormous and perfectly paved with the potential for many different course configurations. The event was well-staffed, well-run, and HOT! The high temps for the area were approaching 100 both days, but that didn’t stop well over 100 participants each day with about 30 racing the P/1/2/3 category each day.

This was a fun family trip for us, too, as we got to see and stay with our cousins who live south of Nashville in Franklin. Saturday started out with the 2.5 hour drive from Birmingham to Franklin. I parked, unloaded, said a quick hello to my cousins before getting dressed to ride to the start (about 25 miles away). I wanted to get some extra miles in this weekend, and I’ve never really done any long rides in Nashville, so I thought riding to and from the start of the crit would be a perfect way to do both! Here is the route I took – absolutely beautiful country roads on the way up, going through a shaded, rock-walled, tree-lined stretch of Old Natchez Trace, well-timed lights and a bike lane near Vanderbilt, and a beautiful pedestrian bridge across the Cumberland River that leads pretty much straight into the Tennessee Titans parking lot.

Ride from Franklin, TN to Titans stadium in Nashville

  1. Initial break, unsuccessful
  2. Going with the winning break
  3. Bridging to the back of the field when lapping
  4. My unsuccessful attacks to get away from the field
  5. Attacking and staying away to win – tied all-time max heartrate

Saturday’s race went really well for me. There were about 30 guys, 8 from nashvillecyclist, 4 from sonic, and a few from cumberland univ and a few from cumberland transit. Less than halfway through the first lap, a sonic rider attacked, and a nashville cyclist rider responded. I had an opening beside me so I attacked hard and bridged across to them bringing I think one or two other riders with me. We had a good gap and rotated well, but it was so early in the race and the pack was fresh enough to bring us back a few laps later.

Then coming through the S/F line, I saw a cumberland univ rider (Patrick Harkins) pull out to attack. I was only a couple riders behind him, so I pulled out too, jumped to his wheel right as he started his attack, and we were off. A nashville cyclist rider (Andy Reardon) and a sonic rider (Sam Miller) jumped across to us and with the strong teams represented we quickly made time on the pack. In fact, I saw that after about 10 minutes, we were already closing in on the rear of the pack. I didn’t want us to lap the field b/c that would bring Sam and Andy back up to their teammates. But even with me starting to pull slowly and for longer stretches, we still caught the field about halfway into the race.

At this point, I was in trouble b/c I didn’t know who exactly was in the break with me other than Patrick. I asked him and he pointed out the Nashville Cyclist rider (Andy) and the Sonic rider (Sam) so that I could recognize them if they attacked. But I was still feeling fresh enough that I ended up initiating all the attacks. I think it may have been my third or fourth attack that finally worked b/c two groups of two riders had rolled off the front. I was able to bridge up to Greg Miller (Knox Velo) and another rider who wasn’t able to latch on when I came flying by. But Greg did, and the two of us worked to eventually catch the other group of two that was off the front. This was shortly before the finish so that by the last couple laps I was doing all the work as those three setup for the sprint to battle it out for 5th. I dropped off the back before the sprint and rolled in to take the win ahead of Sam who was chasing solo by this point. Andy outkicked Patrick in the sprint for third.

Sunday’s race went well, too, and this time Kristine and the kids were there to watch and cheer! It was super hot again on Sunday, but we parked in the shade and there was a pretty strong breeze blowing. I warmed up on a very cool road called Davisdon St that led to a greenway along the Cumberland river (see map below) -

I was having so much fun on the greenway that I almost miscalculated how long it would take to get back to the start of the race. I had to ride pretty hard to make it back to the start in time. I only had a couple minutes to refill my bottles with gatorade, grab a couple gels, and then dash over to the start line. I was tired from Saturday, so when the race started out with a series of attacks that all came back together, I wasn’t sure how much longer I could respond to attacks. Then the officials rang the bell for the prime, and since I was already very close to the front I decided to go for it. Fortunately, I was able to wait until 250 meters to start the sprint so that after winning the prime (in a photo finish) I was just barely able to hold on to the two quick counter attacks which led to the successful break of the day.

There were five of us in the break with almost all the strong teams represented — John Hart (Friends of the Smokies), Jason Guzak (Nashville Cyclist), Edward Krei (Cumberland Transit), Patrick Harkins (Cumberland U.), and me. The five of us were drilling it hard, but not making much time on the field for the first 3 or 4 laps we were away. Sonic was at the front leading the chase, but eventually we started to pull away – at which point I was hoping that we would slow down. But we kept pressing on and ended up lapping the field by about the halfway point of the race. The field had split into two parts and we went straight through the first part and then about 10 minutes later made it to the front group. I was pretty tired so I didn’t want to try any attacks today. Fortunately, none of my break-mates attacked either before we made it to 8 laps to go. At this point, Nashville Cyclist had 3 riders at the front and set a steady tempo that kept people from attacking. I waited until halfway through the last lap, and attacked into the headwind knowing that if I could just make it to the last corner first, I could probably hold on with the tailwind sprint. And that’s how it worked out! First place!

Sunday’s race plus warm-up on Davidson St Greenway

  1. Covering and trying to go with lots of attacks
  2. Winning a prime – cool local jar of honey!
  3. Unsuccessful counter attack
  4. Counter attack that led to winning break of 5
  5. Lapping the back half of the field
  6. Nashville cyclist team at the front steady pace
  7. Attacking with 1/2 lap to go – staying away for win

Training in Florida

My day job called me to a conference in Orlando. The conference was productive, but there was still time to get in some good training, too. I thought the riding would be a traffic nightmare with all the Disney World traffic, but so many of the roads are three and four lanes wide that there is plenty of room for cars to pass. For my last ride (see map below), I headed northwest towards Clermont and was truly amazed at how hilly that section of Florida is. There was one hill about one half mile long with average gradient of 5% and steepest section of 12-14%. Plus, it was absolutely beautiful rural countryside. My favorite riding moment came Friday afternoon when I left a main highway to turn onto an “Old Hwy”. This road got narrower and narrower until eventually I passed a stone monument with the date 1930 etched onto it right at the entrance to a beautiful 1/2 mile stretch of brick road. I kid you not, it was beautifully connected brick road with no bricks missing and incredibly fun to ride over at 20+ mph! Then after I exited that section of road, I crossed a low-lying bridge through a thick swamp presumably with alligators immediately before turning onto another road where an Amtrak train was passing on railroad tracks parallel to the road I was on and only a few feet away. It was an amazing 1-2-3 punch all within about a mile of riding. Then towards the very end of that ride, when I was getting pretty exhausted from the heat, I rode through a one-lane newly paved road right through the middle of a “lake” on my Garmin, which was actually a swamp. The trees and water were so close I imagined an alligator hiding and jumping out at any moment. I’ve highlighted all of this on the third map below (Friday’s Swamp Ride). The only downside is that it was very hot and humid (temp in the 90s with lots of humidity). I ended up today back in Birmingham with 325 miles for the week, with 240 of those in Florida.

Wednesday – Wintergarden Hills. Check out the hills in the northwest!

Thursday – Poinciana Flats. Raced a major thunderstorm (and lost).

Friday – Swamp Ride Hard, hot intervals east of Orlando – I drank 8 bottles of water/gatorade on the ride!

  1. Caribe Royale Hotel – starting point
  2. Red brick road, 1930
  3. Low-lying bridge over swamp
  4. Train tracks and Amtrack train
  5. New road w/o a bridge through the swamp

Saturday – Orlando to Clermont. Amazing hills and scenery in the northwestern part of the ride near Clermont.

USA Crits – Ironhill Twilight and Capital Crit Race Reports

2010 Capital Criterium – July 11, 2010 – Amazing! Photo by Marco Quezada.
What an experience of racing this weekend! I received call-ups both days for being in the Top 10 overall for the USA Crits series! This picture above is right before the start of Sunday’s Capital Criterium during the singing of the Italian National Anthem followed shortly by the American National Anthem. The reason for the Italian anthem is because this race was held in part to promote the start of the 2012 Giro d’Italia in Washington, DC. The course was fun and fast. I worked hard to stay at the front for the entire race and ended up 18th.
2010 Ironhill Twilight Criterium – July 10, 2010 Photo by @ShaunaSmash Looking down at broken derailleur while coasting to a stop. Photo by Joe Mallis
Saturday night was a fast, fun Twilight Criterium in West Chester, PA. The story of the night for me (besides getting a call-up!) was how much time could I spend in the pits! Only a few laps into the race, I got caught up in a crash on the hill coming out of Turn 3. I think my bike was OK, but later in the race I ended up cracking my derailleur cage when the chain came off. I ran back to the pits and got a SRAM neutral bike, which I was able to use to finish the race (38th place). SRAM was awesome and let me use the bike again the next day since it was impossible to fix the bike without ordering the part.

After the weekend’s races, I moved into 6th overall. And even though I’m missing the next race, I’m hoping to still have enough points to be in the Top 10 for Charlotte and Dallas which are the final two races in the series.

@TotalCyclist broadcast the Ironhill Crit live, and there is still an archived version available online at the following URL:
– scroll to 5 minutes to hear me ask @probikeracingtv to post pic of my call-up
– scroll to 12 minutes to see my call-up

The weekend was the first time I have flown to a race since 1998. It went pretty smoothly, albeit expensive!

Saturday, 11AM Dreary morning here in Baltimore – forecast is for rain tonight in West Chester, PA, too. That means tonight’s Ironhill Twilight criterium is looking to be pretty much a repeat of this year’s Athens Twilight. With one exception, though, I should be getting a call-up which means I won’t be stuck at the back of a huge field!

I flew in last night to the Baltimore airport, grabbed a shuttle to the hotel with my giant bike carrier (61 lbs w/ bike, clothes, tools), and then assembled my roughed up bike. Everything inside the bike carrier had come unscrewed and with the handlebars dismounted I forgot to screw the headset together so the fork had almost pulled completely out of the bike – I’m very lucky it didn’t crack! I had been planning to take the free shuttle back to the airport to take a free shuttle to the rental car place to pick up my rental car. But then I realized – wait a minute – I have a bike! So I avoided the shuttles and biked the 4.5 miles to the rental car place to pick up my car. The bike worked great, and I felt great, but it was pouring down rain. So dripping wet I waited in line, got the car, put my bike in the trunk, and headed back to the hotel. Everything is drying out now — just in time to get soaked again tonight during the race!

Later that day... The sun came out at the end of the day, dried up all the streets, and we raced on the perfectly dry (and fast) streets of downtown West Chester. It was a hard race, and I ended up 38th.

Upcoming USA Crits

Capital Criterium, July 11, 2010

Yes, that is a crit course located just two blocks from the White House, and yes if everything falls into place I will be racing it on Sunday! Excited is an understatement!!! But first, I’ll be racing the Ironhill Twilight criterium on Saturday in West Chester, PA before heading down to DC to race the Capital Crit on Sunday. Both crits are part of the USA crits series, where I am currently 6th overall, which hopefully means I’ll get a call-up to the start line at one or both races. Stay tuned for updates.

Ironhill Twilight Criterium, July 10, 2010