Monthly Archives: September 2012

Fool’s Gold 2012 MTB race

Quick summary

Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale) took the win (also wrapping up the title for the 2012 NUE series), followed by Ben Swanepoel (Squirt Lube) in 2nd, and Christian Tanguy (Team CF) in 3rd. But before all that, I snuck away on the Cooper Gap climb to try to get the Strava KOM with Swanepoel catching me across the top before the Winding Stair descent. Once we hit the single track, I quickly lost ground eventually ending up in 13th place. Exhausted and happy now!

Ride highlights

  • The beautiful sunrise leaving the winery
  • Chatting with everyone before, after, and during the race
  • Riding hard up the Copper Gap climb and leading the race
  • The fog across the top of the mountain on the Winding Stair descent
  • Sunlight breaking through the fog and rays of sunshine shooting through the pine trees (I think that was near Bull Mountain)
  • Getting the chance to see Gerry Pflug climb up a super steep hill on his singlespeed … amazing!
  • ALL of the creek/river crossings. For somebody like me who is always thwarted by creeks and rivers on road rides and route planning, it was awesome to be able to just ride straight through the creeks on my mountain bike.
  • 6 inch long millipede crossing the trail – I rode around it
  • Small deer or fox jumped off the trail in front of me
  • Any singletrack that was uphill … especially the climb up to the top of Bull Mountain up steep singletrack through a thick pine forest breaking out into a HUGE grassy meadow at the top of the mountain. I really disliked the singletrack descent down from the grassy meadow, though, because without functional front suspension I got beat up pretty bad on that section ended up in that deep rut both laps having lost control and lucky not to have crashed.

The details

About 100 riders set out before sunrise on a 100 mile mountain bike race. Lightning and light rain gave way to a beautiful sunrise as we rolled out of the winery onto Hightower Church road in a fast neutral section. Shortly before we made the left onto Forest Service Rd 28, I moved up the right side and then immediately followed two riders that surged at the front stringing out the group. As we hit the gravel with some of the steep fast rollers, I tried to stay towards the front but ended up drifting a few spots back.

We were probably a mile into the Cooper Gap climb when I realized that I could make some time on everyone else before the singletrack if I went hard on the climb. This turned out to be a great decision because drilling that climb and taking the KOM was the best part of the race for me. And considering how slow I was compared to everyone else on the singletrack, it wouldn’t have done any good to “save energy” for the singletrack. Even after I rode away from the group, I kept on expecting to look back and see the group closing in, but I never saw the group again after the first few switchbacks.

Across the top, Ben Swanepol caught me, and I was able to keep up with him on the rollers before the Winding Stair descent. As soon as we hit the descent, I thought that I would be able to follow his lines and keep up but this lasted only a few seconds before I nearly lost it on some of the washboard (my front suspension was not working right – almost like a rigid fork – I got beat up pretty bad by the rougher sections of the course). So I slowed way down and kept expecting the rest of the group to catch me. But Ben and I must have had a pretty big lead by the top since the rest of the group, led by Jeremiah Bishop, didn’t catch me until just after we made the turn onto the singletrack near the bottom of the Winding Stair descent.

I knew immediately that I needed to get out of the way so I pulled off the trail and maybe 7 or 8 riders passed me. Then there was a break so I hopped back on the trail and continued to ride as fast as I thought was humanly possible. But three more riders caught up to me and then we got tangled up as I tried to get off the trail. Hopefully this was the only time I slowed anyone down on the singletrack. This section was short enough that when we hit the next gravel road I was able to drill it and pass a few people coming really close to catching back up to the lead group (less than 50 meters ahead). But as I saw them disappear into the next section of singletrack, I knew that was the last time I would see the leaders.

Within a few minutes of entering the second section of singletrack, the riders that I had passed on the gravel road started catching up to me and I pulled over immediately to let each of them pass. A few minutes after that Gerry Pflug (Salsa) came by on his singlespeed. That was one of the highlights of the race for me as I got to see the top singlespeed racer in America grind up a super steep climb that I could barely clear with my geared bike! Then it got lonely for a really long time. Nobody coming up from behind, and nobody in sight ahead of me all the way to the 2/3 aid station. By this point, I had already given up on a top finish so I focused on making sure I got enough nutrition. By the end of the race, I ended up stopping at FIVE aid stations and making sure I left each one with two full bottles. Still, I didn’t get the nutrition quite right because I didn’t put anything in the self-supported cooler drop-off and I didn’t realize how long it would take to get from aid station 2/3 back to aid station 2/3 for the 3rd time. I’m pretty sure I rode about 10 miles without anything to drink. I backed way off the pace to keep from cramping. Around every corner I kept hoping to see the aid station. When I finally got there, I filled up both of my bottles and then took a third bottle that I filled with a mix of heed and a can of coke. This first time through the aid station, though, was the lowest point of the race for me as I realized that this was going to be at least an order of magnitude more challenging than I had anticipated. I went from leading the race to wondering if I was going to make the time cut-off.

Fortunately, though, a number of things happened within the next few miles of the race that really boosted my confidence. First, Zach Morrey (Blue Ridge Cyclery) caught and passed me. Then Rob Spreng (Dirty Harry’s) passed me, too. But Rob passed me shortly before the singletrack turned uphill. So I caught and passed him on one of the uphill sections of singletrack. Then when it turned downhill again, Rob caught up to me and passed me again. We ended up settling into a nice rhythm this way for a long time. He made it to the deep water crossing a few seconds before I did and we were joking about it afterwards that the creek was much deeper than we had expected. The singletrack turned uphill and so I left Rob for a while and eventually caught back up to Zach. I left him on the next long climb and then that is when I ran out of water. I was still ahead of Rob and Zach after leaving the aid station, but they both caught and blew past me shortly after the skies opened up and the heavy downpour turned the singletrack section that I had enjoyed on the first lap and was looking forward to on the second lap into a muddy mess. The mud didn’t seem that slippery, but with several more events on my racing calendar this year I wasn’t taking any chances with all the collar-bone breaking roots and rocks just laying there on the ground waiting to be fallen on.

The rain stopped fairly quickly, but it was 30 minutes of single track riding before it started to dry out. I caught Rob during the final double track climb up to the gravel road (FS-28) that would eventually take us back to the paved road leading to the winery. I was so elated to be on my way back and to have survived all the singletrack that I absolutely crushed the gravel road and paved road back to the winery. In fact, I was closing in on Zach on the paved road, but as I watched him turn into the winery I knew it was all over to try to catch him b/c of the last technical bits in the winery – which had turned pretty slippery after all the 50 milers and the first 12 100 milers had ridden it. Still it was fun to come flying up the last hill to the cheers of my beautiful wife. What an amazing adventure and what a great experience!

Shortly after finishing with Zack Morrey (Blue Ridge Cyclery) and Chris Peariso (Adventure 212).

Labor Day Omnium Day 3 – Anderson Civic Center Circuit Race

This is the same course as the NRC race that I almost won last year. Read my detailed race report from last year. I was definitely hoping to make the podium this year, but the race played out much differently since the race was much shorter. We did 25 laps of the 2.7 mile course last year as opposed to only 13 laps of the same course this year. Consequently, this year’s race felt much more like a crit than a circuit race.

Basically, the entire race was similar to last year’s opening few laps with several splits in the group, large breaks, and everything coming back together. The one exception was Team Mountain Khaki’s Jon Hamblen and Team Type I’s Alexy Schmidt who got away at some point and stayed away for the length of the race. I don’t remember how they got away but I think it was later in the race. Maybe on the 8th or 9th lap. Speaking of laps, here is my lap power and heartrate data:

Lap	Length	Mi.	AvgPow	MaxPow	HR	MPH
1	6:20	2.7	253	843	152	26.1
2	6:06	2.7	285	935	161	26.9
3	6:15	2.7	253	877	155	26.3
4	6:24	2.7	209	814	153	25.4
5	6:28	2.8	249	1049	153	25.5
6	5:48	2.7	320	1093	165	28.4
7	6:32	2.7	196	743	158	25.2
8	6:36	2.7	210	817	153	24.9
9	6:18	2.7	258	941	161	26.1
10	6:17	2.8	266	929	161	26.5
11	6:03	2.8	266	960	168	27.6
12	6:01	2.7	269	914	167	27.2
13	5:53	2.7	325	959	176	27.8

About halfway through the race was a 3 place omnium points prime that I decided I really wanted to get just to make sure that I had at least some omnium points for the weekend in case I didn’t get any in the finish. There was a global bike rider that attacked about 1K from the line and got away pretty cleanly. Our pace accelerated and then slowed. Right when it slowed, I attacked hard and got a good gap, and just barely closed the gap to the global bike rider in the final stretch. I didn’t have anything left to come around him, though, and Frank Travieso ended up passing both of us so I ended up 3rd in the sprint. It was a LOT of effort for 1 point, but I was relieved to have at least earned a point to be in the omnium results in case of a bad finish.

Going into the finish, I was in OK position (but not great) maybe 15 riders from the front but got boxed in on the big hill sliding to near the back of the field as it seemed everybody went up the sides while the middle completely stalled. Across the top of the hill, I swung out into the wind and passed pretty much the whole field narrowly squeezing through the righthand bend just inside the grass. Unfortunately, on the next roller somebody swung over and hit my front wheel. I could hear my spokes hitting some part of their bike, and I found out after the race that I had bent a spoke and my front wheel was rubbing the brake pads. I didn’t know this at the time, and the group had slowed just enough that I could repass the people who had passed me while I was checking to see if I had any broken spokes that would prevent me from sprinting. I attacked hard into the next to last corner passing people all the way into 5th position.

This would have been perfect for the sprint with me sitting on Frank Travieso’s (Team Cocos) wheel who ended up winning the field sprint for 3rd, but I got chopped on the righthand turn and lost a lot of speed — somewhat expected since I was moving up on the inside line. I was just hoping that the speed of the final lap would cause the leaders to swing wide with enough room for me to squeeze through. I thought wrong, and after losing speed I opened up a big gap that I felt obligated to close. Although strategically, it would have been better for me to have swung wide and let somebody else close the gap. I would have felt really miserable about that, though, since I had caused the gap to open so I tried with everything I could to close the gap (with my heartrate staying in the 190s for the last minute or two of the race), but I could only keep the gap constant at about 10 meters. Consequently, I got passed by 8 people on the final stretch since I had basically been sprinting for over half a mile by the end of the race, half of that with my front wheel rubbing the brakes. This put me in 12th for the field sprint, 14th for the race with Jon and Alexey both up the road. The result combined with my 1 point intermediate sprint was good enough to move me into 22nd in the omnium – tied with two other people, but the tie breaker was stage wins followed by total number of intermediate sprint points. I was the only one with intermediate sprint points, so that 1 point prime ended up moving me ahead of them in the results!

Circuit race annotated power map (click to enlarge)

Annotated power map from Saturday’s criterium (click to enlarge)

Labor Day Omnium Day 2 – Civic Center Criterium

This was a new course using some of the same roads that were part of the circuit race last year. The course was fast with plenty of opportunities for attack. I thought I was racing well, but ended up missing a split with 18 riders up the road. In the last few laps, 3 riders escaped from the field in pursuit. I ended up 2nd in the field sprint for 23rd in the race. One good thing to take away from the race was that I was happy about the field sprint – hopefully next time it will be for something in the top 20. Here is my lap data:

Labor Day Omnium Criterium
Pro/1/2 - 23rd
Lap	Time	Mi.	AvgPow	MaxPow	HR	MPH
1	1:45	0.7	263	743	149	22.9
2	1:34	0.7	290	775	160	25.6
3	1:31	0.7	316	873	163	26.3
4	1:29	0.7	297	887	175	26.6
5	1:29	0.7	264	734	172	27.3
6	1:31	0.7	268	949	172	26.4
7	2:55	1.4	301	925	179	28.2
8	1:26	0.7	287	805	176	28.9
9	1:26	0.7	293	752	173	28.8
10	1:27	0.7	312	997	176	28.4
11	1:29	0.7	274	906	185	27.4
12	1:25	0.7	276	788	180	28.4
13	1:33	0.7	258	862	171	25.9
14	1:38	0.7	224	785	173	23.9
15	1:36	0.7	263	780	169	24.9
16	1:27	0.7	237	698	179	27.8
17	1:34	0.7	209	703	170	25.5
18	1:35	0.7	242	785	171	25.4
19	1:31	0.7	268	780	174	26.6
20	1:29	0.7	277	799	179	27.2
21	1:27	0.7	304	975	178	27.6
22	1:26	0.7	277	812	185	27.8
23	1:28	0.7	320	1026	181	27.2
24	1:29	0.7	246	577	183	27.1
25	1:33	0.7	242	817	177	25.5
26	1:39	0.7	256	1062	172	23.9
27	1:33	0.7	305	920	183	25.6
28	1:29	0.7	236	1079	182	26.8
29	1:38	0.7	247	954	180	24.2
30	1:23	0.7	359	957	185	28.5
31	1:30	0.7	281	656	188	26.3
32	1:40	0.7	177	564	175	23.8
33	1:43	0.7	192	547	163	23
34	1:36	0.7	196	651	170	24.9
35	1:32	0.7	268	804	174	26.3
36	1:38	0.7	276	990	176	24.5
37	1:38	0.7	214	838	181	24.7
38	1:33	0.7	243	766	175	25.9
39	1:42	0.7	226	740	171	23.6
40	1:30	0.7	212	635	174	26.8
41	1:36	0.7	231	868	169	25.3
42	1:40	0.7	302	739	176	23.7
43	1:29	0.7	343	843	185	26.7
44	1:35	0.7	240	950	185	25.5
45	1:33	0.7	224	569	173	25.7
46	1:33	0.7	269	694	174	25.9
47	1:30	0.7	247	933	178	26.4
48	1:35	0.7	231	854	178	25.5
49	1:38	0.7	267	690	177	24.3
50	1:21	0.7	447	899	187	29.1

I decided to head out 3 hours before the start of the race to ride some of the roads between Clemson and Anderson that I used to train on. I ended up on part of what we called the “sprint loop” because there were so many sprint signs on it (stop ahead, county line, city limits, etc…). I snapped a few pics along the way, and it was one of the best “warm-up” rides of the year, a stroll down memory lane. I went on a couple new roads as well, and there was some sort of hunting going on in the fields on either side of Fants Grove Rd – it was kinda disconcerting to be riding through all the shotgun blasts.

Labor Day Omnium Day 1 – Lake Hartwell Dam Time Trial

I had a bit of an epiphany today during the 5 hour drive from Birmingham to the start of the Labor Day Omnium — a time trial held across the Lake Hartwell dam on the South Carolina – Georgia border. I realized that I was more interested in the race venue than I was in the race itself. Following last week’s three state road race, this was going to be a two state time trial. I’m pretty sure that’s a first for me. Also, I would be racing my bike across a dam that created the massive lake (962 miles of shoreline) with Clemson on the northern end nearly 45 miles north of the dam on the lake’s southern end. This is the lake that I was baptized in, the lake next to which I proposed to my wife, the lake I used to jog next to, the lake next to which we used to do two up, standing start 53×11 sprints on the CU cycling team.

It would be great to cap off that nice story with a resounding time trial victory, but in the end I was happy to place 26th about 37 seconds behind the winning time of Bobby Sweeting (Kenda Pro Cycling). Frank Travieso (Team Coco’s) was 2nd followed by David Winston (Globalbike) in 3rd. I was targeting more than 400w, but ended up coming in at 393w for the 4’45” effort. I’ve included the annotated power map and power plots below.

2012 Labor Day Omnium Time Trial power plot – Lake Hartwell Dam (click to enlarge)
2012 Labor Day Omnium Time Trial power map – Lake Hartwell Dam (click to enlarge)