Tag Archives: ncc

Sandy Springs – USA Crits Speedweek Finale

Quick summary – chasing after avoiding early crash, riding in a cold hurricane, slideout crash with five second slide, another near-crash, 20th place!

The details – I drove over from Birmingham past all the craziness that is talladega – partly cloudy and I’m thinking that it’s not going to rain. By the time I make it over to Sandy Springs, it is sunny and HOT. I thought about moving my car to find some shade, but by the time I picked up my number and changed clothes the clouds were starting to get much thicker. Still, there were periods of warm sunshine as I was riding over by the Chattahoochee River. When it started to get closer to race time, I headed back towards the course and suddenly encountered very wet streets with steam coming off them b/c it was still sunny where I was. Apparently while I was out warming up it started to downpour on the women’s race — whereas I didn’t get a single drop of rain or even know that it was raining just a couple miles to my east!

The sun was out, though, with no rain clouds anywhere close (although there were some ominous looking clouds visible south of town). The firefighter’s race scheduled between the women’s race and the men’s race was cancelled b/c of the wet course so there was about 20 minutes of time to ride on the course. With a bunch of riding laps easy on the course, it was drying out pretty quickly. Still, the course was by no means dry on those first laps. We did a reasonable 23 mph on the first lap even with a $200 prime on the line – but apparently that was enough to give the guys at the front confidence to ramp up the speed for the second lap. Unfortunately for those of us at the back, that means even faster speeds around the corners to keep from having a gap open up. So that second lap was absolutely insane. The course was drying out pretty fast, though, but not quite fast enough as there was a nasty crash at the front of the race about three or four laps into the race. I was far enough behind it to maneuver around, but ended up in a second group with people not chasing very hard.

This only lasted for a few seconds though b/c a rider behind me attacked seeing that this group was not going to make it back up to the field. Sergio Hernandez (Predator) and I both followed making for a three man chase group. The rider who attacked never slowed down and did all of the work. Fortunately for us, the course was almost dry by this point so the three of us could fly through the corners whereas the field was a bit more tentative. So after almost 10 laps we finally made it back up to the lead group that had maybe 30 riders still left in it. Sometime during our chase, Frank Travieso (Mountain Khakis) and Karl Menzies (United Healthcare) escaped. Since these were the two strongest teams in the race, they were happy to let them go meaning that the overall pace of the field dropped with only Empire Foundation (NYC) chasing. The next five to ten laps were sporadic with various surges, but the pace always seemed to ease up. I came off the back once or twice through the start finish with the moto-official even passing me, but just steady chasing through the corners meant that I was able to catch back up to the field.

Then the rain started again – fairly gradual at first – so that we had about two or three laps of rain with a course still dry enough to go pretty fast. Then it was a crazy downpour / hurricane. Very hard rain with some high wind gusts dramatically slowed down the field – but because I was at the back, I had to risk the corners at a bit higher of a speed to keep from getting gapped. The last turn was the trickiest. About every other lap, I would be gapped off b/c I would still be taking the turn slowly while the front of the group was already attacking up the hill. This meant that a gap would open up, and it would take me about half a lap to close it back down. The irony was that once I was off the back, I could actually go faster through the rest of the course then when I was with the group because it was easier to pick a line.

Eventually, during one of the laps where I was chasing and hadn’t quite caught back up yet, I tried to take the final turn a little bit faster to carry some momentum up the hill. Without warning, though, both wheels slid out from under me and I ended up sliding on the ground for a good five seconds through the turn. It took me a while to get my chain back on the bike b/c I didn’t realize I had bent my rear derailleur and the chain was off the pulley wheels. Once I figured that out I was able to get the chain back on the bike and pedal back to the pit where I thought I was going to have to use one of the SRAM neutral bikes. One of the mechanics was putting zero pedals onto the neutral bike while the other mechanic worked to straighten out my derailleur. Amazingly, he got it working so I was able to hop back on my own bike and into the race with 9 laps to go.

I got put in on a particularly fast lap b/c everyone was strung out single file through the pit area. I quickly drifted to the back tentative through the corners not wanting to crash again. A lap or two later the rider in front of me went down on the same corner that I had fallen. I was able to get around but there was no way I was going to be able to go fast enough to catch back up to the pack. I settled into a pace that I was hoping would keep me far enough ahead of the leading duo of Frank and Karl, but with three laps to go the head official pulled me. The field was so small by this point that I ended up in 20th place, anyway!

Sandy Springs USA Crits Speedweek Finale
May 5th, 2013
20th place

Lap	Time	AvgPow	MaxPow	HR	RPM	MPH	Comment
1	1:34	274	808	140	77	23	Wet
2	1:21	265	836	160	84	25.8	Insane
3	1:23	273	883	164	78	25.2	
4	1:22	241	932	169	77	25.5	
5	1:23	256	871	171	75	25.1	Chasing after crash
6	1:19	292	864	177	74	26.3	Chasing
7	1:19	252	909	177	77	26.4	Course starting to dry out
8	1:19	226	876	174	77	26.1	Chasing
9	1:19	294	846	177	77	26.7	Chasing
10	1:19	232	865	177	79	26.3	Chasing
11	1:19	266	890	175	77	26.5	Chasing
12	1:17	272	893	176	79	26.8	Chasing
13	1:18	239	892	176	77	26.8	Chasing
14	1:20	224	981	173	76	26.2	
15	1:26	212	872	169	78	24.3	
16	1:21	230	1009	169	78	26	
17	1:18	244	893	173	80	26.5	
18	1:23	188	873	171	77	25.3	
19	1:18	248	913	171	78	26.8	
20	1:21	227	875	170	77	25.7	
21	1:22	210	946	171	76	25.2	
22	1:24	212	972	168	83	24.8	
23	1:23	207	896	168	75	25.1	
24	1:21	228	824	171	77	25.7	
25	1:27	202	913	168	75	23.9	Heavy Rain 
26	1:30	231	906	167	76	23.2	Heavy Rain 
27	1:31	217	894	166	71	22.9	Heavy Rain 
28	1:30	214	866	167	77	23.1	Heavy Rain
29	1:27	198	680	170	78	24.1	Rain 
30	1:31	233	803	168	80	23.2	Rain 
31	1:27	214	845	169	74	23.9	Rain 
32	1:27	206	832	167	75	24.1	Rain 
33	1:24	221	876	168	73	24.4	Rain 
34	1:27	204	667	167	77	23.9	Rain 
35	1:27	219	744	166	75	23.7	Rain 
36	1:24	198	818	164	75	24.5	
37	1:26	202	889	164	75	24.2	
38	3:22	73	491	155	60	23.7	Crash
39	3:43	73	816	128	66	6.2	Crash
40	1:32	185	784	154	70	5.3	Bad speed
41	1:31	209	587	160	74	5.8	Bad speed
42	1:37	199	644	157	75	5.8	Bad speed
43	1:34	187	642	156	75	19.2	
44	1:42	149	603	155	72	20.4	

Sandy Springs power map - you can see that 1/3rd of the course is hard and the rest is coasting/brakingSandy Springs power map – you can say that 1/3rd of the course is hard and the rest is coasting/braking (click to enlarge)

Annotated plot with crash data (click to enlarge)Annotated plot with crash data (click to enlarge)

sp-hrsumm Heartrate zone summary

Athens Twilight 2013

Quick summary
Awesome weekend hanging out with friends in Athens. Perhaps the highlight of my weekend was being there to see Mark Fisher win the amateur finals race in a crazy solo move. I was also very happy with how I was able to stay near the front in the pro race and even attack to take a $100 prime late in the race. With two laps to go, a couple guys crashed in front of me of me going into turn 1. As soon as I hit the brakes to try to stop, the guy behind me plowed into me at pretty much full speed — popping me up into the air and then landing ironically on him, his bike and unfortunately for my right knee, his pedal (or my own headset). Initially, I thought I had shattered my knee b/c the pain/shock was so great that I was almost paralyzed to even try to move to unstraddle my bike. Somehow after untangling everything I still had one foot on the left side of my bike and the other foot on the right side of my bike. So I’m standing there trying to figure out whether I can still get back on my bike when the field starts to come down the stretch again. I knew at this point there was no way to even ride in easy so I scrambled off the course just before the remnants of the field came barrelling into turn 1 again with one lap to go. Disappointing finish to an otherwise great weekend! On Sunday, I partially redeemed the weekend by discovering a new Cat 2 climb for Alabama (Campington Ridge) on what was supposed to be a 120 mile ride home via Mount Cheaha. Instead, I got to climb Cheaha in a thunderstorm full of lightning and then descend it in a thunderstorm downpour. By the time I made it to Talledega, finishing the ride wasn’t even on the menu any more — but a hot coffee and supersonic breakfast burrito while waiting for Kristine to come pick me up definitely was!

The videos
Well, as it turns out my camera bounced off my handlebars in Turn 2 fairly early in the race … I think it may have been the second or third lap. Some kind soul found it for me and turned it into Ashley Travieso. So assuming that the camera card wasn’t broken by the impact, then I should have videos to post of the scrum, call-ups, and first one or two laps. I’m picking up the camera from Ashley at the Sandy Springs race on Sunday so I’ll probably have those videos posted by Sunday night or Monday morning!

The data

Athens Twilight Pro/1 2013
59th place, crash 2 to go
Lap	Time	Mi.	AvgPow	MaxPow	HR	RPM	MPH
1	1:27	0.6	299	888	154	83	25.7
2	1:19	0.6	293	791	167	82	26.2
3	1:17	0.6	256	815	169	79	27.5
4	1:19	0.6	264	824	168	80	27
5	1:15	0.6	246	877	167	81	27.6
6	1:14	0.6	259	851	170	84	27.7
7	1:12	0.6	239	736	173	84	28.6
8	1:13	0.6	258	862	174	80	28
9	1:20	0.6	245	807	174	83	25.3
10	1:17	0.6	272	849	173	81	26.8
11	1:17	0.6	246	880	176	79	27.3
12	1:20	0.6	254	862	174	77	26
13	1:14	0.6	246	847	176	81	27.8
14	1:16	0.6	274	868	177	81	27.6
15	1:12	0.6	269	896	178	83	29.2
16	1:19	0.6	207	856	175	79	26.8
17	1:21	0.6	250	855	170	84	26.1
18	1:14	0.6	262	833	172	84	27.6
19	1:21	0.6	224	827	175	78	26.3
20	1:19	0.6	248	820	172	83	26.9
21	1:16	0.6	243	838	173	79	27.6
22	1:16	0.6	269	851	175	82	27.7
23	1:12	0.6	232	929	178	78	29.1
24	1:20	0.6	257	826	172	80	26.5
25	1:18	0.6	251	859	178	76	26.6
26	1:16	0.6	244	771	176	80	27.9
27	1:15	0.6	244	824	173	79	28.3
28	1:14	0.6	270	788	173	82	28.5
29	1:11	0.6	249	781	177	80	29.8
30	1:13	0.6	239	892	175	78	29
31	1:17	0.6	241	832	176	74	27.4
32	1:20	0.6	231	723	172	81	26.4
33	1:15	0.6	241	868	173	83	27.9
34	1:12	0.6	241	835	176	79	28.5
35	1:12	0.6	239	789	174	81	28.9
36	1:18	0.6	242	865	170	74	27
37	1:17	0.6	243	829	174	79	27.2
38	1:14	0.6	240	829	174	81	28.2
39	1:15	0.6	232	781	172	83	27.7
40	1:21	0.6	286	796	178	81	25.9
41	1:13	0.6	266	854	180	80	28.7
42	1:14	0.6	244	868	175	78	28.2
43	1:16	0.6	243	879	172	80	27.8
44	1:16	0.6	242	821	170	80	27.5
45	1:17	0.6	236	801	170	82	27.3
46	1:15	0.6	250	797	170	80	27.7
47	1:15	0.6	221	769	171	79	28.4
48	1:15	0.6	257	770	170	81	28
49	1:16	0.6	244	795	172	84	28.1
50	1:14	0.6	246	767	171	86	29
51	1:13	0.6	249	807	170	81	29.3
52	1:16	0.6	224	731	169	82	28.3
53	1:15	0.6	261	793	167	80	28.4
54	1:15	0.6	252	788	174	78	28.4
55	1:16	0.6	248	745	172	81	27.5
56	1:25	0.6	216	783	166	78	24.9
57	1:18	0.6	234	763	164	79	27.1
58	1:15	0.6	226	783	163	80	27.8
59	1:18	0.6	243	837	159	79	27.1
60	1:17	0.6	253	776	167	77	27.3
61	1:12	0.6	255	808	170	83	29.4
62	1:21	0.6	255	745	172	79	26.1
63	1:19	0.6	234	711	169	79	26.5
64	1:16	0.6	286	716	168	80	28
65	1:18	0.6	221	727	170	80	26.9
66	1:25	0.6	216	617	161	81	24.8
67	1:11	0.6	418	741	172	82	29
68	1:24	0.6	262	548	183	84	25
69	1:16	0.6	242	750	175	83	27.7
70	1:19	0.6	261	732	168	82	27.1
71	1:18	0.6	269	772	173	79	27.1
72,73	2:34	1.2	241	734	171	80	27.4
74-76	4:00	1.8	265	819	175	80	26.7
77	1:20	0.6	277	794	179	81	26.7

Towards the end of the lap data with rain moving in, apparently my GPS couldn’t keep up with the turns anymore and my auto-lap feature wasn’t kicking in correctly. Looking at the data, it may be that my crash was actually with 3 laps to go (2.75 laps).

Athens Twilight 2013 Pro/1 - Heartrate zone summaryAthens Twilight 2013 Pro/1 – Heartrate zone summary
Athens Twilight 2013 Pro/1 - Annotated heartrate plot (click to enlarge)Athens Twilight 2013 Pro/1 – Annotated heartrate plot (click to enlarge)
Athens Twilight 2013 Pro/1 critical power curveAthens Twilight 2013 Pro/1 critical power curve

The detailed report
Athens Twilight is a race like no other in the country. From the atmosphere of thousands and thousands of people lining the entire course several rows deep, to the pre-race scrum fighting for position before the race even starts, to the super fast course, to the uncertainty of how the race itself could play out in any number of dramatically different scenarios. After racing it for seven years in a row now, I think I’ve figured out what makes the course so amazingly fast — the fact that turn 1 is so slow. What this does is it causes everyone from the back of the pack to have to accelerate really hard up the hill to keep from having gaps open up. Yet the course is so wide coming across the top of the hill that there are plenty of people with lots of momentum to slingshot past the guys at the front causing the guys at the front to respond and pick up their speed behind the new guys who are trying to attack or go off the front. And that new faster speed is easily carried through the wide turn #3. Heading into turn #4 you are coasting, so you have a chance to recover and then hit it really hard again through the start/finish. This process repeats itself enough times and pretty soon you are averaging over 30mph per lap.

I had a really great start in this year’s race on the second row, and I held good position towards the front third of the group until a crash coming out of Turn #1 at the very front of the field caused a pile-up. I could see guys pulling up behind it and getting ready to head back to the pit, but I also could see a way around the mess so I opted to just keep riding since there were no gaps I could see. Going up the hill out of turn #2, I was in a bit of a panic b/c I could see a front group of about 25 riders had separated itself from maybe the next 50 or so of us — and I was near the very back of this group. Fortunately, some heavy hitters were not in that front 25 so our group was able to catch back up before the end of that lap.

In the chaos of the crash and remerging of the groups, a few riders slipped away and formed a dangerous looking break. Predator missed the move, though, and after 15-20 laps of steady chasing they brought it back. A few laps later, a three man move including eventual winner Kevin Mullervy (Champion/NoTubes), Carlos Alzate (UHC), and Frank Travieso (Mountain Khakis) escaped and quickly got a good gap on the field. Predator went to the front again to chase, but they couldn’t get any help from anyone else. During these laps, I was slowly working my way back up towards the front. Then with maybe 16 or 17 laps to go, I was in good position and the pace of the field let up at the front so I thought about attacking up the hill with no real race objective other than to be off the front for Kristine. I realized it would be better to wait for a prime, though, and on the very next lap they rang the bell for a $100 field prime. The pace slowed again just a bit across the top and I took that opportunity to launch an attack to go for the prime.

I imagined the whole time I was attacking that I was just pulling the field with me or at least one or two other riders who would come around to take the prime, so I sprinted hard all the way to the line not realizing that I had escaped cleanly and had maybe a 5 second gap by the line. I was cooked from the effort, though, so I sat up, recovered, and waited for the field. I slotted back in at the front of the field and spent the next 12 laps attacking up the outside on the hill to keep from getting passed by the field and then slotting back in behind UHC through the start/finish. This was taking its toll on me but I was maintaining good position until 3 laps to go heading into Turn 3 when the pace eased up a bit on the downhill and I wasn’t close enough to the barriers so a whole slew of people came around me on the outside. I tapped the brakes feeling squeezed by the people on the inside and lost even more positions. I think I probably went from top 15 back down to top 30 by the start/finish line. Shortly after the start/finish line heading into turn #1, there was a big pile-up on the ground in front of me, and as I hit my brakes to try to stop before running into it, the guy behind me plowed into me from behind propelling me up into the air a bit and then ironically landing on top of him as he came sliding by me on the ground.

Side note – I’ve now crashed five times at Athens Twilight after racing it for 7 years. Out of those five times, my body has only hit the ground twice – once in 2007 when I landed on my butt in the straight section between Turn #3 and Turn #4 when somebody went too far outside hit the curb and bounced back into the group taking down a number of riders (including me) and then once in 2011 when I landed hard on my wrist in a very similar wreck to this year’s except going through Turn #1 instead of heading into it. The other three wrecks (two more in 2007, I had three wrecks that year, and one in either 2008 or 2009) have all involved me landing on top of other people already on the ground!

My first thought was get back up and try to tack back onto the riders who were still streaming by those of us caught up in the wreck. But my bike was so tangled up in two other rider’s bikes that it took a few seconds to even get the bikes untangled. By this point, the field was gone. Also, it was about that time I realized must have cracked my knee really hard on something (pedal, headset) as it was bleeding and hurting quite a bit. In fact, the location of the pain paralyzed me for a few seconds as I was afraid to move or bend my leg thinking that I had done some serious damage to my knee and would end up crumpling back to the ground if I tried to move. As I looked back to the start/finish I could see the lead moto and knew that the field was coming soon so this forced me to try to move and I found that I could move my knee without any additional pain. I climbed through the fence as spectators grabbed my bike and pulled it into the beer tent. Turning down numerous offers for beers, ambulances, and other forms of assistance, I was able to take my bike and ride it through the crowd to the start/finish line where Chad was interviewing the winner, Kevin.

Even having to pull out with three to go, I still ended up 59th as many of the nearly 100 starters had already abandoned the race earlier. So I’m happy to not have to put a DNF in my results! Kristine related to me later that the race for first was an intriguing one with Kevin attacking the break with six to go and Frank and Carlos hesistating to chase. This gave Kevin enough room to solo it in from six to go. Carlos ended up outsprinting Frank for 2nd with Frank rounding out the podium in 3rd. All-in-all I think it was a good race for me being in good position so late in the race and then just a bit of bad luck with two to go. C’est la vie – can’t wait until next year!!!!!

Alabama’s newest Cat 2 climb – Bain’s Gap to Campington Ridge
On the way home I had Kristine drop me off on the old Fort Mclellan property so I could ride a new Cat 2 climb and then bike almost 120 miles home via Mount Cheaha. Along the way I saw a really cool wild turkey run across the road, and a long black snake, and then I got absolutely soaked in a thunderstorm on the top of Mt Cheaha – quite scary with all the lightning – and a huge downpour on the descent down into Talladega. By the time I made it to Talladega, I was ready to be done riding so I called Kristine to come pick me up. I got some cool pics that I’ve posted in the gallery below.