Monday, November 02, 2015

Road Titans 300

This past weekend I attended the Road Titans 300 Challenge. The Road Titans 300 is a 3 day event in Seneca, SC where cyclists tackle 3 tough 100 mile routes that feature 8000-10,000 feet of elevation gain per day. There are 3 groups depending on your ability as a rider. There is also a competitive aspect to the event where riders race up the biggest climb on the route each day. The rider with the fastest time up each timed climb receives 3 points, second place 2 points, and third place 1 point. The rider with the most points at the end of the three days is the King of the Mountain (KOM) for men or Queen of the Mountain (QOM) for women. The KOM and QOM in the A group received $1,000, a Titan helmet trophy, and a free entry into the 2016 event. I won the event in 2014 and had a great time at the event. I wanted to win it again this year. However, this was going to be tough with riders like Jake Silverburg who rides for Astellas, Hector Zepeda from Panama, Rickie Morales who rode for Incycle-Predator in 2014, Ricardo Giraldo Sierra who rode for the Movistar continental team in Colombia in 2011, and Akil Campbell from Trinidad present.

The first day of the event we rode on some rolling roads with beautiful views from Seneca, SC toward Caesar's Head. On the way out to Caesar's Head we went up the grueling Glassy Mountain (0.7 miles @ 12%) climb where we had a rest stop. All the rest stops included Infinit nutrition, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ham or turkey and cheese sandwiches, coke, cookies, and pickle juice to prevent cramps. The rest stops are very well stocked on this ride and are part of the reason I enjoy the ride so much. We descended and rolled over to Caesar's Head (6 miles @ 5%) for the first timed segment. I know Caesar's Head very well because I train on it at least once a week. It is not very steep but has some steep pitches near the end. I made sure to start the segment last because the event is timed. After about 1 mile of climbing I made it to the front riders. The other riders knew I won the event last year, so they forced me to set pace. In order to be prepared for any attacks, I set a pretty comfortable pace for myself up most of the climb. Ricky put in a few attacks, but I was able to peg them back pretty quickly. When the climb got steep near the top I lifted the pace and attacked. I managed to drop everyone with about a mile to go. However, Hector stayed close all the way to the top, forcing me to work for it. After Caesar's Head we rolled easy down the back side of it where we stopped at the next rest stop. Then we rolled over to Sassafrass where we descended, hitting speeds of over 55 mph. That was super fun, and we got a preview of what we would be in store for the next day. Then we descended down to Bob's Place where we hit the final rest stop. We rolled pretty easy back into Seneca. The easy riding when we are not attacking the KOMs is a fun part of the ride because it allows you to meet some new and interesting people. It is also a fun time to talk with old friends.

For the second day of Road Titans we rolled from Seneca and headed out towards Bob's Place for the first rest stop. It was apparent there were some tired legs at the start of the day because we rolled at a pretty slow pace. When we arrived at the rest stop the B group was not very far behind us. At the rest stop I shed my vest and arm and leg warmers and put them in the follow car. We continued at this pace over towards Sassafrass (4.4 miles @8%). Today the other riders were aware of my tactic of starting the timed segment last yesterday, so I was forced to lead from the bottom of the climb. Sassafras is steep! It may only average 8%, but it has reprieves where I hit over 40 miles per hour on the way up. It has steep pitches of 15%-17%. I set a fast pace from the bottom because the climb is so steep. The others were breathing heavy but stayed on my wheel for a while. Akil put in a big attack on a steep section, but I pegged him back. As we neared the middle of the climb Rickie put in some attacks, and I countered all of them. After one of the attacks he blew and I was alone again pegging it all the way to the top. The climb just kept going, and going, and going. I never do this climb in training, so I do not know it well. I arrived to the top about 30 seconds ahead of Ricardo and Rickie. Second and third place were different than yesterday. That meant I had won the KOM event after Sassafrass. At the top of Sassafrass there was a beautiful view. That made the climb worth it. It was cold at the top, so we left pretty quickly. We descended Sassafrass and rolled around in the valley at the top of the mountains for a while. Then we descended the twisty 178 descent. That was really fun! Then we hit HWY 11 and set a pace line over toward the Lake Jocassee rest stop. Lake Jocassee is beautiful. I would highly recommend that anyone visit there if they never have. The terrain for the rest of the ride was tough rollers, and we hit them at a relatively fast pace all the way back into Seneca. I was sore after day 2 of the Road Titans!

When I arrived to the final day of Road Titans Jan-Michael let me know that the day would be shortened to around 80 miles because there was a forecast of rain. He did not want to risk any injuries in the bad weather. I think it was a good call for rider safety. Jan-Michael also said since I already won the KOM, he would give $200 to any rider who beat me. I was also eligible for the $200 if I had the fastest time. That was nice of him to throw in the extra prize. We left Seneca and headed toward the White Water Falls (6.4 miles @ 4.2%) climb. This is another deceiving climb that has reprieves and steep pitches. At the start of the climb I hung back a lot. I started the climb maybe 20 seconds behind the other riders. On the first descent Grant Potter gave me his draft to help me catch the leaders. On the next pitch I bridged up to the leaders and began to set pace. Today Rickie attacked me a good bit. I countered a lot of his attacks, and was finally able to shed him and Hector on the second to last pitch of the climb. Then we turned left to head toward Wigginton Overlook. That is a tough 0.8 mile climb that averages 9.4%. It is a big kick in the pants at the end of a very tough 3 days of climbing. There was a rest stop at the top of the climb. It was wet at the top, so we got off the climb safely and headed back into Seneca. After we got off the descent Ricardo set a ridiculous pace for about 25km leading into the final rest stop and a picture with all the Titans at South Cove County Park in Seneca. He was a machine! After the photo we rolled easy with the B and C groups back to the Gigniliat Center in Seneca.

Once we arrived to the Gigniliat Center we received medals for completing the Road Titans 300. I received a cool Titan helmet for winning the KOM. All the riders gathered for a feast that included beer, fried chicken, mac and cheese, green beans, potato salad, the best cup cakes ever, and sweet tea. It was an awesome southern feast! An epic event like this will push you beyond your limit and will tell you what you are made of as a cyclist. I would highly recommend the Road Titans 300 to any cyclist looking for an epic 3 days of riding. It is a very well supported event by the city of Seneca and Jan Michael Ramery and his crew. The people who put together this event are some of the nicest around. They put on an awesome event and ask how they can do better. I feel that Road Titans 300 is one of the best supported events around. The rest stops include awesome food. There is a moto that guides us along the route. There is also a follow car with a mechanic that you can shed excess clothes in. Come out to the Titans 300 Challenge in 2016 and be a part of this awesome event. You will be happy you did it.