Thursday, June 01, 2017

How I Won the Cheaha Ultra

A couple weeks ago I did the Cheaha Ultra ride in Jacksonville, Alabama. The Cheaha Ultra is a 124 mile ride that gains ~12,000 feet in elevation. The Cheaha Challenge also offered a century ride that was a qualifier for the Gran Fondo World Championships. There were also many other shorter distances down to 25 miles on a rail to trail. Fun and suffering for the whole family... It is very tough just to finish the event. Pacing is important for endurance events like these. If you go too hard too early then you will not have legs to even finish the ride. Cheaha Mountain came about 40 miles into the ride, and there was a timed KOM competition on the climb. My goal was to conserve as much energy as possible on the way out to the mountain. I rode in a group that was riding reasonably fast, but I did not take any pulls. A few century riders went off the front of my group, but their ride was about an hour and a half shorter than the ride I would be doing, so I wanted to keep legs for late in the ride.

For the KOM climb I made sure to start at the back of the group. I knew the effort was going to take 15-20 minutes, so I parked my watts somewhere around my functional threshold power, and I kept my eye on my heart rate. My functional threshold heart rate is somewhere around 168 bpm, so I tried to not let my heart rate hover over 168 bpm most of the way up the climb. As I neared the top of the climb I let the heart rate go over 168 bpm and kicked at the top. I had to catch Michael Sencenbaugh in order to get the KOM prize, so I need to let my heart rate increase. It was important to keep the heart rate low on that climb in order to have legs at the end of the ride.

Cheaha Climb Data

After Cheaha the terrain was rolling, and I had a good partner to pace the ride with in Michael. We stopped to refuel at Adams gap and caught up to a few guys doing the century ride. The terrain was rolling, so it was more beneficial to pace with them instead of drop them because we would only go marginally faster and it would have been a lot more difficult. After we turned off from the century route we exchanged pulls, and I would pull at the top of my endurance zone (around 250-270 watts). We had two difficult climbs in both sides of Banes Gap, and I paced them at around high tempo or sweet spot power (300-320 watts). We refueled after Banes gap, and when we hit the flats we kept that high endurance pace once again.

We hit the final climb of Chimney Peak with about 5 miles to go. From there it is downhill to the finish. I gave it all I had, and that ended up being a 10 minute effort at around my functional threshold power. That effort was enough to leave Michael. I am really happy I had his company for most of the ride. It made the ride very fun. From the top of Chimney Peak I just gave it all I had to the finish.

Chimney Peak Data

The ride ended up being a little over 6 hours long with an average wattage of 218 watts with a normalized power of 262 watts. This gives an intensity factor of .74 of my functional threshold power, so it was paced right on the cusp of high endurance or low tempo power. If I did not pace the ride well, I would not have had legs to give that lactate threshold effort right at the end of the ride. If you employ similar pacing strategies at your next century you will have a great ride.

Cheaha Ultra Podium

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sunny King Criterium and McClellan Road Race

This past weekend I raced the Sunny King Criterium and Fort McClellan Road Race in Anniston, Alabama. Both races are part of the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour, and there was a ton of heat at both events.

For the Sunny King Criterium we did 60 laps on a 4-turn 0.6 mile course that has a slight uphill on the finish straight. As far as Pro Road Tour criteriums go Sunny King is a relatively easy one, so it is a nice way to get the season started. However, this year there was a higher level of competition, so I was interested to see how it would play out. I tried to get a good starting position, but the best I could manage was about mid-pack. The pace started out very fast, and we were strung out from the gun. I did not panic and took opportunities to move up as the pace slowed. About 20 laps into the race a break of 10 riders rolled, and the riders at the front sat up. I used this moment to get all the way to the front, and I was on Michael Hernandez's wheel. On the start/finish straight he jumped, and I did the best I could to jump with him. I hit peak watts for me, but it was not enough. My acceleration could not snap me away from the group nor hold Mike's wheel. This was the move of the day, and I just could not get there. This attempt to go to the break really left me empty, and I floated back in the group. I tried to ride the front or jump away a couple more times, but I had no success. I just spent the rest of the race riding it out and looking for an opportunity. With 9 laps to go I was caught behind a crash and took a free-lap. We were thrown in very far back in the field, so it would not have been possible to make it to the front of the race again. I just rode it out in the group I was with to finish the race. Here is a link to my race on Strava

The McClellan Road Race was a race I had on my mind all winter. It is a 92 mile road race where we do 4 laps on a 23 mile circuit that features a 0.7 mile climb at 11% and a 1.5 mile highway climb at 6%. The lap starts out where we hit the climb immediately. I felt the break may go on the first time up the 0.7 mile climb, so I positioned myself at the front of the peloton. However, a random stick on the course had other designs for my race. During the first kilometer of the race this stick lodged itself in my front wheel. I had to stop to take this stick out of my wheel and pedal back up to the peloton. I made it back to the group before the climb, but I didn't panic to make it up to the front of the peloton. If I used all that energy early I may have had no energy all race, so I did the first climb conservatively. A group of about 25 guys rolled off the front of the peloton over the first climb, but a group of 25 never works well together right? This group was drilling it, but I still did not panic. My legs were good, and it is best to let guys waste energy keeping the split close. There was another split over the highway climb, but I could tell that was coming back too. The second time up Bains Gap I finally decided it was time to start racing and my quest to attempt to make it to the front of the race. My group was working well together and on the highway climb we had the leaders in sight. I didn't account for the fact that now teams use radios, so when they heard we were close the break worked harder. I need to account for this in future races. The third time up Bains Gap I blew and lost contact with some of the guys that were in my 10 rider group. Guys from behind bridged up to me, and I rode hard with them. We were still riding hard and were catching riders that were imploding from the first group on the road. There was a rule in this race that if you were ever 8 minutes behind on the road then your group would be pulled. We got a check that we were 5.5 minutes behind the last time through the start/ finish. However, the race decided to pull us at the top of Bain's Gap. My group of ~10-15 riders was 5 seconds behind the last rider who was not pulled. This was very strange logic, but I listened to the officials. We would have picked up that rider on the descent and he would have finished faster with our group than doing the last 17 miles by himself. Here is a link to my race on Strava

The last weekend did not go too well, but I am confident with my level of fitness. I just need a little luck and no more of that bad kind. Maybe I don't need any luck, just no bad will do the job. Next up for me is Speed Week starting next weekend. Stay tuned for blog posts and youtube videos.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Joe Martin Stages 3 and 4

Over the past couple days I finished up competing in the Joe Martin Stage race. Stage 3 was a 110 mile stage where we rode out to a 23 mile circuit, rode four laps, and rode back to the start. The circuit had a tough hill and was fairly exposed to the wind. The race started off fairly easy with Rally controlling the pace and no attacks rolling. We went over the main hill fairly easy with the yellow jersey pulling over to pee, so I decided to pee as well. This put me toward the back of the group. At this point the riders at the front punched it in the tailwind, and a group of about 30 riders to rolled off. I decided to not panic, sit in, and see what would happen. If I used a ton of energy and bridged to the attack I would possibly not have any energy for the rest of the race. I stayed patient and the group came back. Shortly after this group was brought back another group of about 15-20 riders went up the road with Rob Britton who was second place on GC. United Healthcare did not like this situation, so they kept the pace high and brought the race back together. This was really fun and tough racing for the first two hours. I really thought the race was going to blow to pieces. Then Rally controlled the pace again, let a break of a few riders roll, and the pace relaxed for pretty much the rest of the race. They kept the gap to around 2-2.5 minutes to the leaders and just let them dangle there. With about 10 kilometers to go we caught the leaders and rolled the last 10 kilometers at around 60kph, dodging trucks coming the other direction. It was chaotic to say the least. I just sat in the group, saved energy, and finished. I was looking forward to the crit the next day.

The final stage of the Joe Martin Stage Race takes place on a tough 1 mile circuit that has 8 turns and a steep 200 meter climb. I staged early and got the best start position I could, but was only able to start midpack with storm clouds on the horizon. The pace started off fast, and it started to drizzle. I lost position over the first couple laps but told myself to be patient and the pace would slow down. The drizzle turned into a full on storm. However, as I was sitting near the back of the peloton the pace never really did slow down. I wasn't feeling like myself. Usually I live for crazy conditions and thrive in them, but on this particular day I didn't want to crash. You can't think like that if you want to do well in bike races. After about 10 laps of racing my legs were killing me from the bad positioning, and I lost contact with the peloton. It was far from my best day of racing, but I will move on and live to fight another day. I am thankful Foundation let me join them for Joe Martin. They are a great group of guys, and I am glad I met them.

Next weekend I will be racing the Sunny King Criterium and the Fort McClellan Road Race in Anniston, Alabama. I have done well at these races in the past, and look forward to racing them again.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Joe Martin Stages 1 and 2

Over the past couple days I have been racing the Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Joe Martin is a 4 stage UCI 2.2 race that I have been coming to since 2010. I love the town of Fayetteville and the race.

Stage one was a time trial out of Devil's Den State Park. The time trial was 3 miles long, goes uphill for about 2 miles, goes downhill for about 800 meters, and rises for the final kilometer to the finish. The average grade for the entire time trial is 5%. For pacing I wanted to go almost all out to the top of the first climb. I needed to save some gas to spin out over the top of the hill and supertuck after I was up to speed. Then I would punch it to the finish. I paced it exactly this way, had good legs, but not my best and came home to 66th place 59 seconds behind the stage winner Adam de Vos of Rally. Rally took first, second, and had 2 more riders in the top 10. I thought it would make for an interesting stage 2.

Stage 2 was a 110 mile rolling point to point road race that starts in a Wal-Mart parking lot. It features a 9 mile climb, but the climb only averages 2%, so it is not selective. The race starts out on a highway for the first 10 or 12 miles. There was no wind, so we were just rolling along like a freight train. After the highway we jumped onto some smaller roads where the break of the day has usually rolled in the past. I positioned myself at the front and was attentive. I told myself I'd go if I saw Rally, Holowesko, and UHC send riders up the road. Rally was controlling the pace, and UHC and Holowesko didn't seem to be sending riders up the road, so I told myself pretty early it would be a sprint stage. I watched the break of the day roll, and that confirmed my thoughts. I just stayed in the pack, saved energy, hydrated, and ate. We rolled easy over that 9 mile climb, and there was a huge group fighting for the finale as we reeled in the break with about 10k to go. The finale of this race is always chaotic. We go from 45 miles on a 6 lane highway to a technical final 2 kilometer finish up some steep hills. I fought hard to position myself well, and I thought I was sitting good after we entered the technical section. However, riders were on their limit, and it was a chaotic fight all the way to the line. I finished around 43rd place, but I thought I was somewhere around 30th. Either way it isn't a very good ride, but it was fun fighting in that finale. My legs feel good, and I look forward to stage 3 today.

Stage 3 is another 110 mile stage that takes place on a circuit with a punchy hill that we tackle four times. Generally stage 3 is harder than stage 2, so it should be a fun one out there today.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Rouge Roubaix

Last weekend the Palmetto Medical Elite Cycling Team raced Rouge Roubaix. We fielded a strong squad of five riders with Parker Kyzer, Chris Meacham, Matt Moosa, Chris Uberti, and myself. Rouge Roubaix is an epic 105 mile race through the backroads of Louisiana and Mississippi. I won the 2015 edition back when I was racing for Lupus. Approximately 20 miles of the race takes place on three dirt roads. The first sector comes after about 25 miles of racing and is about 10 miles long but not too significant. The second sector comes after about 65 miles of racing and is 5 miles long and features a steep hill of about three minutes in duration. The final sector comes around 75 miles into the race and is also about 5 miles long. The final sector is narrow and has many uphill portions of one to two minutes in duration. Rouge Roubaix is about 12 hours away from Greenville, so I decided to leave early and arrive a couple days before the race started in order to preview the course and let my legs loosen up from the drive. On Friday we drove all the dirt sections and on Saturday we rode the final two dirt sections.

Tire selection is critical at Rouge. Many people would probably want to run the largest possible tire option, a 28. However, it rained during the week leading up to the race, and I thought a 25 would be better because the 28 has less clearance and may become clogged with mud. I chose to run my Boyd 60s with Continental Sprinter 25 tubulars at around 90-95 psi because I thought this was the best possible choice for not getting a flat. I have run below 90 psi in the past but flatted a lot back then. A flat would result in a greater time loss than taking a few turns a little less hot. It is important to think through all options when making this selection, but don't overthink it. Having raced Rouge Roubaix before, I had the advantage of my past experience.

We took off to overcast skies, chilling wind, and soaked roads. Temperatures were in the 40's at the start. Attacks started relatively early and a group of three rolled away without us represented, so I bridged. We were shortly dragged back by a motivated peloton, and we entered some twisty and narrow roads. A group of around 10 riders escaped. We had Moose and Meacham there, but this move looked like it would roll all day. I attacked over a rise and made the junction. No sooner had I arrived than Moose told me he had a flat. With Moose no longer in the group I did not think it was necessary that we work hard, so I would roll through easy or not work until the first dirt sector. I let other riders burn their matches. It seemed like something was loose on the front of my bike. During the first dirt sector I stayed near the front but never touch the wind. On the dirt I like to give some space in order to have an escape route in case someone in front of me crashes. By the end of the first dirt sector Michael Olheiser, Moosa, and Uberti had bridged up to us. The group was about 15 riders strong after the first dirt. After the first dirt sector I realized that something loose on the front of my bike was my front skewer. I stopped, tightened it, and Moose paced me back to the group. I would like to note that I ALWAYS check my skewers before the race to make sure they're tight. My skewer must have gotten loose somehow on some of the bumps early in the race.

A group of 15 is a strange dynamic that never works well together. Some riders would work, some would create gaps, but I knew I needed to save energy heading into the second dirt sector because it would be a decisive one. About 10 miles before the second dirt 2 riders escaped. Then a couple other riders escaped, but we were still pretty close to the front of the race. I started the second sector at the front. Mike Olheiser drilled it up the climb, and I decided to stay on his wheel. It was very hard behind him, and I knew he would take all of the right lines. Initially we finished the second dirt sector with about four riders, but roughly all the riders who started the sector made it back up to our group.

After the second sector we still did not work together well. Halfway between the second and third sector Moose attacked with a couple other riders. Right at the start of the third dirt sector gaps opened up. Mike Olheiser crashed into a ditch right at the start, so we rode hard. Racers are like sharks smelling blood. We attack when others are weak. I immediately had a gap with Thomas Brown and Cormac McGeough, Mike's teammate. However, being the hard man Mike is he came storming by me. I knew I needed to hold his wheel, so I did the best I could. However, Mike knows these roads very well and picked up a ~10 second gap on one of the descents. He held this gap on me coming out of the final dirt sector as I was with Thomas and Cormac. Mike ended up catching Moose and Kevin Girkins of Elbowz racing, and Thomas Cormac and I worked to reach the frontrunners. I didn't like the odds of Olheiser in that front group. He was looking strong, and I thought he could roll away. That is why I decided to work with Thomas and Cormac.

With about 15km to go I hit it over a roller and immediately had a gap. Since I got a gap without attacking I just pegged it with all I had. The roads were twisty, and I was not being chased. "I am going to win Rouge again." I thought. However, a few kilometers later I could see the pursuers charging hard behind me. I was battling a headwind, but I was going all in. "If I hold on for a little longer they will crack." I told myself. However, they did not crack and caught me with about five kilometers left to race. Immediately after they caught me, I attacked again just to see if that was all they had, but that did not shake them. Girkins also put in a dig, but we were on him like white on rice. The final few kilometers played out with Mike mainly setting the pace. Thomas jumped with about 500 meters to go with Girkins and they had a gap. Moose was closing hard but could not catch Thomas and Girkins and took third. I was empty and gave it all I had to roll across the line in fifth.

Rouge Podium

After the race I was livid that I did not come away with the win, and Moose was also angry that he did not win. We were not mad at each other, just unhappy to not come away with the win. I felt that I wasted little energy throughout the race and played it as smart as I possibly could have. Moose was sitting on while I was solo in the end, so that helped his odds too. However, at the end of the day we just didn't have the legs to win. It was a fun race, and the conditions were crazy. I am sure I will be back to Rouge again in the future and would love to win it again. The organization behind this race does a great job, and if you ever wondered about checking this race out you should do it.

My Bike after Rouge 

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Tour of Southern Highlands

This past weekend the Palmetto Medical Elite Cycling Team raced the Tour of Southern Highlands in Woodstock, Georgia. The race consisted of four stages; a criterium on Friday night, a time trial and a circuit race on Saturday, and a road race on Sunday. We fielded a seven rider squad of Chris Uberti, Justin Meade, Matt Moosa, Parker Kyzer, Ben Renkema, Chris Meacham, and myself.

The hour-long crit took place on a tight, four turn circuit through a future subdivision about a block away from downtown Woodstock. We were instructed at the start that we would do a neutral lap then stop at the start/finish. The "neutral" lap was flat out, and as I coasted down the start finish straight the break of the day rolled. Luckily we had Moose start on the front line, and he was able to make the split with Ty Magner and Oscar Clarke of Holowesko and Ian Garrison of Axeon. The four lapped up about halfway through the race. After that point we just stayed near the front to help protect Moose. The race came down to a field sprint with Ty taking the win over Oscar, with Ian in third, and Moose in fourth.

The time trial was a short, 3 mile effort that had rollers but was mostly uphill on the way out and  downhill on the way back. With the uphill first half that meant you had to empty the tank on the way out and run on fumes on the way back. I felt that I paced it well, hitting all the rollers on the way out very hard. I felt strong and like I put together a nice effort, but I finished in 15th place. Moose came in 7th, Uberti 8th, and Parker was 14th. We didn't have the best rides ever, but it wasn't terrible because the time gaps were not that big.

The circuit race took place on some of the same roads as the time trial. For about 2 miles on the course there was a constant stream of traffic, and the roads were narrow. This made it a little bit scary. The course lacked any decisive hill for a group, so draft would carry you over a lot of the hills. This meant it was hard to cause separation from the group. A break rolled early with 3 riders. Uberti was our rider in the break. Shortly after that group rolled Brendan Rhim of Holowesko went up the road in pursuit. Holowesko was still attacking a lot though. We followed but were mostly looking to get Moose into a move because we thought he had a one minute advantage from lapping up in the crit. However, results were not confirmed and the promoters were unsure if they would count the crit for time or not. It was fairly confusing, but we thought we wanted Moose up the road. We did a great job covering  and neutralizing moves we did not want to happen. With about 8 miles to go there was a small opening at the front of the group, and I shot the gap to join a group of about 8 riders. We had Parker and Moose make the split too. Garrison and Magner missed this split. This was the move we wanted, so Parker and I drove the pace all the way to the line. We managed to cut the advantage of the lead group to 28 seconds on the line, and we gained 52 seconds on the peloton. By our calculations Moose was sitting in second overall going into the final stage.

We heard before the final stage that the crit results were going to count toward the final general classification, so Moose was in fact second overall. The road race was a tough 90 mile race with about 8000 feet of total elevation gain. It was going to be a grinder and a hard fight. Holowesko sent Mac Brennan up the road from the gun. Over the first ten miles we were nipping on his heals, but Holowesko was doing well to neutralize attempts to bridge. Then on a descent I hit a big pothole at about 40 miles per hour and flatted my front wheel. I was certain my race was over, but Meade gave me his wheel. I was uncertain if I would make it back to the peloton as there is no caravan in local races, and it is usually impossible to make it back from a flat. However, after about 20 minutes of hard chasing I made contact with the peloton once again. I think the peloton was crawling as Brennan's lead was around 3 minutes when I rejoined. My legs were toast from the chase, and I was certain I was not going to be able to finish. The race had many attacks that were all neutralized. No one was able to establish a significant gap. Up one of the steep hills on the course I came off the back again. I just was not able to make the hard efforts necessary up the hills. The early chase from the flat took its toll on me, but I once again made it back into the group. With about 30 miles left to go Brendan Rhim of Holowesko went away on one of the hills and established a big gap as attempts to bridge to him were also neutralized by his teammates. Back in the field I was frustrated as my legs were super toast, so what else is better to do than randomly attack and roll by myself in order to try to get a podium position. At this point Holowesko had secured all spots on the overall podium, and I just wanted us to get on the podium once over the weekend. Parker and I traded attacks in the final 15 miles, but neither of us was able to get away. Finally with about 12 miles to go I got a big gap and Garrison bridged up to me. With Moose back in the peloton I sat on Garrison, but Oscar Clarke and two other riders came up to me with Moose and Parker in the peloton behind. I just sat on this group. We regrouped and there were a flurry of attacks again mostly from me and Jimmy Schurman of Guttenplan. Eventually Jimmy was able to get away for what appeared to be a third place ride, but over the final climb Garrison lit it up and was able to pass Jimmy to take third. I was fading from the attacks and it looked like Moose was hurting too. I gave him a couple pushes on the final climb and soft-pedaled in a few minutes off the back of the peloton. Parker and Moose were able to finish in the peloton. Moose put up a valiant fight and rode his heart out. I am really proud of how he rode. On time he was tied for third in the general classification, but he took fourth because Oscar beat him in the time trial.

This past weekend we came away with four fourth place finishes! We were really knocking on the door of the podium but just could not make it happen. This coming Sunday we race Rouge-Roubaix in St. Francisville, Louisiana. I raced Rouge last in 2015 where I took the win. Hopefully we end up on that top step again. Wish us luck!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Spring Series Hendersonville Crit

The final stage of the Spring Series was a 60 minute four turn crit in downtown Hendersonville. Palmetto State Medical Elite Cycling Team fielded a strong team of Ben Renkema, Matt Moosa, Parker Kyzer, Justin Meade, Chris Meacham, and myself. We had Matt in second overall trailing Ben Wolfe of Jelly Belly by two points. We thought our best opportunity would be to neutralize the field and have a field sprint.

              Riding the front of the Hendersonville Crit. 
Thanks Shane Orr for the photo.

Immediately at the start of the race Ben Wolfe attacked. I quickly made my way to the front, and helped to peg back this move with Chris Meacham. Shortly after, Parker joined Meacham and me. From this point on Meacham, Parker, and I just set a steady tempo. Riders would go up the road, but we would claw everything back. Within the final ten laps of the race no riders were attacking as we set pace on the front. With 5 laps to go we had it lined out with Moosa on our wheels. Things were really looking great. With 1.5 laps to go Wolfe laid down a vicious attack. I immediately pulled off because I could not respond after setting pace all day, and Parker and the rest of the team began to chase. There was a moment's hesitation, and that was enough for Wolfe to take the win and the overall in the spring series with Moosa taking second in the race and in the Spring Series.

 Final podium from the Hincapie Spring Series (left to right: Matt Moosa, Ben Wolfe, Brendan Rhim)

It was a little tough to swallow the loss after yesterday's race. However, we learned a lot from our loss. Even though we were upset at first the start of the year has been very good for our team. We won three races of the 6 we have started, and we have podiumed in every race we have started. We will sort out our kinks, and will be winning some more races shortly. Next weekend we will race Tour of the Southern Highland Stage Race in Woodstock, GA. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Hincapie Spring Series Weekend 3 Donaldson

Yesterday was the final Donaldson Center Circuit Race of the Greenville Spring Series. It was a 56 mile race with stronger winds than I have ever experienced out at Donaldson. Palmetto State Medical fielded a team of Justin Meade, Parker Kyzer, Matt Moosa, Ben Renkema, Chris Meacham, and myself. The plan for the day was win the race but to help Moosa win the overall.

The race started off fast from the gun with Mac Brennan of Holowesko launching an attack in the tailwind start. It is smart to attack in tailwinds because draft doesn't help very much in tailwinds. That attack strung out the field for the first few miles, but Parker, Meacham, and Meade were able to neutralize this attack. After this we worked well throughout the crosswind section and to neutralize other attacks. Once again Mac attacked, and he stayed out there for a lap as Parker, Meade, Meacham, and I helped to neutralize him. After we brought Mac back we regrouped to try to get our other teammates up with us to help neutralize the field for Moose. Shortly after Mac was brought back Brendan Rhim attacked with Ian Garrison of Axeon. Parker, Justin, and I shortly got on the front to keep this attack at bay. We also had help from Meacham and Ben at times. We kept the gap to  around 15-20 seconds for a while, but Mac attacked at one point screwing up our chase. This cracked Meade and made the gap grow to around 30 seconds, but Parker and I quickly resumed our pace up front minimizing the damage. We just kept chugging along and keeping the gap close for Moose. We also reduced the size of the peloton to about 8 riders with all this pulling through the crosswinds. With about 16 miles to go in a crosswind Ben Wolfe of Jelly Belly attacked, and this obliterated what could be called the field, and this was also the end of me and Parker. We did our jobs and were proud of ourselves. I tried to keep going and kept the peloton at around 20 seconds for a while but I never came back to them. I still hung on for 9th place, and that shows how obliterated the field was. Up front Ben was able to make the split of 6 guys with Moose. These 6 riders ended up catching Rhim and Ian, but Rhim was on a really strong day and took the win. Moose was able to take third place.

Parker and me crushing the peloton

This race was a really great show of teamwork. We had a job to do, which was the hardest job, and we got it done. We didn't when the race, but Moose now sits only two points behind Ben Wolfe in the omnium. Today we have a criterium in Hendersonville and will do our best get the win and the omnium win.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Greenville Spring Series Weekend 2

This past weekend the Palmetto State Medical Cycling Team raced the second weekend of the Greenville Spring Series. The weekend consisted of a 75 mile road race at Fork Shoals and a 56 mile circuit race at the Donaldson Center. Going into the weekend I was sitting in first overall in the omnium, and we had Ben in second place. The first goal for the weekend was to win both races with a secondary goal of maintaining the overall lead. We fielded a strong team of Matt Moosa, Justin Meade, Parker Kyzer, Chris Uberti, Ben Renkema, Johnny Mitchell, and myself.

The Fork Shoals circuit is relatively flat with not much wind, so it can be tough to read how the race will play out. An early break typically rolls here and gets brought back. The race started off with attacks, but the break did not establish immediately. Finally after about 10 miles of racing we had Johnny, Moose, and Parker up in a lead group of around 15 riders. Back in the field the pace was like a bungee chord with riders who missed the split attacking often. The field was motivated to chase down all attacks. Finally with about 20 miles left to race the bungee broke, and the field allowed Brendan Rhim of Holowesko roll. Immediately after this Ben Wolfe of Jelly Belly attacked hard from the field, but the field was motivated to bring him back for some reason. As soon as he was brought back they didn't reel in Brendan too, who was only another 10 seconds or so up the road. I decided not to follow Ben anymore at this point, which was not the best decision on my part. Wolfe went again and was able to establish a gap, and Uberti made a smart move by bridging up to Wolfe. The break was in sight when Rhim and Wolfe rolled, so all these riders made contact with the front group. After this went the field pretty much sat up. I attacked with another rider after this, but did not think we would make contact with the break. I looked at this as getting in a decent workout to finish my race. Up front our guys worked everyone over, and Moose ended up taking the win in a small group sprint.

We were pretty excited about Moose's win the previous day, and we had our team photo shoot right before the race. Thanks Yvonne Lydick for coming out and taking the photos! During the first mile of the race Johnny attacked, and Parker bridged up to him alone. Then Charlie Hough rolled up to them forming a break of 3 early in the race. A few miles later, Conor Schunk and two other riders rolled to bridge to the break of 3 to make 6 guys up the road. Back in the field the pace was on and off again. Guys would attack and the field would reel them back. It is very tough having to surge to over 700 watts and then coast. With about 33 miles left to race Moose rolled off alone in pursuit of the lead group. He was joined shortly after by Ben Wolfe. It seemed that the field was done, but Mac Brennan and Grant Koontz of Arapahoe both rolled off alone. Meade was also able to jump clear with a group. Most of these riders were able to make contact with the front group, and Moose was able to take the win once again in a small group sprint over Charlie Hough of Chainheart and Grant Koontz.

This was a highly successful weekend for the team. We worked super well as a unit, and Moose was able to take the win both days. Next weekend is the final weekend of the Spring Series. We have Moose sitting in second overall by only a few points behind Ben Wolfe, so we will fight hard to bring home the win.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Greenville Spring Series Weekend 1

Finally the offseason is over and the first races of the season have come at the Hincapie Greenville Spring Series. I have been eagerly anticipating this moment all winter. Palmetto State Medical Elite Cycling Team fielded a 5 man team of Chris Uberti, Parker Kyzer, Ben Renkema, Justin Meade, and myself. We were anxious to start the racing off well and kick the year off on the right foot.

The first race of the weekend was a one hour criterium at Conestee Park. There is nothing more fun than a bunch of sprints out of turns for the first race of the year. Over the past couple years the winning break has gone during the first few laps of the race, so we were attentive early and covered all the dangerous moves. Around 10 minutes into the race I jumped off the front by myself and was killing myself but could never eek out an advantage of more than 15 seconds. In the group behind Ben Wolf of Jelly Belly and Brandan Rhim of Holowesko were chasing hard. With about 20 minutes left to race they finally reeled me in, but my solo move shattered the peloton to about 12 riders that included all of my teammates. After a few small attacks Wolf jumped off the front, and Justin was able to follow. With Justin representing us up the road we only had to cover moves. However the field was still antsy and attacking each other, and Rhim went up the road with Chris and an unattached rider. I kept trying to jump off the front whenever the pace would slow, and with about 5 laps to go I was able to finally break free. Up front Ben was riding like a machine, and Justin was unable to come around him to take the win. However, Justin sat on Ben the whole time like a good teammate, so we couldn't have asked for more from him. Uberti was able to win the sprint from his group to take third place. In the closing laps I was coming close to Uberti's group but just could not make contact, so I rolled home in 6th place. Ben and Parker beat everyone left in the shrapnel called the peloton for 7th and 8th. Tactically we played a very smart race and came home with 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th, and 8th. Congratulations to Ben Wolf on taking the win. Not a bad start to the season for Palmetto State Medical Elite Cycling Team...

On Sunday we raced 8 laps around the infamous 7 mile Donaldson Center circuit. Donaldson is always tricky because there is a ton of wind, and by the end of the race it is blown to smithereens. We did a great job staying together and protecting one another through the crosswinds and making splits throughout the race. There were attacks over the first few laps but nothing significant ever came to fruition. With about 4 laps to go we were all able to make a selection of about 15 riders, but the whole field came together yet again. With a little more than 3 laps to go Mac Brennan of Holowesko, Andrew Dahlheim of Arapahoe Resources, and I punched it in the crosswind section. We built a significant advantage quickly and worked smoothly together building up about a one minute lead on the chase. With a little less than 2 laps to go we got word that two of Mac's teammates were chasing. That meant just Dahlheim and I were working while Mac got a free ride. With about a half lap left to go Dahlheim jumped me hard. As soon as I made contact again I jumped but didn't get far. However, I tried a couple more times and the elastic snapped. From then on I rode as hard as I could to the line to net my first win of the year. It felt really good to get a win at the Spring Series because I have not gotten one here for a few years now. It is also nice to win at Donaldson because it is a hard man's race. Dahlheim was able to shake Mac to take second place. The field was able to reel in the two chasers and Ben took the field sprint for 4th place.

I had a great time racing with my teammates this weekend, and I could not have taken the win on Sunday without them. It is really nice to start things out winning, and I hope we can keep the momentum rolling. Next weekend the Greenville Spring Series continues with the Fork Shoals Road Race and another Donaldson Circuit Race. I will keep my blog updated regularly, so stay tuned.