Archive for October, 2012

A look back at the past six years

For the past six years, I have raced and trained with my awesome teammates at Tria Cycling p/b and Infinity Med-i-spa. The Tour de Cullman coming up this Saturday will be my last ride/race flying the Tria colors. Before I announce my new team, I want to publicly thank all of my teammates and all of my sponsors for six amazing years. Here are some of the highlights from six awesome years:

2007 Tria Cycling team celebrating at Dreamland BBQ after our first big race as a team — the Tour de Tuscaloosa. The ins picture is the podium picture from a major regional race at the end of the year – the 2007 Greenville Cycling Classic, where I placed third behind Geri Mewett (Hincapie) and Bobby Sweeting (Kenda).

What a year our inaugural 2007 year was! Jacob Tubbs, Danny Parker, and Darryl Seelhorst had put together the team in 2006 and asked me to join in 2007. We had everybody over to our house for a spaghetti dinner the night before our first race as a team – the GSMR training race at Camp Sumataunga in February. At the time, I was the only Cat 2 on the team. Philip Thompson was the only Cat 3. And the rest of the guys were a highly motivated group of Cat 4s — Jacob Tubbs, Darryl Seelhorst, Danny Parker, Matt Lavoy, Brent Marshall, Lennie Moon, Kevin White, Jonathan Robbins, and Faris Malki. Our lead sponsors were Tria Market – an innovative grocery store in Homewood owned by Andy Virciglio – and Two Men and a Truck – a national moving company with a franchise based out of Birmingham owned by Richard McBee. Highlights for me that season included a 3rd place at the Tour de Tuscaloosa road race, 17th place in a stacked field of 100 riders at the Edgar Soto Stage Race placing a few spots behind a very young Andrew Talansky who is now racing on the Pro Tour with Garmin-Sharp, and finally my 3rd place finish at the Greenville Cycling classic at the end of the season – a race that had pro tour rider Craig Lewis (Columbia/Highroad) in it with his then teammate George Hincapie spectating because of a cold/flu.

2008 Tria Cycling team on the last day of our winter training camp at sponsor Dan Taylor’s house atop Lookout Mountain next to Alabama’s only ski resort (Mentone). The inset picture is from the Tria Cycling podium sweep of the Cat 3 race at Pepper Place at the end of the season. Left to right: Wes Douglas, Jacob Tubbs, Philip Thompson, Lennie Moon, Mike Lackey, Brent Marshall, Brian Toone (me), Daniel Taylor, and Darryl Seelhorst. Dan Taylor was taking the picture. In the inset from left to right – Sammy Flores, Philip Thompson, and Jacob Tubbs.

New teammate additions for the 2008 season included one of our competitors on GSMR who had been dominating the Cat 3s during 2007 – Mike Lackey – joining most of our team that would be upgrading to Cat 3 early in the 2008 season, plus the “new to racing but strong as an ox” Wes Douglas and the “super fast former velodrome racer” Sammy Flores as well as college-bound Daniel Taylor. Stuart Lamp (USA Cycling southeast regional director) joined our team late in the season just in time to make the podium in the Pepper Place criterium. Our lead sponsors were still the same, but Dan Taylor came on board both as a sponsor (Infinity Med-i-spa) and as a training teammate with his son Daniel racing for us as he headed off to college, which pretty much mirrored my situation as a bike racing junior back in 1994 as I joined AWV right as I was heading off to college at Clemson.

The 2008 season was one of the best ever, not necessarily in terms of results, but rather in terms of team camaraderie. Perhaps it was our EPIC, EPIC, EPIC training camp in January of 2008 that kicked things off for the year. We arrived Thursday afternoon and rode for 2.5 hours in temps that never got out of the mid 20s degF!!! The house was warmed by a fireplace and space heaters in individual rooms so when we arrived the air temp inside the house was also in the 20s. The next morning our water bottles in the kitchen were frozen solid. Time spent between epic rides was spent taking turns going outside to get more firewood and huddled around the fire drinking beer and swapping bike racing stories. One of those epic rides was an 85 miler, three state ride with multiple climbs up Lookout Mountain ending an hour after dark in the fog with a couple long gravel sections including one where we approached at 25mph and didn’t slow down once we hit the gravel. It was so Paris-Roubaix like that it made me absolutely giddy with excitement. Lennie Moon and I did an extra climb down into Trenton and then back up Lookout Mountain near Cloudland Canyon state park. We did a race simulation that was like a big mountain climb where he would pace me, then I would attack for a couple minutes, then back off the pace, and then repeat the process. We eventually caught back up to everyone who had taken the shortcut bypassing the extra climb by riding across the top of the mountain. The group was shattered.!

Personally, I had a mixed season of results which started out really well with a win at the opening training race at Camp Sumataunga outsprinting my breakaway companions Mike Olheiser (Competitive Cyclist) and Brent Bookwalker (BMC Pro Racing). I looked back on the first lap and saw Mike and Brent on my wheel and decided that it was the perfect time to attack. We eventually extended our gap to maybe close to 10 minutes with Mike driving the break and Brent and I just pulling through. Then with about 1 mile to go, we all joked how none of us were sprinters and that it should be an interesting finish. Mike got things started with a hard attack. I was able to bridge up to him with Brent falling behind. There was no way I could pull though so I sat Mike’s wheel and he said “Brian, we’ve got Brent on the ropes!” But I wasn’t going to pull so Brent rode back up to us, and we slowed down to a crawl before Mike attacked again with maybe 300 meters left. Brent closed the gap to Mike with me on his wheel and then I was able to come around both of them right at the finish. Darryl Seelhorst won the field sprint behind us for 4th place. It was probably the most exciting finish of all time at the Camp Sumataunga training race in Gallant, Alabama. I ended up winning the training race again the next weekend, and then later in the season guest rode for Mike’s team at the Fitchburg-Longsjo classic exactly 10 years after having raced the Pro/1/2 race in college. It was cool to actually ride at the front of the race in 2008 instead of hanging on for dear life at the back of the race in 1998. Earlier in the summer I had been time-cut from the Nature Valley Grand Prix during the time trial so that was a major disappointment.

But the highlight of the 2008 season was the end of the season Pepper Place criterium in Birmingham. I was elated to watch my teammate Philip Thompson ride away from the Cat 3 field, win all the primes, and eventually win the race solo. Behind him, my teammate Jacob Tubbs won the field sprint followed by another teammate Sammy Flores in 3rd. So it was a podium sweep by Tria – I believe this was our first podium sweep. Later, in the Pro/1/2 race, new teammate Stuart Lamp made the winning break and made the podium in 3rd place. What a night for Tria!

2009 team photo by {t}photographic. Left to right: Sammy Flores, Jacob Tubbs, Brian Toone (me), Lennie Moon, Darryl Seelhorst, Mike Lackey, Philip Thompson, Wes Douglas, Justin Gilmore, and Stuart Lamp. In the inset picture, I’m happy to have taken third place pictured to the left of Joe Eldridge (Team Type I) and Darrell O’Quinn at the Barber’s Pro/1/2 circuit race.

2009 saw the addition of Justin Gilmore to the Pro/1/2 team – Justin was a natural fit to the team having raced with Stuart Lamp on the Zaxby’s pro team for a while in the early 2000s. Also, we brought on board Ivan Leonard Chevrolet at a co-title sponsor after losing Two Men and a Truck. Dan Taylor also stepped up his involvement with the team, helping us along with Terry Duran to organize the inaugural Birmingham Bike League winter training series modeled after the more famous Athens Winter Bike League. Turn-out was amazing with an average of about 50 riders per week over the 3 month long series in November, December, and January. After 3 months of Saturday morning rides and attack zones, the overall series was separated by a single point going into the last sprint of the last ride. I ended up coming out on top for that sprint followed by Terry Duran and my teammate Darryl Seelhorst, which then became our overall order for the series. Amy and Lee Gravlee hosted us at their gym as our team had Taziki’s deliver a nice celebration meal for the entire cycling community. Unfortunately, there was something wrong with Tazikis and about 10 people (including myself) came down with bad food poisoning including one hospitalization. Who would have thought that in that inaugural series, the only hospitalization would not be from a nasty bike wreck but instead food poisoning!!!

I spent a lot of the season chasing points in the inaugural Georgia Cycling Gran Prix points series. I came out just shy of winning that series with Eric Murphy edging me out at the end even though I had led for most of the series. I won the Dahlonega road race as part of that series – my first non-training race road race win since college. The highlight of the season for me, however, was the four day / seven stage Tour of Atlanta over Memorial Day weekend. There was a strong field highlighted by a stacked Fly V Australia team including the current Australia crit champion Bernie Schulzberger and the super fast sprinter Jonathan Cantwell. I made it into the break on the first stage and ended up taking 2nd or 3rd in all the MAR (green jersey) intermediate sprints. I had a pretty big lead in that competition that I had a blast trying to defend against Jonathan Cantwell and Oneal Samuels. During one stage in the pouring down rain, I was able to attack before the last corner and come around the entire Fly V leadout train as they tried to get Jonathan the sprint points. I was so happy to have won the sprint that I let out a whoop and Jonathan joked with me saying “what? did I miss the bell for the last lap?”

2010 Tria Cycling team with multi-time masters national champion Terry Duran. The inset photos are the podium ceremonies from Terry Duran winning his Masters national championship race and me placing 5th in my Masters national champion race. Left to right: Sammy Flores, Paul Tower, Darryl Seelhorst, Brian Toone (me), Craig Armstrong, Katherine Herring, Timo Stark, Philip Thompson, Nichole Tower, Mike Lackey, Wes Douglas, Lennie Moon, Stuart Lamp, Jacob Tubbs, and Terry Duran.

2010 saw a major change in title sponsorship as Dan Taylor’s Infinity Med-i-spa and stepped up in a big way to help us bring on board a women’s team — including Terri Jones, Katherine Herring, Nichole Tower, Amy Gravlee, and Jill Lott — as well as two very strong Cat 1 riders — Paul Tower (former Kelly Benefits rider) and multi-time national champion Terry Duran. The Cat 3 team saw the addition of two more riders from Huntsville — Timo Stark and Craig Armstrong. 2010 also saw our BEST results ever as a team including Terry Duran’s masters national championship in the Masters 45+ road race and my 5th place in the Masters 30+ national championship in Louisville, Kentucky. I spent the season traveling the country racing in the USA Crits series where I placed in the top 20 in a number of races — eventually finishing 9th overall in the series. I also narrowly missed the podium in another major race – the Tour of America’s Dairyland – where I just barely got outsprinted by Johnny Sundt (Kenda Pro Cycling) for the last spot on the podium in the Road America circuit race. One other highlight for the season was racing the US 100K at the end of the season with teammates Stuart Lamp and Terry Duran. The field was very strong, but we were in just about every move. I’d cover a move or attack, and then as soon as that move came back I would see Stuart or Terry flying up the side of the road to go with the next move. This was perfect teamwork, but luck was not on our side that day. Stuart was helping me move up perfectly to the front of the field for the final sprint when we flew around the last corner swinging a bit wide into the far lanes of the 7 lane road putting us into the 10K course. The people finishing their 10K “run” two and a half hours after starting were all rather large (kudos to them for getting out and finishing a 10K), and it was somewhat comical to slalom around them to get back into the sprint train. By this point, we had lost our position and I could only manage 25th, but it was still a highlight of the season for me because it was great teamwork between the three of us.

2011 Tria Cycling team meeting at Barbers with subsequent podium pic after the race. Left to right: Chris Allison, Darryl Seelhorst, Brian Toone (me), Terry Duran, Stuart Lamp (arm and helmet visible), Darryl Seelhorst, Sammy Flores, Pat Allison (tip of helmet visible in background), Wes Douglas, Timo Stark (tip of helmet visible behind Wes), and Justin Bynum.

2011 saw the addition of Pat Allison, a strong Cat 1, and his brother Chris Allison who upgraded from Cat 3 to Cat 2 by the end of the season. We also added another strong Cat 3, Justin Bynum, who also upgraded to Cat 2 by the end of the season. Our season started out strong with me winning taking gold in the Alabama State road race championship at the Tour de Tuscaloosa. I was outsprinted by Daniel Holt (Team Type 1), but since he is from Georgia I got the gold medal. Pat Allison took the field sprint to claim the bronze medal. In the 3’s, Philip Thompson took the silver medal. A major early season highlight was how we did in the Barber’s race pictured above (1st and 3rd). Pat and I bridged up to the winning break together and then worked together perfectly to take the win. I attacked on the last hill forcing strongman Travis Sherman to chase with Pat getting the free ride back up to me. Pat was then able to easily take the sprint for the win with me able to hold on for 3rd against the rest of the breakaway. Travis took a well-earned second after he had won the Masters 30+ race earlier in the day.

The rest of the 2011 season was defined by three things: Strava, Sandy Springs, and Stage racing. Strava put on a monthly and year-long KOM climbing competition, which I ended up winning a few months as well as the overall for the year. I was obsessed with climbing from even before they announced the competition, but it really changed my training as I sought out the most climbing efficient, hilliest courses I could find, leading to more hours on the bike at a reduced intensity to try to keep my legs fresh for racing on the weekends. I was worried that the huge increase in volume would have the opposite effect on my racing as I would struggle to find the snap. Instead, I was doing better than I ever had before at races – finishing 26th at Athens Twilight after winning a $100 late race prime coming around the entire UHC leadout train for Jake Keough and Karl Menzies (who were setting up for the finish and not interested in the prime) and spending half a lap off the front of the race. I would end up racing 5 out of the 7 USA Crits races that week during speedweek, and it was on the second to last lap of the last race of the series at Sandy Springs that did me in … I had a nasty crash slamming straight into the barriers at 32mph documented here:

My injuries out of this wreck included my first ever broken bone (broken toe) at the ripe old age of 35, a separated shoulder, and a torn pectoral muscle. I was off the bike for a total of two days before riding laps in my neighborhood with one arm in a sling. I didn’t want to risk re-injuring my shoulder by racing, so I had to miss races in the middle of May but was back by the end of the month racing the road race at the Tour of Atlanta.

I was all recovered just in time for 11 days of racing at the Tour of America’s Dairyland up in Wisconsin. I stayed with an amazing host family while Kristine took the kids to visit her parents at the other end of the state. This was the most consecutive days of racing I had ever done. Shortly after getting back, I raced for three days up in Huntsville, followed by a 5 day race in Georgia, followed by another 5 day race in North Carolina. This was thirteen days of racing, spread out over just three weeks (21 days). A month later, I had my best result ever nearly winning an NRC circuit race at the Anderson omnium, followed a couple weeks later by a stage race in Florida. By the end of 2011, I had raced 52 days. Unfortunately, with my injury in the middle of the spring racing season and with so much traveling over the summer, I wasn’t able to do many races with the team. Still, we had an awesome end of the season together as a team at the Pensacola Cycling Classic stage race culminating with the last day’s race where Pat Allison took the win, Sammy Flores took the field sprint for 3rd, and I was only a couple spots behind for 5th.

2012 Tria Cycling photos, Tour de Tuscaloosa road race and Pensacola stage race. We weren’t quite as organized this year and never could get everyone together for a team photo (although we tried early in the year).

2012 saw the addition of two more strong Cat 3 riders — Kevin Pawlik and Boris Simmonds — pictured in time trial gear in the photo inset above. We again started out strong claiming the road race state championship with me winning the Tour de Tuscaloosa road race from a strong breakaway including Andy Crater (Cleveland Clinic) and Emile Abraham (Rosetti) with my teammate Pat Allison covering the chase group led by Frank Travieso (Team Coco’s). Pat eventually took the bronze medal by winning the sprint out of that group. Also, our new teammate Kevin Pawlik took the gold medal in the Cat 3 road race. Kevin and Boris both rode super strong a few weeks later in the Cat 3 Mississippi Gran Prix stage race with Kevin dominating the Cat 3 race and Boris making the final overall podium as well in 3rd place. Pat and I worked well together in the 1/2/3 race making the split on the final day to score a couple top 10s in the stage race overall.

The highlight of my season was definitely winning the Alabama state road race championship at the Tour de Tuscaloosa, but there were definitely lots of other highlights along the way — including qualifying for the Leadville 100 MTB race by placing 4th overall in the Barn Burner 104 MTB race out in Flagstaff, AZ. On the way home, I raced Tulsa Tough with its awesome Crybaby Hill criterium. A few weeks later, I placed 11th in the Elite national road race in Augusta. A month later, Kristine and I drove out to Colorado where I got to experience racing in the high Colorado mountains for the first time placing 39th in the Leadville 100. I’ll write up more about 2012 in a later post – but I just wanted to hit all the highlights of racing with the Tria Cycling team for the past six years. There is still one more race left — the Tour de Cullman on Saturday.

Thanks Tria for a wonderful six years, thanks teammates for being awesome guys and gals, thanks sponsors for making it all possible. A huge shout out and thank you to Dan Taylor of Infinity Med-i-spa along with and sponsors who have stuck with us throughout the years: Danny Feldman and his law firm, Tony Robbins and his mortgage company, Terri Jones, Central Steel. Many bike shops have helped us individually, but Cahaba Cycles got us started with great sponsorship in 2007 and 2008. Bob’s Bikes helped us out a lot in 2011 and 2012. Personally, the guys at Bob’s and BBC carried me through a tumultuous year equipment-wise in 2010 and 2011. Craig Tamburello has helped me tons this year in his new bike shop, Brick Alley bikes, only three miles from my house! Thank you everyone, and I hope to see you all out on the road soon!

October 17, 2012 at 5:27 pm Leave a comment

More videos from our weekend in South Carolina

In my post yesterday about my 176.5 mile end of the season epic ride, only uploaded a few of all the videos I took. Here are the other ones, including roller coaster road and a short clip of the climb through the fog up NC-215 to the parkway.

October 9, 2012 at 8:42 pm Leave a comment

End of the season epic 2012

Happy to make it up to the high point of the parkway

Ride Summary
176 miles and just under 20,000 feet of climbing on a cold, foggy, sometimes rainy beautiful October day in the mountains of upstate South Carolina and western North Carolina. My one goal for the ride was to get the Sassafras KOM on the Cat 1 climb from the Eastatoe Valley, but I ended up setting a few other KOMs along the way! Climbing up through the cloud layer and then riding above the clouds up on the Blue Ridge parkway was definitely the highlight of the ride. Ironically, turning around a few miles later and descending back through the cloud layer nearly crashing a few times and absolutely freezing in the mist was the low point of the ride. I’ve included a few of my favorite photos and videos below and then a detailed write-up – and then the rest of the photos, videos, and Garmin screenshots at the end of the post.

I used to end every season with a 200 mile ride that I would start at Tillman Hall – I’d ride over to North Georgia and climb Brasstown Bald at the 100 mile mark and then turn around and climb up to Highlands, NC on the way back to Clemson. Usually took 12-13 hours depending on how many pictures I took along the way.

After climbing Dug Mountain, you get your first good view of the high South Carolina mountains with Sassafras in the middle of this picture … elevation about 1100 ft here with Sassafras at 3560 ft.

If you are caught in cold, wet weather and woefully underdressed then plastic grocery bags worn like socks make for excellent wind-proof shoe covers inside the shoe. My feet were freezing before this stop and afterwards stayed toasty warm for the rest of the ride.

Beautiful fall colors on the parkway above 5000ft

Above the clouds at rough butt bald overlook

Ride Details
We left Birmingham right after Josiah’s baseball game so we could try to make it up to Talladega before the end of the big nascar race and the ensuing traffic nightmare – but we were also hoping to see if we could catch a glimpse of the cars high on the track visible from I20 as we drove past. We ended up arriving about 5 minutes after the end of the race, which we listened to on the radio so we were hoping to see smoke from the big crash on the last lap but we missed that too. Still, it was cool to see all the campers and all the people in the grandstands.

The rest of the drive up to South Carolina was relatively uneventful, and we arrived at the Fieldstone Farm Bed and Breakfast just outside of Seneca shortly before 10PM eastern. After an early breakfast the next morning, I was off on what I was hoping to be a 10 hour adventure (it turned out to be closer to 11 hours). It was cold, overcast, and windy on the way over to Clemson – but the clouds didn’t look thick enough for rain (I was wrong about that, too). Riding through campus, I ran into a guy with a backpack riding a nice Trek while I was taking a picture of Tillman Hall – we chatted for a minute or two and then I headed north out of Clemson up past the mountain bike trails of Issaqueena Forest towards my first goal of the day – the Sassafras Mountain KOM from the Eastatoe Valley.

I decided to target 275 watts for the climb, but my legs were feeling great so I ended up averaging close to 300 watts on the climb up to Beasley Gap. After the long downhill before the start of the final steep Cat 2 portion of the climb, I had dropped down below 280 watts. The Sassafras climb is super steep in parts with downhills in between – there is only one short section with a steady easy gradient. Everything else is either straight up or straight down. I was surprised at how quickly I made it up the last steep section to the short downhill before the final kick up to the top. Then after pushing my bike under the gate, I was able to blow through the last slippery wet steep leafy section with no problem. I ended up getting the KOM by 20 minutes.

The very top of Sassafras (elevation 3559ft) was at the bottom of the cloud layer so there was a light mist, and the air temp had dropped into the upper 30s. I wanted to get a short video at the top, but was having problems with my iPhone crashing so it took a few minutes to get the video. I was freezing by the time I was ready to head back down. Fortunately, I was out of the rain mist pretty quickly and was able to bomb most of the descent. By the time I hit the Chimneytop Gap descent, the roads were completely dry and I let it rip down the mountain pedaling hard at the top and never hitting my brakes. I ended up maxing out at 59.5 mph, but it felt much faster than S Cove because the distance traveled at that speed was far greater (close to a mile!)

Once I made it back to US178, I started the climb up into North Carolina that crosses the Eastern Continental Divide. As I got close to the divide I noticed that I was approaching the cloud layer again. Once I hit the cloud layer this time, it was a much heavier rain mist. This continued all the way across the top and then all the way down the long gradual descent to Rosman, NC. By the time I made it to Rosman, I was absolutely freezing. I had no rain booties on so my feet were freezing with the wind, rain, and cold. I spent a long time inside the gas station warming up – drinking a large cup of coffee and refilling my bottles with gatorade. I also got a couple plastic grocery bags I could use as rain/wind booties inside my shoes. They worked perfectly.

Leaving Rosman, I continued heading north (and up) towards the Blue Ridge parkway. The climb starts out very gradual on some really curvy fun roads on NC215 to reach Balsam Grove. After passing through Balsam Grove, I was starting to finally warm-up again because the rain mist had turned into mostly just fog climbing up through the cloud layer below the parkway. By the time I made it to the parkway, I had climbed up through the clouds and was rewarded with some spectacular views. After another 10 miles of rolling roads and climbing, I reached the high point of the parkway, which was again back in a layer of clouds. Cold and out of food, I stayed there for less than a minute before turning around to book it back to Balsam Grove as fast as possible.

Some of the best views on the way back were near the Rough Butt Bald overlook. Several mountains were peaking through the cloud layer and looked like tiny islands surrounded by a sea of white. Plus, there were some arms of the main ridge line extending down into the clouds that were lit up with the beautiful fall foliage. Leaving the parkway, I knew that the descent back down to Balsam Grove would be wet, but I didn’t realize how cold it would be. After nearly losing it in the first switchback I went really slow and my heart rate probably dipped down into the 60s or 70s which meant that my body was a frozen popsicle by the bottom.

Fortunately, I made it back to the gas station and warmed up again with hot food and more coffee. I was running really late by this point in the ride and I was starting to realize that I wasn’t going to make it back before dark — so I poured the coffee into a gatorade bottle and stuck it in my back pocket — perfect to warm up my body while I was letting it cool off enough to drink. By this point I was having lots of problems with my phone (it kept on locking up whenever I tried to do anything) so I didn’t end up getting any more pictures, so that was disappointing.

The highlight of the latter part of the ride was finding a really cool road that paralleled US64 for a while — Old Quebec Road — which came after all the switchbacks on Silverstein Road. These two roads are amazing low traffic roads. If I lived anywhere in the Cashiers/Sapphire/Rosman area, I’d spend a lot of time on those roads. With my phone not working, I was worried that Kristine would be worried — especially as I approached my original estimated return time of 6:30PM. I booked it down Whitewater, which again was somewhat disappointing because as soon as you cross back into SC the roads are so rutted and stacked up from heavy truck braking that it is pretty dangerous. It feels like the bike is going to break up underneath you.

When I finally made it to Salem, I saw a Dollar General employee outside taking a break and asked if I could borrow her phone. She kindly let me use it to call Kristine and tell her that I was about 15 miles out. It was 6:45PM with a sunset scheduled to happen at 7:07PM. I was going as fast as I could as I skirted around West Union via Burnt Mill Rd when I saw a “Road Closed Ahead” sign. I thought “you’ve got to be kidding me”. I chanced that I would still be able to get through on my bike, thinking that worst case there would be a bridge out and I would have to take my shoes off to cross a small creek. But fortunately, it was just a closed bridge that was still perfectly intact, but must have been declared unsafe for cars. Once past there it was less than 5 miles to home and I was running on a lot of adrenaline to be done as the sun had already set and it was getting quite dark. I ended up averaging well over 20mph for that last 15 miles of the ride making it back to our cabin by 7:25PM.

We piled the kids into the car as far as possible and drove to Clemson to enjoy our favorite Mexican restaurant and then 3 spoons yogurt afterwards … perfect ending to a perfect day!

October 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm 2 comments

Six Gap Century and Criterium

The Pro/1/2 podium for the Six Gap criterium. L-R: Scott Kuppersmith, Lucas Wardein, and Brian Toone
Analise wake-boarding with Brad
Josiah and me about to start jet-skiing
Josiah giving us the hang ten sign while wake-boarding with Brad

These photos above are my favorite from a great family weekend of hanging out with friends, racing and riding bikes, and enjoying the beautiful mountains of North Georgia. Analise and Josiah wake-boarded for the first time. I got to ride a jet ski for the first time. And we had a great time hanging out with Brad and Brenna and their kids at their family lake house on Lake Lanier less than 30 minutes from Dahlonega. Here’s how the racing went on Saturday and the epic riding went on Sunday…

Saturday @ 7:30PM, Six Gap Criterium
The course was the same three corner course plus the downtown square which is small enough that I heard at least one person describe it as a roundabout. So the course was either three corners and a 180 or 7 corners depending on how you count the square. Either way you go, the course is really fast with two uphill sections and two downhill sections. I was slow in getting to start line so I started on the back row of a small field of about 25 pro/1/2 riders. The layout of the course meant that there was really only one spot to pass people – just past the start/finish all the way through the top of the hill after turn 1. The rest of the course was so fast and had turns coming at you so quickly that it was difficult to pass anyone.

I had to watch the early breaks on the first couple laps go as I was still working my way to the front. Fortunately, none of those stuck, and I was able to get to the front by the fourth or fifth lap. A few laps later I went with a move that didn’t last long. A few laps after that was another move that I was in – this one lasted a couple laps but never got a good gap. Only a couple laps after that, I bridged up to a move started by Brendan Cornett (TBB Sports), who has been riding super strong this year, and one of the UHC-706 riders (Jonas?). Brendan was clearly the strongest and drilled it hard, but we never got our gap out to more than 5-10 seconds. Even so, we held that gap for quite a few laps (about 1/4 of the race) before getting pulled back in.

Then there was a flurry of attacks that eventually saw Scott Kuppersmith break free. A lap or two later, Lucas Wardein (Florida Velo), attacked and bridged to Scott solo. I think at that point everyone looked to UHC to bring back the move, but the gap had ballooned to nearly 30 seconds so it was too late to bring it back in the last five laps. Johnny Brizzard (Subaru) raced aggressively but couldn’t get a gap to stick. He was at the front drilling it hard at the start of the last lap when I decided to attack as soon as the pace let up. Going into turn 1, we slowed down just a bit and it was now or never so I attacked as hard as I could hoping to hold it through all the corners. I was able to just barely hold it to the finish with Brendan and Oneal Samuels (UHC-706) coming up fast behind me for 4th and 5th. Kristine got a good video of the finish starting with me charging through with about 500 meters to go…

She also got a video of the field rounding the square earlier in the race…

I was really happy to finish my last criterium for the year with one more podium! All my power/heartrate data is below:

Six Gap Criterium Pro/1/2 – heartrate/power data (click to enlarge)
Six Gap criterium pro/1/2 power map (click to enlarge)
Six Gap criterium pro/1/2 last lap power data (click to enlarge)
Six Gap criterium pro/1/2 heartrate zones

Six Gap Criterium Lap Data
Pro/1/2 Third Place
Lap	Time	AvgPow	MaxPow	HR	MPH
1	1:16	301	796	165	25.7
2	1:15	255	725	169	26.2
3	1:14	266	849	170	26
4	1:13	301	877	169	27.3
5	1:08	381	874	181	29.1
6	1:12	324	711	185	27.6
7	1:17	280	651	177	26
8	1:17	247	570	175	26.2
9	1:22	233	806	165	25
10	1:14	304	955	166	27.8
11	1:10	359	801	181	29.4
12	1:20	219	644	176	26.5
13	1:20	210	779	165	25.9
14	1:20	233	882	162	26.7
15	1:13	325	884	167	29.3
16	1:11	344	921	183	31.1
17	1:09	352	691	185	29.5
18	1:15	300	655	186	28.4
19	1:21	234	594	178	25.5
20	1:15	239	777	169	27.9
21	1:16	217	813	166	27.7
22	1:18	259	920	163	26.3
23	1:13	271	756	176	28.6
24	1:13	352	890	180	28.5
25	1:11	296	696	184	28.6
26	1:13	317	661	183	27.7
27	1:15	279	631	182	27.4
28	1:14	294	643	180	27.4
29	1:17	291	837	179	25.9
30	1:16	228	630	177	27.3
31	1:19	192	738	172	25.7
32	1:20	214	746	164	26
33	1:15	221	745	166	26.5
34	1:27	195	767	163	22.8
35	1:21	241	973	161	24.9
36	1:16	240	807	169	26.2
37	1:17	235	872	164	25.5
38	1:23	206	873	166	24.4
39	1:21	234	890	166	24.4
40	1:15	249	852	165	26.8
41	1:20	282	887	166	24.9
42	1:21	262	810	180	25
43	1:15	285	912	177	26.8
44	1:13	287	917	175	27.4
45	1:12	235	715	176	27
46	1:07	463	990	185	29.2

Sunday @ 7:30AM, Six Gap Gran Fondo
Less than 12 hours later, I was lined up with close to 3,000 other people awaiting the start of the annual Six Gap century. There is a reason why this event draws so many people – the course covers some of the best cycling roads in the entire country. Huge climbs, awesome descents, and lots of fun awaits those who do this event. The century also has a KOM competition that was sponsored this year by the USA Pro Cycling Challenge (the pro tour race in Colorado). This year’s competition was based on your chip timing up Hogpen Gap – a 7 mile stair-stepper climb with sustained sections as steep as 15%.

The first few miles leaving the high school were a great time chat with people and enjoy the draft of such a huge group. When you get that many cyclists together, you know that there are going to be a lot of yo-yoing back and forth as the pace accelerates on the downhill and then suddenly slows on the next steep roller — so you do your best to pay attention and help each other out by calling out when the pace is slowing and everything is fine. The group takes up pretty much the whole road, but on a Sunday morning in a rural section of the mountains of north georgia, I can only recall seeing a couple cars the entire 10 mile section leading into the first large hill on the course.

I was pretty far back when we reached the first of the six major climbs of the day – Neel’s Gap. I worked my way close to the front by the top of the first section of the climb. Then shortly after the bottom of the next climb, I finally made it all the way to the front. My teammate, Boris Simmonds, accelerated a bit and got away from the group early on the climb. Jimmy Schurman (Globalbike) set a fast pace that eventually reeled in Borris and dropped everyone except Christian Parrett (Globalbike), Mark Fisher (strong rider from Birmingham), and me. Across the top, we slowed down enough that quite a few riders joined us on the descent with a group of maybe 20 riders starting the climb up Jack’s Gap together.

The pace up Jack’s was tame enough that most of us were still together going into the third climb of the day (Unicoi Gap). Mark pushed it super hard at the bottom. I was on his wheel so I initially went with him, but I was pushing 375 watts up the climb and wanted to save some energy for the next climb up Hogpen Gap. Mark went on alone and I joined the rest of the group cruising up Unicoi at a more leisurely pace. We stopped at the top and refueled with lots of PB&J sandwiches.

Our group pushed the pace hard heading into the Hogpen climb so we were down to less than 10 riders by the turn onto GA-348. Jimmy Schurman was drilling it hard at the front and pretty soon it was just me, Mark, and Christian again. We crested the first part of the climb together, but Mark came off our group on the next steep section of the climb. Eventually we caught a couple riders who had not stopped at the Unicoi rest stop. Last year, Jimmy had dropped me at the steep section of the climb where there is a pull-out and several portapotties setup. This year I was happy to be able to hang with him and Christian all the way to the last steep roller before the top (about 1K to go). I just couldn’t sustain an above-threshold pace anymore so I eased up a bit to finish the climb at right about my threshold power of 300 watts.

After a couple minutes of waiting for more people from our group to catch up at the top, we headed down the super fast Hogpen descent. I thought Wolfpen was included again in the KOM competition so I pushed the pace hard at the bottom, Jimmy took over in the middle, and then Christian finished it off. Wolfpen is not nearly as steep as Hogpen so there was about 10 of us who survived the climb together. It’s tricky passing all the 3 gap riders and my voice was kinda horse from shouting “hello, on your left” up the climb and down the descent on the other side.

The final climb up Woody’s gap is much shorter than all the rest, and the descent was mostly good this year. Last year, we got held up by more 3-gappers and more cars on the road. This year, we eventually caught a truck pulling a 4-wheeler on a trailer and had to wait for him for a mile or two. Then he decided to stop to let us by (which almost caused us to plow into the back of him) but I was thankful that we could bomb the remaining mile or two of the descent. The rollers were good, and Christian pointed out the start of the dirt climb up Woody’s gap so I’m going to try to hit that up for southern cross in february.

Another year, another fun time at Six Gap! Here is all my power data … the first map below has the six climbs annotated with power, time, distance and vertical elevation gain.

Six Gap gran fondo power map with gap times, distances, and power averages annotated (click to enlarge)
Six Gap gran fondo heartrate/power data (click to enlarge)
Six Gap heartrate zone summary

Finally, here is a map of our boating fun yesterday and a couple more videos of the kids wake-boarding with Brad.

Boating on Lake Lanier – fun!!!

October 2, 2012 at 9:10 am 4 comments

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Is it my imagination or did the past two days of rain turn everything even greener here in tropical Birmingham?! Tornado siren at the top of ballantre. Water tower at the top of kings crest. Hard ride, very hot.

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Brian Toone

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October 2012
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Quick reference stats

Anaerobic Threshold:
Power:315 watts
Heart rate:180 bpm
Power:1097 watts (5s)
Heart rate:198 bpm (5s)
AT power estimated by critical power curve in Golden Cheetah, which predicts I should be able to maintain 315 watts for 1 hour.

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