Posts tagged ‘travel’

Why I love bike racing! Rock Hill Bicycle Classic Race Report

I was looking for top ten finishes and a qualifying spot in the Nature Valley NRC Stage Race, but instead I came away 2nd in the Nature Valley competition and two 15th place results instead of top ten’s. Disappointed? Not in the least! 800 miles of driving for a bike race. Are you for real? Totally! The whole story doesn’t always make it into the final results. The highlight for the weekend was catching up and hanging out with my college friends Darol and Donna and their family. Our kids got to meet their kids and have an awesome time playing together on Saturday while Kristine and I were at the road race. When we got back to the house, I played basketball with Jonathan, Elizabeth, and Benjamin (who are amazing at basketball!) who easily defeated me in “Horse”, “Toone” and knock-out. Analise joined in a couple times, too, while Abigail and Josiah played on the backyard playset. The only thing missing from the weekend was that our Sunday race was too early for us to be able to go to church with them and still make it to the race so we had to say goodbye all too soon, and I am sure Analise and Josiah are already looking forward to next year’s race!

Here’s the scoop on how the races went -

Patriot Trail Road Race
The road race consisted of two laps of a 47 mile rolling course through the historic and beautiful York County countryside making for a long 94 mile day in the saddle.

My teammate Wes and I lined up on the front row of a 90+ strong field with 3 pro teams (Kenda, Team Type I, and Mountain Khakis) and several strong amateur teams (Global Bike, Subaru/Gary Fischer, Hincapie Development, and others). Wes rolled off the front a mile or so into the race and got away solo before an attack from another rider in the field brought the whole field along and reeled Wes back in. I went with the next move, but our break lasted only a minute or two before we were caught. Then there was another counter attack and three riders made it into a good looking break — although Team Type I and Global Bike were not represented in the move. The break quickly extended their lead to nearly two minutes ahead of the field by the KOM at mile 24. But the attacks associated with the minor points from the KOM and then the subsequent counter attacks through the hilliest section of the course saw the break’s lead shrink down to below 45 seconds.

It looked like we were sure to catch the break thanks to Global Bike’s steady efforts at the front of the field, but then the break’s lead quickly shot up again. Global Bike felt like they had done enough work, and it was time for other teams to help share the work of closing down the break. Instead, nobody came to help them so our place plummeted again. I expected attacks to try to get across to the break, but only one materialized — a Hincapie Development rider (Michael Stone). He quickly got a good gap on the field since our pace was slow with teams trying to work out who was going to drive the chase. It was at this time I realized that we were quickly approaching the end of the first lap and that I was farther back in the field than I wanted to be. So I was a little bit worried about trying to find Kristine in the feedzone and her being disappointed that I wasn’t in the break — so I found my opportunity, worked my way to the front, and attacked hard to bridge to the Hincapie rider. It worked — the field let me go without chasing, and I made the bridge pretty quickly up to Michael. We had a slim lead of maybe 10 seconds by the time we made it to Kristine in the feed zone a couple miles later at the end of Lap 1.

Kristine did an excellent job screaming encouragement and handing me a water bottle at the same time as Michael and I passed by at nearly 25 mph. Kristine told me later that it was chaos in the feedzone as riders came to nearly a complete stop to make sure they got their bottles since there wouldn’t be another chance to get bottles before the end of the race. Up ahead, we extended our lead so that they pulled an extra pace car ahead to lead us and sent the original pace car back to lead the pack. Michael and I worked well together averaging 26.5 mph for the 10.5 miles that we were away on our break. As it turns out (and unbeknownst to us), we were actually the two leaders on the road for that entire stretch of road. We never saw the original break ahead of us because the police escort in front of them had led them significantly off the course when they missed a turn.

When the pack caught us, they were flying and there were lots of small attacks. Having spent a lot of energy in the break, I was content to sit in the pack and recover and hope that nothing would get away during that time. Fortunately, all the attacks during that time were brought back fairly quickly. As we came into the closing miles, a small break of four got a good gap on the field. I missed that move, and it looked like it might work — but within the last couple miles, Global Cycling finished reeling them back in to set up the finale for their sprinter who took the win. Behind him, the field sprint was rather chaotic with riders bumping into each other and trying to maneuver through riders coming off the leadout train. I managed to stay upright and finish 15th although I could hear at least one or two crashes in the sprint behind me. I was in the top 10 riders at the start of the sprint with 1k to go, but I didn’t realize that we had the whole road from that point on so I got passed by at least 10-15 riders who crossed the yellow line while I stayed in the center of the road. By the time I realized what was going on, I was only able to work my way back up to 15th. C’est la vie!

  1. Faulty data (error-corrected)
  2. KOM for Lap 1
  3. Our 2-man, 10.5 mile, 26.5mph break
  4. KOM for Lap 2
  5. Good recovery and low HR before the final sprint

Winthrop Lake Criterium
I can’t say enough about this course. I wish every crit course was like this one. We had another large field — this time with 90 riders and 4 pro teams represented with the addition of Jonathan Clarke from United Healthcare. Yet we were able to safely navigate the course at high speeds — even with several sharp corners a short, steep downhill and a gradual uphill. The key element was smooth consistent roads of about the same width for the entire course. My teammates Stuart and Wes both lined up with me for the start of the race. Stuart launched himself on a prime lap and found himself quickly joined by a small group. They extended a small lead before the field gobbled them up. I went with a counter move that looked pretty good, but we only stayed off the front for a few laps. Wes got caught up behind a nasty crash on the second lap on the uphill and wasn’t able to catch back on. I heard the crash as it wasn’t too far behind me towards the front of the field. It sounded like several riders went down hard. Stuart ended up flatting and unfortunately for him taking my rear wheel from the pit. Let’s just say that the wheel he was using wasn’t adjusted very well for his bike. Works great for me as it’s my daily commute wheel, but he could only get his rear derailleur to stay in place for two gear combos – 53×11 and 53×16 (probably where some extra grease was built up).

At about the halfway point of the race with 17 laps to go (out of 35 laps), a Subaru/Gary Fischer rider (Sam ?) attacked and got a small gap on the field. My legs were still feeling really good so I attacked on the short steep downhill leading into the last corner. The field let me go, and I rode hard for half a lap to bridge up to Sam. By the time I made it up to him, we had a good 5-10 second gap. By the start of the next lap, our gap was up to 15 seconds where it hovered there for about the next 6 or 7 laps. We worked very well together and settled into a rhythm where I would pull the uphill portion of the course through the steep downhill with Sam taking over for the headwind section back into the bottom of the uphill where we would trade places again. After 6 or 7 laps, our gap slowly started to come back down – 10 second lead with 8 laps to go, 8 second lead on the next lap, 5 seconds for the next 3 laps and then finally caught with only 3 laps left to go in the race. Fortunately, I was able to tuck in and get a good recovery (see HR data) and then ramp it up again in the final sprint for 15th place. During our break, Chad (@TotalCyclist) rang the bell for a $40 prime which Sam and I agreed to split.

So 15th isn’t the result I was looking for, but I am not disappointed as we made the race really exciting, and it was a lot of fun to be flying along the course in front of the crowd and getting encouragement from Kristine and people all over the course with the hope that we would be able to stay away to the finish.

  1. Early attacks and pace changes
  2. First breakaway group
  3. Our 2-man, 10.5 mile, 27.1mph break
  4. Recovery before the finish

Rock Hill Omnium Winthrop Lake Crit Course (topocreator map)

Birmingham, AL to Charlotte, NC (topocreator map)

April 13, 2010 at 2:14 am Leave a comment

Three icy rides

We just wrapped up our annual Christmas trip to the upper midwest, and I finished it up with the three icy rides below:

Shell Lake Lake Ride
Air temp: -10F (10 below zero)
Distance: 7.8 miles (it was cold!!!)
This was my last ride in northwestern wisconsin, and it was also my last chance to really explore the frozen lake. It was plenty cold (-10F) cold enough to freeze your breath almost instantly. But unfortunately warmer temps and even light rain on Christmas left about an inch of water melted underneath a thin layer of top ice. I kept crashing through into the puddled water. No danger of crashing through into the lake b/c there was another layer of thick ice below that, but problematic enough with the temp -10F to shorten my ride. Still, for this Alabama boy – the novelty of riding a bike on a frozen lake never gets old!

Northwest Green Bay ride
Air temp: 15F(and very windy)
Distance: 61.4 miles (very flat)
This was my first ride in the Green Bay, Wisconsin area. I thoroughly enjoyed it although most of the ride was table-top flat. I could tell that if I had gone northwest away from the lake instead of towards the lake, it would have been a much hillier ride. But I really wanted to see Green Bay and see the ice flows and icebergs on the lake. I wasn’t disappointed – although my camera batteries were dead after only one picture. We drove out later to get a few pictures that I posted below.
La Porte, IN to New Buffalo, MI
Air temp: 10F (10 above zero)
Distance: 36.9 miles (it was cold!!!)
We spent New Year’s Eve with Kristine’s grandma in La Porte, IN which is just south of the Michigan border and southeast of Lake Michigan. I had a great mountain bike ride in the middle of a minor lake effect snowstorm. It was quite an experience and perfectly safe as the roads were snowy and not icy. Actually makes for pretty good traction on a mountain bike as long as you keep the tire pressure low.

And here are all the photos from the three rides…

Ride #1 – Shell Lake, WI – 12/29/09

Ride #2 – Northwestern Green Bay Area – 12/30/09

Ride #3 – La Porte, IN to New Buffalo, MI – 1/1/10

January 3, 2010 at 10:32 pm Leave a comment

Biking across the country

Not exactly the same as biking all the way across the country, but I am getting to enjoy a number of spectacular rides during our trip out west to give a presentation at a conference, to visit friends and family, and to race the Cascade Cycling Classic. Here’s some highlights from our trip so far:

East Texas- on the first day of our trip, we drove from Alabama to Tyler, Texas to stay with friends of ours from Mercy Ships. This is also where I met my wife 8 years ago. I rode a 45 mile loop on roads that I used to ride that included passing through YWAM Tyler (Twin Oaks) and the Mercy Ships headquarters from a starting point in Van, Texas.

Mercy Ships Headquarters, near Tyler, Texas

Carlsbad Caverns, Carlsbad, New Mexico – on our third day, we headed to Carlsbad Caverns to watch the bats fly out at sunset, spend the night, and then explore the caverns the next day. In the morning, I got to ride from our hotel in the town of Carlsbad to the entrance of the caverns at the top of a small mountain. I had been wanting to do that climb since I first visited the caverns as a teenager. It was fun to finally do it, fly up it, and realize that it wasn’t such a hard climb after all!

Carlsbad Caverns Climb

Carlsbad Caverns Before the Bat Flight

Flagstaff, Arizona and the Grand Canyon – In Flagstaff, we stayed with Kristine’s cousins Kip and Beth. Kip and I got to go for an awesome ride where he guided me up Snowbowl, a six mile climb at the base of the mountains containing Arizona’s highest point. I turned on the gas for the last two miles and couldn’t believe how hard it was to breath for the last part of the climb rising well above 9000′ by the turnaround point — but it was still a good sign that I could maintain a low zone 5 pace for that entire two miles. We flew down the mountain and then headed towards the Grand Canyon. The road was wide, well paved, and surpisingly little traffic. After the gradual climb to the Nordic ski center, Kip turned around to head back to Flagstaff and I went on to the place where I had planned to rendezvous with Kristine and the kids before heading into the canyon. It was an awesome ride hanging out with Kip, doing an epic climb, and then absolutely flying towards the canyon with a tailwind and a long gradual 2000′ descent. The last five miles was really tough as the road changed direction just enough to have a hard sidewind and started to roll upwards. Also, the sun came out at that spot and I quickly drained the rest of my water finishing my bottle just as I sprinted to meet Kristine at the Flintstone campground.

Flagstaff, Arizona to the Grand Canyon via Snowbowl

Las Vegas, Nevada – This was the next stop for us as I was presenting a research paper at a conference. We stayed at the conference hotel, and I was able to ride twice from the hotel to a very cool national conservation area called Red Rock Canyon just outside the city. I saw lots of other bikers, and the road was like none other that I have ridden – a 13 mile scenic loop on a one-way road with no oncoming traffic! So you could fly down and truly enjoy the descent after a tough 5 mile climb. The geography was breathtaking with exposed “red rocks” and towering canyon walls. On the highway bordering the conservation area, there was one spot where you could see the entire 13 mile road laid out before you on the mountainside.

Las Vegas to Red Rock Canyon
Monte Carlo
Moon rising over Red Rock Canyon

Davis, California – I lived in Davis for six years while I got my Masters and PhD from UC Davis, but it has been four years since our last visit — so my rides over the past three days have brought back tons of memories. From a homebase with my college roomate and his family, I’ve gotten to do rides in three of the four directions leaving town. My kids enjoyed riding in the Arboretum and taking breaks to feed the ducks. I also rode the Tuesday/Thursday training route that leaves from Sutter Davis Hospital, and then today got to do a short ride all over town.

Analise feeding the ducks during a break from riding

Tomorrow it’s on to Oregon for the Cascade Cycling Classic. Fun riding and hopefully some great racing!

July 19, 2009 at 4:12 pm Leave a comment

I didn’t know the off-season could be this busy!

So it is definitely the off-season. One way I know that is because of the number of projects that have managed to make it to the queue for processing. I am working on the development of two different websites in addition to creating a toolkit for monitoring Ajax performance as part of my academic research. I haven’t been riding a ton, but there a few things to note:

  1. The 2008-2009 BBL season is underway! I am managing the website for the series, and we have really stepped it up this year with organization, prizes, etc… I rode the inaugural weekend but was then out of town last weekend for a conference, and this coming weekend we will be on our way back from Thanksgiving with family in Northern Indiana.
  2. My Garmin Edge 705 bike computer / GPS unit arrived in the mail yesterday morning. I brought it with me here to Indiana where I am sitting in a coffee shop trying to get caught up on a few things while Kristine and the kids nap. I will write up a detailed review of my experience with the Garmin after my first few rides with it. On an interesting side note – I am writing from Rocky Mountain Cafe – a very cool coffee shop in La Porte, IN. My large mocha was a bit expensive ($4.50), but I have unlimited access to free wireless. This is compared to the other wifi hotspot that I tried – Temple News Agency – where I had the option of paying $4.25 for a large mocha and then paying not $1, not $2, not $3, but $4 for one hour of wireless connectivity. Hmmm, let’s see – $4.50 plus free wifi or $8.25 plus the opportunity to sit in a small cramped building with somebody smoking inside it. I’m glad I just smiled and said “thank you” and left the first spot!
  3. Finally, it looks like I’ll be doing a couple days of cold-weather riding up here on snow-free roads surrounded by a beautiful snowy countryside up here in La Porte, IN! They had a lake effect snowstorm that dropped about 10 inches of snow a few days ago and all of it has melted from the roads which are completely dry and yet the fields are still covered in snow! It doesn’t get any better than that for a biking southerner who doesn’t get to see snow very often!

November 26, 2008 at 1:19 pm Leave a comment

Tour of Elk Grove – 1/2 Stage 2

Quick summary: 18th today, 17th for the GC
The details: Coming later today (we just got in from our 12 hour drive back home)

August 4, 2008 at 4:30 am Leave a comment

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Lots of repeats today. CAUTION - gravel washout at the one lane bridge at the bottom of Caldwell mill. I didn't see it until I was in it so I nearly lost it into the ditch. Stopped at the no-fun-bucks to cool off.

Kristine’s ToonesFanClub

Brian Toone

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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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