A look back at the past six years

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

For the past six years, I have raced and trained with my awesome teammates at Tria Cycling p/b DonohooAuto.com 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. Best.team.training.ride.ever!

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 DonohooAuto.com 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 DonohooAuto.com 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!

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More videos from our weekend in South Carolina Tour de Cullman 2012

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Flat ride, lots of traffic, boring and dangerous. Old railroad and mining structures Fun bridge at the bitter end of lakeshore

Kristine’s ToonesFanClub

  • @CoachTimHall @briantoone Well, it wasn't NBD :) hardest thing I've ever seen him finish. Last 70 were harder than all other 430. 1 week ago
  • Last - thanks so much for all the encouragement. It meant a ton to know y'all were cheering us on virtually!! #sogladyobedone #HOTS500 1 week ago
  • Here's his comment from Facebook about the last 70 miles. For the record, I was struggling to stay awake behind him. http://t.co/AmwVzBnYeV 1 week ago
  • Sorry to leave y'all hanging! @briantoone -rather, WE - finished the brutal effort this am at 3:48, so 31hrs and 48min in 1st place. 1 week ago
  • We've been finishing these last miles from Talladega forever, like 3.5hrs. Currently zig-zagging up a hill on Sicard Hollow. #almosthome 1 week ago

Brian Toone

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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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