Group Rides. Love Them? Hate Them?

In cycling, like many other endeavors, there is safety in numbers. There is also the social aspect of cycling which is often over looked.

So, you get Group Rides. Today, I would like to discuss the different types of group rides, and the pluses and minuses of each.

Groups come in all sizes and all varieties. Spontaneous, structured, “Fondos”, charity rides, century rides, club rides, etc.

Solo (Group of ONE)

Well yeah, a group of one is still a group, especially a “gravitationally challenged” person like me. I often ride alone. This is because in my semi-retired life, I have the option of riding during the day on weekdays, or later on in the day on weekends. I wish more people could ride with me at these times, I really do.

Plus:

  • Well obviously, you’re not going to get dropped riding alone. You pick your pace, you pick your route and if anyone argues with you, perhaps you should seek some counseling.
  • Structured training is easier to maintain in a solo ride.
  • Flexibility in route, bike type, clothing, etc.

Minus

  • No social aspect really, unless you bother people on the road.
  • Safety issues. One cyclist is much more likely to be hit by a distracted driver than a group.
  • Maintenance issues. You have to carry everything with you. No “mates” to lend you a tube or a CO2 cartridge.
  • No draft, but this is really only important if you’re one of those people that count achievements in miles.

When I do ride solo, I tend to pick well traveled, “safer” routes, such as roads with bike lanes, bike trails, shared lanes or even sidewalks. Since I commute to various meetings by bike as well, I tend to be careful about picking my routes.

Duo

Twice as good as solo, no surprise.

Plus:

  • You probably won’t get dropped riding with one other person. They tend to want to stay with you.
  • If you have a destination, the draft can help reduce the workload, if that’s important.
  • 50% chance of going the route you want to go.
  • A very social ride, as I often ride side by side with someone and solve ALL the world’s problems.
  • Slightly safer. Two cyclists are more likely to be seen by a distracted driver.

Minus

  • Maintenance issues are down but wait, is he carrying a tube or is it all on you???

In my neighborhood we have a 3.7 mile loop that about 5 of us ride regularly. We often end up in duos. Usually a conversation as well as a ride.

Three to Six Riders

Put together as there is usually very little difference between these numbers.

Plus:

  • You probably won’t get dropped riding in this group either, as the lower numbers are easier to keep track of.
  • You can draft each other and reasonably well, as 3-6 riders is not so many that you aren’t familiar with each other’s styles very quickly.
  • Still tends to be very social, as not much chance of a “testosterone” group blowing it up.
  • Probably the safest number. Groups of cyclists are more visible, and with only 6 or so riders there is less chance if inter-cyclist mishaps.
  • Still A very social ride. Where conditions allow, you’ll probably be side by side in 2 or 3 rows.

Minus

  • Someone should lead it, and make the route decisions, unless you want some element of chaos.

Saturday Morning “Wolf Packs”

These groups run anywhere from 8 to 50 riders and are probably my least favorite type of group ride. They tend to be “organized chaos” if they are organized at all. I’ve led these groups before and it is the closest thing to cat herding I’ve ever done. By the way, road races and criteriums fall in to this category.

Plus:

  • The draft reduces the workload, if that’s important.
  • Certainly safer from distracted drivers, although you will anger some for taking up the road (sheesh).

Minus

  • Not usually a social ride, as people are trying to rid themselves of a week’s worth of office frustrations in one ride.
  • Not safe in terms of inter-cyclist mishaps.
  • An excellent chance of getting dropped if you miss a light or something, as it is extremely hard to keep track of large groups.

My least favorite ride type. For years, I tried to “improve myself” so I could stay with these packs, win the sprints, and not get wrecked by a crazy cyclist. It’s very hard to get to know the riders because the group changes from week to week.

I found myself gravitating towards certain riders, staying near them, as I got to know them and conversely avoiding certain riders as I got to know them. I pretty much avoid these rides now. I know people will tell you they are exciting, and they are, certainly, but is it worth the risk? To me? An emphatic no.

Weeknight Social Rides

I think immediately of the KBS ride every Thursday night and I think positive thoughts. This is usually a very large ride, with anywhere from 50 to 125 riders, but it is well planned and quite safe. The route involves a destination with a loop, such as Eagle Circle or Heintzelman Blvd (The Airport). On the way to the destination, the speed is set by the slowest rider. It is definitely no drop!

Once the destination is reached, one “loop” is done at any pace desired. Many will race it. Others will ride along easily at the back. Once the loop is done, the group splits in to two – a fast group doing 22-25mph all the way back to the shop, and a leisurely group doing 16-18mph, if the slowest rider can maintain that. Surprisingly, the fast group doesn’t really get there that much sooner, maybe 5 to 10 minutes.

Then a “party” begins with food, beverages, birthday celebrations and who knows what else.

Plus:

  • You will not get dropped riding in this group, as “bird dogs” are assigned to watch for stragglers.
  • You can draft each other and reasonably well, since the pace is leisurely for those that want it.
  • Very social, as not much chance of a “testosterone” group blowing it up.
  • Even though it’s at night, everyone has lights and helmets, and groups of cyclists of this size are kind of like a 500 lb gorilla, they ride wherever they want to.

Minus

  • The party keeps me up past my bed time!.

I’ll add in century rides and fondos later, but they can vary so much, depending on who is putting on, who is there, etc.

2017 in Review

This article is reprinted in its entirety by permission from johntenney.com

This post is for me, myself and I. No one else. It’s a note to me for next year at this time. If you don’t want to be bored about my running and riding exploits for 2017 then you should close the window now.

Maybe my kids will read it some day. Maybe.

I’ve been frantically searching my disk drives for the goal setting exercise I did a year ago. I can’t find it. Maybe that’s because I never wrote it down. Well I’m writing it down here so I can find it next year.

What Were My Goals?
Reaching in to the memory banks, I know I did two areas: Exercise/Sports and Business.

Sports:
I set mileage goals of 6000 miles cycling and 400 miles running. I didn’t hit 400 running but went over 7000 cycling and hit a total of 7500.

On 12/30 I passed 7500 total miles.

In Running, I wanted to complete the Space Coast Half Marathon in under 3 hours if possible, and collect my 6th and 7th medals for the Big Bang series. I did it in 3:05, which although not my goal, was still a PR for the course. I wasn’t at my target weight at all. Hurricane Irma “gifted” me with 10 lbs that I have been having the toughest time losing. Maybe now that the “chocolate season” is over I will make some headway.

I had planned on 400 miles of running as training for the SCHM. I didn’t get to do the long run I wanted to before, so I had to go in with my longest run being just 9 miles. This might also have been a factor as I definitely slowed down in the second half of the run. I finished though, and I have officially “retired” from long distance running.

The 7 medals, the final t-shirt and towel combination, awarded to all Big Bang Series finishers – five years in a row

Next year? No goals. I’m retired from distance running

Cycling:
I have to break this in to several parts: Road, Time Trial, Mountain Bike, Cyclocross and Track.

Road: I had no real goals of road racing except to exceed 6000 total miles. Done. I wanted to complete my fourth Cross Florida ride in 10 hours or less. Not quite. Did it in 10:42 but I am still happy.

After XFL, I did get a new frame this year, as my old frame warped itself and was under warranty. Many thanks to Mickey Singer of Giant Bicycles USA for helping me out with it.

Love this snazzy new frame. Got it after the Cross Florida ride but really enjoyed it all year long

Also, one of my clubs put on a 5-10-20 contest – 5,000 miles, one ride that climbed 10,000 feet, and participate it 20 club rides. I am one of only 8 people who did all three. Excited about that.

Next year? I am considering entering some road races, as well as crossing Florida for a fifth time. If there is a 5-10-20 contest I will do it again. Our own club is doing a 5-5-25 version, 5,000 miles, 5,000 feet in a single ride, and 25 club events, rides, races or volunteerism.

Time Trial: I sold my TT bike, so I was hoping to do well in the Eddy Merckx class. I did OK. About half way through the year though, I got a fixed gear track bike which gave me an entirely new arena to play in. More on how that happened later, but I “won” the airport TT fixed gear class, as well as the CFL TT fixed gear class over 40K. Most of this was because there were very few others who made every race. This is always my secret to success anyway.

Next year? Defend my titles!

Mountain Bike: I had purchased and custom built a special mountain bike with a fixed frame, aimed at the WAR MTB series (in the cyclocross division) which was coming back, and I was defending champion. This wonderful bike was stolen in August, which really depressed me. Still no sign of it. I managed to repeat my WAR championship but it was by using borrowed bikes. Well here I am talking about Cyclocross and confusing it with Mountain Biking. Well I’m about to do it again …

My custom built Mountain Bike – stolen! I had nearly $4,000 in to this thing …

Next year? Defend the WAR MTB title, and maybe enter a few MTB races.

Cyclocross: I got a new (to me) Cross bike this year, a very nice Giant TCX. I immediately began training with it in Hal Scott preserve, a local mountain bike trail that is pretty flat and easy. I noticed that my Strava was showing me rising up leader boards on some segments that had been established out there by various people. I decided to do something about it. I took a bunch of segments and even created some for my own routes. There was one guy who was very hard to beat but I managed to beat him on every segment but one (and I missed that one by 1 second) by mid March. Strava says I claimed 35 KOMs in 2017. Even though he went out and took them all back (by putting aero bars on his mountain bike!) I still claim that as a victory. For a few weeks I was the “King” of Hal Scott.

The King’s Machine. Using this bike I procured 20+ KOMs in Hal Scott. I’ve since lost them all but it was fun for a few weeks.

OK now back to cyclocross. I went to every WAR race this year and by garnering points (not being fast, just showing up) I managed to win the MTB category and the Pro 1/2/Open category. I guess that makes me WAR Grand Champion. Got two jerseys for it. In addition, I am the points champion of the Florida P1/2 category.

Many will say that I don’t deserve that status, that I am slow, that I am clearly not the best cyclocross racer in Florida. I can understand why they say this but this is a points series and you get points for showing up. I beat 100% of the riders who stayed home on the couch. I may have finished last or second to last in nearly every race but I was there. I say to those naysayers, “If you don’t like me on this podium then come knock me off. Stop whining and start showing up for races.”

Doing the WAR knuckles in honor of the series. Am I faster than young Mr. Legg, or almost as young Dr. Chandler? Not by a long shot, but I finished more races.

Got a jersey for winning FLCX overall as well.

At age 60, still running and riding. Wearing the Florida Cyclocross points champion jersey for 2017 here.

Next year? Repeat as champion and get faster! I need to lose weight to get more speed.

Track: OK this is new to me and I had no goals for the year, because I had no plans to race on the track. As is told elsewhere in this blog I had a unique opportunity to buy a track bike and set a state record, which I did.

By the end of the year, no one had beaten this record and I was originally told I would be considered the state one hour time trial champion. This has since been “recanted” as “this is not a recognized championship” – ugh, politics. Disappointing, but I am still the current one hour record holder.

Also, as I stated in the Time Trial section above, I used this bike to win two Time Trial divisions as well.

Wayne Keller got this great picture of me setting a PR on the Airport TT course of 18:27. Best ever on this particular course, and on a fixed gear track bike (Giant Omnium)

Next year? I really don’t know. Maybe go to some track races, or at least some track time trials.

Business
This was our first year as a franchised business, so my goal was to get five franchises up and running (We currently have three). I also wanted to double our total payroll by the end of the year. It looks like we might just barely make it.

Amazing considering two really bad things happened to us that made us go in to “fire drill” mode instead of preparation and planning. 1: One of our partner PEOs had an owner fight that split up in to two PEOs and cost us two rather large clients. 2: The state of Florida in a horrible example of irresponsibility, shut down an insurance company (unjustified IMO) on November 27th. We had exactly one month (during holiday season) to scramble and place one of our largest workers comp clients with a new carrier. Unfortunately we were not able to place it all and this will cost us about $800/month.

Next year I’d like to see 6-8 franchises, and double our payroll handled again.

2016 in Review

2015-medalsJohn Tenney tells us about his 2016 goals and whether he hit them.

Different Expectations

My sports this year were running, duathlon, cycling time trials, endurance rides and cyclocross. In 2015 I was able to amass a large number of finisher medals, podium prizes, team championships and even a championship jersey. The chances of repeating that were pretty much nil. So my expectations this year were altered.

In the only event where I had nearly the same goals, I raced in all of the Airport Time Trials and got 2nd overall in the Masters 50+ division (a very competitive division, but points are awarded cumulatively.) I never won a race and only Kevin Clark beat me every time. He finished first overall.

The duathlon landscape changed this year. Epic reduced the number of events and there was no series award. The Sommer Sports Clermont series was held again but I had conflicts on 3 of the 4 weekends so I decided to opt out this year. As a result I entered only three duathlons at Moss Park with Epic Sports, but did manage to get on the podium each time, primarily because of low turnouts in my age group and distance.

Due to my success in Cyclocross in 2015 I had been “upgraded” to Cat 3, where I certainly don’t belong. I’m at best a mid-pack Cat 4/5. I also encountered some friction due to my Pro 1/2 podium. Some felt I was taking advantage of the system (well I was) and didn’t appreciate it. So my 2016 goals were to lay low a bit, maintain a lower profile, ride around as best I could in the Cat 3 races and hope for a repeat of the WAR MTB series champion.

So I set goals for running, endurance cycling and different goals for cyclocross:

  • Complete Cross Florida ride in 10 hrs
  • Complete Blue Ridge Breakaway
  • Finish enough Cat 3 races in Cyclocross to stay qualified
  • Repeat as MTB champion at Wicked Awesome Racing Series (WAR)
  • Finish Six Gap in 9 hrs or less
  • Complete the Space Coast Half Marathon
  • Run 400 miles total for the year
  • Ride 6000 miles total for the year

Cross Florida (XFL)

I had high hopes going in to this ride (not a race, well scratch that, it’s ALWAYS a race) because I had gotten enough training in beforehand, down some preliminary century rides and was feeling good with the new bike (Giant Propel.) One thing that I didn’t have was a well matched group to ride with. The Blue Hammers and ESCC were too fast for me, especially in the hills. I fell in with some groups that matched well along the way, but the support groups did not want to support me, since I wasn’t part of their team, bike shop or whatever. That was a bit discouraging. I won’t mention names, but there were a couple of groups that refused to fill up my water bottles, because I wasn’t “on the list.” Since then, I have talked to both of those groups and we got straightened out. They apologized but thought they were following orders. They assured me (and I believe them) that in the future they will fill anyone’s water bottle, whether “on the list” or not. It was a miscommunication that has been rectified.

Did it affect me? Yeah a little. I had to carry on alone to get to a place to get water. That slowed me down some. I didn’t take it personally though, as it was my own fault for not properly setting up support. I have a tendency to “wing it” on these rides.

Also not expected was a strong northerly cross wind for the first 80 miles, and a fairly stiff headwind for the last 40. I was unable to make it under 10 hours and I attribute that mostly to the wind. My final time was 10:48

Blue Ridge Breakaway

Well it’s going to take me another year (at least) to finish this ride. This was more of a logistics problem. I am aging, and my eyesight is “not what it used to be.” Long distance drives are not recommended for me. I thought I had someone to drive up there with, but it fell through. Rather than take a risky long drive on my own, I opted for safety and stayed home. One of the main problems with this ride is that it is scheduled very close to the start of the school year for my own Orange County. When it doesn’t conflict, my wife and kids make the trip much easier. When it does, well I need to find a “Drive Buddy.”

Cat 3 Cyclocross Series

This went pretty much as expected. Even though I was stronger and slightly faster than last year, I was “last man standing” in every race I entered. If I wasn’t last, it was because people had breakdowns or other reasons for not finishing. I still ended up 6th in the standings, although we are waiting for Swamp Cross to post their results.

I got a chance to enter three Pro 1/2 races also, but just to fill out the field. The races only count for USAC rankings if there are three riders. Yes, I finished third in all of them. Oddly enough, that still gets me in the top 10 in series points. I’d like to see this category make a come back some time, but I think it will take cash sponsors.

MTB Champion at WAR

OK this was disappointing. Josh decided to do away with this series, claiming that attendance was too low and did not justify buying the extra medals and championship jersey. I think he got enough feedback from those of us that love this series to bring it back next year. It would certainly make me attend more WAR events. It motivates me.

Wicked Awesome Racing Mountain Bike Series Champion second year in a row

2015 Wicked Awesome Racing Mountain Bike Series Champion (second year in a row)

Six Gap

Six Gap was scheduled on the same weekend as a business convention in North Atlanta, so this was going to be convenient for me, or so I thought. Turns out I was needed at the convention both Saturday and Sunday so I couldn’t do the Sunday Six Gap ride. I did get out on Friday and rode Three Gap by myself, so at least I got some of the course done. It was difficult, more so than I remember. I was 10 lbs heavier than I should have been and that definitely affects climbing. If I ever try this event again I need to shave off those pounds.

Space Coast Half Marathon

I didn’t do as much running training as I normally do this year. The longest run I did leading up to it was a 10K two weeks earlier. As expected, this one hurt. I finished, but not with a great time (3:12, 111th out of 128 in my age group.) I really shouldn’t have even done that well as it was hurting me to keep running. I had some motivation, however, as I knew two of my ORR teammates were close behind me, Patrick and Michelle. I didn’t want them to catch me. At the finish I found out they were putting a little extra on to try and do just that, too. What made the event great was the photobomb in the picture below 🙂

Me, Michelle and Patrick getting Photobombed by Darth Vader at the finish

Run 400 Miles

Today is December 13th and I have 372 miles. That’s close enough. I don’t think I will run 28 miles in the next 18 days. My feet still hurt from the Space Coast run. Running is getting to be really hard for me, especially long distances. Age is not kind to running specific joints.

Ride 6000 Miles

I have a little under 200 miles to go and should make that easily. This is my last year with a “mileage” goal, because it focuses too much on road riding, and I want to do more off road.

Summary

I survived. Wasn’t a great year but not bad either. Professionally things were great and I am still healthy. No complaints.

Road Bike Disc Brakes

Road bike with disc brakes(Disclaimer: I come from a math and engineering background although I don’t do a lot in those fields right now. So although this article may appear to be “techie” it’s probably full of outdated tech references. My apologies in advance. JWT)

I’ve had a road bike with disc brakes for over a year now. In this article I will share the pros and cons that I have discovered or discerned over that period.

I originally bought the bike pictured here, a Giant Defy Disc Advanced 1, with one descent in mind: Hogpen Gap in North Georgia. Hogpen is the “featured” section of the infamous Six Gap Century ride, held every year on the last Sunday of September.

The climb is horrible enough and is talked about at length in many other places. The descent however, is also a huge concern (for me anyway). The first three miles of the descent feature several sections with a (reported) 19% grade, and on a really really crappy road surface. In addition to not being a skilled descender (“long descents in Florida?” uh, NO), I’m a Clydesdale, usually somewhere around 230 lbs for that ride, and physics takes over. I quickly reach a frightening speed which caliper brakes are “challenged” to handle.

Stress from the descent certainly had to be a factor in this spoke failure

Stress from the descent certainly had to be a factor in this spoke failure

In fact, in 2013 I rode my caliper brakes so hard on this descent that the rim heated up and the brakes began to “fade” in the last mile of the steep part. I completed that last mile with some luck and not without extreme terror. Immediately following the descent, on the flat part, I had a spoke break on the front wheel. This ended my ride prematurely as I had no way to repair it.

Was the spoke failure related to the stress of the descent? I would guess it was. I can’t see how that descent would not cause extra stress on all parts of the bike, let alone the spokes.

In 2014 I completed the ride without incident on my disc brake road bike. The results on the descent were … well let’s not get ahead.

The rest of this article will discuss the pros and cons I have discovered so far with disc brakes on a road bike. Let’s start with the cons.

Downside Issues

Added Weight: Requires Stronger (heavier) Forks and Chain Stays

Let’s look at the front brake first. On a caliper brake system, the braking moment is distributed somewhat evenly between the caliper location at the top of the fork and the hub at the end of the fork. The resultant vector originates from somewhere in between, giving an approximate torque arm length equal to about half the length of the fork. On a disc brake bike the entire moment stems from the hub causing a torque arm approximately twice as long. You don’t have to be Archimedes to figure out that extra reinforcement is required on a disc brake fork, thus adding to the weight of the bike.

The rear brake has similar issues. All of the torque is directed along the chain stays. Thus, the chain stays and other supporting structures must be reinforced accordingly.

Ride Comfort Issue: Wider Split of Chain Stays

I’ve noticed that I scrape my feet on the sides of the chain stays more on my disc brake bike. This is to be expected. There is a disc brake assembly there now that requires a wider gap between the chain stays. Not directly performance reducing but it gets annoying. I’ve had to change my pedaling style and yet there are still black scuff marks where my shoes have scraped the chain stays.

Aerodynamic Issues

  • The front forks are further apart (see above). This certainly causes a negative aerodynamic effect to some extent.
  • There is another set of spinning discs in the wind. There’s no way to hide the disc “behind” something, as it must be mounted to the center hub.
  • Longer cabling. Instead of going to the top of the frame, the cables run all the way to the bottom. Probably adds a little weight, too.

Technology Lag

There are more and more companies making disc brake road bikes and wheels, but still not enough to create a healthy, competitive field. I don’t have a spare set of wheels, for example. I looked at getting some but I am not committed enough to the bike to spend $2500 on a set of wheels I may never use.

That’s about all I can think of for cons. Let’s look at the pros:

Upside

Less Complexity

I know. You were expecting this to be a downside. Oddly enough, the brakes are incredibly easy to use, and since I have mechanical brakes (not hydraulic) they are also very easy to adjust or repair on the road, should that ever become necessary.

The majority of people will tell you that hydraulic brakes are far better than mechanical. While probably true, my own experience with hydraulic brakes on my mountain bike has not been great. Granted, my MB has a set of really low-level Avid brakes. They require constant care and have to be “bled” far too often.

Setting that issue aside, I noticed no lack of control using mechanical disc brakes. So if hydraulics are better than that’s something I look forward to in the future.

Braking Power

Wow. That’s all I can say. They work. The bike can stop on a dime.

Braking Control

The control is there. Squeeze harder on the handle and the brakes work incrementally better. The control is what you wish you had with a caliper brake but you don’t. This includes steep descents. In fact they are so good on steep descents that it is vitally important to remember to keep your weight back when braking. Anybody familiar with mountain biking knows what I am talking about here.

Overall Handling

This is sort of a touchie-feelie, nebulous comment, not technical at all, but my confidence level was higher knowing I had the braking power I would need.

So Did They Work?

YES. The Hogpen descent went from being terrifying to a lot of fun. I had the confidence that I would be able to slow to a manageable speed, for me anyway, before each blind corner (quite a few on that descent) and enter it safely. There was one really steep entry to one of those corners where I let the speed build up to over 45mph and had plenty of brakes to slow to what I considered a safe speed for the turn. So in that respect, the experiment is a success.

Summary

I was one of only three disc users at the 2015 Blue Ridge Breakaway.  It has yet to catch on.

I was one of only three disc users at the 2015 Blue Ridge Breakaway. It has yet to catch on.

So on the downside we have more weight, aero issues, foot scraping issues and the most significant, the extra expense of changing out wheel sets. On the upside we have fantastic brakes that are easy to adjust inspire confidence. Interesting trade off here.

My final feelings on the matter is that the technology is here but the market is not. At least not yet. Until all manufacturers are selling disc brake road bikes and all wheel manufacturers offer reasonably priced wheel sets it’s not really practical to convert your “bike fleet” to disc brakes.

I still own the bike but it’s a “garage queen.” I prefer to ride a traditional road bike (a Propel) on all the group rides around Florida, and certainly in all the USA Cycling road and crit races. I also don’t see disc brakes showing up on Time Trial or Triathlon bikes any time soon, unless some technical prodigy figures out how to hide them from the wind.

I’m glad I have one for the Appalachian rides but really, that’s all it’s for. I don’t need it in Clermont really, although it’s nice to have that braking power. As of today, September 3, 2015, I would not strongly advise most riders to invest in a disc brake road bike, unless you have “throw away money.”

Ask me again in a couple of years though, when the technology and the marketplace has advanced.

Early Season Race Report

Chain of Lakes Start by Hardesty PhotographyIt’s still very early in the racing season, but several events have come and gone. Here is a brief synopsis of the Hourglass riders’ efforts and results in those events. Where possible we will give credit to the riders from our overseeing entity, the KBS team as well. The events will be done in reverse chronological order, so this post can be updated with the most recent event near the top.

Hourglass Cycling Race Report

by John Tenney

Chain of Lakes Cycling Classic 2/28 and 3/1

DH-11The Chain of Lakes race is held in the Fort Meade / Winter Haven area. Last year, I did the TT only. This year I tried the road race. I was joined in the cat 5 / Masters 35B group by several teammates, including Bill Edgbert from Hourglass and KBS riders Tom Elbel, Jose Cabrera, Whit Robinson, Claudio Macieira and a few others. The course was great, relatively smooth roads and only a few easy climbs.

For the first time, I stayed with the main pack for more than half a lap. After a really sharp turn the guy in front of me left a gap and didn’t close. I went around him to try and close up but it was too late, I couldn’t reach the pack. So I dropped back and found a few guys to form the Grupetto. I finished with them, about 20 minutes behind the main pack. No other race group caught us either so I call it a success.

Jose won the Masters 35B division and Tom was 5th in the cat 5. Not sure how the team did in any of the other divisions.

The rain swept in later on, so the Time Trial was cancelled.

I didn’t go to the crit (held Sunday in downtown Winter Haven) but I see from Facebook posts that a couple of the KBS Katz made podiums in the women’s races.

Swamp Classic 2/21 and 2/22

JWT start of TTI’ll only cover the road race and TT as I missed the crit on Sunday. All I know about it is that KBS rider Ed Lally had a nasty crash and ended up with a concussion and stitches. He is OK!

The road race was on a 14 mile loop around Micanopy rural “roads” and I used the term lightly, as the road surface was mostly terrible. Many people enjoyed my comment that I should have brought a cyclocross bike. Numerous flat tires and crashes marred the races. Hopefully the road surfaces are redone before next year’s race. It is very difficult to find remote roads with little traffic and in good shape.

I raced in the combined Masters 35B / Cat 5 with Bill Edgbert from Hourglass, and several riders from KBS including Whit Robinson, Russell Ray, Ed Lally, Josh Jiannuzzi, David Rankin, and Claudio Macieira. I did a lap before for warmup, was worried about making it back and time and I pushed a little hard to get there, only to find a delay as other races were finishing. Once we did start, 30 minutes late, the lactic acid has built up in my legs and BAM I got dropped “like a toaster in a hot tub.” I found a “Grupetto” to ride with but flatted out on my second lap. So much for my race.

In the Masters 35B Ed Lally finished 14th, Claudio 15th, Russell Ray 26th, David Rankin 29th and I am listed in 37th as a DNF, in a field of 40. I am not sure why I am being listed in this group as I registered as Cat 5.

The Cat 5 results were Whit 10th, Josh 13th, and Bill in 25th out of 33 total.

I rode with Walt here for a lap and a half before I flatted out and had to abandon.

I rode with Walt here for a lap and a half before I flatted out and had to abandon.

The Time Trial didn’t start until 4:30. Most of the KBS riders took a shot at this challenging course with a couple of fairly steep climbs and long (long for Florida that is) descents. It was 7 miles long and my goal was to finish under 20 minutes. I managed 20:10 for 11th place out of 12 in Masters 50+. Pretty sure I lost at least 10 seconds in the turnaround as it was very narrow and constricted. My power output was not where I wanted to be though, at an average of 249 watts. I should be able to do 270.

Other HG/KBS results: Masters 35B – Thomas McNiell 4th; Cat 3 – Chris Tricolli 6th; Cat 4 – Chris Hardesty 3rd, Rob Thwaites 9th; Cat 5 – Bill Edgbert 5th; Women Cat 3 – Christy Markel 3rd, Tara Smith 4th.

Power, Speed, HR, Elevation graph for John Tenney's TT

Power, Speed, HR, Elevation graph for John Tenney’s TT

President’s Day 40K Time Trial 2/16

Team-KBSThe second race of the series featured 52 riders and also a team time trial. Neither Hourglass nor KBS were able to field an entry for the TTT as too many of our riders were exhausted at the end of the 40K. Hourglass had two racers with Bill Edgbert and Pat Jennings in the Masters 50+ division. They finished 5th and 6th respectively with new PR times of 1:06:24 and 1:07:30, average speeds of 22.41 and 22.04 mph. KBS did well, with Kyle Markel in 5th, Chris Hardesty in 10th, in Cat 3/4/5, David Rankin 5th in Eddy Merckx, and Debora Haley winning Women Cat 3/4/5.

I was ready to get the bike out and race in the Team TTT but Bill and I couldn’t find a third, and teams must have 3 or 4 riders. Pat was willing but had a long drive back to St. Pete and simply ran out of time. Hopefully we get it going in the Memorial Day race.

Pat Jennings setting a new PR for 40K 1:07:30

Pat Jennings setting a new PR for 40K 1:07:30


Bill Edgbert finishing 40K in 1:06:24 trying to catch Pat

Bill Edgbert finishing 40K in 1:06:24 trying to catch Pat

Race of the West 1/31 and 2/1

HD-01This annual event features challenging terrain in Clermont, FL for the road race, and one of the most scenic criterium / circuit routes I’ve ever seen.

The Saturday circuit / crit course rides around a 1.4 mile loop through Ferndale, FL which featured a freshly paved road. High speeds were attained on the new surface. 27 riders were in the Cat 5 race. Bill Edgbert scored a top 10 for the Hourglass team and even though I got dropped right away as a rider fell in front of me at the start, I finished my first crit ever in 23rd, 1 lap down, very pleased not to be last. Jeff Macre finished 13th, the 3rd KBS rider in the race.

The Sunday road race was a loop around 455 and 561, with some climbs including Makeout Mountain, The Wall, the as far as I know unnamed 561 climb, and a long drag uphill on 561A to the finish. Other than traffic concerns it’s a great course. 99% of the Clermont/Ferndale residents are respectful to cyclists but there is always that 1% that scare the life out of you. Always seems to be either a Ford pickup truck or a Prius (go figure.)

Road Race Course for 2015 Race of the West.  A lot of climbing

Road Race Course for 2015 Race of the West. A lot of climbing


I was the only Hourglass racer that day. I never saw Bill and I can’t find him in the results either. Josh Jiannuzzi and Jeff Macre were the other KBS riders in the Cat 5 race with me. About 30 seconds before the start we noticed Jeff’s number was on incorrectly. I unclipped to help him fix it. The ref was gracious and said “just put it on, get going you are going to miss your start” so I rushed it and Jeff got going and barely caught up to the field. I was not so fortunate. I got gapped and never caught up.

My new goal was to avoid being lapped. Approaching the finish of the 1st lap I was caught by the leaders of the Women Cat 4 group. I considered tagging along with them but we had been given a stern warning against drafting with a group different than your own. Still, I found myself riding near Lauren Chandler of the KBS Katz quite a bit that race, as she and Tish Kelly had gotten dropped from the main group. We eventually finished within seconds of each other. They were much faster up the hills but I would catch them on the downhills and flats. I finished my third lap without getting lapped although I knew the Cat 5 leaders were not far behind. I could see the flashing lights of the Lake County Deputy leading them out behind me.

I completed my fourth lap without incident, catching up to Lauren and Tish at the finish. Josh finished 15th, Jeff 20th and I ended up 29th in a field of 30. Not last!

Lauren Chandler and I finished within seconds of each other, although we were not allowed to draft, being in different divisions.

Lauren Chandler and I finished within seconds of each other, although we were not allowed to draft, being in different divisions.

L to R Josh Jiannuzzi 15th, John Tenney 29th, Jeff Macre 20th in RotW Cat 5 road race

L to R Josh Jiannuzzi 15th, John Tenney 29th, Jeff Macre 20th in RotW Cat 5 road race

Race for Humanity 1/24 and 1/25

I missed this race due to illness and have very little knowledge of what happened. I know Bill Edgbert was there, finished the race 26th in Masters 35B but little else. It was very cold, I know that!

MLK Day Time Trial 1/16

KE-03The first of our CFL Holiday Monday 40K TT series was well attended with 40 riders, with several from our overseeing team Kyle’s Bike Shop racing, but only two Hourglass riders (sort of) in the field. Dave Dixon was there but is an “honorary” member at this point. He still has not left his old team due to sponsor obligations. Pat Jennings had to carry the team flag, as I was officiating, and others from the team did not have the holiday off. Pat had a rough day and finished 8th in Masters 50+ with a time of 1:11:23, average speed of 20.8 mph over the 40K course.

The KBS riders did fairly well, with Debora Haley on the podium, 2nd place in Women Cat3/4/5, and Mark Chandler in 2nd place Men Cat 3/4/5. Kyle Markel, Chris Hardesty, Luis Lora and Rigo Gonzalez also placed in the Cat 3/4/5 field.

Team Kyle's Bike Shop minus Pat and myself who somehow missed the picture

Team Kyle’s Bike Shop minus Pat and myself who somehow missed the picture

Cross Season is Over

MTB-podium-from-ClaudioI‘ve always been fascinated by Cyclocross racing. When Stuart Beal and Carlos Iglesias asked me to go with them to a “Cross Race” in Clermont a few years ago I was curious. It’s kind of hard to figure out why it exists, really. I mean, who thought up taping off a section of a field, putting obstacles like sand pits and barriers, and adding sections called “run ups” anyway?

Whoever “They” are, I’m glad they did. It’s hard to have more fun on a bicycle. Safe too, as there are no cars on the course (well except for a van driving down the West Orange Trail today (?) Oh and except for the road section at Infinity. Oh and Lakeland. OK there aren’t many cars on the course.) OK maybe it isn’t totally safe but it’s safer than riding down a busy road any day.

Lost Van (out of state plates) driving down the West Orange Trail.  Only in Florida!

Lost Van (out of state plates) driving down the West Orange Trail. Only in Florida!

It’s also very challenging. The course designers love to go out and find spots that will test you, like ditches, off camber turns, very long sandy sections and very steep hills, both up and down. I’ve never been competitive as a racer but I’ve always been excited about trying to figure out how to get around these courses without having to jump off the bike, or worse, falling off.

The 2014-15 Season

As September approached I told my coach at the time (Dave Severn) that I wanted to take a stab at a few cross races, maybe even the whole FRS series. He agreed to help me do better at the races and customized my training plan for certain cyclocross talents and strengths needed. I went in to the season expecting to be last or second to last, just like all the other races I’d been to in previous years. And of course, my first race at Wicked Awesome Race #1 (WAR) in Dade City was pretty much that. I don’t have a cross bike (yet) so I show up with my Giant aluminum 29er hard tail and do the best I can. However, the WAR series had something I liked; a mountain bike division. I raced Masters 55+ in the morning but stayed around all day to try the MB race. I know this division is somewhat controversial with the cross “purists”, but not everyone can afford to have another bike just for a few races at the end of the year. My MB is my commuter. I ride around the neighborhood with it (with my wife and kids.) I ride it to the stores, or to doctors appointments or even a few business meetings. It’s also the only bike I have that can handle “off-road” conditions, so this year anyway, it was my cross bike.

Anyway, at WAR #1 a funny thing happened in the MB race. I didn’t finish last. I didn’t even finish 2nd to last. No, I finished 4th out of 6. I actually caught someone. Huh. Maybe this training stuff works. OK I was now interested in going to a lot more races.

Progress

I raced in all three WARs, Spooky Cross in Winter Garden, Infinity Cross in Melbourne, Lakeland Cross and finally today, the final race of the season, Orlando Cross (in Clermont of course!)

No one was more surprised than me when I started doing better. At Lakeland I actually caught and passed Claudio Macieira, an A rider, during the Cat 4 race. I finished 14th out of 27, exactly mid-pack. I was still last or second to last in all the Masters races, but those are some serious riders in that group. Guys like Brian Davis, Steve Noble, Dan Sullivan, etc. In those races I just fought not to get lapped twice.

I noticed something else, too. The new USA Cycling points system rewards you for racing with people above your level. I was getting excellent points for finishing last in Masters races, even better than mid-pack in Cat 4. And then something unbelievable happened at WAR #2. On Saturday, they called me up to the podium for the Mountain Bike race. I had finished 3rd out of 7. This was a big deal for me. I had never been on a cycling podium before.

My first time on a cycling podium.  Third place in the Mountain Bike division at WAR #2 on Saturday

My first time on a cycling podium. Third place in the Mountain Bike division at WAR #2 on Saturday

I was excited about the Sunday race. I didn’t expect to make a podium again (it turns out John LaManna had a mechanical on Saturday) but I thought hey, there’s always a shot. Well surprise, surprise, only three of us stayed around for the MB race. Me, Mark and Connie Schwab, and Mark was the guy I had caught and passed yesterday. Hey what can happen here? (see this story on that race) As you can see below …

Kayleigh Thornton giving me my medal for my first ever win at a cycling event

Kayleigh Thornton giving me my medal for my first ever win at a cycling event

What’s more, is that I found out later that week (when Josh posted the series standings on Facebook) that I was leading the MB division, with a 4 point lead over two guys tied for second. Series winners received a sharp looking jersey from Mumu apparel. Coach and I decided we wanted to win that jersey. He added strength training and a bunch of cross style exercises on the bike for that purpose.

Long story short, I had enough of a lead to hold off the challenges at WAR #3, even though I did not get another podium.

Winner of MB division for Wicked Awesome Race.  A jersey to remember!

Winner of MB division for Wicked Awesome Race. A jersey to remember!

Next to me was Dave Dixon, who came very close to catching me in points. (The 2nd place finisher had already left.)

Final Race of the Season

Orlando Cross was the final race of the year. Topview had to change the venue to Clermont which made it odd calling it Orlando Cross, but a name is a name. It was a great course. A hard course. The perfect course for the last race of the year. Even though John Paul Russo hates himself for making the course that hard I congratulate he and Tim for doing a great job.

The Masters 55+ only had 7 riders but they all looked very fit and competitive. I started out in last as I usually do but caught one guy right away. Then I caught up to another guy. Then another at 30 minutes in. “This is really amazing” I thought. The last 15 minutes were really hard on me but I held them off and finished 4th. I got an “almost podium” as Topview likes to call up the top 5 riders to encourage more people to race (which is an excellent idea.)

"Almost a podium" 4th at Masters 55+ at Cross Orlando

“Almost a podium” 4th at Masters 55+ at Cross Orlando

I was dead for the Cat 4/5 race but I finished it anyway, 16th out of 20. I have no idea how I will end up in the FRS points standing at this point.

Summary

So quite a year huh? I hit the podium, won a race, won a series, won a jersey and most of all, made many new friends and built on relationships with old friends. I even learned how to mount on the run, well at least a fast walk, as opposed to standing there and stepping on the pedal first. I learned a lot and had a lot of fun. I want to shout out to some people I haven’t mentioned yet who made this a great year:

To:
Ted Hollander thanks for your encouragement and advice.
Michael Toth for being the best heckler ever.
Layne Hampton with Hawkdancer Photography for the greatest cycling shots ever.
Team Kyle’s Bike Shop for taking us under their wing and making us feel welcome: Kyle, Christy, Mark and Lauren Chandler, Tara Smith, Rob Thwaites, you are all great people and I look forward to racing with you lots more.
Michael Ploch for trying to catch David Fleet for me so he wouldn’t catch me in the points at WAR.
Nathan Rogut for teaching me how to put on a number, for being a good ref, and for being “my dad” at the races.
Graham Partain for Cross Copter. ’nuff said.
Steve Collins, Gordon Myhre, Patrick O’Shea and all those others who hung with me at the back of the pack so I wouldn’t feel lonely.
If I forgot anyone please yell at me, I can come back and edit this, but remember I am “an old man on a mountain bike.”

So I’m exhausted, totally beat up, sore, etc from today’s race. The end of the season. I’m glad it’s over.

Wait. Is it September yet?

Should I Buy a TT Bike?

JWT-finishSo you are thinking about buying a Time Trial (or Triathlon) bike. You want to know which is the best one to buy for you. Several questions come up. First of all:

Why?
What are you going to use it for? Are you going to enter time trials only? Are you going in to the world of Triathlon / Duathlon? What is your budget? Do you really want to spend a lot of money on a bike you may not use that much? Can you get by with one good road bike instead of two average bikes? You should know the answer to these questions before you make a purchase.

A lot of the next few paragraphs will be covered in brief in the FAQ section below, so feel free to skip to it if you want the “Reader’s Digest” condensed version.

Looking Back at My Own Experience
As an amateur time trialist and occasional duathlete (“dry-athlete”) I bought an aero bike for one reason, to go faster. That was it. Upon retrospect I’m glad I did, but I have some observations along the way …

It Requires Extra Training
It’s harder to ride an aero bike. It takes different muscles and different control techniques. I had to train for quite some time before I was comfortable enough on the aero bars to see a significant increase in speed. It took several months before I could stay down on the bars for more than a minute at a time, due to different pain points in the arms and shoulders. Also, it’s not as stable. Do not ride on aero bars in a group. Please.

It Gets Expensive
Buying accessories for two bikes is twice as expensive, obviously. But once I was “hooked” on the Quest for Speed I found myself buying things like expensive aero wheels, $200 skin suits, shoe covers, aero gloves, $400 aero helmets, power meters, etc. Beware! Time Trial bikes are the “Gateway Drug” for BSA Syndrome (Bicycle Spending Addiction).

The Competition is Tougher
I went from getting my ass kicked in the Eddy Merckx Division to getting my ass kicked in the Masters 50+ division. On the positive side, it motivated me to lose weight and do some serious interval training.

About losing weight:
Yes it matters. Some will tell you it doesn’t. Physicist will argue (correctly) that in ideal conditions, the weight of the rider will have minimal effect on speed over a smooth, flat course. However, they will also agree that the following factors are affected by weight:

  • Body aerodynamics
  • Road friction (bumpy road)
  • Turns
  • Changes in elevation, even minor
  • Bike Balance and effort expended to stay upright

The general rule I have learned from my own experience is that “Weight is Freight” and by losing 10 lbs I increased my average speed over a 9.4 mile course by almost 1 mph.

Below are some frequently asked questions. If you have other questions, please contact us on our Facebook page.

FAQ

Do I need a TT bike to race in Time Trials?
No. A certified road bike is welcome in any time trial and is legal to race in any USA Cycling event. Most race directors are now even offering a separate division (Eddy Merckx) for those with road bikes and road gear.

What is the difference between a TT bike and a Triathlon bike?
Taken from Livestrong.com:
“If you put a triathlon bike side-by-side with a time trial bike, it would be hard to tell the difference. In fact, at first glance, they look identical. Both are slender road bikes with aero bars designed for performance. You wouldn’t want to accidentally mix the bikes up, however, as each is specially engineered to fit the task at hand.

Comfort
The most significant difference is comfort. By design, triathlon bikes are made to go the distance. Triathletes often ride through hilly terrain, cover distances up to 112 miles during races and must transition to running quickly and efficiently. In contrast, time trial riders get off the bike completely spent. Their bikes are designed for only one thing—speed. As such, triathlon bikes favor a more relaxed position and a lighter frame than time trial bikes.

Seat Tube Angle
Triathlon bikes often have a steeper seat tube angle, which pushes riders’ hips forward and keeps their hamstrings from working too hard, saving strength for the run. However, time trial bikes must adhere to International Cycling Union (ICU) requirements mandating that the saddle nose of the seat tube be 5 cm from the center of the bike’s bottom bracket. The positioning on a time trial bike is intended to help the rider obtain the maximum amount of power from his legs.”

Can I race in Time Trials with a Triathlon bike?
Depends on who is governing it. If it is a UCI race and they are measuring frames, your Triathlon bike may not meet the requirements. However, most local USA Cycling event promoters realize that using a Triathlon bike is not that much of an advantage over a UCI legal TT bike and will let you race with it.

Can’t I go just as fast just by adding aero bars to my road bike?
Adding aero bars to your road bike and mastering that position will most likely increase your speed on a time trial, provided they are installed correctly and the bike is properly fitted to you. However, the aero bike has a different frame, with different geometry than a road bike, designed to get you lower to reduce drag. In the images below you can see that John is at least 15 degrees closer to horizontal than Angie, who has “clip on” aero bars on her road bike.

Angie on a road bike with aero bars

Angie on a road bike with aero bars

John on a Quintana Roo CD 0.1 with different geometry

John on a Quintana Roo CD 0.1 with different geometry


Who is Eddy Merckx and why does he have a division?
Eddy is a retired pro cyclist who won the world championship three times, the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia five times and the Veuelta a Espana once. He never used a time trial bike in any of his championships (or so the story goes.) We find it interesting that Eddy Merckx Bicycles now sells a complete Time Trial and Triathlon line of aero bikes.

Is a TT bike faster than a road bike?
Complex question. On a flat, smooth course, a rider who is trained to ride a TT bike will be faster than they will be on a road bike the majority of the time, since the primary impediment to speed on a flat, smooth course is aerodynamic drag. Even though TT bikes tend to be slightly heavier than road bikes, they are designed to reduce aerodynamic drag significantly.

What is more important on a TT bike, the frame, the wheels or the components?
This is largely personal preference, but the consensus of riders on our Facebook group is that frame is number 1, followed by aero wheels, and then components. After all, you are buying the bike because of aerodynamics, not weight reasons, and components don’t contirbute to reduction of aerodynamic drag as much as frame and wheels.

Do I have to buy all the other stuff, like a skin suit, aero helmet and shoe covers?
You can in fact buy speed. This article shows the advantages of certain items as opposed to the projected cost. However, here is a short list in order of importance to reducing drag, and therefor increase speed:

  • Aerodynamic position. Basically, the lower you can get, the smoother the airflow over your body
  • Aerodynamic helmet. Since it’s up front, it is a major source of drag
  • Aerodynamic front wheel/spokes. Ditto
  • Skin suit or “speed” suit. Reducing drag adds speed
  • Aerodynamic gloves
  • Arm covers
  • Shoe covers
  • Shaving your legs. No kidding. This has been shown to reduce a 40K time trial time by as much as 80 seconds.

World WAR Three

Race Report: Wicked Awesome Race Weekend #3

World WAR ThreeOnce again the Central Florida Cyclocross gang assembled in Dade City for the third race weekend of the “Wicked Awesome Racing” series, now known as WAR. This was the third weekend of the three weekend series, hence the title “World WAR Three”.

The Venue

This weekend we went back to Stanley Park, just north of Dade City. A very nice park with convenient facilities, lots of parking and lots of space to lay out a cyclocross course.

The Course

Our hosts Josh and Kayleigh Thornton put on a splendid show, as expected. Josh and his team, true to form, had laid out an extremely challenging, technical, difficult (and in some spots down right evil) course in Stanley Park. Not one person said it was easy.

The course was different from our last visit here, although the start/finish line was in the same place. There were some new wrinkles added, such as a high banked turn with a culvert at the bottom of the banking, and no flat space at the top. Several different styles were seen in this turn throughout the weekend. See video below:

The famous “run up” was still there, from the first weekend, a very steep climb up a set of stairs built in to the side of a nearly vertical drop.

The famous "run up" in Stanley Park.  It's not completely vertical, it just feels like it.

The famous “run up” in Stanley Park. It’s not completely vertical, it just feels like it.

The Weather

The weather was gloomy and threatening Saturday, but very little rain actually fell. The course was slightly damp, but not a mud fest at all. In fact, the sand pits seemed to benefit from the early showers. Sunday was mostly dry and breezy, although at one time there was an actual sun shower. A thunderstorm was predicted for late afternoon but all races were done and all awards handed out long before any serious rain arrived on the scene.

Race Reports

John Tenney
I was in the unfamiliar position of leading the mountain bike series going in to this weekend. It added a little pressure to my performance and altered my strategy. My nearest competition present was my friend David Fleet with Armed Forces Racing Team.

I decided to forgo the Masters 55+ division and stick to two races, the Cat 4 and the MTB (of course). On Saturday I pushed a little too hard on the Cat 4 race and probably used up a lot of energy which would have been helpful in the important race, the MTB. Also, due to overcast skies and failing light, it was announced the MTB race would be started immediately after the Cat 4. I had to go back to the car to change my number and I ended up missing the start. The referee had me wait, along with David, who was also changing his number, and go out after the last rider crossed the S/F line and “gave” us a free lap. At first we tried our best to catch the other riders (David actually caught one) but both of us simultaneously decided that would not be fair, and we let up a bit. We ended up finishing 7th and 8th respectively, which gave us both 2 points for finishing, and did not alter the standings.

On Sunday I relaxed and just noodled around on the course in the Cat 4 race, getting heckled and conserving energy. I think it paid off. In the following MTB race (which was started on time, so had time to change my number) I managed to catch two MTB riders, and although I was gaining on David on my last lap, I didn’t get close. He finished 5th and I was 7th. A confusion on my part about bonus points led me to believe that we were now tied for first, and I would be relying on a tie breaker procedure to win the series jersey.

It turned out that I needn’t have worried. With 32 points I was 4 pts ahead of the second place rider Clint Gibbs with 28, and David ended up with 24 pts. We were surprised, because we thought we were tied for first. Oh well, it happens. A historic day for me as I won my first ever cycling series, the WAR MTB series.

Standing on the MTB series podium for my first time ever winning a series. Second place CLint Gibbs had already left.

Standing on the MTB series podium for my first time ever winning a series. Second place Clint Gibbs had already left.

The course was very challenging to me. I was not handling it well the first day but persistence paid off and by the end of the second day I was navigating it with a lot more “comfort and ease.” I’m sending a special thank you to Josh and his team for making a hard course like that, which had the effect of making me a better rider. Results from all three WARs? A trophy, a few medals, a jersey and some really nice podium “swag”, but most important, a great time over all three weekends, making new friends and sharing laughs and jokes with old ones.

I love this sport.

(Photos in this article taken by Layne Hampton of Hawkdancer Photography and Claudio Macieria of Werxx Cycling)

Wicked Awesome Race

Race Report: Wicked Awesome Cyclocross Racing Series

Mark Chandler over the barriersJosh and Kayleigh Thornton were our kind and generous hosts October 18&19 for the second of the Wicked Awesome Race Series weekends. This is a three-weekend race series for Cyclocross competitors, held under USA Cycling rules. Cyclocross, aka “CX”, is a fast growing sport in Central Florida, and throughout the country as well.

The Wicked Awesome Race (WAR) series is turning out to be a cornerstone in the Florida CX scene. With a total of six race days, and opportunities to do multiple races each day, there are a lot of USA Cycling ranking points to be had.

The Venue

All three weekend events are held in the vicinity of Dade City, FL. Weekend 1 was in Stanley Park. Weekend 2, which this report will feature, was in John S Burks Memorial Park.

The Course

It seemed Josh looked for every sandy, off camber turn he could find and put the tapes around them. Those generous with words declared it a “technical” course while others had less flattering things to say. It’s supposed to be challenging and it was. Several turns were on steep downhill sections with random piles of sand thrown in just to make it interesting.

Off Camber, Downhill Turns

The riders were challenged by the frequency of off-camber, downhill turns

The course changed during the weekend as well, getting softer and more difficult after each pass of frenetic riders. The dew on the grass early Sunday morning made the M35,45,55 class rather interesting as well, as the corners became quite slippery.

Weather

Weather was perfect for the weekend: scattered clouds, no rain and temps between 70 and 85 for all races.

Race Reports (John Tenney)

I am fairly new to cyclocross. In fact, I still use my 29er mountain bike. One of these days I will get a cross bike, if my wife will let me. I enter races with my 29er and do my best. I often get lapped but it is a fun time anyway. The cross racers are always friendly and though they may kid you a bit when they heckle you from the sidelines, they are always polite when they pass you on the course.

Saturday
I got there slightly later than I wanted so I did not have time to preview the course before my Masters 35,45,55+ race. My first lap was my preview. Wow. That was interesting. I didn’t fall but I unclipped a lot. Many narrow turns, off camber, through piles of sand, on the edge of cliffs, etc. I have to remember that the Masters races are 45 minutes long, too. It was a long time to be at or above threshold heart rate.

I kept pushing because I had a “rabbit” in front of me most of the way and caught him just before the finish. Turns out he was not in my group. I finished 7th out of 8, and 8th place had a mechanical. I was still happy I finished 5 laps in 52 minutes.

My next race wasn’t until 5:30. I mostly rode around the park keeping my aching and lactic acid filled legs warm, but I did manage a lap just prior to the Mountain Bike / Single Speed race, and noticed that the course had changed. It was more “dug up” and even more difficult. I started out slowly, as I was pretty spent from the day. My training paid off though, as I began to pick it up. I registered my fastest lap of the weekend during this race, a 9:04, which although is not that great compared to the 6 minutes plus the guys were doing on cross bikes, it felt pretty good to me. There was another mountain biker in front of me though, and he was getting closer. I realized I had a chance to catch someone. I avoided the temptation to get excited and speed up to him. I figured (correctly) that if I was gaining on him now I would continue to do so. I kept on “racing the course” instead of racing the other rider. Eventually, I caught up to him on one of the steep downhill turns, and he let me by. Then I started worrying. Would he speed up and catch me? Short story: no. He steadily dropped back throughout the rest of the race. I crossed the finish line after my fourth lap in just about exactly 40 minutes.

Mark Schwab, a rider about the same level as me.  Makes it interesting to have someone to race!

Mark Schwab, a rider about the same level as me. Makes it interesting to have someone to race!


I found him in the parking lot, introduced myself and thanked him for inspiring me. Mark Schwab turned out to be a friend of a friend, John LaManna. We stayed around John’s tent, talked and had a beer after the races. Then he informed me they were looking for me at the podium. What? I had finished third? My first ever podium in a cycling event.
My first time on a cycling podium.  Third place in the Mountain Bike division

My first time on a cycling podium. Third place in the Mountain Bike division

During our post race beer and analysis, we discussed the course (of course) and both decided that it would be worth it to try using flat pedals on Sunday, as opposed to clipped in pedals. (Some people wrongly call them clipless pedals. The correct term, from the clip and strap days, would be strapless pedals!)

As you will see, it was a good call …

Sunday

My "Sanctuary" for the weekend.

My “Sanctuary” for the weekend.


Got there in plenty of time Sunday morning to not only set up my tent/pavilion/sanctuary but also to run a warmup lap. Josh had made two changes to the course, making it longer and more difficult. At least I was expecting these two changes when I got to them.

Perhaps it was the cooler, morning temperatures, but the 45 minute M35,45,55+ race seemed a little easier today. I still got lapped but I also passed many people. It was a bigger field as well. However, I still ended up 2nd to last (9th out of 10) in my division.

The dew on the grass made things interesting. One spot required traversing some tree routes as you navigated a copse of trees. The wet roots caught me, even with flat pedals, and I fell on my side, skinning both knees and my left shin. Didn’t hurt much but it bothered me all day.

Now came the long wait until the MTB race at 2:30. I had some lunch, tried to take a nap, played with my cell phone, and rode around the park some more. I even went and did a slow lap just for the heck of it, and did another right before my race.

It was starting to warm up and I noticed a lot of teams “breaking camp” and leaving. I hoped we had enough for the last race! Turns out there were only three of us on mountain bikes: Mark, his wife Connie and me. Well that guaranteed a podium anyway! Connie told right at the start that she was inexperienced and was going to go very slow and just “get around the course.” Although we both lapped her, she did very well and managed to complete 3 laps.

Connie made the race legal (need three to be scored) so thank you for that!

Connie made the race legal (need three to be scored) so thank you for that!


As I expected, Mark took off from me at the start. Same as yesterday. I kept my patience. I kept reminding myself “race the course, not the competition.” There were some new single speed people who were in the mix. Several times they had pileups in front of me that required me to walk my bike around them. (No one was hurt, they fell in the sand.) I kept patient. I would see Mark off in the distance from time to time. About halfway through the second lap I noticed he was getting closer. Ah ha! I crossed the start/finish line right behind him to start the third lap. (I expected us to get 4 laps in, even though it is only a 30 minute race.

I was not ready to pass him yet though, with 2 laps to go. I did not want to be in the lead position, worrying about him. Several times he looked back at me as if expecting me to pass and several times I slowed down and stayed where I was. There was one section of the course, about 300 yards long, that was on a steady 4 to 5% uphill grade, and through thick grass. It was a tough section that required a lot of effort, although not technical at all. It was on this section that Mark pulled up. I couldn’t stay behind him any more. I passed him, muttering to him “Oh all right, I know this is your strategy move.” But he was done, he had used up his “stuff” and had nothing left. I steadily increased the distance, and crossed the finish line a minute or two ahead of him for my first cycling win ever. Hey, there were only three riders I know, but a win is a win.

I expect Mark will be gunning for me in the next few races. He knows what he has to do now. It will probably be pretty funny to watch us, each trying to let the other one lead.

Timing chart and results for MTB race

Timing chart and results for MTB race


My first win, and it was great to share the podium with Mark and Connie, who are great people.  I love cross racing!

My first win, and it was great to share the podium with Mark and Connie, who are great people. I love cross racing!

Airport Time Trial Summary

Last Airport TT of the Year a Success

by John Tenney
Airport TT #10 line upA successful season came to end on October 7th, as Topview Sports hosted the 10th and final (for this year) Airport Time Trial on Heintzelman Blvd.

This is a popular and successful series. This year, for the first time, overall results were kept and tabulated, and sponsors are providing funds for trophies for several classes (to be awarded at a future date).

Overall results are posted here.

Our own Hourglass Cycling team had several members make the results, including two podiums. Chuck Peabody won the “Eddy Merckx” division, John Tenney placed third in the Masters 50+. Randy Durkee was close behind in 4th in Masters 50+. David Dixon was 6th and Bill Edgbert placed 15th, only making a single race due to scheduling difficulties.

Chuck Peabody, winner of the Eddy Merckx division

Chuck Peabody, winner of the Eddy Merckx division

Randy Durkee - 4th in Masters 50+

Randy Durkee – 4th in Masters 50+

Dave Dixon, (6th Masters 50+) and Connie Houlihan (7th Women Cat 4) after race #10

Dave Dixon, (6th Masters 50+) and Connie Houlihan (7th Women Cat 4) after race #10

Bill Edgbert, 15th in Masters 50+

Bill Edgbert, 15th in Masters 50+

The course and venue have been posted in previous articles.

Weather

It started ominously with a rain storm looming to the south.

Fortunately, it moved off to the east and not a drop fell on the course. The temperature was pleasant, in the mid 70s. Other than a nasty wind coming from the south it seemed to be a perfect night.

The light stayed with us until all post race activities, including several announcements by Tim Molyneaux concerning next year’s plans. Stay tuned, as we plan to be involved in the planning stages of next year’s series, including a possible bid for the State TT Championship.

Race Report

John Tenney, 3rd Masters 50+

John Tenney, 3rd Masters 50+

I got a decent warmup but switched to a shallower front wheel due to the wind from the south. This turned out to be unnecessary as the reader will see.

As the race started there was a significant head wind for the “out” part of the out and back. I noticed it right away as my speed was less than it should be for the indicated power output. As I turned the last bend towards the 180 degree turnaround I saw my speed pick up and realized that the wind had died and we would not have a tailwind on the way back. Disappointed!

As expected, when I made the turn the speed did not rise significantly. I realized a PR was only going to possible by burying myself in pain. I picked it up, and the legs started complaining. I really needed Jens Voigt’s “Shut Up Legs” sticker for this section. My goal was to beat 18 minutes, and thus average over 23 mph for the course. This has been my ongoing goal all year. I might have made it if the tailwind had stayed. As it was, I ended up with 18:11 for a 22.92 mph average. A new personal record for me, but of course I am disappointed I didn’t break the 23 mph barrier.

My Power Meter output and analysis for the race

My Power Meter output and analysis for the race