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.


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.


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:

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?

Six Gap Success

9:20 Total Time, Short of the Sub 9:00 Goal but a Personal Record Nonetheless

2014-Six-Gap-JWT-top-of-Hogpen-by-FelixThe last few years I have put the Six Gap Century ride in Dahlonega, GA on the top of my “to-do” list for cycling rides.

It is at the same time the most satisfying and most stressful ride to complete.

This year was my fourth trip to Dahlonega to attempt this ride. That’s right, “attempt.” Finishing is not a given on a challenging ride like this. The ride crosses several mountain passes (“gaps”) on it’s way through the north Georgia spur of the Appalachian Mountain range. The passes in order are: Stonepile Gap, Neel’s Gap, Jack’s Gap, Unicoi Gap, Hogpen Gap, Wolfpen Gap and Woody Gap. If you counted there you might have noticed there are actually seven gaps, although Stonepile is not considered as challenging as the other six.

I mentioned this was my fourth attempt. In 2011 I had just gotten back to cycling and was not realistically thinking of doing the entire ride anyway. There is a Three Gap option which fitted better in to my training level at that time.

In 2012 I was at my lowest weight in recent years (around 215) and completed the ride without mishap, although I considered my 9 hours and 28 minutes total time to be very slow. I spent over an hour in the rest stops (“SAGs”) recovering from the long, fairly steep climbs.

2013 I was doing OK when I had a spoke break at mile 70. I limped along for 7 miles but there was no way I would be able to manage one of those long descents, so I abandoned the ride and got picked up by a support vehicle.

This year I had done a little more training and had taken off a few pounds, so I felt nervous, but confident I could finish the ride, and aimed to do so in less than 9 hours. I also had a new road bike with disc brakes, which would take a lot of the stress out of the steep, curvy (technical) descents.

I was pleased to travel to and from the event with Carter Lane, another East Orlando cyclist. We got along very well and it reduced the stress quite a bit to have someone to share driving, lodging and meals with. Thank you Carter, it was very easy to travel with you.

The Course and Venue

The ride is put on by the Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce. It starts and ends in the parking lot of the county high school, just outside the village of Dahlonega, GA. It’s approximately 104 miles in length, and advertises 11,280 feet of vertical ascent over the mountains. The weather is usually brisk, in the 50s in the morning and up to high 70s mid afternoon. Most of the roads are in pretty good shape but there are no bike lanes on the course, so you are sharing the road with Georgia “country gentlemen” in F-150 pick up trucks with loud horns and bad attitudes. Gets a little scary at times.

Parking is a problem. The event is so well attended that the High School parking lot is not sufficient. Combine this with “reserved spaces for dignitaries”, such as the Lt. Governor, there is a lot of overflow. We were sent out in to the field behind the school which was a minor inconvenience.

This Year’s Weather

There was no rain forecast for the course until well after 5pm. Initial temperatures were low 60s. Start temperature was 61 degrees. Expected high was 73 degrees. My Garmin shows a high temperature was reached of 84 degrees at 1:45 pm, near Wolfpen Gap.

The “Event”

For insurance purposes this is called a “timed event” and not a race. Seems fair enough as there are no awards for finishing first, although there are two “King of the Mountain” (KOM) contests for the climbs, one on Hogpen and one on Wolfpen.

The horn went off at 7:30 and the 2200+ riders began filing through the narrow starting gate, to cross the sensors and trigger the transponder timing. I crossed the line at 7:37 am, well in the back. May not have been the best move, as I was blocked several times on early descents by slower riders riding three or four abreast on the road, even after having been told at the start to ride single file if possible. Oh well, nothing to be done about that.

After maneuvering through traffic we started to climb Stonepile Gap, which is relatively short by Georgia standards but a mile and a half climb at 7% is no picnic for a Florida Flatlander. I managed to maintain 6 to 7 mph going up it. The descent after was nice, in the mid 30 mph range.

I skipped the Turner’s Crossing rest stop and proceeded straight to Neel’s Gap. This is a fairly long climb, a total of 9 miles but the steady climb part is the last 4 miles, averaging just under 7%. It’s not the steepest climb but it does wear away resolve. I passed Turner’s at 8:45 am and didn’t pass the top of Neel’s until 9:45 am. Not sure why it took me that long, I have done that segment in 45 minutes before. I certainly didn’t feel like I was dogging it. Still, it gave me plenty of time to make the first cutoff time: Bottom of Neel’s descent by 10:30.

My legs were slightly rubbery as I climbed up the next one, Jack’s Gap. It starts out slowly and increases to 10% at the end. This is the first of the “hard” climbs. This is also the next cutoff time: Top of Jack’s by 11 am. I pulled in at 10:45. It was good to see Ched Wells pull in right after me on his mountain bike. He truly is a cycling star.

I took a break at Jack’s to eat some food and relieve my bladder. Back out on to the road I went, intending to make my next stop at the top of Hogpen. I climbed Unicoi, rode past the rest stop, since that climb felt a little better on my legs than Jack’s.

I turned on to the Hogpen climb. It is by far the worst climb of the ride. It is long, almost 7 miles, and steep, reaching 15% during a 2 mile mid section that is just really, really hard. I was unable to make it up the hill without walking, and I stopped at the mid-point rest stop to refill water bottles. Most experts say to skip that stop and finish the climb. I walked one more time and made it to the top around 1:30pm. I had been hoping to be there by 1. So I was behind on my goal, which was to finish the entire ride in under 9 hours.

However, the hard part was over. The most stressful part of the ride for me by far, was the Hogpen climb. I had been fretting over it for months. Now it was time to finish the ride. The descent was the best I’ve had yet, and I credit all to having disc brakes. They made the descent so much more controllable.

I was tired when I reached Wolfpen Gap but I plodded ahead and managed to climb the entire thing without stopping. I rode past the rest stop and continued on to Woody Gap.

I reached there around 4:05pm, which worried me. I definitely wanted to finish before 5 pm, which would still be a PR for me. I kept the stop fairly short and took off down the descent. The last 16.5 miles are mostly downhill, but there are some steep climb sections which would ruin my over the ground average speed.

I left the rest stop at 4:08 and made it to the high school right at 4:58. That’s 50 minutes for 16.5 miles. Almost 20 mph average, which I was happy with. And, to settle a dare from my friend and running coach Brock Brinkerhoff, I went out and ran a mile and a half after putting my bike away. It was painful but I did it.

It wasn’t a goal setting ride, but it was my fastest Six Gap yet. I have to count it a success.

The Training Peaks analysis of my Six Gap ride

The Training Peaks analysis of my Six Gap ride