Saturday Feb 7th.
Power Tap wheel prevails over diamonds (for just a little while longer)
Josh (I got my Wheel) Carter (going diamond shopping at the end of this ride)
Steve Cope – Capn Carbon
Todd Pechner – Slow Todd (nursing an injury – some say it is a boil). – he rode his bike to the start of the ride.
Kevin Smit – GOG
Those stopping by to say hi and drink coffee
Todd Spain – TRITodd – was riding or running or both later
Mary Ann – just being sociable
The group started with the weather still somewhat brisk but wanting to make sure they were not over dressed for the warmer temps expected by the end of the ride.
Arm and leg warmers were utilized as they could easily be removed later in the ride.
The group left the parking lot around 9 ish.
Slow Todd set the pace into Preston with the Rose’s quickly electing to fall back in an effort to not be sucked into the fray.
The thorns route took them on Ron’s Pull with no one taking the rains for any great length of that section of the ride. The pace was well within the warm-up levels maybe seeing 20 mph for a short burst.
A left turn onto Carpenter Fire Station had the group riding single file in an effort to share the road with the other traffic. Here again the pace had not yet built towards any heart rate maximums.
Kevin directed the group to swing left prior to UpChuck and towards the 3 Sisters. This series of climbs get progressively steeper and longer and is always a signal of who is ready to attack and who will respond. Today was no disappointment.
The pack swung into the Cary Glenn division and lined up for the first of the 3 hills. Josh pushed the pace with Steve ready to match and then better the effort.
Kevin held back knowing if he was to play he had to pick only one of the hills and not all three.
Slow Todd was telling everyone about his injury in an effort to justify his performance (or lack thereof).
Steve and Josh repeated the game on the second hill with the two of them sliding down the backside towards the long run up the steepest of the three. Together they were fixated on what the other one was about to do. Kevin seized this opportunity to build momentum behind them and sling shot past just as the two in front slowed and stared at each other as if caught in some mating ritual. Kevin timed it well, rushing past the pair, his rpms were near 100, his gear choice forcing him out of the saddle to push in an effort to maintain the high rpms. As Kevin reached the last 3rd of the climb he caught a glimpse of Capn Carbon nipping at his heals. Kevin could hear the excited giggles coming from behind him as Steve’s emotions were now in full control of his actions. Nothing makes Capn Carbon happier than to be challenged on the bike.
At the crest of that last climb Kevin was totally spent, gasping for air, heart rate had taken over the rpm rate earlier owned by Kevin’s pedals. Steve was glowing with delight, not winded, just warming up, and ready for the next attack.
The group reassembled as they made the right turn onto Luter Shop and the long relatively flat run towards the Strawberry patch at 751.
Here again no one took the lead for any great length, keeping the pace bellow 21 mph. Then suddenly from the back of the group Josh exploded past, out of the saddle, tossing his bike from side to side pushing a huge gear.
As if in slow motion everyone looked around to try and figure out what prompted this attack and what is the targeted victory spot.
“Look it is the county line just up ahead” Kevin shouted after his brief situational assessment. With a Sonic Boom Capn Carbon jumped into action accepting the now defined goal line and surprise challenge from Josh.
This was one time that Steve was a little too slow to react with Josh raising his hands in victory having just taken the county line by the height of the tire tread on his front wheel vs Steve’s.
Kevin and Slow Todd were happy to be spectators to the game.
Again the group settled into a relaxed 19 – 20 mph cruise for the rest of the trek to the strawberry patch. Slow Todd kept the group entertained with his story about his teen age daughter and her reactions to DAD coming to pick her up from a friend’s house. Life is traumatic as perceived by teenagers – (how naive).
Ah to be a self-absorbed teenager again.
Wait I still am self-absorbed but in the body of a worn out overweight Glistening Older Gentleman.
After sharing his story of life with teenage girls the group patted him on the back in an effort to console him and to let him know that this will pass with time. Most do mature just about the time they set out on their own.
Right onto 751 and a left onto Martha Chapel had the group still well within control keeping speeds still below the 21 mph mark. No one pushed the pace or mounted an attack until……
Slow Todd was out in front and had a small gap on the other three, as Lake Jordan loomed larger and closer. Steve Cope slid past the trailing group in an effort to continue the discussions of living with teenagers. Just as he rolled up beside Slow Todd, Steve heard and saw the gear changes being made by Slow Todd. The attack was unfolding just as Steve was ready to make more small talk. Slow Todd did not stand a chance. Steve was like a pit bull already teased into a frenzy, and looking to be unleashed onto its victim. Todd wisely submitted to the inevitable turning the attack into little more than a head fake.
A right turn onto Farrington Road and the run up to the gas station found the group taking care of bio breaks and consuming snacks they had strategically provisioned in their jersey pockets.
The group’s average speed to this point in the ride was 14 mph. A very tame ride.
“Ready for Lystra and Big Woods” Kevin asked the group, in a taunting tone. Josh and Capn Carbons eyes lit up with excitement.
“I was only going to do 20 miles today and I am already at 19”, “I do not want to overdo it” “I am still working through my injury” “I am also doing physical Therapy” . This steady stream was heard from Slow Todd, only stopping for a breath once he had made all his points known to the group.
“OK have a safe ride home” was the chorus from the group as they headed towards Lystra and Todd headed for home.
The pace was now over 21 mph as Steve and Josh pushed towards the base of Lystra.
Why would you push hard to get to the tough climb?
Each rider was putting together their own challenge for what lay ahead.
Josh had been experimenting with climbing in the saddle.
Kevin always strives to climb in the saddle (he does not have the strength to stand), and wanted to challenge himself with standing during the climb while pushing a slightly tougher gear.
Steve only cares about being the first to the crest (and looking back to marvel in the gap he has created).
This is what took place with each rider meeting the challenge they had placed on themselves. The group has also adopted the run up Lystra to include the left turn and short spur off of Lystra at the false flat spot of the climb. This spur was measured at a 20% grade on one of the riders GPS systems. It is short and intense and ends with a roundabout near the top where a rider can circle to catch their breath before heading back down and turning left onto Lystra to complete the final of climb of the series. This produces three challenging climbs with the steepest being the second of the three.
Steve Cope hit 44 mph as he peddled back down Lystra towards Big Woods, Josh was on his tail, with Kevin relaxing sitting upright to slow the descent only reaching 37 mph.
A right turn onto Jack Bennet and the first Left off of it placed the riders on the rolling hills of Big Woods.
(For several weeks Kevin and Todd Spain have been talking about organizing an out and back time trial on Big Woods. The concept is to do this several times during the season so folks could track their improvement. It would be a challenging hilly 10 miles as fast as you can go – no drafting.)
The riders were faced immediate with a climb. Steve Cope in the pull position, then Josh, than Kevin. 21 mph thru this entire first climb set the stage for a fast run down Big Woods.
Steve Cope had mentally painted a picture in his head of a time trail. In doing so he challenged himself to see if he could push the large chain ring the entire way, and secondly challenged himself to stay at or above 21 mph.
Josh and Kevin did not know of Steve’s self imposed challenge and were holding on as if it was another short turn in the draft of Capn Carbon. However 21 mph turned into 24 and Steve was still in the pull position. The hills hit the riders one after another, Steve pushed the pedals on the down hills as well as the climbs. It did not take long for Steve to slowly walk away from the trailing riders as he made every effort to accept the challenge he had placed on himself. Eventually the group splintered into 3 individuals each riding the challenge of the moment.
A short break to regroup before heading onto Highway 64 towards home.
The group rode in a small pack – stretching only slightly and then reforming as if rubber bands bound them during the final miles of the days ride. In an effort to get back for noon time obligations the route home was chosen to be the most direct but with the greatest number of rolling hills.
The final 4 miles were on the bike path off of Green Level and allowed for a relaxed warm down.
This route also places the riders through the tunnel under highway 55. The riders have yet to fail shouting and screaming like little kids at the top of their lungs in the tunnel. In all cases there is some runner, walker, or other bikers startled by this childish behavior. Today was no exception.
“How old are you guys?” asked a young woman with a big grin on her face. I bet she wishes she had done the same thing.
Slow Todd likely did 37 to 40 miles.
The rest of the Thorns did 49 miles at an average pace of 16.5 mph – including the slower pace for the first 20 miles and throwing in the climb on Lystra. The second half of the day’s ride was aggressive.
Josh then went Diamond Shopping.
Sunday Feb 8th.
David Bridenbaugh - Mr Bridenbaugh – rode to the start on his bike
Tim Travitz – Slow Tim
Tim Devinney – Fast Tim (the Love Train) – rode to the start on his bike
Steve Cope – Capn Carbon
Kevin Smit – GOG
Mark – First time ever riding with the group ( has spent way too much time on a turbo trainer).
Mark rode to the start on his bike
Again the group was met for coffee by Todd Spain who planned to bike and run and swim later that day.
The weather today was even milder than Saturday and many still opted for leg and arm warmers to start with.
Mark was making introductions for himself as everyone was busy readying themselves and bikes for the ride.
The pack headed out of the parking lot and onto High House with Mark and Kevin gliding along watching the others push the pace from the start.
Some like to leave the gate charging while others take an extended warm-up before taxing the lungs and heart.
The group of Thorns did not gel until the turn onto Ron’s Pull. Kevin took the lead and worked to control the pace keeping it under 19 mph. The Roses were already well behind the Thorns at that point of the ride, however they responded to the target presented by the lead group. The Rose’s worked together to close the gap and caught the Thorns just before the end of Ron’s Pull.
The pack was now formed with Rose’s and Thorns all riding together the entire stretch of Carpenter Fire Station road. Kevin had plotted a scheme that involved the Rose’s without them knowing they were the subject of the plan. Kevin wanted to see the reaction of the Rose’s when they won the climb on UpChuck. For this plan to work Kevin needed to engage all the Thorns in the plan. The idea was to hold back just enough to have the Roses climb past all the Thorns at the crest of the hill. Kevin was in the pull position as this plan formed in his head. To engage the Thorns Kevin pulled out of the pull position and slowly drifted down the outside of the draft line engaging with each Thorn to share his idea and get their consent. He had accomplished this and had full consent from all Thorns just as the group made the left turn onto Yates Store and the run towards UpChuck.
It was a slow coast down the hill. Some Thorns were actually breaking in an effort to reduce the gap between the Thorns and Roses. The Roses seeing the mob jockeying as usual in front of them held back even more than usual to stay out of the fray. Finally the Thorns let loose of the breaks to finish the downhill coast then held the peddles still allowing momentum to melt away, again in an effort to close the gap between them and the Roses. The Roses gained on the Thorns just at the base of the climb. The Thorns all began to act as if they were climbing to the best of their ability as the Roses melted into the pack. The plan was unfolding beautifully. “See Ya” yelled Jae as she and Theresa swing into the right hand turn avoiding the steep climb of UpChuck.
“What” was all that was heard from the Thorns as their plan was immediately foiled by the Rose’s.
Just at that same instant Mr. Bridenbaugh exploded from the middle of the Thorns to mount an attack with everyone’s momentum totally gone. What a dirty trick. Capn Carbon jerked into action with every fast twitch muscle firing at once. The rest of the pack was seen looking down at their free wheel to try and figure out what gear they were in and what they needed to do to survive the climb having lost all the momentum normally gained from the previous down hill run.
Mark was enjoying the game that had just been played by all,
the foiled plot,
the cheep shot attack launched by Mr. Bridenbaugh,
the immediate response from Capn Carbon,
and the moans and groans from those still sorting out how best to finish the climb.
The Crest of UpChuck came for most as one of the ugliest climbs they had experienced in a long time.
There was no need to circle at the top since all but Capn Carbon and Mr. Bridenbaug arrived together.
The pace was very slow for the next ¼ mile as all were coasting and recovering. Then as a collective force the pace was ratcheted up towards 21 mph with all in tow.
“Look for more attacks on the next set of hills” Kevin informed Mark.
A left turn onto Mount Pisgah set the stage for the next series of attacks. Kevin was looking to participate in at least one of the next hill challenges. He elected to spark the first attack on the first hill and then survive as best he could the remaining hills.
Kevin was near the back of the group as the first hill’s grade increased. Steve, Mr. Bridenbaugh, Slow Todd were all riding comfortably even though the pace was 17 – 19 mph.
Kevin used the momentum of this speed to find the right gearing – readied himself for a seated attack – pushing a gear he could not sustain in the saddle – calculating how far it may catapult him past the leaders – hoping he could then stand long enough on the peddles to keep the pressure and speed building and hope for a gap – knowing he would be overtaken – hoping he could come close to the crest before being swallowed up those responding to his challenge.
Why does anyone mount and attack with Capn Carbon in the group?
Yet, when he is not on a ride with the group there are no (very limited) attacks that take place.
Kevin was able to stay ahead for a short period as both Capn Carbon and Mr. Bridenbaugh met the challenge and swallowed Kevin up yards shy of the hill’s crest. Those two riders carried that attitude onto the next two climbs, splintering the pack.
The group reassembled at the top of the last climb to allow all to make the left turn together.
The pace was reduced to 12 mph as all were doing their best to recover before the next major run that was sure to happen once the pack would make the right turn onto Luter Shop.
IT was at that turn that Kevin announced to the group that he would lead Mark back to the start giving him and Mark the 20 miles that Mark had asked for. The pack was instructed to carry on to Lake Jordan without them.
There was no debate as Capn Carbon, and Mr Bridebaugh were ready for more hard charging riding. Josh, Slow Todd, and Fast Tim all felt confident they would be able to Hammer the next 20 + miles.
Kevin and Mark rode the last 10 miles back into Cary keeping the hills to a minimum, the attacks to zero, and the communications\camaraderie high.
It was later learned that the other Thorns beat each other up the entire rest of their ride. Each took turns pulling and attacking the group.
They completed the days ride having covered 35 miles at 16.5 mph pace.
Up until Kevin and Mark had split off, the groups pace was in the 13.5 mph pace. Clearly the Thorns stepped it up once they had said goodbye to GOG.
The Rose’s also did 35 miles that day and covered the distance in a 14.6 mph average.
Time to start thinking about riding together longer at first then splitting into Thorns and Roses after 7 – 10 miles with and additional option of a Turkey Eagle split within each group.
A Turkey Eagle split allows for a choice to go further and faster for some and a route that would allow others to ride more comfortably and possibly shorter.
Still a no drop philosophy.
Those choosing Thorn Eagle would feel compelled to push hard to keep the spirit of the ride long and fast.
There would always need to be someone in that group willing to fall off and ride with anyone who made the attempt but feel just shy of the group.
Speaking from experience “everyone has a bad day once and a while”.
Safety is primary, camaraderie is next in importance, exercise will always take place, Personal improvement can be accomplished in all situations.