Tuesday, October 8, 2013

License and registration

It really is starting to feel like 'cross season around here. I keep breaking stuff, school is starting to kick into overdrive and the thermometer is dropping while the rain gauge fills. Are rain gauges actually a thing?

It didn't feel anything like 'cross season on Sunday, though, as we ventured up to Spartanburg for my first real USAC race of the season. It was hot. Really hot.

This is the fourth year of Spartancross (formerly the Va Du Mar 'cross race). I've plenty of great memories from this race. 2010 when it was in the low 40s and pissing rain and I just barely missed out on a podium spot. 2011 when Steve Noiret and I tag teamed the podium two days in a row AND came home with some money. 2012 when the race moved locations and turned into a four race series. I was hoping to continue the string of awesome this year.
I was sort of disappointed by the preregistration numbers for the race. Two years ago, South Carolina had two independent series operating in the upstate and in Charleston. Last year, that number dropped to one series in Spartanburg and 2 independent weekends of racing in Charleston. This year we only have three 'cross races in state. I can't be super critical since I'm skipping states for the sake of SECCC Conference Finals but at the same time, it's sad to see 'cross lose priority in SC. Maybe next year I'll put my money where my mouth is and organize a race in Columbia.

I digress...

Our race started with 9, so the turnout picked up from the two riders that were pre-regged. On the start line, the officials combined us with the 1/2s (but scored us separately), putting 14 people on the hot, technical course at 11am.

The course took some getting used to for me. I'm not a huge fan of mountain bikey courses, but I think I dialed this one in enough that I could use my strengths in the spots where it suited me, and then push as much as I could when the course got tight.

My start wasn't exactly smooth. I started just off the side of the paved road that we were lined up on, and sort of wiggled when we started moving. I think I was third or fourth (behind the 1/2s) coming off of the long start stretch. Through the first wooded, twisty section I just sort of held my ground, not really racing just holding the wheel in front of me. Coming into the barriers, I swung outside, passed a few people over the barriers and on the run up and then found myself at the sharp end of the race. Going into the single track on the back side of the course I was just behind the 1/2 racers, and had a decent gap on the rest of my group.

Coming out of the woods and back onto the long paved road, I was in my drops and pushing hard to try to maintain my gap. I had high hopes coming into the race, but didn't expect to be leading on the first lap and I didn't know how much longer I could expect to lead on my own.

I didn't have to wonder for long. Midway through the second lap I overcooked a turn and found myself in the tape. A group of three passed me and I tried to get back on to their wheels.

I managed to hang on to the top three for... I don't know. My brain was fried. It was melting from both the heat and overexertion of racing 'cross and every lap felt like an eternity. Probably half way through the race I was no longer holding on to a podium spot, and was racing with one rider to round out the top five.

There were a couple times I planned to just settle in and accept fifth place and try to keep both lungs in my chest. I decided to keep racing though, and hung on to my one rival's wheel.

I decided, on the second to last lap, to start setting myself up for the finish. I wanted to ride in front of the guy I was racing with so that I could control the pace on the single track, where he clearly outclassed me. The speed dialed back a little bit, I just tried to ride smooth, and pick good, safe lines. Coming to one to go I still had my nemesis on my wheel, and he seemed happy to stay there. Going into the back-to-back barrier/run up section I hit the go button. I took the barriers as fast and cleanly as I could, hopped back on the bike and tried to carry some speed into the run up. At the top of the hill, I had a gap. I hopped back on and continued to push the pace as much as I could. The unfortunate part of this strategy was that the barriers/run up were maybe 1/4 of the way through the course, but the single track was the last section before the 300 meter finishing road. I was hoping to hold a big enough advantage into the single track that whatever time he made up would still keep him out of reach for a sprint. That's not what happened.

I came out of the woods with him right on my wheel. I know I shouldn't have done this, but I did-- I opened the sprint. I know that the first one to sprint is always the loser, but I hoped to get an early jump and to wind up enough speed to keep him out of reach. Coming to the line, I was drifting right. Dirty poker, I know. I wasn't deviating suddenly or violently or maliciously, even. I was just trying to close the door before he came through. He yelled and, out of fear of repercussions from the officials, I stopped drifting, and got pipped by a tire width.

So, bummer. Decent result. I was actually really happy with the race. I just wish I could keep my brain in my head for the entire 45-50 minutes I was racing. Stupid mistakes seem to catch up with me pretty regularly. I played my cards though and losing the sprint was a dice roll, not too upset by that.

Afterward, we watched the 35+ and 45+ races and partied on Bristol's Berg. There were short jorts, beers and a giant cut out of my head. Cause 'cross is competitive and hard and maybe sometimes I do take it too seriously but at the end of the day, we're all lucky to be out there having a good time and enjoying each others' company.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Not if, but when

The comment "you spend more time crashing that bike than on it" was made to me at work this morning. Sure, I've crashed my bike a couple of times this month, but the only reaction I had was "he just doesn't get it".

I don't want to crash my bike. I've broken a shifter and a helmet this month, it kind of hurts to lift my shoulder right now and a few weeks ago I grew a water balloon on my knee. But we know, at least the ones who get it, that it's all worth it. The good races, events, trips, weekends all make it worth it. This doesn't even mean you have to win, or get a decent result. When you have a good one, you know it's good.

To be super cliche and quote Fight Club, "One minute was enough, Tyler said, a person had to work hard for it, but a minute of perfection was worth the effort.  A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection" (this reference is blatantly stolen from sipclipandgo.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/cyclocross-is-fight-club-with-bikes/). This year has been super up and down. I've had a lot of bad weekends, but those good races, the ones that you work hard for, the ones that are worth the effort keep you going.

I started my cyclo-cross season a few weeks ago in Asheville. After a good weekend in Anderson, I was expecting a good 'cross open. This isn't what I got. I wasn't stoked on the course, and the "grass crit" tires weren't stoked on the off-camber, dewy turns. I ate it hard going into the long single track section of the course and wound up all sorts of tangled up in my bike. My foot was stuck in my front wheel, my bars slipped almost all the way down and I as sprawled across the entire trail holding up traffic. The screwy bars affected both my handling and my brakes. It was this crash that banged my knee up, and added a scar to the collection. A few minutes later, trying to make up lost ground, I hit the ground again, on an off camber turn. I took my pit bike in hopes of getting some handling back, but I dropped the chain coming out of a corner, and basically called it a day.

 SON OF A...

Two weeks later, though, it was a completely different story. The second 'cross race of the season was at Carrier Park in Asheville. I've raced here lots, and had decent results. It was chilly outside, and super rainy. My gear was better: I had mud tires glued up and ready to go and I had silly buttons on my skinsuit. It was the makings of a great day.

I wasn't in a great position when the start whistle blew, but I was top five going into the first real section of the course- the double sand pit. By the end of the first lap, I was clear into the top three. Somewhere in the middle of the second lap, I realized that my right shifter stopped doing its job. I couldn't get into a bigger cog, but it took a couple of shifters to smaller cogs before I realized this. Not having the ability to spin an easier gear through the thick mud and sand or being able to really crank out of turns cost me some speed, and a few positions. I was able to keep using the conditions to my advantage though, and drove through the parts that really suited me. It wasn't an easy trip and it wasn't quite the result I wanted, but 7th place in my second 'cross race made everything feel pretty good.

This is really my best look

This past weekend was a mixed bag. It's hard to go into a long gravel road race expecting any sort of result when you don't fancy yourself as a roadie or an endurance racer. Really it was a way for me to try to have a really wacky/fun experience plus get some hard miles... I did most of that.

It really was fun, it just hurt. A lot. Like a hell of a lot. I flatted out of the main group 13 miles into the 65 mile race on Saturday. Then maybe halfway through I crashed. Hard. I hit a muddy pothole wrong and went over the bars, landing on my face a tweeking my right shoulder. Starting Sunday was a feat in and of itself, finishing with any sort of speed was out of the question completely. 

The weekend was a success for a different reason though. I got to race/ride with Steve Noiret for the first time in years, and I got to race with two KindHuman teammates. Adam was happy to debut his Sprinbok steel cyclo-cross bike, and rode it to second in the 32 mile one day race. Temporary teammate/bro Myles Lietzke won our race on Saturday, finished third on Sunday and won the overall. I was super stoked for them, despite barely being able to move.

Even though stairs are my mortal enemy right now and I doubt I broke the top-ten overall, I'm happy with this weekend. You can't always measure success in results, or costs in damages. I came out of this weekend knowing I can get up and keep pushing forward. I got to hangout with great dudes. And most importantly, I verified that I am a 'cross racer through and through. Moster importantly, I don't have to do another 140 miler gravel stage race this year. Ow.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


So, I guess this is it. The new season is officially underway. What that meant for me over the past week was laying all sorts of rubber on I-26 driving from Columbia to Charleston on Tuesday, and then from Columbia to Greenville/Anderson over the weekend. This was basically the week-long summary of the past few weeks of my life: setting up temporary camp on the north and south ends of 26 and bouncing home just to recharge for a few days.

Tuesday Night Worlds: Charleston, SC 8/27/13

I think Myles Lietzke and I have known each other basically as long as I've been racing bikes. When I found out that he was organizing weeknight crits in North Charleston in August and September, I knew I had to make it to at least one. Plus, I'll pretty much take any excuse to go to the low country.

It was a pretty sweet, short, kinda technical course with what was basically a u-turn at the top of the hill on the front stretch. The course took it's toll on some of the dudes that lined up with my teammate Adam Abramowicz and I, with crashes thinning out the field pretty quickly. 

Everyone's favorite race promoter, Myles, threw out a prime on the first lap. Adam had a few choice words for him (before even clipping in), but I decided that winning a pair of socks would be a good way to get warmed up for the rest of the race. After missing the prime by about two places, I decided to sit in and try to figure out that damn first turn. After about half of the race I finally found out how to ride it without losing teeth on the road or sprinting out of the corner. 

With three or four laps to go I followed a move that was already up the road. As soon as I caught the lone rider he quit pedaling and I was on my own off the front of the race. I felt decent enough, but I kept looking over my shoulder waiting for the field to catch me. Secretly, I was hoping they would so I wouldn't have to ride my brains out anymore. When they did finally bring me back, I knew I didn't have anything left and just spun in by myself. This was probably the safest bet as there was a crash at the back of the group on the last lap. I appreciate my skin and want to keep it on my own body.

The evening was punctuated by beers and dinner at Madra Rua in North Charleston. It was awesome getting to wind down from an evening race with some of my best friends, and combining my cycling buds with my, well, not cycling buds was pretty awesome. I'm sure I was a great host since I think I'd dropped my brain halfway through the race.

Celebrate Anderson Day One 8/31/13

Despite racing on Tuesday, this was really my first serious race in preparation for the 2013-2014 'cross season. This course was... bizarre. Five mile neutral roll out to the actual course, the back stretch was basically rolling uphill all the way to ANOTHER U-TURN, then rolling downhill to ANOTHER U-TURN for five laps. They were throwing out primes like pretend dollar bills in a rap video, which I didn't expect at what was advertised as a circuit race. The wide open and non-selective nature of the course meant that no one was getting away. So my day was basically over. 

Another prime early in the race meant that I was going to test my legs again. I think I came across fourth or fifth, but omnium points were only going to the top three. The downhill finish meant that I was at a serious disadvantage today and I learned that when I lost this prime. 

I was kind of hoping that I could capitalize on the bottom u-turn and accelerate hard going into the hill on the backstretch, but the straight away was so long that everyone could see any attempted break and it was easy to organize and bring an escapee back to the group. 

The only break of the day was reeled in on the last lap, and I put in a dig at the top of the hill to try to escape going into the first turn. I was brought back pretty quickly and then sat on the front of the group coming down the hill just waiting for everyone to come around. I knew I wasn't big enough physically and didn't have a big enough kick to have any success in the sprint so I decided that coming home safely and alone was the best idea. 

I wasn't upset with rolling in at the back of the group. I'm not really racing for results anyway, and if this is all about fitness then I'm pretty sure I won at training. 

Celebrate Anderson Day Two 9/1/13

Today's course was way, way cooler. Seven laps totaling 19 miles on a twisty, rolling course around the Anderson Civic Center. It was basically a paved 'cross course. I was pleased

I left at a reasonable time, but because the parking lot was ostensibly in the middle of the race and the helpful police guiding us to the lot didn't exactly direct us effectively (there was no reason to send us to the mall, I imagine the Anderson mall sucks and it was in the opposite direction from where we needed to be), I didn't have a lot of time to get ready. When I was warming up with Adam today, something was missing. I think I overworked myself on Saturday and I was lagging behind today. I was hoping that I would be able to ride into the race, but it just didn't happen. 

I wasn't really cornering super effectively today and I think I spent a lot of energy working to stay on the back of the pack. At one point I rolled to the front of the race and decided to put in a soft attack. I managed to get a small gap and had a group of about six riding with me. We tried to get everyone to work together and maybe try to stay away but I didn't have enough left to work and the group never gelled enough to hold our gap.   

I sat in the main pack for a little while longer and with two laps to go Chad Andrews rang the bell for a $25 gamblers' prime. I'm both a bike racer and in college so basically I'm one step above a pill addict and $25 is a ton of money. I struck a deal with a rider I met the day before and went to the front of the group about 2/3 through the lap. Coming out of the second to last corner I stood and hammered. There was a junior on my wheel, but no one else followed and we had a healthy split. Hitting the home stretch in front of the Civic Center I still had my gap but I was ready for the junior to come around. He never did and I made back a little bit of my registration fee. Going up the hill after the first turn I pulled off to let the junior do some work but my legs weren't taking anymore calls. I was blown the hell up and my pedals just didn't turn anymore. The whole group blew by my and I rolled home nice and softly.

So, again no result. I didn't feel great but I'm pretty happy with my ability to push through my leg-block and make a little bit of money. I was able to basically work for 45 minutes, and that's all I really need for 'cross anyway, I guess... right?

Spent a few nights on couch cushions on the floor, hung out with solid dudes I only get to see at bike races, ate ALL OF THE FREE FOOD and made a little bit of my money back. I'm not tearing the cycling world apart, but I'm pleased with my fitness right now. I still think that 'cross season is going to be solid, but I guess we'll find that out this weekend in Asheville. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

World Tour Week Two: Hellhole Pre-Ride

Look! A 47! It's blurry and I don't care. It was early. 

4:00- Alarm. Snooze
4:09- Alarm. Fine, I'll get up. It's Hellhole pre-ride day!
4:35- The car, mostly packed the night before, leaves the driveway in route to Francis Marion National Forest, a mere two hour drive from Columbia.

Look! A picture of me! I was happy to be riding despite the early start.

I've been looking forward to pre-riding the Hellhole course, or at least getting an idea of what to expect for a while now. So while I wasn't exactly excited that the ride was leaving at 7:30 that morning, I knew it would totally be worth it to make the drive.

A merry group of six set out for our 65 mile trip traversing the gravel roads of the national forest. While we weren't exactly riding the course on which the race will be held, it was still super sweet because 65 miles of gravel! Seriously. That's a lot of dirt road. It was awesome. This also gave me opportunity to test out the equipment I plan to use for the race.

My wheels of choice for the gravel stage race in September are my Myerson sell-me-down Kazane road wheels. The wheels aren't exactly big and beefy, but they've held up to all the abuse I've put them through in the past few years and they're relatively light. They'll be wrapped in 35 millimeter Kenda Happy Mediums. I've been riding a Happy Medium on my front training wheel on my 'cross bike for well over a year and raced on this set at the May 'cross race, but I was excited to see how they would work in a long gravel setting like this one. I'd say my random ass pressure choice was good. The dirt on which we rode wasn't super rocky. There were a few sections that had large pieces of gravel, but for the most part I'd say the roads were just as smooth as most Richland County roads. Yes, I mean the asphalt ones. I ride on the service roads at Harbison Forest pretty regularly, and have a history of pinch flatting on pieces of rock there and that wasn't TOO much of an issue in Francis Marion. However, there are a metric shit ton of pot holes out there, so pinching would still be a threat.

Being more concerned with not pinching than being super comfortable, I went a little bit high with my pressure. The tires still felt really good though. I never felt like I was getting beat up by my bike, and I didn't have a flat (there were a few flats in our group Saturday morning, but luckily I dodged that bullet). I MIGHT (depending on whether or not I can drop these pesky last three pounds) take a few pounds out of the tires come race day, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there. I was pleased Saturday, so it's probably best not to test my luck.

What really impressed me with the tires was how well they gripped, even at such high pressure. While there wasn't a lot of turning on the ride, and even less turning at speed, the numerous holes put tire grip to the test. If you're riding behind someone and see a hole at the last second, you're going to want to not hit it and probably swerve... hard. Every time I moved to avoid a hole, the tires stayed firmly connected to the ground. There were a couple of times I TRIED to break them free, but they stayed put.

Most of our group taking a break from the gravel

As far as the actual race is concerned, I still have next to NO IDEA what to expect. I at least know that my stuff works, and that I should probably consider a third water bottle, and that I should bring bug spray (a ton of bug spray) but otherwise, the event is still pretty cloudy to me. Racing in the men's open category means there are going to be a lot of guys there that are way stronger than me. So I'm approaching it more as a long training race, plus a really fun event, double plus an excuse to go to the low country. 

One final thought- outside of pure strength/fitness and bad luck, there's not a lot on the course to force a selection in the race. There's going to be a lot of small groups riding together. Riding in a group on a course like this is wacky. You've got to trust the person in front of you a lot and be ready for them to move sideways rapidly or slow down rapidly. Riding behind someone also means that you won't be able to see the awful stuff in front of them (namely, pot holes) so you have to constantly be on your toes and ready to not break your wheels and ass. One of our group learned the hard way that if the rider in front of them slows down or hits a hole, you need to react or else you'll make a blood sacrifice to the gravel gods. 

Thanks to Anne and Chris for inviting me down to ride. And for not holding it against me that I didn't ride with them this morning. I'm stoked for September!

Pack some spare tubes and a lot of food and register for Hellhole in September. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

"This song is about fear"

This will be my last introspective blog post... for now at least.

In regards to writing, I completely fell off the face of the earth. In regards to real life, I kind of did the same thing last year.

Exactly three months after my last post in this here weblog, my family's house burned down. For those of you lacking math skills, that means on Christmas Day 2011 I woke up to a burning house. Most of you know this and many of you were there supporting me in a lot more ways than I ever expected (thanks) but it's worth mentioning again for the sake of setting up the story of the past two years.

Pretty much everything has changed since that morning. I spent most of 2012 in a drunken haze. I moved twice. Started and ended relationships. Started playing soccer again. Changed cycling teams... twice. Ostensibly quit racing bikes competitively. Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of fun. Probably too much, but things have definitely settled down and have gotten back to my version of normal.

2012 'cross season was a complete wash for me in a competitive sense. I did fewer races than I've ever done in a season, and only really took one weekend seriously. Luckily for me, I actually had decent results that week in Charleston. In my defense, it wasn't simply a lack of motivation that kept me away from racing last year. I was putting more time into school and work than I had before and trying to focus on a long distance relationship. 'Cross just wasn't my primary partner that fall.

The lack of racing  left me feeling sort of unfulfilled at the end of the year and, in its own way, left me far more motivated for 2013. I got a road bike again. Actually trained rather than just riding. Dropped 10lbs. and started signing up for races again. The biggest part of my 2013 bike revival was the (second) new team. Joining KindHuman was really the biggest spark that started the fire. I've found a team that motivates me to be a happy and healthy representative of their brand and has a mission with which I identify (like what I gave up at Cycle-Smart) but keeps the local element I had last year with the shop. Racing for Adam and KindHuman has not only been a great motivator for getting fit but he's also grown into one of my best friends.

As usual, the road season was just about scratching a competitive itch and hanging out with my some of favorite people. Results weren't great. I had some decent weekends but I also had near emotional break downs at crits because I just wasn't cutting it. 'Cross is different. Or at least I hope it is. I've been training seriously for 'cross since mid-June, my bikes are dialed and my schedule is set. I'm motivated and I (except for right now since I've done four 12+ hour weeks in a row) I feel fit. Not just fit but nearly violent. I have high hopes for this year (you've heard this story before). I don't expect it to happen immediately but I'm looking for an upgrade before nationals comes to Asheville and I'm hoping to get the collegiate team organized this semester, race competitively in the SECCC and hopefully make a trip out to Denver for nationals in January.

All this comes at a price, though. And, going into my fifth season of cyclocross, it is something that I still struggle with nearly daily. Taking cyclocross super seriously again means that a lot has to go into it. Hours on the bike and an almost equal number of hours behind a windshield. Nights on couches and floors. Solo dance parties in the van. And, ya know, equipment and entry fees... those are the least of my concerns though.

Leaving sucks sometimes. I don't know if it's something I'll ever get used to. It becomes the theme of every playlist I put together at the end of August. Shit, it even inspired a tattoo on my leg (that I got the week before I left on a 500 mile trip for a pair of races). It makes me wonder what I'm missing out on, what I'm skipping to chase this wild ass dream of being a mediocre bike racer. I think the scariest part though, is how much I know it's really worth it. Without this, I know I'd feel like I was missing something.

It's all up from here. This is going to be a good year.

Week 1: CX2013: 0 nights on couches, 2 nights on the floor.

(When I saw Band of Horses, he introduced this song by saying "this song is about fear")

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Helmet Camera Take One!

This past week I got myself hooked up with a Contour HD helmet cam. I've been playing around with it on my rides. Haven't quite gotten it dialed in yet. The resolution was set a little low (that may have also had something to do with how I "edited" and posted the video), and it was a little tilted. I was called a dork at the race for wearing it, but that wasn't the first time... and it won't be the last.

So enjoy a little video I put together from today's race!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A history nerd goes on a bike ride-photo dump

The past few days have been unusually fall-like here in Columbia! I figured I'd take advantage of it and head out for a nice bike ride (on Sunday... jeez it took me like 14 years to finish this post). Started out at the Broad River side of the River Front Park, shot up through campus, across the river to Cayce, and back through downtown. 90k later (!) I did lots of exploring, and a ton of pictures!

Started out at one of my favorite spots on campus- Cool Beans! Lemon poppy seed muffin and machiato, plus some chocolate covered espresso beans for the back pocket!

I took advantage of the early hour, plus post-football game hangovers, to ride through the Horseshoe without running over or into anyone. I love riding on the Horseshoe, but when I'm walking to class with 2000 other kids, I hate every single person who nearly kills me on their bikes between classes.

It was also quiet on the Cayce side of the Riverwalk. Cool temperatures and tree covered river paths. It was a good morning!

Always one of my favorite signs! My old ghost hunting friends may recognize this!

Welcome to Old State Road! Former Indian trail, turned trade route between Charleston and the upstate. Sherman marched this road on his way to capturing Columbia. Lot's of history out here. There are other portions of the road heading south that are actually paved and usable. Our section, sandy, rocky and... haunted?

It's a nice, but bumpy, jaunt through the swamp. As teenagers, we drove down here in the middle of the night looking for ghosts. Legends on the road feature stars such as the KKK, Peewee Gaskins, Red Eye, and my personal favorite, the ghost of a murdered girl walking down the road. If you stop before the church on the curve, you can see the shadowy silhouette of the girl walking and as you get closer she disappears. Some people may also call this apparition a tree branch.

The unfortunate reality of this road is that it freaks me the fuck out. I'm fascinated by ghost stories, but let's face it: they're not real! However, I'm a 145lb dude wearing spandex riding down a dirt road in the swamp. There are lots of things out there with bullet holes in them, and I've been chased off the road in a car... can't imagine what happens if someone decides to give me shit on my bike. It was never the ghosts that scared me... it was the hobos and the crazy people in the woods.

I enjoy riding out there, but it might take a few rides before I can do it on my own. There's too many opportunities for riding out here with the side roads and trails, plus extra riding back in Lexington. I don't want to pass it up!

Does this happen everywhere or is it just a South Carolina thing?

I love our historical markers. I'm a bit of a history nerd... duh. So it's great to be somewhere and get a history lesson on that exact spot. It works better than reading it in a book.

I decided from here that I was going to reenact Sherman's march toward Columbia. Except instead of artillery, I was on my bike. And instead of foraging, I was eating gels.

Song stuck in head intermission: "See, I'm just a factory worker's son from a railroad town.
And yeah, I can feel the steel mills rust." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZePV9kswemE

So, back in the day we would just take State St. in West Columbia to Old State Rd. You can't do that anymore since they closed the railroad crossing in Cayce. So leaving Old State I decided I didn't want to go back to the Riverwalk, and took off straight for West Columbia. I rolled slowly to the railroad crossing to make sure I wasn't going to get plowed and ran the track cyclo-cross style. I took off through Cayce expecting to get chased down by some CSX official.

Luckily, I made it through Cayce and West Columbia unscathed and rolled toward the Gervais St. bridge toward Columbia. In person it looks like we have a decent skyline.

After this I ducked back onto the Riverwalk... hooray.

Even though the weather has been great, cooler temperatures make the "view" on campus and at the Riverwalk a little less appealing, well except for this shot of the river.

I left the Riverwalk and popped out in Lexington, and set up camp to begin my final assault on Columbia.

Ventured over to Owens Field for the first time in ages. I was looking for the B-25 that they used to have out next to the road, but apparently they cooped it up in this ratty hangar. Shame.

Holy crap!!!! Sweet trails at Owens Field!!! I never knew these existed! In between shredding and/or ripping this trail I took opportunity to reminisce on my soccer career and watch some kids ripping and/or shredding at the skate park. I know skateboarders are rebellious, but I thought it was pretty funny that there were mandatory helmet signs, but not a single helmet in attendance. I also thought it was ridiculous that these kids had their parents out there coaching them. Like, angry little league parents screaming from the side of the bowl. I think that's doing it wrong.

Best mid-ride lunch stop ever. Virgil's Cream Soda and a chocolate croissant at Earthfare. I don't think I was going to pick up any cute Earthfare girls wearing my kit... mainly because I smelled like West Columbia.

USC's Koppenberg. In front of Capstone. It's short, and fairly steep (I don't go uphill well), and not exactly easy to trudge up one-handed.

So, the star marks where one of the aforementioned artillery shells struck the capital building. I didn't have a flag, so putting my bike on the state house was the only real way I could complete my capture of the city.

Ride was pretty sweet. It was nice to head out without really worrying about anything. I basically just took off and then stopped riding whenever I ran out of stuff to look at. Even when I was back at the car, i thought about riding around a little while longer... ya know, just cause. I don't usually do long rides, but it was cool to be out ALL day. Even if there were multiple stops involved.

P.S.- Midweek I'm really lame photo-op: Cycle-Smart got our new kits! I'm super stoked! I had to show it off!