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6 Hours of Lake Norman

The first race in the new Southern Endurance series was held at Lake Norman state park, a place I have been maybe 3 times but very good trials there. So the Sunday before myself and Phillip Craver decided to make a trip up to pre-ride the course! Upon our arrival we actually met up with teammate Dave Williams who was also there to pre-ride. Not knowing much about the course Dave had already done a lap around and was showing us the way! He was flying around the course and after doing the 63 mile Bike Luck charity road ride Saturday with Phil my legs were struggling to hang onto him. We put in a 3 good laps around the course and I noticed it was a very fast and fun race layout ~10 miles long and not a ton of climbing per lap or real technical areas.

So after doing 6hr's of Warrior Creek in early April my next A race for the year was actually the 70.3 Ironman in Raleigh. I wanted to use the 6hrs of Lake Norman since it fell right between my 2 early season A races to really see where I was endurance wise and come into the event fatigued and see how my body and mind would handle it. So I did just that putting in a solid 5 days prior to the event with no tapering. So race morning comes and here I am feeling OK and ready to race and see what happens.


Race morning I started with a good breakfast and getting in some pre-race nutrition and on my way! Get up to the lake and all setup and ready to go with my race bottles all setup and also my Camelbak just in case I couldn't get in enough nutrition during a lap. Most of my buddies are there racing Duo class and most of the other people I recognize from seeing them at other endurance events so looks like a strong field of cyclist for sure even though I heard the entries were limited by the park.  I can see from the start a few of the yellow number plates and guys that I am racing against. My buddy I meet while doing the 70.3 in Augusta Robert Duggan is there and I know he's a strong rider and in my class along with Bruce Stauffer who is always strong on the bike. So I'm lined up mid pack and thinking ok get a good start and settle in and let's see how you feel. I was thinking lap times around 45 min or less for solo would be pretty good and get close to 8 laps.

So after a little pre-race meeting we start in the lower lot and head up around the parking lot and then into the trails. I made my way into a pretty good spot and just trying to find a comfortable pace since I know how easy one can blow up early in these long events. I get comfortable and legs feel pretty good. Most around me are going pretty fast and we roll out the first lap around 41:50 and I look at my avg HR and its a little higher than I would like so Im thinking OK your pace is good just back off a little and run my race and see how it progresses. 2nd lap in was pretty good also, I catch a few people and pass them and my avg HR is starting to come down some which I would have expected since the early race excitement is now worn off! So end of second lap I stop and put my camelbak on since it's getting warm and I want to make sure I get enough fluids since there are not many spots on the trails other than the road exits to take on fluids or nutrition. All is good rolling the 3rd lap and I and a few others get caught behind a slower rider not a big deal we are making our way around and my buddy Robert comes up behind me. We make our way around a few riders and have a good conversation in the woods and we are both on a good 8 lap pace at this point so we have a good laugh about how long of a day this is going to be, finish our lap and back out to the lot. I stop to exchange my bottle and he keeps going so I'm thinking I need to get back quick. Look down at my Garmin and all still good I have a nice pace going I can maintain (I think) and everything looks good. Head out for lap 4 and all is still OK so Im thinking OK I'm halfway there and feeling like all the work Ive put in since Warrior is paying off. Finish up lap 4 and my time is dropping off as that lap would finish at little over 45, so I'm still OK exchange my bottles and get my nutrition taken care off and off for lap 5.

Lap 5 got me and I felt it! Got thru hawk loop and once I hit monbo the mind started to take over as I knew the little climbs were coming up and the legs were not feeling as good as earlier so im thinking ok I need to charge up a little when this is done and I'll gut this out. I get done with lap 5 and I dropped to 48 min lap. So in the pits I exchange my bottles, refill my CamelBak and hit the caffeine to hopefully kick start me again for a good final push. It didnt work! Legs really didn't come back and during lap 6 a few guys pass me with yellow plates on so I'm thinking I'm losing ground here. I come out of Monbo loop and its a little road section back before you hit the short single track to the pits. I check my bottle and still have enough in there for one more and I know my CamelBak is good since I just filled it so I blow thru my pits at mid 47min lap and start lap 7. I hear someone say 1hr 29mins to go so I know its a long shot to get that 8th lap but I'm pushing thru. I'm maintaining a pretty good pace on Lap 7 and meet up and pass back the guys that got me the lap before so I'm thinking ok get out ahead of these guys and push hard. I get past them and ride a decent lap 7 right at 47min flat but race time was 5hrs 18mins and if you didn't finish by 4pm (6hrs from start) then the last lap didn't count so I knew I was done legs didn't have a 42 minute lap in them.

Overall I finished 4th in my group Solo 40+ and happy with the way I finished up especially given the training load I've been going thru the past few weeks. I wanted to try and push myself into a deep fatigue hole and see how I responded and overall I was pleased with my effort. Now it's time to take a few days off before getting back into the grind as my 70.3 in Raleigh will be here in 3 weeks.

See you on the Trails soon!


Knobbies In Bama

Posted by Chris Wieczorek

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So, Kelly Hudson called me last Wednesday.  We got to talking about the Marathon MTB National Championships to be held May 2nd. A lot of our team had been planning to go as were Kelly and I. I asked if he was still planning to.

Kelly: “Naw man…I’m gonna ride in Alabama with Jimmie and Christian Vande Velde. They doing a group ride from the Talladega track and NBC Sports will be there filming for a NASCAR and Tour de France promo.”

Me: “Wait what? WTF, really? Man, you guys have all the fun...”

Kelly: “You ready to race nats?” 

Me: “Not really…still not healed up. (I got hit by a car in March and was sick for a week recently) I’d rather not do it to be honest. I’d rather just do some fun riding around here. Shoot maybe I’ll drive down and ride with you all.”

Kelly: “Do it! That would be great; Jimmie would really like to have some more of the team there. You gotta bring the MTB though.”

Me: “Oh I would…It’s all I have, haha! Maybe I’ll drive down Friday and ride with you then too.”

Kelly: “You’re off Friday?”

Me: “Yea, I was going to nats early.”

Kelly: “Shoot, we might have room in the plane for ya. Fly with us Friday, ride Friday and Saturday and go the race Sunday. Then we all fly back Sunday once Jimmie is done.”

Me: “Really? That would be bad ass man! That sounds way more fun than getting my assed kicked in GA and suffering for 4 hours.  I’m in! Let me know for sure.”

Kelly called me the next day and said we’re all set. Really? Boy my weekend really changed quickly and it was looking much, much better. So, Friday morning I rolled up to the Concord airport to meet Kelly and Scott Amadon. We packed the plane with our gear and bikes and we took off as soon as Jimmie got there. It was a cool, fast flight to Talladega and it was fun to just hang out and talk everything from bikes to car racing to…whatever. Once we got there Jimmie took off right away for practice while Kelly, Scott and I unloaded our gear and raced off for a late breakfast.

Kelly: “Crakerbarrel or IHOP?”

Me: “Uh, yea…that’s cool.”

I see where this is going. Nutritional diet = dead on arrival. It’s all good; I embraced it. Hell, I kinda felt on vacation anyway and I wasn’t racing, right?

Me: "You getting livermush, Bone?"

Kelly: "Heck yea, of course but it's not on the menu. Do you all have livermush?"

Server: "What's that?"

Seriously? We're in Alabama. I guess it's not a deep south thing. We started talking about the ride on tap for the next day and it sounded like a tough one. 65miles and over 6000ft of elevation gain. Oh…maybe I need to eat some decent stuff. The mountain bike sounded very heavy as we left IHOP and I tried not to fall into a carb coma on the way to the hotel.

Well, what do the pilots of Jimmie’s plane do when they get him to the track and the plane is parked? Ride of course. That was the next thing on the agenda. Kevin Brown from our team drove down to meet us. He would have flown but he had to be back Saturday night. The four of us got in a quick “easy” (not quite) 30miles on a cool greenway near the hotel. Then it was time for a quick bite before we were to meet up with Jimmie and some other crew and drivers for another 30 from the track that night about 6. Lonnie Clouse, Josh Wise (98 car driver), Jimmie and Sean Kerlin were just a few what showed for the ride.

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We rolled right from the track and I got a strange feeling we were very much out of place…sorta like Alice in wonderland. I mean, here we are at Talladega. Fans are everywhere in the infield getting seriously drunk, eating terrible food and attempting to play various lawn games while we roll past them in lycra and skinny bikes (well, at least I had a MTB). Let’s just say these two things typically don’t go together and I half expected a bit of heckling. But just the opposite happened. Most people were very nice and basically ignored us…except when we came back from the ride. I think by then some people caught on because they were pointing and saying things like “No way…on the bicycle?” quite a lot. People were being recognized in our group and I’m pretty sure they’re not fans of MTB racing in Charlotte, so that counts Kelly and me out.

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The next day we met up with Chad Andrews, founder of TotalCyclist and hung at the track and with Jimmie in the morning before qualifying. We had a little lunch and about 2pm hooked up with drivers, crew and a few others including Christian Vande Velde for the group ride. NBC Sports was fully there with a few cameras as we rolled out. They worked hard to get some good shots of Jimmie and Christian as they plan to do a TV spot about NASCAR and the Tour later in the year.

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I’d say the first hour or so was uneventful and pretty slow but once we got to Cheaha State Park it got a bit edgy. A few guys including Sean Kerlin, Jamie Turski, Josh Wise and I got a way on the steep climbs. I simply followed and settled in for a long climb expecting to get dropped any moment. I didn’t though and after a miles and a couple of steep pitches it was just Jamie, Josh and me. These boys put the hammer down and paced hard all the way to the top of Cheaha Mountain. Good steep climbing just the way I like it! The group all came back together at the top and stood for a photo and a little fan sighting.

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The ride continued with some screaming fast descents of 50+MPH and I struggled to stay in contact. The knobbies were rolling in the corners and I was not feeling like leaving a bunch of skin in AL. Steep pitches were all around and the group was feeling it. By then my kit had become fully salted from all the sweating. Heck, at least I was fresh and had electrolytes in my system! We ended the ride at Mellow Mushroom for an awesome meal. 

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So, I gotta say this was one of the most enjoyable rides I’ve ever done, hands down. It’s not because of the cameras or the presence of some famous people or even how we got there. Honestly, it’s because everyone there was super cool and just wanted to ride bikes. No one seemed like anything other than a cyclist and a respectful and down to earth one at that. In a way it was like all the other group rides I’ve been on for the last 20 years, but it was better. Everyone became friends very quickly and it was just a blast riding two up with anyone in the group. It could have been Kelly, Jimmie or someone I didn’t know at all. It was serious fun for sure and very much why I continue to ride. Simply fun…though I could have used a bit more dirt.

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Thanks a ton to everyone on the ride! I toughly enjoyed riding with each of you and hope to do it again soon! - Chris

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USA Cycling MTB Marathon Nationals

A few members of the team headed to Columbus County GA for the 2015 USA Cycling MTB Marathon National Championships. The course was 60 miles and ~2600' of climbing in the Wildwood Park trail system near Augusta GA. Below are some results for the team along with some action and podium shots from Mike Tam who was 4th in XC Men 30-34 and Laura Maddy who was 3rd in XC Women 45-49! Great job team and thank you to all our sponsors and your support! See you at the trails soon!

Bonnie Kleffman - 8th XC Women Pro
Laura Maddy - 3rd XC Women 45-49
Mike Tam - 4th XC Men 30-34
Terry Slifer - 7th XC Men 45-49
Michael Shafer - 10th XC Men 45-49
Jim Heckman - 14th XC Men 45-49



Schafer 2
Nationals full size