Avoiding Crashes

Over the past weekend, on two occasions, I have had two near misses in avoiding a high speed tumbles to the tar. Crashing is part of cycling and bound to happen at some stage to anyone. A few short weeks ago I made my last skin donation to the black stuff and with that in the back of my mind I wasn’t keen to make another.


The team raced in Albany, Georgia this past weekend. Deep down South! We would be taking part in the first round of the South East Regional Series in a criterium on Saturday and road race on Sunday.


The crit went pretty well. We managed to get Doctor J.Lo in the break of 6where he took 4th at the end of the day. The doctor would readily admit that sprinting is not one of his fortes; however with a go at some of the sprint primes and his final result he managed to win the sprinters jersey! With 30minutes left of racing myself and Mr Wells found ourselves in an 8 rider strong move, our attempt to bridge to the front of the race wasn’t successful but at least we gave it a go. Although we were racing for 7th, the boys set up an awesome train coming into the finish, Junior Mint managed to take the honours with myself getting 10th.


Cruising up to the start of the crit.443

The Doctor driving the break.

Image Credits: Ash Smit

With a delicious Thai dinner in our bellies (thank you Peter!) the boys lined up the next morning for the 145km road race. The course was flat, and with no wind to speak of I knew there would be a big bunch contesting the final gallop. With some 25km left of racing I managed to avoid my first crash. The racing got tight with the centre line rule in effect and after a bit of argy bargy, one of the riders lost his balance and put his front wheel into someone else’s derailleur and shortly thereafter found himself on the ground. After slamming on brakes I came to a screeching halt just before the mess of tangled bikes! Disaster averted!


After the first near miss we were back in the action hurtling towards the finish with our strong men on the front ramping up the speed. I found myself on Junior Mint’s wheel and felt good to give it a go. A rider from the Litespeed/BMW team tried to spoil our party and push into our train, Junior Mint didn’t allow this to happen though and after he tried to push in a second time the Litespeed/BMW rider lost control and ended his race early. Junior Mint and I just managed to avoid the pile up, but both lost some valuable momentum so close to the line. We kicked as hard as we could but found ourselves in 5th and 9th position on the day. Not quite the results we were looking for but something to work from I guess.


The positive to draw from the weekend was that the team rode well as a unit and combined especially well together in setting up the train on Saturday. Being one of the younger guys on the team is great as the opportunities it provides to learn from the older more experienced guys is awesome!


This weekend we will race locally building up to our next major race next weekend the Tulsa Tough.


Until then, keep the rider side down and avoid those crashes!

Stan's Team

The team for the weekend with our cheerleaders!


Some pre race fun, we found a BMX track on our spin around Albany and had to give it a go! No Tubes all the way!rps20130530_211404_158

A bad ass car which I thought would fit in quite well in Pretoria, any Blou Bulle fans interested?

The Future Champ Breaks Down and the Tour de Grove Mission


Rescuing The Future Champ.

A very sad thing happened on Monday, while happily puttering along Haywood road en route to the Haywood Mall in Greenville, the Future Champ’s engine cut out. The attempts to restart her was futile

I pushed her off the road into a nearby parking lot, and as we were near the mall headed off into it anyway. I got in touch with my Dad for any advice he may have on the situation and miraculously hoped that by the time we came back the Future Champ would kick back into life.

When we returned an hour later, it was not the case and Ash and I spent the next hour under a shady tree Googling and calling various scooter repair mechanics. We literally couldn’t find one who may be able to help us. Seriously?!

Google maps did show that there was a Scooter Shop about 2km down the road. So I suggested we take a walk down there to see if they could help, thinking that we could come back in their car and collect the Future Champ. If the Scooter shop was no longer there, a possibility, as I had tried to call them about 5 times already and wasn’t getting through, we would catch a bus home from the nearby bus stop.

Turns out the shop was gone, all we could see was huge car dealerships at the claimed address…

With not much other option we had chained the Future Champ to a pole and I hoped she would be fine. We got home and I eventually managed to get through to one mechanic whom I was referred to, but I would have to get the scooter to his house.

Problem 1 solved; problem 2 work in progress. I set about getting in contact with new friends in Greenville to see who may have a pick-up (bakki) to help us go fetch our beast. The pick-up search did not result in us finding a pick-up and with day light disappearing the reality was that the Future Champ would have to spend the night at the mall. I wasn’t too thrilled about this but the rescue mission would have to wait until the morning.

Fortunately, the ever reliable Brian managed to arrange a trailer, a dirt bike one at that, which made loading the beast even easier and we were off to rescue the Future Champ the next day. As we came over the horizon I tried to see if the Future Champ had survived the night and to our good fortune she had! Wow, what a relief!

We loaded her up and set off to the address I was given by the mechanic. It wasn’t quite what we expected, but the old man seemed friendly enough and had a number of other scooters he was working on. I have entrusted the Future Champs health into our new doctor’s hands, let’s hope he can pull off the risky operation!


Awesome Tour de Grove mural.


The Gateway Arch in St Louis.

On the bike riding front things have been going fairly well. The team ventured up to St Louis, Missouri two weeks ago to take part in the Tour de Grove, a 3 day crit ‘tour’.

St Louis was an awesome city with a lot of cool old buildings, the Mississippi and loads of friendly people. The Mississippi (who remembers getting that as one of the longest words in spelling tests in junior school?) was a bit grungy through the city, but was huge and I was told it gets up to a mile wide further down the river. The flood barriers were enormous and I found them to be quite interesting.

St Louis also has a huge arch, the gateway to the West, being the symbolisation behind it, and you can go up to the top. The view must be amazing, but as bike racers we needed to rest our legs… Oh and my fear of heights, but let’s go with the resting leg theory.

We also spent a night with amazing hosts the Fundoukos family and it was great to meet and get to know you guys, thanks for having us Ted and Jocelyn.

The first race of the weekend was the Midtown GP. From the team we had: Dilly, Junior Mint and I on the grid. I wasn’t sure how my body would react as I was fighting off the tail end of a head cold from the week. I started but soon could feel that it wasn’t quite right and did the tough thing of pulling out, only 15minutes in. In the bigger picture of my health, it was the better thing to do in order to rather cut my losses. Dilly had a solid ride coming in 19th and Junior Mint 21st.

The main race of the weekend was the Tour de Grove itself. The race was held in an alternative neighbourhood which we actually had a look around during a pedal in the morning preceding the race. It was an NCC race and we had a full squad of 6 riders on the evening including Brian, Reyes and Mueller joining us.

The course was a bit different in being triangularly shaped and had super long straights so it gave the course an almost circuit road race feel to it. Once again the UHC Blue Train ramped things up in the finale and took the W again… I was positioned too far back and couldn’t move up quick enough in the end for a good result and finished in the 30’s. Dilly was the highest place finisher from the team in 26th.

Come Sunday and after dominating another hotel breakfast we were off to the Dutchtown GP. The awesome thing with the hotel that the race organisers had arranged for us was that we were in riding distance to all of the races. I felt the course suited me with an uphill finish but my leg’s however seemed to disagree and felt really heavy. I grinned and bared with it, getting a few GU’s down and hoping my legs would open up but today it was not to be. Junior Mint ran in a solid 18th with me in 26th and Reyes in 27th.

Check out the Dutchtown Race Highlights here.

After a pretty solid but not exactly spectacular weekend of racing we were back in the car on Monday morning for the 13hour drive home. Fortunately we had Junior Mint to keep us entertained with many a laugh along the way!


Riding along the Mississippi, checking out the huge flood barriers!IMG_20130510_140301

St Louis was a scenic city.


Junior Mint taking full advantage of the Waffle House $6 buffet. 

Speed Week 3.0


The final chapter in my first Speed Week started with the Spartanburg Classic last Friday night. It too was undoubtedly the highlight of my Speed Week for a number of reasons.

With my Dad being out in the States on a business trip it gave him the opportunity to come and watch his first criterium. It was awesome for my Dad to see the race in person as photos, videos and my blogs can only go so far in describing the crazy experience that crits are. The Spartanburg race would also sort of be my ‘home’ race in the series and this meant I had a number of other friends from Greenville at the race. Additionally, I had further supporters on the evening in Ash my girlfriend and my Dad’s work colleagues: Des, Mike and George.

With added motivation, I was more determined than usual to do well on the evening. The race got off on the right foot when I attacked after one of the first primes in the slight lull in speed. I was joined by Andy Baker (Hincapie Devo) two laps later and together we stayed away for another four laps. It was awesome to have my Dad shouting from the side of the course! The peloton was not content to let us hover off the front for too long and we were swept back up for the cards to be again reshuffled. Fast forward to the last quarter of the race, with 20 laps to go I found the wheel I wanted to follow in the sprint and did what I needed to do to stay on it. Unfortunately I lost it on the back end of the course on the final lap but I still had a good run in to the line to take 14th in the kick, it was definitely a step in the right direction but not quite where I want to be yet.

Check out my team mate, David Reye’s blog from the race. Reyes enjoyed the delights in air travel plane delays and literally had to race to the race make it to the start line on time!

With a solid result in the bag we were off to Belmont late the next morning, for the Belmont Criterium p/b the Carolina’s Healthcare System. We didn’t know it yet but the race would prove to be our longest of the week, with us racing for two hours. This may not sound long but when you have raced a crit and understand the intensity at which they are raced you will understand why. After struggling to get my cleat into the pedal quick enough, I didn’t have a great start and found myself way too deep in the 100 rider field. I knew I needed to move up and set about doing it as quickly as possible. The key to doing this is to pick off a few riders at a time using as little energy as possible. A big effort down the side of the field to steam roll yourself to the front isn’t always possible in a crit, and often if it is you will get to the front in the red and be popped in the following accelerations. Unfortunately for me I could see a big split 20 bikes ahead of me, with 20 riders going off the front.

The climb on the course literally splintered the field and eventually our chase bunch of not even 10 guys found ourselves a lap down.


Trying to look serious.111

Rounding a corner, B. Hill in front, followed by myself & Yosvanny Falcon.

Image Credit: Ash Smit


1 x skin suit finished!


Fresh Roasties!

While rounding a corner I must have done at least 40 times in the race already I had the unpleasant experience of buying my first property in the States(cycling code for: I crashed). I slid out on my right hand side, acquiring some bad ass road rash and came to an abrupt stop in the barricading!

I was grateful to be lent a bike from the SRAM Neutral Support team and was able to finish the race in 26th position. It had proved to be a real race of attrition with only just over 30 finishers on the day. Brian had managed to also finish and wrapped it up nicely with a prime on the closing laps.

With some roasties and a monsoon rain forecast for Sunday we were back in the car again making our way to Sandy Springs, north of Atlanta for the Global BMW Sandy Springs Classic. I was motivated to race nonetheless and finish the week on a high note. I was still gunning for my Top 10 that had eluded me thus far.

The day didn’t start as I had mentally planned it to, and I found myself caught behind a crash that took Brian down early on. After a neutral lap we were back in the action only to witness one of the UHC boys go down literally two corners later as we came out of the pits. While I avoided the crash again, I was now caught behind the split on a circuit where it would be difficult to close it. A group of 15 of us formed and we set about the chase.

Before long there were only 6 of us left and we were pulled from the course, as we were not able to close the gap. It was a disappointing end to the week, although in a sense I was glad my race was over before the rain started. I was stiff and sore and the risk of crashing again had become too high.


Pre race morning spin with Brian and DZ.


In the hurt box.071 B&W

 Image Credits: Ash Smit

Looking back on the racing I am glad with how it went. I achieved most of the goals which I set out to attain and now am able to actually race the criteriums instead of ‘pack fill’.

I have a few easy days in Greenville now before we head off to St Louis, Missouri for the Tour de Grove this coming weekend. We will be doing a further 3 criteriums over the weekend starting on Friday night.

Until next week, ciao Chris

A day of racing at Speed Week

I thought I would take this blog post in a slightly different direction and do  run through in the day of racing Speed Week from my experience.


Wednesday 1st of May: Speed Week Criterium # 4 Walterboro


8.30am: Wake up and trundle off to the hotel breakfast room. The food selection is average at best and with the best option being the waffles. They are actually pretty good with some honey and a glass of orange juice to wash them down. I half sip a mediocre brewed coffee for my caffeine fix but I’ll have to wait later in the day for something a bit more decent.


10.30am: After chilling out back in the room for a bit, catching up on emails and curbing our social media fixes, we suit up and head out on the bike for an easy hour spin. This helps loosen up the legs from the previous night’s race in preparation for tonight’s race.


Noon: We shower and leave the hotel and begin the search for a decent coffee and something to eat for lunch. A Starbucks double espresso goes down well with a Cashew Nut Chicken Curry from an awesome little Thai restaurant we find in Savannah. We mingle around town a bit and grab any supplies we may need before we are back in the car and on our way to Walterboro, an hour and a half away.


4.00pm: We arrive in Walterboro and find a spot to set up our camp for the evening. We manage to find a good area in a parking lot next to the course, and pop up our Giant gazebo with the camping chairs. With our base established we head off to sign in for the race. We now have a good 3hours to kill before the race and it’s time for my pre-race meal of rice which I have made at home. With two hours to go before crunch time I start sipping on my Gu Electrolyte drink, while pinning on numbers and pumping tyres amongst other things. We kill most of the time by playing on social media and joking around. In short, being as lazy as we possibly can be before the race.


6.15pm: After I’ve changed into my skin suit and made my bottles I jump onto my bike and spin around town for 10-15minutes really easy. I then hop onto my trainer and start my warm up proper. With 10 minutes to the start of the race we make our way to the start to get into the huddle of riders waiting to grab a spot behind the start line as close to the front as possible. As soon as the ladies finish their race we are onto the grid behind the guys who have call ups


7.15pm: The whistle goes and we’re off! Tonight we race 37 laps of a 1.1mile circuit. By the time we finish the last lap we will have done 57km in 1.15(average speed 45.6km.h) I attack the race a few times but can’t seem to get in a move that sticks. Brian does well in going in the early move and spending over 10 laps off the front of the race. The back end of the course gets dark with limited street lights and it gets sketchy in the later stages of the race. I’m sitting too far back, although I do try to push forward and come home in 26th place. It’s an improvement but not where I want to be yet. DZ gets 32nd and Brian 40th.


8.45pm: Slug down a Gu Recovery Brew along with a cold Coke. We pack the bikes onto the car and get changed. The race organisers have dinner for us tonight so we enjoy that before getting in the car at about 10pm and start the trip back to Greenville.


12.30am: Arrive home exhausted, get my bags and bike out the car and get into a hot shower. Unpack a couple of things and then finally get into bed at 1.30am.


Fortunately we have the next day off racing (Thursday) before we kick off the last 3 day leg of Speed Week commencing on Friday night where we race through until Sunday night.