Saturday, April 3, 2010

Great riding in the upstate.

Wow, a lot has happened since my last post. It's been difficult for all of us to accept that Perry is gone, but we all remember him in our own ways. My personal method of remembering him is to emulate him whenever possible. I call this emulation a "Perry". I've mentioned it before, but I'll describe it again (of course Perry isn't the originator of this move, but he showed it to me, so he gets the credit).

So, what is a 'Perry'? Perry was really good at being patient. He had the ability to restrain his natural tendency to hammer by letting someone else do the work. Specifically on hills. Perry would find a spot on the wheel of the leader or the lead pack for the majority of the climb, then, at the last second, when that leader was whipped from pulling up the hill, Perry would come around with a killer sprint to arrive first at the top of the hill (or the stop sign or whatever). It was pretty much guaranteed to work, and he was really good at implementing it.

So, how have I remembered Perry in the past couple of weeks? It starts with two awesome rides with the Myers Center guys from furman up and over Caesar's head towards Rosman, then back by Hwy 178 and Hwy 288. This is pretty much a hammer ride. These guys give no quarter and you better bring your A game.

Perry was also an accomplished climber. In both of the rides I did with these Myers guys, I set, then matched a new personal best up the Caesars Head climb. My measurement is from the intersection of Hwy 8 and Table Rock Road up to the big sign at the State Park. The first week I rode with them was the day after Perry's funeral. I think he was riding with me as I set a fast pace from the beginning of the ride and kept it (and both Kadien and Big Mike at bay) for the entire climb. I crossed into the park with a time of 39:20. My previous personal best was in the 43 minute range. I was really stoked. I think Perry was riding with me that day.

The following week, my friend John from Atlanta rode along with us. I know he is also an accomplished climber, so it didn't surprise me when he took an early lead up the climb. Kadien and I chased him with some excellent teamwork. It really helped me keep a strong pace to have Kadien riding along with me.

As I was leading the climb, I would begin to tire a little. Brian would come around me and would put in an awesome pull. I would maintain my motivation by telling myself I only have to hold onto his wheel. Then, as it usually happens, he would begin to tire and I would pull in front of him. He would grab my wheel, and the cycle would continue. It didn't hurt to have John up in front of us as the rabbit. We worked our asses off trying to catch him.

A short while before we got to the false flat, we actually caught him. I was pretty surprised by this, but there was no time to question what was happening. The game was on, and Brian and I were working well together. We continued switching off all the way to the top. We actually acknowledged it after we got a little past the false flat. We came across the line at the same time as the previous week (plus or minus a second or two). It was a great ride.

This past week, I finally had a chance to participate in the organized rides at SCTAC (formerly Donaldson). The first week we did the Missing Man Peloton and the second week, we did the Perry Peloton. Both of these were a great tribute to our friend.

This week, I opted to lead the fastest of the country groups. It was here that I implemented my Perry attacks several times. The group was strong, no doubt about that. However, though we started with 20+ riders, we ended up as only a pair.

Up until Holly road, the group was mostly intact. We had some fun on the hills of Richey Road and woodville road. In both of these roads Perry was riding with me. I didn't pull his classic move, but I managed to be at the front for Richey road, and managed to reel in the guy who was at the front on woodville road.

When we got to Holly road, the same guy who was out front on Woodville road passed me as we came out of the little valley. I did my best to reel him in, but though I caught him, I won't count it as a victory because he let off well before the stop sign. He had an awesome attack, so he deserves it.

When we turned on to Reedy Fork for the long pull, it came down to about 7 of us from the original 20 or so. It was really fun. We took turns pulling and I had an opportunity to pull a Perry as we approached Garrison Road.

We kept the pace high, and the further along Reedy Fork we got, the smaller our group became. By the time we crossed Blakely we were down to three.

The three of us took it easy for a short time, then we continued our strong pace. We lost number 3 at the top of the golf course hill on Perimeter road. I pulled a Perry on Erin somewhere along the back side. It was a blast.

Thursday was the first time I rode from Oakview for the year. It was a little bittersweet because Perry had introduced me to that ride. There were sections that were true hammerfests. I implemented Perry's wherever possible. In the end, I felt really good about the ride. Perhaps best of all, my friend Courtney was swinging some big hammers as well. She was really pleased with her ride as well.

Today a big group met up at Furman to ride to the Bakery. A big part of this group were from the P3C3 team. Perry would have loved this ride. Perhaps today I managed to pull the best Perry of all. Four of us - Nathan, Bo, Courtney and I were making the final climb before the descent into Saluda. Just before the crest, I hammered it to get out in front of the group.

I wasn't surprised to see that the three of them were right on my wheel. I expected that - all three of them are very accomplished riders. As I began to tire, Nathan came around me. I expected Bo to be right with him. I planned on grabbing Bo's wheel as he went by. I knew that Courtney would be a little behind us - she is at a significant disadvantage on the descents. Each of us weigh 40-60 lbs more than she does (HUGE advantage), plus, we were all swinging our biggest hammers on this descent.

After 2-3 bike lengths, Bo came around me. I grabbed his wheel and he pulled us up to Nathan's wheel. We still had a distance to go, so I just sat in. Finally, as Nathan began to tire, Bo went around him. I stayed on Bo's wheel just waiting for my time to strike.

Bo played it really smart. I began to come around him as we got closer to the final steep descent to the railroad tracks. I don't recall if I was side by side with him or just at the point where I was showing him my front wheel. At this point, Bo pulled up. A very smart move because sprinting down that last steep section to the railroad tracks can be quite dangerous. He admitted to me that I had him. It was truly a classic Perry move. I think Perry would have been proud of me for that one.

It was truly a great day of riding. The weather was just about right for all the climbing Courtney and I and our new friend Tom did. After a break at the Bakery, the three of us continued on to climb Green River cove Road and Mine Mountain before heading back towards Tigerville.

Courtney did an extra lap of Callahan Mountain before pulling out at Tigerville Elementary (where she started) while Tom and I continued back to Furman. I was definitely tired when we got back to the cars. We managed 82 miles on the day.

All in all, it has been a great couple of weeks of riding in the upstate. Still missing my friend Perry, but doing my best to remember him in my own way. Thanks for the ride Perry (and Courtney and Tom and Bo and Ron and Tedd and Beth and Amy and Missy and April and Jess and Rob and Nikki and Nathan and Parker and Toby and I hope I didn't miss anyone!! ;)

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