Life On Two Wheels

Along the river and toward the mountains a morning shadow shimmers across the road. The rays of the first light jet through the trees and across a figure gliding upon the road. His breath trails in short spurts, petrified as it hits the icy air. All is quiet except the slight sound of the athlete as he summons himself for yet another days work. Soon the rest of the world will bustle with life as well and the brief simplicity of cyclist and nature will disappear into the everyday struggle of life in full motion; the errands and intervals, the appointments and intersections, and the deadlines and finish lines OutPaceTheRace

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The DL on the 411

Calpe, Spain

There’s been a lot going on. I finished the season off in Australia for two weeks. The flight there is absurd; no matter what continent you go from or what class you fly in. What was it? 22 hours? There were a few Starbucks’ in Thailand, but there were some in London too. The plane landed in Thailand, which was nice after 12 hours or so of sitting business. And it gave a great chance to wander about the airport, sample a dozen Americanos at Starbucks and decide that after the two weeks at the Sun Tour I was going to make that 1 hour layover on the way back to Barcelona into 2.5 weeks.
Spending a bit of time in Victoria was interesting. The racing was also interesting. The team cleaned it up pretty good and I went about finishing my season off as well as I could- which was pretty good. I was anxious to leave it behind after it was over though and bounced out to Bangkok the next day. Didn’t really see much of the Australia thing, but honestly it didn’t seem too much different than America. It’s more or less as close to being America/Canada as you can be without being in America.
And then I landed in Bangkok on the return leg. I was upgraded to upstairs on the 747. So… that would put me in 1st class, which made it difficult to sleep as I knew that I was going to sleep really well. Understand? Probably not, and I can’t quite grasp the concept myself. Thailand was interesting. Asia always is. But I wouldn’t go back. The culture is a whole different world and a dollar goes a long way. Yes I did go by myself, and I met some people that were surprisingly nice given I was about as different from them as I could be and I saw a lot of awesome stuff and got an inside look into their culture. And then I left and that was it. I have no plans to return to Thailand or anywhere third world in Asia, if I go back to Asia it will be to Japan, Korea or Hong Kong. But I’ll probably just sit at Waikiki and hit the surf instead. Plenty of Asian influence there anyway.
I went back to Girona after Bangkok by way of London and Barcelona. Those two and a half weeks in Bangkok more or less represented my off the bike time. I did quite a bit of running in the Bangkok smog and third-worldness as I had in anticipation of the running bought a pair of runners in Melbourne as discounted as an Australian dollar would allow for. It had been a long time since I’d done some good running. With the traffic at a standstill in Bangkok I ran down the 6 laners downtown. It made for an easy choice of route and hit the Starbucks mid-trip for an Americano- yes, American style. Upon my return to Europe I continued the running but limited it to once a week and got back on the ride and began to hit the gym again in Girona. I’ve always wondered what it would be like in Spain come winter and this year I got a good feel for it. I stayed late into the year finally deciding to go back to Seattle on the 12th of December instead of the 20th via Lufthansa’s Barcelona-Frankfurt-Seattle route. With a couple weeks remaining before returning to America my brother visited for 2 weeks, representing the first documented visit of immediate family to my apartment in Spain. It was quite pleasant having him there and he seemed to have a fantastic time. Hopefully in the future more visits from the family are to be.
Coming back to America was a shock for me this year. It was a long time since I’d been to America this time and I’d unknowingly become accustomed to the culture and lifestyle of Europe. It didn’t take long to snap back though and the month that I spent home for the Christmas season couldn’t have been better spent than home with the family. When I left I couldn’t suppress the tears inside, and they’re coming again as I recall leaving my mother, brother and father there at the airport ahead of security with my Dad saying “no matter what happens, you know we’ll be right here for you.”
From Seattle I took a British Airways flight with service through London to Barcelona. There was weather at Heathrow in London and the airport closed. I got a room at the holiday inn for the night and caught a 7:45 flight out the next morning into Barcelona where I sat at the carousel for an hour before realizing they’d lost both my bags. With enough travel for 10 people done, I hailed a taxi for the 1:45 drive to Girona. Got a couple 2 hour training sessions done, and the next day rallied with some of the guys and staff from the team and drove the 4.5 hours out to Calpe where we rendezvoused with the rest of the guys at the Hotel Sol y Mar where we’ve trained the past two and a half weeks. The first and probably last time that I will see a lot of my team mates for the rest of the year.
Coming into 2010 I have mixed feelings. I have a contract that isn’t going to resign itself so there is a bit of pressure to perform… and yet I feel more comfortable than I ever have in my position on the team. In Europe, my lifestyle, what I do, what I know, everything I do, is me. It’s not forced on me, or overwhelming as it once was. It’s everything I want and everything I know. It’s me and it’s just going to get bigger. The best thing about it is that I still have to where my shades because even though I’ve accomplished SO much there is much, much more to accomplish, but… now… my lenses TRANSITION to account for the brightness ahead…