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

Monday, May 22, 2006

Ronde de L'Isard d'Ariege

Girona, ESP
Monday, May 22, 2006

Yesterday went down a bit different than we’d hoped, in fact you could say that it was totally counter to what we’d planned. I got in a break over a little hill, then we got caught before the first major hill (7-8km). I got totally popped on the way over this one. I thought the race was over at that point, but somehow we managed to chase back on right before the big 20 km climb. On this one I felt much better, and watched as our 6 guy group chiseled down to three. Then someone attacked and the yellow jersey guy responded, leaving just another guy and I. Right then I cracked and it was a struggle all the way up. I think everyone cracked somewhere along the way, it was just a matter of when. We came over the top and descended 25 km to the finish. I got ~11th, so that’s probably 8th or 9th overall.

Masset, FRA
Saturday, May 20, 2006

Today was a bit out of the norm with an unusually early wake up of 6:25 & departure of 7:15. I guess I’m getting soft with the go, go French lifestyle (in case you missed the ridicule, that was a joke)… It was one of those days, though; ya know, the day loathed by those in the peloton & cherished by spectators. A double day is one where you race twice during the day. In our case it was a “flat” stage in the morning (9:00) and a time trial in the afternoon (4:38). The “flat” stage was actually a dreadfully hilly course. No one expected the hills, but fortunately I was chasing attacks when we hit the hilly section and was thus given the pleasure of chasing them on the way up the little climbs too. The peloton split several times, but at the end it came back together when the break went away. It barely made it to the line, so close in fact that there was no time gap between the break and the peloton.
The time trial turned out to be a beast. It was a fairly short 20 km, 30 minute course, but it was rolling, hilly, windy & bumpy. I guess I did pretty well, but I felt like absolute garbage. After the climb, as usual, my legs fell asleep. I don’t know why they do this! There was no downhill immediately after the hill so I was left to pedal with sleeping legs for nearly the duration of the race. I wonder how much better I’dve done had they not fallen asleep- or if it made a difference at all. There’s gotta be someone out there who knows what this problem is? It happens during long climbs and time trials, basically sustained all out efforts.

Masset, FRA
Friday, May 19, 2006

In case you’ve been wondering why its Masset everytime, it’s where were staying. Basically we’ve gotta transfer to the race start everyday from the “lodge” (that’s right, it’s kind of a pansy-arse French “hunting lodge-” instead of hunting the game, here in France they run away when they see it…). The transfers are a bit epic because the town’s in a valley with the Pyrenees jutting out all around it. That means we take the camper and the cars over at least three tour de France 1st category climbs- around 250 turns on the way. I started riding in the team cars instead of the camper.
Today was a bit of a disappointment. After the race you always wonder what you didn’t do that you could’ve done, and I’ve got a list three pages long for today. Today’s stage finished with a ~20 km climb (2, 10 km climbs, separated by a 1 minute descent). Basically they could’ve started the race at the base of the climb and the same thing’dve happened… In the first 10 km a group of eight or so with Nate in it went away. We caught them at the beginning of the climb and the race was on the way up the climb. This is where I screwed up and ended up in 10th. Sure 10th is fine for your first season racing with pro tour teams in the race, but it’s quite the opposite when it’s a u23 race & the national team’s amongst your competitors... instead of pro tour teams. So now I’ve just gotta drop ‘em all by at least 3 minutes on Sunday if I wanna win this thing… I think its possible if “all systems are go.”

Masset, FRA
Thursday, May 18, 2006

France… it’s a great place. They’ve got all sorts of swanky little things, like salty soup and curtains that don’t block the sun. I’m sure they prefer it that way though- extra-super-French-sophistication’s what I call it… & the Euro’s worth more than the dollar? Must be because they invent all this new stuff, like cheese for desert with shredded carrots on the side. I don’t mind it though in moderation, I mean that’s what they do right? Everything in moderation? Train in moderation, retreat in moderation, and make up for it by overloading on the wine, cheese and chocolate. But that’s the refined, chic French elegance that we all love, right? “We want world peace! Let’s riot!” Nonetheless, I’ve got that newfound respect for France after discovering Spain’s filthy little secret.
Today was Stage 1 of 5 of L’Isard, a u23 race in France. It was a new experience for me & a bit of a reality check. Amongst the many races we’ve done that are Pro Tour level, this a small fish- and it definitely felt like it. I know this is the first stage and it’s way too early to start “counting el Chickenitos,” but the level of this race I’d compare with an NRC race… I’m sure things’ll change tomorrow, but in the meantime I’m hoping to win this over the next couple days. By the way, several of the climbs we do in this race are also in the Tour… I think that’s, uhhh, certainly of note…

Masset, FRA
Wednesday, May 17, 2006

We did the drive over from Spain… and the mountains are spectacular! They go, and go, and go… and go. Every road from the valley goes up, and every sign has a Col on the front of it, as in Peak for mountain. This would be an incredible place to train.
Today I found something out that’s a bit of a revelation. Spain isn’t really a country so to speak. A country can’t function if there’s no patriotism, and this is something that Spain does not have. Cataluna thinks it’s a separate state, and the bask country thinks it is, what about the rest of Spain… What is it? I can’t really say I respect a place like that. I saw a sign today that said, “freedom for Catalan, were not Spain and were not France (Catalonians speak a French/Spanish combination that I call Spanglish).” France however is Patriotic, that’s how they can hate the rest of the countries, because they love France. That’s something you can have a respect for, there’s actually something to live for then. But I’m not going to lie about the French, I don’t like them either… They’re dirty people who strive for nothing. But I’ll let on that this area of France is much improved from Marseilles and significantly better than Girona. I was wondering if the Europeans ever kept their stuff clean and I found, finally, that they do. Here most everything is nice and cared for. Hats off to (previously occupied) France for keep’n the place clean…
Tomorrow’s the first day of the race, and although it’s u23, it’s gonna keep on going up. Several of the climbs in this race are of the ones done in the Tour de France. It’ll be interesting.