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, June 10, 2006

Volta Cyclista a Llieda

Les, ESP- Volta Cyclista a Llieda
Friday pre-race, June 09, 2006

Yesterday was a road race in the morning and a time trial in the afternoon. The road race came down to a 30 guy field sprint which we turned out not to be in contention for. One of these days we’ll figure it out. Then there was the time trial. Mike and Timmy did well, Mike I think got ~7th and Timmy 4th. It was an uphill time trial of 7.5 kilometers, and yet I did a poor time. One of these days I’ll have to figure out how to hack it, until then I’ll do well until the time trial. The fact of the matter is that I’ve done some really good up hill time trials and some really bad ones, so I’ve just got to figure out what the issue is. I’m pretty disappointed about that though.
Today the stage starts at 5 pm, so we have the whole day to recover before the race. We went out in the morning to spin around for an hour; we rode a bit of the beginning of the course. Since it starts out with a cat 1 climb we got to scout some of it. It doesn’t look to be too hard, but in the end only the pace will make it hard. Since the pace’ll be fast, I guarantee it’ll be hard. I’m not sure what the length of the race is, I know that it has a cat 1 followed immediately by a cat 3, then a little later a cat 2. Then it’s rolling flat out to the finish. I guess it’s a pretty open area so cross winds on the finale are sure to be a factor.

Vielha, ESP- Volta Cyclista a Llieda
Wednesday, June 07, 2006

This was the hardest stage of the race so far. There were three category 1 climbs, one of which we rode the backside did a smaller one then came back over the front. It made for an interesting day. However, perhaps the most interesting event of the day was the two guys who went away all day and held a lead of 45 seconds on our little group of ~15. Compare that to the dude who got time cut for coming in an hour and ~37 minutes after us- quite a day for him eh? We ended up making it to the finish with 3 guys in the lead group. Somewhere along the way here we’re going to need to lay it down on the rest of these guys and open some gaps. Given the reasonable and theoretic outcomes available, 3rd is probably the best GC position that we can hope for.

Vielha, ESP- Volta Cyclista a Llieda
Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The heat wasn’t so bad today. We started in the mountains and finished in ‘em, so we got some of the fresh mountain air. The stage today was pretty lame. I’m not sure what happened!? I guess at the base of the 20 km climb, some Tenkoff guy got away with a Soktec guy and they stayed away until the finish. The field had a couple attacks initially, but other than that it was a pretty easy ascent considering its length. I was expecting it to totally blow up, but the finishing group had 18 guys in it; four of those guys were ours. We finished a minute and 45 seconds off the two guys- which’s kinda crazy. I’ve no idea how they got that gap. There was a fairly lengthy descent from the top of the mountain and then it was over. We worked pretty hard on the way down to catch ‘em, but no beans. The guy who won today won yesterday… it’s that Russian kid who won some track race in the Olympics when he was 18. I guess he must be 21 or so now.

Tremp, ESP- Volta Cyclista a Llieda
Monday PM, June 05, 2006

The race was swell… teringly hot! I’ve never done something like this, it was absolutely crazy! You take a drink of water & two minutes later your mouth’s dry again. I guess that’s do to the dry heat that’s hang’n out ‘round here… I can’t believe what 3 weeks of this must be like in the Tour of Spain… Johnny (the team Euro director) explained to me why everything starts so late in Spain, it’s because it’s always hot during the day so it forces everyone to stay in the abode until it starts to cool down: affectionately known as Siesta. If we’d started at 9:00 bad things would’ve happened, like cardiac arrest at 70 k/h after summiting some 3000 meter mountain. I felt good though, so we’ll see how the rest of the race turns out. There was one big climb today, but nothing yet apparently- so hold your bids, all bets are closed at the moment.
We’re in the mountains right now, so a bit outside of Llieda. The town is quite nice; I’d compare it to a big Levensworth (for you home-gamers), one that can support itself without tourism. There’s also very few trees here. I think more are on the way as we move deeper into the mountains though. This is the Spanish side of the Pyrenees; the other side’s the French Pyrenees (you may’ve guessed that if you’re a wily foe). This is a UCI 2.2, so not everyone’s pro. There’s some Russian team here that’s pretty strong, we’ll see how that works out.
The hotel here isn’t super deluxe like the last one, but it’s also a historic thing, so there must be some kind of a trade off there.

Llieda, ESP- Volta Cyclista a Llieda
Monday AM, June 05, 2006

The accommodations in Llieda caught us all off guard. Contrary to the traditional French race hotels, the Spanish races seem to have decided that four stars is the way to go. Since I’ve really only scene what’s at the bottom, this is quite the pleasure. Of course, as is the case in all nice hotels, nothing is complementary… including the internet of which they have many options- just none that are free. I refuse to pay for internet, so I strolled outside and picked up the nearest free wireless signal. I guess they assume most of their customers aren’t too thrifty.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, things don’t happen so quick in Spain. Nothing really gets rolling until later on in the day. In the US, the race starts at 9:00 AM, in Spain the race starts at 4:00 PM. Dinner is at 9:00. So we took the bikes for a little 45 minute spin in the morning and checked out some of the local farm roads. Apparently Llieda is a fairly agricultural area. How this can be I know not, ‘cause the last time I checked, things don’t grow so well in the desert… Spain’s pretty big on irrigation though (there’s the ‘town canal’ in every town, including Girona), so I suppose that’ll provide a source of water for the soil. But the soil can’t be too rich with one inch of rainfall a year, or whatever they get- it’s not exactly Washington here…
This got me thinking though. You know how everyone’s worried about over population ‘n stuff? The countries that I’ve been to here are not having problems with over population. There are vast amounts of uninhabited land- it seems that there’s more here than in the US. Further, everything here is fresh, you know how much spoiled food they must throw out per day here? Imagine how much “land use” they could save by refrigerating? I think we have a long way to go before overpopulation sets in. By then we’ll have the Nanotube elevator to Mars anyway…

Llieda, ESP- Volta Cyclista a Llieda
Sunday, June 04, 2006

I woke up “early (7:00)” this morning in lieu of a 4 hour ride. It was good, no cars, relatively no people at first. I made a new discovery though; I’ve heard all about how Americans aren’t active enough etc, etc… Today was the first official indication of the truth of that- on my ride up and over Els Angels, I must’ve encountered several hundred cyclists just in the first 2 hours. The people come out in droves during the weekend; the phrase “weekend warrior” must’ve been coined in Europe. Perhaps they don’t get up early during the week to go to work, but it appears that they awake before dawn to go ride their bike on the weekend. And indeed, Sunday night is an experience of its own. In the US they’ve got rush hour during the week, in Europe they’ve got rush hour at 10:00 on Sunday night as everyone waits until the last minute to come home from the “holiday…”
But the ride was good, just to get the intensity and duration in before the race after getting that infection was pretty good. I feel like I’m a bit more open now and more ready to “address” the usual “go from the gun” Euro racing style.
As far as Llieda goes… Have you ever heard that Spain was a dust bowl? I think I heard Lance say that… And ever since I arrived in Girona I’ve been wondering what he was referring to, because Girona is quite green, despite being a poor source of water… Then comes Llieda, if I had to compare it to anything I’d compare it to San Diego, Palm Springs or Pheonix, all of which have no trees, no water (not counting the ocean) and plenty of dust/shrub covered mountains. This must’ve been what Lance was referring to… Llieda near the base of the Spanish Pyrenees. The Spanish Pyrenees are, thus far, quite pathetic compared to the French ones… I’m sure that’ll change somewhere along the way during this race, which is, by the way, going to be HOT.