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

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

ToC Training camp

Torrence, CA
Monday, December 18, 2006

So today was the last day of the training camp. I can’t believe how quickly it went by, it’s like we haven’t actually done all the stages it went by so fast. In the ToC it got to the point where it was almost redundant despite the differences in stages. Whether it was a time trial or a climbing stage or just a long one, it was always the same; wake up, eat, pin numbers, race… it seemed to last forever. But here I am doing exactly the same thing through a camp that actually consists of more days and it feels like it took a day or two at the most.
Today we did the EKG tests. It took a bit longer than we had expected, but it was very nice to get them out of the way. Basically they attach a bunch of wires to your chest and take readings several times throughout your test. During the test you get on your bike and start out pedaling at 150 watts. Then they increase the watts by increment of 30 every two minutes. According to my PowerTap I held 498 at the end… the set-up was supposed to hold you at each new increment of 30 but evidently you can vary your output to a certain extent by going harder before it recalibrates with your fluctuating cadence...
The interesting thing was that we didn’t expect the test to be so difficult… like vo2 max difficult. We expected to jump on the bike for five minutes and spin the pedals a bit and jump off. So we rolled out on an easy spin in the morning for an hour and a half. Not that this was bad, but it was more the belief that we were having a nice easy recovery day when, little did we know, we’d have our vo2 max tested in the afternoon. But that’s fine, I wasn’t tired anyway. I guess I’ll do some jumping jacks and push-ups now… & maybe an interval on the trainer too…
Allen (the team doc who did the tests) said my ventricles look swell.

Torrance, CA
Sunday, December 17, 2006

This morning we drove down to LA from Santa Clarita for what is supposed to be the last ride of the camp. The camp’s been pretty good, it’s nice to see the stages and climbs before the race, but most of the riding hasn’t been too hard. Mainly we’ve just been doing endurance pace rides, but we occasionally drill it on the climbs. The efforts are good ‘cause it allows me to check my condition against the other guys, and at the moment I seem to be going well… which is a good sign given that I did only one week with intervals in the training since Belgium… not to mention hitting the weights 3 times a week with the personal trainer.
Tomorrow we head deep into LA proper for some UCI heart testing stuff (I guess it’s called an ekg test). Evidently they wanna make sure that your heart is capable of withstanding the rigors of racing before you go head-to-head with the various forms of unkempt eurolites.

ToC: Stage 6- Santa Barbara, CA to Santa Clarita, CA
Saturday, December 16, 2006

Today was the last stage that we are previewing for the Tour of California. The stage was 115 miles with three fairly significant climbs, none of which I believe are big enough to rattle the general classification. The course basically just rolls along the coast, goes inland for a bit and comes back to the coast. The stage itself is fairly spectacular, but I think it’ll basically be a day for a break and ultimately a day for the sprinters.
Tomorrow we’ll do a ride in Santa Clarita, the next day’ll be off and the day after that we’ll fly home.

Solvang, CA
Friday, December 15, 2006

Today we stayed in Solvang to do another ride. Apparently this is the place to train if you’re going to go somewhere to do it. The weather’s normally good, and the terrain is unbeatable. The roads, however, leave much to be desired… I guess if they’re no good it prepares us for some of the garbage they call roads in Europe.
Anyway, today we did a 6 hour loop with three fair climbs. None of them were too long, winding around the hills and valleys with an occasional kicker or lapse in grade. It was nice because it allows you to focus on keeping the power constant and putting out a good flat effort. In the end the ride was very nice, perhaps the best we’ve done so far.

ToC- Stage 4: Solvang, CA
Thursday, December 14, 2006

Today we previewed the time trial course, the fourth stage of the tour. It is a short 14 mile loop around Solvang with a relatively flat/rolling start and a short climb in the middle. Right after the climb there’s a windy descent followed by some fairly little hills to the finish.
The ride today was ~3 hours, and officially my first time on the new time trial bike. I got the position on it to be what I think is pretty good. Normally I have all sorts of problems with the weird positions, but I got it to where I don’t seem to have in issues. So I rode it on the course and felt good the whole time. I put out some wattage that I was pretty surprised about too…