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, September 29, 2007

World championships

Stuttgart, Germany
Saturday, September 29, 2007

It’s over. The course looked selective, but it wasn’t. Maybe it will be for the pros, but I guess the whole “the racers make the race hard” always triumphs in the u23 championships. If we’d gone a bit harder between the hills I’m sure it’d have split into a more select group, but you get what you’re dealt and ultimately decide what you do… and maybe I wasn’t aggressive enough, or whatever. I’m not satisfied, but I suppose that’s how it always is… I guess its life; provided the trend continues and next year comes, I’ll have a chance to obtain a more redeeming experience. I did have a go in the last 250 meters, but it was… short lived and quite pathetic.

Friday, September 28, 2007

16 hours

Stuttgart, Germany
Friday, September 28, 2007

Two months ago I was at a team picnic back when Jonathan had a house rented for the summer in a little town over Els Angles. It was a team picnic, so participation was sort of mandatory. None of us had the infrastructure in place to have a car, but fortunately Kilian was down for some reason from his place in France. He had a little Renault with Michelins. It wasn’t a race car, but Alonso wouldn’t be entirely at odds with it. Danny was in the front beside Kilian and Pat, Frank, Blake and I were in the back… in other words we hardly fit in and certainly couldn’t buckle in. The road to the little town was similar to an f1 course, so Kilian took the opportunity to push the Renault to the limit. And of course when it got up to speed, the Michelins kept it on the road… according to Kilian. So we were rolling right along at a speed that pretty much made us all uneasy, with Kilian at the helm quite up in the grips of stardom & pride that a domestic make was about to break the land speed record… while Pat offered helpful advice from the back seat in regard to the tightness of the corner relative to our speed at the moment… When some crazy guy actually caught us and got his grill all up on our bumper… The thing is, we were going so fast that we all had that “we just might die” thing going, yet some dude is able to catch us. Danny rolled down the window and gave him the go ahead to pass as a joke- the road was much too technical with frequent blind corners for someone to pass, and besides, we were absolutely flying. He passes. Unbelievable. I don’t know how this is relative at all to anything, but I thought it was a good story. Maybe the lesson is that you can always go harder and push the limits further…
16 hours until the championships of the world commence. What will happen? I don’t know, but I have a good feeling.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Road... What road?

Stuttgart, Germany
Thursday, September 27, 2007

So if I don’t win now, there’s no excuse.

The roads are bad for bikes here. Good for cars, bad for bikes. Yesterday I took a look at a map of the area and decided to head west, where the best roads appeared to be. One hour later after navigating a slew of bike paths, cobbles, railroad grades and four lane roads, I wound up in the desired location. Of course the roads were no better and the appearance of a slightly smaller, yet equally congested town to Stuttgart did nothing for the route. Alas I turned around at 1.5 hours to make it into a splendid 3 hour ride… the knowledge that the next day I’d have to face the same roads for an additional two hours loomed inexplicably in the back of my mind…

The gist of the problem acquired additional gravity when the forecast called for heavy showers the next day. Five hours in the rain on the roads of Stuttgart? Some people may get all excited under such circumstances, but I narrowed the options down to one… which didn’t include riding in either the rain or on the roads. Simple solution: ride on the trainer for five hours. After five hours: 206 watt average with six intervals of six minutes at 330 watts.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

From Paris to Berlin

Stuttgart, Germany
Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Welcome to Stuttgart. You can tell you’re in Germany because every 3rd car is a Mercedes, a BMW, or a Volkswagen. Stuttgart is not such a small town, and at the moment carries no charisma what so ever. But that can always change after the first day. I haven’t tried too hard yet, but it seems that the urban sprawl may be difficult to escape. Today I had a look at the road course, and given to the state of the roads being closed the daily traffic was most handily dealt with. In the coming days when I seek roads not on the course, the traffic may be a more trying problem. 3 days remain before the start of the 2007 road world championships.

Bennecourt to Paris
Monday, September 24, 2007

France isn’t so bad. Riding amongst the splendor of small town France makes you realize how different the world is from what you already know. I’m fairly confident that most of those who are born in Bennecourt don’t stray too far from it for the rest of their lives. I’m not the one saying there’s anything wrong with a lifestyle like that, being the one looking in on it’s just an interesting experience. When you’re going from place to place you tend to get the big picture but miss the stuff that makes it a culture. And I will be the one to tell you that there’s way too much going on to express the truth of the matter.
Contrary to popular belief and my own proclamation the French are well versed in English and as friendly as anyone, although they’re a proud people and expect you to respect their customs and mantra like it was your own. They’re really not altogether different than someone living in the US.
While staying in Bennecourt I didn’t do “anything” except train… although a tour of the local castle was made. Apparently all the castles in France are still intact, because every ride I went on I found a fresh one. I guess there was a massive one fairly close, but I wasn’t in the mood to go walking through a bunch of even older stuff when every building you affix your eyes to is as old as most of the stones on the ground. The one I toured wasn’t anything you wouldn’t expect in a castle. It had a mote thing, a big complex thing and a tower thing situated atop this rock stuff that looked like Calcite or something. The stairs up to the tower thing were carved up through the calcite making a cavern thing.
When the week or so of living in France came to an end it was over to Paris for my flight to Stuttgart via the Orly airport. In France, as all of Europe, the use of railroads is fairly popular. The rail from Bennecourt to Paris was superb, although I only took it part way. I found that should I decide to go all the way to the airport I would need to transfer 4 times… So on the train ride to Paris I decided the next step was not going to be a transfer to a train but to a taxi… which turned out to be a good idea ‘cause there’s stuff in Paris that is worth at least a glance. I wasn’t sure what part of town the airport and the train station were located but as soon as I got in the taxi I was blown away by Paris. It was more captivating than any city I’ve ever been in besides perhaps New York. And this was via taxi, looking out the window where busses roll through. There’s this road in Paris that has no lanes, quite perplexing really, that goes by stuff that looks important and probably have famous names. Of course this was all in a 10 minute window as we made our way to the Orly airport. Fortunately I turned my head quick enough to see the Ifle Tower disappear behind a building. I barely made my flight, arriving just over 3 hours before takeoff.

Bennecourt, FRA
Saturday, September 22, 2007

It’s beginning to feel a lot like… Fall, everywhere you go.... The first day here it was so hot that you could’ve delighted in the fig fields as they do in Spain. But the next day it was cold in the morning, during the day, in the afternoon and throughout the night. I’m not a hater of fall; I actually find it quite pleasant. A bit cool in the morning with more mild temperatures throughout the day just help to shake up the current pattern of life… which always get’s bleak after a long summer or… a long winter (changing of seasons). I know it seems strange, but I find the arrival of fall from summer a more welcome change than that of summer from spring. I guess the reasoning behind that’s not so hard to figure out.
In the last 4-5 days, whatever it’s been, I’ve been riding in and around the trivial town of Bennecourt. I’m not sure if it’d be considered a suburb of Paris or Bonniers or if Bonniers is a suburb of Paris or if it’s just a court of Benne… Alas, if nothing else it’s a town on a river that 70 km earlier ran through Paris. Regardless, the charm of the town and the surrounding area rivals any area and the riding is superb. Every time you get on a nice little road going in one direction a turn onto another road in another direction is insight… & it goes on like that from little town to little road to little town… castle/canal/cathedral/cobble road/skyrock.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Bennecourt, FRANCE
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It’s just like Greenville here. Rock the chair and walk the poodle, while evaluating the taste of authentic sausage, cheese and wine… listening to SKYROCK instead of the chronic.
There’s a lot that’s transpired since the arrival of the one in France for the route of the future. I guess it took about 8 days too long for me to get my legs under me, although I suppose it wouldn’t have mattered having missed the break that got the 6.5 minutes. Fortunately Craig was riding well and got in that break. You may think it’s lucky that he got in that move, but it’s not. I could cover every attack and still miss the one that sticks to the end. Guys like Craig and Danny cover 2 moves and get in the right one every time. I think Craig held out for 6th or 7th, which is stellar at an event like the tour de l’Avenir.
Here in Bennecourt a lot doesn’t happen. If you’re familiar with the Normandy region, you know what it’s like. Basically it’s flat, but wherever a river runs a valley is formed. So it becomes relatively flat with these rolling hills that can and tend to be of a grade that’s uncomfortable on a bike or barefoot or whatever. At the moment the weather stays fair, but the season at once calls for a turn towards rain and mushrooms ‘n stuff… But I’m only here until the 24th when I take the plane over to some town in Germany for Oktoberfest- returning home September 30th via Lufthansa.
Of course, “I’m sorry that the French aren’t innovative, and they have to listen to English music… you can put the blame on u.s.”

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The tour of the future... unplugged


At the end of stage 4, Tour de l'Avenir
Sunday, September 9, 2007- 10:00pm (GMT +01:00)

The world’s been tossed around and thrown up ‘n down since however long it’s been… a week…? Two weeks…? It seems like a month or two. Maybe not. It’s hard to believe that I came home and came right back within a period of a couple weeks. Back to the rules set by the fools from the old school, France. I was home and everything was swell, the rain, the sun, the watts, the training… the whole lot of it. But then I got to US Pro and it all seemed to go to the restroom. Every time over the little hill it was like listening to the gunner thing on asteroids… pew, pew, pew! Essentially useless and altogether unworthy. I did all I could but it really wasn’t worth the trip. I never checked the wattage, but I’m assuming I didn’t have quite the punch I’d had 5 days before in training. By the time I was completely and utterly dropped (50 meters before the start of the climb on the fourth lap), I felt like I’d just fallen off the side of Mt. Everest. I was actually debating the reasoning behind even getting on the plane for the tour de l’Avenir after feeling so pitiful. But after a night in the Hyatt, hearing some chronic and sipping iced tea in the ATL I decided that things couldn’t get any worse. I hauled two bikes and my bag down to the lobby and let the good folks who run the shuttle figure out the logistics.On the flight to Paris I managed to get no sleep and acquire what felt like an inch of dirty lather… which basically makes you feel dirty. I got off the plane and onto a bus where I finally set foot on French soil. Once in the security area I pulled a sweet move and ended up eluding the line which swarmed ahead. I’m not sure how, it just happened… and I walked on by with my pass-port in my hand and baggage claim on my mind. 45 minutes later I asked where my stuff was and discovered that I was in a bona-fide missing luggage situation. 5 hours later, after an entirely sleepless night covered in an inch of lather, my luggage arrived from Atlanta on the next flight. I didn’t ask anymore questions or yell, or maim anyone, or anything. I just got my stuff out of there… entirely intent on never seeing any of them again. Fortunately, in the last 7 or 8 or however many days it’s been things have “just been getting better.”