Friday, February 13, 2009

Texas Training

Howdy Y'all,
only been here for a few days and the lingo is already starting to rub off. OK not quite but everyone here really does talk like that, and I have already got crap for not pronouncing my R's. I flew to San Antonio on Wed. the 11th of Feb. one week before the start of the KBS team camp to get some warm weather miles in. Our General Manager Ken Mills invited me to come stay at his house and train before and after the camp. A very generous offer and being from NJ he knows how rough the east coast winters are. My flight with South West airlines went super smooth and I actually arrived early into Texas(how often does that happen?!). I walked outside the airport and it was almost 80 degrees and I was way over dressed! We got back to Kens nice home just outside San Antonio and I hit the hay early. In the morning I set up my new Gary Fisher road bike. A quick note on the bike. I wasn't sure what to expect of it as I hadn't seen or heard much about our new team bikes before arriving. After setting it up identical to my Lemond (the geometry is the same which is great as I don't have to change my postion) Dave Veilleux and I went out for a 3 hour spin. To my surprise the bike felt the same as my old bike with the added springiness of aluminum. Yeah that's right the frame is full aluminum. We are going to have carbon bikes soon but for now this seems like a good crit bike and a real warrior. My race bike is outfitted with full Sram Red while my training bie has full Force. Bontrager provides great stem handle bar, tape and wheel selections while I ride my tried and true Selle Italia Flite Team addition saddle. It will really be an advantage for me not to have to switch all of my equpment this winter and I am super comfortable on my bike already. I'll let you know how it really goes once I do sprints on it. The training was really good, winds out of the south and really rolling terrain. It is actually just like the training I did in Chapel Hill last winter except 30 degrees warmer!! We rode a gravel road for 15km and crossed a pretty knarly stream! All of my cross skill are really paying off! I have some long miles planned for this weekend with some more specific stuff next week. More on the training later. For now I have to go put in the miles, check back for an update next week when our official team camp starts! See Ya!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thank You All So Much

Luke and I are now back from Holland, and I'd really like to take this oppertunity to say Thank You to everyone who contributed to our fundraiser and made our trips possible. I was deeply touched at all of the support that both my friends and family and the cycling communtiy gave to our family. I hope that there is some way that I can repay the favor to all of you because you have given us the ability to take advantage of the oppertunity of a lifetime.

As most of you know. Luke headed over to Europe two weeks earlier than I did to race in the final round of the World Cup Series in Roubaix, France. Luke had a great start, but unfortunately he was tangled up in a crash, taking him out of the lead group, on the second lap. Luke rode strongly to finish up 14th place.

On Thursday I met up with Luke at the race Hotel in Riland, Holland, which is about 12km from the race venue in Hoogerheide. The hotel was really cool. It was an old abby that was converted into a hotel. After getting settled into my room and eating lunch, everyone headed over to the race course to get an early look at the venue. At this point the course was slightly slick and it was looking like it was going to melt even more and be quite sloppy. After riding home to the hotel to eat dinner, I pretty much passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow.

7:45 came way too early when the National team coach Geoff Proctor woke us up for his trademark morning walk before breakfast. We then proceeded to eat a breakfast of bread, deli meat, and pasta. Not your typical American bacon and eggs, but there's no reason to complain. I went out early after breakfast and did some intervals, hoping to wake my legs up after the long flight. I found a really cool cobblestone road that I went down, and it continued for as far as I could see, so I eventually turned around. When I got back I ate some lunch, and then I got back in my USA clothing to take some team photos. These photos never seem to surface, but it is always mandatory that we stand out in the cold to take them. The course had changed entirely when we pre-rode it again on Friday. It was very fast and there was no mud to be seen. I was getting pretty psyched and I was completely ready to race.

Saturday morning Luke was selected for a random blood test at 7:00. Unfortunately, Luke passed out when they took his blood, which would throw anyone off their game. The split of 25 riders formed on the first lap, and with Luke starting on the 4th row, he was unable to make the front group. Luke chased hard for the whole race, and he picked off most of the riders that fell off the group. He ended up finishing 13th place, which was an incredible ride considering the circumstances.

Still feeling the jet-lag I was in pretty rough shape when I woke up on Staurday, but I was so psyched to race that it didn't really matter. I started on the last row, but I was able to move my way up pretty quickly after the start. I was riding well, until I went by the pit and there was a huge pile up. I got stuck behind it and lost a lot of time. After that I couldn't find a group to get in, and on such a windy course that is basically a death sentence. I ended up finsihing by myself in 39th place, as the 3rd American finsiher. It was a bit of a dissapointment, but how often can you be completely satisfied without winning.

Sunday was a good time. We got to stick around and watch the Elite Men's race. Let me tell you, those guys are incredible. I cannot even believe how fast they were going. I was slightly dismayed when I was told that the kid who won my race was doing comparable lap times. It's crazy over there. After watching the Elite races, we headed to the airport hotel in brussels.

Luke and I woke up on Monday morning to find that our flight through London was cancelled. Apparently they can't handle a few inches of snowfall. I couldn't help but think how much snow it would take to slow down Boston, but I guess that's why New Englanders are just so amazing. Luckily, two of our travel companions had cell phone service, and we got our flight rescheduled for Tuesday. Ironically, Tuesday was a mirror image of Monday. Our flight through London had been shut down. I jumped into the Customer service line, and after being shuffled around for a while, I got our flight changed to go through Washington DC. We end up taking off ten minutes earlier than we would have going to London.

We finally touched down in Boston at 11:00 P.M. Now you would assume that this is where I leave you with the happily ever after of my tale, but the shuttle that we were supposed to take was shut down for the night, and with the road being quite treacherous with snow it seemed we were stuck for the night. We then proceeded to barricade ourselves in the corner of the International Arrivals terminal, and try to get some rest for the night. Morning came for me at 1:00, and I then entertained myself until the 6:15 shuttle in the morning with my iPod, prayers of Thanksgiving, and plenty of reading.

Talk about an adventure. This trip was absolutely amazing. Not only for the invaluable racing experince, but in every way. Everything from getting to see Luke race his last Worlds as a junior to sleeping in an airport terminal was absolutely priceless, and I just want everyone to know how incredibly grateful I am.