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.