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, January 31, 2006

Marseilles, FRA Jan 30

Marseilles, FRA
January 30, 2006

Yesterday was quite a ruckus. We drove from Girona to some French place that I don’t recall the name of. It was in the mountains, quite cold, & covered in eight inches of snow. It’s famous for its castle. We got in at around 3:00am, then left at 9:30am and now were here. Quite a lot of driving. I was in the car with Johnny, he was very serious about getting to where we were going, and I doubt the speedometer ever left 140 km. The team cars this year are Renault Laguna’s, diesel, but very capable in a 6 speed manual. They look a lot like Dodge Magnums, the station wagon kind. Everyone drives Renaults around here.
So far my impression of France is very similar to that of Hemmingway’s, France is a dirty place. Every surface that could be dirtied by graffiti is, and the place in general looks a bit run down. The mountains around us are very nice though, I guess these are the Pyrenees, fairly rolling, not so jagged- though there are some interesting formations that you don’t find in the cascades, looks like something tried to get out from inside the mountain.
I hear this is the bad part of town, but the graffiti has been on stuff since we entered France. I think the “run-down ness” will improve, but general French attitude will stay the same, which is dirty…

Jan 31
Tomorrow’s the first race of a five day stage race. All the big (super pro) teams are here, it’s gonna be a show down… Of note: CSC, T-mobile, Credit Agricole, AG2R, Lotto, FD-Jeux, & Cofidis. Then the other continental and D2 teams.
Also, check out the team bio on, for some reason they haven't done the 2006 site on the team' home page yet:

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Girona- Jan 28, 2006

Girona, ESP
TIAA-CREF Apartments
January 28, 2006

There’s nothing “romantic” about Spanish. To me, it sounds like that of gibberish. Truthfully, I could care less what they have to say, I mean, there Spanish right? So how important could what they have to say be? I guess it depends on who’s saying it, Heras…
But, really. In Spain they’re so important that they’ve enacted these strange hours of business & leisure. They’re open from 9- 12 in the morning, then 5-10 at night, “siesta-” they eat at 10:00 at night- tell me if that’s not messed up… what happens between 12 & 5? Maybe they work? For 5 hours? That’s 25 hours a week, the hard life!

Off the subject of Europe bashing though, I do have a certain respect for some of their customs. First, they prefer to leave the modern way of life in America. Here a lot of the structures are the same as they were 100 years ago. The apartment “complex” that we live in has to be at least 80 years old, its 6 stories tall surrounded by the same and separated by a cars length of cobbles. It’s everything I ever expected in Europe, but it’s a whole different animal to actually experience it like this. I’ve always said that you’ve never in fact been somewhere until you’ve raced there. If you’re racing you’re forced to get to know the whole culture and start to operate to the beat of the surrounding culture, whereas a tourist has this whole false community thing going that never actually lets them get to know how the culture actually operates. It’s quite unique really.
So far, in my travels, Spain has no big supermarkets. I’ve only seen the little co-ops. In my little region (500 meters) there are at least 3 different co-ops to choose from. The nearest one the team joined for 3 euros a month (if you don’t join, the price is on average 45 euro cents more per item). They sell only natural stuff, the eggs aren’t in the refrigerator because they’re so fresh, & there’s always a fresh vegetable and fruit area in the stores.
My favorite locale so far is the country. Outside of the city there are farms and little roads that wind around the countryside. Every five miles there’s a little town. It’s the picturesque European countryside that you read about in the books. Quite charming really. For biking the roads are perfect, they’re super-smooth like riding on glass, and the cars actually know how to drive around cyclists. In fact- I had to give up my hobby of ridiculing mean motorists; I just didn’t have enough customers…

Friday, January 27, 2006

Early season schedule

Preliminary Season Race Schedule-

1/31/06- GP. D’Overture la Marseillaise FRA

2/01/06-2/05/06- Etoile de Besseges FRA

2/15/06-2/19/06- Volta ao Algave POR

2/19/06-2/25/06- Tour of California USA

2/26/06- Classica Almeria ESP

3/04/06- De Flaamse Pijl BEL

3/05/06- GP de la ville de Lillers FRA

3/12/06- Paris Troyes FRA

3/17/06- Classic Loire Atlantique FRA

3/19/06- Cholet-Pays De Loire FRA

3/20/06-3/26/06- Tour de Normandie FRA

3/24/06-3/26/06- Redlands USA

3/31/06- Route Adelie FRA

2/04/06- GP de la ville de Rennes FRA

4/06/06- GP Pino Cerami BEL

4/18/06-4/23/06- Tour de Georgia USA

4/22/06- GP de Villers DE Cotterets FRA

4/25/06-5/01/06- Tour de Bretagne FRA

5/03/06-5/07/06- Tour de Gila USA

5/06/06-5/07/06- Classica de Alcobendas ESP

5/12/06-5/14/06- Tour de Picardi FRA

5/21/06-5/28/06- FBD Insurance “RAS” IRL

5/25/06-5/28/06- Tour de Gironde FRA

6/05/06-5/07/06- Volta Ciclista Int. a Lleida ESP

6/04/06- Lancaster USA

6/08/06- Trenton USA

6/11/06- Philadelphia USA

6/13/06- GP Beauce CAN

6/15/06-6/18/06 Route de Syd FRA

6/21/06- Noord Nederland NED

6/25/06- National Championship all Coventry’s

7/01/06- Tour de Jura CH

7/19/06-7/23/06- Sachsen Rundfahrt GER

7/31/07- GP Getxo ESP

8/02/06-8/08/06- Tour of Denmark DEN

8/05/06- Charlotte criterium USA

8/06/06-8/09/06- Tour de L’ain FRA

8/12- Prix du Leon FRA

8/15/06-8/18/06- Tour de Limousin FRA

8/20/06- Chateauroux FRA

8/20/06- US Pro Criterium Nat’ Championships USA
8/22/06-8/25/06- Poutou Chaurent FRA

8/31/06-9/9/06- Tour de L’Avenir FRA

9/10/06- GP de Fourmies FRA

9/13/06-9/17/06- Hessen Rundfahrt GER

9/16/06- Univest GP USA

9/20/06-9/24/06- World Road Championships

9/28/06-10/01/06- Franco Belge BEL-FRA

10/05/06- Paris Bourges FRA

10/08/06- Paris Tours Espoirs FRA

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Girona the 27th of Jan '05

We got in a little more riding today with a 3 and a half hour ride through some of the sweetest terrain I've ever rode. The roads are perfectly smooth, the climbs are great and the cars drive how cars should around cyclists. This is Europe how I've always heard it was. The church on the hill, the bell ringing every half hour, the little towns in the country etc., etc.
I rode the new carbon race bike today, it's very light, not so stiff and full Dura-ace. It has its issues, but I hope to get them fixed before the first races.
The time change is getting to me a little here too. Waking up at 3:00am and expecting it to be six and getting tired after lunch is a little different, but I'll hopefully get adjusted pretty soon here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Girona the 26th

Jan 26th

Today I barely got my bike built up in time to ride, so I only ended up doing a little over an hour. The roads are nice and the drivers are even better. The scenery is amazing, everything's old and seemingly hand crafted. There are no big stores, everything is in a little store within walking distance. Natural food co-ops are a dime a dozen, they don't sell "white eggs" here either, they're all natural.
Rudeness is a way of life here, no door holding, no hello's or waving to other cyclists, etc. I guess when everyone lives so close together they start ignoring each other.
The country is the best part. If I had to live here I would live in the country, the roads are small and it's dotted with little villages along the way, quite peaceful... much better than the city, but they still speak spanish. The have a lot of round-abouts in the city, I prefer them to stoplights. The first race is Tuesday, followed the next day by a 5-day stage race.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Chicago to Gerona

In transition
Chicago to Gerona
January 24th

The plane ride from Chicago wasn’t so exciting. It took around 9 hours, totally ridiculous- especially when you’re surrounded by Crouts. I tried to sleep, but it was pretty much impossible for me. I got maybe 4 hours of sleep, but my eyes were always half open.
Frankfurt is quite different; everyone is German, my specialty. I can actually understand some of the stuff they say. I guess they don’t speak so quick here, everyone always says that natives speak their languages too quick for foreigners to understand, but in Germany that must not apply. One big difference here’s that they smoke in-doors, which sucks, not something I like so much. They’ve got ventilators that they want you to smoke by, but they don’t seem to work, everything smells like smoke, quite unpleasant.
So there’s nothing special about Girona from the plane, it all starts when you get into the city. It is simply, well maybe not so simple, but altogether different than the US. Number one- no one speaks English, its not like Taiwan where 40 percent understand a little, here they understand zero. Danny, a team mate of mine, said that Italy and Spain are kind of off in their own little world, they keep it Spanish and Italian… Our apartment is in a very old section of town, they are five stories tall with narrow cobble roads connecting them. At first you think that the cobbles are only for people to walk on but little cars come driving by, through, around- wherever. There’s also a canal type thing that runs in front of our apartment. We walk to the stores, that’s how close we are to town. The climate is tropical (very humid), but it gets cold at night in the morning, strange.
I haven’t rode yet, but am looking forward to it very much. The roads look great. Oh, and my preconceived notion that the cars drive on the wrong side of the road in Europe has been debunked, they only do that in Great Britain.

B/W Albuquerque, NM & Chicago, Illinois

In Transition
Silver City to Gerona
B/W Albuquerque, NM & Chicago, Illinois
Jan 22nd PM

We just took off in an “Embraer 170” in route to Chicago. The seats are very good, they’re all leather and they’ve got the extra six inches of leg space, not to mention that there are two seats on each side of the isle, & I have no one beside me… pretty sweet.

The Albuquerque scenery is so spectacular. First, the runway goes straight into a mountain, kind of odd- a bit of a thrill as well, maybe that’s why they did it? But all else aside, something of note did occur & I don’t think too many people have had this happen before. An F-18 taxied in front of us! No joke, a full on fighter jet was ahead of us, when it started to take off its after burners shook the entire plane. I guess they don’t put mufflers on those suckers, at first only a few of us noticed it but once it started up everyone was looking to see what was going on. Pretty cool, pretty funny to see how quick it gained altitude compared with the rest of the planes ahead of us. I’ve always said that if I wasn’t a bike racer I’d be a fighter pilot, I doubt you can get much more of a rush, aside from descending a hill at 50 on a 14 pound bike, than flying one of those little jets around in the sky- shooting Iraqis and crazy jihading Muslim scum, oops! Did I say that?
Now that were up in the air traversing the New Mexico landscape, I’m getting a better view of how it all looks. Remarkably serene, the lowlands are dominated by square and circular farms that give way to rising mountains capped in snow. Our plane is actually rather close to the peaks, quite captivating really.
Chicago’s not so special. It’s flat and- well flat. The city was pretty impressive though, it literally hovered in the fog. Everything was covered in snow and the runway was a little icy. Nothing to worry about, but the cold was probably the cause of the fog on the ground.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Silver City to Gerona

In Transition
Silver City to Gerona
Albuquerque, NM
Jan 22nd/23rd

Today’s the 22nd, so it’s the last day of camp. This morning I woke up at 7:30 and rode for 3 hours at 9:00. We hustled around and managed to be out of the hotel and on the road by 2:30. The drive from Silver City is supposed to be 4:30, but since we’re in the van (12 person, Ford V8) pulling the trailer, the chances are high it will take 5 hours. By the way, I didn’t mention this earlier, but the transmission in the van was slipping during camp so Ben had a new transmission put in to make sure we would actually be able to make it to Albuquerque (a $2500 value). He had a new engine put in before he came down, so now it’s got a new transmission and engine, I swear it looks newer now…
Tomorrow morning we head to Gerona, so by the end of the day I’ll be “abroad.” United’s got a timely deal going for miles until April too; every flight that a mileage plus member (that’s me) goes between now and April is doubled. That means I’ll be racking up some serious mileage for the off season…
Once I get to Gerona, there’s a “legendary hill” called Cataluna, apparently it’s a good hour and a half to the top. But anyway, the likes of Lance, Iban & Ivan, have tested themselves on the climb and it’ll be interesting to see how I match up again their times. Johnny, the euro director, recommended the idea. He seems to think that I’m a catastrophically talented climber at 19; I guess we’ll see, eh? Perhaps I’ll get a good look at it in 25 hours from now.
Now that camp is over and I’ve got a good look at the other guys & how they ride and act, I’m pretty confident that we’ll have a successful debut in this season’s racing. Our team has a deep pull of talent topped with some guys who’ve got a lot of experience, so we’ve got what it takes to mix it up with the fast teams from last year. The chances are that with the conclusion of 2006 we’ll be the team everyone’s talking about, actually, it’s not a chance, it’s a fact. We won’t pace with the race, we’ll outpace the race…

Jan 23rd

Today's the 23rd; we leave at around 1:00, so I got out for a short 50 minute ride. We'll leave for the airport pretty soon. Albuquerque is in the high desert so it was 25 degrees in the morning when I rode. The place is completely flat one direction and mountainous in the other. It's still junky though, I think it's because of the overwhelming Mexican population.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Silver City: Jan 20th

Team TIAA-CREF Training Camp
Silver City, NM
Jan 8th – Jan 22nd
Jan 20th

Sample: Today’s Breakfast at 7:38 AM
-Four packets of instant oatmeal
-Two egg whites
-Three glasses of orange juice
-One english muffin
-One orange
-One cup of coffee
-One multivitamin

We went out this morning for a three hour ride; we ended up “circumnavigating” the mine. There was one section that was unpaved, but that just breaks the monotony. This was one of the more interesting rides that we’ve done. The mine is huge; the land movers look trivial compared with the bulk of the quarry. It is an open mine, so they dig up and basically make a hill into a massive mound of hideous dirt. If they did it to a Seattle eastside area the price of your house would drop like a rock. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen- I see why it’s the source of money (literally) for silver city.
I ended up doing 3 hours and forty-five minutes, it was pretty good, and it felt good to get out and ride for a while after taking the easy day yesterday. My room mate, François (Canadian national pro road race champ ’05), rode for 6 hours, to make up for some earlier problems he was having with his knee at the start of camp. He walks in eating rice cakes, & exclaims, with his French-Canadian accent, “These are the things they put in the clear bags above you in hospitals, ssireusly…” Sure, whatever, eat your cakes in peace man. French-Canadians… it’s hard to take them seriously…
My departure is nearing swiftly; I leave on the 22nd for Albuquerque in the afternoon in the van. Then we fly out to Barcelona from there on the 23rd, with a few transfers- one in Chicago, & one in Frankfurt, Germany. I think it’s about an 8 hour flight.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Silver City: Jan 19th

Team TIAA-CREF Training Camp
Silver City, NM
Jan 8th – Jan 22nd
Jan 19th

Today was a rest day, I rode for an hour and a half, but most of the guys are pretty shot, so only a few of us went out. It was a windy one today, but the nice thing about the wind is that it only blows one direction. So when I rode out today, it was blowing in my face, but on the way back it was to my posterior side allowing me to go fast with ease- not that I don’t always do that, but...
On an easy day you’ve got a lot of free time, with that said, it kind of gets you to thinking. I started contemplating Silver City & what makes it tick. I mean, the place is an absolute bore, there is nothing good and nothing bad about it, the people seem to be a bunch of zombies- to put it lightly. I thought deeply on the subject and came to the conclusion that the area has a lot going for it as far as the region, culture, climate etc., but there just isn’t much there as far as entrepreneurs & educated people. Its dominated by the miners (who work at the giant copper mine outside of town), the red necks (those who work on el rancho Silverado), and the “first persons” (Mexicans… enough said). So the combined intellect of the people is relatively low, and the Mexicans love it because, well, the “love of drink & a lazy life…” no?
This just in, Ben the manager just knocked, the much anticipated Cycle Ops power tap on special order for me just came in. I can hopefully figure out how to use it ‘n stuff before the ride tomorrow (which is scheduled to be 3 hrs easy, I’m thinking I might go a little longer and harder though). By the way- these power taps retail for ~$1000!, As much as a new bike…

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Silver City: Jan 18th

Team TIAA-CREF Training Camp
Silver City, NM
Jan 8th – Jan 22nd
Jan 18th

It's amazing to see that the racing season has already began around the world with the Tour Down Under (Australia)- a race that's rated the same as the Tour de France UCI 2.HC! Robbie McEwen, the guy who won the Green Jersey last year in the TDF, is there racing. That's a super early start, he'll be racing until September or October, crazy! But then again I too may be...

So, Silver City has taken a bit of a turn over the last couple days. Monday it was sunny n' nice, & Tuesday it was mid 20's and snowing... hmm I guess it's got something to do with the altitude. We did a ride in the morning and afternoon, it was freezing, & it reminded me why I live in Washington- I definately prefer the rain to the cold. I've heard of people growing webbed toes, & I've heard of eskimos, & I've gotta say that I'd prefer the webbed toes to the extra layer of blubber.

I guess life flies by when you sit on a bike and stare at the wheel in front of you for five hours, because its already been ten days since I left home. It seems like it's been two or three, but I guess that's life on two wheels... I leave from Albuerqurque on the 23rd, so my departure from the homeland swiftly approaches.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Silver City: Jan 15th

Team TIAA-CREF Training Camp
Silver City, NM J
an 8th – Jan 22nd
Jan 15th

It turns out today wasn’t an off day- it was two hours easy. But it’s just the same, 2hrs easy or off. After riding this much, spinning for 2 hours is practically the same as not spinning at all.
Jonathan and the Europe crew depart today- Jonathan for Denver and the Europe crew to Gerona. Ben Turner, the team manager, will handle the control of the camp from today until we depart for Europe.
After lunch Jonathan scheduled meetings with everyone, and it sounds like I’ll be coming back from Europe to do the Tour of California barring any illness or injury. I’ll stay in the US after that until the Tour of Georgia. The post Georgia race schedule is still under construction.
On a different note, I came to the training camp with long hair… and… I was accosted while I was brushing my teeth. Someone knocks on the door and Frank, my room mate, lets them in, and the entirety of the team comes trooping in with an electric hair cutter. They got me and, well, let’s just say the hair is about a centimeter long now. But it’s more aerodynamic and much lighter in the mountains.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Silver City: Jan 14th

Team TIAA-CREF Training Camp
Silver City, NM
Jan 8th – Jan 22nd
Jan 14th

There’s been a bit of complaining from the team in regard to the quality of the breakfast here. We’ve been relying on the hotel’s continental breakfast, which is, in my opinion, quite good and complete. It has everything: eggs, oatmeal, cinnamon rolls, all juices, bagels, toast, etc. Everything that’s needed to go 100+ miles on a bike. My guess is that they need an excuse to go spend some money, of course that doesn’t make so much sense, but I guess it would when you’re delirious from the weeks training… I guess…
Today was an excellent ride (almost as good as the breakfast). We started out of town and took a dirt road across a “picturesque” New Mexico desert. It was sand & sage brush, but also mesas and mountains off in the distance. It’s the kind of ride that adds new momentum to the monotonous roads we’ve been riding on. It was a little over five hours all together, but it was an easy day to spin out the intensity that we’ve been doing over the last week. When we got back our lunch was in our rooms, my massage was at 5:30.
For dinner we went to this Italian place, they served either this stir fry rice bowl or a pasta dish (our entrées are pre-decided to make the ordering quicker and to insure that all we eat is up to par with “what we need”).
Tomorrow is an off day, so it should be very relaxing. As of now, nothing is scheduled, except a short :30 meeting with Jonathan and Johnny to discuss the upcoming season.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Silver City: Jan 13th

Team TIAA-CREF Training Camp
Silver City, NM
Jan 8th – Jan 22nd
Jan 13th

Today was pretty crazy. We did ~100 miles with motor pacing in the beginning then intervals up each side of the climb. After coming down the climb we did an uphill team time trial up a crazy 1 hour climb. Jonathan separated us into two different groups- unfair groups. My responsibility was to make sure no one in our group fell off the back, I’d come up beside and give them little pushes to help them keep up. It’s amazing how difficult it is to keep giving little pushes, each time you push its like your brakes come on… its super hard, but each ride like this just gives me more confidence when I get to the races.
We ended up losing, but only by 20 seconds. According to Jonathan we were smoother, & because we had fewer climbers, the 20 second margin meant next to nothing. We road back to the hotel, ate and slept. Dinner’s at 8:00, tomorrow is 6 hours easy. The season is getting closer & closer and I am gaining more and more confidence in my team mates, they’re strong and smart so the racing should be good.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Silver City: Jan 11th

Team TIAA-CREF Training Camp
Silver City, NM
Jan 8th – Jan 22nd
January 11th

I received my new training bike yesterday. It's the super-light and stiff aluminum climbing frame Javelin makes. The ride is very nice and it responds amazingly quick when accelerating. Since it is the bike I'll be using for training, it is equipped with Shimano Ultegra 10 speed. It's nice to have the new parts since the ones on my previous bike had given up the ghost about 2 months ago. I've been holding off on buying any new parts knowing that the new bike was on the way.
Today we rode easy for a little over two hours. It was definately a fresh alternative to the last two days of long intense rides. When we got back to the hotel there were 40 pairs of carbon wheels that had just been delivered. Over the last couple days the staff has been receiving team kit, bikes, luggage etc.- remember, it's still early in the season, so were still waiting for a lot of our race equipment. Nonetheless, I've never seen so many wheels in one place before, esspecially of such high quality...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Silver City: Jan 10th

Team TIAA-CREF Training Camp
Silver City, NM
Jan 8th – Jan 22nd
Jan 10th

Wake, eat, bike, massage, eat, and bed. This is the daily schedule.
Silver City is dry and high. When I’m out training, I don’t sweat; instead the salt just dries on my skin… Because you’re never sweating, water completely crosses your mind. I didn’t realize that until today, so I’m going to have to force myself to drink, which is fine.
Today we rode for about 5:15, it was one of the hardest rides I’ve ever done & I think were gonna end up doing a lot more of ‘em over the next couple weeks. We started by riding up the first climb then doing intervals over the second climb. On the way back over we raced back up the hill, which I, of course, won by my largest margin to date. Then we motor paced all the way back to the hotel. It was totally insane. Here’s how it works: the whole team rides behind the car as it goes 40-50mph, the farther back you draft from the car the harder it is. Certain variables, such as side winds, make it extremely tough. One of my team mates and I made it to the hotel still pacing with the car, the rest of the guys got dropped. Tomorrow should be a little easier. Jonathan said we’ll do a longer ride on the flats, that’s all. Something says we’ll be motor pacing again, I pray this isn’t the case…

Monday, January 09, 2006

Silver City: Jan 9th

Team TIAA-CREF Training Camp
Silver City, NM
Jan 8th – Jan 22nd
January 9th, 2006

Silver City is located in the desert mountains. The altitude is 6000 ft, daily temperatures are in the range of 60 degrees and the mountains are clad in pine trees. The roads, as I have seen them so far, are either down or up, never flat and very windy.
I flew in yesterday and met Alyssa, Frank and Craig at the Albuquerque airport, and then we proceeded to drive 4 hours to the Silver City airport. I haven’t got a chance to look around town yet but from what I saw on the way in, it looks a lot like Bend, OR.
Today we ride for 3 hours easy, the weather is supposed to be around 60 degrees and sunny. It’s cold in the morning, so hopefully it will warm up as the day progresses. I guess that’s how the desert is and you can’t be too much more in the desert than this… dry, windy and high.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Homestead

The Homestead
Seattle, WA
Dec 22nd – Jan 8th

The weather is great here in Seattle, it hasn’t actually failed to stop raining- even once, since I got back from Boulder. I guess that’s fine though, apparently the weather in Europe isn’t so swell either this time of year. Right now I’m continuing with a lot of the training I was doing down at the OTC, long moderately easy hours to establish a base to get me through the season. The only difference is when you get back home in Seattle you have mud on your face instead of dried salt from the heat. I guess you’ve gotta pick n choose your climate, but I’d personally choose the heat over the torrential rain and wind of the “beautiful” Northwest. At least the days are getting longer…
Nevertheless, being back at the Homestead is a relief after being away from home for such a long time. Believe it or not, riding in the San Diego desert, getting chapped lips, and being ensnared within the confines of an OTC dorm room just isn’t that exciting after the first couple days. So there’s nothing more I could have asked for than to be back home spending time with the family over the past couple weeks.
When I leave for NM in route for the team training camp on the 8 of January I will keep a daily journal- so if you fancy a daily update, check back every day. Also, here’s the itinerary:
New Mexico training camp: Jan 8th - Jan 22nd
Europe Racing: Jan 23rd - March 13th *with chance of coming back for Tour of California

Forging the Future

Team TIAA-CREF flew in from across America to gather in one small, cold Colorado town: Boulder. Headquartered in Boulder and run by Director Sportif Jonathan Vaughters, is Slipstream Sports. Slipstream Sports is the sports management company that keeps the team and its gracious sponsors afloat. It is the central hub which we all revolve around. The purpose of the camp, however, was not to train or acquire a taste for 30 below weather; it was to huddle within and get to know each other. We were given the speal about what to expect for this and the coming years, what the team expected to accomplish and some rubbish about how it's "usually warmer in Colorado-" kind of like saying it's "usually dry in Seattle." The "new guys-" I and about seven others, were tested to see where our fitness was. The test consisted of riding your bike while attached to a stationary power unit. The power unit would increase every five minutes until you couldn't go any harder, at each five minute interval the team doctor (Dr. Allen Lim- PhD sports physiology) would prick your thumb to test your blood lactate, measure your wattage & heart rate, and have you point to your perceived exertion on two charts- one from 0-10 and another from 6-20. I've been given my results and apparently I am looking good for this point in the year. On the final day, the team unilaterally took part in a five hour ride in which we were to ride for five hours and burn 3000 kilojoules*, then race up the famous flagstaff mountain climb. If nothing else, it was definitely cold. The climb went well, I won by 45 seconds. The next day we all departed at different times. My time was 2:30 so I rode for an hour before leaving- I got to the airport and my flight was delayed until 4:30. After riding with the team I am very excited for the upcoming season. The team is very strong, everyone "is of good character," and we have two very wiley directors. I think the rest of the team shares my enthusiasm and were all looking forward to a break through season. The next camp is scheduled for January 8th in a nice little town in southwestern New Mexico named Silver City. Not to mention that its elevation is 6500 ft! Despite the altitude it's quite warm at around an average of 61 degrees in the winter. This will be the training camp, we'll ride, ride, and ride more. I am slated to leave Silver city and go straight to Gerona, ESP on the 22nd of January for six weeks. *not sure what I'm talking about

Olympic Training Center

Olympic Training Center
Chula Vista, CA
Dec 8th – 18th

The Olympic Training Center (OTC) is set in the desert mountains of Chula Vista, CA. The desert is cold at night and warm in the day after the rising sun burns off the morning fog. The roads are good, the hills are long and the drivers are psychotic.
I went to the OTC with the USA national cycling team, a group of “emerging” cyclists who are believed to be the next generation of elite cyclists- most of them are hype, but there were several who do have potential. The chief reason for the training camp was to get to know the rest of the guys and get in some good base training (many easy hours on the bike everyday). Chula Vista is a particularly good locale for this do to its mild climate and mountainous terrain. Rarely am I able to do the same kind of riding in Washington while maintaining a “cool head-” after five days of four hours in sub 40 degree downpours you (or at least I) begin to lackluster for continued training… but that’s just me.
Despite the great training and excellent food, the OTC is set in the middle of nowhere. You wake up, eat, ride, go online, watch TV, read and go to bed… repeat. I did that for ten days, leaving once to ride with a group of guys into Chula Vista ten miles away to watch a movie on the “big screen.” Was it worth it? I don’t know, but it helped to break the monotony of another week of the same.
An additional point of interest is that Mexico is about twenty miles south of the OTC. So during one of my many rides I took my passport and headed South on highway nine. The people got shorter and the roads got rougher simultaneously as I entered the land of cheap labor. The houses turned to barns, the roads to lanes, and the traffic to trucks too large for the roads. The town knew not of proper excavation and built on the side of hills, each shack was ready to tumble with even the slightest vibration (including the bark of a healthy dog, but fortunately there were no healthy dogs). I rode well into Mexico via Mexico’s version of highway nine. The roads, as in the towns, were built up hills too steep for the trucks. Subsequently, as I rode up the hills I could here a truck rumbling up the hill behind me. As it passed I would jump on its tail and ride in its slipstream. This made for great intensity and gave me a little much-needed protection from some of the drivers due to the fact that the shoulder is non-existent down south.
With the training here and the additional camps set for the future I am confident that I will be more prepared this year for the coming season than I have ever been before. Each season I seem to become faster and faster, so this year… the possibilities are unlimited!


Day 1
The flight was 12 hours, but it seemed like 2 or so. Immediately after getting on we were served dinner (at 5:00 in the morning!!?) Then 4 hours later breakfast, the time kept changing so I eventually gave up trying to figure out what was actually going on.
When we got off at KHH, we thought we had a bunch of time, so nick went into the bathroom to wash his bottles out. Then I looked down at the boarding pass and realized that we had 15 minutes before the plane left. So I had to go get him and we made the flight with like 2 minutes to spare. The plane was a Boeing MG 90. (747 out of SeaTac).
So, Taiwan is very mountainous and very Humid. Everyone drives a scooter, and those that don't, drive a diesel car. The air is horrible, today it’s supposed to be sunny- and it is in the sky, but on the ground there’s a layer of smog. Most appealing.
I'm gonna go on a ride pretty soon, but we're waiting for our bikes to get here cause they got screwed up in Taipei and evidently missed the flight that we almost missed. They'll be here a little after 2pm. I guess it’s the 27 of Nov here and the 26th in Seattle.
They've got DSL in the room for free, so for the next few days, while I'm here, I'll be able to use it.

Day 2
Today we woke up at 7:00, I'm not sure why, but we did. I guess Gus wanted to ride earlier. So we went down and had breakfast, the first Taiwan breakfast. They had normal American food and then they had the Chinese stuff which included vegetables, meet, rice, broth etc. For Oatmeal they had what looked like watered oats. I chose not to have that.
Then we went on the ride. We went out to this ferry and then rode on this Island, it’s connected by bridges and tunnels but I guess there's too much traffic on those. The riding was actually very good on the island and we ended up riding for about an hour and a half. It was pretty interesting, its not like it was remote or anything, because it seemed to me that it was as inhabited as anything else is, there were the colorful temple things with the curving ceiling, but I forgot the camera so I couldn't get a picture, I'll get one eventually though. It’s also right on the pacific so it reminded me a lot of Hawaii- especially in regard to the mountains on the main island, that's very similar. But the place is so smoggy that you could cut it with a knife. Apparently the water's inhabited by Barracuda- little fish that eat living things. We didn't have anything to throw in while we were on the ferry but the locals confirmed it.
There were also a regular U.S military cruiser and an Aegis one. They had red, white & blue banners on them (which the race'll be draping on the podium when the race is over too), so I assume that the Taiwanese bought them but I'm not sure.
A lot of the roofs and stuff are made of tin or Zink or whatever, they're falling apart and stuff. I've got pictures of most of the stuff. The trash picker uppers are clad in some very strange uniforms, I'm hoping to get a picture of them somewhere along the line without being rude, and generally the locals are very polite and nice. I'm also planning on getting a picture of me walking amongst the locals, I'm a good half a foot taller than them... The Germans, checz, polish etc that are here for the race, now that's a different story.
Lunch was noodles in broth with beef chunks, seems to be the specialty here. Its 4:47 here, so Dinner is about 1 hour or so away, I guess it’s going to be part of the opening ceremony for the race which officially starts tomorrow.

Day 3
Today was the first race. It went fine, I got 20th. We all worked for Gus because it came down to a sprint, he ended up getting 10th. It was only 66km so it took about an hour and a half. Tomorrow will be a similar situation, but its 100km.
In the mean time, we're staying in this awesome five star hotel that overlooks Tainan. Its all marble stuff and 20+ floors with a courtyard that goes straight up and balconies inside. It’s pretty cool. The smog and stuff is about the same. Dinner was this fifty course meal that featured Taiwan’s best... crab, fish eggs, chicken broth etc., I guess it would be pretty expensive if we had to pay. Rooms run about $250 a night. We'll see what tomorrow holds...

Day 5
9th today. 7th in the pack sprint, but 2 were up the road. Nick crashed and broke his frame but is okay. I guess he's looking to buy a new frame from Taiwan. We'll see. The race was very sketchy.

Day 6
The last two hotels have been kind of pathetic, I’m getting pretty sick of the noodles in broth- the Chinese classic. I also ran out of the budget camera's film, so I couldn't take pictures for the last couple days. The bike does work well, but the shifting and stuff I can't seem to get right. Right now were staying at the aboriginal area, its very weird in the mountains. One side is kind of mount Rainier like and the other is china like with 10ft sight distance fog, steep jungly sides with deep gullies w/ rivers in the bottom. The roads are all one lane. But the recent typhoon and earth quake of 6 yrs ago totally destroyed the sides of the mountain with landslides and rock slides etc. It was crazy in the bus and in the U.S we wouldn't have been allowed to drive on it at all.
The actual race was really long with the 10,000 feet of climbing. I would have done a lot better but I didn't eat enough and by the time I got to 4 km to go I could barely ride my bike straight, I ended up getting 3rd. That should put me in third overall for the race and I'll probably get 3rd in the end too.
I plan on getting another camera pretty soon, but I've got to find a 7-11.
I was right about the mountains too, there are areas where there is nothing. On the flats though everything's farmed, the basic rule is that if you can farm it, then you can live there. I guess there are 12 tribes of aboriginals that speak different languages and those are the ones that have mastered the art of farming on the mountain or something. They were pretty much wiped out by the typhoon and earth quake, apparently the typhoons go right over the island, wiping everything out. Aboriginals I think are Indians.

Day 9
Last day, tomorrow I go home. 3rd overall, that’s good, real good…

East Coast Trip

What happens when one pays five guys, who race bikes, to go east for three weeks? That's a formidable question, but it's best explained in a certain elegance that shines light on the very area in which they travel... is it in the backwoods of Vermont where they can sit and gather their thoughts? Is it Queens, where there is so much to do that they can walk up and down Manhattan several times before the race the next day? Or is it on Bridle Dr where they can sit and listen to the banter of ex-teacher retiree in regard to the various delights of Pennsylvanian custom?
No matter where the five go, certain adventure is fact. Let's start with the less than exquisite stay in Vermont.
We arrive at the place of residence no later than 1:00am eastern time. It's dark and we've just got done driving from the Burlington Airport ( a hair raising experience given that one Anton Jackson was sporting his excellent driving skills, yes those are the same ones that on average drive 5 miles a week). So were exiting the car and commenting on the run down shanty-like look of the place we would be staying in for the next week. We proceed to our rooms with keys in hand and find an infestation of insect-like creatures within. Did I mention we'd be staying here for the next week? I think I did, but for added effect I'll mention it again. Anyway, we wake up at 10:00 the next morning and prepare for the worst as far as breakfast (it’s a "bed" and breakfast) has to offer. It goes well and we're informed that there's a TV that works upstairs. So we go for a bike ride and come back to settle in for a hardy day of watching T.V. For the next week we race, eat and watch T.V. --- ! I forgot to mention the part about the three rooms: Russell said that he got three rooms for six people squared away. We get there and sleep in the three rooms, despite the fact that we got one key for one room. We figured it was a mistake, and since the rooms were all unlocked we helped ourselves. The next day we faced the reprimand when we met the beast who owned the place. Her name was Betsy. She was pissed. She had it reserved for some people who came and left due to the state of its occupancy. They were going to pay her $400 to do so, but left because of us. So poor Betsy charged us $100. I guess she's barely hanging onto a thread there, despite the fact that she owns 400 acres and had a ski area purchase half of her previous 1000 acres from her years ago. But maybe she gambled away her lofty fortune and now survives only by the $100 stays of bikers from Washington. I guess she just doesn't understand how important we are, and the vast international influence we possess.
We finish racing and drive to a hostile part of Queens where the gangs make the law and the cyclists ride on trainers for their two hour rides. The host housing is a pit, I guess the dude inherited it from gramps and he's planning to remodel it- or something. Nonetheless, the house smells like age, the couch, the dishes, the refrigerator, the washing machine, everything smells moldy and old. But the guy is nice and it’s a place to stay. That night we make plans to go to Manhattan. I wake up the next morning and ride for two hours on the trainer. Then we go to the subway and come out in Manhattan. We walk to the WTO towers. We walk to the statue of liberty. We walk to Times Square. We walk to an Indian restaurant. Then we go back on the subway and go home. Then next day we race and I break my stem. I walk to the bike shop in Brooklyn and by a stem, then I walk back. Plenty of walking.
We drive to Pennsylvania and find that we have not been properly educated yet in the way "They do things in Pennsylvania-" for the Pennsylvanians or the "Dutch" have an extravagant way of doing things. The Penn experience begins when Solomon gives the host guy, whose name is Jay, a call. Solomon tells him that we'll come the next day. This is okay with Jay, who in turn informs Solomon that he and his wife are retired. Jay lets Solomon know that anytime is fine- within reason. They decide on 12:30. I ride early the next day so that I don't have to put up with what may happen trying to ride at Jay's. Sure enough, we get to Jay's and he wants us to follow him as he drives. We do this and it turns out to be a cumbersome mess- Pennsylvanian style. For dinner the menu has either sausage and peppers or sausage and peppers- with juices & white bread. We eat and as we eat there is a certain slurp, smack, slurp ummm coming from Jay. It's hard not to look, but the sight was to! o much to resist. When Jay was done he dipped his white bread in the juices. And when he was done he looked around, as if something was quite amiss and said, "I don't want to tell you how to eat or anything, but if you dip that there bread in the juices, you'll get a little treat. Slurp, emmm, slurp." I guess that's how they do it in Pennsylvania. Solomon, Dan and I, stayed with Jay and his wife (who was normal, believe it or not). We got chile the next night- "I don't know about you, but in Pennsylvania we like to sprinkle "the spices" on the chile- care for some spices? ssllluuurp!" The best experience, however was the scrabble. A Pennsylvanian delight made with the scrap meat that you can find on the floor from last night or in the garbage can. Just scrapple that meat and pad it with some flour stuff and through it in some oil and you to can experience the fine Pennsylvanian delight. Jay thought it was good, and it was, just don't think about from what or from where it came while ! You eat it.
Then we went to Philadelphia and walked around. We also looked at the liberty bell, which resembles a bell, albeit a very special bell. But nonetheless it’s a bell. Then Troy and Anton smoked cigars while eating lunch. I sat down the road and conserved my money and lungs. The three weeks were a fabulous experience.