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

Sunday, April 30, 2006

An ear ringing experience

April 26-30
North Bend, WA

Monday and Tuesday were some rough days. I thought it was because I'd raced hard for a week while I was sick- or something, who knows? Anyway, I just kept on training and kept getting more and more exhausted. Basically sleeping then getting up and training & then going back to bed until 6:00 when I'd wake up, eat and abruptly go back to bed. Oof, talk about life wasting... So on Wednesday ( the 26th), I rode for three hours and came down with a fever and a number of "bad" sick symptoms- including, uhh, "the loose stool." After that I figured it was time to stop training and try to fix whatever got screwed up by racing in Georgia. Jonathan mentioned that I might have Bronchitis after the race & a friend thought it was pneumonia… swift, just what I need. The next morning it was to the point where I could hardly get out of bed. Around ten I came down stairs and switched to a reclining chair. I slept there for about 5 hours trying to convince myself that I was able to get to the doctor, then the pharmacist and back home without passing out or killing myself. I weighed the options and called the team doctor instead. He didn’t answer so I slept for another hour and decided to feebly walk myself out to the car and drive to the doctor. I got there and walked in and ended up waiting a while. I hadn’t eaten since the day before because I had no appetite, so I kept guzzling Gatorade to keep the blood sugar pathetically and ineffectively above feinting level. Finally a nurse came out and I got to see the doctor. He heard the story and said I’d probably induced pneumonia, but he’d take a few x-rays and see for sure. Of course, I’d taken some Tylenol before I got there to lose the fever, so now I was absolutely soaked in sweat & still had the fever. So when I took my shirt off I just about froze to death. It was worse putting the soaking wet shirt back on… Anyway, he finally came back in and said it was Bronchitis, which by the way, is far better than pneumonia, and he’d put me on antibiotics for 7 days.
Alright, that’s the first part of the story, the second part’s about getting to the Safeway pharmacy (yeah, that’s right California, were not quite yup enough to have a different name for Safeway’s…). I drive over there and feel like I could lift the world with one arm. I get in and stroll up to the counter show ‘em the prescription and they say it’ll take ~10 minutes. Okay, so I take a seat and kinda sleep-wait. They eventually call me up and I pay for ‘em ($95 smackers, at that price I’m pretty sure there the super deadly kind), then I go over to the window to get the run down on how to use ‘em from the pharmacist. This is where stuff starts getting fuzzy. He was babbling and I’d used ‘em before so I knew the drill. Anyway, I began getting dangerously light headed ‘n figured if he got done quick I could sit back down in that chair ‘n take a quick rest before I made the trek back to the car. I didn’t get the chance and feinted on the spot. Crap. I woke up like 45 seconds later, or in enough time to see three pharmacy workers nestling beside me and here the intercom say “we have a 911 emergency.” It was enough for something in my head to say in my head “you’ve got to get out of here asap.” So I was like, “I’m fine (obviously), thanks.” And I pretty much just started going. I couldn’t really see because I was so dizzy, so I stayed by the side of the isle as I went. Got to the registers, went on the sides, kind of. Then I got out of the store and rested on what I knew would be the “smoker’s bench” for about 45 seconds before going the rest of the 20 meters to the car. I’ve no idea how I found the car either, I just kind of walked into it, got the key in the hole and sat there until the super loud ringing in my ears subsided. About 2 minutes later the fire truck showed up and I watched as they went in. But I was safe and on the road again. I got home and once more claimed the reclining chair until 11:00, when I went back to bed…

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Just go out and have fun!

North Bend, WA
Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I’m back at home & completely exhausted… don’t know why… I woke up this morning to take the garbage out, washed my bike for the ride later on, and went back to bed at ~11:00. Woke up at 1:00 forced myself to ride for an hour and a half and came back home and went to bed. Woke up at 6:00 and here I am. I’m still almost too tired to move, not to mention the continued cough and congested nose.
Georgia was the worst upset of the year, so far. I came in with the best shape of the year and got sick off a “minor” technicality. Instead of being competitive in the race I was struggling every day, it was absolutely the hardest race I’ve ever done from that stand point… but it was also the most ridiculous situation I’ve ever been in. It’s not like I’ve been training to go over and finish, ya know? Who’s the fool who says “Yes, I finished!”?... I’m 12 years old again and we’re all winners…

Nose bloodied in Georgia

Stage 6- ToG Georgia
April 23, 2006

The last stage was similar to stage 4 for me. The cold heated up again and the phlegm cough was sputtering about the whole time. I struggled once more to do the pack finish. Danny, Craig & Will made the break. Will attacked and managed to ride away from the break with some guy on Health Net. They stayed away until we got 3 of 6 finishing circuits done. He was so close it was painful to watch as they passed us going the other way and finally got caught. He earned the most aggressive rider jersey though, so the effort wasn’t totally in vain. The most important thing of the entire race, in my opinion, wasn’t that we got 34th overall (surprise) it was that we were by far the most aggressive team in the peloton. We made the race instead of following it, and if we suffered on overall GC & team GC because of it, so be it…

Not of the Brass

Stage 5 Brasstown, Georgia
April 22, 2006

I felt a bit better today, but the cough is ridiculous. It’s this phlegm sputter that must be cleared before I can actually breathe. This causes a series of problems stemming from a need to consume lots of oxygen in a hurry. Anyway, when I start climbing it’s not that bad, I guess when you breathe really hard the adrenaline kind of clears it out. Since Lucus was in the KOM jersey today he went ahead and got into another break, with Will this time, and attempted to conquer the mountains for another day. Unfortunately, J-Mac from discovery managed to get in the break as well. J-Mac got the 1st KOM and broke away in an attempt to grab the second one. The peloton caught Lucus and his break, but J-Mac remained up the road about to get the next KOM. If we could catch him before he got that last one, Lucus would continue to lead the competition into tomorrow. So we chased, but pretty much blew up coming into the climb and J-Mac stayed away until the KOM (just 30 seconds up the road). I had to chase back on over the climb.
We came down the hill and with 15 km to go Brasstown started! I thought it was only 5 km long?! So I ended up starting it from the very back of the pack and chasing the whole way. It was a fairly epic climb…


Stage 4 – Georgia
April 21, 2006

Today was a fight with my newly acquired cold. I could hardly breathe and barely cough. The stage was a series of categorized climbs with terrain that went up and down all day. Lucus got in a break with Will and, curiously enough, Dave Zabriskie. Lucus got away from that group with two other guys, one from Discovery (J-Mac) and one from Saunier Duvall. He managed to capture the most King of the Mountains points on the day and start with the KOM jersey for tomorrow. The break did get caught near the end of the race. It was a pack finish, perhaps the hardest one for me to date.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Well ya'll, were in Tennessee now...

Thursday, April 20, 2006
Chattanooga, TN

Here’s the lowdown on the latest. I’m officially sick (courtesy of one JV). It’s been a bit of a fight. Yesterday was similar to the first stage of last year. One guy went away all day, & the peloton rode at ~20 miles an hour all day until it was chased down prior to entering the circuit. The circuit was pretty bad, it had two little kickers. Basically you take a hard right and hit this fairly moderate uphill that’s big-ringable, you come over the top and descend 200 meters quickly and take a hard right into a roller then into a super steep 100 meter hill. Then you get back onto the flats and someone tries to set a pace at the front so the dropped guys don’t get back on. Unfortunately, that’s the crappy part. Every time it came back together on the flats and they swarmed the ones who didn’t get dropped. When you get to the hill the next time around you’ve gotta pass ‘em all over again. So there was relatively no selection.
Today was selective. It was the ~20 mile tt. I felt good for the first third and the last third. In the middle my legs fell asleep, so it was kinda rough. I got up the hill and started riding the rolling ridge part and they fell asleep!?! Anyway, that was like 10 K, then there was a long fast downhill where it was too fast to peddle anyway & I managed to reinvigorate the circulation and caught one of the guys that passed me (2 Andrew Bajadali & a guy from Phonak), then in the last 5k Tom Danielson came by me. I think that means I lost 6 minutes to him. That sucks. What sucks more is that they gave me a 45 second penalty for "drafting." Hmmm,

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The cobble approach

Macon, Georgia
Wednesday, April 18, 2006

Today was a heated one. Attacking started from the gun and didn’t cease until around 80 kilometers from the finish when four guys went up the road. Our guy, Dan Bowman, got into the break perfectly. He was the one who was given the task on the day and he did it, pretty amazing really. It’s hard enough for one of eight guys to make it in, but the one guy with the task making it is awesome. The break ended up getting some 12 minutes in like five minutes, after the pack slowed to ~12 mph. At around 60 kilometers to go the “national” team began setting tempo, then Phonak, Discovery and finally quick-step (they absolutely railed it). We caught them after entering the circuit. Coming into the circuit was another race of its own; everyone wanted positioning because it could only hold some forty guys. We were all fighting to get to the front so we wouldn’t be the guy that got shelled going up the cobble hill. On the turn coming into the finish straight, it looked like discovery was on the front with the lead out, I was some fifteen guys back when around the turn some guys on my right went down hard. It made me think of California- it could’ve been a replay from there except the first stage instead of the last… I'm feeling a bit queasy after the race so I think I may have caught Jonathan’s cold.
Aside from the cobbled ascent and the finishing crash, I wanted to make one cheap shot at this here Crowne Plaza were staying in. Don’t get me wrong, it’s just a little, uhhh, different- in one way. I think they tried to model it after the Titanic- when it’s sinking. You step into the elevator and it starts creaking like its reached a depth it’s unworthy of. Then it starts going up or down and certain thoughts trickle into your head like, are the construction standards somewhat below the national average in Georgia? I was looking for the valves to twist when the pipes start springing leaks down in the engine room…

Monday, April 17, 2006

“Welcome to the filthy, dirty, south”

Monday, April 17, 2006
Augusta, Georgia

Actually, it’s not that filthy & dirty; that was just my first impression after listening to a certain rap song… Anyway, today it was 90 something degrees, the humidity was intense enough that you could actually perform the “dog paddle” if you were skilled enough- otherwise you wade around in it, like me. I went out for 2 and a half hours this morning, then did an additional hour on the time trial bike. Those two days of indoor heat training on the tt bike I think will end up paying off. For the first time I didn’t feel like I was definitely in the wrong place after getting on, it felt almost… natural.
Last night I went out on the road bike after dinner because we got in late. I wanted to ride for an hour or so just to spin the legs out after the flight. It was still at least 80 degrees out and traffic was literally dead, being Easter Sunday 'n all. Anyway, I ended up just riding out in no particular direction, the city's on a grid so the directions are pretty straight forward. Anyway, I cross the train tracks and all of a sudden it's like the moon came out and I was the only white person in the neighborhood. There were no cars but there was a big barbecue every three blocks with plenty of people that were perfectly happy to drop a comment or two as I rode by. Good times...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A day of anguish & off to the races

Seattle to Atlanta
Sunday, April 16, 2006

Yesterday I did just about the worst race ever. Definitely the coldest, rainiest (snowiest too), and cruelest suffer fest I’ve done since I stopped mountain biking. For the past week it’s been raining incessantly to the point where you actually look forward to riding on the trainer. In fact, on Thursday when I did my PM 2 hour heat effort, I did an AM ride on the porch of 2 hours as well… I guess that’s the only option when you can’t tolerate the unrelenting nature of the northwest rain… I ended up getting sixth in what was left of a field sprint (Brad’s team mate won, which was good). I was glad when it was over, but I still had to ride for two more hours. It’s not that bad when you get dry cloth on to go back out.

Now I’m off to Georgia though. After several weeks of absolutely focused training specifically for Georgia, I’m anxious to see how I stack up against the other guys. The biggest thing, as was the case at California, is going to be positioning coming into the climbs and, of course, the time trial. I haven’t mentioned it yet, but the time trial is going to be a killer here- it’s twenty miles with a series of steep climbs. Since my longest tt was the one in California I’m fairly certain this is going to be a “make it or break it” kind of experience. If history means anything though, the prologues have been what kill me. Without one here I’ll be better off, hopefully. It all starts on Tuesday.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Domestic-International racing: USA exclusive

North Bend, WA
Thursday, April 13, 2006

I took a look at the Tour of Georgia website and was surprised to find that our team was the only one with a full roster of USA citizens. Navigators has only one, & Health Net only three! Is that absurd or what?
Anyway, I did a couple hours in horrible weather today. It was a consistent downpour with an occasional gust of wind. I wore leg and knee warmers, a thermal jacket and vest with leg warmers beneath. Top all that off with super arctic booties, a fleece hat, a rain jacket and a rear fender- and 2 hours later you’re set to go… Surprisingly, my buddy and I didn’t see anyone else… besides the loggers gone red necks out cutting wood with their “wolf hounds,” which are out to get every cyclist that goes by.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The good fellow of the Northwest- Brad Lewis

Seattle, WA
Tuesday April 11, 2006

On Sunday a former team mate of mine perished as we competed in a criterium promoted by an earlier team of mine (Recycled Cycles). Ten minutes into the race he suffered a heart attack and subsequently died later that night. During my early bouts in cycling Brad was one of the most influential figures around. He projected a passion for the sport that radiated within the local community & played an important roll in the foundation of cycling in the northwest. Anyone who met Brad would consider him their friend, his kindness was an example for us all. I have no doubt that everything Brad has touched will grow to encompass the knowledge and passion that he has past on to it.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Watch your back...

North Bend, WA
Thursday, April 06, 2006

A memo on spiders came across my desk today. It was on the “dangerous Brown Recluse,” the deadliest spider in North America. Let’s get something clear right off, I’m not a big fan of spiders, so I prefer to know as little as possible about the eight legged creature crawling amongst my covers. The memo stated that the spiders are going to be on the loose come late spring and summer, so watch out when you’re entering dark unfrequented areas… they could be crouching, ready to spring into action as your hand approaches. One of the best ways to avoid mingling amongst these angry, very aggressive, creatures is to turn a light on in the area you are entering thirty minutes prior to your entry. If you don’t have a light you can just throw a grenade in or something… but they’re wily so watch out, they may launch a counter attack. Here’s something interesting though, I ride my bike everyday, and at least once a week I find spider webs on my handle bars. So during the 24 hours between my rides a hairy, eight legged creature crawls silently on my bars spewing its web. I resolve to eliminate every spider I see from here on out.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Symmetrics: too pro, dude

North Bend, WA
Monday, April 03, 2006
I wrote earlier of my experience up in Canada on Saturday during the first stage of the “spring classic.” It’s funny, that day I’d attacked several times in the race & every time I’d look back to find a tale stretched out and closing in behind me. Then I marked a guy as he attacked, & looked back to see everyone 100 meters back looking at each other. We were off together for 13 of 18 laps until we were caught by another break. After the race I discovered that we had over 5 minutes on the rest of the pack.
Anyway, during the criterium the next day I couldn’t get 10 feet without the entire peloton surging in behind me. I’ve never had this kind of “attention” before; it’s a bit intriguing really. Then there was the time trial, I felt good & was unusually well focused for it so I think I did really well in it. I didn’t stay for the results though, I reckon they’ll have ‘em up online in a few days. Symmetrics, the Canadian team, was there. They’re ridiculous in that they show up like there going to the tour of California or something. Three team cars, staff, etc., & if there’s a rule to be broken they’ll break it ‘cause they’re exempt from fault… too cool, the “absolutely swanky” Canadian pro…

Sunday, April 02, 2006

‘Cross the border

Zero Avenue, Langley, BC, Canada
April 1, 2006

Last night I’d planned to drive 4 hours for a stage race in Spokane, WA, which would entail waking up at 5:00 to journey east. But, I really didn’t wanna do this, and I was relying on transportation that felt the same way. So I decided to check around to see if there were any identical races that happened to be going on at the same time but were closer. As I was surfing around things were looking pretty bleak, so I decided to check up north where the Canadians dwell, and behold, there was a race exactly the same except each race was longer and the field stronger… so let good times roll. No pre-registration necessary, just show up and tell ‘em that you’re in for both days and you’re set. So in the end I got a better race for a 2 and a half hour drive instead of a 4 plus hour drive.
Of course it ended up being a complete downpour for the entire 90 miles of the race. I got in a break and ended up fourth. I kind of screwed up towards the end, but I won’t go into that. I’m just hoping to make up for lost points during the crit and time trial tomorrow.
By the way, Canadians are cool and all, but the “inside culture-” man, it’s someth’n else…