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

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Pont-Saint-Martin, ITA to Saint-Nicolas, ITA Stage 1 of Valle d’Aosta
Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Today was a wicked stage of climbing. It hasn’t got as bad as some of the French races we’ve done to date… yet… but it was pretty vertical. There were three climbs; one steep one in the beginning, then after an excruciating valley of winds another long climb and then another one up to the finish. Timmy got in the break but something happened, it’s kind of ambiguous what exactly happened, but he was pretty mad. On the way up the second to last climb I got dropped one km from the top. Then we descended to the last climb and I ended up losing two minutes and finishing ~30th. I was pretty disappointed, but I think it’ll get better as the race progresses.
The weather however is set to apparently regress. Today the mountains had a fresh snow line near the peak, and in the late morning clouds were drifting into the valley. By the end of the race it was raining. Evidently you can’t hope too much for good weather here. The clouds are kind of stuck… but we’ll see.

Girona, ESP to Milano, ITA
Monday, August 28, 2006

We woke up at 4:30 to catch the plane from Girona into an airport just outside of Milano. The flight was super short- ~1 hour. Coming into Italy we flew over the Tuscany Mountains, and then we crossed this vast flat region and came into Milano where I first beheld the Alps. They are immense! Knowing that we’ll be riding into these things in the next week is a bit revolting. Before we first mingled about in Italy, I’ve gotta mention that on the plane they spoke only English. Not to say that this is necessarily good because the attendant had such an accent that I doubt any one could understand his Spanish/Italian English. He’d have been better off speaking Hindi. Nonetheless, progress is made when English is the language of choice. Okay… Then we exited the plane, we flew Ryanair. The airport was great, probably because the lack of security. Italians are an interesting bunch and I noticed that there are a lot of similarities between the Italians and the Spanish. Both have dark features, but even more so is the apparent derivation of the Italian language from French and Spanish… or some greater beginning, like from Latin or something. I’m not a linguist though… Anyway, we didn’t hang around; we headed straight for the mountains. The houses ‘n stuff look a lot like the Swiss ones, or Bovarian or something. We went under a Gondola on the way up too.
The place were staying is perched on the side of a mountain just above a little castle that was evidently built fairly early on in the life of Italy. The roads go up the sides of the mountains, and since there aren’t too many flat roads around here I reckon we’ll be riding up a lot of mountains in the next week. I guess one of our races goes through France, Italy and Switzerland all in one stage. We stay in Switzerland that night.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Overtaking the world three strides at a time

Gerona, ESP
Saturday, August 26, 2006

I’m back in Gerona for a few days before heading off to Italy on Monday. I did a nice easy ride today, its weird- I haven’t felt sore in quite some time. It’s kind of a new thing. Usually between races and after a race my legs’ll be a little sore, but after training in Colorado for those coupla weeks I haven’t been sore. It must’ve been the effect of altitude or something.
Today I actually embarked on a little journey amongst the towns people. I found that most activity around here occurs along the stretch of walkway along the sides of the river and then up towards the cathedral. I sort of already knew this, but you don’t really understand it until you see it. Anyway, I went down and wandered around down there, found a new grocery store and backpacked back up to the apartment. It was the first time that I’ve left the apartment to not just buy groceries.
Whenever I talk to people about Europe they’re like “wow, and you get to tour ‘n stuff too! Wow.” But the truth is that I’m kind of here for a reason, believe it or not… I try to repel the impulse to go and walk 5 miles a day. Although it’s appealing to go and figure out what it’s like to act euro etc., etc., I think it’s better to act like what you are, and I’m a bike racer first, then an Americano & then a tourist…

At the moment I return to the US October 2nd.

International Poitou-Charentes
Charente – Charente – Maritime – Deux – Sevres – Vienne, Franca
August 22, 23, 24, 25

It’s good to be back in Europe doing some racing. The racing savvy of the other racers is several bars above that of the dudes in the US. They simply seem to know a bit more about tactics and bike riding in general. The locals are super stoked about it too. Here they buy our trading cards, in the US you’ve gotta throw ‘em at a kid when they’re parents are standing there- “Don’t be rude, take the card from him son…” It’s just a totally different scene here, and the thought that it’ll ever be like this in the US is a thought that has never crossed my mind because I’ve got no doubt that it never will…
Anyway, the race was great. I felt good, although I got sick the first day that I got here! Yeah, back to my old ways. In fact, everyone on the team racing got sick except Timmy & Mike. So that’s 6 of 8… Perhaps a new record, it seems that Europe is just a dirty place rogue with plagues, illness and shredded carrots. Sylvan Chavenel won. The decisive break went on the second day. It was a break of 31 guys, the peloton sat up and the break got 36 minutes. That kinda sucked, although we got three guys in it- Will, Danny & Timmy. The race proceeded to give a 20 Swiss Frank fine to every rider in the peloton for not racing “as a professional.” Crazy huh? We were riding double file ‘n everything though, so I think it’s possibly in line… just so strange… I’ve never heard of it… I presume that’s what they do when they can’t dq the whole peloton for finishing outside of the time cut; they just fine ‘em all... God! No mercy, eh!?

Friday, August 18, 2006

A day of sleep and a day of travel

Gerona, ESP
Saturday, August 19, 2006

Yesterday was a nice recovery day. I didn’t do much, sat around, read, went to the store… and slept in until 3pm! For me jet lag consists of a lapse between 1:30am – 4:30am where sleep absolutely eludes you. So when you get back to sleep at 5am or so, well, you just keep sleeping. Since it was a recovery day anyway, I slept until 3… I had to make up for that travel day where I slept for 30 minutes or so. 3pm’s not a record though; I’ve had days of 48 hours of sleep… I guess you’d call that 2 days of sleep.
Anyway, I’m fairly well rested now. So today we (Timmy, Dani & I) drive a rented van 7 hours to meet up with the rest of the team for some race in France. I’m pretty excited for the first race here, it’s a one day & I haven’t done any of those yet so it’ll be interesting…

Sustaining the pace

Gerona, ESP
Thursday, August 17, 2006

You know how sometimes you just don’t feel like going outside to ride? You just want to stay home and ride the trainer? Perhaps you don’t, but it happens to me all the time… I’ve actually come to realize that most people don’t like to ride the trainer, I can’t imagine why not- but they look at me like I’m genuinely out of my mind. It kind of stimulates my mind or leaves me with more options… or something. I like to feel like I don’t have to ride at 8:00am or 1:00pm or whatever. If I wanna wait until 4:00pm to do my 5 hour ride I can, on the trainer! Sure it’s a bit absurd, but don’t put it out of proportion. Riding’s riding right? Whether it’s on the trainer or out in the middle of nowhere on some country road deep in the heart of Spain, the same rules apply. I wonder if 180 watts on the trainer is the same as 180 watts on fluctuating terrain. It must be, you just can’t put out the same max power on the trainer because you don’t have as much leverage… or something like that.
Anyway, I put off riding until 3:30pm today, so I rode the trainer for 4.5 hours. Average watts were somewhere in the range of 185. I read a good deal of “the king of torts” by John Grisham. It’s actually best to switch between reading and listening to music every hour. It’s also key to stand every five minutes or so.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Back in Gerona

Girona, ESP
Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I’m back in Gerona. It seems that the season’s changed a bit, a few thundershowers now and again- but it’s still really warm. The people come out in droves and wander the streets. I’ve decided to explore a bit this time; I guess there’s some old stuff up behind the apartments by the cathedral. Everyone still speaks Spanish though, so I’m a bit hesitant to stray too far afoot.
Today Timmy ‘n I went out on a 3.5 hour ride. It was nice ‘n easy with some rolling hills. I’ve never been out that way, so I quickly realized that the riding is pretty nice over there. Nice quiet roads between little towns in the country. It’s amazing though how fast the cars go out on these roads… Speed limit’s 60 kmh and they go at least 100, you can tell they’re coming ‘cause the tires’ll start screeching around the corner…

Monday, August 14, 2006

Snowbird out

Snowbird, UT
Sunday, August 13, 2006

I’m here in Snowbird for another day before leaving for Barcelona tomorrow morning. I went on an easy 2 hour ride in the morning, but other than that didn’t do too much. Snowbird’s probably great during the winter, but during the summer there’s not a whole lot going on… I rode up the tram yesterday after the race, drove up to Alta, and thought about how nice the skiing probably is. It’s funny that I’ve been to all these resorts during the winter but never during the winter… I haven’t even touched my skies for like two years, which is strange because ~2 years ago I was a ski instructor every weekend during the winter. Now I’m not sure the old boards would be able to withstand being skied on…

Snowbird, UT
Saturday, August 12, 2006

Today was the hardest of the stages. The whole team except Mike Creed and I made it into the break. It was perfect tactically for the team, they were able to drive it to the finish line as Blake sat on to take the win up the final climb to Snowbird. I rode the pace up to the finish line and finally climbed as I knew I could. Moninger followed Chadwick as he attacked about a third of the way up the climb. Then another Navigators guy went with about 3 km to go. I wasn’t super confident so I stayed with Werry and Louder up to the line. Riding like that has definitely boosted my confidence, I’ve been waiting for it all year and I think I’ve finally lived up to it. I know I can beat Moninger fairly handily, but until I do it I won’t be sure… so I will wait until next time.
With the tactical superiority of the team and the developing strengths of all team members, I’m sure that we’ll soon be unbeatable.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mount Nebo

Mount Nebo, Utah
Friday, August 11, 2006

The first climbing stage was pretty intense. A low grade highway climb suddenly turned into an insane 22 mile ascent into the clouds. We had a great plan to get me the win, but it kind of blew up in my face. I think we were all a little too excited about the plan and it initially went off great. We decided to have attack United at the bottom of the hill, we went a bit before that and all four of us got clear right away. Then with the effort the guys kind of blew up and I rode away. Then I blew up too. Once we got clear we should have taken the time to get our legs back and set a sustainable pace. We got 2 minutes in like 2 kilometers, so I think our effort was a little premature. Once I was by myself Creed and Blake were up the road, so Jonathan had Creed wait for me to help pull set pace for me up the hill. Unfortunately, as soon as I caught him my legs began giving me grief. At that point it was all a bit of a nightmare. I’ve felt so good, and then suddenly I could hardly climb and Creed had just wasted another race for me. The front group caught us and passed us, then all of a sudden my legs woke back up and I stayed some 30 seconds off them. Hopefully Saturday goes better.
Evidently the Tour de L’avenir has decided US teams aren’t welcome this year, so as of now TIAA-CREF and the US National Team aren’t racing it. Great huh? Any respect that I ever had for France has fallen from absolutely nonexistent to totally nonexistent.

Tour of Utah

Stage 3- Time Trial
Thursday, August 10, 2006

Every time trial seems to be a bit of an experience for me. It seems that today’s was the first in perhaps many that will lead to my exceptional time trial prowess of the future. With Dr. Lim on the radio I knew what I had to do and managed to stay focused for the first three fourths of the race. Then in the last quarter of the race I began to lose focus and fight it. Then Baldwin passed me in the last ½ kilometer or so, and I regained my focus to stay some 3 seconds behind him. That would put me about a minute behind him, which is a margin that will be extraordinarily hard to surpass on the way up the climbs in the next few days. But I will try, who ever said that Floyd couldn’t make up his 7 minute lapse of time? My legs didn’t fall asleep today either…

Stage 2-Thanksgiving Point, UT
Wednesday, August 09, 2006

We knew it was going to be a race of crazy cross winds and “tactical awareness,” and precisely as we suspected it turned out to be. We were well positioned throughout the race as the winds blew across the field. A small break of insignificants got away for most of the race, and even I got in a break of four after the feed zone. We got caught pretty quick though- as I looked over my shoulder I saw the field approaching super fast with Navigators on the front and I gave everything I had to get up to speed and into a small gap someone opened for me to get in. Later on in the race while almost all of us were sitting some 25 guys back as we lazily approached the finishing circuit, a 15 foot American flag took position at the front of the field and “Captain America” gave the go ahead and suddenly the lazy pace was an all-out gutter effort. My sixth sense immediately sent me up the outside in a desperate attempt to close in on them before a gap opened. A gap opened and fortunately the field had the presence of mind to work together to get back. We caught on fairly quick, but not before some very hurt and frazzled fellow belched blood on my glasses after digging a bit too deep.
The circuit was nothing short of insane. I entered it with half a bottle, and finished it with two to go after rationing myself in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid the bouts of dry mouth that the weather was giving me. The cross winds in the circuit made it perhaps the most tortuous of all finishes I’ve been in. It looped and wound around, making positioning become quite a hazard. On the last lap it blew apart with United setting a brilliant pace. Moninger made the little split, but alas the officials didn’t record the time gaps.

Stage 1- Utah Lake, UT
Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The race was at 3 pm so I did a trivial 45 minute ride in the morning to loosen up the legs a little. We left Snowbird in route to Provo at 12:30. The race ended up being pretty strange, in the beginning there were cross winds not to be reckoned with. They blew dust up everywhere, lightning would strike in the distance and huge drops of rain fell. The road was an absolute piece of crap too, as we fought to hold position in the cross wind and avoid the riders beside us with each gust of wind, we also had to avoid the various fissures about the road. Then everyone sat up and it eventually came to a field sprint. Mike handily clasped a 3rd place despite the wide assortment of “laps to go” that the announcer was throwing out on the finishing circuit.

Snowbird, UT
Sunday, August 06, 2006

We’ve arrived at “The Cliff”- the hotel at the resort that’ll house us for the duration of the race. It’s at some 8000 feet, so that’ll be interesting, but aside from the height of the place everything’s quite pristine and the hotels of highest quality. The riding around the area is either up or down, so for today’s three hour ride I rode my bike on the trainer in the hotel room it was a unique situation. Can’t say I’ve been in a position as such before, where the road either goes straight up or straight down…
I guess Snowbird’s had a couple bad years lately; the snow’s been slow’n up or someth’n… evidently. I just can’t think of any other reason that would require the payment by customers for internet access. So tack on another 10 smackers to the $200 a room face price. I wonder what exactly is included in the $200 that they charge for this dump that you wouldn’t find in your average motel six for $49.99...

Provo, UT
Saturday, August 05, 2006

We left at 8:30 am yesterday in route to Provo, with the preliminary duration of the trip set at 4 hours. Then 7 hours, and finally 10 hours… Hmm, okay. We got into Provo with time to eat and spin around for a bit over an hour. Provo is on the Salt Lake City side of the mountains at the valley that leads up to Snowbird.
In the meantime were staying at the Marriot. They immediately start sticking it to you, first with the internet, then with the breakfast. I walk into the breakfast and they ask me if I want the buffet. Of course… no I’ll just have coffee… so I get some oatmeal. They come with a check right away for 8.50. Then I go and get some pancakes and they bring me another check, for 10.50 this time. What? What kind of a buffet is this? Evidently they had three different buffets going on on the same table, “the American,” the “good start,” and the “assorted pastries” buffets. They mentioned “the buffet” when I came in and no markers distinguished one buffet from another. I guess they only expect you to get one thing, like a banana for 8.50 and call it good…

Friday, August 04, 2006

The good, the bad, and the riding in Boulder

Boulder, CO
Friday, August 04, 2006

I did an epic 5 and a half hour ride today. I knew I had a long one to do and that I’d need to have a lot of climbing in it so I went on Google to find a good route. I decided that I’d go up Flagstaff, take highway 72 to highway 7, and then turn right on highway 36 and finish with the old stage climb into Boulder. Google didn’t mention that between Flagstaff and 72 there’s a bad dirt road called gross dam drive. It’s steep, pretty rugged and covered with woop-de-doos. Aside from that the route was endless climbing. I was pretty much either descending or ascending for the entire 5.5 hours. So it turned out to be really good. I got to see some of the towns that the rest of the guys are always talking about and experience the exquisite Boulder riding. It’s quite good really. Not to mention that I probably ended up climbing somewhere in the range of 10,000 feet at above 5500 feet...
I was amazed that people live (& are allowed to live) out in the middle of nowhere though. Even when I was on the dirt “connecting road” there were houses all over the place. No wonder Colorado’s got so many ski areas, in Washington they won’t allow you to come within an inch of the forest. A different bunch I guess eh?
By the way, that picture was taken with my mad camera skills at the last second. I saw the sign and whipped the phone out of my pocket and barely managed to get the shot off... all this without slowing at all, 'cause deviating from the pace is the same as hubris for me...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Resolving the worth of choice

Boulder, CO
Thursday, August 03, 2006

Have you ever contemplated the importance of a decision that you made? The truth of the matter is that for most people such a choice makes the impact on the rest of the world as that of an ant being dropped on the ground. It means next to nothing to know one. The chances are that most people, if not all, don’t even know you’ve made the decision and the future will be precisely the same now that you’ve made your lame little decision.
Take for instance the choice to buy $2.55 priced gas over that of gas at $3.10- you save a measly 15 cents per gallon, the same amount that you incidentally drop on the ground and don’t bother picking up because its “not worth it.” What’s the productivity of getting 5 more minutes of sleep or working for an extra 30 minutes? The decision of each person to do more or less will in the end impact the rest of the world in such an infinitesimal way that the need for each decision is non-existent. Imagine a world unimpeded by the choices of worthless decisions.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Push'n the pace

Boulder, CO
Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I went out on a wickedly hard ride today. I rode at 10am, which is quite early given my record over the past week- most of which consist of 2pm – 5pm departures. It was good to finally get out the door before noon though. I rode with Blake; we went on a five hour ride through the mountains with some intervals. We averaged somewhere in the range of 215 watts… It was pretty crazy, but we both felt good so we kept going. In the last 20 minutes I started to bonk, but the ride was done- it felt good to get out and finally do a nice hard ride at altitude with the legs & lungs actually open. Tomorrow will be an easy coupla hours so it’ll give me time to recover and shake off some of the post ride pain. I love the roads around here, the weather’s holding up well too.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The highway to hell

Boulder, CO
Tuesday, August 01, 2006

… And the acclimation is complete… I think.

I went out on a 3.5 hour ride today with some intervals of intensity and a few flat-out 10 second sprints. I felt swell for the first time. There was no gasping lapse after each interval, it was like riding at sea level- or as close to it as you can get. So I’m pretty stoked about that. The weather was great, as usual, although tomorrow is supposed to be thunderstorms or something. That should be fine though, they usually start up in the afternoon when they decide to “rear their ugly head.”
I’m not one to ride on the highway, so each day I’ve been heading out of Boulder and turning off onto the first side street and making a ride out of a maze of interconnected roads. However, everyday I see these dudes out riding the highway. The speed limit is sixty. As far as I can tell that’s pretty much the same as riding on a freeway. You’ve gotta either be a genius beyond my extraordinary capacity or there’s some inside secret that I don’t know about riding on the highway. So today I set out to discover the secret, and found out that indeed they’re all a bunch of morons waiting to get nailed by some crazy punk in his ricer. It’s your life; I’m not one to tell ya how to live it…