Monday, May 18, 2009

Today was a good day. Coffee all morning and this afternoon just hanging out. I sat out on the porch while Joey was playing guitar, and it was beautiful out. The thunderheads were moving in, but they were all that existed on a blue sky. It was warm out, but not hot, just right. I watched Noel (the owner of the hostel) dancing on the porch to Joey's playing. He is a chef, and also owns a cafe next door, but he bakes in the hostel so this place always smells like pastries and cakes. It is pretty irresistible. The people here are incredible. I can't say it enough. They are so kind. I have a lot of that in my life right now, back in the states too, I have some incredible people behind me including my parents, family, Jason, and everyone at Arlberg (Scott, Dan and the crew), the community is great and I wouldn't be here with out all of you.  Life is good and right now we are watching a great sunset over the valley. I will get some pictures of it to you soon. Thanks everyone.
Coffee is good. Today it will save me, cause my legs are pretty wrecked right now and its only 8:30, but I could use a nap. I raced again yesterday, and once again got destroyed by Euro's, but it was good. I love racing somewhere new and somewhere hard. Everything is so different here, it is exhausting just trying to go grocery shopping, or to get some bread at the bakery, much less try to figure out where to warmup, and what tires to race on and where you are going to find a pre-race meals when we are on the road. But it is good and I don't want to be any other place right now. Everyday that I am here, I find something new and exciting that I totally love, something as nominal as musli, or no speed limits (that would have saved me some money over the years!), and wish I had back at home (wherever that is... my Subaru maybe?). The riding here is different too, I am temped to say its like east coast riding, rocky, and rooty and muddy, but then I realize that when we go ride, there is a little bit of everything. Some big open smooth fields, some tight, rocky twisty, rooty stuff though the woods, and some open fast rocky fire-roads covered in baby-head sized rocks (yes I said that), something out of a forest in the high country. Its just a big gumbo soup of riding and it is all sweet and everyone here does it. 
Second cup of coffee. So the race was pretty O.K. It was pretty typical of European races, it started on pavement, made a sharp turn then went straight up, and then they ran us down the Downhill race course for a decent. On top of that it was muddy earlier in the week, so everything was still wet, but it was slow and sticky, which is my least favorite. It was a course that had potential to eat bikes. Fortunately for the US Team (and probably most of the credit goes to Joey our awesome mechanic) nobody destroyed anything. I was the first US guy called up because I had the most UCI points (from Nats last year), somewhere around 25-30, we were in the fourth row. There were 108 starters, (supposedly), so it was a huge field and they were all U23's. It was fast, but I was strong, and as the race progressed I got stronger which is a good feeling. By the end of the 3rd lap I was in my rhythm and was catching people finally, I had a good surge going. I was pretty fast down the decent, and I had power on the climb, but alas, the swiss are stupid fast (the winner destroyed second place and the rest of a mostly german field by 4 and a half minutes) and I got pulled after 5 of seven laps. I was bummed because I was racing at a seven lap pace, so I still had quite a bit in the tank at the end of the race. I was the third american in the results, behind Tristan, who is killing it over here, at 23, and Mitch at 29, I finished 35. Which is good considering the size of the field, and that this race is just a step below a World Cup. I am happy though cause I am in Euro-land and racing my bike. Things are good. 
Mononucleosis is a nasty disease. It is still keeping me at about 85%. I just am not recovering, and I never seem to be able to go 100% in a race. I always have flat legs and I am living from cup of coffee to cup of coffee. I just want to feel good for once. It hasn't happened yet and I am wondering if it will happen at all this year. Frustrating. Ok so we are going to the store so we can have food for a day or two. Six hungry bike racers eat a lot. Here are some photos:

This is the Taylor Cup Race last Sunday
Some photos of a ride that Rob said would last about and hour and change, the climb was an hour and a half alone:

Riding up to the windmills
The holy grail, Schaminsland (I did not spell that right)
More of the Robscapade

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wow, so here I am here in Europe all of a sudden. The past moth has been a completely insane. I have been racing almost every weekend, and struggling to get unpacked before repacking, find time to study and train. I have been tutoring chemistry, physics and stats students on top of all that. I made it though somehow, and I think I managed to come out of it strong and pretty fit for this trip, and I managed to pack up just about everything I needed too, I am impressed with myself, as egocentrical as that might sound.
But anyways I found my way to Kirchzarten, Germany, after 40 some-odd hours of travel. A little village with the stereotypical uber narrow roads that wind up the hills to obscure little villages that somehow stick to the steep hillsides, and high passes over which roads disappear into the depths of the next valley and its isolation. This place is incredible. The trails wind through the Black Forest, totally disorienting me, until I am totally convinced I am lost and which time I always pop out onto something very familiar, and close to our home here in this place. I am surrounded pretty much 360 degrees by the Black Forest and its high ridge lines (the sky is bigger in montana). Today we went out for a recovery ride after racing all weekend (which I will get to) and climbed for 1:30, on one of those little switch-backing roads to nowhere. We rode essentially to the top of the valley, and made it pretty much to the snow line. The ride down was just crazy fast, we were moving at 40 mph easily in places, just bouncing down this old single-track sheepherders trail though open fields and ducking into deep forested gullies. Just out of this world.
So the racing is stupid fast, thats the only way to describe it. But at the same time, just the most fun, masochistic stuff I have ever done. Saturday we drove down into Switzerland (a short 30 min drive) and raced the Swiss Bike Racer Cup in Solothurn. We arrived around 1:15 and raced at 4, so in the meantime we planned on checking out the course. Robbie Squire, Trevor Downing and I went out, got totally lost because of poor directions by the swiss (actually it was our lack of ability to convey a simple question, which I will talk about in a few). So it should have taken us about 20 min to do a lap, but in the midst of the womens race happening and getting lost and going for a few short hikes, we showed back up at the car after an hour with everyone getting worried about us. We got yelled at by a bunch of swiss people and had plenty of fingers shaken at us because we were on course when the women were racing. 
We got to the starting line, I had a good warmup, so I was feeling confident that I might finally be able to put together a good race this year. I pinned it hard for about 10 minutes, and was racing with Tad Elliot and Mitch Hoke in the upper 1/2 of the field (this is a field that has multiple current and former olympic and world champions in it, and a lots of guys who can place top ten in the world on any given day), so I was stoked. But with my luck this year of course things couldn't last. I started getting stomach cramps. I had to slow down (a lot) and just kinda rode tempo for while because I was about to boot. I eventually got lapped by the leaders (Nino Schruter), I think it was on lap 6 of 9. Once I got a coke on lap 7 my stomach cramps went away for the most part, but all I could do was damage control (the theme of my season) and try to keep what I had. I finished up 46th, which isn't great, but considering the jet lag and my stomach I can't stress too much about it. The course was totally cool. We started in the middle of town, under this huge old arch and continued to race through city block and neighborhood until we hit some dirt which accounted for about 40% of the 5km course. It wasn't like anything in the US. So we got home late after the race (I think I finally got to bed at about 1130) and none of us were anywhere near recovered. We had to get up and race again the next day too. 
So sunday was a low key local race which the US just dominated. We rode to the venue (about 45 min) getting lost along the way, and receiving more blank stares when we asked for directions (this seems to happen a lot to us). We previewed the course which was just up on the hillside through some dude's field essentially. It had a steep, short climb and then a flat/rolling section with a fast decent and another doubletrack climb. It was 2 km long and we did 10 laps. Once we got racing this took about 6 min per lap. I just got dizzy going in circles so fast. But although I had totally sore,crappy, flat legs, I did well. I powered through this one hour race and ended up 10th (yes 10th in a Euro race, sweet huh) I got payed out 25 Euro, which was awesome. But even cooler was that Tad won, Robbie was second and we had 5 of us in the top 10, and the Germans were stoked on us being there. People are so gracious here, and they love that we are racing. They think its so cool, and I agree.
We are such a bunch of dorks here. We are all stuck on facebook constantly, and none of us know and German. We go out for dinner and just struggle to get through the ordering process, but all I can do is laugh. We have no idea what any signs say and are just trying to keep the asshole factor to a minimum. When we were in Switzerland I tried to buy some water with my debit card, but couldn't read the screen at the checkout, so I just pushed buttons over and over until something worked. I just got a stare from the woman working that asked "are you that stupid?" and yes we probably are for doing this sport and putting up with its lifestyle, but we love it and ignorance is bliss.  I will get some pictures up soon.

Monday, May 4, 2009

There is too much to do. That has been the story of my life the past month, and that is exactly why it has taken me so long to get updated on whats happened thus far this season. And keeping with tradition (or what there is), I am once again procrastinating studying, this time its for a final though, so I feel kinda guilty.  I am already over a month into the season, I can't believe it. Since Fontana I have raced 8 more times! I raced in Spokane the weekend after Fontana in a road omnium (road race, TT and Criterium) which I dominated (kinda) even though I had awful legs. I rode the field into the ground as was by far the strongest racer in the pack. It was more just for training, and to get that edge back that I so badly was missing when I was in fontana. Shortly after the Spokane race I found that I made the Euro Camp team for the US National Team. So actually I leave in 36 hrs for Germany to spend 3 weeks racing. I am so incredibly humbled and honored. I have been so fortunate in my racing pursuits over the years, I have incredibly supportive parents, friends and sponsors. I couldn't have gotten here without all of you. So yea Europa will be incredible. But first what is leading up to now.... So I went down to Sea Otter Classic a couple weeks ago and botched another big race. This time I nearly got heat stroke. It was up to 95 degrees in Monterey, CA, and I just burned up. I had a I good call up and was racing around 25th out of 150 people for the first 45 minutes of racing, but then I started getting goose-bumps, and was lightheaded and super tired. I was feeling so fast too! So I ended up stopping under a tree and dousing myself with water for half and hour and getting a ride up from one of the medics with Ryan Trebon. Bonding time. I did Ok in the short track, but I had such a crappy call-up that I couldn't do much. I just rubbed a lot of elbows and then got pulled. So that was another disappointing weekend. I raced in Pullman with the MSU road team last weekend, which was a total blast. I had a great time. It was pretty low key racing, although our mens A race was definitely a fast hard race, I rode with J-mac and some other pretty quick cat 1,2 guys and in both the road race and crit I was as strong if not stronger than all of them. I finally have found my legs. It took a while, but I have done it. I feel ready for germany, I have strong legs and I have a fast mindset, which is what it's gonna take. I am so pumped. I will keep you guys updated more regularly while I am over there, it is gonna be sweet.