Sunday, March 25, 2012

My window is 53.8km from Chamonix

I think I do my best thinking while lying on the floor after a training ride. Today, instead of chocolate milk like I usually have after training, I got a big slice of sober pie. It’s a lot like humble pie, but it tells you less about how cool you really are, and more about what your current predicament means for the coming days, weeks, months, years and ultimately the rest of you life.

You see, I moved into my new apartment in Fully today. Which in itself maybe isn’t such a big deal. I simply packed up my bags, and drove 30 km down the Valais from the comfort of the B&B I was staying at in Miege, to the reality of my little apartment, fully furnished and last decorated probably in the 1960’s. Ok, maybe the 50’s…

Its pretty hoke’y (no particular reference to Mitchell Hoke, but he’d get a kick out of it…) And although it would be cool to be living in some big flat in downtown Geneva, big cities nor interior decorating have ever big my thing. But there are lots and lots and lots of awesome mountains very extremely close to the said apartment, and those have always been my thing. Also, Julien lives right next door… so I have a great teammate and friend, good mountains, some coffee shops, and a good grocery all nearby, which means I think I'm pretty set.

The past month hasn’t felt permanent (In fact nothing really does… my life is full of various shades of temporary right now). I’ve been unpacking and repacking, catching airplanes, and exploring new places. I have been staying in B&B’s, getting food prepared and sheets cleaned for me. But that takes me back to laying on the floor, because all of sudden this felt permanent; or the closest thing to that recently. Even in college, the most permanent anything got was a yearlong lease… And yes I know I am coming back to the states in October (jeezo) but I’m back here next year too. The reality and magnitude of moving across the pond (in this too the reality that the Atlantic is no pond…) in order to chase some dreams about riding my bike in circles is hitting me. I’ve never lived in a single apartment before… much less in a new town, in a new country… on a new continent. The silence this afternoon was deafening, even with NPR blaring from my computer, the evening traffic outside my window and whistles from kids’ soccer games happening across the street. It wasn’t a bad silence, but one that makes you think; forces you to appreciate where you are and really examine your motives.

This isn’t glamorous, this isn’t always exciting… I miss my friends and family. It would be fun to be in Bozeman skiing and partying with my friends for sure. But somehow this seems right, its scary as hell let me tell you, but it too is fun… I had a blast down in South Africa, I love traveling and I put together a solid first World Cup. Not great but good enough to put me firmly in the Olympic conversation. I’m blown away by the incredible beauty of this place every time I step out the door (or look out the window). The riding is incredible. And with time (and French lessons) I will make friends here too, they wont replace the amazing ones I have back home, but they too will make this place a sort of home… So I guess maybe this journey in itself is my motive. I think in some ways riding is just a means to do something different and unique and powerful. Because I like seeing how other people live, and experiencing new places. Because I do like riding my bike in circles. Because change isn’t so scary as people think it is. Because I am done with college; because I would always wonder what if… and because regardless of how much I learn about this place, my friends, the world, I am gonna learn a hell of a lot about myself too. And I think that’s pretty damn valuable. Because I get to sit in this park surrounded by incredible mountains on a clear blue Sunday afternoon, watching kids of all ages kick soccer balls back and fourth, rollerblade and swing. Because I get to be with parents and friends and dogs sitting in the grass and on park benches appreciating just being here in this time and place. Sounds like a pretty good piece of pie.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Laying in the African Sunshine

The more time I spend grocery shopping, training, and sitting together at meals, the more I realize how challenging, exciting, unique and insightful this phase of my life will be. I've begun the process of getting to know my new BMC teammates, but I learn a lot more form their mannerisms, actions, and laughs than I do from the words and thoughts they share... because those are usually in german or french...So far we have been having a great time down here in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
We've been down here about 10 days now, and its been so much more rewarding than my experience in SA last year when I blasted in and out with Troy Wells. We've gotten to ride with locals, hang out in town, check out local food and coffee, buy bananas from the roadside vendors... We've been able to lay in the afternoon sun, ride in the rain, cook together every night, rally our multivan on a safari and we raced together last saturday. And since I generally have pretty good company inside my own head, the german and french hasn't been too exhausting... I definitely can understand more of it that I can speak, so my ability to be part of the conversation is becoming easier with each day. I guess this is probably how children learn to speak huh... listen listen listen and finally it starts to click. It can be trying at times, but I guess this is kinda what I signed up for.
I think I am finally starting to relax after what has been a pretty insane month too. So much happened between coming back from Tucson and arriving here in SA; travel home, emotional stuff in Bozeman, packing up my house. So many little details needed to be addressed, and I feel like finally most of that has been taken care of. Its allowing me to lay in the grass after training, read my book, stretch and sleep well pretty much every night. A good place to be a few days before the first World Cup of the season.
The race we did last weekend was on the same track as the World Cup, and it was great for me to be able to get used to racing my big wheeled BMC... I'm hoping I got my mistakes out of the way for the trip. I had really good legs, but I was unable to escape the whole riding like a hack thing. I found myself not only on the ground due to my own hack-ness, but taking my teammate Reto out with me. It was devastating even though nothing really happened. We lost the Liam group, which would have put us near the top 10 instead of outside the top 15... but that 'what if' is/was still lingering. I think I would have been 7 places better had I not kept falling at very inopportune times, destroying my own rhythm as well as that of those around me.
I started some antibiotics last night... I feel fine today, but I think I definitely picked up a little stomach virus from the water or some unwashed fruit or something. We jumped on it though, only 6 hrs or so after I started to feel the telltale symptoms of it coming on. Hopefully tomorrow I'm back to 100%. I am definitely getting some good recovery in right now, so maybe the universe is just trying to slow me down a little bit so I can be primed for this world cup. Seem like it might be a little bit of a roundabout way to do it, but who am I to judge? I'll let you know how it goes.