Neo-pro season: complete

Blogging: complete-ish

It’s been a while since I updated my blog. My apologies.

My only excuse is that my brain used all of its energy trying to learn Spanish. One self-taught course that involves lessons on duolingo.com, watching Spanish TV, and drinking wine with my Spanish amigos is about as much as my brain can handle. Seriously though, I tried pretty hard and made good progress.

One of my main problems is that I have lots of stories — that most people would only find slightly entertaining. And a lot of them just wouldn’t be funny being told via writing. There’s this story for example:

I’m at the Tour of Britain. After a long day of racing, I get my massage and go straight to dinner; I am the last person from the team to get there. I am in a post-massage trance, meandering sleepily along the buffet. I grab a plate and approach the chicken. There is a nice lady behind the buffet who tells me something about the chicken. I’m not really sure what she says. I smile and say thank you.

I pile an obscene amount of chicken on my plate — three pieces. Much more than needed. Walking to the table, our bus driver comes up to me laughing hysterically. “Do you have any idea what she just said? One piece of chicken per person!”

Most of the guys on the team had finagled two pieces out of the poor lady. I said “thank you” and took three. I blame the British accent.

It was funny, trust me. You just had to have been there.

Besides being an ignorant chicken hog, I did quite a lot of bicycle racing. I do feel like I deserved all that chicken, by the way. I raced a lot at the end of the season. I strung 26 days of racing together without any big rest periods. Elk Grove, Tour of Utah, Vattenfall Cyclassics, Tour of Denmark, World Ports Classics, Leuven, and Tour of Britain.

I had some really good days, many okay days, and a few horrible days.

I thought Vattenfall was going to be a really rough day for me. I was jet-lagged. I’d been in Europe for five days since Utah but couldn’t get more than four hours of sleep at a time. Sometimes that happens. Vattenfall isn’t that easy of a race. It’s 250 kilometers with a short, steep climb that you do numerous times.

I was quite sleepy during the race, especially since nothing happens until the last 50k. I hung in there, assuming my race would end long before the end, at 250k. But it never did. I made it to the bottom of the last climb in a somewhat bad position, about 50th place. The finish was 12k away. I’m here — I guess I’ll just go for it. I went full gas up the climb, passing people. I was the last one to make the split. I was in a group of 20, out of sight. No team had enough riders there to drive it, so riders were attacking.

I gave it a go up the left side. Magically, three riders came with me and we were gone. We passed the 10k-to-go sign. There was nobody in sight behind us. We had 35 seconds.

This story has a boring ending. We got caught. It was a normal sight, looking back and seeing the Sky train. But, a day I thought would end in disaster turned out to be my best race all year.

Then the Tour of Denmark went okay. I would tell you about it, but besides the day I got caught 3k from the finish, nothing interesting happened.

World Ports Classic was next — a very exciting race from Rotterdam to Antwerp, and then Antwerp to Rotterdam. It was cold and rainy at the start. We dressed appropriately. Actually we didn’t, because the rain passed and became partly cloudy and 65 degrees.

Normally you can just take off layers if you overdress. Not in this race. Ten kilometers in, the crosswinds blew the race apart. For the next 100k, two groups of about 40 would be drag racing each other separated by 20-40 seconds.

The winners did 200 kilometers in fewer than four hours — with an average of 52k an hour. I’m not sure what happened in the race because I was dropped and finished 11 minutes off the back. There was also a group of 60 that finished 27 minutes down, in a flat race.

All I remember from the race is suffering immensely with my unzipped Gabba jersey (which is awesome in the rain) flapping in the wind. I was still very hot. And there was warming oil on my legs. Enough said.

I was excited about the Tour of Britain. Then I crashed on the first day in the feed zone. It was a hard crash. If I knew what happened I’d tell you. I was in really bad shape for a few days, and by the end I was good. My teammate and fellow neo-pro Nathan Haas got second on GC.

I finished the season with Circuit Franco- Belgie and Paris- Tours. Now I’m done for a while. Neo-pro season complete.

I had a few nice weeks in Portland. I got to see two days of sunshine before the rain came. But like most Portlanders, I kind of like rain.

Something funny happened:

I was sitting in the coffee shop at Powell’s Books last week. A guy came up to me: “Hey, how long are you here for?” This happens once in awhile. A cyclist spots me, approaches me nervously and says “Hi, how was your season? How long are you in Portland? My name is X.” Blah blah blah. So, I answered “All Fall.” He looked at me somewhat confused. “Ok…well…I’m going to be gone for 10 minutes. Can you watch my stuff over there?”

“Yeah…Of course…”

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