Monday, April 27, 2009

Hot Tubes Training Camp

Training Camp is undoubtedly my favorite week of the year. Brand new equipment, an ipeccably clean bike, riding in the North Georgia mountains, catching up old with teammates and meeting new ones, and embarking on team adventures combine to make the Team Camp an exciting time. This year I left for camp from the Tour of the Battenkill with my two teammates, Gavin Mannion and Stuart Wight, Toby and Gabriella taking turns driving the van. We returned to the Muir's beautiful house at the top of a mountain in Tiger, Georgia; where we met up with the rest of our 7-man team. Once again, our team has riders from a wide variety of locations around North America. The team is comprised of returning riders; Nate Brown of Memphis, Gavin Mannion from Massachusetts, and myself; and new riders Lawson Craddock from Houston, Ben Gabardi from Mississippi, and Ian Boswell of Bend Oregon, and Stuart Wight from New Brunswick.

The first night was spent unloading the van and fitting our new Cervelo R3 Sl's. We then enjoyed "Christmas in April" as Toby distributed team equipment and clothing articles. We rode along the roads made famous by the Tour de Georgia, including Hogpen Gap and the infamous Brasstown Bald. Spair time was spent checking e-mails, playing ping-pong and pool, and a wee bit of school work. We also took a trip to the movie theater and had our annual bowling tournament (of which I was once again last pick while selecting teams).

The undisputed most exciting part of the camp was our white water rafting expedition on section 4 Chatooga river. We arose early and rode the 17-20 miles to the rafting headquarters. Then we rode in an ancient re-badged school bus to the put-in. The water was once again a high and did not dissapoint when it came to thrills. The "climax" of the day came in a particularly difficult and dangerous part of the river known as "jawbone" or some other ominous name. We struck a rock with a "Ka-Boom" and we all landed in the bottom of the raft. We were all laughing until somebody yelled, "Where'd she go, where'd she go?!" referring to our raft guide. We looked around and couldn't see her for probably ten or fifteen seconds, until she popped up just downstream of the raft. No sooner did she surface than the raft slammed into her and pinned her to a boulder. By the time we fished her out she was waterlogged and scared.

The remainder of the rafting trip went without incident or emergency and we once again rapped up our Georgia team camp. From there I drove back to Massachusetts with Toby and left for Europe on the following Tuesday. Now I've had a couple of rides to get the jet lag out of me and am psyched for my first Euro race of the year today in Hoboken, Belgium.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dirt and chaos at the Tour of the Battenkill

Tour of the Battenkill is a unique race in that the racers ride bikes that were specifically not designed for the conditions at hand. In this case, that included twisting descents and crazy steep climbs of dirt and sand. This year I met up with two of my teammates, Stuart Wight and Gavin Mannion, at the race before heading south with the team to a training camp in Georgia.

The race started off easy enough, as the first dirt section had to be removed because it was unridable. However, the fireworks started soon enough with the climb over Juniper Swamp road. My teammates and I led into the climb and all emerged at the top in the first five riders. Just getting up it was a tough enterprise, so climbing it in the middle of the pack was pretty much impossible. Surprisingly, the pace was pretty easy between dirt sections, and the pack was pretty much all together at mile 60. My teammates and I tried to lead into all the dirt sections to stay out of trouble. One descent was so fast and the corners so sharp that the first ten riders went right off the road. I grabbed some brakes and realized that my rear wheel was about a foot to the right. Somehow I made it out and exited the dirt with another grin on my mud-covered face.

Finally the hammer got dropped a little after mile 60. Gavin and I made the split into a group of about 15, and Stuart flatted just as the move went, ending his chances for the day. I attacked the group, got caught, then Gavin attacked, but a group of 3 caught him before the finish. I came in with the next group for 8th, and Gavin took second because he ran out of gears in the downhill sprint. In the interest of team bonding, I helped Gavin down his prize, a half gallon of fresh made chocolate milk.

Immediately after, Stuart, Gavin and I left with Toby and Gabriella for the long drive to team camp in Georgia. I was interested to see how my new invention of "Ultra-Lite Travel Bags" would hold up, since I used plastic garbage bags. The invention needs some fine tuning for sure. After a week of training in the north Georgia mountains, my teammates and I will be departing for our European adventures.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

First Post!

So I've finally started a blog, whether or not I'll keep it updated remains to be seen; but I'll give it my best shot! Right now the biggest thing going on is the start of the racing season, and after an extremely difficult winter spent healing from a triple open fractured femur; I'm more than ready to get down to racing! I've done four races so far, and am happy to see that my leg is still attatched and functioning. Right now I am using a small crash pad under my shorts to protect the metal in my leg and hip. Besides looking like I have a very unusual lump on my leg; I enjoy some peace of mind about the possibility of future crashes.

Right now, I am "enjoying" the Vermont spring time, or more accurately, wishing it would stop snowing long enough to get some good training in. My next big race is The Tour of the Battenkill on April 18th, and I am hoping to return to Europe to race again as well. Now I can congratulate myself for just finishing my first blog!
thanks for reading.