When traveling around to various bike racing adventures, I generally don't get much say regarding the locations or weather conditions at the different parts of the world we happen to be in. However, I have to say that these past few weeks I seem to have hit the jackpot. After returning from what was a 90% rainy trip in Ireland, I returned to my home away from home in Bend, Oregon to do some training and the Cascade Classic stage race. Also, to this point, my perception of Europe has been that of cold, wet, deisel covered roads and races, without a whole lot of sun to brighten the mood. All that has changed since coming to Italy, where we are enjoying day after day of beautiful sunshine, great riding roads, and food. It more than makes up for the fact that I haven't been home for the two weeks of Vermont heat in the last three years!
After two and a half marathon days of travel from Ireland to Oregon (which followed ten straight days of racing); I was ready for some serious recovery time. Unlucky for me, the Boswells and Ben King had nothing of the sort in mind and I found myself heading out on long rides at altitude. I was able to recover afterwords by icing my legs in the freezing cold sections of the Des Chutes river as Austin and I hit the evening hatch with our fly rods. Once the pro Cascade Classic started, we could spend portions of the day cheering Ben and Ian on as well. Robin flew in for the category two race which started a few days laterand the three of us headed off to race.
Since I have been racing basically all year in Europe, it came as a bit of a surprise how different American racing was. Stage 1 was fairly long and ended on a big climb, so the pack contented itself on riding around at what seemed a rediculously slow pace. After taking a pee brake and catching up with no difficulty, it seemed that an attack was in order. Robin and I made our way to the front and launched at max speed. We looked back to see the pack in an all out sprint to catch us. After a while we sat up and the single-file pack caught us. Immediately I was ready for the counter-attack, which would be a given in any European race. It never happened; and the pack was content to just sit on our wheels. We finally hit the climb and I ended up second, but it was quite funny to hear the riders complain about what an aggressive and difficult race it was.
During Cascade I was selected to represent the US in the Junior World Championships, which meant I would be leaving for Italy the day after the race. I was very excited, as making the world's team had been a goal of mine for quite a while, but I also knew that I had no intention of going to worlds just to say that I went to worlds, but that I was going to have an impact on the race. I packed up my bag, said goodbye again to my hosts, the Boswells, and headed off to Europe. There I met up with the rest of the worlds team, Lawson Craddock, Ryan Eastman, Nate Geoffrion, Paul Lynch, and Eamon Lucas. After a few days in the Izegem house (during which time some of the teams lost luggage finally arrived)the team was off to our last pre-worlds test, the UCI 2.1 Liege la Gleize race.
Liege was a less than awesome race for me and the team. The first day I was in the early breakaway but flatted out. The second day was a team time trial that I got dropped in half way through. The evening stage saw both me and Lawson crack and lose serious time in. In addition, I was suffering from some distress of the stomach/bowel system that made racing even more uncomfortable. The final day was slightly better for the team as Lawson finished in the first group and the most the rest of us came in the second group for top 40 finishes.
We were all eager to put that race behind us as we travelled to Italy to take on the world's best in Offida Italy. We arrived a few days early so we had time to enjoy the scenery and the weather while doing easy rides and resting our legs. Eamon and I headed into town to get a haircut, where the barber didn't speak english. But as soon as he figured out we were there for the race and from America; he gave us both free haircuts, including stenciling in a USA in the back of Eamon's head. I have no idea what he was saying the whole time, but he seemed very excited.