There's no doubt that Jeff Gordon is extremely successful, evidenced by his attractive trophy wife, always proudly standing by, but would you say that he is a successful athlete? What IS sport? What IS athleticism? Does being totally strung out on caffeine and adrenaline, peeing into a cup, and driving for 5 hrs make you an athlete? What does one need to do to be considered a real live athlete, that's what I've been wondering. I've always come to the conclusion that athleticism requires a combination of endurance, skill and mental flow, something cycling can provide. So, when curling is displayed on the television as an Olympic sport, something turns inside me, wondering, "how long will it take until cyclocross makes it?"
But for now, I'm on the road, and we'll see the Road Olympics on the 'tube in 2012. At camp, I got one team kit (size small) from Biemme because the rest were held up at customs coming from Italy. I have to say it's a slick look. Here's me in my hotel room after the photo shoot. Fabio Calabria, my teammate and roommate during camp was kind enough to use his handy iPhone to take the photo. I'm waiting for my XS kits come. My guess is that they'll arrive just in time for the San Dimas Stage Race, my first team race.
I had a brief meeting with Team Directors Vassili Davidenko, Michael Carter and CEO Phil Southerland discussing some of my goals and early season race schedule. I'm on the team roster for the San Dimas Stage Race and the Redlands Cycling Classic, two great spring races in Southern California. I'm really pushing to get into the Tour of Battenkill (UCI 1.2) in Cambridge, NY on April 18th, but it's an A-team race. I might not get first dibs since I'm the new guy, but keep your fingers crossed! I enjoy racing on the East Coast. In fact, I miss it so much, that I'm looking forward to returning early in April so that I can mix it up on my home territory and get to the races I like best. The Battenkill promoters are actually hosting a Pro/Am race on the 10th of April, the weekend before that I'd like to do as a prelude to the following week.
*A recent update from one of my favorite young riders at UVM, Matthew Buckley warns me that the UCI Battenkill race is in jeopardy!
The Team Camp was great. The camaraderie is fantastic and I feel that I fit well into the personality of the team. The mood of a 10 man amateur team where only 6 are regulars is a lot different than a 17 man professional squad. One can only imagine what it is like trying to feel comfortable enough around each of 17 teammates to spend weeks on end together jammed in foreign hotel rooms, luckily, it didn't take much work. The guys on the team are fun and ambitious for the season. Martijn Verschoor (Ned) got the first victory of the season at a local race in Atlanta last Saturday. Congratulations to Martijn.
Thinking about posting during camp, I jotted some notes down (dated) that I'll include here:
I arrived in ATL at about 7pm and I was taken to a Marriott Evergreen Conference Center where there was a lot of food, but a little less riding. The first day was devoted entirely to public relations and media training for our sponsors Sonafi Aventis who make insulins Lantus and Apidra for those out there suffering from Diabetes. The meetings ended an hour early, but only the lucky few who begged Alex Banyay, one of our mechanics for their bikes (he was busy trying to build some of them) got to go for a 1 hr spin. For me, I chose a 1.5hr brisk stroll in the woods around a lake, and yes I was sore afterwards. On day 2 we got to ride and I pulled a strong 4 hrs only to be coaxed to the warmth of Marriott hospitality because of the blizzard that began with about 45 min to go. I didn't bring shoecovers, so I relied heavily on my cyclocross cajones to carry me through the raw and unusually inclement weather. The next day was even worse for riding, though. The plowing around here isn't extensive enough to cover many roads so it involved dodging patches of ice, and drinking some good road spray. I called it a day when my toes froze after an hour. Oh, I forgot to mention that we were riding on a 4 mile rolling loop, so I'd already gotten dizzy from riding it dozens of times. After the festivities of meeting the Triathlon team, the RAAM team, the new addition of Team Type 2, the Elite and Development teams, the Pro guys and gals took off to Gainesville for some better bonding and more riding. I got my feet checked and orthotic prints made. My cleats were moved back about an inch. It made me feel like a helpless 10 year old trying to ride for 4 hrs next to Lance. My legs are shot from the new position, but that's what happens, I guess. Today I'm going back to my old shoes and pedals for a 5.5hr ride. I'm missing the beautiful summer climate of California."
Team Type 1 put more "k's" in than we expected, though, and I was able to test some fitness while riding with my new, more experienced teammates. Lyne has helped get me off to a very solid start so far this year (I almost won the KOM at camp, but my attack came meters too late). I have room to grow and a modest but fresh outlook on the season, which will be challenging, but not overwhelming. This morning, in fact, Lyne and I had a brief breakfast rendezvous (yes francais out of respect pour La Quebecoise) to discuss the season's progression and goals for the next 5 weeks (some of which I mentioned above). In preparation for San Dimas and Redlands, I get to choose a couple of races in the weeks prior in order to get my feel for the peleton back! After Redlands, I want to get down to the most serious of all of this business by training on my own stomping grounds back east.