The 2012 Kit

The 2012 Kit

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sex in the kitchen

While you're on your lunch break - these are some shots of the carbon mold that's literally almost able to drag me through Santa Barbara's trails.

What's that? Oh, yes, there are road pedals on this mtn bike. I didn't expect to have an alternative to my road bike out here in the great west, so I left my mtn shoes at home.

It's got disk brakes. Does your car?

This costs over twice as much as my car. Ought I be embarrassed? I admit to feeling a little spoiled with my amateur skills on this thing, but I'll take all the help I can get.

No, I'm not sponsored or associated with Specialized in any way. It's a bike I'm borrowing for a week. I started riding bikes when I was a kid. I rode next to my mom on her walks on North Street in Northampton, MA. I'd jump off curbs and splash through mud-puddles. Life was carefree and I let me tires explore the earth around me. So, tearing around on this rig has helped me remember why I started riding. This bad-larry has oversized wheels to roll over bigger things more easily. It's my temporary $9,xxx machine perfect for helping me get navigate technical single-track. Hell, I am riding a mtn bike with carbon wheels!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Something the same only a little bit different...

An old friend and collegiate competitor that I lived with last year in Tucson stopped by for a visit in Santa Barbara. I got out on some killer mtn trails for a change. If you didn't know it, mtn biking was my entry into the world of cycling, so this was a great throwback to days of unshaven legs, camelbacks and the adventure in the things that we all love to do.

Scott showed up with a big truck.

Then we rode into the clouds and far beyond and it looked like this.

I was on a 29 inch wheelset with all sorts of travel. I have been so used to rigidity on the road and in cyclocross that I was reluctant to unlock the suspension, most of the time, but these new bikes are extraordinarily capable off-road. I've been away from it for a long time, but had glimpses of confidence over some rocky terrain. Here are some photos of our short adventure on Friday afternoon.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Rides to Remember

It's Saturday and I am resting today. I'm totally zonked - mostly due to a ride on Thursday that took a year off my life:

I rode up a beautiful climb (Old San Marcos Road), whose view and switchbacks rival those of Europe's, then out to the Santa Ynez Valley and started to climb "Happy Canyon" up to Figueroa. After missing a turn that put me about 45 min out of my way 20 minutes from the top of Figueroa, I flatted. I made it to the top 4hrs 30 minutes into the ride. I got to the Bulldog Cafe, one of my highly anticipated stops whenever I pass through Solvang for a snack after 5:22 ride time. But I was still over 2 hrs from home.

"Yes, I would like some help. Small, medium roast coffee with one of those enormous cookies, there. Thanks."

"That'll be $4.75."

I got a medium coffee, apparently. Next time I'll specify "SIZE SMALL."

This carries importance 1) because I have generally limited human interaction over the course of 5+ hrs of self-talk on the bike, so sometimes I need practice and 2) after drinking this coffee and demolishing this cookie that could've been split by 3, I was unsettled to say the least.

I began my ride home and trying not to dilly-dally, I kept the pressure on the pedals after all of that pedaling I'd already done. But it was a beautiful day and I was heading back along the coast on "The 101," where I can get a gorgeous view of the deceivingly cold Pacific that I probably won't touch unless I have 2 wetsuits and a 10ft pole. Anyway, I started to burp up on my full stomach. Gross, right? Totally. I continued to burp, which turned into minor puke. For 2 hrs. Yup. I lost all that coffee. None of the cookie, though. That was nice. By the end I could taste a little bit of the half-digested cookie coming up. I swear.

No, I couldn't put anything down for the last 2.5hrs of riding. I made it home in 7:46. And as some UVM-ers are familiar with the term, this was a "vision quest," at its finest. The last hour my self-talk escalated to me reminding of myself of my reality. "You are here. You are pedaling. Stop - Red Light." I was truly living in the moment. It wasn't all that pleasant. I was in the moment to survive, one pedal-stroke at a time. I couldn't even feel myself pedaling after a while. My legs were simply turning circles because I had to turn them. It became simple. I got home, showered immediately and started sipping on electrolytes. It was the first step. Small steps, remember?

Today I'm off and I'm telling you about this because these are the kinds of days I remember most. I don't embark to get to these types of memorable moments, but after countless hours, they're practically inevitable if you have any sense of wonder at all. Maybe I won't race for close to 8 hrs ever, but climbing and descending and the sights between are undeniably fantastic. If I stuck to interval-training and 4 hr rides, my explorative self would be lost. This is how I stay alive to ride another day!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

2012 Spring Program

My Spring racing program is released. It's all on the Calendar below including details on my location. For the local followers, I'm happy to be returning to the Tour of the Battenkill on April 15. It's a great 200km race starting in Cambridge, NY, a close venue from Massachusetts and one of the places I raced as a Junior. I encourage you to come and watch, there's usually a fair bit of entertainment in town between viewing us bike racers.

My first race is in Mumbai, India on March 25th, as previously mentioned. Though I'm arguably one of the two most traveled riders in the Pro Peleton (teammate Fabio Calabria and I were the only two to have raced in 5 Continental Tours in 2011), I haven't yet made it to India. The experience will be adventurous. I'm approaching it similarly to Rwanda. I don't know much about what to expect, so I'm preparing for less than ideal conditions. I'm sure the landscape will be beautiful and I'll learn some good culture. Three single-day events await Team Type 1 there. One of them is fairly hilly and close to Pakistan; maybe that'll be a good shot for me!

I'm heading out bright and early on this sunny Santa Barbara morning for a ride through the coastal hills while my motivation is up, now that I've got some dates to narrow my focus. Off we go!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Small Steps

This year I started a bit later and I'm planning on small steps to the heights of great fitness again.

I was in VT between team training camp and my recent trip to Santa Barbara, CA where I will take the next step in putting in the miles for the season.

Vermont is a wonderful place. This year the weather can't quite decide between a proper winter and springtime. If temperatures held steady over 20, I was able to ride outside on dry days; otherwise I had secret rendez-vous with the rollers down in the basement. Check out the cage in which I trapped myself. This is the basement - a storage unit - of my home in Essex Junction.

So I went from that... to THIS... in an afternoon.

Every time I touchdown in SB I realize why I come here for training. It's so easy to focus when you don't need to motivate to put on your riding clothes. The different roads and gorgeous scenery make it hard for me to get off the bike! Tomorrow I will have arrived 1 week ago. It rained once. The rest of the days have been just as beautiful as my first. Over the next two weeks, I'll continue to finish off my base preparation for the season and then advance to a more focused training regimen. My race schedule will be posted soon. Right now I'm to drop bombs in India at the end of March.