Monday, September 24, 2007

Ridin' with Z-man

Had a great dinner last night and breakfast this morning with Dave Zabriskie, Kristin Armstrong, Christine Thorburn, Amber Neben, and Alison Powers. The hotel is great, and all of the staff know us! It was a blast getting to know some of the best female cyclists in the nation, and talking to Dave is hilarious--he is a character.

My roommate and teammate Tejay Van Garderen just got in last night after getting stuck in traffic (yes, on a Sunday!) on the way from Izegem, Belgium to Stuttgart. Tejay is a really cool guy, and he will be doing the TT with me as well as the road race on Saturday.

The breakfast was EXCELLENT--the food was good, but that is not the reason. The reason is my dad surprised me in the restaurant! I had completely forgotten that he was getting in today, and it was great to see him here! I introduced him to everyone and talked to him about his couple days of vacation in London before getting down here, his cool rented cell phone (smaller and thinner than a razor, all matte black, with a 2.0 megapixel camera and worldwide capability--sorry, not in the States!).

After soaking up the coffee and biscuits, I threw on my skinsuit and headed to the basement to grab my TT bike. Tejay, Dave and I went riding at 10:30, and I had planned on going for a 1.5hr easy spin . . . nope! We ended up riding around 3 hours with some hills, so I am definitely opened up! The first part of the ride was pretty treacherous because we were trying to figure out how to get out of town, and we even found ourselves on a pretty dicey gravel trail for a couple kilometers. After a while we found an excellent highway without much traffic that was heading off into the countryside, and Dave and I were sitting up at the front cruising when all of a sudden we heard some other voices from behind: Lars Boom and Jos Van Emden from Rabobank! They were joined by the only woman representing Greece.

We all rode together for a couple hours, basically just getting lost in the countryside, and Dave kept promising he would get us home, but I thought he was just BS-ing us. Turns out he remembered every turn we had made, save for a couple little detours. We were all impressed. The ride was awesome, and it was really good talking to Jos, a 4th year (22-year-old) rider who had spent the last two seasons racing for Rabobank's infamous development squad. He spoke perfect English, and we talked about how long we had been racing, what our plans were for next season, where we lived, what races we had done, etc. I found out that he lives in Holland (Rabobank's squad is mostly Dutch riders) less than 100k from Axel where I had raced with Hottubes as a 17- and 18-year-old!

After a good ride on the TT bike, with warm weather and great sun, we got showered and had some good little sandwiches before being joined by Max Jenkins (this year's Espoir Road Race winner, from Berkeley, California), Craig Lewis, and Peter Stetina (both Slipstream boys), all of whom are here for the road race on Saturday. I think we are going to have a really good RR team, as well as a TT pair.

Then Dave, Tejay and I hoped in the car with Noel and drove out to the TT/RR course for some reconnaissance. When we got onto the course, I knew every bump in the road and it fell really familiar (hours of watching those videos on YouTube and scouring GoogleMaps always helps!). The course is AWESOME! The main climb is not nearly as hard as I had thought, and the entire course is very steady and flowing, with a lot of shallow downhill that should make for some very fast sections. The two main climbs are midway through the course and then up to the finish, with the later being extremely important. After 36 kilometers of threshold time-trialing, those last couple kilometers are going to HURT!

I feel very good about the race, though: my legs felt great today, even the day after flying 8 hours and getting used to a 6-hour time change, and I know the course inside and out. It was pretty funny in the car, because I was telling Dave and Noel exactly where all the turns are before it even showed up on the GPS! At one point Dave, who had joked at lunch that he didn't "want any hangers on" riding with him and Noel in the car, said he was happy they brought me along!

Now we are just killing time before dinner . . . I might grab my dad and convince him to take me around Stuttgart so we can see the town. I feel bad because we had all of these plans for the two days before the race and I am pretty much just with the team doing team stuff, but it is a great time nonetheless!

Thanks for reading!


Lou Waugaman said...

GO, GO Nicholas! You - Can - Do - It!

Your Bros back in Iowa, US.

Tiffani said...

Good luck!

jennifer said...

No one deserves this chance more than you, Nick! I'm so happy for you!