Amanda and I strike a pose in front of my newly-acquired 2006 Vespa GT200 (it does indeed hit 90mph on the freeway!)
an inopportune photo at Cap Formals in May
After a tough Nature Valley, where most of the team was fried after Philly Week and 20+ hours in the van, I have taken some rest and recovered quite well. I am the only guy doing both Nature Valley and Tour of PA, but I have been building back to form after my car accident on May 5th so hopefully Nature Valley has helped me get that old pain threshold back up there!
I have been living at our sponsor Jamie Bennette's under-construction house for the past week, all by myself because the guys are either in Austin for the USA Crit or at the Tour of Ohio. It has been a bit lonely, but very relaxing and restful--especially with Jamie's sick TV, PS3, Blu-Ray movies and espresso machine! It has been very nice to just relax, get my bike all fixed up, and mentally prepare for the team's biggest race all season.
I am going into this race, and the entire season, a bit off my game after the accident. I am extremely lucky that I have even been able to do all of my scheduled races, much less walk, so I am looking at everything as a positive. I am really focusing on learning how to race at the top level of domestic cycling (and it isn't really even domestic at all if you look at the riders!), and as Erik and Jamie have told me lately, "cycling is not a fitness sport!". I have always approached cycling as a test of strength, but I am finding that at the top level, everyone is within a few percent of everyone else! You can have great legs one day, bad legs the next, but the winner is ultimately the smartest rider--the one who best uses his own energy, the energy of his teammates, and the energy of his competitors, to win the race. I have not been in many races where I was not one of the strongest 10 riders . . . it is definitely a learning experience to not even be one of the fast guys and then have to figure out how to contest the race!
I am a young rider, and this is really my first season doing NRC races even though I have been strong enough to participate in them for a few years. This lack of experience has reminded me of the primary reason I joined TIME Pro Cycling--it is a development team focused on teaching fast, strong young riders how to race their bikes in the top events in the U.S.
Thanks for reading--I have to ride out to Auto Shades where our team van is ready to pick up after getting the windows blacked-out!
In the meantime, check out this excellent article describing the Tour of PA (and you can watch it every night on Versus at 6PM est (Tuesday through Sunday).