A whole lot has happened since I last jotted down a few anecdotes from the road.
Most importantly, being on the road eventually, if temporarily, gave way to some home time. That was a highlight for sure. I love traveling to beautiful places, and a long stint in the GMT-1 Time Zone this spring was the right thing to do for my attempt to make the 2012 US Olympic Team.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Not even really very close. If the team selected four or five riders I would have been a contender. We earned our right to send two. Those two were clear choices and I was glad to learn that the Selection Committee did the right thing in sending Todd Wells (who had similarly bad luck this spring as myself but kind of ruled it in 2011, consistently top 10 on the world stage) and Sam Schultz, who was by far the most consistent and ultimately the best American at the first four World Cups of 2012. Plus, he’s a stoked, talented kid from Montana who’s paid his dues, one small step at a time.
The third and fourth rounds of the World Cup in Czech and France seem like ancient history at this point, but they were only a month ago. I had high hopes for the French Alps training camp having gotten me in shape enough to make a statement at these two events, both of which were on courses that I actually enjoyed riding.
Nove Mesto na Morave is a scenic town in the central Czech Republic countryside, not entirely dissimilar from where I grew up in Maine. Farmland and forest that sees more precipitation than sunshine. We stayed in the Hotel Ski, right at the race venue, which was a nice treat.
The Rabobank team’s usual M.O. for these World Cup races is to have lodging in some adjacent town in order to maintain a quiet atmosphere for the riders to rest and prepare. The opposing view of this is that it almost removes one too much from the environment, making these prestigious races seem like just another weekend.
Not so in Czech. The energy in the hotel was palpable and I think it fed all of the riders. Or at least gave us something to do in the form of socializing with our competitors, sponsors and random race fans. We also got to watch the World Cup Eliminator race from the grandstands. It looked even harder than from the start line as a participant…
Evidently the energy of the race was too much for me to handle though. Other than avoiding a MASSIVE pileup on the pavement, I had my standard average/bad start. Fortunately, I was still in the 70’s (could be much worse) and riding with JHK as we started moving through the field after the start lap.
Then I got excited and tried a new passing line. It had a huge rock. I smashed into it. My fault. The resulting flaccid tire had to be ridden half a lap to the pit, which put me back into the triple digits. Still feeling solid, I worked back up to the 70’s by the finish. Super. Nino Schurter won a hard-fought battle with hometown boy Jaraslav Kulhavy. Damn those guys are fast.