Culture

Phil Gaimon Journal: You again. With the two wheels.

Gaimon wraps up his season in Asia and then tries to avoid making eye contact with his bike during a four-week break from riding

Normally, my bike lives on a wall rack in the living room (garage space doesn’t come cheap in LA), but I kept in it in the bag when the season ended. I didn’t want it staring at me in my time off. Other than riding down the street for dinner, I took four full weeks without pedaling.

My last races of the year were the Tour of Beijing and Japan Cup in October. Beijing was an adventure for a lot of reasons. The most memorable moment will be sitting in the lobby before the first stage, as riders, directors, and race organizers discussed whether we’d race with the poor air quality.

Dan Martin had an app or something, and we stared at the particulate numbers on his phone. We’d read that anything over 100 made it unsafe to exercise outside, but that’s probably the same folks who say you should go 55mph on the interstate (you can go at least 58.5 in my experience). It was finally determined that we wouldn’t race if it reached 300. “It’s 285 now,” said Dan at the pre-race meeting. With Ryder Hesjedal, Thomas Dekker, and Lachlan Morton looking over his shoulder.

“I mean what’s the difference between 285 and 300?” asked Ryder.
Dekker did some math. “15, I think, no?”
Lachlan lit a match. “286.” He lit another. “287.”

The race turned out well, however. Racing in the fall is always a little odd, with some guys signed to other teams, everyone tired and ready to take time off, but it wasn’t as different as you’d think. You’d think that guys who aren’t signed yet would go harder, or those signed elsewhere would have less incentive to ride as teammates, but bike racers are bike racers. With a few exceptions, I don’t think the results are much different than they would have been if the race took place in June. The early break went sooner than it did in the spring when guys were more ready to fight, but it was still a battle to position for the climbs, and Tyler Farrar didn’t have any more mercy than usual when he saw the “1k to go” sign.

After Beijing, we headed to Japan Cup, the ideal race to end a season, with a small field, perfect weather, Nathan Haas taking the win in the road race, and Steele Von Hoff second by a hair in the criterium. The trip included a double-date with my fiancée, Nathan Haas, and his girlfriend. At karaoke, Nathan tried to start Queen’s “Bicycle Race,” but was unanimously outvoted.

During the season I was on the road so much, I put off a lot of tasks for the fall, like renewing my car registration, signing and mailing books that I sold on my website (sorry, folks!), and bathing. I also missed people, so I spent the last week in Oklahoma to see a friend’s baby for the first time (and consume massive amounts of BBQ), and then in New York, finally meeting the rest of my fiancée’s immediate family (I consumed only one slice of pizza, but it was massively greasy).

I did some form of exercise most days of my “offy,” but now I’m back in Los Angeles, buckling down for 2015, the bike back together, hanging on the wall as usual. Time off was nice, but time on is better, and it’s fun to have that clean slate again. Everything’s possible right now. Even a garage for the bikes.