By Todd Wells, GT-Hyundai professional cycling
The World According to Wells……Some of you may be familiar with my stories from my columns in the VeloNews magazine. These online journal entries will follow the same pattern trying to give you a racer’s perspective on the mountain bike and cyclo-cross circuit through out the year.
As you may or may not know, the mountain bike season officially kicks off the first weekend of March with the Texas NORBA National. Since I do a full domestic schedule of cyclo-cross through the fall and winter that leaves only a few months to recover from a season of traveling the world and gear up for the next year.
I had a nice break after cross nationals this year and went to Mexico with my wife Meg, Frank and Tiff Mapel and the JHKs. We sat on the beach and drank cervezas just like in the Corona commercials. We even got out in the sea kayaks and did a few jungle runs. I guess we never really stop exercising totally no matter how many beers we drink on the beach.
Fast forward to February 10, and I’m in full training mode down in Tucson, Arizona. Since I have a compressed off season it’s really important to get in adequate rest and do a good base training to try and build on my previous year. Rick Crawford (coach) and I sat down in early January and figured out how I was going to accomplish this. I am basically doing six weeks of base training at a certain heart rate with different cadence intervals and individual leg intervals. I was doing a one legged interval the other day when a lady pulled up next to me and asked if I was okay since I was only pedaling with one leg. As most cyclists know, anytime a person you don’t know pulls up next to you it’s usually to harass you so this was a nice change. Especially for Tucson.
Anyway, like I said I’m down here in Tucson, which is a winter training destination for many road and mountain cyclists. I’m doing specific workouts so it’s easier for me to train solo but on any given day I’ll see groups of 10-20 fully kitted up guys out there logging in the miles for the upcoming season. There is also the famous “Shoot Out” ride that leaves from the UofA Saturday mornings at 7:30 a.m. Ouch. This is a longer ride that starts out with about 100 people, rolls out pretty easy, heats up after about 30 minutes, and by the end of the 4 hour ride there are usually only about 20 people left.
This is a big week for me and I’m looking to get about 30 hours in. That means I’m dodging Arizona rednecks out on glass filled roads all day. Usually it’s worth it because of the warm weather but this week it’s pretty wet. It makes me wish I were back in Durango doing the Navajo Damn ride and eating RGP wraps.
When I’m not riding or resting, I’m playing golf. Well maybe not playing, but practicing. That’s one of the best parts of my annual winter training trip to Tucson. You see since I don’t have much of an off-season I have to be creative with how I recharge my batteries between seasons. I played a couple days ago with Mike Hildenbrand of Hildenbrand Racing. Mike was instrumental in helping me get back into racing and it’s always great to get to see him. Usually he works me over pretty well but this year the combination of a new driver, a few good days of practice and the fact Mike had been sick and not able to play for a few weeks let me beat him by a couple of strokes. Just wait until I get to take some of the lessons Meg got me for Christmas.
I got to see legendary Tucson resident Jimmy Ricatello today. If you don’t know Jimmy, he’s one of the best US tri-athletes ever. Ricatello is about 5 foot 1, a raging Cajun and starts every sentence with “bitch”. He retired a few years ago and is now a full-time dad. When I saw him he was in a minivan with his two kids in car seats in the back and couldn’t go into the store because apparently he took his keys out of the van’s ignition while it was running The kids were in the back eating Clif bars and Jimmy was still looking as fit as ever. He now runs a coaching business when he’s not being “Mr. Mom.”
I’ve got about a week and half of training left here in Tucson before I do my first race of the year, the Vuelta Sonora Arizona. I haven’t raced on the road in over a year since I was flying all over the world last year to gather UCI points for the Olympic selection. I’m looking forward to rolling through the desert southwest in a big group and crossing the Mexico border on my bike. Until then it’s more long miles with my MiFi and maybe a round of golf or two.I wonder what Gully’s doing right now…..