By Dave Zabriskie, U.S. Postal Service cycling team
The U.S. Postal team’s Dave Zabriskie is in Valencia, Spain, getting ready to ride in thisyear’s edition of the Vuelta a España, the American’s first major tour.The Postal squad will consist of team leader Roberto Heras, fellow Spaniard Jose Luis Rubiera, Americans Antonio Cruz, Christian Vande Velde and Zabriskie, Colombian Victor Hugo Pena, Steffen Kjaergaard of Norway,Canadian Michael Barry and Australian Matt White. Zabriskie will be sendingdiary entries to VeloNews.com throughout the Vuelta, which begins on Saturdaywith a team time trial in Valencia.
Monday, September 2 — So I’m getting ready for the Tour ofSpain. We (CVV, Steffen K., Mike Barry, and Tony C.) will be driving toValencia on September 4th from our apartments in Girona. We have to goa few days early for all of the pre race things, such as medical checksand team presentations.I got food poisoning a few nights ago and it really emptied me out,but I’m feeling much better now. This is going to be my first grand tour,and our team is going to win for Roberto, so I’m sure it will be hard.Johan says the main goal for me is just to get through the race, andit will really help in my development as a rider. I’m not too stressedabout the race right now. But I’m sure I will be as it gets closer. Forthe moment I’m pretty excited and thinking very positively about the race.I’m a little curious as to who is going to be my roommate for the threeweeks. I get along with everyone really well, but some guys won’t sleepwith the A/C on or the window open. I don’t know how they do it!There are all sorts of superstitions and weird ideas on what makes ridersget sick, these are two of the most common. I can’t sleep when it’s thathot at night, so today I’m going out to get a portable fan. I’m hoppingthe noise will also help me sleep. This will probably be the last raceof the season for me, so my apartment is getting all packed up now forthe off-season. Hopefully it will still be here when I get back for thenext season.Later.
Wednesday, September 4 — We left Girona this morning for Valencia.Tony Cruz started out the drive, and we had to leave a bit early becausewe were also dropping his wife off at the airport.It’s normal to drive really fast in Spain and you can trust we weredriving fast. Suddenly a white car drove past us and held up a piece ofpaper. They maneuvered their way in front of us and put a flashing bluelight on their roof. BUSTED!Let’s just say the police were pretty nice, Tony was driving so theticket was all his. I guess he can be thankful that they gave him 30-percentoff for paying the ticket right there with his Visa card. Now we were reallylate for the airport and had to resume the drive at a slightly more rapidrate in order to get to the airport on time. We made it with no problems,other than the ticket that is.I got behind the wheel and Tony fell asleep in the back as we headedfor Valencia. At one of the toll booths I noticed a lot of smoke comingfrom the rear of the car, and what a strange smell! Turns out I hadn’treleased the E brake all the way and I was burning my way through the brakes.I hope the comedy of errors ends soon! Obviously that situation waseasily resolved and I had a few hours to myself on the road while Tonysnoozed in the back seat. I made this drive alone last year when I firstmoved to Girona. I did a little reflecting upon how much things changein just one year. It’s amazing how we go from season to season and theyears and mile fly right by. All reflection instantly ceased when we gotto the hotel, which happens to be right on the beach.This isn’t the sort of place we normally get to stay; this is a hotelfor vacationing. The feeling around the place is pure holiday, definitelynot three weeks of suffering. As everyone gets here it will feel more likea race. Tony and I were the first guys here and I saw the staff tryingto sort out the room list. I offered up some of my 24-year-old wisdom.Let’s just say I put together a few great pairs who will be sure to getalong really well for the next 3+ weeks!