It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, how incredible the winding mountain roads may be, how breathtaking the scenery, or even how wonderful the weather, there’s nothing quite the same as hammering around your favorite training loop back at home. The ride flies by with memories of the hundreds of times you’ve whizzed by the same landmarks, the efforts feeling easier than any other place, and the satisfaction of crushing a record of a climb that much better.
Since arriving home a couple days ago I’ve been very much enjoying the rides from when I grew up, only now I connect 3 or 4 of the loops that I used to do in order to make the distance required for the day. The hills also seem to have flattened in recent years, but I suspect that has more to do with perspective than an actual topographical restructuring.
On top of some good training rides and trying to get things organized to leave again next week, I’ve been squeezing in as much time with friends and family as possible. My busy days are quite the contrast to the ride, eat, sleep, and watch movies pattern that I follow in France, but it’s been great to catch up with everyone, especially some people I haven’t seen in a very long time!
As you may know, my last 2 weeks in France were marked by 2 big races in the mountains of France, but unfortunately my laptop has passed on to a new life, and race reports on my blackberry were not something I liked the idea of. The Rhone Alpes Isere Tour was the first of 2 stage races, this one a 2.2 pro race with the likes of FDJ, Europcar, Bretagne-Schuller, Saur-Sojasun, and a whole slew of other continental teams from France. We were one of the few amateur teams invited and it was quite the experience competing against some very big names in cycling. The second race was the Ronde de l’Isard – one of the most prestigious U23 races in the world.
Rhone Alpes was obviously through the Alpes, and Ronde de l’Isard was through the Pyrenees, so of course both would be ridiculously mountainous. Going into the races my goals were to improve my climbing, as I have very little experience with true mountain stages as we would encounter, and also to help the team where my strengths would let me – namely on the flats and in the wind. We would have strong climbers for both races and if I could help them be well positioned and fresh before letting them take off as we hit the mountains, then I would be quite pleased with my work. In the end they did both go about that way, carrying many bottles, riding in the wind, etc. etc. I also feel my climbing has vastly improved – you can’t do that many hard stages without having some sort of adaptation. Now we’ll see how it pays off for my races to come.
In any case, they were long, hard races where a lot was learned and good times were had. It’s cool to see that for races where I have to hop in a team car and drive a few hours, there are teams who have spent days traveling just to get to this same race. It’s nothing overly special on my race calendar, but a clear high point in the season for many others. It’s when I think about that when I realize how lucky I am to have such amazing quality of racing and opportunity to learn each and every weekend.
Even though I just got home, I’m taking off again early next week. This time I will at least be in the same country though – in Saguenay Quebec for the Nations Cup up there. It should be a great 4 days of racing with a very strong National Team, and I’m confident we can impress a lot of the cycling world!