One month + one training camp into the season and I've already started to make a few deposits in the bad luck piggy. Camp was pretty stellar but it kicked my ass. Day two I came down some kind of stomach virus and could barely eat the rest of the time. First day back on the bike, which was the last day of camp, I dropped myself in a stupid crash. Then the last day of camp my stomach virus turned into a regular old upper respiratory infection. THEN my bag was lost coming home. By my count this means the rest the year should be pretty much problem free.
Otherwise, as I mentioned, camp was awesome. We were in Agoura Hills, just off the course from the final stage of last year's TOC. The weather was consistently warm and sunny, the roads were beautiful, great hotel, etc. Even though this year was more meetings than bike time, it still felt more relaxed and comfortable than last year; probably just because it's year two for me, or perhaps because I spent the whole time sleeping in my room in a hypoglycemic daze.
I'm back in Asheville now for another block of training before racing starts next month. Most of the guys will have raced by then, I think all but two of us, but this ProConti business really complicates race selection. Not only are we ineligible to do races lower than .2 UCI rating, we've also not been around quite long enough to get automatic invites into the races we are eligible for. That, coupled with several races in Europe being cancelled for financial difficulties, has placed race days in high demand.
By the way, time out, the whole criteriums vs. road races in the US "confusion" got blown way out of proportion. The rule is the same as it always has been and is very simple: ProTour and ProConti teams can't do races with a UCI status lower than 1.2 or 2.2. Crits don't count because the UCI doesn't recognize them as "real" races (think post-Tour crits). Of course there is some grey area, like stage races that are comprised primarily of crits like Nature Valley; but for the most part, we're stuck going between UCI events and national crits, and can't do much else on the NRC.
With that in mind it looks like I'll start racing next month with a five-day tour in Brazil, then go to Belgium for a couple weeks. The most notable race there is Driedaagse De Panne, the three-day/four-stage cobbles tune up one week before Flanders. It's a 2.HC race, with lots of big teams, and judging by the looks of horror on my teammates' faces it's a bit of a slobberknocker. You decide:
I'd had more mental investment in camp than I'd realized; I thought it was going to be the season kickoff, and I'd arrive in good race shape then duck off to Europe straight after. But now that things are moved around I'm actually happy to have another month to pile on form and drop off pounds, not to mention get back to full health. Times like these I get inspiration from the dogs in my life: those who draw consistent enjoyment from barking at intruders, sunny spots on the couch, mystery foods falling from the counter, and fun new smells. They can't be bothered by past tribulations or future trials, and don't mind when someone in the house shares some hair dye one cold winter night. Winston: pure, badass, Zen.