coaching and camps
questions for frankie
I received lots of suggestions about what to write about so I'm going to try to hit a little of everything. Some things like race tactics I just can't touch, there are too many variations.
For starters the small world of professional cycling is not always as cut and dry or traditional as many think. It's not always pasta for dinner, to bed at 10, and sit with your legs up on the wall all day long. It's sometimes Mexican food with margaritas, sleep until noon, and hang out on the beach until the sun goes down.
If you allowed Kevin Livingston, Tyler Hamilton and Christian Vande Velde a choice, they would be part of the noon group. Lance Armstrong and I are more of the early birds. I believe everyone on the team likes Mexican food and for some strange reason, after a block of races, we are drawn toward McDonald's like it's the savior to our season. Most of us never think about eating at McDonald's here in the States, but over there it's a king-size reward for a job well done--or a place to sulk while you think about the bad luck you've been experiencing. It's the freedom to choose and that doesn't happen very often when you are a pro cyclist.
At all the races, the hotels and food have already been predetermined before you arrive. We only have a chef to help with the food at the Tour de France. Some teams carry their own pasta to give to the kitchens at each hotel, mostly the Italians. The race routes are already made up and of course the exact dates of when and where are predetermined. It's one long schedule of names, dates, times, planes, and hotels. Almost everyone has a PalmV, I still use a little black book, and everyone has a computer for the Internet. Everyone has a cell phone, and I'm trying to get one with a modem to make my reports easier and faster. Hint, hint.
On most teams there is little room for finding individual cycling related sponsors. Luckily, I have two great sponsors, Carnac shoes and Oakley glasses, and one donor Serfas saddles. A team lives on the sponsors that it brings in. The more sponsors there are the more money goes to the organization to run the team. That's why a team usually leaves nothing left over. If a team could get tampons, cigarettes, batteries, and washing machines to sponsor them, they would. Actually, 7-Eleven for a couple years had a washing machine company, Wamasch-Hoonved, as a co-sponsor. Whatever pays the bills. And when you are talking about five to eight million dollars you take whatever comes your way.
Our team does allow the freedom to pick your own cycling shoes. This comes out of necessity more than an allowance. It's impossible to find a shoe and/or pedal that work for everyone. It just can't work. Telekom has Adidas as a sponsor. Telekom wants all the riders to look like a team and all ride Adidas shoes. That's why half the riders wear booties to cover up the shoes they are wearing. Adidas doesn't care if the guys on the team wear their shoes or not, they prefer that they get to choose. Adidas knows that if everyone is forced to wear their shoes then the riders will wear booties. And that will then cause questions as to why Adidas doesn't make a good shoe that everyone can use. It's a tricky situation.
As picky as shoes are, so are the socks. Yeah, something as simple as socks carries a lot of weight on the team. You can't do a race with a bad pair of socks. I first noticed the lengthening of socks on Max Sciandri back in the Motorola days. At first I didn't care for it but then DeFeet made up some socks that were the perfect length. Nowadays no one wears socks that come just over the anklebone; everyone has them pulled up, some up to mid-calf. We go through socks faster than anything else. We seem to go through socks the way we go through water bottles. The roads are filthy over there, especially in Spain, so after each race my white socks turn gray. After a week of compressing dirt on dirt into the fabric, it's game over.
Speaking of water bottles, being a pro means you can toss the bottles away every time you take a drink. If you don't want a drink then just toss the bottle anyway. Just don't toss the bottle while the guy who just came up from the cars with 10 bottles in his pockets is still next to you. I guarantee that would be the last bottle ever sipped from. The number of bottles the team goes through would be staggering, I don't know the number but I'll try to find out.
We each get about three Trek's during the season. The first bike is for the start of the season, which lasts up to and through the classics. The second bike is new for the Tour and the third bike is the spare bike in case anything happens. It's a drag if you get your new bike and then you crash or the chain jumps and tears the derailleur-hanger off. It's happened before and then you end up back on your old bike. You can't imagine what this does to your morale.
I change shoes twice in the year. Once before the season starts and one month before the Tour. My Carnacs hold up well compared to other shoes that get stretched out or soft and have to be replaced three or four times in the year. At the start of the year we get one set of riding and one set of casual clothes. It's enough to get us through the year. If you didn't crash you would think you could wear the same jersey the whole year. The sun destroys the jerseys along with washing them every day. It's amazing the color difference between a new jersey and one that has been worn for one month, especially if that month is the Tour de France. If you crash or wreck something we just have to turn in the old stuff to get a replacement. It's like a warranty program where everything is covered, bumper-to-bumper service. The guys that do the Tour usually will get a few extra jerseys and shorts along with a couple of polo shirts for the dinner table. Every race at every dinner we wear our Nike running pants with a Postal shirt. There isn't much variation in the dress theme.
I never drank coffee until two years ago. Benoit Joachim and Cedric Vasseur are the only riders on the team that don't drink coffee--they prefer hot chocolate. It was hard being a non-coffee drinker when each morning everyone would be pounding it like it was liquid gold. What got me hooked was when I went to George Hincapie's house and he had some Peets coffee. Talk about good, it even got George into trouble. He started brewing pots every afternoon for a pick me up. That much caffeine every day can't be good. The next step in the coffee connoisseur project was hanging out with Dylan Casey. He carries his own coffee maker and coffee in his suitcase that he brings to all the races. I'm a little behind his status, as we all are, but some of us now carry our own coffee mugs with us. The ones in the restaurants are like Dixie cups and I don't want to get up to refill my coffee cup three times before I'm done with one piece of toast.
Not all riders have agents. Some pursue the leads and make the phone calls themselves while others hire someone else to do the phone and legwork. It's very personal. It's not like basketball or baseball, or any of the big sports here in America. Salaries are secret and are not published or known by anyone except the rider, his agent, and the boss of the team that signed the contract. Contracts vary from one to three years, the usual being two-year deals. Neo-pros automatically get a two-year deal; this is a UCI rule. The UCI also has points for each race that we do, there is a ranking system that is updated throughout the year. Some riders like it and some don't. Many think the points and rankings are unfair but that's a whole different story of whys.
The training that it takes to get ready for a season of classics and the Tour can be pretty complicated, there is no way to cover it all. There are mainly two periods in the year that contain a serious block of training to get ready for the races. The first block is the wintertime, which consists mostly of base miles. The second block comes during the spring after the classics and a rest. The second phase consists of a mix of endurance rides with a lot of intensity. During the season I have a few days of hard training here and there mixed in between the races but mostly it's rest days. This is especially the case when I'm in Belgium during the classics. It's a lot of sit around and wait and rest. The races are usually so hard all you can do is rest during the days off. I guess that's the good part about having a training block, you can build your fitness instead of tearing yourself down because of fatigue. I have two more weeks left in my training schedule before the races start again. The rest is over and the work now begins. See you at the races.
There once was a time where the bike races that I watched on TV were the ones that I rode in. I'm not talking about watching the Tour de France or Giro; I'm talking about the other big races.
When I was younger every race I rode felt like a big race. The Thrift Drug Classic in Pittsburgh was one of those. It was a local race that had the whole town amazed since we would ride up their famous Mt. Washington climb not just once but 10 or 12 times.
The best part was that no matter where you were on the course you could see the suffering on local TV. This was a big event for the city so the local television station would show the last two hours of the race live.
I loved watching it. No, I didn't go to the race to watch it on television it just ended up that way. The first few times I did this race I used a 39x25 to go up the hill and I never made it past the halfway point.
Sure, I had to do some work sometimes but usually I just didn't have the legs to make it to the finish. I remember our hotel was right on the backstretch of the course. After I was in the umpteenth group, the front doors to the hotel were like a Venus flytrap, and I was the fly. I got sucked right in and I would find myself up in the hotel room watching the end of the race.
When I stopped I felt guilty; I figured that I should be out there groveling and suffering with the rest of the guys. I soon realized that the difference was that they were going for the win whereas I was just trying not to get last.
It's a different perspective watching the race on TV especially since it passed right below my 13th floor window. If my room were any higher I would have seen the riders pass over the top of the climb.
The following year I kind of expected what was going to happen so I prepared for it. Instead of trying to get my room key by walking to the front desk all sweaty and dirty and explaining, "NO, I do not have any personal identification," I carried my room key with me in the race.
When the hotel doors started zapping riders off the course I found it very easy to duck inside and catch all the action on the local cable.
These incidents are not only isolated to the past. In this year's Tour of Flanders, after I ran out of legs, I found myself in a race with myself trying to get back to the hotel to see the finish.
As dead as I was, I still managed to set a fierce tempo to get back before the race was over. I could have gone to the finish, but that really wasn't an option, because then I couldn't watch the end of the race on TV.
I've also seen the end of Paris-Roubaix by watching the giant television that is set up inside the velodrome. I should explain that this was not by choice. I had crashed, flatted or been injured because I will usually go through almost anything to finish Roubaix.
The coolest part is hearing the helicopters approach as you watch the action unfold on the camera screen. I always looked up at the helicopters to try and figure out the exact moment when the first riders would pass by where I had been standing.
Sometimes the roar of the crowd lets you know when and how fast the peloton is approaching. It's absolutely amazing to see the riders explode on to the finishing track and hear the crowd erupt.
As a rider, it's almost worth it to watch the race one time because in the race you don't hear a thing. I guess it's that tunnel vision thing.
On a quieter note is the U.S. Pro Championship. I usually resign myself (yes more than once) to watch the finish in the bar that is located on the first floor of the hotel.
Sometimes there are up to 10 of us from different teams having a beer telling our own stories of what didn't go right that day. And, of course, at the end of the race we each knew exactly what should have been done to win the race as we yell at everyone on the television screen.
As the races get bigger so does the importance of trying to watch the race on TV. The Tour's TT's (time trials) are an organizational stress case for me. I have to figure out when my time trial begins and which teammates are before and after my start time.
I have to figure out how many vehicles are at the race and if there will be enough space in a car for me when I'm done to get back to the hotel quickly.
If the car is full of riders before I finish, then I can take the T.T. a little easier. If there is room in the car then it's anaerobic threshold till I'm in the driver's seat heading back to the hotel.
There is nothing like watching a race after you have already finished. All the stress is off and watching the other guys suffer while you get a massage can be very relaxing--Unless your teammate wins the time trial and you have to defend the jersey the next day. When this happens the rest of my day is ruined because of the anxiety of thinking about the next day's work.
Of course, a few extra glasses of the celebratory champagne that evening will induce a better night's sleep.
The guilt is not the bad part about watching a race that I stopped. The hard part is watching the finish as I get sweaty palms, a beady forehead, and an accelerated heart rate as I sit in a chair.
It's the mental strain of hoping for a certain outcome and thinking about what I would do in a certain moment that makes the races hard to watch.
When I'm doing the race the above symptoms escape me--except the accelerated heart rate. At the start of my career I saw many races on TV. Now I try not to let that happen.
I realize that in a few more years there will be plenty of time for watching races. Hopefully by then it will be easier to watch the races knowing that I'm not part of them.
Until then I'll be doing my best to always be part of the live action.
It was my first Tour and I was hanging on day by day. It wasn't important to the team if I finished the 1992 Tour de France. What was important was that I did my job at the start of each race just like I was told. Finishing may not have been important to them but it was to me.
After two weeks of working, chasing and attacking I was stuck in the middle of nowhere with a small group in the mountains. As I finally approached the top of a 20-kilometer climb Sean Yates, my teammate, rode up next to me and said, "Get on my wheel BOY!" A flash went by, it was Sean starting to rocket down the climb.
I jumped on his wheel and with all my might and will stayed on his wheel until the bottom. I've never gone down a mountain so fast in my life. At the bottom, after six kilometers of chasing, we caught the next group. We were the only ones, along with Fred Moncassin, to make it across. Everyone else was dropped on the descent. Now I had the security knowing that I would make the time cut on the mountain stage.
It was a huge mountain stage but no one really knew what a classic stage it would turn out to be. The attacks started from the gun and after racing over four climbs at way over my threshold I was hanging on for everything I was worth.
It was hot, not steamy hot, but wicked scorching hot where the road melts underneath your tires. I had one last mountain to climb before the final finish climb. I had to stay with the group I was in or I would be eliminated.
There was no second-guessing, that was a fact. I was running out of power and my head felt like it was going to blow up. I called up the team car on a small climb, actually they saw me starting to struggle on the back of the group and came up to provide assistance. Max Testa, our team doctor, took a look at me and knew right away I was overheating.
I was running on all cylinders at my maximum rev limit with no oil. He quickly gave me two aspirins and poured a few bottles of water over my head to cool me off. On the next small bump I started to come off again. I had to stay with the group for the 10 kilometers of valley before the final climb.
Team director Jim Ochowicz came up quickly in the car and without hesitation stuck a Coke out the window. I took a swing, not swig but a long swing. I grabbed on to that can and swung as hard as I could. Not once but three times to stay on the tail end of the group.
By the time I made it to the bottom of the last climb I was better. I rode up the climb no problem to the chants of everyone yelling "Chiappucci." It was the stage where Claudio Chiappucci attacked on the first climb and did more than 200 kilometers by himself and won. It also was the stage where without those three little pushes my whole Tour would have been over.
Editor's note: In 1999, Frankie Andreu finished his eighth consecutive Tour de France, a record for Americans.
After 20 kilometers of raging on the front we came to a large downhill. We were maybe at the halfway point in the one-day classic but the climbs were coming quick and fast.
As we took a few sharp turns the field got strung out even more from our fast pace. Andrea Peron, Bobby Julich and I kept the pressure on; we were giving everything we had. As we came over the top of one of the first rollers Bobby glanced back and saw the field in one line.
He yelled back to Lance Armstrong, "The group is all strung out, it's starting to break."
Lance yelled back, "Great, now lets start dialing it up." I think we all took one more pull and then blew. Lance was crazy strong and finished second that year in Leige-Bastogne-Leige. It was 1996.
Sometimes the younger riders--usually the neo-pros--end up doing the cobbled classics. Some don't know if they like these races or not, most vow never to do them again.
It was Tour of Flanders and the crashes were everywhere as usual. It was a dry day so the speed was always high and there was a constant battle for position that never seemed to end. It was a long stressful day of slamming on the brakes, accelerating, and slamming on the brakes again. Besides, it's one of the hardest W.C. courses to survive much less race.
At the end of the race while we were sitting in the team cars waiting to go home I turned to one of the new guys and asked him what he thought. I knew what I was thinking but this young guy turned and said, " I loved it, this was awesome!"
He loved the fighting for position, the battling, and the quacking of other riders to stay in front. He said the race was like one long field sprint where almost anything goes. It's obvious now that George Hincapie has found his niche in road racing.
Alvaro Meija was the Colombian climbing sensation that Motorola hired to have some extra muscle in the mountains. He was a very quiet rider who let his legs do the talking. He always had his suitcase immaculately organized but there was always something missing.
For instance, on renting a blue Ford rental car he somehow drove away in a green Fiat; it was later listed as stolen by the rental agency. On leaving his apartment in Como, Italy, for three weeks, he forgot to shut all his windows to his apartment. The neighbors noticed his drapes were flying out the window for days straight and the radio was always on. The landlord had to come by to close up shop.
Weeks on end Alvaro would disappear--no one would know where he went. Och couldn't find him, Noel Dejonckheere couldn't find him, and Max Testa couldn't find him. Somehow he would always show up at the right time at the right race and the right hotel. He seemed to always get the job done.
Being a pro is not always hard work. Some of the best have learned how to entertain themselves while waiting around for the next race.
Steve Bauer loved to joke around; he was one rider you always wanted to be at the race with. One, because he had the capabilities to win any race and two because he always made the races fun.
He was known for firing off firecrackers at all times of the day or night. I don't know where he got them but he always had some from small ones to large ones that would blow your ears off.
Steve also taught me the trick for how to drench your opponents while sitting up in your hotel room. The rooms' windows usually look out over the sidewalks below them. Steve would fill the hotel trashcan with water and then wait for some riders, mechanics, or staff to walk by below. Usually the victims were wet before they knew what had happened. It was only a few seconds of action but it provided us with hours of laughter.
Later on when you get some time you might want to check out Axel Merckx's website and the fanatical fan that attacked him with a kiss. Check out www.axelmerckx.com and look at the second photo on his home page.
You can tell that a rabid fan broke through the security and managed to plant a fat wet one an Axel. It looks like he didn't mind either. Oh yeah, by the way, that crazy fan in the photo is my wife.
At Paris-Nice while other fans were getting autographs she decided to one up them and give a kiss. The other females were jealous; hell who knows maybe some guys were also.
There are always lots of stories and the hard part is remembering them all. The hours of laughing sitting around the dinner table start to blur after many years in the sport. Next week the races start up again and that means many fresh and new stories from my small cycling world. If only I was a rider/writer 15 years ago then there would be plenty of stories to last a very, very long time. Next week I'll talk about Houston and Olympic Trials--Monday is little Frankie's birthday, one year old.
05/23/00 Was it a race or a test in arm strength? Whatever it was it ruffled up my charts. I now have a new number one for the bumpiest road race in America that I've raced - Houston. Last week's Houston race handily beat out the old favorite, Trenton, hands down. Literally, Houston had many riders with their hands down. For a flat and round circuit I couldn't believe the number of crashes. In just a three-hour race I saw around fifteen crashes. From guys hitting huge potholes and losing control to guys sliding out around corners. It was a scary race trying to stay out of trouble. I almost crashed after losing my front wheel in huge potholes. A couple times I hit so hard my rear wheel came off the ground by three or four inches and I was almost catapulted over the bars. After that, I resigned myself to the back of the group. Sometimes riding at the back has its advantages. For instance, I was able to avoid the crashes. When the course took a wrong turn, I was able to be one of the first ones to turn around and appear at the front. At the back I also had plenty of opportunities to see and talk with everyone. I even saw a guy who had a reflector on his bike. The bad part about being at the back was that once the race heated up it became hard to move up.
The final circuits were a true criterium course. There were about eight corners in less than two miles. Mercury, Saturn, and Shaklee all exchanged blows trying to set up the lead out train around the twisty circuit. As soon as one team made a mistake or slowed down, another team would take over. The teams changed position three or four times before Mercury put the final hammer down in the last half lap. Lightning Gordon won the sprint putting himself in contention for the quarter of a million bucks after two more wins in San Jose and Boston. Right now this guy seems unstoppable.
The last time this event happened was four years ago. I didn't know what to expect then and I don't know what to expect now. Maybe even more so now because after racing out of the country for awhile you lose track of who the good riders are. More importantly are the new guys - they are the mystery men. Four years ago the Olympic Trials consisted of five races. This format, as stressful as it was, gave everyone time to feel each other out and figure out a game plan. If you had bad luck or bad legs one day you had a chance to shine or do something on one of the other days. This year's Olympic Trial is one race, one day, one course, and one winner take all. This might be considered more stressful but in a different way. I'm not saying one way is better than the other way. Look at the date we have the Olympic Trials. It comes right before the Giro (which possibly two Americans are riding) and during the important races leading up to the Tour de France. There are many Americans that won't have a chance to do the race because of their European commitments. In all likely hood, no matter what date was picked, it can't work for everyone. The cycling season is long and there never is a break that can fit into everyone's schedules. It's a matter of compromise and this year we were in Jackson, Mississippi on May 20th for the 2000 Olympic Trials.
The road to the Olympic Trials was a little bumpier than I expected. I was scheduled for an early Friday morning departure to Jackson, Miss. Thursday night, as I was playing with my son, I overheard the local news saying, "Hundreds stranded at Metro Airport, they can't leave till Saturday." Saturday, what the heck happened to Friday, did it just disappear? I immediately got on the phone and spent the next two hours trying to get a flight to Jackson on time for the race. The bad weather in the Detroit area canceled all planes arriving and leaving. This left no planes or crew, on any airline, to take passengers to any city on Friday. If the flights weren't canceled then they were all double booked with no space. After searching all Thursday night the only flight I could get a reservation on was a Saturday morning flight arriving two hours before the race. I knew this wasn't ideal but I had to take what I could get at that moment. Friday morning I got back on the phone with the airlines and finally found a flight out of Toledo, Ohio that put me into Jackson about eleven at night. If my flight plans were crumpled then Kirk Obee's were flat out torn apart. Kirk, a fellow Michigander, went to the Grand Rapids airport at six on Friday morning for his scheduled flight. It was canceled and his only option was to catch a flight out of Chicago, a three-hour drive, at seven that night. The airline wanted to put him in a taxi straight away that morning but instead of sitting at the airport ten hours Kirk decided to go home first then drive down later to Chicago. Kirk's connection went through Dallas but because of bad weather he missed his connection. After three stressful hours of trying to find another flight to get to Jackson he ended up having to stay the night in Dallas. Saturday morning there were no flights leaving Dallas, the same thing that happened in Detroit had derailed the Dallas airport. Everything was either canceled or double overbooked, Kirk's next flight was back to Michigan. Instead of getting to ride the U.S. Olympic Trials Kirk had to sit in a plane going home while the race was happening. I felt bad for him. Kirk may have not been in the race with us but we jokingly gave him a job to do in Dallas. Standing in line behind Kirk, also trying to make it to Jackson, was Freddy Rodriguez (Mapei). On the phone we told Kirk, "Just make sure you stay in front of Freddy in line, block him out." Freddy also didn't make it to Jackson as I'm sure somewhere some other riders ran into the same fate.
The same weekend of the race was Jackson, Mississippi's "JAMS" festival. This was a downtown drunken spring break music festival. Our hotel was in the middle of it all and on either side of my room were some heavy partygoers. In addition to the late night noise and ruckus the fire alarm went off at 4:30am. Saturday morning when I woke up, every time I went in or out of my room, I slammed my hotel door as loud as I could. There had to be a little payback.
As our one p.m. start approached so did the rain. The first half of the race was wet, the middle was dry, and the last two laps wet again. I could feel the roads were slippery and even though everyone was cautious there were still crashes in the corners. I used a pair of the new carbon Rolf wheels and had to be a little more cautious than I normally would be in the rain. I had on narrower than usual tires and they were bombed to the hilt. At first I was worried about braking in the rain on the carbon but the wheels were fantastic, I loved them. Another factor in the race that caused some headaches were the amount of flats that riders got. I saw a lot of guys changing wheels and chasing back on throughout the whole day. At one point with three laps to go I also flatted. We had Motorola radios but by the end of the race mine had died out. As I was going to the back of the group with my flat I could see Marty on the front chasing down riders and stringing out the group. I couldn't radio him to tell him to slow down so after I motioned to my car about my flat I pointed towards the front of the pack to have them tell Marty to slow down. It's amazing the difference the radios can make in a race.
The race was seventeen laps, 220km, on a relatively flat circuit. What broke the race up at the end was more the distance than the difficulty of the course. Because Kirk couldn't make it to the race we had three riders to do battle with the other teams. Most of the other teams had between five and eight riders with Mercury having the most riders. We had Marty, Dylan, and myself. Our plan was to try and let the race take care of itself the first half and then race the second half of the race. Because of our lack of numbers we had to gamble a bit on all the early moves and let them go. Early on a break of about six went up the road. The most dangerous in that group were Trent Klasna (Saturn) and Eddy Gragus (Shaklee). Mercury also had Roy Knickman in the group but we knew he was not the guy that they were counting on. For most of the race the break had around a three-minute gap while the pack just cruised around. It was a matter of waiting for the end before really testing the legs. With five laps to go Mercury went to the front to bring back the break. At the pace the peloton was going if Mercury had not done what they did the group might have stayed away. The break got caught with about three laps to go and right away the race heated up. There were lots of attacks but because of the flatness of the course it was relatively easy to sit in. I believe with even two laps to go there were still close to seventy guys in the group. Going through the feed zone, there was a small incline here, just before the last lap I attacked to try and minimize the group. At the top of the climb I was with three Saturn riders, they always seemed to be everywhere, and two Mercury guys. I was outnumbered and had to do a bit of extra work to try and keep the group together. Every time a Mercury guy or Saturn rider would move up in the pace line the others would sit up and open a gap. This meant it was up to me to keep closing the gap and try to keep the group together. After only five kilometers off the front another group caught us. This contained more Mercury guys, more Saturn guys including Klasna (I couldn't believe my eyes), Dylan (thank god) and Danny Pate (Saeco). Now it was a sea of green along with a wave of red and yellow. The last part of the race Saturn was the most aggressive, especially the McCormacks, while Antonio Cruz sat in following the wheels. In the last four kilometers everyone took turns attacking. With one kilometer to go there was a Saturn rider just in front of us and Mercury was charging hard towards the finish. I was sitting fourth in line feeling comfortable. With about four hundred meters to go Dylan took a flyer from the back hauling Frank McCormack with him. This totally caught me by surprise and I lost a few lengths at the start of the sprint and by the time I got going again it was too late for the win. Antonio Cruz (Saturn) won the sprint from our group of ten. I knew Cruz was fast and he did a super sprint proving he was one of the freshest at the end. Derek Brouchard Hall was second and I finished third. Not bad considering the numbers we had and I felt like I made a difference in the race. The finish of this race is one of the reasons I love bike racing. There were so many attacks and everyone gave it their best shot trying to get that one automatic spot to the Olympic team. I give my congratulations to Antonio and especially the whole Saturn team for allowing Antonio to ride his own race.
Navigators didn't have much luck in the race. They had no one in the final break but worse off might be why. Todd Littlehales, their sprinter, flatted near the end while it was raining. Naturally, his teammates started to drop back to help him make contact with the front again. When their team car came flying up to change the wheel they couldn't stop on the greasy slick roads. They plowed into the back of Todd at about twenty kms/hr sending Todd flying twenty feet to the pavement. Navigators is an insurance company, maybe they deal in personal injury cases also.
On my flight home I fell asleep in my seat. The guy next to me was sleeping also and he had one of those sleep twitches where you inadvertently jump. When this happened his arm hit the glass of water from his tray right onto my lap. I almost jumped out of my skin when I felt a bucket of water fall on my crotch. I looked like I pissed my pants.
Saturday night after the race I was watching the news and they were showing highlights of the Olympic selection races. They showed the sprint of the woman's race and then zoomed in on the winner, Nicole Freidman, as she rolled around on the ground like a two-year old flopping around like a fish out of water. I understand celebrating but have some decency. There they were announcing the next Olympian and they showed this scene. She looked like an idiot. It was not a very good image to promote our sport, it was embarrassing but I'm sure more so for the other woman.
One last thing and I'm sure there is a good reason for this that I just haven't figured out. There was a guy in our race who wore underwear underneath his cycling shorts. How did I know? Well, besides the panty lines, his underwear was sticking out over the top of his shorts. You could read BVD from five guys back. Maybe I just answered my own question. It's a sponsor? Remember my last article, get the money anyway you can.
Next week is a slow week but the week after is almost too much to handle. I have five races in seven days ultimately ending with the granddaddy of them all-the US PRO Championships.
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