Wednesday, August 21, 2013

USA Pro Challenge Race Experience - Days 1 - 3

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ok. It's been three days since my last post so I have to apologize.

Let me give you some perspective on the life a pro-cyclist. At least from my perspective in regards to traveling and their schedule.

Granted, having been on the road for just three days makes me far from any expert on the matter but I've quickly come to learn that these guys have quite a bit going on every day.

Their lives may seem glamorous. And, to be honest, if you love cycling it is.

But it's also more work than you realize!

My daily schedule has been something like the following: At 5 am get up and get dressed for the day. This includes getting dressed in my bike kit for the day, packing my luggage because we're heading to another hotel at the end of the day's stage, packing up my post-race bag which has my 'street' clothes in it, packing up my team car bag which has my clothes for the day in it such as jackets, arm warmers, etc.

After doing this I head down for breakfast which starts at 6 am. I take my bags with me. My one suitcase gets dropped off at a specific location. It will get picked up by the swaniers and will be in my hotel room at the end of the day.

Breakfast is amazing! It's all healthy food and it is something to die for! We're blessed to have Skratch Labs providing all the meals including breakfast and dinner. I really have to tip my hat to them!

After breakfast I have to be in the team van by 6:45 am. At 6:45 am we depart and head to the start of the race where my clean bike is waiting for me. The swaniers have all the food out and I can pick what I want to put in my jersey pockets and they have bottles ready as well.

At 7 am we're on the road. While on the road the team van is waiting where we can stop at different points for food and drink. We stop anywhere from every one hour to every couple hours. It really depends on what's going on and how everyone is feeling. If it's been an hour and we don't need to stop for food we can pickup bottles while riding by the van without stopping. This is really nice!

So far three of us have been fortunate enough to be able to finish every stage of the race course without getting pulled because of the pros coming through. We typically start about three hours ahead of them. This may seem trivial but it isn't. I'm not used to riding sixty to one-hundred and thirty miles a day, day after day. Then throw into the mix lots of climbing and lots of altitude.

I've been trying to play this trip smart and not exert too much on each day. This is really tough. There are some beautiful roads here that just beg to be ridden hard. But like today, all I kept thinking was that tomorrow is another 105 mile day with some serious climbs. Looking at my file from today I did the 106 mile stage three route in just under five hours. It was awesome! I kept my heart rate in zone one most of the day with just a little zone two. For the last hour my average power was around 210 watts so it wasn't anything crazy. Keep in mind that this is nearly 600 miles this week! Ugh!

So, after we finish our stage for the day we arrive at the team van. At the team van the swaniers have recovery drinks, food, drinks and towels ready for us. I typically down a recovery drink right away after handing off my bike to the mechanics. After my recovery drink I get cleaned up and change into street clothes and take my bag over to the team van. Depending on the day, I then get to enjoy watching the pros finish the race.

Let me just say that it's amazing to watch a race where you know roads because you just rode them. Like today, watching Jens Voigt trying to stay away from the charging peloton I knew the headwinds that he was fighting coming into Steamboat Springs. Yeah it's slightly downhill. But it's no cake-walk. But, my point is that it is awesome being able to watch the pros knowing what they're facing on the road because you just rode it!

After the race it's off in the team van to head over to the hotel for the night. When I get to the hotel a swanier greets us and gives us our room keys and our massage schedule. Sometimes there are only a few minutes until your massage. Take today, for example, I only had 18 minutes to get to my room take a shower and get to my massage. What makes all this possible is the work that everyone behind the scenes does in making sure everything is easy. One example is that my one piece of luggage is awaiting me in my room each night.

After my massage tonight I had twenty minutes where I could write this blog post before dinner at 6:30 pm. Some days, like yesterday, it's during dinner so it's a good thing that dinner runs for a couple hours and you just show up when you can and eat.

Speaking of eating it's 6:27 pm and my stomach is telling me that I rode 106 miles today and it's time to eat.

More later...