South America and California, March 31, 2007
So after my first banana tour experience at the thirteen-day Tour of Cuba I was in a pretty big hole. I had two weeks before my next big race, the Pan Am MTB Championships, and I needed every day to claw my way out of my accumulated sickness and fatigue. It wasn't until I arrived in Villa la Angostura, Argentina that I started to feel somewhat normal. I was ready for another banana tour cluster at this race but what a pleasant surprise it was. It was more like a European ski village crossed with BC mountains and lakes; brand new hotel, excellent food, and a singletrack special of a race course.
Talking about the food - I have never had so much good meat; I had incredible steak, smoked boar, cured deer, horse, salmon, trout, proscuitto, lamb's tongue, stomach......well okay, I don't really recommend stomach. I also had one of the best risotto and wild mushroom dishes and it was only $10-15 to seriously strap on a feedbag with a couple bottles of wine. It was definitely a great place to visit and I would recommend it 100% for a vacation spot in Patagonia.
I wasn't too sure if the I was going to come around but I was sure ready to suffer at race time on my beautiful new Litespeed. The race course was right up my alley, just like a local BC race, and it was definitely some exciting racing. Wells led most of the race but about five of us were only 45 seconds apart; I was at the back of the train most of the time. It was shaping up for a doozy of a finish as I turned it on in the last lap.
Wells, Seamus, and I were within about five to ten seconds, but Wells had a mishap, leaving Seamus and I to sprint it out. I ended up with the win, my first Pan Am Championship, and the boat load of UCI points that goes along with the title.
Another double-down red eye travel day home, a week or so later, and I was back in Redlands at another bike meet with the Symmetrics boys. This year Symmetrics has celebrity bike mechanic Geoff Brown back from Europe, who happens to be the only active mech with 7 Torr Day France victories, so we have a little pressure to keep up his winning ways. Svein took care of business in Cuba and kept it rolling with the prologue victory and a yellow jersey in Redlands. All this really meant is that everyone was going to get a little better workout on day two, Oak Glen.
Luckily we had super domestique Amerigo, a Canadian/Italian friend of the team who travelled down with his own cook stove to make sure we kept our faces filled properly. He also brought down his own special wine that had quite a kick and kept the stories coming out of Brown in the evening "get your load on". We weren't quite able to hold on to the jersey but I think we showed Symmetrics is up for some racing; the team was in on the action every day and ended up third on Team GC which shows the strength of the guys. The North American teams seem to be really well balanced this year, which makes for some great racing; and for me some pretty good workouts. I could never duplicate some of the watts I get from the racing and hopefully it pays off as the NORBA series kicks off this weekend in Phoenix.
Over and out,