I realize that the title of this diary entry may seem a bit odd. After all, I am 29-years-old, hardly the age of a neo pro. So, why the title?
I have spent the past four years racing solely in the USA and I have enjoyed and appreciated every minute of that time. I am back to racing on European soil and it has me feeling like a neo pro all over again. I had erased so many things from my memory…the harshness of the European peloton, the ruthlessness of the other riders, and the unforgiving race courses. Let us not forget the constant fighting for position! It has been difficult for our team to be the new kids on the block, but I am not complaining. I love the new challenge and this year has been a humbling experience. Getting your butt kicked can be demoralizing, but it also forces you to push harder and strive for greater achievements.
Things are on track for the team, though we have had our fair share of blunders. Our very first race in Europe took place in Portugal. It was the morning of the first stage and we were all piled in the camper van. It was pouring rain and everyone was feeling a little antsy and anxious. Well, somehow our camper van got stuck in reverse. Yep, reverse. All of the other teams had already left the hotel, so there was no hope of hitching a ride with another team. We had one team car, so that was not going to be much help. We were no longer worried about the actual race, but became more concerned with actually getting to the start! We bribed the hotel shuttle driver to take us to the start. We threw all of our bags and equipment in the shuttle and sped off to the race. We parked the hotel shuttle bus next to the million dollar buses of the pro tour teams and all of us got changed in the van with bikes and wheels leaning against us. Quite the grand entrance to our first European race!
One difficult part of racing in Europe is being away from my family. My wife and son met me in Spain and we enjoyed spending a month in Girona. My son feasted on pastries and cheeses and never wanted to leave! We have been spending a lot of time apart this year, so it was great to have the family together. I even managed to survive my first Trans-Atlantic flight with a toddler!
I am now home in Boulder and I had the honor of traveling to Texas last weekend to attend an event for Ride 2 Recovery. This even is sponsored and supported by our teams sponsor UnitedHealthcare. I’ll be honest and tell you that I was not that familiar with this organization and did not know what to expect. For those of you who don’t know, the Ride 2 Recovery is a mental and physical rehabilitation program for military veterans in the USA. We all know how great the sport of cycling is, but these veterans are using cycling as a way to overcome the many obstacles they face. These recovery challenges are 350-450 miles long. I had the privilege of riding with them on their last day and I was completely blown away by their courage and perseverance. It made me realize that we should not take anything for granted, even a bike ride. I encourage everyone to participate in a Ride 2 Recovery event.
I look forward to returning to Europe in two weeks to continue the racing season! Hopefully we do not have any more car/camper trouble!