In looking back on our early season in Europe, it's pretty clear that Mary and I were going at the racing pretty hard. At the time it seemed natural as we were in a phase of bringing our form up to what we hoped would be our first peak level of the season. Year after year, racing has shown to be the most effective way for us to get in the type of intensity that will build better form. So we really had at it choosing to race eight out of nine weekends in a row. We were, of course, looking to have some good results, but on more of a mission to improve and reap the benefits of lots of hard racing with a higher level of fitness later in the season.
Living in Europe in our RV style, it is irresistible to race a lot. If you take advantage of 10 percent of the opportunities to attend races within driving distance in Europe, you would be busy every weekend. Along with the racing, these weekends are often an opportunity pull your RV into the center of a town and stay for a day or three in a cycling festival setting - a great opportunity to check out a place where you would more than likely just drive right on by, often with good potential for local tour guides and an overall positive experience.
It's much more exciting than spending the weekend in a typical campground or along the side-of-the-road-style accommodation. As most seasoned mountain bikers know, going to the (good) races is more than just a chance for competition. It is an opportunity to be involved in a social group who shares your passion, and even though during the race most of your competitors want to rip your legs off, it is typical that after the competition, there are opportunities to meet, talk and run into situations where the bike tribe will have your needs sorted out before you even know what they are.
Having your socks in the same drawer regardless of what country you are parked in definitely helps to keep the mental fatigue and stress low when frequently changing locations. Still, by the end of our trip we were getting a bit strung out on the road. Thoughts of home - quiet, stable, more than one room - unaffected by passing semis and other noises of the road seemed pretty sweet.
On the flight home from Munich, we were giddy about all the things that home had in store and after three months of straight travel we were keen to be there. But upon our arrival, as we stumbled over the yellow and pink mound of demand mail stuffed in a box at the front door, we realized that being happy to be home was going to take some work. Mary and I immediately came to the realization that we really need to go paperless on absolutely everything to maximize our efforts to try and stay on top of things. As nice as it can be to have excess paper for jotting down the odd list or kindling fires, the amount of waste is as unacceptable as owing past due bills is stressful.
Try as we might to take it slow with the transition back, we instantly ran in a thousand directions, calling friends and family, updating and testing bikes with new equipment, sorting papers, gear, equipment and getting into all of our old projects at once. Thankfully one of our most significant tasks in years past - clearing the thick spring briar growth from our local trails - has been eliminated almost entirely by the masters of invention at NoTubes.com. Utilizing Stan's sealant has given us the amazing opportunity to ride right through miles and miles of what was once guaranteed flats. Now we are able to simply beat a path through our trails while riding bikes and keep our sweet narrow singletracks open without even lowering our heart rates.
After a few days we got back into a groove and started to enjoy ourselves a bit, taking advantage of some of the awesome situational possibilities that come with family friends and being at home in general. I made sure to lose some sleep in order to get out on my brother's commercial fluke dragger (fishing boat) for a couple of 5:00 am tows to check out the scene and help him in documenting his first weeks fishing his new (to him) boat. Mary was cherishing having a bit of space to get out and enjoy nature both by lending a hand in the garden and the chance to see the sun set over the water on the nearby beaches. Stuff like this, which can be hard to come by with our normal schedule, is just not to be missed.
More than anything our time at home was a chance to plan the smoothest possible next segment of our race season. Our biggest move with this regard was purchasing a used travel trailer that I am still figuring out how to correctly wire and attach to our van. Considering its stunning 46-foot profile, driving this rig around will certainly make every trip a bit longer and will surely add a bit more stress on occasion (like every time I back the thing up!). However focusing on the ease of pace once she is docked will be more than enough to make up for any minor travel inconveniences. Paying upwards of $400 for our bikes to be thoroughly inspected and clumsily loaded on the plane on top of already high priced airline tickets made it a bit easier to cough up the funds for this purchase. We consider it a long term investment aimed at doing things as close to right as we know how for our stateside travel, We are excited... it almost makes me wonder if my brother's fluke trawler could get our rig over to Europe?
We are looking forward to ramping things up in competition throughout the rest of the summer and fall. Our schedule will have us racing in Colorado for the month of July including the US Marathon Nationals on July 4 and US National Cross Country Championships two weeks later in Granby, Colorado. We are hoping that spending a few weeks acclimating to the thin air will allow us to ride like we would like to by the time that National Championships comes around. In the mean time we are excited to spend some time riding up in the Rocky Mountains.
Check out our twitter site (email@example.com) if you are interested in bridging the gap between our sporadic Cyclingnews updates and keeping up on at least 140 or so words of what is going on almost-daily in our travels.
More from the mountains coming soon,
Mike and Mary