Lucca-bound after California training camp

Michael Creed gives a big grin one of the teams action photos.

Michael Creed gives a big grin one of the teams action photos. (Image credit: Jonathan Devich/

Seeing how many of you don't know who I am, I feel like I should introduce myself. But after many false starts of writing something, feeling self critical about it and then deleting it, I'll just skip that step. If you want to know who I am, and why Cyclingnews put me up on the site, use Google. It won't come up with much, and that's a pretty accurate answer.

Formalities. I'm very happy with my new team. Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth. We had our team camp last week and it was a blast. The equipment, staff, and race program is top notch.

At camp we stayed at a beach house in Oxnard, California. The weather was great, riding was good, and we spent a lot of time busting each others' chops. The team is made up of old and new school riders, but the common trait for every rider in the team is one of a scrapper.

And if I learned anything in my career (and there is a good case for having not) natural talent and training isn't anything without a fighting spirit. I look forward to getting into racing and seeing how everyone bonds together. If the final night of shenanigans is anything to go by, it'll be a cinch.

I'll spend the next few days in Italy, a last-second trip for getting some riding in and putting things ahead and behind me. The training in Lucca is pretty incredible - I'm sure there is training better someplace else in the world, but I'm not aware of it.

Often when I find a new road or climb I curse myself for spending my ProTour years in Girona, Spain. Girona isn't a bad place at all, but Lucca is light years ahead. With regards to food, airport, weather and training Lucca pretty much has it all.

It's also great to see the new generation of American riders take up camp here. It's bittersweet to see these "kids" come through with so many years and promise ahead of them. It's sweet in the sense that you're aware of the excitement they must be feeling and your nationalistic side wishes that for anyone brave enough to move across the Atlantic and try their hand.

But it's bitter in the sense that it means your own time is running out. With back and hip issues bringing my career to what may be a premature end, I can only look on in envy as these guys climb the UCI rankings and get what they worked so hard for.

My own career has more than enough rocky years, some due to my own youthful ignorance and some I believe were out of my hands (remember "here to stay"?). The issues with my hips were something unexpected and crushing to my performance but I believe I've found some solutions and exercises to keep them at bay for one more year.

I consider this year as possibly my last. If everything goes well with my hips I should be fairly successful and I'll continue. Who knows, maybe I'll even return to Europe if there is a opportunity. But if they persist and my performance continues to not be an accurate reflection of my ability, than it's better to stop.

I love cycling too much to continue to the point where I would be bitter towards the sport. I'd like to stay in it at some level for as long as I can - whether that's as a DS or coach, I don't care.

Well, that's all I've got for now. If by any chance you want more of me you can read or follow me on Twitter @michael_creed

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Follow veteran professional Michael Creed as he embarks on the 2011 season with the US-based Continental squad Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth.

Creed has been a professional since 2000, races on both road and track (where he's a multi-time national champion), and has ridden for teams such as Prime Alliance, US Postal Service, Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, Team TIAA-CREF, Team Slipstream, Rock Racing and Team Type 1.

The 30-year-old American pro has a wealth of experience, a keen sense of humour and will be providing insight into a season in which he hopes to bounce back from a few rocky years in the US peloton.