The calm after the storm

February 28, 2009

Here we are again. As fast as it seemed to begin, it has now ended. What was a build-up is now a come down. Honestly, the life of a pro bike rider is either full on, or full off. I'm enjoying the splendors of full off right now. Living in San Diego gives this time of year/week/day a whole new meaning. Why shouldn't I enjoy some down time in the sun? And the other question to that is, why are there no seasons in San Diego??

Training camp this year was a fantastic experience. Training is not the most important thing on the agenda for the week. We always put a big emphasis on getting the guys together, meeting everyone, starting the working together, and doing a little something we like to call "bonding." A few examples of this "Camp Bonding" are as follows:

- Bowling - what a stupid game that turned out to be! Watching bored teammates bowl 2-3 balls at the same time only to be nearly getting kicked out is fairly amusing. - Mixing with the locals on evenings out in the most dingy bars the world has seen. - Singing Karaoke in said bar. - Watching some teammates try and pick up said locals in said bar. - Smashing each other out riding in what is considered a strongman/kudos battle. Anyone would have thought we were battling for Tour of California spots or sprinting for cash.

So we are through with training camp, we can tick that box, and camp was a success. Everyone "bonded," everyone trained, and everyone reached their limit in more ways than one.

Onto the circus that is the Tour of California. Really, this race is as big as it gets in the USA. Now it also seems that it's one of the biggest races in the world. Take out the Tour de France, and I think anyone who is in the sport understands how big it really was this year. The crowds were amazing and deafening. Even in the pouring rain of Northern California (sorry Nor Cal people.. I hate the fact that it always rains there!!!) the fans were out in their numbers cheering and chanting.

What people might want to pay a bit more attention to...Yes, you just saw Lance in the first ten riders, and yes, you want to watch him ride away... but please don't forget the other 120 guys you just turned your back on because they are about to run into you. The Lance mania was apparent and I think we are all little tired of it.... enough said.

A quick insight into what it takes to run and organise this race from the team perspective...

Team Ouch/Maxxis had eight riders at the Tour of California, and to give you an idea of what it takes to get these eight on the road every day, here is our staff run down:

Pretty crazy, isn't it? You would think that with so many people helping out things would be easy for them. Well, that is not the case at all. We eight riders are like a pack of high maintenance, 15-year-old girls. Our needs/wants are sometimes beyond the realm of reality. But, the staff plugs away, putting up with our crap, treating us like the superstars that we really are not. So, thank you staff, I wouldn't trade my job with you for a second!

Boredom and access seems to have breeded twitter (rorysutherland1) in pro cycling. People (older generation than I) have made it their own version of facebook. Apparently, facebook is for kids, twitter is for the cool people... BUT by mastering and running both Facebook AND Twitter, I must be supremely important, educated, and informed. Imagine if I could master Myspace at the same time! Yes, these things above are a perfect cure for inquisitive and bored minds. Twitter seems to also be the new vice, much like coffee in the morning, the internet itself, or the endorphins of racing.

Now the Tour of California is done, I really don't know what to do with myself. Where to from here? Obviously nothing is as big as where we have just been. Till 2010 TOC, I guess. Thank you California/USA, it hass been a blast once again!

From the San Diego Tribune Newspaper after the last stage. Couldn't help but laugh at it:

"From a spectator's perspective, I don't get it. You arrive hours early in order to get a spot, stand around and do whatever, and then the pack comes by in what, a minute or two and it's over. plus, the riders don't even acknowledge your existence. How is that fun and 'fantastic'?"

My closing words for the day:

I am a believer (and I think I've always written this in my diaries) of rest. As much as I like cycling, I like shutting it down, letting my body recover (something I don't think enough guys do) and actually enjoy this great life we have. What's the point in working hard for something all your life if your going to turn fifty and say "shit, I forgot to enjoy the ride"?

Rory Sutherland Team Ouch Maxxis

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Follow the adventures of our Australian as he hits out from his Southern California base to the biggest races in the US.

Rory Sutherland is back on the North American circuit and better than ever with UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis . Riding alongside teammates like Chris Baldwin, Karl Menzies and Tim Johnson, Sutherland will work to bring the team to the top of the heap in the Americas.