“I don’t know what I’m writing about but I feel as if it’s been far too long since I hand wrote anything. It’s been 2 years since I stopped attending classes at Fort Lewis College. I recently broke my hand pursuing my dream of being a professional bike racer. I can barely read my chicken skratch anymore unless I write everything in capitals. I speak to people with multiple pensions and a plan to go on holiday every other month. I think to myself, I’ve got debt from doing what I love, debt from attending school and not finishing my degree. I think I can always go back to school but then I hear credits expire and more and more times do I think to myself, “what the hell am i doing with my life in grand old belgium?”’
The love of my life has sacrificed her entire life for me. I’ve thought for a while now, “if you love her than you should put a ring on her,” but as most men think, if you can’t provide for her and you can’t even afford a ring, how could you possibly afford a marriage and the lifestyle that comes with it?
The thoughts of endless acts of gracefulness from my parents drive my stress levels even further. I want to achieve success in cycling far greater than anyone else in the world but I feel as if things have to fall in place in order for that to happen. I think maybe i’ve passed my expiration date? I think I cannot posisbly let all those people in my life and career down. All those peopole that have followed my cycling, been apart of my cycling, helped me get to where I am today. I feel as if this list is always endless.
There will always be great people in this wonderful sport of cycling. There will also always be a lot of people choosing to dope and cheat their way to the top. But the real conclusion I am coming to is that I just need to do the best I can do with what I’ve got and learn to be satisfied with that.
This……”do the best with what I’ve got” just keeps leading into more and more questions and thoughts of why cannot this change or why cannot this fall into place but the brutality of it is sometimes life sucks and its just not going to happen. And it certainly isn’t going to happen without you trying your hardest to go out there and get it.
So whether or not I continue to race my bike for one more week or till the end of the year, or the rest of my life, I have to do so at the best of my ability? This sport is so fucking difficult!
The amount of difference between someone wining a local race in their country or region and someone racing in the world tour can be very big or hardly there at all . It could be 2 watts per kilo@ threshold. or it could be 5-10 years of experience (which in this sport can be huge.) On the other side of things, the difference could be very minuet. The difference could be that the amateur rider has some of the best numbers on paper but can’t put anything together mentally to even achieve a noteworthy result…
Then when you think you’ve got everything figured out, you’ve got your training optimalized, you’ve got you fleet of components operational like the second death star, you’ve got your nutrition and weight at what your happy with, your slammed with the political bullshit that this sport is so full of!
Now i’m rambling on and not going anywhere. take what you want from my rant…..
On a more positive note, I recently had a really cool experience I will cherish for the rest of my life and would like to share it with you. I planned another backpacking/biking trip and with most of these trips, it’s last minute and not planned to the level I wanted it to be but it was still a blast nonetheless.
This time around (last year I did a solo bike tour in the Pyrenees) I was lucky to be accompanied by my friend and teammate, Josh. We had 4 days of riding planned to ride through Belgium, luxembourg, switzerland, and end in Annecy, France. Last minute we had to change this to start in France do to a train strike in Belgium the day we left. We ended up driving across the Belgium/France border to taking a train (waking at 5AM) from Lille and starting our ride from a place called Charleville Meziers Aka the Gateway to the Ardennes.
We loaded our garmins for our first B&B location Toul, France. The garmins displayed 148 km on tap for day 1 and we started riding in overcast quite excited the weatehr would improve each day as we creeped our way south. We rode about 3-4 hours and did not look at our garmins to see how far we had been riding. When we finally thought we were about 1 hr out from our destination we had a look at our gps location. Just as we did, we came road by a sign for Toul, France…..”61 km.”!!! We looked at our garmins to see how far we had ridden and it displayed 120 km. Just our luck, the Garmin had vie us the direct distance to our hotel but we hadn’t looked at how far the routing roads were going to be. When we finally arrived it was 8:30 pm and we had ridden 195 km on day ! We finally got a credit card to work on the machine to check ourselves into the hotel. The man did not understand English and couldn’t figure out to slide the card rather than read a nonexistent chip. Then we went to the only place open in town for pizza as the restaurant downstairs took away the menu as we started to read it. We were exhausted after the 1st day so we went straight back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.
The 2nd day we got on our bikes at a normal time(10AM) not having to take the train. Unfortunately, what was in store for us was about the same distance but a lot of climbing near the end. The climbs were so steep josh nicknamed one of them “col de la steep fuck!”. (a 20% average climb!) after navigating around a 6 mile detour the garmin wanted to take us on an unpaved road, josh kept me entertained by singing and taking a lot of pictures/videos. Eventually we made it to a b&B for the night. We had plenty of time to wash kit and relax for another brutal day to follow.
The 3rd day was the hardest. We could barely sleep in because the rain was peltering down that morning and we knew we were in store for a miserable day on the saddle. We would end up riding about 7 hours, starting in rain, riding into more rain, having to change clothes mid ride because of so much rain and because we were freezing. (We did so inside of a tent in the middle of a town fete that was going on). When we started riding again, we were shivering as if it was the beginning of a ride in the middle of winter. We rode down through Switzerland and we thought we would have some climbs and a lot of flat because we were staying alongside a giant lake. We were wrong. We had climbs and bigger climbs, not flat. Lumpy…… “One of those days” Me and Josh decided we were going to sprint for every town line sprint and in Switzerland, that translates to a very hard day! We arrived at our location for the night with the rain easing up but a lot of dissapointment with our campsite not quite being what it looked like in the pictures. Josh has a really great video of this! (add link)
The 4th and final day on the bike was another difficult one. Mainly because I became so delusional that when I went to take money out of an ATM, I used my American pin with my european card and thought for sure something was wrong with the ATM not me! Using the incorrect pin so many time caused them to put a freeze on my account. So we had a rough morning trying to get enough franks out to pay the hotel. We did eventually start our final stretch of the journey, but only of course after a hardy lunch at McDonald’s. Luckily the ride was quite flat along Lake Geneva and we had one big steep climb and some rollers over to Annecy. Beautiful scenery filled the day as the sun was out in brute force just as we had hoped.
In Annecy we met Stephanie who had come from Paris via train. She had quite the adventure of her own that you will have to look to her blog for. The first day we rented a peddle boat with a little slide. Josh did some flips off it. One day we did Stand Up Paddle boarding. I road the 2nd to last stage of this years Tour de France up the Semnoz. We did a lot of relaxing and laughing and enjoying life in Paradise. 3 days hanging out by the lake of Annecy. Good food and friends after accomplishing such a long journey in the saddle was refreshing and much needed.
col de la steep fuck
nice collage of bikes on some random middle of nowhere spot in france
last days climb over to Annecy from Geneva
The lake of Annecy
NEXT BLOG: The disaster that struck midway on the train ride home leading us to invent our own bike bags!