Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Holy cow that was awesome!

Team presentation before the start of stage 1. 

Rolling to the start of stage 1. 

One minute I'm in the middle of a stage race thinking it will never end and now I am back home writing a blog at 4 in the morning as I can't sleep because of being jet lagged. 

Lucky number 66. Was a bit surprised by the shoulder numbers though. I thought that was a USA Cycling nationals thing. 

The An Post Ras race is run like clockwork, as are most top ranked stage races. Everyday was practically the same. Breakfast at 8am, leave for race around 9:30-10am, start at 11am, finish around 2-3pm, massages  and snacks before dinner at 6:30pm, team meeting at 8:30pm, and bed by 10pm. It really makes it go by fast and by the 3rd day it felt like I had just got off my bike and we were racing again. 

Just a nice Ireland village. This was at the bottom of a pretty nice little climb. 

Standing out in front of Ole Glory before the start of the one of the stages. I did sing the national anthem before stage 1 as it just didn't feel right not hearing it. 

I could go on a describe stage by stage, but the time for that has come and gone. I would have loved to do that straight away, but the wifi over there hardly worked. The stages were either hard, or really hard. 

I made a lot of efforts through out the race by trying to be aggressive which is what I set out to do. If I conserved a bit more maybe I could have finished overall a bit better, but then you might miss a very race decisive move. It's all hindsight now, but what I am happy about is I know I gave it my all.

One of the 8 three course dinners we had. Yes there we fancy and delicious, but the 2.5hrs to eat them seemed a little crazy. Especially after a long day of racing. If we could only have got a bit more bread tossed our way. 

Dinners every night were rather similar. Also it was rather similar to Thanksgiving dinner every night. The starter was vegetable soup (no actual vegetables in it), followed by Turkey/Ham with 3 types of potatoes and vegetables, and dessert of apple pie. 

There are some great climbs in the race and awesome roads. But my favorite day was being in the break all day on stage 6. I just really enjoy racing out front. I wish we could have made it stick, but it wasn't meant to be. Ryan however followed it up with a 10th place finish on the day. I did collect 4 KOM's along the way though. Racing off the front through the small villages along the way with all the people and school kids out shouting was pretty awesome.  

Along the west coast of Ireland. Just magnificent. This picture does not even do it justice. Look at the great weather as well. 

Another wonderful surprise was the weather. All we heard about before going was to be be prepared for rain. The team even purchased us new nice rain jackets. Turns out it was rather sunny every day as our super white Canadian teammate applied sunscreen daily and it only rained the 3 days before and the day we left. I think we had a wee bit of luck! 

It took to my last evening in Ireland but I finally was able to get myself some fish and chips. It was from a take away restaurant and we at it on the curb. Served in a bag with salt and vinegar poured over. Man that was good eating. 

Next up is ASCO, which is a huge cancer convention in Chicago where we will be part of the Astellas Oncologys expo booth, and then it is onto another UCI international stage race in Canada, The Tour de Beauce. Super excited for this one. 

Breeze On

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Made it to Ireland. The An Post Ras starts tomorrow. Thought I'd give a quick update before I hit the road and either have no Internet or be to tired to write. 

I flew out Monday afternoon to England to meet up at the Astellas European headquarters. As soon as I got off the flight I met up with teammates and we were swept away to Astellas. Upon arrival. Had to unpack my bike hop on the rollers and do an hour spin in front of all the employees. We also fielded questions about cycling and such. They were quite welcoming and it was awesome being able to meet up with some great folks. They do great work!

The following morning we headed back to the airport as we flew to Ireland. We had a few chill days there which were nice. We did some riding found some nice loops. We also tried to entertain ourselves with the Internet but found that tough as everyone back home was sleeping. 

We also found a great restaurant to eat at. You wouldn't think of going to an Italian joint in Ireland but it was by far the best and only option within walking distance. I had the calzone 3 days in a row. It was that good. Matt and Ryan joined me with that the chose the following days. 

Friday afternoon we got to make a visit to Astellasmheadquarters in Ireland. Again everyone was so great. We took some photos and ate lunch together. Again just a great group of people. 

Today we arrived at our first race hotel. After spending a few hours trying to hook the van up to run the washing machine we are finally relaxing and getting the final prep in. Numbers have been pinned and massages have been had. All that is left is getting some sleep breakfast in the morning and having our final race team meeting. 

Wish me luck. I've been feeling really good lately so I'm hoping for good things. Maybe I can have a wee bit of luck as I am a quarter Irish. 

Breeze on

Having an Irish lunch in the pub that was near the hotel. Nice sandwich and soup for the four days. 

At the beach across the street from our hotel. It is a beautiful place. To bad the weather is less then ideal much of the year. Of course that does not stop the locals from swimming in the cold rain and even colder water. 

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Finished another Joe Martin. Felt pretty good during the race. Almost posted my fastest time in the time trial, but did have my highest average power which is something. It was actually the first time I rode steady the whole time and didn't blow up. Of course that didn't get me much in the way of a awesome result. By the end of it all I ended up 23rd overall. I have a lot of the 20ish overalls lately. I need to get back to top 10's.

The following weekend we were invited to attend another awesome charity event in Memphis, TN. This time we did the Conquer Cancer Ride.

Saturdays festivities included a early morning 22mile police escorted bike ride through Memphis.

This was pretty awesome. There were 6 cops cars zipping around stopping/blocking traffic and leading they way. I guess just like a bike race, but only being able to enjoy it and look around. 

After the ride there was a nice little breakfast waiting.

A group shot after breakfast. Some had already took off.

I was able to bring the family with me to this trip. It was nice to be able to have them as I have been on the road so long this season. I was able to spend all Saturday late morning/afternoon and evening with them. This included going to the mall, swimming in the hotel, Gus's chicken, toy store, drum store, Bass Pro Shop, and ordering in Pizza.

After the mall visit on the way out with chocolate covered strawberries for the girls.

Stopped by Gus's again. Same pic as before. We actually went with only 1 breast this time instead of two. 

Sunday was the competitive ride. It was held on a 3.5mile out and back. Sounds rather boring, but it ended up only being 20laps for the 3hrs. There was a decent turnout and some good riding parters. I ended up winning my 3rd group ride of the year. Now if I could only win a bike race.

Start of the Conquer Cancer competitive ride. 

Just for fun here is a future All Star

Next up is the An Post Ras in Ireland. I leave in less then a week.

Breeze On