Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Home Sweet Home

Photo, Martin Early
It's been a really long summer. I arrived here in Basque Country (Spain) on March 22nd. After just over 4 months of racing my body has had enough. As I wrote in my previous post, I missed quite a bit of training this winter. I was nervous about even going to Europe in the first place. Knowing I wouldn't be at my full potential going into the hardest races of my life was terrifying. The races went pretty good at first. I was consistently top fifty out of a 150-200 rider field, and had some top 30 and 20s. Learning how to stay far enough to the front in a big field without wasting energy  costed me some good results early on. Once stuff started to click in my head and I figured out how to read this style of racing, my body was running on fumes so to speak. You can get away with racing on little base for a month or so but after things start to fall apart. Once my results went downhill my mental state went too, which further worsened my results. I realized I was just digging myself a hole and the only way I would get out of it was a couple months of base training, so I made the tough decision to change my ticket and come home early. To put it in perspective I was racing at 60% against riders who will be pro next year. Five of the people I regularly raced against now have ProTour contracts and many more have Pro and Pro Continental contracts.
Photo, Martin Early

Riding in the Tour of Navarra, easily the biggest race I have ever done

This was a great trip. I learned a new language, made new friends, and did some amazing mountain rides. I am very much looking forward to going back next year.
My team, Hostal Latorre , was extremely professional. All the riders went to each races together in the Hostal Latorre sprinter van, we always had a follow car, and pretty much everyone was on matching bikes.

The accommodations at the actual Hostal Latorre was wonderful. We had all of our meals cooked for us, as well as room service. The only thing we had to do was train, eat, sleep, and race. Our morning routine was wake up at 8am. Eat breakfast, leave to train at 9am before it gets too hot. Come back and eat lunch at 1:20pm. Nap from 2:30-3:30 or so. Have some free time to catch up on bike maintenance or what have you. Dinner at 8:30pm, read for a while and then go to sleep at 11pm or so. Getting used to eating dinner so late at night was difficult, but since the food was being cooked for me I could not really complain.

I will be releasing a series of reflective posts talking about the various aspects of living and racing in Spain over the next few weeks I just wanted to update everyone on what is going on. I'm not quitting, just taking an early break.