…Or not. Of course not, because there’s more to it.
Utah was an up and down race, in both the figurative and literal sense. When racing in and around Salt Lake City, you soon realize that there isn’t much outside of this area for many many miles. Salt Lake City is something of an oasis. One particular stage took us to the southwestern reaches of the city in an area that one could safely assume to be the end of the earth. There is absolutely nothing for miles and miles (and then dozens and hundreds and seemingly thousands of miles more) except for one random teenage boy on the side of the road enthusiastically cheering. No driveway for miles in either direction, no bicycle nor vehicle for him to travel, just a boy. That was frightening. But he seemed content, so whatever.
(Photo poached from the internets at C’news by Jonathan Devich)
Much like a good chunk of the western United States, there are fires raging around SLC. So the dry air, in addition to the already decently high altitude, in addition to the smog and new-to-me Utahn pollens, and especially in addition to the smoke lingering thickly in the air, I was contending with a big breadth of breathing difficulties. This resulted in a many aggressive spurts of coughing, similar to what one might find in a person humming through four packs-a-day for the past three decades. Harsh dude.
Thankfully I made it to the other side, probably at an oxygen detriment, but that’s just fine since from Utah we’re off to Colorado where the altitude is thinner and clearer. One might safely assume that I’m in the clear now that I’m out of smokey and smoggy Utah and into the lush alpine air of Colorado… buuuut someone just showed me a map showing the Utahn wildfire smoke reaching well across into the Centennial State. So I will just follow my own sage advice: breathe deeper and breathe more often. Duh.
Utah wrapped up and with one Monday to burn before flying out that evening, I spent an excellent day cruising the mean streets of Salt Lake City with my best friend from college, Scooter McGavin. I got a haircut in the morning and the day also came complete with comida Mexicana at Lone Star plus a road trip and quick walk-about up to his stomping grounds of Snowbird, it was off to Colorado. Try to keep pace, folks, I know this is a lot.
Colorado is one of my favorite places on the planet. The entire state (ahem, west of Denver) is incredible with some of the world’s most stunning scenery, gracious people, incredible roads, and overall coolness. Teammate/comrade/best friend Timmy Duggan and his lovely wife were hosts for my four days there which included scoping stage four of Colorado. That looks something like this:
I did the previous chunk of that stage from Boulder up Boulder Canyon on an easy day the day before so I’m feeling charged up for stage 6.
It’s hard to put into words just how palpable the enthusiasm is for the entire USA Pro Cycling Challenge and especially how the race builds up to Boulder. With a few of my pro-biking cronies, we did a roller derby style hipster roller race to benefit Boulder Junior Cycling on Wednesday night and then a big’n of a cocktail party, signing session, dinner, and roast at the St. Julien on Thursday before jetting off to Durango where I am now.
So. Many. Kids. It is incredible to see the youth really stepping up in Boulder and riding at such a high level at such a young age. These kids are accomplishing a lot more in the sport at an age before I ever raced my bike! (Ahem, a reminder that hockey took up most of the first two decades of my life.) Yup, the rock and roll derby was for the kids for sure. Kids… so many kids, with many proud parents.
Then an excellent schoozefest 2012 to benefit the stage coming into Boulder, so yeah Boulder is a fun place.
But better yet, I got to stay in Nederland which is up in the hills beyond Boulder so that I could stay focused on the race ahead, dabble in town only when I needed to, scope the requisite course, get the pre-race media day off the to-do list, and overall stay relaxed. It was awesome.
Best yet, it’s worth pointing out that one of the finest bits of racing in America – besides the fans, the language, the simple use of my American dollar bills, not having to deal with a post office, seeing friends and family, racing in the coolest part of the world – is the street food. Hello recovery tacos.
And sriacha peas.