A wise man once said, when the mosquitoes come out en masse across New England, it would behoove you to fly back to Europe. That wise man is me and lo and behold, my month-and-a-half Tour of North America wrapped up on June 1 just in time for the first galling bzzzzzz of a mosquito in my ear the very morning I left. Good riddance you evil-doing vehicles of malaria!
Here’s the nutshell visual summary of the TK Tour of the Homeland:
It included an all too typically brief swing through my favorite home state of New Hampshire, then onto Colorado for two weeks of glorious altitude/friends/family/focus/…and just a little bit of Kim and Jake’s Glacier ice cream to maintain sanity and adequate blood sugar before setting off to California and the Tour of aforementioned state. A week of racing, my best Tour of California to date, and two stage wins later I then stuck around NorCal for a few more days since I had the hospitably from amazing friends happily putting me up. How do I know they were happy to host? Because upon arrival, this massive and culinarily eclectic gift basket awaited me, full of both my obvious and more obscure favorites. Sure sure, everyone likes corn salsa plus Quinoa & Black Bean Tortilla Chips, but only a few people know that I like garlic pickles, canned salmon (…don’t hate it until you’ve tried it. You eat canned tuna, right? Wild Alaskan salmon is delish, healthier, more omega-3s, less mercury, and is clearly twice as interesting), and roasted honey sesame almonds among other treats.
As if that basket wasn’t enough — and let’s be honest, it has avocados and organic black beans so it’s clearly plenty — I also had the distinct privilege to dine at The French Laundry. I’ve found it difficult to put this meal to words when describing it ex post facto. So I won’t even bother doing it here now, besides saying it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and simply ethereal.
One week later and a new venue for the USPro championships found me in Chattanooga, TN. I’ve spent more than my share of time in the majority of very cool American cities and towns and am happy to report that I adore Chattanooga. I’ve swung through during a 2006 Priority Health training camp — coincidentally, the same time and place when I started this here website — I loved it then, and the town has only improved the past half dozen years. It’s a very forward thinking city with fiber optic cable intertwined all throughout town, has a collection of superb restaurants and pubs, is environmentally conscious, is drawing some major corporate players to town as exhibited by the new VW plant, plus it has southern manners and charm in spades.
All that plus a beautiful skyline… which would mean even more if you’ve spent time here. And if not, there exist trio of parallel bridges in town and this is the central of the three that is a converted rail bridge-turned-pedestrian and bicycle lane. Then you can see the sharp angles of the aquarium and then the minor league baseball park to the right. I’m sure my views are slightly skewed with the more mild than average temperatures this late spring weekend. If I was suffering through stifling heat, I might have more colorful words to describe ChattanooOOooOOoooga (oh, plus it’s fun to spell). But as is, I loved it.
Oh, plus there was a bike race. Actually four of them! I didn’t bother racing the women’s time trial, nor women’s road race, neither did I participate in the men’s time trial. But the men’s road race throughout downtown Chattanooga, then up and over Lookout Mountain four times made for a nice afternoon of bicycle racing. I won’t delve into race analysis here, mostly cause I don’t want to. I made the front group that was sprinting for the win. At 17 riders, it was bigger than one might have expected. But this being a national championship race on a brand new course, it’s truly anyone’s guess how it will ultimately unfold. If I had to characterize how the race went into a single word, I’d call it selfish. Again, that’s the nature of national championship racing. And my absolute hat’s off to Alex Hagman. Freddie Rodriguez too, since he won the race, but Alex rode an exceptionally un-selfish race and allowed Fred to take advantage of that opportunity. I hope he bought you a bottle of vino. Or Tennessee whiskey or Dr. Pepper or whatever.
A further thank you goes out to all the fans, the chalk-on-road drawers, the bakers, the feed zone personnel, the mechanics, the friends, the staff, and sponsors who made this event a success. I offer you a heartfelt thank you.
A professional cyclist’s life is some nebulous amalgamation of business and pleasure. (Well, that is assuming said cyclist is not so jaded and far removed from reality that (s)he still enjoy riding a bike. I love riding my bike — as I say, when it’s good, it’s great.) So with the Tour of California and nationals done and dusted and therefore the business end of my trip out of the way, it was time to soak up the last few days in Americana. So from Chattanooga, I was off to Boston’s Ride Studio for the Burrito’s Not Bombs — the Tim Johnson Ride on Washington Reunion and (ahem) better yet, the world freakin’ premier of the 200 Not On 100! You know that there is nothing but good things are in store when Ryan Kelly is signing autographs…
…and Allagash tastily supporting the event for our thirsty friends as well as Richard Fries emceeing the event.
And besides ardent procrastination of packing for my mid-season return to Europe, what better way does one wring the full extent of fun out of a trip like this? Naturally, slay the Green Mountains in a mega training day.
This photo below does about one-tenth the justice to the absurd 18% wall we’re climbing in sopping dirt. You’ll find this gem of a road (or slip and slide mud course) around km 80, if you feel like retracing my tracks.
It was right around hour four that we saw a place literally called, “Mom and Pops Maple Sugar Shed”. We first rode by it, but then better judgement set in and we quickly flipped a U-ie. So wonderfully hokey and so maple sugary sweet. One ingredient here folks, maple syrup. Corn Syrup Association of America be damned!
And now that you’re up to speed I’m now terribly jet lagged. I’m sleepy. My head aches a little bit and my feet hurt a little bit more. I’ll therefore leave you with a modeling shot inside the Boloco burrito Airstream. Ted, Tim, and Ryan spewing style.