Tedivus and Thanksgiving on the 2013 calendar have come and gone. Missing family, friends, turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, more pumpkin pie, more stuffing, more turkey, more friends, and more family — plus football — dealt me a considerable blow. Instead of the standard holiday song and dance, on this year’s Thanksgiving evening I dined on salad (twice) with a small helping of pasta which I actually didn’t eat out of protest. The Pilgrims didn’t eat pasta, so neither will I. Thankfully I could live vicariously through stories and photos from the homeland; plus my a-traditional venue of the Italian Dolomites were stunning. A cold snap and fresh blanket of snow made this New Englander feel right at home 8,000 miles and one Atlantic Ocean away from my actual home.
Converging there in northern Italy from all across the globe, meeting the newbies on the team, exchanging high fives and stories of off-season excellence, dining on salad, and tromping around in the snow were the order of the weekend before we dispersed for a full 48 hours of free time and then reconvened here in Tuscany for team camp numero 1.0 of the year. I do get a kick out of resuming training for the subsequent season a smidgen after winter technically begins and just as temperatures are beginning to itch towards FREEZING. Cycling is a summer sport, right? Geezum crow, thank goodness for warm clothes!
In that sliver of freedom, I went bike riding with a Canadian, a couple of Danes, and new recruit to the team, kiwi George Bennett in my former stomping grounds of Lucca. All great people in a stunning location. Here’s a picture of bicycle practice. Yup, for anyone who thinks that training in Tuscany in December sounds exotic and warm, I recommend spending time with a globe. It’s frigid.
Camp camp camp! The first few days of camp here in Tuscany have been sunny and warm…ish. “Pleasantly brisk” is maybe a better description, but in any event it’s a blast to get back out with the guys. The team arrived over the course of the week and we enjoyed a good split of solid riding with media/video/photo shoots. Here’s a superb example of that: here we are ripping a descent in some zany collaboration of motorpacing-slash-photo-shooting a video out of the back of a car.
We also stopped for a pair of glamor shots at a duo of coffee shops mid-ride. That’s only mildly interesting because those two stops, in the same ride no less, are the first and only times I’ve ever stopped with this team for a coffee mid-ride. Not stopping: pro. Oh, also of note is the brand of coffee that they sold. Scope the napkin dispenser. I like.
And yes, that adorable old woman behind the counter was our barrista. So perfect.
Let’s wrap up with one more pic before I head back for salad… I mean dinner. Chris Milliman, famed creator of the UVEpic, (ver 2.0: another) is a legendary photographer as well as a great friend. He’s from New Hampshire and of all odd places, I first met him on a photo shoot with Cannondale three years ago at a team camp in Sardinia. We share a love of bikes, bikes, bikes, and maple syrup. He snapped this gem — that little beauty safely clenched between my choppers is an absurdly delicious taste of home — a maple sugar candy.