It has been some time since I posted last. Just enough time in fact for Sara and I to have completed our move toColorado, having rented a home in Castle Rock, CO. Days after moving the last box from the U-haul truck to the garage, I was back on the road. First, forSilver City,NMto race in the Tour of the Gila. This was followed by speaking inSeattle. As of right now, I am on my final flight home fromItalyhaving just competed in a P1 event inPiacenzaand World Cup #1 inRomewith the US Para-cycling team. Notably, I have spent less than 30% of my nights in our new home or inColoradofor that matter.
In short yes, we have moved toColorado, but as a family we have yet to slow down enough and embrace and integrate into our new surroundings. The time that we have had to be the Kavy’s inColorado, have been thoroughly enjoyed, and the list of things we look forward to doing and visiting are growing daily.
As for training and racing, things are going very well at this point. Despite the chaos that has been selling our home and moving to Colorado, I have managed to put in some real quality training blocks and as of recently, I have backed it up with intense racing.
The Tour of the Gila, earlier this month, marked the longest and physically demanding stage race I have done as a bike racer. I must admit that when my coach initially pitched the idea of racing Gila, I was very skeptical of my ability to compete in such a difficult climbing race and how exactly I would benefit from the race. Thus, it was reluctantly that I agreed to enter. In hindsight though, I am grateful for the stiff shove I was given by my coach because not only did I survive with the 5 of us that raced Gila on behalf of the Para-cycling team, we thrived. On all levels our expectations for racing at Gila quickly transformed from survival to meshing as a cohesive team, exploiting our talents to ultimately contend for the overall and stage victories. In the end, each athlete earned multiple top 10 finishes and as a team we put two riders in the top 15 overall (7th and 12th).
With just enough time at home to wash my clothes and pack the bikes, I was off toItaly. The first weekend of racing inPiacenzaturned out to be a bit of a mixed bag. Despite riding very well in the road race I had an unfortunate encounter with the pavement at a mere 500 meters from the finish. Netting me a trip to the hospital for six stitches in my forehead. The fact that I was back racing my bike the next day after slamming my face into the asphalt at 35mph was hard to put into words, and drove home the importance of helmets. The TT on the second day was a breath of fresh air; after sorting out a timing issue it was confirmed that I had blazed the course for the fastest time of the day with my teammate Jon, in close second which vaulted him into the overall victory for the weekend.
Riding our victory wave the team hit the road south toRomeand the first World Cup race of the year. In particular this weekend of racing would provide a great opportunity to measure ourselves against the top ranked riders in the world, and the racing did not disappoint.
The time trial was the our first race and in particular this was the best opportunity for me to evaluate my current fitness among my competitors. The course was anything but technical being a 4.8-km rectangle circuit located along the Mediterranean coast. What it lacked in technical aspects, however, it made up for by demanding constant focus and constant application of power. Afraid to go out too hard, I found myself down over 8 seconds in the first 2.5 km to the fastest competitors…clearly not the start I was looking for. Upon hearing my split I got my mind out of the way and let me legs do the talking. I jumped on a big gear and once I got it rolling, I refused to let up. Trying to avoid the pain I spent much of the final 4-km of the race counting over and over again to 10 just to escape the mounting acidic burn in my legs. Crossing the finish line I knew that I had little if anything left to give on the bike and regardless of time, knew that I had ridden to the best of my ability on that day. Deep down though, there was a nagging desire that my time would make a statement to my competitors that I was not to be overlooked. The final riders crossed the finish line and then I heard it over the loud speaker: I had ridden the 2nd fastest time of the day. I had bested many of the world’s best time trialers and finished 20 seconds out of first, having given up nearly half of those seconds in the first minutes of the race. To say I was pleased with my result would be an understatement…clocking such a competitive time gave me a huge boost of confidence in all the training and sacrifices my family and I have made over the last few months. It was so refreshing to sit back and reflect on the months of unknowns and difficulties and suddenly feel like the path was clear and making sense.
The following day was the road race. What the TT lacked in technical challenges, the road coarse made up for ten-fold. Located less than 1-km from the Coliseum, the coarse was demanding not only in the bike handling department but thanks to the numerous turns and several notable hills, there was little time for recovery. Within the first 100-meters of the race attacks were flying off the front and our entire field was strung out single file. By the time we had completed one 5-km lap, we were already loosing riders out the back…in fact despite a timely break going up the road, it was largely a race of attrition. Merely a measure of one man’s ability to suffer more than the collective suffering of the peloton. With three laps to go. I went to the front of the race in an attempt to control the attacks, setting a pace that discouraged anyone from attacking. As fate would have it I ended leading nearly all of the remaining 3 laps and as we swooped on the finishing straight I committed every last ounce of energy I had to leading out my teammate Jon. Jon timed his jump perfectly surging to line just in front of me netting us 1st and 2nd in the field sprint and 5th and 6th respectively overall.
All in all, both Jon and I had some disappointment for having not made the break in the road race, but we were both very pleased with how we had ridden in what was one of the most difficult single days of racing either one of us has had. I certainly learned things not only about myself, but also about my competitors, that will make me more effective in my racing. I continue to be amazed at the level of racing my competitors have brought to the Para-cycling world, and I am very grateful to be right in the mix of it all.