Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Midwest, So Far.

I am Mr. Muscle Milk

MY HOSPITAL bill has arrived from my ER visit two weeks ago after the Air Force Classic.  I need to find a printer so I can fill out my USA cycling incident report to make an insurance claim since I am currently uninsured.  My electricity bill is due but I can't get a live representative to tell me my account number to get through the automated system.  I can't seem to shake this sinus infection and cold that my teammates have been passing back and forth the past two weeks.  I'm waking up every morning still sticking to my sheets or my underwear from road rash that just won't scab over or heal enough to make it a night without waking up in pain.  My bike needs a new chain and deraileur hanger and I need to warranty my Garmin computer and my Saris rack.

All the aforementioned is why I just can't seem to keep up with my journaling.  I'm distracted.  All of the day to day things you can normally take care of during a break at work or in the comfort of your home become very difficult and much more stressful while on the road.  I'm not complaining, okay maybe a little.  Eating PB&J sandwiches for lunch everyday and sleeping on a mattress pad that doesn't even fit in the floorspace of the room I'm sharing with teammate Ben Fogle with the coolest cycling couple in the Midwest are unusual comforts that get me through it.  Sure, I love my active-response coil mattress at home and have a multi-cultural palette for the finest foods the world has to offer... but the simple bare-bones lifestyle is a constant reminder that I am allowing myself to do what I love doing.  For everything I can complain about I have multiple things to be thankful for and can brag about.  I'm not sitting behind a desk.  I'm waking up when I want to.  I'm enjoying the finest coffee and beer the midwest has to offer and meeting wonderful people along the way.  

THERE IS so much to write about the Nature Valley Grand Prix but I'm just not in race recap mode right now.  I'll just highlight some of the better moments that are on my mind:
  • Played super domestique and coach for the guys during the race grabbing water bottles from the team car and launching riders into breaks and keeping the boys attentive and at the front as much as possible.  I got a little TV time myself but the immune system wasn't ready for me to go into the red zone.  Most importantly, I survived the week and I think that was a huge success given the circumstances.
  • The east-coast expo van driver David Brinsfield and James Weigand of Diamondback made us feel like pros with mechanic and race support throughout the week.
  • A 10-year old walked up to me at the Minneapolis Criterium and asked where my mustache was.  I'm famous.
  • I sang the National Anthem at the Stillwater Criterium.  I was nervous out of my mind and I'm pretty sure I blacked out because I don't even remember singing and couldn't bring out the operatic voice I've secretly been working on in my bid to become the next American Idol. This was my first time singing in public and it was a huge honor to sing The Star-Spangled Banner at the start of the Woman's Pro race.  I hope I get the opportunity again. 
  • Steve Hed of HED Cycling and his wife hosted an awesome party after the NVGP including some extra curricular paddle board racing against the Optum boys and girls.  I wore a pair of Steve's swim trunks up to my chest ready for any potential boxing match.
  • Banana and Orange fights caused by 'hotel cabin fever'.
  • Toured the HED facility with Paul Ellis and Steve Hed getting some secrets on aerodynamics and seeing how our HED wheels are made.  We tried to work a deal to take the HED bus for the rest of the trip, but it might not have made it out of the parking lot. 
  • Went to a dive bar in Minneapolis that was playing BTBAM when I walked in and shared a pitcher of beer and fries with Zac and our host Louisa.  Metal!
To be 18 and traveling the country!
  • Ate 2500 calorie pecan-caramel sticky buns doused in butter cream before heading to Milwaukee.  Perfectly gross and exactly what I wanted at Isles Buns and Coffee.

Fore more about the race and our stay, the Aussie Sam Sautelle as a great writeup over at Sam's blog.

Passed by a hipster alongside UW campus.
WE LEFT Minneapolis unsure of our plans heading to Milwaukee other than knowing we had to be ready to race for 11 days throughout the city and surrounding area.  We were extremely tired and in desperate need of some R&R if we were going to be able to hit the next series of racing with some form.  Like an angel from the sky the infamous Great Uncle Pappy reached out and offered a host family, his own, in Madison, WI.   There was a bed for all of us and all the food that we could manage to eat cooked and prepared at no effort of our own at Le Chateau De Cross.  Mr. Cross, the Chancellor of UW colleges, kept us entertained with his stories of working in various educational institutes and about his children with Mrs. Cross being the most generous host you'd ever meet.  She was unwilling to let anyone on the team engage in any effort that kept us from relaxing for the next two nights.  She even prepared us to-go bags of monster cookies for the road.  We were spoiled.

I haven't been in Milwaukee long and already feel a strong attraction to this city.  It's probably the hint of beer and cheese in the air from all the brewery's.  But it's most like the small town, big city feel of a vibrant, young area with all the colleges, bars, parks, and coffee shops.  There's a huge music festival taking over the city along with the bike race, Tour of America's Dairyland.  I'm hoping to Catch the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and maybe the Cold War Kids during part of our stay when we aren't racing or touring the brewery's.  It's time to enjoy the road for more than just the racing as I use the next series of racing to hone some racing skills and take advantage of the speed-work the sort of racing 90-minute criteriums offer.  Hoping to come back to my pre-crash form soon to continue the campaign I've began to ride and race my bike as long as I can.

Ride Safe,

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