Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A Britton en España

I may be in the process of enquiring as to whether or not I can change the name of the blog...it has a similar ring to it, No? After a few weeks of nature throwing what seemed to be everything it had at us Mark'O, Kat (MArk'Os better half) and I got outta dodge and came down to beautiful Sunny Girona Spain last Tuesday.
I've heard nothing but great things about this place...Great roads, lots of climbs, friendly people, plenty of fresh markets, delicious cafes and barkies, loads of little hole in the wall restaurants, All in small little package off the beautiful Mediterranean sea.
I can tell you after being here for the past week (though I think I knew after a day) that all the things I had read and heard are completely FALSE. That's right, none of the above even comes close to describing how awesome this place is, especially for a cyclist! Maybe I can appreciate it a little more because of it's relaxed/active nature similar to the west coast, All I can say is that Girona really is all that and a bag of chips. I love it here!
Don't worry Derbyites, I'm comin back...eventually...maybe just not while the city looks like this...
Sometimes you gotta get while the gettin's good!

After the previous weeks adventures around france I was left a little battered when I arrived here, So when I tried to jump head first into the training I was left feeling a little...demoralized, defeated?? Basically I hadn't really recovered from racing in Cholet and the traveling and little stresses afterwards so as soon as I started to TRY and do some efforts my body was very quick to remind me that resting is just as important as training. So 2 days off - which in a city, that's a cool as Girona is not very hard to do. After a couple of days playing tourist/site see'r my battery was recharged and I was good to go.
Taking full advantage of my youthful energy levels I got after it a bit with Mark'O and took in some of the areas most popular routes, it ended up being a great ride...even though my 4hr actually turned into 6 I was pumped to feel normal on the bike again, and really 6 isn't really all that bad when I found out Mark"o had taken a wrong turn at some point of his Garmin led journey and ended up completely lost in the Catalonian countryside when it eventually died! Fret not, 10.5 hrs and what I'm sure was a pricey cab ride later he made it it back! Apparently he took in quite the rain/electrical storm as well...fun times, Mark'O...What did the TSS look like??

The day began to innocently...
I forgot to mention, while I was out and about flogging myself up and down the country roads I ran in to an old buddy from back in the US days, Marc de Maar of UHC - This meeting would serve as a prelude for the night to come... - It was good to catch up with Marc and I appreciated him showing me around some new roads as when headed back towards the Girona. As I had only packed enough food for a 4hr ride and with the ride time stretching over the 6hr mark I'm pretty sure at some point in our journey back I may have been speaking in tongues..Sorry Marc, hunger flats will make you do crazy things! Upon my return to the hostel and eating everything insight I was feeling a little more human and the nice thing about being out on the bike for the better part of 8hrs is that it's almost time for dinner when you get home!
On to the evening, So while MArk'O was somewhere between here and there I was left somewhat on my own for food...which was totally fine, though eating alone in a foreign country/language can prove difficult at times. I decided to take the safe route and go with the best looking visual option, a Burger. I know not the healthiest of choices but it seemed like a great idea at the time. Ordered it to go and while wondering back with my precious cargo I see a tall, lengky, blond guy walk out of the appt door across the road, after both doing a double and then triple take I realize it was none other then Mr. Weight of a nation him self, Ryder Hesjedal. Wow, and I thought Vic had small world syndrome... as I'm continuing to find out Girona has Victoria beat 10 fold! He was just heading over to the pub to celebrate with Dan Martin and a few of the other Garmin crew in town on there recent Vuelta Catalunya win. I was grateful for the invitation and had a good time meeting the crew. All really mellow dudes and it made for a very rad way to end a great week in a new city.

Though I'll be leaving Girona behind on Wednesday  it's not to head back to home base, I'll be staying with my favorite frenchman, Mr. Berthou, for the next 10 days until my next race Circuit de Ardennes.
And so the adventure continues! Starting to feel a little more like my self on AND off the bike and really looking forward to what lays ahead.

Intertubes here are not quite the same as back home so heres a glimpse of the Spanish dream...i'll drop another photo post later this week.
and so it begins

Mark'Os balcony

fresh fish?

Theres even something for you Nic!
Spanish sunset

The canal through the old city
Cathedral by night

Cathedral by day

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Here, There and a few places in between

Thursday Mar 14.  8:45 am, finish breakfast- Complete an order for 5 bags of Hasbeans finest, gonna need a serious supply for this next journey. Spend the rest of the day riding, washing cloths, bike, dishes and then finishing up with a little bit of packing. Where to now? South of the border again, this time for a 1 day race in Cholet France. We set out for the journey Friday morning... The following 5 days have been an absolute blur! Lots of driving, a little sleeping, some hard racing, an 11th hour fedex delivery, 3 countries and a couple of flights later and now I'm writing you from Girona Spain!  

Was stressing out a little bit to much given the reality of the situation but thanks to a digital smack in the back of the head I realized how incredibly fortunate I am to even have this opportunity. Pff, a few extra dollars here and there to make things happen?? In 10 years from now do I really want to look back and say, man I'm really glad I saved that extra $$$ and missed out on what could have been an amazing adventure.... I think not! So, thanks Ricki.

So, obviously pretty stoked to be here in Spain. There's been a lot of hype around this place so I'm really hoping it lives up to it....and honestly I have no doubts it will.
Also looking forward to bumping in to some of the resident Canadians there and finally seeing an old friend that hasn't been around for a while. Sun shine And heat! Ridin in shorts and a jersey seems like a distant memory but I think if the meteorological Merlin is correct we may just see that as a reality. Fingers crossed.

In other news. I'm very proud to announce that the team is off to a unreal start down at the tour of Normandy with Scud winning the prologue and Alex scoring 3rd on the first stage. I guess we know who the A Team is... Haha. Looking forward to seeing what kind of damage the guys can do the rest of the week. Check out he updates here or here.

And now as usual here's an assortment of visual pleasures  showcasing the events of the last week.



A little piece of Heaven in Derby. Good food, great friends.

Hey. What are you lookin at?!

That pizza didn't stand a chance!

Matt was pretty disappointed to find that this egg-mobile wasn't made of chocolate

So...what do you think? Cut here?
Uh, Ya sure...that looks about right

Bikes clean and ready to rip! Thanks Pete!

The highlight of my finish on Sunday, Erics parents dog

Unconditional Love

France from the sky.

if this doesn't make you smile you may not have a soul.

Mondays diner consisted of a liquid diet. Deeeelicious.

thanks FedEx. Better late than never

We're goin to GIRONA!!

Thanks Ricki..

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Decaf Coffee, Hypothermia, Facial hair, Jumping on the ground and Sun.
These are just a few of the words I could use to describe the last week or so of my life. As I continue to be abused by the grips of winter here in Derby all I can do is take in the good days as best I can and forget the bad ones as quickly as possible.
Just for a change lets start this in reverse order of the post title.

The Ugly.
Well this pretty much sums it up...

Post race - Sunday
After a week of really training here in Derby (by far the best days back to back we've had) we packed up the shinny new team Peugeots and head down to take part in a couple races on the weekend. The Roy Thames and Jock Wadley Memorial. This would kind of serve as my first "real" race in the UK as last weeks Eddie Soens doesn't really count (Handicapped and only -80km). So I was excited to get out there and see what the whole scene was like...There are lots of write ups on VeloUK, or our on team site so check them out for the full details. The long short of MY days out there was, Saturday went really well, the team is bonding great and the form seemed to have come out of hibernation for a couple hours, though - this being the Ugly, remember- that was a s good as it got. Going into the final 3 Km Tom punctured when he hit a crater and then that was followed up by me stacking it about a Km later and doing a rather graceful flip into a pile of freshly turned wet earth...some would refer to it as mud. I wouldn't argue. So that was Saturday in a Nut shell. Sunday I've dont a pretty good job of suppressing the memory so of what I can recall, it was probably the coldest racing day I've done, wet snow, rain, wind, -2C a course that never quite. Short story long, I missed the main split, hands froze, rest of body got hypothermia/frost bite, DNF'd and then during the lukewarm shower I don't know what hurt more  the pain of thawing out or the realisation that I've become SOFT!! Apparently growing up in the coldest place on earth is easily forgotten after a few winters spent in California! Damn.

The Bad
Ok, to add insult to injury ( quite literally..) after finishing Saturdays lacklustre showing I put my wet (muddy) shoes on the heater to dry over night...only to wake up to this!

Flat as a pancake.
Yes, my shoes MELTED. I was rather devastated to be honest, these were by far the most comfortable pair of shoes I owned and now they were flatend. More on this to come.... I thought things couldn't get much worse then that BUT then today when I opened up my weekly shippment of beans I was in shock to find that I had ordered a DECAF?!?.NEVER  IN MY LIFE...wtf was I thinking?? Then it donned on me that I had actually made the order before having coffee in the morning...so it would appear that I am now entirely dependant on the stuff, (Yes Andy, I am addicted) and can't even order it properly with out at least a little fix. Ah well, maybe it'll help me cut back...doubtful. Also just to echo previous posts and what I've already mention above. Winter is still here and during winter here it Snows...even in March.
what I woke up to Monday
Alright, enough with the Debby downer talk, I still have my health after all! To be truthful life isn't that bad these days and I cam up with a title that I thought was witty so I had to then come up with words to go along with that, just so happens that it paint a rather dark picture. All is well right now in Derby, more less... I'm feeling more and more like a bike racer again and I think with a little sun shine and warm weather (more on this self fulfilling prophecy in the next post) I'll be back to normal...I hope. After I totally ruined my shoes the kind folks back at GIRO headquarters were kind enough to help me out and are sending my not 1 but 2 replacements!! You guys ROCK! Thank you! The other bag of coffee I order was a new one and extra caffeinated so that's been rather delicious aaand yesterday for a little treat for our mental sanity Tom and I indulged in a couple Ron Burton burgers and a couple cold ones. Doesn't get much better for a Monday.

Burton Burger
Not a whole lot to report these right now. We head dow to France this weekend for the UCI 1.1 race in Cholet, then from there there's a team heading to compete in tour of Normandy. A 7 day race around - you guessed it - Normandy. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't bummed not to be going but I know team going are all firing on all cylinders and with a little luck they will turn some heads and bring home some great results. In the meantime I'll continue to put in the work and hope for a little luck of my own.

Exciting things to come...

Check back soon.


Mmm, All a growing boy needs

These things are still cool, right Thuss?

row, row...

row your boat

Capturing some of the sights in Nottingham, Sammy doing his best Rocky.

Tom doing his best Leonardo Dicaprio

Not sure whats going on here...

Explosions in the Sky

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Home Sweet Home

Wow, After my last post I have some exciting news! In very a few days time Derby will officially become the leader in the "most nights in one bed 2013" and yes I'm aware that in the grand scheme of things this doesn't really make it to the 6 o'clock news but in my world this is quite exciting...or at least something to look forward to, a sense of normality and routine - ahhh, a routine - how I missed thee.

The weekend had some pretty awesome adventures to tell of I suppose, I'll see what I can do to make them sounds as cool (probably more cool) than they actually were! The first of these said adventures was Saturdays main event, The Eddie Soens Memorial handicap road race. Now some of you may ask what is a handicap RR? Well in this case it's more less all levels of racers that start 1 min apart on the same course in ascending level (beginners first - elites last)of ability. So with 3 groups ahead of us and the lap only 1.6 Ml long we hit the gas straight from the gun as to keep the young ones from latching on and essentially winning the race. Here's the catch to these races, as you catch each of the groups ahead of you they don't yield or simply sit on...They full on chop in to the front line and have every bit as much desire to cross that line first as we do...even if some of them don't quite have the bike handling skills for such goals...With over 200 riders of extremely varying ability levels in one big group it made for some stressful moments at times. We had full intentions of controlling the group for a bunch kick as we had 3 solid guys on deck and with such a fast finish that was the safest bet. As the laps ticked down we moved to the front and did what we could to keep our guys out of trouble. At the end of the day Scud kicked in for 2nd behind some guy named Ed Clancy..
For more on the race check out the report from VeloUK here. 
Scud and the spoils

After the race most of the guys hopped in the cars and high tailed it down to france for the GP Lilliers. MarkO and I on the other hand were putting our looks to use with a little PR engagement at one of the local bike shops. It was my first time doing something like that, was fun time for both of us but after  that and in combination with the 5 am wake up I think I was out cold within about 5 mins of leaving the shop. Early morning*(bike racing+PR) = Coma. Thanks to Pete for driving us to and from as I would have probably passed out, crashed and died had I been behind the wheel... inconvenient.

kind of a big deal
So while the other fellas were down getting the job done in France and MarkO not being one to miss out on some suffering planned out a nice little loop to make up for our missed day of racing...I think in retrospect I would have rather done the race...Thanks Marko. Ah, it was all good, and I should have know what I was in for when he said it'll be nice to get in and be able to go straight into having dinner -Hmm, I usually have dinner around 6:30 - it was 10:30... So 6+ hrs later I was having the first of a couple dinners. All and all it was an awesome ride and we did manage to find some beautiful roads, some of the nicest I've ridden since arriving here. Thanks Marko.

After a weekend filled with that MUCH excitement we felt today would only be fair to treat as a rec. ride and take in the some of the simple things in life, ie enjoying a coffee on the patio in the sun with you bro's.
Life is good in Derby these days.

More on the life and times of Derby dwelling..
After about 180 KM and a 5 hr drie we were left a little peckish - Pizza anyone?

I think even David Blaine would be impress at how fast that disappeared...I am on a diet now.

This never gets old

Nottingham - the home of Raleigh bikes AND this guy...After a few pointers from the boys he was ready for the shot...

Hold still Sammy

Is it is it Nuclear or Nucular

Some delicious and Nutritious ride food. Thanks to Ricki and Allen Lim

Lazy OR Planning ahead??
Typical dinners scene, Mexcian shredded chicken, some bubbly water, Roast Squash, Tom  cutting his toe nails, Green salad...the usual.

Until next time.
Thanks for reading.