Monday, October 29, 2007

João how did this all start

I get asked two questions a lot. The first one is "João how did this whole thing start" and the second usually is "Jesus man how did you get so fat". I'll start with the first one now and leave the second one to another day.

It was May of 2006 and I was doing the Dieci Colli Granfondo in Bologna with the Pinarello team. Somehow I ended up riding with Fausto Pinarello (see picture) and a before I got popped on one of the climbs (getting popped on climbs is a theme in this blog) I was pacing him a bit and he asked me if I had ever raced. I said "yes as a matter of fact I was a pro in a Portuguese team" (I say that a lot but nobody cares). He told me that he could tell that I was an ex-racer and said if I could drop the weight that I would probably be able to get over the hills. Then he dropped me. The Dieci Colli Granfondo is extremely hilly and I remember that when I crossed the line many hours laters I almost started to cry from happiness. Happiness that the darn thing was over.

A few months later I was at the Pinarello Granfondo and during the warm up ride I was riding with Giorgio Andretta and Sandy Nicholls of Gita and Giorgio says to me "Hey you should race again, I am sure if you dropped the weight you could race again." For some reason I went with it and thought "Yeah I can do this again" I mean the heck with the fact that I am a fat pig (being fat is a secondary theme on this blog) and like to put away 5 course meals with one or two bottles of wine a few times per week. But the idea went into my thick head and that's how it started. By end of October I was seeing Max Testa and Nanna Meyer and I've been hungry ever since. Thanks Giorgio, really appreciate this one.

Friday, October 26, 2007

End of the Season

This has been an interesting year. The season really started back in November 1st of 2006 when I decided that I would race this year with the goal of participating in the Portuguese National Time Trial Championships. After 11 years of not racing at the pro level it was an insane goal but it was the kind of goal that I needed to be able to focus on getting back into shape and loose the extra weight I still had. I started by hiring Max Testa and Nanna Meyer at TOSH in Salt Lake City to help me with my training and nutrition. I started 2006 at 190 pounds and by November I was down to 165. 25 pounds is a lot but I was still too heavy for a cyclist. By the time my first race rolled around in February I was down to 160 and by the end of the season I managed to get to 155. Now it's the end of October and training for the new season starts in 2 weeks and I am at 150 pounds. 5 more to go or is it 10 I forget. The goal is to reach team camp at 145 pounds.

When I stopped racing back in 1996 I never tought that I would return to racing at this level. At the time I decided to stop racing and take advantage of a scholarship I had to Fordham and keep the promise that I had made to myself when I was seventeen that if by the age of 21 I wasn't on a major pro team then I would stop racing and go to school. At the time I didn't have much interest in racing for an American pro team nor a Portuguese pro team. My goal and dream was the big leagues. This was the time's of Banesto, Once, Rabobank, Castorama that's where I wanted to be. It wasn't to be. In hindsight it was the best thing that could have happened to me.

Now I have little interest in racing for a big team and am instead intrigued by racing in the US and Portugal. I am happy to have the opportunity to race for Bissell next year. They had an incredible season as Priority Health - Bissell in 2006 and is built around an incredibly talented Time Trialist named Ben-Jacques Maynes. I did the Tour of Virginia with them as a guest rider and did a few other races for Bicycling where they were present. They always seemed like a great group of guys (although I am pretty sure Teddy King yelled at me once for spriting for 30th or something) and like the better teams in the US always seemed nice to everybody in the Peloton. Something that some of the smaller pro teams don't do.

So this is it for my first entry. I'll upload some pictures from the season and look forward to updating this blog on a regular basis as my training and season progresses.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Weekend in Portugal

I went to Portugal to for the inauguration of my godfather's bust. Antonio (Alves) Barbosa competed in four Tour de France's and was 10th in 1956. It was a fun occasion and I was accompanied by one of my closest friends Ricardo Scheidecker as well as future Ceramica Flaminia rider Ricardo Martins and Discovery rider Sergio Paulinho. We got to do some riding together and one of the highlights was a ride with Joaquim Gomes one of Porugal's greatest riders. Always a lot of fun since you hear the stories of the days when he used to race. In this particular trip he told us about a Dauphine Libere of 93 or 94 where he finished 10th. In one particular mountainous and long stage he found himself in the lead group with his faithful domestique of the day Jose Rosa. He told us that he was out of water and asked Rosa to go back to the cars and and get him some. Unfortunately Rosa never came back. About 45 minutes after the stage ends and he is showered, dressed and laying in bed he hears the habitual footsteps of cycling cleats on wooden floors. Clack, clack, clack. The door to his room opens and there is his Rosa coming into the room. Without skipping a beat, he reaches into his rear pocket takes out a full water bottle and says "here's your water" - Loyal to the end laughs Gomes.