Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hello from Tenerife

Writing this from the first official team camp of the year in Tenerife. Today we did five hours and the legs felt good. Tenerife is a great island. The weather has been good, in the mid 70’s and sunny most of the time. Today we got some rain and a lot of wind. The only drawback of the island is that there are no flat roads so you are either going up or down. Today we climbed 2,500 meters and yesterday 2,000 meters. The day generally starts at 8 with breakfast and then roll out at 10 until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Once we get back I do a little stretching and lunch. Every other day there is a massage and then I try and rest a little bit in my room or if the riding wasn’t too hard then a few of us go out for coffee. The hotel is right on the water and it is really pleasant to sit outside with new teammates and get to know each other a little bit. In the evening pretty much jumps on the Internet. The hotel has spotty wireless service in the lobby. I’ve been trying out Skype for keeping in touch with friends and family and it works fairly well. Liam gets a real kick out of the video conferencing. After Internet its dinner at 8 pm followed by a little more Internet time. I generally make it into bed at 11 or so and I am trying to get better at that since it really should be at 10.

I am now officially in Europe having arrived from New York ten days ago and will be staying here for most of the season. The first week I spent in Menton in the south of France near Nice and the Italian border and did some really nice rides including the last 30 Km of Milan San Remo including the Cipressa and Poggio with Thor Hushovd and Gabriel Rasch from the Cervelo Test Team. In the area there is a good group of riders and just being there for a week I met Philippe Gilbert from Lotto and from Stuart O’Grady of Saxo Bank. Out of five rides in the area I also bumped into Davide Rebeline three times. That guy is fit. I decided to rent an apartment in the area and will be living there for at least a few months. It’s a great area for cycling. There are flat roads along the coast although a little busy and then lots of climbing including the Col de la Madone and the Corniche used in Paris-Nice. One thing I am looking forward to living in this area is that hopefully I will be able to relearn French fairly easily. It’s one of the reasons why I chose this area instead of Spain. When I was living in Chateaubriant in the early nineties I learned a little French but I have lost most of it.

On Sunday morning I will leave the training camp and join Tiiu , Liam and Anna in Italy for the week of Christmas in Tuscany where Tiiu and I got married five years ago. It will be a little cold but the area between Siena and Gaiole in Chianti is just perfect for riding. It will also serve for me to see how I am riding since I know the roads and climbs in the area like the back of my hand and can see what kind of times I am doing in those roads. Tiiu and Liam will head back shortly after New Year and Anna will go back to Slovakia around the 26th which is short but it will be really nice to have Christmas with her. Even though she is 10 years old this will be our first Christmas together since she was a newborn.

Shortly after the New Year the team has a camp in Portugal from the 10th to the 24th of January and I am really looking forward to spending time with my teammates in my country. It should be a good two weeks but difficult. Most riders have told me that the camp is fairly challenging and I am looking forward to that. After the camp there will be a short break and I have some good friends from the US coming for a weeklong visit in Portugal with me at my parents house in Palmela. It will be a fun week for sure. Then the real season starts. My first race is scheduled to be Etoile de Besseges in the south of France the first week of February. Looking forward to that as well.

Many of you have asked and some of you already know but there will be a full announcement as to the team that I will be riding for. Look for an article in the New York Times Style Section in the next 2 Thursday’s or so. Until then I am not officially saying anything. But one thing is for sure, it is going to be an interesting season and I appreciate you all following me on this adventure. Hopefully I will inspire some of you to get out on the bike a little more and figure out a way to balance work, family and cycling in your lives.