Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I've been wanting to write lately, but was unsure of a good subject. I just kept coming up with half-thoughts, ideas that didn't really lead anywhere. Then it occurred to me that, together, they could make a complete story. Or it could just be a series of disjointed, half-finished thoughts. Let's give it a shot, though, and see what happens.

When asked about my history with bikes, my story invariably includes the phrase, "I grew up on bikes." I phrase it that way intentionally. Bicycles have played a part in every phase of my life, from training wheels to race bikes.

My mom recently decided that it was finally time to redecorate my room at home. In doing so, she entered memory lane, stumbling upon all of my old school stuff. I had notes and schoolwork in my closet ranging from middle school through college. I'm a dork, what can I say? You never know when you might need to look up your end-of-semester poetry assignment from Mrs. Jones' class in 7th grade. Or, perhaps, an essay you wrote about bikes when you were 16 years old.

I'm sure my mother was crying as she read this essay, because let's face it, she's going through all of my old stuff. She's going to be crying. (Love ya, Mom!)

I won't bore you with the full thing, but here are a few excerpts that really stood out to me. For context, I was writing about when I first learned to wheelie on my BMX.

On my bike, hours at a time, I strove to keep the front wheel off the ground a little longer than the last time. It was during this time that I discovered that merely sitting on the seat and pedaling was a great way to reflect upon, or even escape, the world in which we live. If I am angry, I can vent all that energy by riding as hard as I can until my lungs scream for oxygen  my muscles on the verge of collapsing. Even when I am calm, riding is an exhilarating experience, transporting me out of reality and into my own little world.

I try to ride every day, just to clear my head of the chaos around me. I have learned many more tricks, donated more than a little flesh to the pavement learning them, and still live to ride. 

I do not know why it is that I am so addicted--maybe I am just meant to ride bikes.  I also don't know why riding clears my head so well--maybe it's a s simple as the pedaling motion is also turning the gears in my head. Either way, bicycling has become my refuge from the pandemonium of life and an unrivaled form of expression.

Reading that now, it makes so much more sense to me now that I fully understand what it means to be an introvert. (Side note, if you really want to know more about me, read that post. That's me exactly.) I still love to go on long solo rides, and now I know why.

When I was just a local mountain-bike racer in high school, there was a  race not too far from where I lived. It was a relatively unpopular trail, though, so it didn't get the greatest turnout of the series. In the Sport 15-16 category, especially, there was a poor turnout: 1. Me.

To make the start waves more efficient, they simply put me in with the next group. I thrive off competition, and the promoters had just given me plenty. Nevermind that it was over a dozen full-grown middle-aged men, I wanted to beat them. I don't think I beat them all, but I sure as heck got the holeshot.

This wouldn't be the last time in my racing career that I tried to "punch above my weight."

In 2010, I spent the summer as bike racer. I had worked at an internship the previous two summers and wanted to spend my last in college enjoying it.

I put several thousand miles on my truck that summer driving back and forth across the country. One trip in particular was special, though, in that Shane came along for the ride. It would be his first real trip to a bike race outside of Texas, a fact that I never realized until he pointed it out to me recently at the Cascade Classic.

The race was the Tour of Lawrence. We opted to skip the street sprints on Friday night, choosing instead to save our legs for the more important races and save money on a hotel by paying our Grandmother a visit in Oklahoma. The next day we finished the drive to Kansas just a couple of hours before the race, which didn't go great for either of us. It was a technical, difficult, and wet circuit and we just didn't have a great race.

That evening, we rented a hotel room with two full-size beds. I used my AAA membership to get the room rate down to $40 for the night, so it was a really nice place. After we unloaded the bikes and gear into the room, we went around the corner to Dominos--we had a coupon. While Dominos was making the pizzas, we walked next door to the gas station and bought two half-gallons of milk.

We spent the evening on our beds watching some movie (for some reason one of the Bourne movies comes to mind) with our two medium Dominos pizzas and our milk.

Checkout was late morning. We consolidated the leftover pizza into one box and loaded up the truck. It was still 6 hours before we would race, so the brothers Haga went to watch Toy Story 3 in 3D. Yeah, I teared up when Andy gave the toys away, what are you gonna do about it?

Anyways, the movie ended and we returned to the truck with our eyes barely open because the sun was so intense. It was a hot and muggy day, and my truck was filled with still-damp race clothes from the day before and a box of pizza. You can guess how that smelled.

The crit that evening went slightly better. My last-lap flyer failed, but Shane pulled off a decent sprint and won his half of the gas money and hotel room. It had started raining hard half-way through the race, and 2 minutes after the finish, the course was flash-flooding.

When I signed with Kelly Benefit Strategies in 2011, I immediately knew that I would never leave the team voluntarily until I was in a position to make the big jump. The level of support that I received was obviously unparalleled on the domestic circuit, so there was no good reason to want to be anywhere else.

The support paid off, too, especially this year. People noticed. I did a good job of compartmentalizing everything that was going on this season. Focus on the races when I'm racing, and deal with negotiations in between. I had a great group of people to talk to while all this was happening: friends, family, team staff, and my teammates.

Two days after the ink was dry, Marcel Kittel won the first stage of the Tour de France. My mind exploded a little bit, for sure. My new team held the yellow jersey of all yellow jerseys, and I could say nothing.

Finally, after sitting on the news for so long that my butt was sore, the announcement came just days before my 25th birthday that I will be performing on cycling's biggest stage for the next 2 years with one of the most dominant teams on the circuit.

To answer your question: surreal. It feels surreal, the knowledge that all of my experiences have led me to this point.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Worn out.

Today marks the 8th day that I have not gone for a bike ride. Why, you might wonder? Well, since base training commenced last Thanksgiving, these ol' legs have accumulated 10,000 miles. So, yeah, I needed some time off. Truly, I needed it after Tour of California, but I just had to push through the best I could and help the team.

After returning from Portugal, I had a bit of time to adjust to the altitude and sharpen up for Redlands. It went pretty well, I must admit. I got my first win of the year in the opening time trial, and held on to yellow until the last 15 minutes of the Sunset Loop Road race. Mancebo just proved to be too much to handle that day.

As disappointed as I was to lose the race, we did pretty well to snag 2nd and 3rd overall (Zirbel) without even fielding a full squad at the race. We would be prepared for the next race.

That race was the Joe Martin Stage Race. Going into it, we knew that we could win the whole thing. And I intended to do just that--my parents would be there to watch me race on the road for the first time in years. My legs were great, but I still made a couple of tactical mistakes--including one whopper in the second road race--and had to be bailed out by my team. They delivered, so I had to, too. Once again I went into the final stage with a mere 5 second lead on Mancebo, but this time we had him under wraps. The guys buried themselves to keep the pace high the whole day and mow down every attack except for Mancebo; he was my sole focus the whole day. In the end, I won my first NRC stage race (crossing off one of my 3 season goals) in front of my parents. For the full significance of this win, you've got to read my Dad's blog about the race:

Eric and Meatball enduring another Kenda team attack after riding on the front on gross day

Hiding in my team bubble in the crit

Mancebo had a very short leash indeed
That afternoon we began the first leg of our trip over to Silver City for the Tour of the Gila. With the form I had, I had thoughts about winning. As it turned out, the environment had other plans. On the first stage, I was across the mesa on the Mogollon climb without ever really suffering. Two seconds later I was completely blown without warning. I couldn't breathe at all. Stage 2 was never terribly difficult, but in the time trial I was great for first 15 minutes and then completely fell apart again. My nose was running constantly, and other racers were having similar problems. In the crit, the most I helped the team all day was moving over to let Eric take Cando's wheel for the sprint. I started the Gila Monster but was immediately in the hurt box, unable to breathe again. For the second year in a row, I DNF'ed, pulling out in the first feed zone. I knew I had stellar form, that I wasn't overcooked from the race season. I had to keep reminding myself that something external to me was the cause, and to brush it off--next on the calendar was the Tour of California.

Across the mesa on Mogollon at the front, completely comfortable. Surprise collapse imminent.

Even with a bad second half, I managed 11th in the TT on my sweet new bike
Half an hour before the Tour of California started, we were still debating whether I should go for the KOM jersey or GC. That decision wasn't made until I missed the break just a few miles in. Welp, that's settled, then! As it turned out, I surpassed even our optimistic expectations and finished the race in 10th overall. A learning experience, for sure. Even with an okay time trial, I could have finished in 5th or 6th if I hadn't made some mistakes on the wind-blown stage 5 in which the race exploded. We also missed an opportunity for a stage win due to miscommunication between me and Cando on stage 1. Such an amazing race, though, and I think I'll be hearing about my finish on stage 2 for quite a while. Also, climbing with the lead group through the thousands of spectators on Mount Diablo was one of the coolest experiences ever.

Finishing 6th in the sweltering 112 degrees of Palm Springs on stage 2
I even got a bit crazy in the TT and changed to my road bike for the finish climb
Next after TOC was USPRO Nationals. My legs felt good going into the time trial (another of my season goals) and I had a really good ride but ended up just 5 seconds from the podium. Big Z crushed it to avenge his suffering in California's heat. I can't wait to see him in his stars-and-bars skinsuit on his custom painted bike! In the road race, I saw just how overcooked I was from such an exciting spring so far. I had to shift focus mid-race and work for Cando, as it was obvious I would not make the front group the final time up the climb. In the end, our chase group was unable to rejoin the leaders and we just rode it in to the finish.

Somehow the photogs always catch me when I lift my head to take a peek up the road
From Tallahassee, we moved on to Baltimore for a week of rest (for me) before undertaking the iconic Philly Cycling Classic. I was disappointed to need rest so badly, as the riding in the Northeast is phenomenal.

Doing well at Philly is entirely about being in position for the climb up Manayunk Wall each lap. The first few laps I was about 40 riders back every time, but made the front group each time up to make sure we had representation there. Zirbel, Zwiz, Marsh, and Friedman were on full attack mode, riding in every break of the day up the road. Ken was helping me, Cando, and Jesse with positioning in the runup to the wall. Being unfamiliar with the course, though, it took me a few laps to get a handle on how the fight for position goes, and I kept getting pinched off the train and pushed back before the bottleneck at the bottom. The penultimate time up, I was already pretty smoked and knew I was not the guy for the final sprint up. So I jumped into leadout mode for Jesse and Cando, taking the front with about 3-4km to go. Jesse had a great sprint up, managing second on the day and Big Z was rewarded with his efforts off the front all day with the sprint jersey. With my leadout completed, I rode wheelies up the wall to the finish. Let me tell you, drunken fans love wheelies!
At the base of the wall, the field's been whittled down quite a bit in the 120 mile race
Come on ride that train!
 After Philly, I immediately went into recover mode again, as I still had one more race between me and summer break--arguably the most important race on our calendar because it's in our sponsors' hometown, the Nature Valley Grand Prix. We took a hit squad to the race with the sole purpose of winning the GC. Even despite my fading legs, I managed 7th in the TT and we stacked the GC with the whole team in the top 12. I had fun in the St. Paul crit because I actually raced it! I've always loved crits, but fighting for position all the time without ever racing is miserable. In Canon Falls, we unleashed the fury on Jelly Belly and Friedman took yellow with Zwiz and Jesse right up there in mix as well. The crit in uptown the next night was awesome because we just rode the front the whole time. We were going hard the whole night, but I could manage it because it was at or below threshold, and I never had to make any hard accelerations. In the Menomonie road race, I got to ride the front all day along with Zirbel and Creed. I had to sag all of the climbs, but then immediately went back up to the front for some more tempo work to keep the field together for Friedman. On the final stage in Stillwater, I managed to ride the front for about half of the race before my legs finally gave out and I got to watch Friedman win from the sidelines. Of course, I had to ride a few wheelies up the wall before pulling out. I made it to summer break!
Eddy Merckx TT in the pouring rain
Crits are so much easier when you control the front

A long day of tempo
So like I said, it's been 8 days since I last rode a bike, and I'm gonna take at least one more day off. Do I really need that much rest? Well, let me tell ya...

I had the opportunity, between Philly and Nature Valley, to do some physiological testing at UC Denver with the esteemed Dr. Inigo San Millan, and we got some really interesting data. At lower and middle intensities, we learned that I do a very good job of burning fat for fuel. Once the power was cranked up, though, I fell apart pretty quickly. The most telling bit was that when I finally cracked (much earlier than I should have, mind you), the concentration of lactic acid in my muscles was actually very low. That means that my muscles literally had a lower threshold for pain before shutting down. All this data was confirmed with my power data in races--I was completely fine at lower and middle intensities, but (no joke) I was missing 10% of my usual power on the climbs. Yeah, I needed rest.

Oh, and for the record, I do not like the breathing apparatus on the testing machine. It was my first time testing with one, and I was not prepared. There's no resistance on the intake side of the mask, but there is a bit of backpressure when you exhale. That bit of pressure made my mind think that there was a hand on my face and I wouldn't be able to inhale again. So for the first ten minutes, my mind was doing this:

<Inhale> This mask isn't too bad, but it's not very comfortable.
<Exhale> There's something covering my mouth, I'm gonna die!
<Inhale> Phew, I can breathe, I guess I'll be okay.
<Exhale> There's something covering my mouth, I'm gonna die!

In my time off, I've enjoyed doing anything and everything that doesn't involve bikes. I've also had time to digest all the excitement that this spring has brought with it--multiple cyclingnews and velonews articles, and most recently I was featured in ROAD magazine (buy a copy!).  The attention did not stop there, and big news is in the works in the near future, I'm pleased to say.

With that, you can consider yourself up to date on my activities! Now then, time to tune up my mountain bike so it will be ready when I am...there is plenty of racing still to come, and it's about time to get back to work.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Well, I'm back in Colorado after a successful trip to Portugal! I'm just gonna give you snippets of observations and experiences from the trip, and many photos. Enjoy!

I had a blast racing over there and the country was great. The food was delicious, and every town we stopped in (or bounced through on cobbled streets) was beautiful, and the general public loves to watch bike racing.

The language was hard to understand--written Portuguese looks fairly similar to Spanish, so I was able to discern many of the words. Spoken, though, the language sounds like a German or Dutch imitating Spanish. More than a few times, the language barrier had us scrambling to communicate, and we found ourselves speaking broken Spanish in the hopes that maybe it would work. It didn't.

Trans-Atlantic flights are long, but they go a lot faster when your personal TV works. The Life of Pi was a great movie.

We didn't get to do a ton of touristy stuff, but a few of our easy rides found us duck-walking through castles in our bike shoes. Castles are awesome! The castle at Marvao (the location of the stage 1 finish) was built in the 9th century.

Some of these photos were stolen from Tom and Jesse.
Cobbled streets led us to the castle along the route of our first race

We had some fun with the iPhone 5's panorama feature
The basilicas in Fatima had many skanks and no trumpets!
A cool road...we're looking at the Marvao castle in the distance
Cool castle is cool. 
Coolest ride I've ever done
We were definitely waterlogged that day
So devastated. 
Just another day at the office.
Here are the race summaries I posted on facebook, along with the videos of each stage.  For some more photos, check out the cyclingnews article about the trip.
Today was our first race here in Portugal, my first in Europe. As I understand it, the race was part of Portugal's national race calendar, but not a UCI race. 171km with 3 categorized climbs towards the end. The racing was awesome. Very aggressive, constant attacking for almost the whole day. I was in several moves, including one big one that stayed away for a while. Then Salas got away on the first climb in a small group and didn't come back until after the second climb. We prerode the finishing circuit yesterday, so we knew the climb and the run-in to the finish well. The last time up the climb, just 6km from the finish, I gave it a go but could not get clear, so we reverted to our field sprint plan. It was crazy and chaotic, and our train got broken up. With just two turns to go, gaps were opening and a few riders were slipping away. I saw Ken was about to jump to close the gap, so I took a run up his inside with 2 turns to go and he slid in behind me. With him on my wheel, I jumped into the u-turn with 700m to go and sprinted out of the turn, getting him to the small group ahead of us with about 400m to go. He moved over behind them as I dropped anchor, then dusted them in the sprint for the win. When I say dusted, I mean they posted the results with a time gap between him and 2nd place. In summary, Portugal is awesome, and bike racing is quite fun.
My legs were great today. Going into the cat 3 climb at 150k in, Jesse and i got caught up in a stupid crash caused by others. I got going again faster than him, and was able to make it back to the group. Then I wasted a little bit of energy following moves up the climb. Hit the final climb in good position, had really snappy legs and was on anything that moved. One guy slipped away while I was boxed in, and the group spent a lot of time looking at each other. With a bit more than a k to go, I attacked and was clawed back. I recovered a little, and with 500m to go hit it again, getting clear. I blasted past the last two from the all-day break and closed the leader to 15m in the final switchback as the road leveled off with 150m to go. I didn't have the snap to kick again, and was passed in the final meters by 2 guys. Had I waited just a little longer to attack, that race would've been mine. Live to fight another day....

Getting closer.... Crosswinds today made for an active and feisty field, with lots of groups coming and going. At 85k in, I managed to slip into a 10-man break. The winds gave us the advantage as the field splintered behind us. We worked well together until guys started to fade. With 10k to go, we still had over a minute lead. Inside 2k, I followed the first attack, then countered in the gutter going into a roundabout, which opened gaps like I hoped. Only 1 guy followed, and it turned out to be the one guy I knew I couldn't outsprint, Stuyven from bontrager. We were committed, though, and he out kicked me in the finale. I've moved into 2nd in GC, and the real fun starts as the weather turns for the worst. Yeehaw!

Today's stage was exciting and boring at the same time. 20 minutes before the start, we were huddled in the van as waves of pea-sized hail rained down. Then the sun came out, although we were rained on a few times during the race. Being 2nd on GC (and wearing the points jersey) meant I was to stay protected in the field all day. There were several very fast sections with mild crosswinds, so the 11-tooth got a lot of time today. The break didn't get away until 120k in, and we slowed to a crawl for half an hour. The guys kept me out of the wind, though, and I averaged 134bpm for the whole day. The last 20k were downhill with a tailwind, so you can imagine how much fun I was having while fighting to stay at the front at 70kph. Our leadout train assembled, but was swarmed with 3k to go and then it became a fight for survival as the road plunged on a technical descent into town. Ken freelanced it, taking the win like a boss and I came in 20th or so after closing gaps the last 2k to get same time on the stage.

50 deg and raining hard at the start of today's stage. We embro'd up and rolled out for a thorough soaking. It dumped rain on us for 60k, and nothing interesting happened until we reached a town with a raised railroad crossing at a very oblique angle. Guys went down everywhere, and I managed to slow significantly and alter my approach, but still ended up on the ground. Not sure what happened, maybe somebody's bike hit my wheel. No big deal, jumped up and rejoined the field. Mild winds excited the field as we changed directions frequently along the coast, but we stayed together. Then after the final sprint of the day, Zirbel and Zwiz attacked together on a tailwind false flat climb and the Portuguese teams whose race-losing tactics have baffled us since our arrival let them go. just let two big TT guys roll away with 15k downhill to the finish.... Spoiler : they would never come back. At the top, the field started gearing up for the sprint and we took control of the front to stay out of trouble. Thankfully the roads were dry by this point. We kept the pace high but under control, and the other teams let us. About 4k out, I heard the giant pileup that would whittle the field down to 40 riders. We delivered Ken (and ourselves) safely to the beginning of the technical descent into town. Rather than fight for position, I floated the turns, taking good lines and avoiding the multiple crashes. Sandy final turns persuaded Ken to call it a day--we already had the victory--and I finished same time with the group while Zirbel moved way up on GC. Tomorrow's stage is short but tough, I can't wait!

In today's final stage of Volta ao Alentejo, we went all in to try and seize the overall from the Bontrager team. The circuit featured a fast cat4 climb that we would do 4 times. The guys were attacking from the gun, keeping constant pressure on bontrager to chase. 20k in, we assembled on the front before a good crosswind stretch that we checked out before the start. After making the turn, we put it in the gutter and went full gas for nearly 10 minutes, knocking the field down to about 50-60 riders. From that point on, nobody really want to race besides us. Our guys continued to flog themselves, but bontrager held strong. The 4th time up the climb, we put in a team attack to launch me. Unfortunately nobody followed, so we adjusted the plan to go for the stage win with me. I flatted with 30k remaining, motor pacing back up to the caravan. Because of a couple of flats and exhaustion, I only had Salas helping me into the base of the climb. Once it pitched up 2k from the finish, I was on my own in the scrum. I forced myself to stay patient and allow the other racers to pull back the little attacks as we twisted upward. The final turn was a 500m to go. The front of the race came back together just before the turn. I was 10th wheel, had momentum as the road flattened out temporarily, and the inside line was open. I'd had enough patience and didn't want to leave it to a group sprint because there were still better sprinters than me in the group. I jumped hard up the inside, just making it past the leader before he dove into the corner. I took it hot, coming out of the turn with a 10m gap and stretching it. 300m to go, one rider caught me and started to go by. I slid in behind him, and he exploded. So I jumped again, desperate for the finish to arrive. I just kept sprinting, checking between my legs and seeing a wheel back there, but not getting any closer. So I kept sprinting, still leading. 50m to go, I refused to slow down. Then 20m before the line, an orange blur (I was crosseyed by this point) came by me. I actually found the breath to scream "Nooo!" I was caught so off guard. I nearly fell off my bike after I crossed the line. So I wrapped up my euro debut with two 2nds, a 4th, and 2nd in GC in a UCI stage race, hungry for more.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Checking in and catching up

I can't believe I busted my hands up over 7 months ago. A lot has happened since then....

Hands busted on July 18. Crazy expensive surgery on July 20...thank you, insurance + parents!

In the following weeks, I watched way too much Olympic coverage. But the Olympics weren't on all day, so I watched way too much TV...including all of Breaking Bad, Parks and Rec, Arrested Development, etc. I was in a low place and couldn't do much besides lay there. I had permission to ride the TT bike on the trainer (not putting weight on my hands). I had multiple days of preparing for a trainer session, climbing on, then climbing down after 2 pedals strokes because, well, what's the point?

To beat me down further, I watched my team race the Tour of Utah online--a race I was supposed to be in--while learning that my efforts in 2012 helped the team secure a start in the TTT World Championships.

...and that concludes the depressing part of this post.

Just a week after the surgery, they removed the big casts and fitted me with more functional splints. I definitely got light-headed when I saw the pins in my thumb...
The day after getting my new splints, I was flying with my parents to Colorado to get my truck out of airport parking and help with the already-planned move to Colorado Springs. We were probably the least useful moving crew ever. I had two busted hands, my dad's back is delicate, and my mom is a tiny woman. Nonetheless, my dad and I did much more than we should have (while being as smart as possible about it--for instance, I had been off painkillers entirely for days, so I knew instantly if I did something my thumb didn't like).

We got the move completed, with most of the thanks due to Ian's overworked back, then drove back to Texas.

Just before my 24th birthday, the doc told me I could stop wearing my wrist brace, resume driving, and pulled the pins from my thumb along with trimming down the splint. The icing on the cake was the permission to ride outside again with my splint.

With that news, I concluded my month of couch potatoing and returned to Colorado. I was riding my TT bike almost exclusively because it was the most comfortable, and helped Creed train for the TTT championships with what little form I had remaining.

As my thumb became stronger again, I started doing epic road rides and just enjoying the fall weather. Of course, my injury had happened right as I was coming into form again, so I picked up where I left off and started getting really fast again just chasing Strava segments around the Springs. Because I had nothing else to focus on, I worked hard at eating really well....and lost 5 lbs. I got down to 158lbs, the lowest I've been in years. It's tough to lose the weight during race season with all the traveling and eating out, but now I know how to do it. As a result, I was in the climbing form of my life.

I was finally cleared to race in mid-October, and I kicked things off with two weekends of cross racing. I did both days of the USGP in Fort Collins, actually doing pretty well even though my skills weren't too sharp and I had a lot of hair getting in my way.

Then I spent a weekend with my Grandma, racing in Oklahoma, where my extended family got to watch me race for the first time (and they saw me win!). My parents even came up to see me race, which they haven't been able to do for a long time. I had my own personal photographer that weekend--I was glad to see my Dad out playing with his camera again!

Then I got an awesome new mountain bike and hung up the road bike entirely for a month while I played around. I jumped on the hardtail 29 train and never looked back.

Then I rested up even more leading into Thanksgiving, when I kicked off base training for the new season. I piled on the miles, rested a week over Christmas when snow covered North Texas, and then piled the miles on again. Between Thanksgiving and Feb 1st, I rode 3500 miles (and dropped a little more weight), a personal best by a long shot.

After another week of rest, I headed off to California for team camp, where I saw just how much faster I can go uphill without carrying around a little extra weight. The big test for me, though, was the time trial day, when I would see whether I'd actually lost any power while slimming down. Survey says...nope.
Climbing the brutal Deer Creek Canyon on camp-champ day
To make camp even better, I got to spend the last day at the San Diego wind tunnel with HED aerodynamics guru Dino, fine-tuning my time-trial position. It was a rare opportunity for the bike racer and engineer in me to both come out and play. Anemometers, strain gauges, CdA, yaw angles, testing protocols...I was right at home.

Dino adjusted my TT position significantly last year to an already-fast position, so our time in the tunnel went very quickly as we made small adjustments to find the perfect position. They sent me home with discs of data, photos, and video, including this cool one with all the different angles... Keep in mind, this was only the 6th test, the position just got faster from here.

On a related note, I stumbled upon an old photo of me time-trialing in 2010. I was pushing so much wind back then!

As aero as a brick compared to my position now
After a week back in Colorado after camp, in which I had to ride my cross bike in the snow on multiple occasions, I was off again to the Merco Classic. The TXBRA racer in me couldn't believe I didn't start my season until March, but that's life now. I definitely was fighting some demons at the start of the first stage (and throughout the race for that matter). My last race had ended, ah, poorly, and I was finally getting back on the horse 7 months later. I had to yell at myself to get out of my own head and race my bike. Then I jumped into the race-winning break.

The time trial there was my first in my new position, and I loved it. Zirbel and I both went significantly faster this year than last, and again were separated by only tenths of a second. Nobody could beat Ben Jacques Maynes that day, though, but I was happy with my performance all weekend considering it was my first race of the year! I ended up finishing the race in 3rd overall, a good start to the year.

And now, I look forward to an awesome year of racing. There has been a lot of hype around me, including cyclingnews and velonews articles, but I'm just too excited and thankful to be healthy and on good form to think much about those.

In just two more days, I'm leaving the country for a 10-day trip to Portugal, my long-awaited European debut! Stay tuned....