Friday, August 22, 2014

Vuelta a Espana: Here we go!

As I type this, I find myself at another bike race. Only, it’s not your run-of-the-mill bike race. Between the travel days, preparation days, race days, and rest days, this trip will add up to a whopping 27 days. It would seem the race is aptly called a Grand Tour.

We usually arrive at a race on the day before the start, but there’s ample reason to arrive a bit earlier for a race like this. One day devoted to travel, followed by a day to spin the legs out and relax. Once we’re settled in, the day before the race (today) is to get the legs really opened up with some intensity. Or, as circumstances require, with team time trial practice.  The rest of our schedule is filled with meals, anti-doping tests, fat measurements, team meetings, and relaxation.

Ah, yes, relaxation. That’s a vital key to surviving a 3-week race (or so I’m told). While it may only be one or two flights of stairs, taking the elevator instead multiple times a day adds up to a lot of stairs saved weeks later. Such a “marginal gains” attitude applies to every aspect of life for the next few weeks. I’ve prepared for this and am well-stocked in all areas of relaxation. I’ve got books, podcasts, music, movies, and TV to keep me occupied and off my feet. But put a piano in front of me and all that is forgotten!

Considering my previous two races were also in Spain, my Spanish is about to make a drastic resurgence. After just a few hours of watching Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother re-runs in Spanish (since I remember most of the English lines), I’ve already recovered a large chunk of vocabulary. The main issue is the little bit of Italian I know getting in the way.

As far as the race goes, I have to focus on only one day at a time. I found myself worrying about the potential for bad weather once we get to the late stages in northern Spain. Trying to take on the whole race at once is certainly a bad idea!

I’ve always wondered what the race book must be like for a Grand Tour, and I finally know. It’s big. Like, really big. 330 pages!

I’ll not be accused of lacking ambition, so my goal is to post daily. Not full-length posts, but I hope to take 20 minutes a day for some typing. I know I’ll have the time, but my motivation may drop off drastically somewhere in the teen stages. Time will tell!