Wowza. Spain is hot… Hot as balls. I’m not quite certain of the exact temperature of balls, but just based on feel, it seems appropriate.
Never have I wanted to be back in Belgian cold and rain more, than right now. Whatever, man up Taylor!
So… Hi. It has been a little while. For that I apologize. Eneco was crazy, super happy with how it went–would’ve loved a podium spot but getting 4th overall gives me something to aim for next year. After Eneco I spent a day and a half in Belgium–Izegem to be exact, where I spent months of my Junior and U23 career surviving the Euro-bike racing experience thanks to USA Cycling. I visited with old friends, rode with some of the Juniors who were at the house, and laid around in my hotel room a whole lot. Between Eneco and the Vuelty I had 5 full days to recover and I had to take advantage of every second as Eneco had left me quite drained.
Eneco finished on Sunday, and on Tuesday I flew to a scorching hot Spain ahead of the team who was to arrive Wednesday night.
Luckily (or unluckily after you finish this paragraph), the mechanics and soigneurs were at the hotel as well as my suitcase–meaning I could go for a nice bicycle ride. Wednesday afternoon, after lunch, I got some kit on and headed out, excited to explore an area of the world I hadn’t really experienced before. I penned out a route on Google Maps, and had my iPhone to guide me. We are in the beach town of Benidorm and I opted to ride into the hills, instead of cruising along the coast, figuring that I could find a nice quiet road to do some openers on. After climbing a fair bit, I found my road, and despite the heat, was enjoying myself very much, feeling good on the bike. I completed my efforts, reached the top, and decided it was time to cruise home. I flipped a U turn and began to descend down the twisty mountain road I had just come up. Let’s just say that I am a comfortable descender–as a big man who often gets dropped on climbs, I have to be. I wasn’t taking risks, I was merely enjoying myself. On a tight right hander I laid the bike down, pressing hard into my left pedal to counterbalance my steering, sitting far back onto the saddle–just like my parents had taught me countless times at their bike camp cornering clinics. Before I knew it I was on the ground. In an instant, my front had wheel washed out, without me touching the brakes. Our Continental tyres are even the grippy-est tyres I have ever ridden on. I lay on the ground, dumbstruck. The first thing I noticed was how hot the ground was, and how dirty the road was. Must’ve been a patch of oil. I got to my feet, and examined the damage as I walked my bike over to some shade. I just sat there, my wounds beginning to burn as they were not very deep. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t pissed, I couldn’t believe it! Oh well, time to go home I guess. I had another 30km until I got home, and decided to tough it out. I hopped back on the bike and coasted the rest of the way down the descent. In a very amateur move, I didn’t check the bike thoroughly and as I hit a little riser towards the bottom of the climb I shifted all the way into my lightest gear, small chainring on the front and biggest on the back. I heard, and felt, the derailleur catch the rear wheel (it got bent in the crash) and again, before I could react, I had ripped it clean off.
Now, I was screwed. I couldn’t even coast, I had no derailleur! It was sticking out the side of the bike. I felt quite stupid, found some shade again and stuck my thumb out. I could have had one of the staff come to pick me up but I felt that since I was in Spain, a very bike friendly country, I could just hitchhike home no problem.
And I was right! The first car I saw stopped and helped me put the bike in the back. In my broken Spanish I told him where to go and 25 minutes later I was safe and sound at the hotel. I offered to send him a full BMC kit, give him some money, anything but he wouldn’t take it.
There is one moment I dread when it comes to crashing. It is not crashing itself but it is the post-crash shower/wound scrubbing session. Think about taking a flame thrower to your leg. While I haven’t experienced this, I believe it is a similar feeling. Terrrrrible.
The teams arrived that night and I was that guy with fishnet on his leg, making sure my bandages stayed on. Not exactly how I planned to start my first grandy but oh well! The next days were filled with bandage changing, sleeping solely on my left side, icing, the works. The day after the crash (two days ago) I felt quite good on the bike even though we had a nice 6:50AM wake up for UCI blood testing. Yesterday was the worst day, but I feel much better today–race day! The TTT course is quite tough but I think that we can pull out a big result with the team we have here!