Wednesday, April 30, 2008


As the sole NorEast representative in the Northwest (this is Duncan), I was looking forward to flying the red and white kit of New England out here in Walla Walla Washington. Unfortunately, as some of you know, I was diagnosed with mono (actually epstein-barr, the virus that causes mono) at the end of March. Funny how these things go... after hammering out the hours on the trainer, cold, wet, winter miles, and feeling awkward and out of place at the gym, when it finally gets nice I can't ride! On the plus side, spring hasn't been nearly so nice as it was last year. Although I admit, that means in the 50's and 60's and partly cloudy rather than upper 70's and sunny. Back in New England I would have killed for a "bad weather" spring like that. Anyways, I'm finally easing back into riding after a bunch of time off, and hopefully I'll be healthy if not in shape by the time I get back to NH. So I'll present a quick accounting of my "bike racing" season so far:

January: Get back to school. Work my class schedule so I can ride pretty much all the time anytime. Don't take a full load of classes, because all my time is going to be spent riding, right? Ride. Eat. Look funny in the gym squatting large weights and doing arm exercises with 3lbs. Eat more. Do some homework. Go to class. Dream of racing. Get big legs tele skiing. Eat. Sleep.

February: The same. Only with more eating and riding.

March: Be excited for spring break. Get what seems to be a nasty tonsil infection the week before break. Go to Boise, ID to spend some time with Whitman alums and cyclists, including the legendary Sam Johnson. Feel better, start riding a bunch, including beautiful long rides up to a reservoir, over a mountain (on closed roads!), and on my 'cross bike in the amazing MTB trails around Boise... enjoying all the new terrain. Still have a nagging sore throat but feel better when I enter an individual TT- on my 'cross bike. Do poorly in the TT, not helped by the fact that a) I'm on a 'cross bike, b) I have mono but don't know it yet, and c) there's a 20+ mph tailwind going out on a downhill, and my largest gear is a 45x12.
From Boise I headed over to Bend, OR, outdoor mecca for a few days before the first collegiate race. The TT hadn't gone that well so I decided to lay low before the first collegiate race to recover. When I arrived, the mother of the friend I was staying with informed me that I had an appointment at Rebound Sports Performace Lab. She works in physical therapy and had set me up for a bike fit/analysis, which was pretty cool, especially when I walked in and none other than Adam Craig was chilling out doing intervals in Rebound as it snowed outside.

Feeling better on Friday, I arrived in Oregon for the first collegiate race of the season. The road race was first on Saturday, and it was aggressive. The course was an 11 mile loop that was basically two climbs connected by a tiny bit of flat. It was WAY faster than I remembered from the year before (remember, at this point I think I'm just over a mild flu), and I pretty much just hung on for the first couple of laps until a break went and things cooled down... I even manged a decent placing in the field- I think it was 5th on the uphill finish for a top 10- OK, but not nearly as good as the year before. The TTT in the afternoon was fast and fun, we were 7 seconds behind second place for 3rd overall. The crit, however, was the tipping point. Warming up my legs felt like cement and racing didn't improve them at all- I was blown off the back and rode straight to the vans after maybe 3 laps.

I finally realized that something was up and went to the school health center, where after 5 days of needles and tests they finally determined that it was mono. It looked as though it was a pretty mild infection (hence the difficulty in diagnosis), and may have been around since last fall when my roommate had mono and I got sick as well but rested up and was able to just push through it. I had to take time off then start riding slowly and ease back into training.

April: No riding at first. LOTS of TV and movie watching (remember, I had arranged my schedule to be light and optimized for 20+ hours of training a week as well as travel to and from races). The films watched are too many to list, suffice to say that I was averaging upwards of one a day plus TV. In fairness, I am in a class entitled "Introduction to Television Studies" so watching entire seasons of Rome (2 seasons), Firefly, Entourage, The Office and The OC in addition to a lot of random shows was not ENTIRELY wasteful.
I gradually started riding again, easy spins that reminded me just how much I love cycling and was glad to have the full support of the NorEast team while recovering. Actually in one conversation with Josh and Ryan I'm pretty sure they said I wasn't allowed to not plan on racing. These are helpful words when you're suddenly deprived of something that you formerly were spending 20+ hours a week working towards. Ryan's advice for recovery? "Spend all the money you would have spent on racing on an x-box." Recovery successful so far (minus the x-box).

One of the highlights of April was the USCF Tour of Walla Walla, a 4 stage, 3 day race in and around my westcoast hometown. I'm happy to say that Whitman showed up in dominating fashion, with Ben taking 3rd in every cat 3 event and the overall, Zac and Colin in the top 5 in almost every event in the 4's (including the overall) and Colin winning the cat 4 TT (on my TT bike, thank you very much), Chelsea winning the women's 4 road race, and Kendi 2nd in the womens 1,2,3 crit. Previously mentioned super-alum Sammy J. won the p/1/2 TT by 30 seconds. I like to think that by yelling through a megaphone all day during the crit I made everyone go faster. Whitman continued their winning ways in the collegiate races and I was especially proud that Colin piloted my bike to another 3 TTT wins with Ben and Zac against defending national champions Western Washington University. Is it bad that I never even did well in a TT and then I loan my bike to someone else and it starts winning? So in addition to living vicariously through the team I continued watching movies and am now at the point, with May just around the corner, that I'm ready to start some training. This weekend I'm going to try doing some longer stuff with a bit of tempo thrown in. If I feel good in the two or three days afterwards, I'll keep going and build it up, hopefully getting some real training in before the end of May when I hope to start racing again.

I'm excited to get back to New England where the team looks to be strong and motivated, because as fulfilling as television is, it doesn't give you funky tan lines or the ability to eat a pound of pasta in one sitting.

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