After France, we drove to Oberstdorf to spend a few days training and focusing on jumping. This was actually my first time jumping in Germany, although I've been to Munich quite a few times flying in and out. We only jumped the K90, because their large hill is under construction.
Monday afternoon we jogged over to the ski flying hill and took the elevator. Pretty decent views!
The A-team went on to the first competitions in Sochi, Russi, while we flew back home Thursday. Good news coming from the Motherland - Todd Lodwick was 2nd place and Bill Demong 7th today!
Bryan Fletcher put this together on our drive to Oberstdorf, Germany. Check it out if you haven't already!
I think 95% of the people reading this contributed one way or another to get me to where I am now, so I want to thank everyone for this week. Especially:
The NNF for kicking in funding to help offset some of the costs for the B-team. That means everyone that has contributed to the NNF!
Olympian Tours for running a successful first Tour trip. Carl Van Loan and Jed Hinkley did an awesome job supporting the guys that came for the fundraiser trip, as well as making life way better for us. Riding with a "sag wagon" full of food, water, tools and clothing is so sweet! Check out their website here
and their Facebook page here. They've been putting a lot of pictures and videos from the trip up on their facebook page, so definitely give them a look.
My coaches, the US Ski Team and Billy Demong for making it happen logistically.
ColeSport, our local bike shop in Park City, who outfitted the whole team with some sweet kits. We had 16 people riding as a team in the same gear some of the days!
Honey Stinger for supplying a ton of bars, gels, waffles and chews. We all thought we'd have way to much at the beginning, but it turns out that when you bike all day, you need a lot of food! We ended up with just the right amount.
And my parents for supporting me the whole way!
We all spent one day watching the tour and some went to watch it a second day. If you were watching, you would have seen Michael Ward and I running alongside the lead group near the top of the Col de la Madeleine, the first of 3 climbs that they raced on Thursday. It took us two hours to ride up this climb alone. The tour racers did this, another similar HC category climb, one more short climb and then a final 20k climb to finish in well under 5 hours.
Watching the Tour was an awesome experience. We had to go up early, because they completely close of the road a good two hours before the riders come. It's pretty fun waiting around though. We mingled with the other fans lining the road and met some Americans on a guided tour, one of which was from Steamboat! A ways ahead of the riders there's a massive caravan of sponsor cars. We hauled in some loot that they threw out of the cars, from key chains to candy to hats and big green foam hands.
It goes without saying that the riders were fast. Outrageously fast. I literally had to sprint as fast as could up the top of the climb to stick alongside them.
On Friday Bryan, Bill, Johnny, Todd, Taylor and I rode such an epic loop. The fundraising group guys also came and each rode substantial portions of the route. We did 3 climbs, Telegraph, Galibiere and Croix de Fer, and by the end it was 105 miles, almost 8 hours and 16,000 feet of climbing! Galibier put us up over 2500 meters elevations and was definitely my favorite climb. We lucked out on the weather that was moving in as we headed down from the descent.
On that note, I'll need to get some new break-pads when I get back. I've never burnt through so much rubber in my life as I have switch-backing down the mountains here.
Saturday the whole group did an "easy" 65 miles. It poured rain all morning in Courchevel, but once we descended down the valley, sunshine rolled in and it turned into a gorgeous day. I guess I should thank mother nature for being so kind to us this trip!
Today was an easy morning. Some of the guys rode up to the private airport above Courchevel. I just did some stretching and light plyos down at the hotel. Gotta get the legs going for jumping tomorrow. Off to Oberstdorf, Germany now!
This is my first time to France, and man is it great. Riding yesterday I kept thinking, "This is so cool, it looks just like it does when they race in the Alps in the Tour." And then I realize, that's because they really do ride exactly where we're riding.
We rolled into Courchevel Monday evening and after a quick and delicious dinner, had a big biking party. We have 8 athletes, 3 coaches, 3 toureree's (I made that word up) and 2 tour guides. That makes 16 people and just as many bikes and a lot of skis as well. Some how, all the bikes and skis made it, but my coach's and my clothing bag didn't make it out of Atlanta. I was bummed because I wasn't able to jump Tuesday morning, but I was able to make do with biking for the afternoon. I had my helmet, borrowed clothing, and rented some old school cycling pedals with straps, which worked great with my flat soled vans. Nonetheless that will probably be the only time that I ride 65 miles without cycling shoes.
We rode from Courchevel yesterday, descended for a long ways before going across the valley and then up a 27 kilometer climb, which ended in Italy! After the descent, I hopped into the van with some of the other guys and rode back up to town. Todd, Bill, Taylor, Johnny, Bryan and one of the Tourer's, Walter, rode all the way back to Courchevel. 90 miles is a bold way to start the week!
The riding got serious this afternoon. Everyone but coach Greg raced the famous Alpe d'Huez climb. It's only 17 kilometers long, but has 21 switchbacks and ascends almost 1000 meters. Infamous is probably the word to use.
We decided to handicap start it in the same fashion that the Sundance Hill Climb was handicapped. So some of the older riders and the coaches started earlier, and us athletes started later, with the hope of catching everyone. Taylor started last, then Bill, then me, Johnny, Bryan, Todd, and so on. Bill threw down a really hard race, held off Taylor and caught everyone else to finish first and put down the fastest time, ahead of Taylor's. Todd finished right behind Bill, then Taylor, and then a bit more to me, at 51:20 race time. I think Bill's time was close to 3 minutes faster than me, which was kind of incredible considering I could ride with him in the last hill climb we did. I was pretty happy to edge out Todd's time to be the third fastest guy up the mountain.
We've all got some work to do - the record time is 37:35, and that was on a year that they did at the end of a stage, not just as a Time Trial! Then again, that record was set in 1997 (not by Lance, his is just one second slower) and now they ride it in well over 40 minutes; 42 minutes was the fastest in last years stage. It makes you wonder... typically athletics don't get less competitive overtime.
In the end, beyond the race, the times, stats, etc. I can't get over the idea being just stoked to had this opportunity. L Alpe d'Huez really is one of the most historical places in European sporting events. It's where champions have been made and tour's have been won for years. It's like getting the opportunity to play tennis at the Wimbledon courts... except for, that's just tennis.
Life's been pretty crazy lately, not that that's any news. Last week we were in Steamboat Springs for the annual 4th of July training camp and competitions. I actually had more downtime than usual in Steamboat, but it was nice to spend it hanging out with my family and friends, so I slacked a bit on schoolwork, blogging, and such.
Anyways, a quick recap of Steamboat:
My parents and little bro Ben came in the day after I did, so I stayed with them on the ski mountain. I hadn't seen them since early May, which of lately isn't too bad, but it was great to see them and catch up.
Kerry Lynch and Hans Berend, along with the other parents and athletes in Steamboat organized a wine-soiree and Calcutta fundraiser to start the week off. Sounds a little strange? Here's how it worked: the wine tasting part was pretty simple, a nice evening event in a park. They spread the word beforehand and we had a solid turnout of supporters. Then, while at the wine-tasting, the attendees could bet on individual athletes for the long standing jump competition the next day. I don't think anyone picked the 3 top finishers in order in the Calcutta betting, but there were some pretty good bets, and the winners had prizes including a back-country hut trip, and stays in Capitol Reef National Park, Moab, and my family's cabin in northern Wisconsin.
On the Monday before the 4th, we raced the annual Fishcreek rollerski time-trial. I was glad that this wasn't my first hard-effort since winter, as it often has been in the past, because this uphill time trial is tough! Taylor Fletcher put down the fastest race. I ended up 5th, but most importantly I was much closer to the fastest times than I've been in the past.
On the 4th of July, Todd Lodwick defended his numerous titles in the annual sprint rollerski race downtown. He won the jumping the day before and held the rest off in the 2km race. This quick and chaotic race isn't exactly my forte, but I always enjoy the energy and the enthusiastic spectators lining the street. (There are a lot, partly because the main street parade is right after us).
Later that day, we had one last competition, a 3 jump elimination competition. We always get a good turnout for this as well, and it's a real fun time with many long jumps! I didn't quite throw down like last year in the final round of 6 and couldn't top Johnny's winning jump of 75 meter jump.
After the jumping, we loaded up our cars and booked it back to Park City. That gave of us 3 days to put in some long training hours, study away (at least speaking for myself and my roommates) and pack up for the trip. The first day I was home I did an awesome four hour classic rollerski on a nice calm, cool evening. The following day, Erik, Michael, Nick and I rode down to and around Salt Lake City, then up Big Cottonwood Canyon past Solitude and Brighton ski area, to the top of Park City Mountain and then back home. Big Cottonwood alone took close to two hours to climb to the very top, and the total ride time was over 4 and a half hours. It was a good prep for the riding this week!
Packing the bike boxes is a project and learning experience! Michael and I were fortunate enough to find a double box to borrow, which was great because they're hard to come by and expensive to check in at the airport.
At first, I thought packing the bikes would be a breeze, and then I realized we still had to fit our 4 wheels in. Bikes would be so much easier to pack if they didn't have wheels!
I wrote this on the plane to Zurich. From Zurich, we drove out of Switzerland to Courchevel, France. The traffic was a total mess (very un-swiss like) so the drive took about 5 hours. That's the life of a skier though!
Where am I?