Tom Boonen, current road racing World Champion, has already established himself as THE man to beat this season, just as he was for much of last season.
First he won the Doha GP and now has won the first stage of the Tour Of Qatar. In both races he beat both Robert Hunter of Phonak and Erik "Too Old To Know Better" Zabel of Milram by significant margins.
Boonen has been a favorite rider of mine since his time with the US Postal Service team, but it's not like that makes me special. Everyone is a Tom Boonen fan these days, and for good reason.
I'm convinced that local TV meteorologists have no idea what they're talking about anymore. Just two days ago they predicted a nasty weekend of rain and sleet with temperatures in the 40s. Today, lo and behold, it's clear, sunny and 65.
With the onset of crap like "Super Alert Viper Ultra-Doppler 8000", weatherpeople are relying more and more on complicted computer projections than ever before. And, as is obvious, those computer projections are not nearly as reliable as good, old-fashioned weather-watchin'. At least, that's how it seems.
Not that any of this matters, since I'm still stuck inside recovering from three extracted wisdom teeth and the bike's in the shop getting it's pre-racing season tune up. I just felt like griping.
The 2006 Giro d'Italia will include an ascent of Plan de Corones, a steep, dirt-road climb high in the Dolomites. Gilberto Simoni, past winner of the Giro and current leader of the Lampre Saunier Duval team, has already scouted the route.
In the most recent the January issue of Cycle Sport, Simoni discusses the impressive gradients he and his competitors will face. The first section of dirt road will average 11.6 percent, and the final kilometer will top out at 13.3 percent:
"The condition of the road is pretty good, but that didn't make it any easier," he said. "I struggled a bit in 39x25 and for the final kilometer at 13.3 percent we'll need a 29 or 30 sprocket or use a triple or a compact chainset."
This past weekend I staggered up a 15-18 percent climb of almost a mile in length, with only a 39x25 at my disposal, and I made it. When a professional cyclist---known for his climbing proficiency, no less---says he might need a triple chainring just to survive a kilometer at 13.3, maybe in comparison I'm not so pathetic after all.
But yeah, ego trip aside, a 29 sprocket would have been really nice to have...
Racing License: Check Racing Team: Check Decent Bike: Check Race Schedule: Check
Decent Form: ---
Everything is ready for the coming race season, with the exception of my fitness. Now all I have to do is train steadily from now until the first weekend of March and improve my form. I'll use the first few races to build up and hopefully really dominate in April and May, when the really fun events are held and the weather is better.
To say that I'm excited would be an understatement.
Over the past four days, I have experienced some of the best riding of my life, and some of the worst riding. I have experienced scenery more beautiful than my wildest dreams, and faced climbs I've never seen even in my worst nightmares. In four days, I've ridden 210 miles over some of the hilliest terrain in this part of the country. Grades I've never before encountered---some more than 18%---I've ascended with pain and ferocity, and success. I've flown down winding roads at speeds I've never before reached on a bicycle, and lived to tell about it.
And, best of all, I joined a racing team I couldn't be more proud to be a part of.
Thanks to my new team for an amazing weekend. I can't wait to put on that kit and race my ass off this season. Long live the Mayor of Pine Ridge.
Eoin spends hours a day riding a stationary bike in the basement gym called Crunch in Chicago. He rides more than 100 miles a day at 25 miles per hour, taking only five minute breaks after each of those hours.
He has yet to race anywhere, but has more dedication and discipline (and pain tolerance) than just about any racer out there. He is my hero.
It's no secret that I hate the trainer---HATE IT. Riding inside is the worst thing ever, in my mind, and so naturally I slack off until the weather improves and then go ride outside. Usually that means I miss three to four days a week when I should be training. I'll never be successful like that.
Eoin has reminded me that I am weak and don't deserve to race if I don't suffer for it. Thank you, Eoin. Thanks a lot.
"Road racing requires stamina, strength, mental focus and fortitude. But the rewards are huge and grow the more effort you put into it.
More and more men are discovering that riding a road bike can be the perfect counterpoint to our cosseted and quick-fix modern lives. We’ve become so used to instant gratification and sanitised pleasure that we have forgotten that the greatest highs come from the deepest lows, that there is a unique satisfaction from applying yourself totally, then seeing the results. From pain comes pleasure."