U23 Paris Roubaix
I raced U23 Paris-Roubaix three times, though I’m not sure why I did it more than once to be honest. You do get something out of it. I’m a good bike handler with that kind of race; I think I wanted to race it at least once for the experience. The third time I just got in a van at some point. I was with a group not too far off the back of the field, and we had a chance at getting back on but I had no life in me. Right then I saw a guy I knew on the side of the road, a guy I had raced with on La Pomme, and I said, "Hey let me get in your van." That was that.
Leading up to that Paris-Roubaix I’d gotten sick at Tour of the Gila and lost ten pounds. Right after that on the way back to Europe I had my passport rejected in Houston, leaving me to spend two days riding a stationary recumbent in jeans and a Garmin t-shirt (my bags were stuck in customs) in the hotel gym. I watched Oprah, wondering the whole time about how I was going to get a passport. International travel, jet lag, being ten pounds too light, passport stress and two days of recumbent gym-bike training all lead to me crashing four times in the first three days of Olympia's Tour, a race in Holland legendary for being windy, dangerous and flat. I pulled the plug on the last day of that, then five days later I got in a van halfway through Paris-Roubaix.
I get paid to do both.
It’s nice, I get paid to be as healthy as humanly possible. Off the bike I do everything possible to eat right, maximize nutrition, train my body and get as fit as possible—all these infinitesimal percentage gains. I waste the smallest amount of energy possible, I barely walk, I avoid stairs, etc. In some ways I get paid to do both though. When I'm on the bike, I get paid to destroy myself, to go as hard as I can, to wear myself out.1
Little stores selling little things.
When I go to Girona in a few weeks, I'll have my apartment. There should still be clean sheets on my bed. First order of business will be to acquire food, that’s always key. I'll hike around and trade money for it; that’s the problem living over there—for cyclists at least—you have to walk everywhere. You have to walk to the butcher, you have to walk to the grocer, you have to walk to the organic store to buy nuts, there’s all these little stores there that sell these little things. In order to find Almond Milk, I have to schmooze with some lady (in a language I don’t understand or speak) so I can find out where they sell the Almond Milk, so I can buy the Almond Milk, so can I feel (kinda) like I’m at home.