After not being back at base for the last three weeks, things had cooled down a fair bit. The Netherlands was heading into winter, and it was coming a little too soon for me. After a week in Madrid, we had left with a temperature of 32’C, with hardly any humidity, it was very nice in the shade, even better in the sun. My first night back at base, I put long pants on for the first time all year, and went to bed shivering. Of course it was not normal for that time of the year (they keep saying that to me, and when ever we left for racing, it was awesome of course). All the girls would have been back in their own countries by now, settling into some off-season fun. All I had to do was unpack the mess in the team truck, decommissioning it for the season, wash a few bikes and make sure all the parts we raided from various bikes were returned to where they belonged, then I was done. Then time for some off-season fun.
I had to get back on my bike as it had been over a month since I had been on it, think I managed one small ride, in an hour or so I had spare. Kind of got a little bit busy for looking after my self, it hurts, but you got to do it sometimes. But that was going to change. The few days work I thought I had turned into one, time to ride and start thinking about heading back home to NZ, and back to work, by the sound of things they are busy. The bummer about having summer back to back is the unfortunate consequence of working three busy seasons in one year. I’ll just have to take it easy over the Christmas period to make up for it , yeah right..
I had, in my haste in leaving for the last two tours, sent a box or two of stuff home as I was drastically over my baggage allowance and was not in habit of paying excess baggage fees. Last time I left Europe they tried to sting me for almost $900 extra for my Singlespeed MTB, we were a little late with our transfer from another flight, but it was their problem not ours. They thought we would just cough up the cash to get on the plane as it was getting ready to leave for NZ, but no, our bikes were booked on, paid as part of the ticket, no way were they getting any cash from me. In the end the big time manager was called in, as the woman on the counter was not going to let us leave with out paying. One minute with the big guy, showing him the paper work and he had us on our way, a little late but other wise on time. Found out later she had already sold our seats, overbooked the plane and was trying to stall so the plane would leave without us, problem solved. The stuff that I sent home was all my warm riding gear, arm warmers, rain jackets, long gloves, and all my warm walking round clothes, doh.. Well I had been carrying them around for a while and had not taken them out of my bag, they had to go. After a couple of rides in the district, I’m sure that I was going to run into snow on the roads sooner or later it was so cold. I had to go.
So after a small decision which took me about a minute, I had to get the hell outta town and I decided to head to Italy for a week or two training and a bit of sightseeing. The team conveniently has a house there for training purposes, it was empty, free and was calling my name out. We had passed by the town that it was in, during the Toscana Tour so I was almost familiar with the area, there was big mountains, that was good. A town full of Italian girls, that was good. Tuscany is the food capital of Italy, that was good. Being Wheat and Gluten intolerant meant that pasta and bread was off the menu, that was not good, but three out of four isn’t bad. I had exactly one month to get in shape for K2, 200kms of the best climbs that Coromandel can dish out (www.k2cycle.co.nz). After a month off the bike, I had to get some serious miles in the legs, especially some hills or that race is going to hurt, even when you are in shape it hurts. Normally I would have trained for at least four months for this race, you need to have a bit of respect for this race as it’s not the sort of thing you can just pull out of the hat. Really looking forward to it this year as it’s the fourth year of a four year cycle. Being one of only 32 people that have done the last three in a row, it will be pretty cool seeing how many make it out of that for the fourth time (and the free T shirt). There is some really good statistics on Andy and Keith’s site regarding this race if your interested, I don’t know why more people don’t come back for more every year, it’s not that demanding on the body, just for the mind. And from what I had heard from the Girls there is some pretty good climbs near the apartment to train on, should keep me out of trouble, and out of the town at night.
Europe is the home of cheap flights and within a short time I had secured some pretty sweet deals. I have to fly out of London for home on the 21oct, so got a sweet price of $26 from Pisa to London, makes our local airlines seem pitiful as to what you pay for a similar distance. Even with all the hidden charges it still works out to under $65, I love this place. A flight from Amsterdam to Italy, $68, less than an hour, that sure beats driving for two days solid. Two and bit weeks training in Italy in the mountains, four days in London working on the speed work through the traffic (hope to get some riding in as the weather has turned to shit there as well). A little flight home, then a week in Auckland, working full days and training with jet lag, I should be sweet. Oh, got to sort out a new bike and dial it in, acclimatise to the weather, and unpack my room (as I thought we may be shifting when I was away), and try and beat six hours for the first time. Should be no problem… Now, if only there was two of me (god help the world, and my mother), I should be fine…