There are so many excuses why this report is late... as riveting as the Midwest is, it simply doesn't compare to diving into a warm waffle in Belgium. That's my main excuse. Also, European Internet functions in a Morse-code-like continuum: a dash of service here, a dot there. And the message it sends is quite clear: "It is not possible."
But here we are in the UK, where the Internet seems to be far more reliable, and I have the afternoon to catch up on the last few racing adventures. Hopefully, I'll have forgotten some things by now so you'll actually have a reasonable length read this time.
This was our 9-hour drive from Louisville to Iowa City. Period.
Ok I lied. Yelp directed us to a Turkish restaurant for lunch in Illinois. It was really tasty, although we disappointed our host by downing the Turkish coffee without sugar despite being foreigners who "wouldn't like it." I want to try making the lentil soup with mint and the dill-potato-zucchini pancakes.
We arrived in Iowa to 60 degree weather and a bright sunset and stopped for groceries at a co-op that made Whole Foods seem like a bargain basement.
At the hotel, the desk attendant saw us pull up in the flashy Optum van and trailer and asked us if we were part of a band:
Kerry: No we're a bike team.
Woman: Oh like a motor--motorcycle bike?
Me: No, the kind you pedal.
Woman: Ooohhh. Like Neil Armstrong, but without the drugs?
Kerry: Hmm I think you mean Lance Armstrong. Neil went to the moon.
Woman: Oh yeah. I'm really confused, music bands, the moon...
Kerry: Well we're kind of like a music band, minus the money.
Woman: Minus the bunnies?
Taylor: No no, money. We're like a band without the notoriety.
Woman: What's notoriety?
The next morning we awoke in some other land altogether, a land of 15 degree windchills and frosted grass. Not to be deterred, I set about my usual instructions for having roadtrip bike adventures:
1-Use #Strava segment explore and look for squiggly segments (squiggly=trails) near your hotel 2 - Put the location into Google maps bicycle directions, then place phone in pocket and listen to Siri 3 - Go explore! 4 - Bring Kerry Werner with you so he can show you how to get back
We did manage to find the one mountain bike park around, according to native Amanda Miller.
We also managed to lose all feeling in our hands and feet, so that afternoon we went emergency shopping for warmer attire, and on Thursday Kerry and I cruised a solid 2:40 in 20 degree temps, including about 15 miles straight on one remote dirt road.
That night, Gabby, Jeremy, Hugo, Courtenay, and I did a little Meet-the-Pros gig down at the Volkswagon dealership. There were a number of spunky kids in attendance who wanted to know if I'd ever crashed my bike and how to ride up hills properly. They were pretty awesome.
The races were also pretty awesome: three tough courses that traversed the famed Mt. Krumpit differently each day, and included a swiggle through a barn, a new sweet sand pit, and some trecherous descents. Taylor and Chris were joined my Andrew Neuser who all worked hard to keep things bareable in the bitter cold, kept our spirits up, and our bikes working properly.
Kerry had two awesome races getting 4th on Friday and making our first podium Sunday in 3rd.
Friday night I got 7th, Saturday at the C1 9th, and Sunday 9th again. Friday night's crowning achievement was riding the entirety of Mt. Krumpit each lap (top photo, thanks Kevin Martens). The Chicanes gave the perfect traction for the last off camber steep section. Suffice to say the season has been a bit of a mystery in terms of getting my training and racing to come together, but I will keep giving my best. Coming out of the Midwest trip, Im hungry to do better and am soaking up every bit of theopporunity this year to travel and race with extra flexibility and amazing team support.
Thanks to the Grinch John Meehan for being so welcoming and for always cooking up a top-notch trio of races.