June 7, 2004 – Reflective On European Campaign

Ah, back to the land of paranoid customs officers and the joy of starbucks, my first trip to Washington and the weather is thus far cooperating, even if my customs guy really was not… I did get into the country but not without a lot of exhausting interrogation and form filling. I holed up in a coma for 10 hours to recover, and now sit in the coffee shop planning my next steps. With the flag flying half mast as a reminder of the loss of one of America’s presidents, my heart was still happy to be back in North America, even if it is only my part time home I was returning to……

So Europe, how can I summarize you in one word – disappointing. Somehow I managed to take all the preparation and momentum from the spring and again head into June with no legs, pretty much the same as last season… june gloom as it were. Each race was the same, Belgium there was a spark to be extinguished quickly in Scotland, but all three were disappointing not so much for the results, but for the fact that I went to Europe to step up and compare my preparation in an Olympic year to that of the best in the world and instead of honorably being squashed, I was never even at the plate. I would start with nothing in my legs, and finish with the same. It was much more painful to race as hard as I could on bad legs than any race I have pushed my limits on good legs. Really itemizing each race is useless, starting with the worst race of my career in Madrid, to an ok but crappy race in Belgium, to be topped off with a horrible race in Scotland despite the fact is was one of the most fun courses that I LOVED.

I guess you have to take each racing experience as a learning experience, question your preparation, and walk away either stronger or smarter for the next challenge. So I look at these past few months, compare it to last year, and confirm there is a pattern to try not to repeat. But at this juncture, it is nice to know that I still have some races to shine at, and there are a lot of goals for this season still to be met. It was always a longshot to waltz in and steal a mountainbike spot without paying my dues, and I still believe it was possible, but now there are all the other goals to look at. Mountain bike Nationals. Triathlon’s Xterra Worlds. The overall Xterra series. Individual mountainbike events. The downside of chasing two rabbits is you have to manage some distraction …. but the upside is that when one rabbit stops, you still have one you can chase with all your heart.

So that being said I am in Washington on my way to Richmond, VA. As was the case last year, I am at best a little undertrained for this first Xterra event, but I went to my first duathlon last year at this event and came second. It is amazing what happens when you have decided well before the event what is going to be happening.

I would like to thank my coach Houshang Amiri, who attempted to remove some of the pressure that I was putting on myself, and with whom I am sure there will be many spectacular achievements still to come this year. I would also like to thank Ford, Saucony, K2 Bicycles, Compex Technologies, Maxxis, Sundog Eyewear, Powerbar, Giro, Shimano, Descente, Hypoxico, Rider’s Cycles, Arq Salon, Pacificsport, and Deuter.

So for now, I am out. Until next week.

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