Do you enjoy the feeling of working out? Or perhaps it's the feeling that comes afterwards? The calm high, the 30 minute flying-endorphin-carpet; it's all good, feel content, feel fresh and alive, feel no pain. Today was stage 2 of the first stage race of the season, the Merco Cycling Classic. For half of us: Conor, Kevin and I, it was an easy day; ride tempo and finish within the time cut. For Tino and Quinn who are dangerous riders in 200km breakaway road races (there is one coming up in just 2 days time!), they toed the line with a few aero pieces each and looked to limit their loses and ride as strong as possible. But for Freddie, Logan and Serghei, all running full aero specifications, the pressure was on.
The atmosphere in and around a team trailer before any race is usually a mixed bowl of stress. As the mechanic perfects the equipment, our soigneur caters to our picky requests for caffeinated gels and warmup massages. To combat this nervous energy, energy that can quickly spark discontent, we all play around with quick jokes, funny gestures and shadow games to keep the environment positive; a relaxed and tight-knit team is critical. We are all friends off the bike, and friends on the bike; but some days are more for leisure, while others purely business.
Flipping on the 'business' switch is important. It helps us maintain our friendship during our leisure time. At a time trial, that nit-pickiness is often higher. But that is very important as we all realize that we are working towards helping our leaders produce the best performance possible. This intensity is not only critical but is expected and anticipated. Again, the business switch is on.
Today Serge and Logan did amazing rides. Although half of the team finished with smiles, easy breathing and open legs after 30 minutes of tempo, the other half gutted themselves. Arriving at the trailer only after a 10 minute post-race spin in order to make sure they didn't fall over while dismounting, or losing their breakfast in front of twittered iphones and facebooked cameras. Plunking down into one of the team's blue pop-up chairs, a quick serenity overcomes the drained body. From the fogginess in the eyes, the pain in the back of the neck, the grit on the face and legs and "feet-sinking-into-the-ground" sensation in the legs, the quiet calm, earned only through absolute suffering is an exotic and well-sought after feeling. Like soma?