January 15, 2009

2009 Fired Up!

Every year, for the past 20 or so, I get increasingly jazzed for the start of the cycling season. Some years it's because of my own aspirations, most years it's the return of european pro's to competition. In the 80's it was events like the Ruta del Sol and Tirreno Adriatico that kicked off the seaon for me. Of course in '88 we had to wait for Winning to come out, but the pictures of the field riding along some warm coastline always enticed. La Primavera, Paris-Nice, Vuelta Andalucia (Ruta's new name), Tirreno, these are Spring. By the late 90's the season started moving earlier with the arrival of the Tour de Langkawi and Tour Down Under. With the rise of the internet it became easy to get immediate results for a road season that now lasts the better part of 10 months. Add cyclocross or track racing and there is great racing somewhere year round. Still, the return of pro road racing is it's own special beast. New teams, new colors, the chance to see how your favorites are doing. Sweet!

So, we're quickly coming up on the start of the 09 season and the excitement is building for the Tour Down Under. Say whatever you want about Lance - he may be a jerk, an ego-maniac, a doper, but he's certainly compelling! I've never been a big 'fan', but i'll give the dude his due....Lance is a bad-ass when he wants to be. Of course there are plenty of other story lines to follow besides that, thank goodness. I'm curious about Columbia and Garmin of course, but also interested to see which new Belgian rises in April, how the 100th Giro will play out, and what team will be a revelation. BMC in europe? Katusha? Liquigas or Silence-Loto? We'll know soon.

I'm not more psyched for this year than others...just about the same I guess. But it builds slowly and next thing I know I'm sitting in front of a computer screen trying to discern the action at Tour of California via video-feed! Last year I sat and watched nearly every stage in real time (it helps to have a job where you work real early). Throw in the local racing scene...Snelling, Cherry Pie, Merced, and it tends to keep me busy.

Typically I'm 'preparing' for one of them, trying to squeeze in miles and intensity to be ready for Merco, or riding old la honda looking for better numbers before Pilarcitos. Not this year. Instead I'm trying to enjoy a slow build towards a different kind of season. Different means less worry about continually chasing race fitness or some abstract idea of what being an active racer means. Different means putting in some fun races on the track and aiming for top 20 finishes in the big crits like San Rafael, SF Twilight, Cats Hill and maybe a few others. Different means putting the time and effort into a full cyclocross season. That sounds fun to me.

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