California: Take Three
Yesterday I flew to California, and I realized as I landed that this was my third trip to Cali in two months. From baggage claim, I caught the bus North to Larkspur where Nicola would pick me up from the bus stop in the team van. As the bus crossed the Golden Gate bridge, with the sunlight-stricken water shining like sliver underneath, I began to think that this trip might be different than the other two.
The first was stressful because I was flying straight from the Middle East, meeting new teammates, riding new equipment, and doing long hours.
The second was stressful because I’d come straight from Europe, I wasn’t riding well, and the weather was horrible.
But this time I was traveling from Home, I had a direct flight, my legs were feeling good, and when Nicola came to pick me up she had a new pair of Pearl Izumi sneakers waiting for me in the team van! Things were looking good for ol’ Jackie Crowell.
Like most bike racers, I’m super cheap. I’d been wearing the same pair of sneakers for two and a half years when I signed my contract with Exergy in the Fall. Signing with Exergy meant FREE sneakers, so I decided my current pair could hold out until team camp. When I got to team camp and tried the new ones on, it turned out I’d ordered the wrong size. Two months later (yesterday), my old sneakers had gone well beyond the worn-in hipster look. They were down right dumpy. Do you think these Pearl Izumi’s can last me another three years?
We arrived at the host house the following day. We’ve got four of us at this race: myself, Pascale, Heather, and Alison. It’s actually less like a host house and more like a ranch. They’ve got several acres of land, two dogs, an exchange student, and wild turkeys chilling in the back yard. It’s at the top of a big hill and looks out across more hills covered in tall grass and sunlight. I guess not all of California looks like Redlands after all. I wish I could show you some pictures of this place because it’s so gorgeous. It’s like living in a movie. Might just stay here if everyone I knew didn’t live back on the east coast.
There’s always a little anxiety involved in host housing. Will the family be nice? Will they stay up late making noise? Will they have us all crammed into one room or will we each get our own room? Usually we’re happy as long as we have our own beds, good cooking utensils, space in the refrigerator to put food, and most importantly, wireless internet. An air mattress or a couch always beats sharing a bed with someone. The quality of host housing is our of our control, so I’m always grateful when we get a nice one. I’m taking notes and getting ideas for my future home.
The weather’s been perfect for the Sea Otter expo. Today after the race, we walked around to all our sponsors’ tents (Oakley, Felt, Sram), thanked them, and got some schwag. Our junior team came with us. This is a picture of my youngest teammate, Veronica Church. She’s nine.
She was having trouble clipping into her Speedplays today which, given that she must only weigh 50 pounds, doesn’t surprise me.
Tomorrow is the road race. Hopefully I’ll have something better to report than our (my) 6th place today.