Chris Winn: Ramblings From The Road


31 January 2012


I'll admit it.  A few cracks were starting to form in the cold weather training tolerance amour so the timing for our training camp in Texas couldn't have been more perfect.  This season I've been reunited with an old team mate of mine from Rio Grande, Brad Bingham, and he filled the co-pilot seat for the drive down to the Lone Star State.  He was a good choice as we knocked a solid 2hrs off the estimated 17hrs Google Maps time, not to mention a little help from the TDI only having to stop twice for fuel.  I love this car.

The trip also marked the first weekend of racing for the year and although I am no stranger to pinning on a number in January, doing it in the northern hemisphere was a little different.  With Texas reaching temperatures ranking high on the bloody hot scale during the bulk of summer, their local season kicks off a earlier than most.  The Tour of New Braunfels ticked all the boxes for the first races of the year, with both stages within riding distance from our digs and events long enough to make our pilgrimage down worthwhile.  Saturday we lined up for a 90 minute circuit race which was held over an undulating closed park circuit.  It was super fun and fast and even though it's only January we were all keen to start the year off on the right step.  The podium step that is!  With fresh legs the racing was aggressive, and we all did a pretty good job of covering moves until one finally stuck that included Nick who is one of the strongest sprinters on the squad.  Towards the end of the race things split up in the main bunch and I found myself in a small chase group and eventually rolled in for 7th.  Nick ended up in 5th so it was clear despite coming from a chilly Colorado we were at comparable fitness levels with the guys down south.

Sunday featured 6 laps of a 12mile loop that was similarly undulating although a little more exposed in parts so the wind became a factor.  The first hour was once again aggressive and with fast roads no break was able to stick despite many attempts.  With a lull in the pace towards the end of the second lap I had a little dig off the front which proved to be successful although a little ambitious with over the half of the race still left! Only one other guy came across but I was hoping to draw a couple of the Elbowz riders out from the pack who were clearly the strongest team there.  A lap an a half later a two of them did bridge across along with a Bontrager/Livestrong rider in tow, so with some fresh legs injected into the break the pace stepped up a notch or three.  Soon after we dropped my original breakaway companion so it was the four of us rotating smoothly with just two laps to go.  The time gaps hovered around the minute mark until the last 5km where we were told it was just 18 seconds back to the chasing pack!  At this point I knew it was going to be an uphill battle against two Elbowz riders coming into the finish, and they played the tactical advantage right, taking the first two spots on the box.  I was able to sneak in for third, covering the gas money for the trip and giving Horizon/Panache the first podium for the year.

It's always great to start the year off on a good note, and I'm looking forward to hitting the bigger NRC races in March with the San Dimas Stage Race and Redlands Classic.  Enjoy the photos below!

This photo is entitled "things found in cupboards that make you nervous".

Day four of riding became a forced 'out and back'.

Despite the daily battles on the bike each day, the real action was on the table each night.  With some previous ping-pong experience I remained king of the table until the last morning where Brad took me all the way down to the wire for a 22-24 defeat.  My only claim was that I hadn't had any coffee yet.  Chapeau Mr Bingham!

 The TDI at rest back home in Colorado.  The next day after arriving back 17 inches of snow blew in...yikes!

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