I appreciate you, the kind words of encouragement and support and all the well wishes I’ve received over the past few weeks. It’s been helpful. The knee is still troublesome and the hand/wrist is still painful but I’m coming back around. Its been an interesting last two weeks but I’m on the mend. I wanted to share a few other thoughts about the Tour and to answer a few of your questions.
For our team a lot of focus has always been put on the Team Time Trial. It’s a favorite of JV’s and it’s one of my favorites as well. We arrived early to best prepare for Stage 2 in Les Essarts, and what would be 23 KM’s of pain. No one on the squad needs to be told that to win at the Tour in the TTT you have to go as deep as you’ve ever gone, to suffer like you may not have before. That truth is self-evident and it can bring up quite a bit of anxiousness.
Regardless of how prepared you are, how many times you’ve gone over the starting strategy, the rider order or the course profile, the lead up to setting your bike on the ramp can be full of anxious moments. My goal is always to calm the guys as I’m certain we perform better when we’re highly focused and not overly nervous. At one point on the bus I sensed that Millar was allowing the moment to get the best of him so I reached out and took his hands into mine and looked deeply into his eyes. I was projecting my calmness onto him, transferring my confidence and hoping to bring a sense of peace to his mind. But the truth is I think I just freaked him out even more.
My pre-time trial approach is to truly get into another state of mind, a place of deep focus and intense concentration. For those that have seen me at the races often remark that I seem like I’m elsewhere just before the start, and that’s because I am. I’m mentally conjuring up all the energy my body has, all the power I can possibly generate, and I’m bringing it to the single-mindedness of my purpose.
The TTT is often won or lost in the start. When you hit the start ramp your engine has to be ready to go. The warm-up is essential and for us it was done in 3 parts. We rode the trainers at the hotel and then transferred to the course and did a ‘hot lap’ practicing our pacing and rider order. Afterward we went back to the bus and rode the trainers again. I felt like the warm-up was quite good, that we were strong and in unison.
There’s a fine line between starting quickly, ramping up to speed and blowing guys off the back. There’s always a very real fear for TTT riders about losing contact in the back. The train is moving so fast that once you lose contact there’s virtually no chance to get back on. So keeping the group together, at max speed, is an important aspect of the discipline. For our TTT start we asked Julian to do the lead out, to get us started right and to give us a chance to win it by getting us properly off the line and up to speed.
While not everyone would finish with the group, the team worked beautifully together. I took some deep, long pulls and felt like I was in the zone. I gave the best of myself and was of course proud of what we all had accomplished. To win the stage, put Thor in yellow and be able to set the tone for what would be a spectacular Tour for the entire team was quite rewarding, quite special.
Aside from the TTT, it’s not always easy to convey just how much of a team sport cycling actually is. Our success on the road is very often the result of a team effort. There’s a great feeling between all the guys when a teammate does well. That feeling swells when the whole team does well. So you can imagine the euphoria in having the entire Garmin Tour squad recognized as the top team at the Tour.
I’d like to think that I contributed to our overall Tour success and after Sunday’s podium celebration I guess JV and the guys do as well. I really had no idea that they would bring me on stage and I can’t tell you how honored I was. It was a wonderful sign of respect and one that was deeply appreciated.
Cycling can have its surreal moments and Sunday’s acknowledgement was certainly one for me. I’d have to say that the podium line-up was one of my favorite moments as a pro, and I wasn’t even there. Of course I’m not complaining, but didn’t it look like Tommy D was crowding my spot on the podium just a little bit.
I first got the podium news on Sunday morning while in San Diego at the infamous Comic Con. I dragged the family down the coast from Los Angeles to show them that I wasn’t alone in my mad appreciation for our pop culture. The hotel I was staying in didn’t have Versus on the TV. So I’m laying around relishing that I’m in the midst of so much geekdom (honestly trying to put out of my mind what I’m missing out on in Paris) when Twitter starts going off about ‘cardboard Dave’. I guess Comic Con can have its surreal moments as well.
The day before (Saturday) I had been more or less a moth drawn to the light. I was floating around the Con with wide eyes and a wider smile. I’d never been to Comic Con before but I had heard of its madness. Now I was happily in its vortex and I’d have to say that all the hype about the show is well deserved. The exhibitors, the attendees, the mad rush, the magic and of course the costumes. I was attracted to quite a few costumed characters and found my way into several photos. Marvel had an actor in the exact suit from the current Capt. America film and it was admittedly hard for me not to beg for a chance to try that on.
I had tweeted in the morning a picture of my Con badge showing that I was a guest of Sideshow Collectibles. During the day several fans came by their booth to seek me out, chat it up and have a photo taken. Those were cool moments for me and I appreciated everyone’s kind words of support.
Maybe the highlight of the day was the chance to privately meet with the venerable Stan Lee, the greatest living super hero creator that we have. Stan is 88, full of life and sharp wit. Upon hearing who I was and what I do for a living he looked me in the eye and told me that he too rode a bike and in his younger years would have given me quite the challenge. I believe him.
Following my last blog post a lot of questions have come in and it might just be easier to answer them here, as best as possible.
Yup, I hope to do a book, or series of books about my perspective and experiences at some point in the future.
Nope, I don’t typically drink and whiskey has never been high on my list.
Yes, the TV show OZ is an unusual form of therapy.
No, the good doctor in France has not given up smoking.
For sure Ramunas is the real deal. He’s a force, a powerful rider and well deserving of praise for completing his first Tour.
Nope, I’m not surprised by Tommy D. His top 10 finish was beautiful to see.
Yes, Thor is amazing and if he pulls on the Garmin jersey next year you can count on me smiling.
Nope, unlike other professional sports in which injured athletes still sit on the bench, or travel with the team, in cycling we are sent home. The healing process is often specific, specialists are sought out, and a recovery plan is implemented. Staying with the team only delays that process and an injured cyclists’ return to the peloton.
Yes, we will offer a ‘cardboard Dave’ down the road. My mind has some crazy ideas of how much fun that could be.
Bo Takes 1st
I put my youngest son, Bo, on a 3-wheeler a day ago. He couldn’t have been more excited. He’s not walking yet but he surely wants to ride. His eyes got huge, his legs were dancing and his smile and giggle were endless. Not bad for a kid who’s first birthday is today.