I've been back in Girona for almost a week now since Worlds, and it is amazing the difference in the atmosphere. First, the weather is spectacular. It is the perfect temperature for riding during the day and sleeping during the night. The humidity is still in the air but without the intense heat, it is very pleasant. The second big difference is the lack of tourists. I went to meet a few guys on Monday night, and I thought I was in a ghost town when I walked down the hill from my apartment and onto the Rambla. I think it is typically a little quieter on Monday nights anyway, but now that the tourists are 90% gone, it is incredibly tranquil here. You can walk through the narrow, cobbled streets of the old town without rubbing elbows and sharing your conversation with the 30 other people within 5 meters of you. Let's not forget either that the markets are still going, which is always super fun for me. I actually just made it to the market for the first time today since being back. I have been on a really weird schedule since returning. I have had horrible trouble falling asleep (missing Lisa???) and then I sleep in super late. I usually like to go to bed early and wake up early, but it has been quite the opposite lately.
Despite the fact that it is late season and many rider's seasons are over, there are still many lingering around to keep me company. I went out to meet Timmy Duggan and Dan Martin one evening, and while hanging out, we crossed paths with Jesse Sergent, JJ Haedo, and at least one other who I am forgetting. I rode with Dan, Brent Bookwalter, Brent's girlfriend Jamie, and Caleb Fairly one day. I also did an awesome ride with just Caleb. We went and did some roads around my favoirte, close mountain town of Sant Hilari. The climbs aren't huge, but there are several different ways to go up/down, so it is fun to go up/down different sides a couple times. I took him on a new road which is always fun; although, then he proceeded to do an effort on the last climb and made me suffer a bit, dirty bugger!
Besides riding, I have enjoyed a few other social moments. I had a nice Mexican dinner with Caleb and Ally (his wife) one evening. I don't know what it is about Mexican food, especially for cyclists, but I think it is the absolute best! I also went for a nice menu of the day lunch with Caleb and Ally after a ride. It is fun to go out, but I sure wish I had Lisa here to share in the fun! It can be awkward feeling a little like the third wheel. Maybe the coolest evening I had was joining a group of Trek Travel riders for their last dinner. Their guide was one of the guides who was helping out our group at the TdF, so we coordinated for me to join the group one evening. I was really happy it worked out because I was able to catch up with Jonathan (the guide), but I also met some really great people. We had a great meal along the coast, and the conversation/interactions with the group were great.
A really interesting part about this dinner for me was that I had one of those "wait a minute... I've been here before!" moments. I thought that I had never been in this town before, but before we went to dinner, we walked down to the beach to take a group shot and socialize a little. When we turned to go down to the beach from the road/hotel, I had the "ah-ha" moment. I had been at this exact spot about 18 months prior with Christian VandeVelde. It was the day I changed my ride plan and decided to go with him to meet his friend for an afternoon on his friend's boat. I remember that day really well because it was super relaxing and fun. It was my first introduction to Paella, and my first time to the Mediterranean, too. Anyway, it was a random occurrence, but it brought back good memories.
Besides being this unusual social butterfly, I have managed to take one big burden off my shoulders this week: taxes. I filed an extension earlier this year to make sure I did them correctly because it was the first time I had real income, plus now Lisa and I are married, and add to that this special cycling situation. I don't know if the extension changed anything monetarily as far as how much I paid in taxes or legally because I was still clueless about what I was doing, but it still feels good to have them done. Other than that, it is now just time to do the year end cleaning of the apartment and tying up of as many loose ends as possible around here.
My next races are Paris Bourges and Paris Tours. They are a couple of the Fall one-day classics. I did them last year and remember having horrible luck at Paris Tours. I made it to the last 5km of the race feeling good, but all of the sudden got a horrible cramp in my back that made it nearly impossible to pedal or breath. I also remember my teammate, Geoffroy Lequattre, making a bold attack with quite a ways to go in the race and making it solo to the last 200m of the race before being caught. It was heart break! I'm hoping for better luck this year for the team and me. Hope everyone is enjoying the changing of the seasons. This is probably my favorite time of the year. Ciao!