I will not apologize for my lack of posting; instead, I will simply say that I have taken the beginning of the off-season seriously. I suppose I have had a fairly busy start to my off-season though with surgery, travel to Minnesota for three days, travel to Belgium for three days, and now I am finally back to New Mexico. It is very nice to be back with Lisa in NM, falling into a little bit of a normal routine. The time in Belgium was to start some team bonding and take care of some logistics for next season. It was a good time, and I enjoyed meeting some new guys, getting to know them a little bit. I did a pretty sweet run one morning around the awesome rolling hills and super soft grass on the edges of the Spa-Francochamps race track where we were staying. Other items at the camp included some general meetings, shoe fitting, and clothing sizing/fitting. I also was schooled in the art of billiards by my European teammates. Evidently the rules are different in Europe than in the US. By the end of the time there, I told them that when they come to California next year, we would play with one rule: "I win!" It provided for a good laugh.
Now that I am back in NM and trying to find the routine and get back on this timezone, I have been relaxing pretty hard. I haven't left the house very much, but I have been busy with the important tasks of real-life like paying bills, making sure insurance is up to snuff, and generally getting organized. To be honest, I haven't really accomplished much of anything, but at least thinking about it will get me started on doing it while I can. I went for my first mountain bike ride of the season yesterday. I took it really easy to just get a feel for the bike again and just enjoy it. I kept myself out of trouble except for one thorn bush that tried to eat my arm, leaving me with what appears to be claw marks on my upper forearm. I'm not discouraged though because I am likely going out again today. Post-ride yesterday, I took the stitches out of my collarbone, and everything seems to be healing well. I have very little pain/discomfort, except for a bit of numbness/tingling in the general surrounding area because of the trauma from the surgery. I had the same experiences when I originally broke the collarbone, so I expect them to dissipate over the next several months.
Ok, so I never gave a full recap of Lombardia as promised, but I would like to provide at least a brief summary. We began the race with three protected riders: Jani, Ben, and Philip, so it was up to the rest of us to go after the early breaks and eventually protect them. I was active in the start, following several moves, but it took a fair amount of time for the move to go. After it went, the race had an interesting dynamic. We had three fairly big climbs in the race this year. Normally it would be a reasonable tempo all day after the break went, but the dynamic was totally different this year. Liquigas drilled the first climb and trimmed the field down considerably. Then we went pretty hard down the descent but proceeded to basically sit up in the valley. Then we hit the Col d' Sormano where BMC drove the pace really hard, again slimming the field more. The descent was again even crazier with splits happening everywhere, guys single file through several switchbacks. At the bottom, there were probably three groups. Two regrouped with one up the road. The pace didn't relent between the Sormano and Ghisallo. I was starting to feel the effects of my efforts in the beginning combined with the efforts from the climbs, so I was drifting backwards. We hit the Ghisallo, which has always been a deciding point in the race, and the field was basically single-file. I was tailing on the back with no more energy, so I lost contact, and my day was over. Thankfully it wasn't 40 degrees and raining like last year, so I wasn't freezing to death.
Lombardia is an interesting race because once guys are dropped, they are looking for the first exit possible. I wanted to finish the race, but I was left all alone. I got to the top of the Ghisallo with a couple guys and thought maybe we would go to the finish, but they pulled the plug, and I was left all alone. I rode for quite a ways with the broom wagon behind me, but I got sick of it, so I waved them by, accepting my fate of simply finding the finish. I made friends with some local riders who directed me toward the finish and even pulled me for awhile. In the end, I did about 225km, basically everything but the final climb. I finished feeling disappointed because I hate to not finish, but there is not much of another option at this race. I checked results after the race, and the last finishers were only 100m in front of me at one time on the Ghisallo, but they were making use of the motorbikes around us, so I lost contact. I guess it just leaves me with a serious goal for 2012: front group. The interesting fact for Lombardia is that in 2010, they did Ghisallo then Sormano. In 2011, they did Sormano then Ghisallo. In 2010, I made it over Ghisallo and got dropped on Sormano. In 2011, I made it over Sormano and got dropped on Ghisallo. I guess I am just learning!
That's all I have for now. Oh, I almost forgot! Please go vote on Johan's Fan Choice awards. You will need to log in and click the "like" button, then vote! (Just follow the instructions). Thanks for reading and belated Happy Halloween.