Strong start to cycling season 

Top finishes at Redlands, Sand Dimas

With the hammer down, I'm road tripping back to Canada with one of my best race results to date in the books. A podium finish at the Redlands Bicycle Classic is a prestigious thing. It's the traditional season opener for bike racing in North America, and the list of past winners is impressive, to say the least. My second place came after a breakaway of four riders. It was a tight sprint, and close enough that I could taste the win!

With the weekend behind me I'm left with even more motivation for what is shaping up to be a great season.

As I write this while speeding along the I-5, I can't help but notice the large grey and white formations in the sky. I thought it was spring, but from the look of things my training routine might change a bit in the next few weeks. Apparently I'll be trading in the shorts and sunscreen for long tights and thermals. It's been three months since I've seen home, and about six weeks since I last saw a cloud. Southern California definitely has its perks.

The last rain I saw was while Mother Nature unleashed her fury at the Amgen Tour of California, my first race of the season. The talk of the race was the rain, sleet, and even snow we had to ride through. But if the weather was hard on a guy, then I don't know what to say about the racing. Most of the seasoned riders described it as full on Tour de France level competition in February.

One thing is clear; between the difficult course, the best competition in the world, and the over two million spectators, road cycling is definitely making waves in North America.

It is good to have the tour under my belt. It was tough as a season opener, but I rode into it and got stronger by the end. It was also good to get in sync with the Jelly Belly Team. The tour served as a real boost to our fitness and ability to work as a team. After some well-deserved recovery time, we were that much better prepared for the next block of racing.

This latest session included the San Dimas Stage race, and the above mentioned Redlands Bicycle Classic; both in the busy Los Angeles area. The races are on the USA national calendar and serve as the traditional season opener for the American racing scene. I am happy to say I put in a few strong rides these past weeks with a fourth place in Stage 1, and fifth in the overall GC at San Dimas, and second place on Stage 2 and eight in the overall GC at Redlands.

It was several years ago that I first did the Redlands Classic and I did not finish. I can honestly say that at that time I didn't believe I'd ever be strong enough to ride like I did this past week. It takes a lot of hard work and patience, but feels pretty good when the effort pays off.

As for heading home, I have to say I'm looking forward to it despite the late winter. I've only been in B.C. for one week this year. Of course, it won't be a long-lived visit. When it comes to cycling, one is always looking forward and in two weeks the Bean Team (as in Team Jelly Belly beans) will be heading to the other side of the world for the UCI Tour of Malaysia. It's an eight-day tour on the international calendar. There are two big mountain days that I'll be focussing on, and we're expecting the Australians to pose some tough competition.

Maybe I'll have to spend some time spinning in the sauna next week as part of my prep for racing at the equator. From what I hear, it is rather hot and humid in that part of the world. I guess I'll have to think warm thoughts while training this week. Mind over matter, right?

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