Letters From Abroad – Back In The Saddle

Editor’s Note: Peter Horn is an American racing with the Geox-Fuji Test Team, the amateur development team of Geox-TMC. As Geox-Fuji Test Team’s captain, he’s looking to lead the team to victories in Belgium and around Europe, and help break the team’s riders into the Professional ranks.

I’m back in the saddle after a great mid-season break. The first week I stayed completely away from my bike, and while I didn’t get much rest, it was a real break and a lot of fun. I first went to Barcelona to meet friends for the Primavera Sound festival. Initially I went to be with my friends and spend a few days in Barcelona, but there was also some great music – my favorites at the show were Pulp, Big Boi and Of Montreal.

Last Sunday, after all the shows and parties in Barcelona, I had a few coffees and got the energy to drive back to France. Some good friends live in the south, just at the foot of the Pyrenees. Driving to and from Barcelona gave me the perfect excuse to spend a few days in France with them and train in one the best areas in the world for cycling. My friends, a couple, moved to this area in the last year and now work at Chateau Montus, a well-known winery in the region. I was happy to be back on my bike after a week away from it, and the time there was even more enjoyable with good friends and good wine. I did three days of endurance training, and on the last day, did the Col du Tourmalet twice.

The day I did the Tourmalet was the nicest day of training I’ve had in a long time. I drove to Bagneres-la-Bigorre and started my ride about 15km from the base of the climb. It’s easy to make a 100 or 120 km loop around the Tourmalet, but since I know the Tour de France goes over both sides of the mountain, I wanted to make sure that I did them both – which meant doing an out-and-back route. So I rode up through La Mongie, over the summit, down to Luz-St.-Sauveur at the base of the other side, then turned around and backtracked to my car. Just over four hours and around 3500 meters of climbing.

The next day, Thursday, I drove back to Belgium and by some miracle of nature, it was warmer in Belgium than in southern France. I trained two days and on Sunday, jumped back into racing with Wavre-Rijmenam, a 1.2 Top-Comp. Being my first race after two weeks away and a bit of travel, I did what I could and in the end, finished in the peloton. I’m pleased that my base condition is such that I can finish a hard race like that immediately following my break. And with a couple more weeks of endurance training, sprints, and racing in the weekends, I plan to be in top condition towards the end of June, which will be just in time for some of our biggest one-day races of the season. I have my sights set on four particular races over the next month: Flèche Ardennaise (1.2 Top-Comp), Romsée-Stavelot-Romsée (1.12), I.W.T. (1.2) and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (1.2 Top-Comp).

I’m getting some rest today, doing errands in Brugge and trying to enjoy a real Belgian summer day: 15 degrees (C), low clouds, a light breeze and constant mist. But seriously, most days recently have been in the 20s and yesterday’s race was actually hot. So today is actually a nice change and gives you a good reason to nap on a rest day. I’m going to head home and do exactly that, but first, here’s the Song of the Week: “Dance Until the World Ends,” Britney Spears’s new single. That might not be the actual title, but I’m just guessing after hearing the song about three dozen times: no matter what radio station I tried during my trip through France, I couldn’t avoid hearing this song at least twice every hour.

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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