Editor’s note: VeloNews’ newest online rider diarist is domestic pro Phil Gaimon of Kenda-Geargrinder. Gaimon already is well known to readers of VeloNews magazine as the author of one of our most popular (and funniest) features: Ask a Pro.
Kenda-5 Hour p/b Geargrinder Cycling has just wrapped up the Tour of the Gila in Silver City, New Mexico. Jake Rytlewski, Jim Stemper, and I showed up a few days early, met by Will Swan. It gave us a couple days to acclimate to the altitude (not nearly enough time, but better than nothing), and time to train for our next goal, the Tour of California.
We’re staying at the same race-provided host housing we had last year. It’s an interesting setup, in the gym of the Indian Hills Baptist Church. Remember watching news stories of Katrina victims, staying on rows of air mattresses and cots in big, open rooms?
That’s us right now: disaster relief housing. It’s no Katrina, but nine dudes in one room does qualify as a disaster.
The good news:
• The church has a giant kitchen. With all these redundant appliances and kitchenware (three microwaves, two stoves, five skillets, two sinks, and tons of silverware), we can all cook at the same time without tripping over each other, and I don’t need to clean someone’s nasty pot when it’s time to make myself some rice.
• Everyone’s in the same place. No need for room lists, easy coordinating of ride times and team meetings, massage times, etc.
• They have several cabinets full of free, nonperishable food. True, some of the salad dressings expired during the Clinton administration, but beggars can’t be choosers. If you’d like some canned corn or green beans, stop by anytime!
• No TV, and spotty Internet. For some, this would be bad news, but I’m getting some good reading done, and sitting around being bored together is great team bonding.
• The basketball hoop provides plenty of entertainment (probably too much). Based on past experience, Jim didn’t place his obsessive-compulsive setup (with everything he brought unpacked and neatly lined up) right underneath the hoop. Last year, his coffee was launched all over the room by frequent airballs.
Speaking of airballs, that brings us to the bad news:
• No privacy. We’ve now all seen each other naked. I suppose it’s good to just get it out the way early in the season, but I can only stand seeing a certain amount of pale, hairy ass and genitalia.
• Bodily functions and noises. At stage races, you eat a lot and drink a lot, and that leads to other things a lot. The room is a symphony of burping, farting, coughing, loogies, crunching, slurping, and snoring. Janis (the soingeur) has her own attached bedroom, so there are no girls around to make us hold anything in. It’s really turned into an anthropology lesson in here: a study of male habits in an all-male environment.
• Everything is made to cook for an army. There’s no skillet appropriate for fewer than 10 eggs.
As far as the race, there were ups and downs, as to be expected. Ben’s strong TT moved him to second on GC, but we weren’t able to keep him there on the final Gila Monster stage. We had some bad luck in the field sprints, with Shawn Milne’s mechanical near the finish on stage 2, and the lap-card confusion in the crit.
Basically, they said one to go when it was really two to go. We knew it was supposed to be two to go, but had to make the call on the road, since the officials really could have gone either way. Turns out, Shawn won the race and they said to go another lap. Luckily, our crit squad made up for it at Athens just a few hours later, where laps were counted down correctly, and Luca Damiani took the win. We all slept better when we read the news.
As the rest of the teams flee for lower altitudes, we’re staying until Wednesday. Frankie has some sadistic plans for long rides with motorpacing as final prep for the Tour of California. That means it’s time for me to take a nap. That is, if I can sleep over the bodily function symphony.
Phil is a 25-year-old VeloNews columnist and third-year pro racer for Kenda-5 Hr Energy Presented by Gear Grinder. He has an English degree from the University of Florida, and owns online stores at podiumcycling.com and sharethedamnroad.com.