» Phil Gaimon Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Fri, 25 Jul 2014 21:27:19 +0000 hourly 1 Phil Gaimon Journal: Meet the Garmin Tour squad Tue, 08 Jul 2014 14:32:07 +0000 Phil Gaimon

Garmin-Sharp's 2014 Tour de France team. Photo: Tim De Waele |

Gaimon isn't at the Tour, but he knows all about the nine riders Garmin brought to France

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Meet the Garmin Tour squad appeared first on


Garmin-Sharp's 2014 Tour de France team. Photo: Tim De Waele |

It’s funny how many people have asked if I’ll be racing the Tour de France this year. They probably don’t realize that there are 29 guys on the team, and only nine get to start the Tour (we capitalize Tour as if it’s a religious reference).

I hope to race the Tour in a year or two when I’m ready, but for now, I’m excited to watch since I’ve gotten to know some of the players. You probably just know what you’ve seen in the results, so I thought that maybe you’d enjoy a more personal view of the guys on our team — as I have this year — so I’ll share a couple things that struck me about each rider on Garmin-Sharp’s Tour squad.

Andrew Talansky: I wrote a book about how hard it is to come up to the WorldTour from racing in the U.S., and Andrew Talansky had it as hard (or harder) than anyone. He wouldn’t settle for sitting in for a top-10, so Andrew was the guy always attacking, always in the break, going after the top step.

For years, the racing was very controlled by the bigger teams, and Andrew was the dude who’d rip your legs off but didn’t have a lot of results, so he bounced around smaller pro squads and development teams, probably spent a lot of time in vans and crappy apartments in Europe. Then one year he was good enough that he could race for the win every day, and he’d often get it. The domestic peloton was like “Oh, shit!” And then JV signed him, and we didn’t have to worry about him anymore. Lately, the WorldTour peloton is having that “Oh, shit!” moment.

Tom-Jelte Slagter: I haven’t raced with Slagter, but when he showed up to training camp, he’d just had a baby. It was nothing but baby pictures. He couldn’t help but smile when he was showing them, and you’ve gotta love that. Most guys get slower when they have a baby, with the crying and whatnot, but Slagter’s been killing it this year. Happy watts are a thing.

Janier Acevedo: Janier raced for Jamis last year, so he and I were kinda rivals. He dropped everyone on the first mountaintop stage at Gila, and then eight of us ganged up on him in the last stage and attacked for hours.

I was afraid there’d be bad blood, but at the Tour of San Luis this year, Janier was told that he and Danielson would be protected GC riders, and he said that he was having knee problems, so protection status should go to me instead. That’s some selfless team-player stuff, and I’ll forever love him for it.

There’s one typo in my book — I called him “Javier.” No one cares, but I feel really bad about that.

Johan Vansummeren: It’s weird to go from riding for Bissell to sitting in a cramped bus at the Tour of West Flanders with a Paris-Roubaix winner, but the team threw me into the low-prestige, cobble-heavy stage race for experience. I was a fish out of water, while “Sumi,” as he’s known on the team, was very much a fish in water, racing easily on roads he knew like the back of his hand. I struggled when I tried to navigate the field on my own, but when Sumi found me and gestured to follow him, he knew the fast way around each roundabout and the best line through every corner, so we’d make up a few spots here and there, and quickly found ourselves at the front. I’d have never made it to the top third without him.

Alex Howes: Howes might be the coolest bike racer I’ve met (which would put him way up there in the “coolest humans rankings.” At the Tour of California, he had stomach issues, and didn’t mind that I blogged regular updates about his bowel movements. He raced a few days where I’m sure his body didn’t process a calories, but hung in there, running on fumes, like a boss. They offered to send him home, but all Alex would say is “No no. I’ll come good.” And he did.

Alex also does an awesome impression of pretty much everyone on the team. He has us all in tears at the dinner table. And breakfast.

Jack Bauer: The southern hemisphere guys came to training camp late, so I only talked to Jack a couple times. He seemed cool, and I’ve heard nothing but good things. Sorry, that’s all I’ve got on the guy, except I’m sure he’s sick of the Jack Bauer “24” jokes. I was sick of them a year ago. So when he’s on TV and they mention his name, keep that to yourself, alright? You’re welcome, Jack.

Ben King: When you meet Ben, he just seems like a nice, quiet, country boy from Virginia, and he is. Gets along with everyone, including people that no one gets along with. But then you get to know Ben, and you realize that he’s the most worldly 25-year-old you’ve ever met. He lives in a small town in Italy, speaks fluent Spanish (at least it sounds fluent to me), and has read more than a lot of English majors I know. You get the feeling that Ben’s only racing bikes because it’s a way he can make a living until he comes out with a novel or something.

Sebastian Langeveld: When I showed up at training camp, I’d just had a good result at San Luis, but I was nervous around all the guys I’d looked up to for so many years. Langeveld saw me in the hallway, and he could have just smiled and walked past me, but he shook my hand with a big smile and a “Congratulations! You showed up ready to race!” That was really nice of him.

Ramunas Navardauskas: On a team ride in Mallorca, Ramunas rode ahead of the group for a few minutes, doing a little interval for his training, while we continued our pace. When he was finished and coasting back to us, the director in the car drove up to the group with a funny idea: “Hey guys, get behind the car, and we’ll speed past Ramunas and leave him behind.”

We must have been cruising 40 miles per hour when we got to Ramunas, who was probably going 15. At the last second, he looked back and saw us coming, stood up, took two pedal strokes in a big gear, on his hoods, and was immediately on the wheel. He laughed, like “you guys almost got me,” but it was once of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen on a bike.

Also, I know I just said Langeveld is nice, but Ramunas is really, really nice. Like he’s weird nice. Always smiling. He’s the kind of guy that you’d want on the team just for positivity, even if he wasn’t really fast.

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Meet the Garmin Tour squad appeared first on

]]> 0
Phil Gaimon’s Journal: From daily blog to sickly slog Sun, 18 May 2014 02:42:22 +0000 Phil Gaimon

Phil Gaimon on the job during stage 3, which saw Garmin land a big win on Mount Diablo. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

It's funny how the races you focus on and prepare for can go to hell, just like a big result can come by accident, when you least expect it

The post Phil Gaimon’s Journal: From daily blog to sickly slog appeared first on


Phil Gaimon on the job during stage 3, which saw Garmin land a big win on Mount Diablo. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

I suppose it was cocky to commit to a daily blog, because it assumes that I’ll finish the stage race. Maybe it’s just bad luck. I didn’t think that finishing the Amgen Tour of Cali’ was that lofty a goal, after all the harder races I’ve been able to slog through this spring in Europe. In fact, I thought I might get a result or something here.

Instead, I guess I got a stomach bug. I spent the night in Pismo waking up every hour in a sweat, heart racing, with a headache, so sore that I felt like I’d been sadistically beaten. Tommy D. was still sleeping like a baby, so I don’t think he took a baseball bat to me in my sleep or anything, but I suppose it’s a possibility.

I started the race that day, and was pleasantly surprised to be able to hang in there, with the help of the guys bringing me lots of ice socks and water, all hoping I’d push through to help out later in the race.

I didn’t feel great the morning of the Mountain High stage. My stomach was still messy, but the headache and soreness were gone, so I was optimistic that I’d make it through, maybe even get in the break. Bike racers are dumb that way.

Then the race started, and the 6.5 watts per kilo I had in my head turned into 6.5 kilos per watt. The first 20km were tough, and I was in the cars a lot (along with plenty of other dudes), tasting the still-undigested pesto risotto I’d had for dinner two nights before. It doesn’t matter whether your head aches if there’s two days of food in your guts, and nothing turning into fuel. The doctor told me to pull out in the feed zone, where I got a ride to the finish to cheer on my team.

It’s funny how the races you really focus on and prepare for can go to hell, just like the big result can come by accident, when you least expect it. It’s a silly sport that way, especially for the guys lower on the totem pole, like myself.

I only live 30 minutes from the hotel, so the upside is that I get to spend the night in my own bed, because there’s nothing worse than hanging around the event when you’re not in it. All I want to do after a bad race is think about the next one and put this behind me, so as much as I like everyone here, I don’t want to see them right now.

Rohan and the rest of my team is kicking ass, so I’ll cheer the guys on from a distance. But for now, I’m getting out of here like I’m about to turn into a pumpkin.


The post Phil Gaimon’s Journal: From daily blog to sickly slog appeared first on

]]> 0
Phil Gaimon Journal: California, the showoff state Thu, 15 May 2014 13:31:19 +0000 Phil Gaimon

Garmin-Sharp was content to sit up and take it easy Wednesday at the Amgen Tour. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

Phil Gaimon enjoyed riding past redwoods, the ocean, and more during stage 4 at the Tour of California

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: California, the showoff state appeared first on


Garmin-Sharp was content to sit up and take it easy Wednesday at the Amgen Tour. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

Wednesday’s stage 4 at the Amgen Tour of California might have been the most scenic race I’ve ever done. We raced through some redwoods, and then along the ocean all day, with some fun twisty sections, and not too much climbing. Sometimes, the state of California just turns into a showoff, and today was one of those. But don’t move here. It’s already too expensive.

Garmin-Sharp had a pretty low-stress day, keeping Rohan out of trouble and keeping each other cool and hydrated. I like Tyler Farrar a lot, but it is nice racing without a sprinter because it meant we really got to chill out today.

 Most of the stress was after we got our feedbags. Skratch Labs makes these awesome rice cakes for all the teams, and guys barter pretty hard to get the ones they want. You can have my “savory” bar, but I won’t trade for less than a sweet and an ice sock. I also had some peanut butter chocolate Harmony Bars, but those will cost you a kidney and your first-born child.

The breakaway stuck, which is pretty funny. All those sprinter teams had one job. It seemed like it was close enough that it would be easy to drag it back whenever they wanted, but a ripping tailwind helped them out, and suddenly there were 10km to go and they still had two minutes. Fine with us. Will Routley is a really nice dude, and a hell of a bike rider. Since we were sprinting for sixth or seventh, it just made the finale that much safer.

I’m typing from the bed in the back of the RV as we head to another hotel in … I don’t know where we’re going. It’s getting to be that time of the stage race where it’s hard to remember what room you’re in, or which hotel the key in your pocket is from today and which is from yesterday. I got lost trying to find the massage room, and when I was heading back from dinner last Tuesday night, I saw Nate Brown going down the hallway away from our block of rooms.

“Where are you going Nate?” I asked, figuring he was visiting a friend on another team. “I don’t know!” he yelled.

Alex Howes is almost back to normal, folks. After a long few days in the bathroom and trying to stay fueled on the bike, he says he’s feeling alright. It’ll be hard to gain strength mid-race, so a 100 percent Alex Howes isn’t likely, but it’s nice to see some color in his face again.

Someone read my blog from yesterday and brought grits to the start. I just finished those. I’ve also been getting lots of cookies. Somehow people found out that I enjoy chocolate chip cookies. If you’re looking to bring gifts to the start later today, I also like suitcases full of cash, and I’d love a piano.

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: California, the showoff state appeared first on

]]> 0
Phil Gaimon Journal: Dennis loses, then wins, in California Wed, 14 May 2014 13:40:46 +0000 Phil Gaimon

Lawson Craddock made the podium on stage 3, and hopes to hold the same spot on the overall when the Amgen tour concludes Sunday. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

The Garmin-Sharp rider talks about Rohan Dennis' defeat in a team bet, which he overshadowed with a victory on Mount Diablo

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Dennis loses, then wins, in California appeared first on


Lawson Craddock made the podium on stage 3, and hopes to hold the same spot on the overall when the Amgen tour concludes Sunday. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

First things first: Rohan Dennis lost the bet Monday. Caleb Fairly had wagered that he couldn’t go a day without cussing, and Rohan did surprisingly well. Before the time trial at the Amgen Tour of California, he said he’d never felt so pure. “I feel like I could go to school again!” It was a new Rohan. He even managed not to swear after yet another second place in a time trial.

But eventually, Rohan was overheard when we were stuck in traffic saying, well, what we all say when we’re stuck in damn traffic. Rohan didn’t even realize he’d done it until the evening, when Nate Brown bravely informed him. Then it was a stream of pent-up vulgarity, as Rohan was finally liberated. I cried laughing.

We had grits for dinner, which made this Georgia boy very happy (they called it polenta, but I know the truth). Ben King told a story where a friend asked a waitress what grits were. She explained (in a thick southern accent) “Well, it’s like oatmeal, but it’s grits.” If that’s not funny, it’s because you’ve got to hear Ben say it.

Rohan probably isn’t too bummed about losing the bet, though, because the dude killed everyone on a mountaintop finish yesterday, sealing the deal after a strong display of strength in numbers and good teamwork from the guys.

With that heroic effort, you’ve got a bike race to watch this week, rather than just watching Wiggo ride away with it like everyone was expecting. Rohan says you’re effing welcome.

Alex Howes stomach bug update: Not good, folks. I don’t even want to joke about it anymore. Bathroom jokes are funny, but he’s attained Viking status for hanging in there.

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Dennis loses, then wins, in California appeared first on

]]> 0
Phil Gaimon Journal: Hurry up, blinding pain, and wait Tue, 13 May 2014 02:40:34 +0000 Phil Gaimon

A fan brought me cookies, and Jonathan Vaughters brought a niece and nephew onto the bus to help me eat them. Photo: Phil Gaimon |

Phil Gaimon recounts his day of being mistaken as a favorite by the press and his friends, and teammate Dennis' no-cussing bet

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Hurry up, blinding pain, and wait appeared first on


A fan brought me cookies, and Jonathan Vaughters brought a niece and nephew onto the bus to help me eat them. Photo: Phil Gaimon |

Monday was the time trial at the Amgen Tour of California, which mostly meant sitting around. First, a 30-minute bus ride to the start. Then, I sat around while my teammates warmed up, raced, and cooled down, until it was my turn to do those things. Then a long drive to San Jose, where we stay tonight.

Aside from sitting around and relaxing, we each had about 20-30 minutes of blinding pain. The course was more rolling than it looked on the profile, but all in the big ring. It was hot, but I started with a stocking full of ice stuffed into the back of my jersey, which looks really creepy when it’s melted, because then it’s just a ripped-up stocking.

Wiggins won. You could tell that Sky is serious about this race, because they have a ton of staff here. I walked past the Sky bus earlier, and they had two people putting laundry in the same washer, and one guy behind them, just watching. I assume he was maximizing the detergent efficiency, analyzing the aerodynamics of the laundry bags, and calculating the washer stress score.

One of the cycling news sites listed me as a favorite this morning. I was worried for a minute, but it was an oversight, and they meant my teammate Rohan Dennis. They corrected it pretty quick, so the pressure was off little old me, but it’s funny how many messages I got from friends who were fooled, and stoked that I was a favorite. Some said that if I just believed in myself, maybe I could win the TT. Or even the overall. It’s true that I trained really hard, and I’m damn fit, right? Yes, and don’t tell your kids, but it doesn’t work that way. My 40th place, at two or three minutes back (when you’re that far back, you don’t look too close at the results), is one of my better time trial results, so I’m content.

Rohan finished second today, approximately his 39,842,093,849,203rd time finishing second. More importantly, though, he’s poised to win a bet with teammate Caleb Fairly about whether he could go a day without cussing. He’s made it to 7 p.m., but he’s invented a lot of new terms for private parts and people he doesn’t like, and it only takes one slip-up to lose the bet. It’s getting tense for Caleb (we all thought he’d be an easy winner), but it’s hilarious for the rest of us.

Not content is teammate Alex Howes, who’s been sick with a stomach bug this week. He said his bowel movements were improving, but based on the smells in the car on the drive to the hotel, he’s not there yet.

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Hurry up, blinding pain, and wait appeared first on

]]> 0
Phil Gaimon Journal: Rough starts at the Tour of California Mon, 12 May 2014 14:40:56 +0000 Phil Gaimon

The marker decorations are so I won't confuse my heart rate strap with someone else's. This picture is to show you the salt. Photo: Phil Gaimon |

The Garmin-Sharp rider talks about a pre-race illness and a stage 1 crash that plagued the team in California

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Rough starts at the Tour of California appeared first on


The marker decorations are so I won't confuse my heart rate strap with someone else's. This picture is to show you the salt. Photo: Phil Gaimon |

Garmin-Sharp has been plagued by some bad luck this year, and this race—while it was no TTT pileup—certainly hasn’t started like we’d hoped.

Lachlan Morton had visa drama and couldn’t make it to the U.S. Meanwhile, after a long spring, Alex Howes was told to rest when he came back from Romandie, so he put the bike away for a few days. Then he was called in to take Lachlan’s spot. He brought a stomach bug with him, and has spent most of the time at this wonderful Doubletree hotel on the toilet. Last night, he slept in two pairs of shorts, just in case. Alex said it was OK to tell you about that.

The start was pretty relaxed, and a couple domestic guys were overheard joking that UCI WorldTour races were supposed to be hard. I remember being one of those guys (and thinking the same thing) a few years ago.

The stage was hot and just under 200 kilometers, which would have felt really long if I hadn’t been racing in Europe all spring. It looked to be a field sprint, and in the end it was, but in the middle, things were much more complicated, with a nasty crosswind section that tore the field apart and put us in a bad position. I need to check a video to see what happened because the split was bizarre. I’ve raced enough to have that “Oh s—t! Better get to the front!” moment when it gets fast and windy, but this time, the split happened before it even got looked dangerous. I looked up, decided to start moving up, and noticed that the split had already happened.

Then it got difficult. I was suffering back in the cars when JV (Jonathan Vaughters) leaned out the window and said (yelled), “Get to the front! Everyone has to chase! Now!” So we did, and it came back, with help from other teams, and eventually a headwind stretch.

Then Rohan Dennis, a favorite for Monday’s TT, got knocked to the ground. I didn’t see it happen, but I saw the bloody towel he used to clean up after the stage, and his beat-up helmet. The day after a crash, riders often find themselves with good legs, thanks to whatever chemicals your body releases when you hit the deck, so he’s still looking forward to the TT. The day after that, well, that usually sucks.

No one lost time, and both Tommy Danielson and Janier Acevedo are looking good (Alex Howes is looking skinny, but for the wrong reasons).

And those domestic riders who joked that the race was easy? They didn’t make it back to the group in the crosswinds. I remember being one of those guys, too.

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Rough starts at the Tour of California appeared first on

]]> 0
Phil Gaimon Journal: The cliche before the storm at the Amgen Tour of California Sun, 11 May 2014 03:32:56 +0000 Phil Gaimon

Jim, our tour guide in Sacramento.

When the race starts, the public-relations storm is over, the schedules are issued, and your smart pro goes into "dumb animal mode"

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: The cliche before the storm at the Amgen Tour of California appeared first on


Jim, our tour guide in Sacramento.

First of all, I’m sure you that if you’re a Velo or reader, you’re aware that I wrote a book. “Pro Cycling on $10 a Day” is now available in bookstores, bike shops, and online.

Here’s my one and only shameless plug for it: When I was coming up in the sport, I remember looking up to guys on the smaller American teams. I figured pros lived wild, glamorous lives, and I worked hard to join them as I ground my way through college.

I finally made it, learned what it was really like to be a professional, and wrote the book to tell the youngsters of today what they’re getting into, what to expect when they’re there, how hard it is, and why it was worth every night on a stranger’s sofa, and each square mile of road rash on the way. I’m really proud of how the book came out, and I hope to sign your copy if you make it out to the Amgen Tour of California this week.

If you can’t make it to the race in person, you can read about it here, because I’ll be blogging daily-ish from the Amgen Tour of California. I say “–ish” because I might get tired or busy, and I don’t want any whining if I miss a day. Got it, folks? Bike racing is hard enough.

Friday was the team presentation. People always talk about this time of a bike race as “the calm before the storm,” but I hate that cliché. For one thing, a bike race isn’t a storm, unless it’s actually storming, which happens sometimes. For another, from the riders’ perspective, the storm is over when the bike race starts, because racing is the easy part.

Some of the guys on Garmin-Sharp flew straight from the Tour de Romandie, landing in San Jose on Monday night. I spent an afternoon there filming a very silly series of videos for Cervelo (I can’t imagine why they picked me for silliness).

Then we had a few days of publicity-type rides around Palo Alto, including a stint where locals could sign up through their Uber apps to ride with us, the same way you’d pick up a ride across town. It was a ton of fun, we were generously wined and dined (don’t worry, just one glass of wine each, JV), but it was exhausting, and the schedule was packed every day.

When the race starts, that’s when it’s calm for us. There’s no PR or interviews (unless you’re the poor bastard who’s winning the thing), and riders go into what I refer to as “dumb animal mode,” which means we have a detailed schedule every day, a room list, meals provided, bags carried for us, massage, and soigneurs to point us to our rooms if the hotel is particularly confusing.

As a big, dumb animal, my brain is turned off for days as I blindly do what I’m told. In fact, my schedule the other day said, “Give Tom Danielson a wedgie,” and I just went for it, no questions asked.

It’s an exciting week for me. I remember racing here with smaller American teams, and looking with envy at the Garmin guys who roll up in their big bus, with a fleet of cars and staff and chefs.

Well, guess what? I’m that guy now! Goosebumps, guys! All my schedule says for the rest of the week is: “Don’t screw it up.”


The post Phil Gaimon Journal: The cliche before the storm at the Amgen Tour of California appeared first on

]]> 0
Book Excerpt: You can make lemonade out of road rash Fri, 02 May 2014 20:22:55 +0000 Phil Gaimon

Phil Gaimon's new book, Pro Cycling on $10 a Day, hits bookshelves later this month.

In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, Garmin-Sharp's Phil Gaimon reflects on the day Johnny Sundt taught him a lesson at Univest

The post Book Excerpt: You can make lemonade out of road rash appeared first on


Phil Gaimon's new book, Pro Cycling on $10 a Day, hits bookshelves later this month.

Velo magazine columnist Phil Gaimon earned a one-year contract to ride for Team Garmin-Sharp after several seasons gutting it out on U.S. domestic teams like Bissell, Kenda, and Jelly Belly. Gaimon has written a new book, Pro Cycling on $10 a Day, which is a guide and a warning to aspiring racers who dream of joining the pro ranks. His book chronicles the racer’s daily lot of blood-soaked bandages, sleazy motels, cheap food, and overflowing toilets. But it also celebrates the true beauty of the sport and the worth of the journey. The following is an excerpt from chapter 2.

Saran Wrap makes a good bandage

With my form finally coming around, I lined up with my teammates for the last race of the summer — the Tour de Toona in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Toona was one of the most prestigious NRC races at the time, and its hard climbs suited me well. Plus, the race was at low altitude, so the Colorado-based climbers didn’t have their usual advantage.

We members of the Sakonnet team were true amateurs, and Toona was no exception for us. We washed and repaired our own bikes, and we never had massage or paid feeders like the spoiled pro teams. Instead, we had Barb and Tom, a couple from Florida who were friends of Basil. They were in the area on vacation and had volunteered to drive us around and hand out bottles in the feed zone. Some vacation, huh?

Not that the team had many bottles to hand out in the first place. After each stage, we’d sneak over to the other teams’ trailers and steal the empties from their trash. They threw them out after one use, so we washed out their leftovers. No big deal, but I couldn’t imagine that happening with some of the spoiled kids on VMG the previous year.

We lost almost two minutes in the opening team time trial, but I rode well after that, the only amateur or Under 23 making small selections over the climbs. With no mountaintop finishes that year, chase groups always made it back to us, and we’d race for the stage win from groups of 30. Healthnet’s sprinter, Karl Menzies, barely made it over the climbs, but he had enough left to kill everyone at the finish.

I started at the back of the field for the Blue Knob climb on the last road race stage but flew through the peloton into a front group of 10 riders. It looked like the climbers would finally stay away, and I’d get my long-awaited top 10.

My group rode hard on the descent, trying to stay away from Karl and the other sprinters, and I was pegged at the back when the rider in front of me panicked in a fast corner and overcorrected. We were down before we knew it, sliding on gravel for what seemed like hours, until we finally tumbled into the guardrail. My bike’s frame was cracked into pieces, and the right side of my body was chewed to shreds.

My race was over, but the worst was yet to come. The ambulance pulled to a quick stop to check us out, and the drivers parked in the middle of the dangerous corner. When another group flew through the bend a few minutes later, three riders slammed into the back of the ambulance. Koschara had pulled over, and after begging the EMT to move, he ran up the hill to warn the next groups to slow down. There were tears in his eyes. Matt had been the man on the ground plenty of times when he was racing, but he found the helpless bystander role harder to handle.

I limped to Barb and Tom’s minivan and bled all over their seats on the way to our extended-stay hotel. By the time my teammates returned, I’d scraped the gravel out of my elbow and thigh, grimaced through a shower, and disinfected my wounds with various stinging chemicals. No amount of bandages in the world would have covered all the square footage I needed, so Matt helped me wrap myself in cellophane, which at least kept everything moist. When I packed my car, I grabbed close to a hundred of the team’s supply of lightly used water bottles. They wouldn’t need them for the crit the next day, and I had to go home with something.

I drove all the way back to Florida that night, 15 hours straight. Apart from gas, I stopped only once, at a Wal-Mart Supercenter for a cookie. You know how when you go to Wal-Mart, there’s always some lowlife with fresh stitches, black eyes, or facial wounds, and you try not to stare? That night, I was the guy with the limp and a right leg that looked like roadkill wrapped in plastic. Everyone stared.

You can make lemonade out of road rash

It was humid and over a hundred degrees in Florida that August, but I wore pants for a few weeks to keep my wounds covered. The crash took me off the bike for a while, forcing me to recover from the missing skin, a hard stage race, and a long summer. When I showed up at a small stage race in north Georgia the next month, my climbing legs from Toona were back with a vengeance. I was second overall going into the last stage, with two 40-mile laps and three long climbs each. I was only down by two seconds overall, but I attacked from the gun and stayed away to win by four minutes, despite a full Jittery Joe’s pro team chasing me all day. A year before, I’d begged that team for a contract, and their manager told me to do more NRCs. On the third lap, I saw an awful lot of guys in orange Jittery Joe’s jerseys on the side of the road, dropped from trying to catch me. I guess they hadn’t done enough NRC races.

Yelling is a tactic

It was a good sign for the legs to come back around, because the next weekend was Univest, the last race of the year. I expected to improve on my DNF record, until I woke up weak and nauseous the morning of the race, with a bad headache and phlegm everywhere. I knew from experience that even minor illnesses sap your fitness, so my heart sank as my hopes for the race went into the toilet, along with my dinner from the night before.

Not wanting to wake my teammates, I snuck outside and around the corner to a gas station, where I bought two sausage breakfast biscuits and a Coke, and walked around part of the finishing circuits for the stage. If we were still in the group after all the climbs, we’d get to race five 4-mile laps around town to the finish. When I got back to the house, the guys were up, so I joined them for oatmeal, and we headed out to the staging area.

Basil and Thurston had driven in from New York to watch the race from the team car. They were disappointed to see me coughing and pale, but they were glad I still wanted to start. My secret plan was to attack from the gun, make the early break, which usually got caught on the second of three climbs, and then hop into the car early when my job was done.

My first attack looked promising, and we had 20 seconds on the group when I went through the rotation behind Jonny Sundt, riding for Kelly Benefits. As we both drifted to the back, Timmy Duggan from Slipstream flew by with 10 guys behind him. We’d been caught and countered, and the new break was going away. With Sundt behind me, I sprinted ahead of the break we were in, trying to grab onto the back of Duggan’s group, but the two of us found ourselves in no-man’s-land between the break and the peloton.

I took a hard pull and flicked my elbow, asking Jonny for help.

“Fuck you! You pull us back there!” he replied. I kept pulling and didn’t say a word, but Jonny kept a constant barrage of insults coming, lashing me like a whip.

“Don’t you get us dropped from the break, you fucking idiot!”

I figured I must have messed up somehow for him to yell like that, so I managed to drag us across without Jonny’s help. After a little more reshuffling, the break of 11 was established with me, Jonny, Stefano Barberi from Toyota-United, John Fredy Parra from Tecos, Timmy Duggan and Will Frischkorn from Slipstream, and a handful of European riders.

The course was mostly flat at first, with lots of tight turns through Pennsylvania’s countryside, interrupted by three progressively harder King of the Mountain climbs (KOMs). As the rest of us kept the pace, Jonny and one of the Germans were battling for the sprinter jersey. The German was leading in the points, but he came off the pace on the first climb, and it looked like he held onto his team car to catch up to us.

On the second climb Sundt’s rival came off again, but this time, once Jonny had chased back, his director stopped the car and waited for the Germans to approach. He knew that if someone was watching, they wouldn’t hold onto the car again. The German didn’t finish the race, and Jonny got the green jersey.

After a couple hours in the wind, it was time for the field to bring us back for their sprinters. The lead moto approached with a time gap, and I was looking forward to hearing that we were almost caught so I could call it a day.

“Your lead is nine minutes,” he said.

My heart sank. The plan to make the early break and quit had backfired. The field had given up, and I was in for a long day.

Duggan went to the front on the third climb, shedding everyone but me, his teammate Frischkorn, and Parra. The four of us entered the finishing circuits with a massive lead, and when we made the first turn on the second lap, the whole peloton was standing there, pulled from the race, wondering who the skinny Sakonnet kid was. I made sure not to acknowledge them, to act like I knew what I was doing. Frischkorn attacked and easily stayed away for the win, and I was dropped on the final lap, cruising in alone for fourth and the Best Young Rider award. I was sure I’d get a pro contract from that effort.

After the stage, my result got me more chamois time at the press conference. I sat reluctantly beside Jonny Sundt, afraid to make eye contact after our interaction early in the race, but he was fine. Jonny’s rudeness wasn’t because he was actually angry, or even a bad guy. It was a tactic, and it earned him a free ride across to the break. He felt bad that I’d fallen for it, and he explained that I, too, could yell at less-experienced riders (he might have said “suckers”) to make them do my bidding. I’ve always appreciated the lesson. I woke up the next morning too weak to move, hit hard by the illness and the effort from the day before, but I knew that from then on, no matter how sick I felt, I’d always at least start the race.

Frischkorn’s Team Slipstream was the continuation of the TIAA-CREF development team, still run by Jonathan Vaughters and moving up the ranks fast. Vaughters was the first director to figure out that the doping era was over — he saw that teams with scandal and questionable riders were having trouble finding new sponsors — so he designed and marketed Slipstream around the idea of clean racing and internal testing. Other teams quickly followed suit, and in a way, pro cycling was rescued. I watched Frischkorn finish second (by a tire width) on a stage at the Tour de France the next summer.

Republished with permission of VeloPress from Pro Cycling on $10 a Day by Phil Gaimon. Learn more at

The post Book Excerpt: You can make lemonade out of road rash appeared first on

]]> 0
Phil Gaimon Journal: Home Alone in Catalunya Wed, 02 Apr 2014 14:22:38 +0000 Phil Gaimon

Nate Brown and I testing out our new bike before the start. This was before we got yelled at. Photo: Phil Gaimon |

The Garmin-Sharp rider writes about finishing the "longest and hardest race" he has ever done

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Home Alone in Catalunya appeared first on


Nate Brown and I testing out our new bike before the start. This was before we got yelled at. Photo: Phil Gaimon |

The Tour of Catalunya was last week. It’s sort of a home race for Garmin-Sharp, with most of our riders based in Girona, Spain, and it was nice to go to a race without stepping onto a plane. I just drove the trusty ol’ Renault to the team service course where the bus was parked.

It was a stacked field in Catalunya, so the startlist was intimidating. Even worse, in the four, seven-day stage races I’ve done, there was always one time trial that I could treat as a rest stage (well, except San Luis). No such luck here, with long stages and lots of climbing every day.

The first couple of stages were pretty straightforward, and by straightforward I mean lots of wet corners. The second day finished in Girona (we flew right past my favorite cookie stop in Banyoles). When I looked at the stages a month ago, I thought how cool it would be to ride into my new hometown, with all the cycling-friendly crowds, greeting pals, and teammates at the bus after the finish. Instead, it was dumping cold rain, and the only cheering I heard was from teammate Alex Howes (he skipped Catalunya for Criterium International).
“Phil! You suck!” he yelled.

My role was to support our GC guys: defending champ Dan Martin, Ryder Hesjedal, and Andrew Talansky. That meant moving them around in the field, riding out in the wind to make sure they had a draft, taking their jackets for the climbs, and giving jackets back for the descents. It’s harder than it sounds, OK? And really important.

Tom Danielson started the race, but whacked his knee during the second stage. Since he was my roommate for the week, I had hotel rooms to myself after that. Remember the scene in “Home Alone” when Kevin made his family disappear and then ran around the house, dancing, yelling, and eating junk food? It was just like that.

The race started out wet and only got worse, with two stages in the snow. And I don’t mean snow on the ground. This was “go back to the car and take whatever they have for warmth” snow, and mountaintop finishes. 

On the second consecutive snow day, I finished minutes behind the leaders. I pegged director Johnny Weltz in the chest with a snowball and climbed onto the bus, where I sat on the floor of the shower, too tired to stand. Despite the dismal conditions, I was in a good mood. Looking out the window at the snowy pines and the bundled crowds who trekked up there to cheer us on, I remembered that this was what I’ve always wanted. Miserable or not, I’m racing with the big boys now.

The WorldTour does have its downsides, however. I tried to make the early break one day, which would clearly be established on the first climb, right from the start. I attacked over and over, followed counterattacks, and kept hitting it the whole way up the 40-minute climb. Last year when I attacked on a climb, I was off the front no problem, but Katusha wasn’t having any of it on this day in Spain. Over the top, I finally had to give up.

Dan Martin rode over to me and said, “Good effort. Make sure you eat something now. We’ve got a long way to go.”

I tried for the break again the day after, a 220-kilometer windy stage, which started with another long, twisty climb. One minute I was fighting my way to the front of the field, but the next I hit a rock and went to the car with a flat tire. I chased back into the group just as it was exploding to bits, and found myself off the back, with a pack of 40 guys who were having a worse week than I was. At that point, if Contador had flatted, he would have punched it across to the back of the group no problem, but I’m not Contador.

I took my pulls in the group and crossed my fingers that we would get lucky. After all, the break would have to go sometime, and the field would stop to pee. Sure enough, after 30 minutes in the wind, we cruised up to the nature break, and I even had time to take one myself. Many hours later, I had the gas to follow attacks on the last climb, trying to help Ryder into a late breakaway or to put pressure on Katusha for Dan Martin to grab a stage result. It wasn’t much, but I was happy to find out that I could contribute at the front of the race, and it probably looked cool on TV.

On the last stage, I was feeling OK. I was worn down from the longest and hardest race I’d ever done, but I knew I had the legs to finish my first WorldTour race — and that’s pretty cool. But then Talansky flatted, at possibly the only time in a stage race worse than my flat on the 220km stage: with the big names attacking each other on technical, hilly, wet finishing circuits in Barcelona. Three of us waited with him, and my finish line became the back of the field. My job is to help the team, not to finish the race, and I’m alright with that.

I’m also alright with the fact that we won the team classification, so I got to stand on the podium, receive the flowers, all that jazz. Then we drove back to Girona, airplane-free.

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Home Alone in Catalunya appeared first on

]]> 0
Phil Gaimon Journal: How to lose weight in Europe Fri, 14 Mar 2014 13:24:04 +0000 Phil Gaimon

I can’t call this a car at the moment because it’s not running, but this is my new shelter with a CD player and a sweet Garmin GPS. Photo: Phil Gaimon |

In his latest blog, the Garmin-Sharp rider talks about settling into his new Spanish lifestyle — and getting comfortable with it all

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: How to lose weight in Europe appeared first on


I can’t call this a car at the moment because it’s not running, but this is my new shelter with a CD player and a sweet Garmin GPS. Photo: Phil Gaimon |

My last blog was after the Tour de San Luis at the end of January. It was weird that after all the suffering and bonding in Argentina, not only had we not had training camp yet, but it was still January, and the season had barely started. I spent that week in L.A., then headed to Girona, Spain to settle into my new home at Tom Danielson’s house.

A few teammates shared the taxi from the Barcelona airport, and Caleb Fairly pointed out the Girona Burger King as we passed it.

“That’s where you go when you just need something American,” he explained. I thought that sounded silly. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten at Burger King in the United States, and there are a ton of great restaurants in Girona.

The team always brings guys to Spain a few days before camp starts, assuming they have apartments to rent, Internet service to set up, that sort of thing. All I needed was some groceries because Tom Danielson is graciously renting me a spare bedroom at his place and I didn’t need to do a damn thing. I have enough stress and new challenges this year, so it’s great to have the living situation dialed in as I get comfortable in my new surroundings.

Not that everything is easy. Tom’s house is a few miles (or, as they’re called here, kilometers) outside of Girona, so while the guys who live in the city can get around on foot, I quickly realized that I needed a car to get to the team service course, run errands, etc. I mentioned that to a couple of my teammates, and they immediately said the same thing: talk to Johnny Weltz. Johnny is Danish, formerly a racer, and now a director for Garmin-Sharp living in Girona. He’s also apparently good at connecting new guys with whatever they need. I’d never met him, and now I had to ask for a favor.

Sure enough, Johnny Weltz was the man, and within a couple days, I was the proud owner of David Zabriskie’s old Renault Laguna hatchback. You see, when Zabriskie retired, he rented his apartment and sold his furniture and car to teammate Lachlan Morton. Insurance in Spain is hard to get if you’re under 25 years old, so Lachlan was happy to have the car out of his hands. Weltz even hooked me up with the team lawyer, who handled the title, told me where to go for repairs, got me a Spanish ID (which is needed to own any property in Spain), and set up the insurance. The car had some paper napkins and French Fries under the seat, possibly from Burger King, but it could have been a mechanic that borrowed it.

Helping me get a car isn’t part of Johnny’s Weltz’s job. It was just him being a nice guy, and there’s been a lot of that on the team; Louise Donald too, who handles all the logistics, flights, hotels, etc. for 60+ people and still finds the time to patiently answer the dumb questions I e-mail to her.

Girona is a trendy spot for a bike racer, and I half-expected to call it overrated, but I have to admit, it’s everything it’s cracked up to be. As Jonathan Vaughters eloquently puts it, it wasn’t just the giant EPO factory that kept the cyclists coming (that was a joke, but there is Nestle Coffee factory down the street, and it smells amazing). The weather has been nice, and there’s an endless supply of magical, nearly traffic-free roads with great views, and tons of friends to train with.

The only downside in Europe was a lingering cold that kept me from decent training for a few weeks, and then a stomach virus a few of the riders seemed to have acquired in Mallorca, which left me eight pounds lighter and intimately acquainted with Tom Danielson’s toilet, where I spent the majority of the week after camp.

My health is back now (still working on those eight pounds), but the racing was all downhill since San Luis, which was to be expected. I’ve learned a lot, however, and went through a level of training I’ve never had before. I struggled in the cobblestones and crosswinds last weekend at Three Days of West Flanders, but was able to contribute to the team, and got a crash course (not literally, thank God) in how to navigate the European peloton — thanks to friendly advice from Nathan Haas, Johan Van Summeren, Dylan Van Baarle, and Raymond Kreder,. They’re all more experienced at that sort of racing than I was. My next event is the Tour of Catalunya in a couple weeks, which should suit my strengths better as we shoot to defend Dan Martin’s victory from last year.

Nate Brown is another American just joining the team and moving to Spain, and we have pretty similar race schedules, so we’ve been together a lot. We’ve both enjoyed our time here, but it’s tough racing and it’s not easy leaving our loved ones at home, figuring out how to live in Spain, and struggling to learn enough Spanish to get by (or in my case, to get the exhaust pipe replaced on a 2001 Renault hatchback), all at a time of year that our former teams are just finishing up their training camps and haven’t even done one race yet. How did Nate and I celebrate surviving our first month in Spain? At the end of a training ride, we stopped at Burger King.

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: How to lose weight in Europe appeared first on

]]> 0
Phil Gaimon Journal: Hanging with the big boys in San Luis Fri, 31 Jan 2014 22:45:38 +0000 Phil Gaimon

We didn't have any name stickers left, so the mechanic wrote mine with a sharpie in badass handwriting. Photo: Phil Gaimon |

Phil Gaimon writes about riding onto the podium at his first race as a member of Garmin-Sharp

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Hanging with the big boys in San Luis appeared first on


We didn't have any name stickers left, so the mechanic wrote mine with a sharpie in badass handwriting. Photo: Phil Gaimon |

Last week was the Tour de San Luis in Argentina, the first race of the year for all in attendance and my debut in Garmin-Sharp colors. It was also the argyle debut of three of my five teammates: Ben King, Nate Brown, and Janier Acevedo, all kept in check by veterans Tom Danielson and Tyler Farrar.

San Luis is known as a pretty chill race. At least, chill relative to a lot of the races we’ll do this year. It was still one of the biggest races I’ve ever done, so I trained and stuff, but I was careful not to train too much. I peaked too early last year, and the year before, and the year before that (in previous years, I consistently sucked throughout the season). A lot of the Euro guys were there for a warm place to train (or so they claimed), with their sleeves rolled up to even out those pesky tanlines.

Argentina was nice, but our race hotel was a casino in the middle of a vast plain (plains are always “vast”), so most of our experience of the country was by bike (that’s the story of my life, but I’m not complaining). We only made one trip into town, for haircuts. Have you ever gotten a haircut from someone who didn’t speak your language? I highly recommend it. I just pointed to a picture of George Clooney in Esquire magazine.

With the haircut out of the way the day before the first stage, I got down to important business. I live in Los Angeles now but I’m still a Georgia boy at heart, so all I need to keep from getting homesick is sweet tea. I always make some in the hotel room. I put tea bags I brought from home in team water bottles, and left it for an hour in the sun by the window. (If you felt the sun in Argentina this time of year, you’d know that’s almost enough to get it boiling.)

I brought my sweet tea to breakfast the next morning, and I just needed some ice to pour it over, but instead I got a taste of what my year is going to be like. You see, I’ll be spending several months in a region of Spain where they speak Catalan. I don’t know a word of Catalan, but I have taken one semester of Spanish at the University of Florida (I got an A-, but to be fair, the curve was ruined by a handful of native Spanish-speakers looking to dope their GPAs).

I brought an empty glass to the hotel bar, and did my best charades for “ice,” which was basically pointing at the glass and saying “ice?” That got me nowhere (in hindsight, I should have shivered). The waiter assumed I was asking for milk, so he kept saying “leche?” We both did the dumb thing you do with a language barrier, where you say the same incomprehensible words slower and slower, hoping that it clicks. Finally, I gave up and went back to my table, and the waiter felt bad to see me leave unsatisfied.

Then I remembered that Ben King speaks fluent Spanish, so I asked him the word for ice. A minute later, after a little practice with Ben, I was back at the bar, with a big smile on my face.

“Hielo!” I said, triumphantly.

The waiter beamed and slapped his forehead. “Hielo!” He gave me a big bucket of hielo, and got a solid “Gracias” in return, which I did remember from college (I can also count to 10, and find an appropriate place to poop).

And then the race started. If you’re into that sort of thing, you’ve read the race reports already, so I’ll keep it brief. I followed wheels into the early break, which looked innocuous and doomed, like every other breakaway. I took the KOM points, assuming that was all I’d get out of the day, and then we had a 12-minute gap because the sprinters’ teams argued about who should chase. And then they realized they’d get their tans either way, so the breakaway could have an hour for all they cared. I won that stage (after accidentally kind of causing a crash that took out half of the breakaway with 25 kilometers to go because that’s how I win races) and wore the leader’s jersey (it was orange-ish) for the next four days.

The highlight of the week was the teamwork. To race for GC, I had to ride hard for five hours total over the course of the seven-day race, but my teammates had to suffer for 20. Plus, I’m new to this team and racing with guys I’ve looked up to for years — guys who have little reason to trust me to hold onto my lead. How could I ask Ben King, Nate Brown, and Janier Acevedo to ride the front for 100 miles a day, in 100+ degree heat? To sweat for me? How do I ask Tom Danielson to pace me up a climb instead of going for the win himself? HOW DO I ASK TYLER FREAKING FARRAR TO GO BACK TO THE CAR FOR BOTTLES? HE’S TYLER FREAKING FARRAR.

It feels incredibly selfish, but fortunately I didn’t have to. When I showed up at the hotel with a bouquet after stage 1, Nate hugged me and said “I can’t wait to kill myself on the front for you, Phil.” I could have cried. My teammates are professionals, and damn nice guys. Even the non-rider teammates were glad to give me what I needed. From the soigneurs and mechanics handling every detail, to Chann McRae giving me pep talks from the team car, I was taken care of in ways I’d never think to ask. For example, someone from POC flew from Europe to Mendoza to drop off new time trial helmets, and then got right back on the plane. WorldTour stuff.

How could I repay my team for their efforts? Winning would be good, but if I couldn’t do that, I had to at least try really hard. I had no idea if I could climb with the best in the world, so it was a huge relief when I only lost 20 seconds to Nairo Quintana on the first mountaintop finish — and I was still 4:40 ahead of him. After that, for a couple days, I really thought I could keep the lead. And then Nairo put 4:35 on me on the 40-minute mountaintop finish of stage 4. I’d tried really hard, too. That day knocked me into reality. Then I lost another 30 seconds in the time trial a day later, which knocked me down to second overall. I took some knocks this week, folks.

The stage 4 podium and antidoping control were a 15-minute drive from the finish, farther up the climb that Quintana dropped us on. It was beautiful up there, with tiny, twisty roads, cattle roaming in the grass, and a few spots where the car had to drive through small rivers. I heard that the stage included those roads in previous years. Nairo would have won by an hour.

Other than that day, I surprised myself by hanging with the big boys, thanks to the teammates loading me with cold water and ice socks all day and Danielson dragging me up the climbs. Exactly one year ago, I was training with Tom in Tucson and all he did was kick my ass up Mt. Lemmon every day. It was the worst/best training of my life. There were moments last week where Tom was on the front burying himself with me on his wheel and it was like we were back in Arizona, except I was trying (eventually failing) to not throw up. I managed to savor it when the pitch dipped below 15 percent, and we finished seventh and eighth on the final climbing stage, ahead of a lot of names I’d never dreamed of dropping before. After all the humbling since stage 1, that eighth place felt great and it made some sort of statement to the world that I don’t suck after all, clinching my second place in the GC.

It was an awesome race overall, and I can’t wait for another crack at it next year. My plan: I’ll try and get six minutes in the early break on stage 1 and see if I can hold onto that.

After this, I have a few days at home in California, and then I’m off to Spain for three whole months. I still don’t know what this year will hold, but I’m going to be just fine because I’ve got some great people around me and I did my training. Also, I’ll try to hang out with Ben King a lot in case I need to ask for something in Spanish.

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Hanging with the big boys in San Luis appeared first on

]]> 0
Phil Gaimon Journal: Garmin-Sharp intro camp Tue, 19 Nov 2013 14:29:04 +0000 Phil Gaimon

Early in the hike, before it got miserable and exhausting. Photo: Phil Gaimon |

The American rider checks in and talks about some recent experiences he had with his new teammates at Garmin-Sharp

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Garmin-Sharp intro camp appeared first on


Early in the hike, before it got miserable and exhausting. Photo: Phil Gaimon |

The offseason is over. How did I spend it? Vacation? Almost. I got my tonsils out. They’d been swollen and angry all season, and it was time to hack them out. When the doctor told me I’d be sore and miserable for two weeks after the surgery, I snickered. Thanks, doc, but I’m a professional cyclist, which means I’m pretty much a Viking, and I’ll be fine in four days. Not so, folks. I spent 14 days sucking down painkillers, miserably staring at the clock until it was time for more.

Despite the liquid diet and the sore throat, the time off allowed me to recover from a long season. My fractured wrist and finger that had bugged me since March healed up, and, as final proof that I’m ready to start training again, I caught myself taking the stairs two at a time. I also finished a book I was writing. More on that later.

Perfect timing, as I headed to Garmin-Sharp’s first camp in Boulder, Colorado. I can’t call this a training camp because there wasn’t a whole lot of bike riding. I packed a ton of cold-weather Bissell kits, and only wore one pair of bibs for a bike fit. Actually, I shouldn’t call it a camp, either, because we were staying in a swanky hotel, with no tents whatsoever. This was more of an introduction, with all the new guys on the team attending, and only a few veterans who happened to be close by and wanted to pop in.

It started with a meeting with the directors. When I walked into the room, there was a long, dark wood table full of dudes (dark wood is especially intimidating), and one empty chair for me. I gulped, but it wasn’t bad. They gave me a tentative schedule for the beginning of the season, starting with the Tour of San Luis in late January, a handful of stage races in Europe in March and April, with a reserve spot for the hilly classics. Then I’ll head back to the U.S. for the Amgen Tour of California — a race I’m pretty familiar with — to see how I’ve improved from the Euro stint, and then reset for the second half of the year. Of course, that could change around completely, so I’m going to peak from late January until mid-May, just in case they need me.

The room list at camp included 12 riders and 25 staff members. That’s a new one for me. I had meetings with the doctors for a basic checkup and an eye exam, with the chiropractors to check on my spine, with the sport directors for bike fitting … you get the idea.

We also had presentations from most of the major sponsors. I always say that if I could handle meetings and Powerpoint presentations, I’d have a real job, but everyone did alright. Nobody fell asleep, and I only saw one paper airplane (Tyler Farrar, but he never threw it).

On the first day, we played a role reversal game, in which the riders acted as staff, mixing bottles and directing the mechanics and soigneurs for a training ride. I was selected as one of the head directors, due to my impeccable leadership abilities, or maybe because I was the only native English speaker over 25 on the team. The staff made sure to act particularly obnoxious for the game, demanding tea in their bottles, bike adjustments, and trainer warm-ups before the ride started. My mechanic, Tom Danielson, did his best to play his part, with a cigarette in his mouth and a bad attitude. As director, I ended up doing a lot of his work.

New Balance is a team sponsor, so we got all kitted up in a different kind of tights one morning and met up with a few of their pro runners: Anton Krupicka, Jenny Simpson, and Emma Coburn. Most of my new teammates had been running in their offseason, and the pros claimed they were going “easy,” but we were all walking funny afterward. I think they were going at least easy-moderate.

Already sore from running, the teambuilding activity the next day was a doozy: we were split into four groups for 12 miles of hiking through the mountains (riders and staff), with stops for various challenges and puzzles. At the end, we were all ruined, and no one took the stairs at the hotel, but we’d gotten to know each other better, which is what this camp is all about. Everyone was super cool, and I’ll have lots of friends to train with in Girona.

It’s exciting to get my first long-awaited taste of argyle and look ahead to 2014, but I’m still proudly wearing the Bissell kit until January 1. It’s funny that after all these years struggling in the U.S., I finally found a happy home, just in time to move on myself, and now the team is no more. It’s a silly sport sometimes, but I’m a silly person, so we’re a good couple. I’m glad the sponsor is still in the sport. I think they made the right decision to keep the development team alive, and I’ll always be a vacuum salesman for Bissell.

When I finished the USA Pro Challenge this year, all my teammates were saying their goodbyes. Pat McCarty caught me just after I came out of the shower in the RV, and stuck out his hand to shake mine. I was dripping wet and was only wearing a towel, but like it or not, Pat got a big, wet hug. In case I missed anyone that day, consider this my virtual hug to all my teammates, staff, sponsors, and friends in the domestic peloton. You’ll be sorely missed as I’m suffering in echelons next year, and I hope you don’t hold it against me when I drop you at the Tour of California next year.

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Garmin-Sharp intro camp appeared first on

]]> 0
Phil Gaimon Journal: The Tour de Phil Thu, 03 Oct 2013 13:21:36 +0000 Phil Gaimon

Phil Gaimon, who will ride for Garmin-Sharp next year, recently completed a grand tour — the Tour de Phil. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

Phil Gaimon, who will ride for Garmin-Sharp next year, talks about a recent block of hard training

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: The Tour de Phil appeared first on


Phil Gaimon, who will ride for Garmin-Sharp next year, recently completed a grand tour — the Tour de Phil. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

When my racing for 2013 was finished after the USA Pro Challenge, I was planning to take a few weeks off the bike — until I got an e-mail from my new boss at Garmin-Sharp, Jonathan Vaughters, informing me that I’d be doing a grand tour. The Giro? The Vuelta? Not the Tour?

It was neither of those. I was signed up for the Tour de Phil, a lesser-known, three-week stage race training simulation, designed to attack my weaknesses as I prepare for 2014. We’d done some power testing earlier in the year, which showed that I’ve evolved for NRC racing in the U.S. — where you sit in the group at 200 watts or so and then start blasting each other in the last hour — so I’m damn good at riding easy for three hours and blasting a 15-minute climb. But I had some room for improvement in the 300-360 watts it will require to sit in the field in Europe next year. Turns out, you improve that sub-threshold zone the same way you improve everything else: you train long and hard. Hence, the Tour de Phil. The assignment was to ride 4-6 hours a day for three weeks, with as much time around 350 watts as I could handle.

Before anyone calls me out, I’ll admit the obvious: I wasn’t actually racing anyone, so it wasn’t a real grand tour. But if you look at the nerdy kilojoule expenditure on my SRM, the effort was comparable day-to-day. I did have a couple rest days, but no soigneur, no team car filled with bottles, no massage outside of my foam roller, and no buffet, except when my girlfriend felt like cooking when she got home from work. I also had to change my own flats, lube the chain, and wash the bike daily (just joking … I had to make some sacrifices, so my bike got filthy). I carried the biggest saddle bag I could find, which contained the following: three tubes, one mini hand pump, one quick link, one multi tool (with a chain tool), one spare derailleur hanger, one shifter cable (thanks to Brad Huff for that pointer), two kitchen sinks, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Race report

Week 1
On my coach’s advice, I didn’t go too crazy with the volume at the beginning, keeping the rides closer to four hours. I rode alone almost every day. You want to make a pro cyclist scream? Ask him if he wants to join you on a long tempo ride during his offseason.

On the third day, there was heavy traffic on the course, and that never happens in a grand tour (except at the Giro Toscana, I hear). When a motorist turned left in front of me, I skidded towards him and kept it upright by bracing myself against the front of the screeching car with my left wrist and palm. The wrist was the same one that had been bothering me all year from a previous crash, and the palm was bruised exactly where it sits on the brake hoods, so it hurt like hell.

I stopped at a coffee shop and considered my options. At first, I resolved to go home, let the hand heal, and restart the Tour de Phil in a few days. Then I realized that when I do real grand tour, it probably won’t go smoothly. Maybe I won’t get hit by a car, but shit happens and I should just deal with it and keep rolling. Also, it would have been embarrassing to tell Vaughters I’d DNF’d in the Tour de Phil. I finished that ride in the drops, which was easier on my swollen hand. I was in the groupetto, but I made time cut.

Week 2
To escape L.A. traffic, I stayed with a friend in San Diego for a few days. I rode the Escondido stage of the 2013 Amgen Tour of California backwards because the Tour de Phil climbs Palomar the hard way. It was also appropriate for the Tour de Phil to have a few transfers, even though I had to drive myself instead of sit on a sofa in an RV like Cleopatra. My legs had adapted to the training and felt surprisingly OK. 350 watts was no biggie.

Week 3
It was starting to feel like a stage race. I went to Interbike in Las Vegas for the Pinarello Gran Fondo (and because it had been too long since I’d spent $28 on a crappy meal at a casino), and then finished the week off in the Santa Monica mountains outside of L.A. I was eating everything in sight during the day, still waking up hungry at 5 a.m., and experiencing that “stage race stupid” you get from doing nothing but pedaling. I realized at dinner that my T-shirt was inside-out, but I didn’t care enough to fix it. Of course, the best example of “stage race stupid” is the fact that after three weeks, I still couldn’t come up with a better name than “Tour de Phil.” Pathetic.

The last day, I wanted to squeeze everything out of the tank, so I parked my car at the base of Decker Canyon in Malibu, and went up and down all day like an idiot, going harder each time. I did it 12 times, and then I could climb no more.

There were no post-tour criteriums, so I’m in the offseason now. The Tour de Phil was kind of a crazy idea, but I’m actually glad I did it. It’s always good for motivation to accomplish something you didn’t know was possible, I feel prepared for 2014 and I earned my time off now. My shirt is still inside-out, I think. I’ll fix it after my nap.

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: The Tour de Phil appeared first on

]]> 0
Phil Gaimon Journal: Wrapping up in Colorado Wed, 28 Aug 2013 14:57:11 +0000 Phil Gaimon

The USA Pro Challenge was Phil Gaimon's last race of the season, so he'll have plenty of time to rest his pothole-rattled wrists. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

The Bissell rider talks about the final stage at the USA Pro Challenge, his teammate's affinity for real eggs, and more

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Wrapping up in Colorado appeared first on


The USA Pro Challenge was Phil Gaimon's last race of the season, so he'll have plenty of time to rest his pothole-rattled wrists. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

Sorry for the delay on this one, folks. I wrote a blog entry after the race finished on Sunday, and then my laptop died, so that masterpiece is trapped on what might turn out to be a $1,200 paperweight.

Bissell finished with five dudes at the USA Pro Challenge. We lost our two Kiwis, Jeremy Vennell and Mike Torckler, to crashes in the third stage, and our climber/sprinter (he time trials alright, too), Chris Baldwin to a freak accident in stage 4. It’s weird how empty it felt at the dinner table after they headed home. Jason McCartney said he finished the Vuelta once with three guys left on his team, and a staff-rider ratio of three to one. I bet those three got nice, long massages.

Jason’s the nicest guy on the planet, but he has a thing about eggs: he really hates the powdered fake ones they usually serve us. It’s fun to watch him working his way down the buffet, and then wait for the look on his face when he finds out the eggs are fake again. It’s how you might look if someone told you a loved one died in a fire. Jason’s from Iowa. They take their poultry seriously there.

“Is there any way I could get some real eggs?” He politely asked the server before the fifth stage, more than willing to pay for them from the hotel restaurant, if that’s what it took.

The server talked to the manager, who said he could make some, but it would be 45 minutes. Now, I’ve scrambled eggs a couple times, and it rarely takes longer than half an hour. My guess is that this was their way of saying “yes” for their “customer is always right” policy, without actually having to do it, because of course he wouldn’t want to wait that long. Well, they don’t know Jason McCartney.

“That would be great! Sure, I’ll wait.” Iowa, folks. Iowa. The eggs only took 10 minutes or so. I asked for some peanut butter around the same time, but that’s a whole different story.

The stages were pretty eventful for some guys, not a whole lot for me. I covered breaks early on, passing out bottles and cruising to the finish line. I don’t even really know what went on at the finish, unless I decided to read about it later. Every day my teammates and I had this conversation in the RV after the stage.

“Who won today? Sagan?”

“I don’t know.”

“Yeah, whatever. Probably Sagan.”

After one stage, reporter Dan Wuori put his recorder up to my face.

“Were you surprised with the outcome of the stage today, Phil?”

My answer: “Well uhhh, what was the uhhh, what was the outcome, Dan?”

I might need media training, but we had a laugh.

Pat McCarty said he’s had plenty of interviews in that situation. He’d just say something generic, without even knowing who he was talking about, like this: “Well, it was no surprise to me. It was a tough stage, and you could tell those guys were really motivated today.” Pat’s such a pro.

Speaking of being a pro, stage 6 finished in Fort Collins, McCarty’s new hometown. He said he needed to be in the break for his home crowd, which is easier said than done, giving that half the field wanted to be in the break. Pat did it, though. And Kirk. Five guys on the team and we put two in the break. So there.

The last 30km were tough that day, and then it got even harder when guys started crashing in the middle of the group. You know that moment when bikes and dudes are tumbling around in front of you, and all you can do is squeeze your brakes as hard as you can, so suddenly your bike is totally locked up, and pointed the wrong direction? And at just that moment when the ground is sucking you down, you let off the brakes, your momentum puts you upright again, you miraculously find a hole through all the carnage, and then you’re suddenly back in the group, like nothing ever happened? Maybe that’s never happened to you, but I had one that day.

I don’t think anyone crashed during Sunday’s circuit race in Denver. The only pain there was from the giant potholes, which wreaked havoc on my wrist. Last race of the year, so I have plenty of time to let that heal. Who won the circuit race? I don’t know. Whatever. Probably Sagan.

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Wrapping up in Colorado appeared first on

]]> 0
Phil Gaimon Journal: Bait shop banter Thu, 22 Aug 2013 16:05:49 +0000 Phil Gaimon

Phil Gaimon got super aero on the approach to Rabbit Ears Pass on Wednesday. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

Phil Gaimon gets aero with his SRM head unit at the USA Pro Challenge and sees the world's best-named tackle shop

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Bait shop banter appeared first on


Phil Gaimon got super aero on the approach to Rabbit Ears Pass on Wednesday. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (VN) — I tweeted that stage 3 of the USA Pro Challenge was supposed to be an easy one, and I was warned that the course was “not easy,” due to “hard rollers.” Now, when I say that a stage is easy, I mean that everything in life is relative. The stage was not easy compared to eating a cookie, for example, but it was easy if the previous stage was 200 kilometers, and climbed Independence Pass. So no, it wasn’t truly easy. You would not have finished. But it wasn’t as hard other bike races in which I’ve recently competed, which made it downright pleasant in my opinion.

Now that we’re on the same page, I can discuss the bike race. Another climb right out of the box established the early break, and then Garmin rode a steady tempo on the long downhillish part (but headwindy, so it didn’t look like fun), while the rest of us socialized and ate.

After the climb, I sold a Bissell vacuum to Fabio Calabria (Novo Nordisk), for his girlfriend Becca (also Novo Nordisk). It won’t cure their diabetes, but they have that under control already, and the carpets will sparkle.

Around 60km into the stage, we passed a fishing tackle shop with a very comical name. I was riding next to Mike Friedman (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) when I saw the sign, and I got so excited that I stuttered when I tried to point it out to him. He probably thinks I made it up, but never in my wildest imagination could I come up with that.

Before the feedzone, everyone looks for spectators to toss bottles to. They get a souvenir, and we don’t have to feel like we’re littering. I always wonder if spectators actually want the bottles, or if they just duck and wonder why we’re pelting them with plastic at 30 mph, but I got my answer when Tom Soladay (Optum) saw a guy standing on top of an RV on the side of the road. Tom threw the bottle straight up into the air, and the guy caught it! These kinds of things are very exciting when you’re sitting on the bike all day.

I also got to catch up with Ian Boswell (Sky). He saw my SRM head unit mounted on my handlebars, and told me to angle it down more, so it would be parallel to the ground, which would make it more aerodynamic. The computer is maybe 2×3 inches, but I pushed it down a hair, and the power on the screen went from about 340 to maybe 275 or so. Such an energy saver! It was all I could do to keep myself from attacking and winning the stage solo. Thanks, Ian!

At the end, Jens Voigt’s legs gave out, angry for all those times he told them to shut up. Or, maybe it was all the dudes chasing him, and his legs did an ok job. I don’t know. There was a bunch sprint, which Peter Sagan won (Cannondale), and a spectator lost, as the fans edged a little too far into the street, causing a scary, high-speed pileup after which the aforementioned Mr. Friedman was made to ride across the line with half a jersey hanging from his left shoulder.

Dinner included live country music (they’re into John Denver around here), and a gift bag from Steamboat Springs, with a sheriff’s badge, just in case we run out of safety pins for our numbers.

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Bait shop banter appeared first on

]]> 0
Phil Gaimon Journal: ‘Good thing I like ripping descents’ Wed, 21 Aug 2013 12:58:23 +0000 Phil Gaimon

I can see why cycling is popular in Colorado. Photo: Phil Gaimon

The Bissell rider talks about the first two stages at the USA Pro Challenge, which included an unnecessary bottle run for his teammates

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: ‘Good thing I like ripping descents’ appeared first on


I can see why cycling is popular in Colorado. Photo: Phil Gaimon

For the nights leading up to the USA Pro Challenge, we stayed at a resort hotel in Snowmass, just up the hill from Aspen, because apparently Aspen wasn’t high enough. The team flew in on Saturday for the presentations that night and a ride with Fly Cyclery on Sunday, the Pinarello dealer in Aspen.

The hotel was lovely, except for the energy drink-sponsored party by the pool every day from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. I counted six people by the pool (maybe two enjoyed the music, and the rest were shouting over the DJ), and I estimate at least 40 pro cyclists were in their beds in the rooms around the pool, squeezing their heads between two pillows to drown it out. I would have called the front desk to complain, but I didn’t want to feel like a grumpy old man (GET OFF MY LAWN).

Stage 1 was a circuit race of three laps around Aspen, only 68 miles. Any time you say “only x miles” it makes it sound easy, but the tricky part is that when the stage is shorter, guys just go faster, so a short stage isn’t much of a relief. The field blew to smithereens on the last lap, with Chris Baldwin and Carter Jones attacking for stage results for Bissell. It’s been fun to watch the team progress at these races, from shooting for early breaks to winning to KOM jerseys, and now we might just win a stage if the big boys screw up one day.

The second stage was just rude: do a few parade laps around Aspen, enjoy the crowds, and then BAM, climb up to 2093840931801928 feet, up Independence Pass. They didn’t go too crazy at the front, thankfully, and we went over the top in a big group.

Halfway through the stage, someone was chasing the early break and I had a chat with Ken Hanson (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies). He told me about how a near-death experience in stage 1, and then dodging a giant falling boulder on the way up Independence.

“I’m going to die this week at this rate,” he said.

I’m not superstitious, but when I heard he crashed and pulled out of the race, I was concerned. Ken’s okay, though. Stitches in the knee. He got off light — compared to death, anyway.

My legs still haven’t been what I’d hoped, but they’re a notch better than Utah, and I was able to sneak into a late breakaway to take the pressure off Carter and Chris heading to the finish. As always, the breakaway was a mess, with half the guys sitting on, half attacking, half arguing, and half forgetting all the math they ever learned, because we were 10,000 feet high.

The break blew apart over Hoosier Pass and I went back to the field, cresting the second KOM just behind the front group. I was ready for an easy cruise to the finish when I heard the voice of Omer Kem, our sport director, from the car.

“Phil! You’ve got to catch back on the descent to get these bottles to Chris and Carter.”

I took the bottles, put on my big boy pants, and bombed hairpins for the next 10 kilometers, working my way back into the group. I rode up to Carter and Chris and held out the bottles.

“No, thanks,” said Chris.

“Nah, I’m cool,” said Carter.

Awesome. Good thing I like ripping descents.

I crested the final KOM with a couple other guys who’d been chasing in the group or came out of the break. The crowds were unbelievable, with lots of costumes. It was just for a kilometer or two, but it could have been Alpe D’Huez, riding into a crowd, having the masses part for you, occasionally spilling their beer. I’m sure there’ll be plenty more of it this week.

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: ‘Good thing I like ripping descents’ appeared first on

]]> 0
Phil Gaimon Journal: Conversations at the Tour of Utah Tue, 13 Aug 2013 22:58:50 +0000 Phil Gaimon

Phil Gaimon was with the front chase group on Mount Nebo ... until he wasn't. The highest peak in the Wasatch would hear about it. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

Phil Gaimon relays his conversations with Mount Nebo, Jens Voigt, and his legs in the Wasatch mountains

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Conversations at the Tour of Utah appeared first on


Phil Gaimon was with the front chase group on Mount Nebo ... until he wasn't. The highest peak in the Wasatch would hear about it. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (VN) — Tempers flared at the Bissell table at breakfast before stage 3, as Pat McCarty and Carter Jones argued about a fresh omelet. You see, Carter tricked Pat into abandoning the long line, just so he could move up a spot. Pat, stuck with cereal and fruit, demanded a bite to make up for Carter’s ruse (specifically, he demanded that Carter pretend it was an airplane and feed it to him, like a baby), but he was denied. Carter Jones looks like a nice boy, but he has ice water his veins.

A few hours later, Pat and Carter were in the early break, and they must have patched things up over the next hundred miles or so, because they rode well together. The breakaway came back to the field in pieces on Mount Nebo, the only major climb of the day, with Carter one of the last survivors, barely caught by the remnants of the peloton, which was desperately chasing Lachlan Morton (Garmin-Sharp).

Mount Nebo was tough. We all watched Lachlan attack, and thought he was a crazy man for going so early. I was comfortably in the front group most of the way up, but as Lachlan’s gap grew, more attacks followed, Radioshack started to panic, and I was disappointed to find myself in the cars — not what I expected from myself this week.

I had a conversation with Mount Nebo.
Me: “Oh good. Thanks for flattening out a bit. I’ll catch back now, no problem.”
Mount Nebo: “Sure thing, Phil! I know you’ve been training hard for this. I won’t screw you over. In fact, here’s some downhill for you.”
Me: “Wonderful! Now what’s around this next bend?”
Mount Nebo: “Oh hey, remember me? I’m a mountain, and that’s another 3K of steepness. Die, Phil, die! Bwahahaha.”

I didn’t make it back to the front group. Mike Torckler, on the other hand, was once again the hero of the day for our team, hanging comfortably, and sprinting for more KOM points at the top.

The circuit race in Salt Lake City the next day wasn’t nearly so bad. We had all morning to sleep in, eat, nap, eat, nap, etc. Each lap had a steep climb in it, but by the time it hurt, it was over, so the stage mostly felt like a sleigh ride, as the sprinters’ teams battled it out, and I waited for my legs to feel good again.

Stage 5 was the “queen” stage, 110 miles, with a short climb from the start line, some rolling terrain, and two hard climbs near the end, finishing at Snowbird ski resort. It took forever for the break to go. Every time someone got a small gap, we’d pray that the group would let it go, but then Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Leopard) would shoot up the outside to bridge, and it would all weld back together.

The peloton had a conversation with Jens.
Peloton (as Jens starts to move up the outside of the field to attack): “Jens! Let it go!”
Jens: “This is not a gran fondo!”
And then whack, he hit us again. I wish I was making that conversation up, but it happened. Jens will not be intimidated.

King of the Mountains Mike Torckler slipped into the break, and clinched that sweet jersey for Bissell, while I rode to the finish in a small group, and had another conversation, this time with my legs.

Me: “What’s the deal, legs? You were great a couple weeks ago, and now you don’t climb so good. What is it? Did we train too much? Not enough? Did we overdo the altitude?”
Legs: “Whaaaat, we’ve got to be good every week? Or is it every day, you greedy jerk?”
Me: “No, just at these bigger races. You could have chilled out a little bit in the spring, for example.”
Legs: “Ohhh, so you didn’t want to win Merco? Now you’re too good for Merco, huh, Phil?”
Me: “No, no! Merco was nice, but if you could be like you were then, or at Gila, or even at nationals, that would be awesome!”
Legs: “What about San Dimas? I killed that time trial for you! You never thanked me for that time trial, Phil.”
Me: “That’s because I was in the ER, unconscious, covered in road rash, and high on morphine! How dare you mention San Dimas!”
Legs: “And that’s our fault? You going to blame us when your head isn’t looking where it’s going?”

My legs and I are no longer on speaking terms. It’s been awkward. We hope to patch things up for the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado next week. If Carter and Pat could get past the omelet incident, my legs and I can come to terms.

The team picked up my slack no problem, with Carter holding down a solid GC to complement Torckler’s rockstar performance, and all the guys working perfectly together. We finally get it figured out, and the season is almost over, but that’s always how it goes. Colorado will be my last race with Bissell, and I’m excited to help keep our momentum going.

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Conversations at the Tour of Utah appeared first on

]]> 0
Phil Gaimon Journal: I could do another 130 miles, no problem Thu, 08 Aug 2013 14:16:01 +0000 Phil Gaimon

Lounging in the evening. Baldwin with the legs up. Photo: Phil Gaimon

Gaimon shares his thoughts on the second stage in Utah, which featured 10,000 feet of climbing

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: I could do another 130 miles, no problem appeared first on


Lounging in the evening. Baldwin with the legs up. Photo: Phil Gaimon

Jeremy Vennell and Tommy Nankervis, right at home in the RV after the stage. Photo: Phil Gaimon

Jeremy Vennell and Tommy Nankervis, right at home in the RV after the stage. Photo: Phil Gaimon







Jeremy Vennell and Tommy Nankervis, right home in the RV after the stage. Photo: Phil Gaimon

Jeremy Vennell and Tommy Nankervis, right home in the RV after the stage. Photo: Phil Gaimon

Stage 2 at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah was a long one: 130 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing (or, if you’re familiar with how I measure distance, five pee stops).

It was a beautiful stage, cruising through Bryce Canyon National Park. We were told that littering was punishable by death (OK, disqualification, but that’s pretty much death for a bike racer), and it wasn’t hard to see why.

Bissell’s main goal of the day was to keep Mike Torckler in the KOM jersey so we could enjoy another day of him grinning like a schoolboy. We kept the group together up the first climb, and Mike came through with a nice sprint to take maximum points. He did it again a couple hours later to snag third place over the second climb once the break was gone, so mission accomplished for Bissell. Makes you want to buy a dustbuster, doesn’t it?

The race was well-controlled by BMC Racing for its yellow jersey, and 10,000 feet of climbing sounds like a lot, but it’s not that much if you spread it over a distance a long as five pee stops. We had a few attacks over the last climb but nothing went crazy, and a pretty big group came sprinting to the line. My teammate Chris Baldwin (another climber) and I found ourselves in the top 20, trying to figure out which side of the field was going to surge forward in the leadouts, and then it was over, and we were somewhere around 15th. We were not hired to sprint, but it’s fun sometimes.

It’s awesome having an RV at the race. Five minutes after the finish, I was in the shower, chugging an Ultragen recovery shake, with a big bowl of rice waiting for me in the tiny kitchen. Now we travel in style, feet up on a leather sofa, to … where the hell are we going? Whatever.

Highlights of stage 2:

- Trying to guess who Chad Haga (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) is signed with for next year. I still have no idea. Either I’m a bad guesser, or that boy would be a great poker player.
- Joey Rosskopf (Hincapie Sportswear Development) explaining how he selected the new earrings he had installed last week: “I just picked out the biggest fake diamonds they had at Claire’s.”
- Teammate Pat McCarty was in the second group coming off the last climb and saw another rider who looked like he was about to take a sticky bottle from his team car. Pat’s sticky with the rules, so he grabbed a handful of the guy’s jersey.

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: I could do another 130 miles, no problem appeared first on

]]> 0
Phil Gaimon Journal: Ready … set … coast! Wed, 07 Aug 2013 15:54:34 +0000 Phil Gaimon

Tuesday's stage 1 was less about pedaling and more about coasting. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

The Bissell rider talks about stage 1 at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, which was mostly quiet — except for some nature breaks

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Ready … set … coast! appeared first on


Tuesday's stage 1 was less about pedaling and more about coasting. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

The 2013 The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah began Tuesday (that’s the Larry Miller, owner of the Utah Jazz, not the Larry Miller, the overprotective father from “Ten Things I Hate About You” — not that I’ve ever seen that chick movie. No sir).

All the teams are staying in the dorm suites at Southern Utah University (home of the Thunderbirds), which gives me flashbacks to my freshman year in college — except there’s less pizza delivery and I’ve had no luck organizing a toga party. It’s fun to get away from the typical hotel setup at these races, and we all get to hang out in the common area and watch movies together and walk around naked, that sort of thing.

The race started with a hard kicker for two kilometers. My Bissell teammate and all-around nice guy Michael Torckler attacked with Chris Jones from UnitedHealthcare (you’d expect no less from a guy with “torque” in his name). Jones was happy with the sprint points and Mike earned himself the KOM jersey for Wednesday. Do you hear that sound? That’s someone buying a Bissell vacuum! Oh! There’s another one!

After that early kicker, we coasted for a long time, went up a gradual climb for 45 minutes or so, and then coasted for another hour. I’m not complaining about all the coasting. There’ll be plenty of pedaling this week. We all tried to remember how to push down on the pedals when we got to downtown Cedar City, where we completed three finishing circuits and were cheered on by a nice crowd. We caught the early break on the first circuit and I don’t know who won the stage. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me. Like 75-80 percent sure. I finished safely in the group, as they say.

Number of nature break stops: 2
Number of rolling nature breaks: 2
Hydration: Good, apparently

Highlights of the race so far:

- Jens Voigt trying to get us to dare him to big-ring the first steep climb.
- The “Chicks me” license plate on Lachlan Morton’s saddle.
- Chatting with some of my future teammates and getting sized up for new bikes from Garmin-Sharp.
- The smile on Torckler’s face when he came back to the room with those polka dots. Mike is real quiet — sometimes it’s fun to yell at him to SHUT UP, even though he hasn’t said a word. I’ll lay off him today, though.

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Ready … set … coast! appeared first on

]]> 0
Phil Gaimon Journal: Looking for Big Bear legs Mon, 15 Jul 2013 20:31:35 +0000 Phil Gaimon

The view down from Big Bear isn't bad. Photo: Phil Gaimon |

WorldTour-bound Phil Gaimon takes a month off racing, at altitude, save for the occasional frustrating seaside criterium

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Looking for Big Bear legs appeared first on


The view down from Big Bear isn't bad. Photo: Phil Gaimon |

BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. (VN) — The first half of the season was action-packed, with wins for Bissell, crashes (well, just one for me, but it was a doozy), a near miss on a national championship, and then signing with Garmin-Sharp for next year. All that happened, and it was still June. I was tired mentally and physically, but a gap in the schedule gave me, and my teammates, a nice break this month, to reset for the rest of the season.

I’ve been back up in Big Bear, California, because nerdy people insist that it’s ideal to sleep high (the house is at 7,100 feet) and train low (I can coast into Redlands and do my intervals at 1,000 feet, as long as I don’t mind 110-degree heat). The only problem with Big Bear is that I haven’t been able to convince any of my friends or teammates to come up and train with me since March, so the riding is mostly solo. I did a month here last year and enjoyed it, but the six months this season might have been a bit much. I’ve gone full days here without speaking.

One of my favorite routes goes down into Redlands, and then back up to Big Bear over Onyx Pass, at 8,300 feet. The only place to stop for water on the way back is a diner halfway up the climb. I stopped there last summer and found they didn’t take credit cards, but the woman let me have the bottled water for free, because she could tell I would have died without it. A few weeks ago, I repaid my $4 debt to that diner, just as Abe Lincoln would have done, adjusted for inflation, except it probably wouldn’t have taken him 11 months; I don’t think Giro makes a stovepipe helmet, and I’m positive that Pinarello doesn’t make a horse. At the end of my rides, I’ll soak my legs in Big Bear Lake, where the ducks love me if I have any sandwiches left in my pockets. I also saw a bear, finally. At least, I thought I did, but he was shitting behind a dumpster, and I’m told that bears shit in the woods, so I might have been mistaken.

My Big Bear experience wasn’t all left-foot, right-foot, repeat. One of the indirect perks of my life is that the extended family I’ve found, thanks to all the kind folks who like to help out needy cyclists like myself. They host riders or teams at races, and you keep in touch over the years. My Irvine family has a ski house they let me occupy in Big Bear, and my San Dimas family has a pontoon boat on the lake, with a great view of the fireworks on the 4th of July. Also on board was my dentist from Redlands, who fixed the crappy crown put in when I knocked out an incisor playing street hockey in 5th grade (don’t worry, I made the save).

I did my endurance rides and climbing in Big Bear, and for the past two weeks, I’ve driven down to civilization to race criteriums (which are about as civilized as “Lord of the Flies”). Last weekend was the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, a stop on the National Criterium Calendar. The course had one small hill, but I’d probably need about 100 more, all tied together, to win the race. I was active early, but I eventually missed a break. All the big local teams missed it, too, and while they lacked the energy to get organized and chase it down, they did have the gas to follow me every time I tried to get across. Guys love picking on the pros, even the scrawny climber-types. While I refuse to be muscled or bullied into surrender in a bike race, I was eventually bored and frustrated into it, so I let the break go and watched (from a distance) as Jesse Anthony took the win. He’s a nice guy, so I’m cool with that. My legs are feeling good for Cascade, Utah, and Colorado, and that’s all I’m looking for.

The post Phil Gaimon Journal: Looking for Big Bear legs appeared first on

]]> 0