Through my connections at The Bike Shop Glen Ellyn, they introduced me to Christian Vande Velde and a long story short, he invited me to train a few days with him in California. First I have to say I almost didn’t go, but am so glad I did. I was afraid I would just get in his way or he was offering me the gentlemen “yea you should come” offer hoping the entire time I didn’t. I decided though, screw it, major storm was coming, Chicago was freezing and he did seem genuine so why not. I am so glad I did.First, Christian is one of the classiest, nice, respectful, gracious, and all around awesome pro athlete I have had the pleasure of being around. Not only was he an amazing host to me, he was nice to every single rider out there who tried to jump on our wheels, or came up to say hi. At one point we were doing a solid climb, as we passed a guy, he turned himself inside out to reconnect with us, and ask if he could snap a pic while we were riding! Christian instantly said, “hell yes” and without slowing put his arm around the guy so he could take his pic- Wow.
I was really excited to get out there as well to talk to him about some of the cycling workouts he had recommended I do. Again, I have a lot of experience and some of the workouts he advised me on were incredible. Definitely things I will be using this year and I believe are difference makers. It’s tough because the way he does them as a bike racer is different than how I need to do them as a triathlete, but awesome none the less. So I was excited to see what else I could learn.When we do camps, we do a long ride or two, some hard, some aerobic, etc. Again, we are always interjecting runs and swims, so it’s different but I just completed 4 days of some of the most solid riding I have done. For the first time in a long time, my legs are “Buzzing” still and it’s an awesome feeling.
I definitely did the best I could to hold on to his wheel, it was the first time in a long time I can remember I did absolutely ZERO pulling for a week. At one point I said, “Hey if you want a break from the wind, I’m happy to work”, knowing full well I could do anything but give him a break. He just smiled, and said, “I'm cool.” The guy is strong like I have never seen. – Awesome.
On a few climbs I imagined myself being under the watchful eye of Phil and Paul describing how hard I was working to just maintain contact, and to not panic. For as long as I could I would hold on, until I couldn’t. I asked him if at the pace we were going would we be able to finish with ANYONE from the field on a MT stage in the Tour, he laughed and said, “Not even close.” So to all my friends who have sat around with me and watched stages and wondered if we could sit in… NO.Back to Chicago where it looks to be a good week, mid 30’s most of the week. ;)