Summer time in the USA and the latest season of ‘The Bachelorette’ is heating up, with ‘Emily’ meeting the families tonight! Apart from quality TV viewing Summertime means many things to the locals here. Summer camp for the kids! Frappaccino’s for the starbucks frequenters, big money criteriums for the bike racers and ‘knee high by 4July’ for the farmers! I have been lucky enough to cover many miles over the past month to experience all of these! June started in the nations capital for the ‘Air Force classic’, a tremendously difficult 100km criterium with 5corners every km! This style of racing has always been my achille’s heel, however working with some of the experienced elders of Team Type1 like Alexey Schmidt and DS Gleb Groysman has encouraged a learning curve for my cycling in how to negotiate this furiously fast and dangerous style of racing that typifies the American racing calendar. Team mate Alexey has been riding some tremendous form of late and managed to net 2nd place in this arguably the country’s hardest criterium. Exploring DC is always a pleasure, and a pleasant change from the chaotic atmosphere that dictates the middle of a racing situation. I took the oppurtunity to some tourist exploring down ‘the mall’ and Connecticut Ave in DC.
Being in the Northeast brang back many memories of my time living in Richmond, Virginia a few years ago. I was lucky enough to take the oppurtunity to pay a visit to my old team director and doctor in Richmond after the air force classic in DC. The training in Virginia is brilliant and quite different to my current typical trainig roads in Georgia. Good times in what felt like an old hunting ground. From Virginia it was up into the midwest, to the great farming state of Minnesota. Here, I had the fabulous oppurtunity to travel to the cities of Mankato and Rochester. Here the land is flat and the corn is high! A local bike store ran a group ride here for a few local diabetics whom I got the honour of riding with. Meeting more cool people and seeing some more cool countryside. Minnesota is renowned for its high quality health care services. Minneapolis hosts the ‘International Endocrinology centre’ where much research happens toward a cure for all kinds of diabetes. I was lucky enough to meet some of the great minds behind this, which is always encouraging to meet and connect with the always intelligent and warm hearted people entrusted with researching a cure for diabetics around the world. Of an evening here in Minneapolis I got to speak to a team of triathletes with diabetes who were preparing for a novel event in downtown St.Paul. Some more motivating tales I got hear about overcoming some quite traumatic complications associated with diabetes and being able to bounce back to compete in a triathlon, which always captures the imagination! I told here of my childhood diabetes hero, olympic rower Sir Steven Redgrave, whose quote I will always remember; “I was not going to live with diabetes, diabetes was going to live with me!”.This spirit was definately evident in all the legends up there in Minnesota!
With a few more days off the bike, I visited some friends in Illinois, where again the corn is high but also the Raspberries and Strawberries! Some super fun days up here, even visiting the actual home of ‘Pucksatawny’- the groundhog from ‘groundhog day’. This groundhog is also a champion of weather forecasting in Illinois oddly enough! The lakes in the midwest are beautiful. Visiting Lake Geneva was another gorgeous highlight of this area! It would not be long efore I was back up here. But not before a quick dash down to South Carolina for a Gday to Team Type1 legend and mate Strad Helms and family. Some farewell waffle house and a little comeback ride in another state that feels like an old hunting ground for me, having spent many miles cycling on the beautiful roads there. I even pulled out the MTB for a bit of an opener at a Time Trial on one of the sweetest trails I’ve ever ridden in Blankets creek, Georgia. Racing the MTB again was a real buzz. Maybe a little too much of a buzz as I got over confident with my technique and managed to drop myself crushing my left hand. I managed a top 5 however in this race which was a boost to the confidence after some well below par performances on the bike of late.
With the hand strapped up it was further south for my first time in Texas where everything really is bigger! Including their hospitals! Houston has the largest medical centre in the world! The American Diabetes Association were launching their local edition of the tour de cure here, where I got to speak and meet some more legends including Chief Pediatric Endocrinologist Dr.Kushner who is running a fabulous practice encouraging his patients to move beyond a victim mentality of diabetes and toward an empowered perspective. This was a real pleasure and great to hear such work being done! Also large in Texas are their shopping centres. One had an ice rink inside it! I can understand the need for this as it is so HOT outside, the only place to be is inside by a large sheet of ice. Good times! They build em tough in Texas though as was evident at ‘camp rainbow’ an awesome diabetes camp in Houston where the kids despite the torturous heat get out there for canoeing, fishing, rock climbing… A real testament to their capabilities.
From the far south, it was back to the midwest for the Tour of America’s Dairyland, an 11day crit fest in Wisconsin. Staying just outside Milwaukee with host Mum ‘Patricia’ was great fun. I had been to Wisconsin once before in winter time when the state was pretty much an icy pole! It was nice to experience lake michigan in the warmth, it is like 2 different planets up in the mid west in Summer and winter. Racing here was quite successful for us, placing the Russian powerhouse on the podium most days and with a win in the Sheboygan crit! Cheese and culvers for all up in Wisconsin now as we all take a short break from racing.
For me however, the season continues down under as I head back home for the Australian National series in both road and mountain bike. I have loved being here in the USA in 2012. The country amazes me more and more each time I visit, there are some beautiful places here but it is made great wholly through its people! I have been passed in a relay of hospitality from Chicago to LA to Miami to NY. All across the nation, the warmth of the locals keeps me feeling welcome and happy. Although it is great, now I return to the best country in the world, my home of Australia!! It is always hard been away from the one’s you love for an extended time! Going home is always a great excitement and I cannot wait! I love my job here with Team type1 and will continue their great work across the pond! But for now its bye bye Bucks and Dunkin Donuts! Hello Lamingtons, paddle Pops and Bobbo!
Thanks for reading,mates.
Justin/ Mad Dog