The Off Season Brings Travel and the Enjoyment of Life

Thanks for taking the time to read this posting. I am thoroughly honored that I was asked to do a write up for the SLM world. That was my opening pleasantry, now it’s time to talk about the finer things in life, such as bike racing. To start things off, I have always noticed the off season (for roadies) happens in two different chronological segments. The first segment starts after the crossing of the finish line of the last race of the season. Followed with the conceptual thought “Well, I’m never going to do that again”. In the weeks following thought we tend to go into lengthy efforts to do nothing. I can recall having a thought “Do I really want to expend energy to grab the remote and change the channel?” My hypothesis is that we literally tax our bodies to its fullest limit close to eight months of the year. When the season ends we are literally dead. However, after three weeks of rest we are all like “I think I should go on like an easy spin on the mountain bike”. Then 4.5 hours later you come home feeling ecstatic and realize biking is the coolest thing ever, and have goals in mind for the 2017 season to get signed by SKY and have Chris Froome work for you in the next year’s Tour de France. Next the second phase is believing you are the best cyclist to ever exist, bragging to all our skinny cyclist friends about how we pushed watts placing us on par with the best in the world. The last few sentences, describe what most psychologists call a functional addiction.

This year my off season was very different. I focused on racing a few American Pro Tour Criteriums, as well as racing on the local scene with a few regional stage races as preparation races. Coming into the off season I was really motivated to keep training, but have goals to impact some big races next season. Therefore, I need to focus on my off season. As soon as I crossed the finish line of my last race of the year I thought “it has begun”. I went to a coffee bar that was set up in the finish area and consumed an entire French press of coffee. I shook and had the jitters for the rest of the day!

This year I have a full time job and am a contributing member of society. I have daily responsibilities that cannot be overlooked, as if I was a “full time” cyclist (Like waking up to an alarm every day). However, I still had a few goals that needed to be checked off before next seasons training commenced. First, I really wanted to get lost in the woods back packing. Not like dangerous get lost because there are serious implications getting lost in the Idaho wilderness. Additionally this would satisfy my desire to do something completely spontaneous for my one year anniversary with my awesome wife.

As far as getting lost in the woods, we decided to go back packing at Box Lake (right outside of McCall, Idaho). It was an easy four miles in and out of the lake. However, the scenery was outstanding! Below is a picture of the lake at Sun Set. And yes it was taken on an IPhone.

The week following Box Lake adventure I still had the urge to do something spontaneous, but the right adventure had not yet materialized.

My Genius Thought

On a Wednesday night I was hiking with my wife, and it hit me! I said to myself “I have one day saved up for vacation, and this upcoming weekend is Labor Day weekend, so I could potentially have a four day weekend” but I had the daunting thought “where should I go?. Then it hit me; Phoenix in early September! There is nothing better than sweltering temperatures intermittently mixed with stints of indoor air conditioning. Also, phoenix holds a special place in my heart because it was where I met my wife, as well as when I made the choice to continue to pursue athletics after I thought I was washed up and burnt out after a long ski racing career.

The next question is what is there to do in Phoenix in September? It was literally 109 degrees by 9am. It was so hot, but I see the life-threatening heat as a test of character. (Yes, a few years ago a bike ride ended up costing $3,000 from a nice ride in an ambulance due to heat stroke, but we do not need to talk about that, I learned my lesson). To continue on, Nicole and I spent three days in Phoenix, consisting of about 3 solid activities.

1. Coffeeing- Nicole and I where on a mission to drink amazing coffee. After all the coffee shops that we found we loved Cartel Coffee Lab the most. Posted below is a picture of Nicole in deep thought as the Iced tea cleanse her palate as we are immersed in the surroundings of old town Scottsdale.

2. We shopped, and we shopped really hard. Nicole and I refuse to buy new, so we went to designer thrift stores and loaded up. So much so that we had two specific instances, where the lady checking us out literally said “you are going to get all this?” Almost in a comment of sheer gluttony I looked at her I said “of course”.

3. We walked down Memory lane. Freshman year of college is a very defining year for us. For me, my freshman year consisted of: meeting my future wife, losing 30 pounds, going from Cat5 to Cat 1, as well as getting a 4.0 both semesters. Now that I think about it, I am kind of glad I turned down my ski scholarship. Phoenix as a city for me, reminds me of committing to excellence and trusting the process of working hard every day. Posted below is a picture of the dormitory of “Canyon Hall”; in this hall I remember living the craziest of times. Finishing a 5 hour ride and literally throwing a t-shirt and shorts over my bike clothes and proceeding directly to class. Not your average college experience. Also finding the love of my life, but not the place to speak that stuff.

At the end of the trip we stopped in to hang with our friends who work at the Velo. Literally the best bike shop in all of Phoenix. They have the coolest people and the best inventory. After spending time with the coolest person in Phoenix, Jake Spellman, we all decided that it was the best idea to stay another day and have as much fun as possible in downtown phoenix.

Jake and I have only hung out like three times, but it was one of those friendships where you initially shake hands and you have that unspoken mutually agreed upon thought – “we are totally friends” It was kind of like that. Both Jake and Katie are great people and I tried to write a solid review on them via Yelp, but I could not find an active profile for them. Anyways, October 1st is when I start to train in the gym. Cheers to all of you who are enjoying the off season!!


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Coach Rob resides in Ann Arbor, MI

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