Silver City, NM – It’s hard to explain what training and racing at altitude actually feels like. With Silver City, New Mexico sitting at 6,000 feet above sea level, we are faced with yet one more obstacle for the upcoming Tour of the Gila. The best way I have heard altitude training explained, is the feeling of sitting at the bottom of a pool and the only way to breathe is through a small straw. You get tired at a rate you didn’t think was possible. Your sleep patterns are distorted. You become easily dehydrated and the sun seems to burn your skin at an alarming rate. All these things must come into consideration as we design an optimal training program for this important race of the season.
Luckily for the H&R Block Pro Cycling Team boys, we have amazing hosts that have welcomed us with open arms a week and a half prior to the Tour of the Gila. With this past week spent acclimatizing to the altitude, we will be well prepared when the gun goes off on Wednesday. Along with our daily training rides that have led us to explore the lush Gila National Forest, our off time has been spent growing closer as a team. Rest periods are filled with games of crib (that have turned way too competitive) and long and arduous monopoly games. With more than 5 weeks spent on the road, we continue to grow closer off the bike. Our total travel over that period has been close to 7,000 km. The fact that we can still sit down and enjoy a family dinner after having spent that much time in a van together, should give you an idea how close we have truly gotten during this racing block in the 2016 calendar.
Along with thin air, Silver City is home to some of the most authentic and unbelievable Mexican food. The search for the best burrito is well underway and so far my research has come back inconclusive. I will have to continue my steady diet of a burrito a day before producing the results of my study. The community of Silver City, which has hosted this race for an amazing 30 years, has embraced the North American professional peloton. It’s hard to go anywhere in town without a complete stranger striking up a conversation about how excited they are about the race.
The stress of traveling and racing can often bog us down but spending weeks like this is the best way to relax and de-stress. Sometimes it’s nice to take your eyes off the Garmin and look around. Our bikes take us to some pretty amazing spots in the world and it’s rare that we get to take it all in. Thank you Silver City for your amazing hosts and openness to our sport. Without communities like yours, we wouldn’t get to do what we love to do year after year.
Report by Bailey McKnight
We are excited to present to you the competing H&R Block Pro Cycling Team athletes for the 2016 Tour of the Gila! Racing begins today, Wednesday, May 4th.
Stay tuned through the week for updates and competition results. Good luck to all those competing!
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The M1 Project will be posting regularly on what it’s like to plan, prepare, and compete as a UCI Continental Professional Cycling Team.