What's Cool In Road Cycling

HomeGrrl: A Welcome Respite From Travel

A long stretch of racing warrants a welcome return ‘home’ to Italia for Rook Campbell. A lull in travelling allows for some needed structure, relaxing, and a lot of training to get ready for the upcoming Women’s Giro.

Belgium without pave is still Belgium: Fleche’ Wallonne
Fleche’ Wallonne followed Flanders a few weeks later. Much improved, not the least being that I didn’t see the broom wagon. Gone was the pave, but it was still a proper spring classic. After 60k, there was a short but steep pitch. There was a collective pack shifting to the smaller chain ring, but I also had the less harmonic chain dropping and recovery. As I continued on up there was something evil about just how fast other legs seemed to be spinning. Not until a few meters from the top did I look down and realize that I was grinding away in the big ring. Had one of those Italian guys from Breaking Away played a nasty trick on me with a sly flip of my shifters? Nope. Defunct me and bike workings created this status all alone. At the end of the day, there was no need to talk about my happenings on the course, just one of those days where you have to see yourself as feeling responsive but making mistakes. Plus, I kept my memory of that grinding gear climb to myself because teammate Maya Adamsen had a wheel change that left her with a 23 cassette for a much more substantial climb, The Wall. The best comparison I can think of for The Wall is thinking of the San Francisco T Mobile International. However in San Francisco, most everyone knows what to expect and arrives with compact cranks, mountain bike set ups or triples, but here, our directore and mechanic only allow the 25. So try imagining being so unlucky to get the spare wheel with the 23 or smaller for such a finale…

Taking on the Muur de Huy with only a 23 does not sound pleasant

The Making of an Italian Twaaang: Koo-ing the Roots of Home with the New
Since our directore sportivo decided that we would skip the Tour de l’Aude, so we aren’t nailed by the time our Giro d’Italia arrives, we have a month in Italy to train and race. As much as I would have enjoyed racing this incredible race in France, staying home in Italy is a gift, a gift to work and re-establish deteriorated routines and maybe a deteriorated body.

The editor of PEZ said he thought I had arrived at the classic state of homesickness, at least in some measure. Alone, my reaction was one of out and out denial, but perhaps, there’s some truth to his diagnosis. For example, I’ve been listening to more country music recently. I even dreamed George Strait, or would like to kind of say it was a dream, but in truth, I was awake in the middle of the night and I started translating Strait lyrics into Italian. I was cracking myself up and that didn’t really help all that much to fall asleep, but I woke rested and climbed surprisingly well. Maybe now, this is me in a nutshell.

The homesick remedy is on. Having a block of time between races is such a sweet gift because I revel in the comforts of some things like training routines, structure, and regimen. This isn’t exactly the Italian mentality, but the more scientific assurances of anticipation, doing and data logging in training, lets me more clearly imagine how I am honing strengths and soon to be delivered to the next racing block feeling like I’ve got some surprises in my bag. Fierce training on these Italian slopes mixed with an equally measured Italian relaxing keeps my training grounded in the here.

Beauty Salon Going
Yes, things are on the up and up. I come home from training feeling the comforts that only striving and hitting the numbers set by my coach can leave me feeling. Sometimes, coming home dog tired is an unmatchable bliss. Besides training, I’ve set out on bike to retrace the random visuals that made my bread crumb trail to the cottage of a massage guy, Claudio Pratese, who has by far the best hands for a cyclists’ legs here. And, I had my first visit to the beauty parlour. I sat between women that were having their eyebrows plucked. I think the removal of hardened cycling callouses on my feet was not the every day client thing to see, and I thought it best to keep my freshly harvested farmer’s tan hidden, as others were there paying to have less stigmatizing tan lines hued into one tone. I skipped having Michela Fanini colour nail polish added. I’m thinking that there must be something of flash legs in me. We’re already looking a month ahead to our Giro d’ Italia as the time to gather all form and lay it out there, but before then we’ll race locally in Massarosa, a stage race in Italy, a few one day races, and then have a two week training camp.

Rook Campbell is a 28 year old American pro racer living in Lucca and riding with the Michela Fanini team. In the coming months, she hopes to share her experiences of being a professional cyclist in Europe on a women’s team, and to deliver a little of the road grit, euphoria, and stupor that comes her way. Send Rook some love at:
Rook Campbell [email protected].

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