Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Redux: Hell of a Year

Every so often I haul out a jacket and find a boarding pass stub. Abu Dhabi to Chicago. Knoxville to San Diego. The ever-hilarious Las Vegas to San Diego, where seatmates ask “how’d you do, I still have a quarter left.” “Sounds like you did better than me!”

But for all the travel this year, just one trip to the wind tunnel (with Felt and Terenzo Bozzone as he was fitting to the new DA). Remarkable. Of course, I have two tunnel trips already lined up for ’11. God bless the fan….never get tired of it.

The year started with lots of new events. Abu Dhabi, Rev3 Knoxville. Ironman St. George, my new favorite most beautiful course, and stuff I didn’t get to, like the TriStar races. Love seeing the balance of events out there.

Of course there were the standby Ironman and ITU events. I found myself up many nights in hotels, the night before covering a race, watching WCS races on the Internet. I sure hope I get to one or two WCS events in 11, as I miss these races; it’s where the Maccas and Raelerts came from, but also where the Whitfields and Snowsills reside with authority. 

While the expected dominance of the Ferraris in Gomez and Brownlee were expected, I’d say my race of the year in short-course came out of Stuart Hayes (above), who rode away from the pack and stayed clear to win at Kitzbuhel in August. Awesome.

A trip to Eurobike with my boss John Duke was remarkable. We had just one German meal (I had a nice plate of spaetzle), because our hotel was on the far north end of Lake Constance (meaning a significant drive to/from the Eurobike venue). As such, I ate most meals of wonderful local fare at….. McDonalds. The only draw to the golden arches was that it was the closest place with a wireless connection. So after we ate, Duke went back to crash, and I wrote and filed gear stories for the LAVA website at McDonalds… up till 2 a.m. most nights.

I love driving in Europe. And I love driving there with a Garmin’s Nuvi. Driving rental cars 105mph, the auditorial direction telling me to turn on Dresdnerstrasse, with Duke yelling at me in the passenger seat “DON’T DIE ME!!!!”

The week before Eurobike I was on my own for a trip to Italy with Giro. One of my all-time fave trips. (Shit, any time I go to Italy and eat pasta carbonara it’s a favorite trip). Riding flow tracks with Hans Rey, doing shit on a mountain bike in the Italian Alps that were past my skill level, doing a nosedive into an air pit off a quarter pipe (see the below vid). Great new shoes from Giro, and fun as hell testing them by climbing the Stelvio. Taking that one to the grave.

I’d have to say the close to the year was one of the most memorable in my career. Kona was remarkable, as ever. Macca versus Andi was Ironwar II, I don’t care who you ask. So good to see Macca take a second title, reiterating that he’s one of the greatest champions in this sport, period.

I got to watch him race short-course, make the transition, suffer, take his lumps, learn his lessons and make it to the top.  I think these two images of mine below speak for themselves. (And man, I felt terrible documenting Chris’ rough time that day in 2004…but he was cool with it.) His time came. …twice now.

Macca, 2004, 0 Ironman World Titles
Macca, 2010, 2 Ironman World Titles

It was great to be there with my wife Donna racing, of course. But to capture the moment when the women’s pro field gasped when hearing that Chrissie Wellington wasn’t going to make the Kona start was remarkable; it was like a sonic boom. So too was Mirinda’s solid win. All year, she was a beast. My fave moment was at Oceanside 70.3, waiting to take splits, as the O'side Police ran the speed gun on her. "Wow, that little lady's runnin' real fast, huh?"
Caught Speeding
The chaser came with Chrissie’s utterly stunning display at Ironman Arizona.  Every time Chrissie races, I know I’m privy to a front-row seat to an amazing display, and her comeback from being sick was f’ing awesome.

To say she goes “fast” just doesn’t cut it. Max Longree had to gather himself to re-pass Chrissie early in the run and hold her off the rest of the marathon, lest he become part of the many pro men who were “chicked.” He crossed, looked over his shoulder and said “amazing… that girl is just amazing.”
Watching her race was fantastic… as always, a front-row seat to history.

But the best part of that race was getting to see Jordan Rapp throw open the throttle again. The last time I’d seen him race, he was dragging a huge group around at Abu Dhabi Tri. After Abu, Jordan was left fighting for his life roadside after a collision with a vehicle. After a hard spate of rehab, I saw Jordan at Rev3 Knoxville, and couldn’t believe the knot in his collarbone, or the scars that were healing. He’ll always bear those scars, but he’s really put the event behind him pretty damn well. Well enough to score a sweet fourth-place finish. To see him tearing up as he came up on his wife Jill before crossing, was like witnessing a personal moment I shouldn’t have been privy too. I can’t wait to see him get after it again in ’11. Plus it’s sweet having him contributing to our mag. The dude knows shit…. Not many of those people around.

A look into a private moment for Jordan.
 Finally, the year kicked off with the launch of what was just an idea a year ago. I left Triathlete magazine to help Dave House start a new title called TRI up in the L.A. basin (though he was nice enough to let me work from home). Just two weeks later, John Duke, who left Triathlete just after me, was walking with me in the parking lot at the Y to masters and said “you jumped too early.” I asked “what are you talking about” to which he replied “I can’t talk to you about it now, but let’s have coffee in a week or so.”

That coffee laid out what John had up his sleeve: a magazine very much in the same vein as what I was going to do with TRI. He offered me a place on his ship. I’d worked with him for 10 years and was grateful he thought of me to be part of his new project. With Duke at the helm, and with the WTC as owners backing it, I knew I would be fighting a tough battle trying to produce a title against that. So I joined him, as well as many others, who I generally considered the crème de la crème of our former employers, and collected some great freelance writers that we believed in and had strong relationships with (though we considered firing Ben Greenfield for his boxershort-and-tie rendition of the Village People's YMCA at the Ironman 70.3 Phuket after-party). So great working with Duke, Brad, Susan and Erica, Heather, Laura and Lisa, Wattie and Kayla again, with a few other talented new faces on board; we're having a blast making the mag we always wanted to see. The results speak for themselves.... we're a proud lot, and hope you like this new offering to the market.

What do we close the year with? Lance announcing his first tri DNS at the Rotorua Tri (via Twitter no less, not sure why he refuses a relationship with the endemic tri media, but I digress), leaving me feeling terrible for the poor race organizers, who probably poured a ton into that race. At least they have good national heroes in Bevan Docherty and Bryan Rhodes, and a possible showing by Peter Clode, who will make that title a hard-fought one.

Oh yes, gear? I’ll get into it on our website, but my top five for 2011 were the Trek Speed Concept (No. 1 by a long shot, for so many reasons), the Garmin Edge 800 (touchscreen!) The Timex Global Trainer (finally stepped up with true GPS, without needing an arm transmitter), Zipp Firecrest carbon clinchers (aero aside, the design just makes for easy-to-install tires) and Giro, entering the bike footwear realm with brilliant road kicks. I can foresee a tri shoe in the works…soon.

Looking into 2011, I’m sure there will be as many amazing elements as came stock with 2010. Already planning coverage for LAVA that will continue to make it all look as awesome as it truly is. If you want a sneak peek and our next issue, visit the blog of our photographer Donald Miralle, who joined me on my last boondoggle. (You'll find a shot of me at the Mercedes Benz Berlin museum, chillin' by my wings-up ride with the ice cream paint job.) If you call three days in icy Germany a boondoggle. It’s a piece I’m proud of, and proud to have Don’s work accompanying. A hint: It involves this guy, who put the entire men's 70.3 field in his rear view mirror in 2010.

I’m stoked my wife will be around a fair bit more. She just joined an old friend in Siri Lindley and will be training with Siri’s group in Santa Monica and Borrego Springs, so I’m checking Amtrak train schedules to L.A. Gonna be a fun year for her, with new teammates and new sponsors. I hope to update this space a bit more, but LAVA is taking much of my time, and Donna taking the rest of it. And training too….I hope to actually race at Oceanside 70.3 instead of just sitting on the back of a moto taking pics. Lucky I don’t forget to feed the cats at night!


Sue said...

nice year end summary, and i thought i was one of the few who noticed Max was being paced! Here is to a grand 2011 said...

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