It always amazes me…every time I get the chance to watch the pro cyclists do their thing, I am really reminded why they are pros and we are not. Their ability to make speed look effortless on terrain that makes us wince in pain is what takes them to that next level. Over the weekend, while I was at the US Pros in Greenville, I got the chance to ride the course before the pros and then watch them battle it out on the road race shortly there after. Just when you think you are feeling great and speed is on your side, you get a chance to watch what speed really is as the pro cyclists tackle the exact same hill you did, but rip minutes off your time and make it look like another day out on the bike.
I have been fortunate enough to ride with several mountain biking pros over the years and each time has been a new learning experience. Riding with different styles ranging from cross country racers to downhill racers, you learn a ton with every pedal stroke as you try to keep that rear tire in sight throughout the trail. The stability and control of a pro cyclist is mind blowing, and so much so that you feel uncoordinated and awkward in comparison. Every motion and power transfer is fluid as they move with the bike without working against it. It is really poetry in motion…
But…when it comes down to it…they are just another rider on a bike. Some of the best times I had over the weekend was walking through the pits and listening to conversations between riders. Just like our local races and rides, the riders joke around and have a great time as they get ready for the days events. At one point, Ted King came up to George Hincapie and said, “Yeah…I heard you were racing today through Twitter!” When it boils down to it…they are all just out doing what they love…racing and riding their bikes.
Training To Be A Pro
I’m not that’s for sure! For some of us…we like just enough competition throughout the year to get our feet wet, but the amount of training and dedication it takes to be a pro cyclist (forgetting that you need some natural talent) takes up your entire life. To perform at the level these athletes do…you really have to give up everything in pursuit of a podium spot, and that is not a sacrifice that 99% of us can make. It takes a special breed to get to that level and most never even get to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but…for the rest of us…we get to watch all of their hard work over the years pay off with the hope that we can pick up just a little bit of that knowledge to become just a tad bit faster on our local trails and roads.
A big congratulations goes out to George Hincapie for winning his 3rd US Pro Championship over the weekend (and his 2nd US Pro win in his hometown of Greenville). James Thomas from Bicycle Design was able to get some great shots at the end of the race since I had to leave early to get back to Atlanta. The shot of Hincapie hugging his dad is priceless, so head over to Flickr and check out his shots.
You can find the rest of my US Pro shots on Flickr by clicking here.