Monday, April 25, 2011

Dave Z Checks In......


I returned home from racing La Sarthe and was reviewing my race schedule. I had a bit more than two weeks until my next race at Romandie and a day with the family was on the immediate schedule. Randi and I packed up some food for a picnic in the forest by a nice river I have passed by many times on my bike. It was fun to play with Waylon in the river. I’m not sure who enjoyed themselves more, he or I. During our river visit we talked about getting up to the mountains for an extended stay.

I had been contemplating going to the mountains to do some altitude training but we really hadn’t had much time to make it happen. Randi was all for it and while there at the river we decided to make it a family trip. I got on the internet and found a hotel in one of the highest parts of the tiny country of Andorra, about 3.5 hours southeast of Girona. But first I had to get a bike rack for the car or we wouldn’t be able to fit much luggage after I packed the bike. So off to the bike shop for me. I grabbed one of the racks that strap to the back of the car and started hooking it up while Randi went off to the health food store to buy as much food as she thought we’d need.

It’s best we be prepared as we’ve not been to this hotel before and we weren’t sure how their menu would work with our diet. When we finally got everything together we happily hit the road. Two kids, bike, food, gear, luggage, laptop and we were set for a little adventure. But because we got a late start and made a few stops along the way we got to the hotel at 2am, and wow did the kids sleep great that night. Maybe I should drive them around more often. Or was it the mountain air?
The training was really quite nice up there. I got in a lot of climbing in the Andorran mountains while the weather was always sunny. My body felt good and it was just what I needed. It was also a good block of family time for me before the season really heats up and there are extended separations.

The kids enjoyed themselves in Andorra and it was fun to be with them in a completely different environment for a while. The small challenges that arise from these little road-trip adventures are to be expected but dealing with them can be tricky and a test of one’s patience. Well, my patience, that is.

Our youngest, Bo, is not terribly fond of jarred baby food so the majority of what he eats is kitchen prepared. But we certainly hadn’t much to cook with in our hotel room? So we drove down the mountain and found a store and Randi bought a hot plate, actually, it was more of a fondue maker than a hot plate but it served the purpose. She also got a few pots and a blender. What would the maid think when she came to clean our room? Not sure, but our little boy Bo was smiling all the time like he really knew what was going on. Now Randi can make Bo some home (hotel) cooked food and supplement our food that we ordered from the hotel. Actually, I was smiling then too. But we would need more food.

An internet search shows only one health food store in the country. True…but I should add that the country has a population of only about 80,000 people so its somewhat to be expected. Anyway, we navigate our way around and even though it took a bit longer than it should have we find the health food store. We were pleased to re-load on supplies and the friendly store owner told us of another place in the next town over where we could get organic vegetables. Well we had to have the organics so we went to the next town over but the store was closed for siesta so we decided to find a spot for some lunch.

Now I’m cool with everyone’s right to make personal choices but it was at this lunch when I realized most everyone in Andorra smokes. I find it a strange personal choice and because of my training and profession I’m overly sensitive to it. I really get irritable around cigarette smoke, and it especially bothers me when I see that it’s around innocent kids. And especially when its around my kids. But it seems that its truly a part of the culture there and that was a part I was anxious to avoid.

When the store finally opens and we make our way over they tell us they get their organic shipment in the following day. So we go back up the mountain, enjoy our evening and come back down the next day to get the fresh organic veggies. It was all a bit more stressful than I would prefer but now we have Andorra dialed in for our next opportunity to visit. The cigarette smoking aside, we certainly hope to be back.

We’d only returned to Girona for a short while when the family was scheduled to return back home to California. Today Randi is flying solo with the two kids, and I really don’t know how she does it. I’m not ashamed to say that I couldn’t handle an international flight alone with two young babies. I plan to meet up with them after Romandie, my final race prep before The Amgen Tour of California, an important race on my schedule.

Like many cycling fans watching TV around the world today, I got to see Gilbert win L-B-L and was quite impressed. The man has been on a roll, to say the least.

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