It has taken me a long time to digest our trip to Iceland. It was amazing in many ways and frustrating in others, but far more importantly, I think it provided the necessary time for Ashley and me to work through some things. We had some big ups and downs earlier this year between the two of us. It was hard. So much has changed since we first started, and not all of it has been good. So we went to Iceland. We traveled to a far away corner of an already far away place and spent some time alone. When we left, we were ready to eagerly step forward into our new life, united, as one, and so, so happy. I’m ready to write that piece for @BicyclingMag now.
The weather went from bright sun to clouds to blinding snow. I had a big shot in my mind, but it disappeared with the snow. The grand views were gone. I could barely see the riders. I waited in that spot though. I kept waiting and hoping that the clouds would open in time for the gruppetto. They did.
A lone FdJ rider crests Steenbeekdries and immediately begins the cobbled descent of the Stationsberg. Last year, it was a relatively quiet part of the Ronde van Vlaanderen, which still meant that the race was in pieces. In 2014, there will be drama. The race hits the Koppenberg with 45k to go, followed by the testing stretch of cobbled mayhem with three different names: Mariaborrestraat (flat)/Steenbeekdries (uphill)/Stationsberg (downhill). The favorites will be called to the fore.
What it’s like to be married to a writer: I’m lying in bed with my head on his chest about to fall asleep when he announces he has to get up. I ask why, and he tells me that he just thought of the intro for an upcoming article. He walks to his computer in the dark and hunches over the keys as the thoughts roll down his arms onto the keyboard. Five minutes later the deluge is over and a page of text has appeared. Voila!
We will be working with IAM Cycling in 2014. Today, I agreed to less money than we originally discussed, and I’m happy. The original number was too much, and we were already afraid that it might take away a part of our freedom to do what we want. At a certain price point, I feel like a team can ask for anything, any time. I didn’t want that to happen, but I was afraid to say anything. Who goes back and asks for less money? Thankfully, Thibault (part of the team management) understood and came to us. He broached the topic and said - I don’t want to take away that basic freedom you guys have - at this price, it might. I agreed, and I smiled and felt absolutely fantastic - to earn less money. Some might see that as a shrewd business deal on IAM’s side, but I see it as watching out for a friend who was ready to take far too big of a bite. We are learning, and it’s not easy, so I appreciate it so much when someone responsible for our livelihood is watching out for us as a friend and supporter. It means a lot. I cannot wait for the year ahead with IAM.
I like the dust that cakes my legs in the summer on the dirt roads back home
I like the rivers of sweat that course through the dirt, darkening it, turning it to mud
I like the noise of summer
The cicadas, crickets, and frogs never take a breath.
I like it when my body, my clothes, and my bike return home filthy
I like the salt that crusts my jersey and shorts and face
It means I rode my bike.
I like riding my bike.
It’s not always awesome. Sometimes, it’s grim, and the bike is too small, and it’s freezing, and wet, and we are already way behind trying to get to the next spot, because I went too far in search of a good spot to shoot. Ashley took this shot of me in the pouring rain along the Riviera a few minutes after the field had passed during Milano-Sanremo. We finished that day in the dark on the Poggio convinced that we had endured our worst day ever.
A few things:
The ever-attentive might have noticed that there are three calendars circulating with our name on them right now. That would generally seem like a negative, but I’m excited in that it offers a lot of options for people.
Of course, our #1 favorite is the one that WE put together and labored over with the Tom and Bob Varney at Queensway Print. It’s our baby. It’s beautiful, and I think it’s the best product we’ve created so far. We’re so proud of this new calendar. It’s also priced accordingly - it’s not a cheap buy. It’s 25 pounds, and to ship to the US, it’s another 10. That’s nothing to sneeze at. I know. We wanted to make a big jump forward after last year’s first try, and I think this is it. It’s a limited run, art quality piece that gives the buyer the option to elegantly pull out an image after each month.
It’s not meant to compete with the Bicycling calendar at all. This is a limited run, panoramic, art quality calendar, which gives the owner the elegant option to easily pull out an image after each month, so that it can continue to be enjoyed.
For the American buyer, this might be a bit of a stretch, and I understand that, which is why it’s fantastic that there’s a second great option - the calendar we did with Bicycling Magazine. We couldn’t believe that Bicycling wanted to devote a whole year to our images, and we’re extremely honored about that. The Bicycling calendar is big and bright and full of tips and tricks on how to be a better rider in 2014. I think it’s great. It’s also substantially cheaper than the Queensway calendar - to the tune of less than half the price for an American buyer.
We never would have released the calendar with Queensway Print if it hadn’t been for the enthusiasm of Tom and Bob. They made that happen, and we’re happy that it did. I’m happiest that the two calendars don’t really overlap - they’re two completely different products, and I hope that they allow an interesting choice.
And finally, there’s the wild card - the Castelli calendar. It’s not available for purchase, but you can win it as part of their holiday giveaway. Check it out!
Next post - I’ll talk about the images that make up the calendar…because that’s fun.
We are flying down the Carrefour de l’Arbre. It’s just over freezing, and it’s almost dark. We’ve been shooting and interviewing Johan Vansummeren for most of the day on the cobbles of Roubaix. On this gloomy day, it has been about a year and eight months since his win at Roubaix, but he hasn’t given away much in terms of emotion when asked about what it feels like to retrace his steps - he did say that he didn’t feel the cobbles of the Carrefour that day. He said it felt like they weren’t even there. They disappeared for him. Whatever feelings he was guarding were brought to the fore though when we hit the Carrefour de l’Arbre - the pivotal sector of cobbles where he left his breakaway companions and went on to victory. He goes faster and faster on that long, terrible straight section to the restaurant at the quiet crossroads. 30 out of the turn, then 40, then 50kph - it’s incredible. I feel like I’m watching the race again, except I’m a bike length away. He is in his drops, his shoulders take on that characteristic lean, his grimace appears, and he doesn’t have to say a word - I know where he is. It’s not December. It’s a warm, dusty, April Sunday, and the road is packed with fans. There is an endless tunnel of noise and chaos, but it’s a blur to him as he rages by on a road with no cobbles.
Dan Martin chased by a snowstorm on the Passo Valparola.