Gettin’ it like Dale Junior

by: Sean “The Slasher” Sullivan

Just finishing up my preparations for the Presbyterian Crit in Charlotte NC this weekend. Quick bit of motorpacing, a massage, and then washed and packed the Specialized. Travel day tomorrow, a quick spin Saturday morning and then the race that night. Just gotta trim the mullet and make sure my southern accent is up to scratch and I should be good to go.

The last few weeks since our successful California trip has been pretty busy. Spring has well and truly sprung here in Colorado, so I had the mandatory couple of days in bed with chronic allergies! Feeling much more on top of it now and the weather has been great which has made training easy. My wife Niki and I are expecting our fist child later in the year, so life is busy getting ready for that. Also I had to finally face the dreaded green card interview! I’m not going to lie, my anxiety level was off the charts, but I was well prepared and despite losing about 5lbs in sweat during the interview it ended up being a piece of cake. My passport will always say I’m Australian, but I’m now happy to be a permanent resident of the United States.

I’ve also had the chance to do a bit of local racing. Last weekend was one of the biggest local races of the year, the Boulder Roubaix. 80miles with over half the race on gravel country roads. The trash talking for this event started months ago, one of my training partner’s Frank Pipp was constantly reminding me during our winter training that he was going to win it. Race day I lined up on the start line right behind him, and told him that was where I was going to be all day, right on his wheel! I pretty much stuck to my word, 5 of us ended up in the winning break but Frank was just too strong and rode away from us at the finish. I gave my all to bring him back but came up a bit short in 3rd. There’s a whole different set of challenges doing a local race without team mates, especially one at altitude where if you over extend yourself and use too many bullets early it’s easy to watch the race disappear up the road. But it’s also a great relaxed feel and we generally get together for a few margarita’s and laughs after the race.

So now onto Charlotte! I always enjoy racing in the South. In fact Georgia was the first place I ever visited in the US when I did the Tour of Georgia a while back, and my brother now lives in Nashville TN. I will never forget my first trip to the US. Growing up in Australia the Dukes of Hazard was one of my favourite childhood TV shows. I just couldn’t believe it when I rocked up in Georgia, I felt like I was on the set of the show and kept expecting to see the Duke boys in the General Lee around every corner. I even tried to jump the team car over a river… ok that’s not quite true. Anyway, Charlotte is one of the premier criteriums in the country. It has everything I love about cycling, a fast course and a good crowd. It’s normally run right in the middle of summer so it will be interesting to see how the date change affects the race without the extreme heat. The new rules limiting teams to 6 riders in NCC races, and the Tour of Battenkill on the next day means the race is wide open and I wouldn’t be surprised if it finishes with a winner from a break.

It’s generally a bit of a dangerous race, so luck plays a part but we’ll be up there mixing it up. Obviously the events of the last week and surFy’s accident are once again another reminder of how dangerous this sport is and how careful we all need to be. Pretty much everyone who is involved in cycling in this country is in it because they love it. Cycling will most probably always be a fringe sport here, the financial rewards aren’t great, and the risks are high. Not just racing, but every day out on the road where someone else’s mistake can be costly no matter how careful you are. But we do it because we love it and surFy is a prime example of that. Personally, it’s the racing that I love. The training I tolerate, but I love mixing it up and fighting it out. The great feeling of a win or a great result, or the sickening feeling of an opportunity lost . This weekend we will definitely be thinking about surFy, and hopefully we can do something to put a smile on his face. Hopefully we’ll be gettin’ it like Dale Junior!