I am as ready as I'll ever be. Heading into the unknown that is the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, I know I have done everything in my power over the last two months to be the best I can be. The training I have been doing has progressed greatly with each passing ride and I have only been left with minor setbacks to negotiate. Although I have no idea of how I will fair, I am at least confident in my body's ability to try to get through the challenging stages.
The seven days that make up the USA Pro Cycling Challenge couldn't be any more demanding on paper. I have seen a few of the climbs and I have studied each of the profiles. I am left feeling like a sprinter being thrown into a week's worth of mountain stages two miles above sea level.
Normally, when I am looking over a race route, I pick out the spots where I think the race-winning moves might go. Now, I am trying to pick out the spots where the gruppettos might form. I can't remember ever entering a race in such a pure survival mode. There is a first time for everything after all.
As a professional athlete, I know I should have more confidence. In fact, I should be oozing it. But you'd be surprised with how much confidence in your athletic ability you'd lose if you were just recently teaching yourself how to move an arm or walk again. At the start of every racing season, after a long winter's break, there is always the worry about not cutting it in a race. Multiply that worry by ten, and that is where I am heading into next week.
All of the talk in Colorado is about the upcoming bike race - where to watch, and who to look out for. Each town that the race passes through is painted in banners with pictures of the best cyclist the US has to offer. With the NBC and Versus networks set to cover each stage live on television - showcasing one of the hardest sports in one of the most beautiful locations - everything is in place for another one of those defining moments.