Having spent hours sitting, the peculiar thumping in my chest so often accompanied by burning legs, evidenced the intensity of the count down. That isolated adrenaline of heart pounding in my helmet, I launched forward over squealing tires, shifted, accelerated, weaved cones, slid right, overcompensated, and spun out in a cloud of smoke, laughing like the maniac driver I was. Racing Nissan’s 370Z Coupes against my new teammates on that challenge course highlighted our day of test driving Nissan’s entire line up at their test track in Scottsdale, AZ.
The Americans on the team gathered in Arizona while the Europeans had camp simultaneously in Calpe, Spain. I had received a unique and glorious welcome into this group at the US Pro Championships in Greenville, and was comforted by the familiar faces of CSE management and sponsors of Team RadioShack who also supported me on Trek-Livestrong. Regardless, these are first impressions as a member of the ProTour team. The short lived tension evaporated on training rides, the dance floor, and a paper football game made from Lance’s menu in a five star restaurant.
Like the U23 rookies anxious to fit in their new company, I absorbed every interaction. I got tips from last year’s neo pros on adjusting to the top level and leadership from the sport’s paragons on everything from training to living in Europe. The pump track and single-track hot laps on road bikes are proof that the rides were relaxed. Before the racing starts and riders become specialized, traveling, riding, competitive wolves, it is healthy to interact with them as normal people, family men preparing for the holidays. As this camp drew to a close, I felt a step closer to calling myself ProTour.