A lot of people have seen all the nice pictures of all the things I see and do in America and it all looks cool and fun when you see it. Behind the scenes though, there is actually a lot more going on and that makes me really tired at the moment.
Travelling from race to race is an awesome way to see the country and visit different states and to come to the best mountain biking spots in America. I am really happy that the organizers of the big races I do arranged host houses for me while I come over for their races. In the days in between or when I have to travel big distances I am living the #vanlife together with my friend Rebecca Gross. She is an American cross rider and has lived the last winter two months in my apartment during the season. This opened up the opportunity for me to come when my helmet sponsor Kali protectives wanted to fly me to America.
I've been travelling across America for a month now and I will be on the run until The Iron Horse bike weekend that comes up in two weeks. After that I will go to Golden Colorado (next to Boulder) to settle there until the 16th of June when I return. Sometimes I have a long training scheduled and we also have a travel day, then I just step out of the van and cycle over the next town where we are staying. Most of the time these are 5 hour bike rides on the shoulder of a highway and those rides are extremely boring because it is just one big straight line. The last time when I rode from Cortez to Moab I had to bring a camelback because there wasn't even a place to stop to get water for the next 150km. And water isn't a luxury when you're riding at 2000 meter altitude in 30 degrees.
My training weeks here are around 20-25 hours a week (depending a bit on the races). The efforts I put in here are really hard specially because the lowest point I've been at the last month is 1200 meters. All the work I put in over here is with the big goal to make another big step this winter for the cross season. I started working with a big plan all over the year towards the upcoming winter to get to the level where I'll be a solid top 10 rider in all the C1 races I do in Switzerland and to be able to battle for the podium spots in the C2 races I do all over Europe. This two month trip to America at altitude was a big part of that plan and we tried to fit in some races to have some goals in America while I am here.
At the moment I am at the end of a very heavy training block and together with all the travelling in between I feel that my body doesn't recover as well as it does normally when you're at home. There are a lot of factors that are important to be a (top) athlete and you often forget when you're just at home. At home in Germany I sleep in my own bed every day at the same times, I eat at the same times; eat clean food, prepare my own complete meals every day, get up around the same time, I eat my own breakfast every day.
Here in America the food is stacked with chemicals and preservatives so you have to be really careful on what to eat and what to buy. Due to the travelling and training you don't know in the morning on what time at night dinner will be ready. Here it looks like people are living off snacks and when you're hungry after a big training ride you have to stay strong and don't start to eat crap. I had two days with around 5 hours on the bike, after those rides we had to drive for two hours, get groceries and find our hosts. Then you have to take a shower and start cooking. Food is ready around 21:30-22:00 then.
I made the choice to make this trip so I shouldn't complain and that is also something I don't want to do at all over here. Adapting to situations has become a very strong point in my cycling career. Keep smiling and thinking that it will be fine are maybe the biggest talents I have. When everything around the race is crappy I just stay happy and thinking it will be fine. Maybe this was also the biggest reason I could win back to back the biggest CX races in China, between the first and the second race there where two days and 22-hours of travelling in a bus. When everyone is getting irritated and frustrated I just keep looking outside to the boring landscape or read a book. Then when the race is there I just make the best of it and go for it as if nothing ever happened. Or winning three stages in the Tour of Mongolia after eating oats with water, raisins and some cocos for breakfast every morning, no showers for 8 days. Since there was nothing else to drink but water, I would never thought that I would accept instant coffee as a good product that would make me happy but it has done it already a few times.
At the moment I am in Grand Junction in Colorado for the Grand Junction offroad that will be held here next weekend. This race is considered to be the most technical mountain bike marathon from America and these are the most technical trails I've ever ridden. You can have such fast legs but when you don't know how to ride a bike extremely well you won't have a nice day over here. The course is 70km with 2000 meters of climbing and around 50km of rock garden. There are even some parts where you have to climb up rock gardens carrying your bike.
Next weekend it is memorial weekend in America and I am going over to Durango, Colorado, for the Iron Horse bike weekend. This is a big mountain bike event that is formed around a legendary trail over there. There is a train track there and the trail runs besides it, and if you're a really good mountain biker you should be able to beat the train and be first at the next trainstop. Over the years this challenge has turned in to a race and this event has gotten bigger and bigger. Now-a-days it has all kinds of bike races, from a dirtjumps to gravel racing and a music festival. I will competing in a duo classification so I will be riding a 80-100km road race on Saturday (with a mountain finish at 3500 meters or so (not sure). and then the mountain bike marathon on Sunday.
The last and biggest event that is waiting for me then are the GoPro games in Vail, Colorado on the 9th of June. This race is at around 2500-3000 meter of elevation so I just give it my all and try to breath as much oxygen in as possible at that altitude and try to beat all those riders here who live high in the mountains.
In the meantime I will train a lot in the area around Boulder and Golden and hopefully do some criteriums if there are a few around. The criterium scene is really big here in America and there are even riders who make a living of just riding all those crits here. But with prize purses of around 10K every race I guess it is possible when you're really good at it.
Even though the results are a bit less then what I expected I am really happy with the work I am putting in here knowing that my time will come in the winter!
Stay tuned on the pictures on my social media channels like Instagram (English) or Twitter (mainly Dutch).
You can find me all over the web with @gossinki or #crossemetgosse