This almost answers Jamie’s opening title… Although it really begins in our basements, bedrooms, or living rooms in front of the TV and an industrial size fan blowing in the face… or for the harder types – out on the wintery roads with freezing water splashing in the face. Such is a life of a Northern cyclist. For me however, it doesn’t take long before I hit the threshold of such misery, of not ever seeing daylight and dreams of riding in short sleeves….and I run off to the Desert on whatever penny I manage to save up. This is where the new season officially starts for me. This is what I live for, a gateway from all the stresses of managing work and racing, and just being able to focus 100 percent on what I love doing most: riding my bike full time.
Before I carry any further I should probably introduce myself. My name is Anton Varabei, and I am one of the new young ‘trained killers’ hired for an upcoming season by our Nation’s own veteran hero, Andrew Randell himself! Jokes aside, it is an exciting step in my life and cycling career. I have been riding and racing bikes for nearly a decade, yet realization that I wanted to pursue it full time came only when I graduated form the University [of Guelph]. This is my 3rd season training year round and 4th year racing on the road. Transitioning from mountain biking scene and leaning the road racing tactics was fun and sometimes frustrating, but has given me a spark! I’m happy to say that days of tackling full squads in Ontario and chasing every bullet they send like a greyhound after the rabbit, are now in the past! It was fun while it lasted but I’m ready to be a team player now. My hard work also has been paying off, and I’m ready to move to the next level and to take on some of the toughest competition in North America that this team is about to embark on.
Now back to where I started, the Desert! I could write novels on my adventures and beauty of the riding here, but I’ll spare your time and just show some picture for the photographic evidence! The dry warm climate here in Tucson, Arizona has turned this town in cycling Mecca in winter months as many a serious cyclist flee their snowy homelands for some solid pre-season training. The weekly race-type group ride “Shoot-out” on Saturdays is worth coming for alone, not to mention proximity to all the necessary training grounds: steep mountain grades, long steady mountain climbs as long as 40km long, and the endless uninterrupted flat stretches.|
The two months of paradise training has passed and it’s time to make my way home. In fact I’m typing this last paragraph in the motel room after a day of driving with a stop at Grand Canyon last night. After the short little rest the legs will be in prime and ready to go! First race of the season for the team begins at Good Friday road race in a week. Stay tuned for more regular posts and reports as the season unfolds! See you soon!