Click here for part 1 of our book excerpt from Team Discovery rider Michael Barry?s new book Inside The Postal Bus .<?xml:namespace prefix = o /?>
Part 2 ? <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 /?>
The difference between American and European bike races and racers has also become more pronounced to me over the past few years. In
America, there is always a sprint for the corner. Halfway through the race, riders dive underneath each other to gain a bike length. Bigger builds and muscle mass bulging from beneath the skinsuit top are used to intimidate. The riders are bigger in build as the races are shorter in length and flatter than in
Europe but are fast and furious. Although the races are short, they require concentration. Letting off the pedals, or applying too much pressure to the brakes, places riders at the back. Riders don?t pull in breakaways as they all have sprinters on their respective teams who can win. There is little respect for the profession and more respect for physical aggression.
As my team is an American team with an American title sponsor, it has had an obligation to race in the
United States and to have a large percentage of American riders within the team. Each season we race the key events on the American calendar: the Redlands Classic and Sea Otter Classic in
California, the Tour de Georgia, the three Wachovia races in and around
New York City race, Downer?s Grove criterium national championships in
Illinois, and the T-Mobile Grand Prix in
San Francisco . For us it is nice to come back to the
United States and race in an environment we know. As North American cyclists racing in Europe on U.S. Postal, we have a great advantage in the that we can come back home during the season, whereas those North Americans racing on foreign teams have less opportunity to return home, if at all, during the racing season.
In 2004 we had more American riders than in past years as the team makes a concerted effort to hire young Americans. When new riders are selected for the team, they are looked at carefully. Not only is it important that they have good results in bike races but also in physical laboratory testing. It is also necessary for a new rider to be able to fit into the team environment. There have been a few riders that have not fit the qualifications and they lasted on the team for short periods. The success of the team is a direct result of the riders that are hired. Individuals are not wanted but team members are desired.
?The air feels good, polluted but good. We have been indoors or in planes for a day. Or how long has it been?? I asked, as Max and I stepped out of the terminal to meet the staff that was picking us up at the airport.
?I don?t know, but I stink and feel sweaty all over,? Max replied. ?I have been looking forward to a good shower.