The Forced Rest is Over.
It’s Race Time!
[Worthy Brewing is pleased to bring you “Banging Bars with Travis McCabe,” a blog written by Travis (aka, T-Mac). He’ll be sending us his reports from the racing action all over the world as a sprinter for the new UCI World Tour Team, Israel Start Up Nation. For us, T-Mac is the perfect spokesman for Worthy – he races hard, dreams big, and win or lose will always cap the day with a cold beer and a smile.] August 24, 2020
Well, hey there partner! It’s been 5 months now of sans racing, and it’s been a pretty interesting experience to say the least. Alot of people have been asking me what I’ve been doing, where the hell am I, if I’m going be racing at all, and if so what races I am doing. So, I figured it’s long over due to give you an update and also let you know what I’ve been doing with my life while the world seems to be coming to an end. So buckle up buttercup, ‘cause you’re in for a ride!
First off, I’M BACK, BABY! It has been one hell of a process, but I was granted permission to travel back to Girona, Spain and reside here for the rest of the season. Fortunately, Spain has granted US athletes entry into the country if they can prove their needed by their team. So, I emailed the consulate a letter from the team stating I was essential, sent them my passport, itinerary, and most recent negative covid test, and eventually they granted me access.
First Euro Race Aug. 25th
There were some hurdles along the way but here I am, basking in the Spanish sun, (riding hills and mountains again!) and prepping for my first race in over 5 months! What’s my first race you ask? Well I’ll be kick starting 2020 2.0 season in the hills of Finistere, France on August 25th at the Bretenge Classic (www.bretagne-classique-ouest-france.bzh). After that, I’ll be suiting up for the Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy from September 7th to the 14th, with more races to come after that.
Fingers crossed, of course. Recently, Europe has been experiencing a spike in cases with Spain, seeing the biggest influx in positive cases. Fortunately, the Israel Start-up Nation [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_Start-Up_Nation] management, team doctors, and the UCI, have set strict parameters for racing. We are required to take PCR tests 5 days, and 3 days prior to racing. Maintain strict social distancing, wear face masks at all times when outside of our rooms, and bus, and constantly wash our hands. Honestly, apart from the masks and the tests it’s not much different from our normal habits.
As athletes who constantly stress our bodies to the limits, getting sick can be pretty easy, so we developed pretty healthy habits and hygiene long before the virus hit. Now, it’s just magnified. Nobody wants to contract this thing so we’ve all been doing all part to slow the spread. For me it means riding with no more than one person, not going out to eat, and really only leaving my apartment for essentials. Honestly, it just forces me to live a little bit healthier and train just a little bit harder, because really, I have nothing else going on other than prepping for the races, and I don’t want to jeopardize that with a positive test.
So that’s where I’m at right now. I’m slowly getting back into the groove of Euro life and prepping for what’s to come. If you’re bored you can leave now, but if you’re interested in what I’ve been doing for the last 5 months of the apocalypse, keep reading along and I’ll tell ya.
Five Months of Figuring it Out
Here’s a short Cliffnotes version as well. I came home, quarantined, camped, hiked, backpacked, mountain biked, dislocated a finger, re-located that finger while riding, quarantined some more, witnessed a mountain burn down, moved across the country, and successfully evaded Covid so far.
Now the extended version.
For those following the season, my race time in Europe was abruptly halted in March due to the Covid-19 virus. For the entire world, this virus has affected all of our lives, and continues to wreak havoc and world wide instability. For me, the sky fell pretty quickly. I went from getting a massage during a mini training camp in Girona Spain, to packing up my bags and flying back home at 4:30 am in the morning. Trump had just closed the boarders to foreign travelers and we were expecting Spain to go into a nationwide quarantine in a matter of days. So, just like that, I was back on a plane home to wait out the pandemic and hope that racing would soon resume.
Quarantined in Hot & Dry Prescott, Az
Since I had been in Italy and Spain, I decided to quarantine myself away from everyone back home in Prescott, at my parent’s empty rental home. Fortunately, I was able to get tested and after a week of solitude the test came back negative. I was able see the family which a huge relief, because since I had been back I hadn’t been able to hug anyone. Not my girlfriend Tori, not my mom, or Dad, no one, and honestly that’s pretty hard. I feel lucky in a way. I spent the last several months hop scotching from one Covid 19 hot spot to another – From Italy, to Spain, back to Arizona and then to Florida. Each of these locations has experienced the worst of the pandemic. Again, I feel lucky to emerge unscathed.
After laying low for a bit, it was time to start realizing the implications of everything and attempt to figure out a course of action for training. To be honest, I had lost a lot of motivation and was pretty disappointed with the way everything was going. This was supposed to be my first year at the WT level and I was so excited to finally prove myself. Now, I was back home, and uncertain if I’d even be able to race again this year. So after talking with my coach Justin Peschka, we decided it would be a good idea to take another week off and have a mini off season before ramping up the training. And I’m glad we did because it was much needed. My girlfriend had a week off work, in which she was planning on spending it in Spain with me, but instead she came up to Prescott and we went on a little quarantine road trip up north in my camper van. We spent about a week on the road and although everything was beginning to shut down in Arizona, we had a wonderful time. I was just grateful to have her back in my arms and be able to spend quality time with her. We ended up visiting the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Flagstaff, Jerome and Patagonia before heading back home to Tucson.
Blessing in Disguise
Back home it became a little bit easier to get into a routine and training resumed, although I didn’t have a clear plan, I was just enjoying the time spent on the bike. I broke up the time with a lot of mountain biking, hiking and backpacking. Side note; I was recently riding and realized this has been the most time I’ve ever spent in one place for the past ten years! It’s pretty wild to think about how much I’ve traveled over all the years of racing and so this time back home has actually been a little blessing in disguise. I decided not to take it for granted and so I went out and enjoyed the desert spring as much as I could.
For years I’ve been wanting to backpack into Mt Lemmon and explore the mountain in ways I’ve never done before. And so on a whim, I went out with a couple friends and backpacked into the canyons of Mt. Lemmon. It was unbelievably beautiful back there and I’m so glad I did, because shortly after that the mountain, much like the entire country, was engulfed in chaos.
One night, and evening thunderstorm ignited a small brush fire at the base of the mountains. Within days it was out of control and rapidly climbing up the mountain. The mountain biome had all but perished, burning 120,000 acres of patient and resilient beauty. It truly hit my heart hard, because despite the cliché that mountain in my lifetime has truly been nourished with my blood, sweat and tears (mainly from laughter and joy). And now it may never be the same, so I’m glad that I was able to take advantage of the quarantine and appreciate the Catalina wilderness before destruction hit. And now it seems like Northern California is being hit once again decimated by wildfires and it’s just terrible to witness, and it makes you wonder how much more we have to endure before people finally realize that climate change is real, and that we need to finally take action and do something about it.
Relocated to Hot & Sweaty Orlando, Florida
Oh yeah, and I’ve also moved. In early July Tori graduated from her residency program and accepted an attendee position in Orlando, Florida. So I rented a U-Haul trailer, hitched it up to the back of my truck, loaded all our plants, bikes, bed, whatever else we could fit in, and either sold or donated the rest of our belongings, which was a lot. We took our time and spent the 4 days driving, 2050 miles across the country and it just so happened to be through the worse hit Covid states. A little Tour de Covid if want to call it that. Fortunately, we made it out safe and healthy. So I’m a Floridian now! I’m not going to lie, I was a bit worried at first, but honestly, Florida is pretty cool. Well, actually, it’s like 95 degrees with 90% humidity, but I’ve been enjoying it. It’s been a unique experience, going from the Sonoran desert to subtropical rain forest of Florida, and I’m excited to explore Florida more this winter.
Throughout these extremely strange times, I feel like I’ve been managing my attitude pretty well. I’m fortunate enough to have friends, family, and a wonderful girlfriend who all love me and I love them back, and I’ve been grateful to spend so much time with them through all this. With all the chaos and uncertainty that we as a country and world have been experiencing this year, I’ve tried to take a more positive approach and summon up my genuine gratitude.
I’ve been less engaged on social media, and have been spending more time cherishing my friends and family. I’ve tried not to look at the glass as half empty, but as half full. I spend my time riding and training thinking about how lucky I am to even be where I’m at. The few friends that I’ve ridden with are the ones that I can talk to for hours before we even realize that we are nearly home. Naturally, there are times where I stress out and start sweating about the future, and when that I happens I try to take a step back, take a deep breath and tell myself that I can’t control the future, so relax. There is so much that we can’t control yet we fret over it everyday and stress over things we can’t control. And I know, it’s easier for me to say this than the disenfranchised and marginalized people who struggle every day. I’m still getting paid to ride a bike, and I don’t forget that.
I do believe that each of us has something to be grateful for. The sun will continue to rise and set everyday, and eventually, we will get through this. Yes, it’s going to take time and a personal responsibility to make that happen. Eating clean, staying healthy, disinfecting, washing hands, and wearing a mask is something we can all do to defeat this virus. Together we will defeat it.
In closing, stay safe, keep your spirits up, and I hope you continue to follow along with me this year. The calendar year may be coming to an end, but the bike racing schedule is jam packed and it’s going to be a blast.
Will I be racing in the Giro? More to come.
Israel Start-Up Nation
August 24, 2020