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Team TIAA-CREF - 2006

Team Journal Entry - January 20, 2006, by Timmy Duggan

Training camp: the 2006 cycling circus begins

We call him Mr. Burns.
Photo ©: Beth Seliga
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Wow, that off-season sure zoomed by. I hope you all had a great holiday season and are ready to get back into cycling. Right now, it's early January and I'm sitting in the Holiday Inn, in Silver City, New Mexico for two weeks at the TIAA-CREF training camp and the season is about underway.

In a few short months, I packed in a wedding, a honeymoon, a new dog, some sick powder skiing, a ton of hiking and mountain biking, and some pretty good training in Boulder, so I'm refreshed and ready to go. I gotta say this camp is not a bad way to start the season... it's warm here, no wind (my favorite), I'm riding with all my best buds that I call my team, and there are cinnamon rolls at the continental breakfast every morning! I should load up on those because there won't by many of them for the next few months as our European campaign begins at the end of January with the French Cup Opener, then Etoile des Besseges stage race in southern France, and then a host of one day races around Europe.

A new 2008 Olympics event:
Photo ©: Beth Seliga
Click for larger image

Needless to say, it's go time for us now, albeit in the middle of January. A lot of the biggest and hardest races we will do are coming up in this early season, and we're going to be ready to make an impression. Yesterday was a good example of our program for the coming days. In a 5.5 hour ride through the hills, we did a set of intervals, a 30-minute race up a steep climb, and two hours of motor-pacing with no break until the hotel parking lot. Now that's some good clean fun. Also, all the new team gear is trickling in, from Clif bars to Mountainsmith luggage to Shimano wheels. You have no idea how much stuff is needed to keep a team of 20 guys on the road. There are enough freshly shipped cardboard boxes full of gear in the parking lot to build a house with I think. Shimano shipped us 80 sets wheels yesterday that would have overflowed our trailer!

So here's the new revelation to watch on Team TIAA-CREF. His name is Tom Peterson, he's from Washington, we call him Mr. Burns. Even I hadn't heard of him until I met him at our first camp last month. But this 19 year-old kid rips it up. He's quiet, I think I've heard about 10 words come out of his mouth, but he speaks with his legs. We'd like to haze him a little bit, him being the young rookie and all, but unfortunately he'd just dish it back to us on the next hill we go up. He's been killing us all on the climbs, so keep an eye on this young climbing phenom in the results this year.

Photo ©: Beth Seliga
Click for larger image

Hmm, what else? Oh, well, you know how some cycling teams do early season team building exercises... like CSC's combat training or T-Mobile's adventure courses in the Alps? Um, well, at team TIAA-CREF, we go bowling. Yeah. If you've ever seen a bunch of scrawny bike racers try to throw a bowling ball, its pretty hilarious. Here's a run-down of our skills: I bowl two strikes in my first three tries, then stop caring, my mission accomplished. Our director, Jonathan, throws the ball and then does some sort of mating dance or something to try to coax the ball to go where he wants. Somehow it tends to work.

Skinny Tom Peterson rolls up to the line like Mr. Burns from the Simpsons, the heavy ball forcing a hunchback position, and I think one time the ball was going so slow that it hit the pin but just bounced off it. Danny Pate had the skills; he'll be ok if the cycling thing doesn't work out for him. The funniest bowler on our team was another new guy Taylor Tolleson. This dude is like a football player. I swear he'd take a 12lb bowling ball and huck it discus-style all the way down the lane and it would land right in front of the pins and take 'em out like a bomb. Pretty funny.

So if our bowling skills are any indication of our cycling abilities... then I guess you'll have a good bloopers video at the end of the season. But watch out, because for the coming season I think TIAA-CREF is gonna have one hell of a highlight reel instead!

Thanks for reading,
Timmy Duggan



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Images by Beth Seliga/