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Lucas Euser's Tour of California diary

As he enters his third year of competition as a professional, 23-year-old Team Slipstream Sports powered by Chipotle rider Lucas Euser will keep Cyclingnews updated with his and the outfits progress each day at the Tour of California. It's the youngster's second Tour of California, after he contested the Tour last year where he finished 49th.

Index to all entries

March 3, 2007

Time for reflection

I remember growing up as a cyclist counting the days until the season started, looking forward to local Northern California races, like the Pine Flat RR, the Snelling RR, and of course the Cherrie Pie Criterium to kick off on a fun filled year of bike racing. These and many other local races brought old friends back together after a winter of hard work and suffering in the cold, brought new faces into a welcoming community, and most importantly ensured an increase in fitness as Northern CA is packed with tough courses and even tougher competition.

I remember fighting for those upgrade points, dreaming of the day that I would make it to the top. I kept plugging away at it, being that pesky little kid, glasses and all, that just wouldn't give up.

Fast forward a few years later and here I am starting my season with some of the best cyclists in the entire world, yet in the familiarity of the same place I grew up racing, Northern California.

This year's Tour of California was packed with high intensity racing, dramatic break aways, photo finishes, and moments of suspense I have never before felt as cyclist. There was a near out of the blue upset in the prologue with my teammate Jason "the Garbage Man" Donald, don't mess with him or he will just have to take you out with the trash (good slogan, eh?).

There was the absolute chaos that followed the biggest crash I have ever seen let alone been a part of in the finale of Stage 1. The feeling of riding into our state's capital only to look up and see the profound White House-esk style capital building staring back on the world class peloton, an epic general classification battle being fought out amongst two of the best teams in the world, and on a more personal level my 100 mile escape on Stage 4 into my adopted hometown of San Luis Obispo that almost foiled the sprinters game for the day.

It didn't end there, Stage 6 was the best day of racing I have ever been a part of, watching Stuart O'Grady attack, come back, then counter attack his own attack was absolutely mind boggling. All leading into the final circuits in Long Beach that once again saw a break away group come ever so close to the line, getting caught in the final kilometers, however offering a suspenseful exciting day of racing to everyone watching, racers included.

As a racer I sometimes get caught up in the drama of competition and the inner nuances of the peloton and forget to reflect back on what I was just a part of. It's easy to focus on the minuscule negatives, it's even easier to get lost in a sea of luggage and bike bags, and not to even mention how easy it is to go out the night after the last stage and completely lose yourself in a frenzy of dehydrated, underweight cyclists attempting to consume more alcohol than the guy next to you in spirit of keeping the race alive.

Even with all those distractions I had to go back and look at the big picture, something that made me appreciate what I am doing with my life. This race was very special to me this year as I got to share it with some very important people in my life and it made me look at it from their perspective.

With all the excitement and intensity the race had to offer, in the end it was a truly humbling experience. It made me realize how much people love this sport, how much I love this sport, and how much all my family and friends around me love that I love this sport.

In true California tradition the race brought old friends back together, gave new faces a chance to shine, and sure as hell gave everyone some good fitness. In the end, behind the scenes we are all bike racers and we all do this for similar reasons, whether at a local race or the Tour of CA, the beauty and passion of cycling will live on because of people like us, keep doing what you're doing and the future of our sport will be secure.

Thank you all for reading, I hope you liked it!

Lucas Euser