Probably the best way to understand Team Ouch is to go on a ride with the squad that can only be described with in one word, 'ouch'. It must be remembered that Team Ouch is the re-tooled Health Net-Maxxis squad which has added one Mr. Floyd Landis to it's 2009 roster. The Health Net boys have won the prestigious National Racing Calendar title, signifying the best team and best rider in the USA, since their inception in 2004. Mr. Landis has won the Tour of California, Paris-Nice, Tour of Georgia and the Tour de France.
So, agreeing to head out on the road with these guys has the potential to send mere mortals crying for their mommas or just seriously questioning their passion for cycling. After all, it really isn't all about the bike. But, it wasn't the first half of the ride which prompted such heavy introspection. No, it was when the team got back to the hotel and Floyd decided that he hadn't had enough fun for the day.
Dr. Brent Kay, Floyd's long-time friend, co-founder of Ouch Medical the team's title sponsor and part-time hammer on the bike suggested that Landis take a few of us on an "hour of power". When Dr. Kay wouldn't exactly disclose all the details of the proposed route, I should have been suspicious, but since he was joining us, I thought all would be fine.
Would you buy a used bike ride from these two guys (Dr. Kay(l), Floyd(r))?
Yeah, right. After the first 21% wall, it didn't get much easier for the next hour and a half as one steep pitch after pitch followed. I saw 30% once and even 38% on one particularly bad patch. When it was 27% (the grade of a black diamond ski run) things seemed to be manageable. Granted these ultra-steeps were only 200-600 yards long, but, that's about the length of the climbs in the Tour of Flanders and nobody is calling those a cake walk.
This is what a 30+% hill looks like.
Enough of my whining. All seven of us survived and though I will not be at the starting line of Floyd's first big race, the Amgen Tour of California, I can tell you that from my perspective, the boy is looking pretty darn fit. Welcome back.
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