This morning George graciously invited the Hincapie Sportwear photography crew to tag along during his training ride. In the off season, it’s more common for folks to join him on his rides. In the early winter rides, he typically puts in long days of steady tempo miles with a small group, chatting and laughing along the way. Now that the racing season is underway, George treats his midweek training rides very seriously. He typically rides solo and stays on a strict schedule. His last text to us before the ride read, “I leave at 10 am sharp.”
When we joined George at his house he was already in “work” mode. No time for chit-chat as he prepared his supplies for the day. It was starting to warm-up already so George changed out of his long sleeve jersey into his short sleeve race jersey. The sky looked stormy so an eVent rain vest was added to the supplies in his jersey pockets. He double checked his seat height with a tape measure and made a small adjustment to one of his cleats. It was time to roll.
It was obvious that George knows his training roads well. Just leaving his neighborhood it was hard to keep up with him in the car as he flowed along the curves on the descent from his house. He took us through secret back roads that avoid any major traffic. After a few miles we arrived at a familiar intersection near Furman University.
Today’s training plan called for specific intervals up the nearby Ceasar’s Head climb. (Nearby for George is a forty mile ride from his house.) On the way to Ceasar’s Head, George did several warm-up intervals. George is so smooth on the bike that at first it wasn’t even apparent he was doing an effort unless you happened to look down at the speedometer and notice that we were driving 25mph up a hill. On second glance, you could see a shift in his hand position and a more focused look on his face as he cranked up the intensity. It’s the familiar expression he wears in the last 50km of a classics race or Tour stage.
After an hour of photographing, our camera memory card was full of images of George in his vivid red BMC kit contrasted against the local lush green vegetation. The scenery along the way featured miles of quiet woods and picturesque farmland. No wonder George loves training in the Appalachian Foothills of South Carolina.
We reached the base of Ceasar’s Head and it was time for George to get down to business. When monitoring power, time and heart rate while riding full gas up a curvy climb, the last thing George needs is a photographer in his nose. So, we said goodbye, grabbed a bite to eat at a local diner and headed back to Hincapie HQ. It’s amazing to think that even after our lunch break, drive home and our time downloading pictures and writing this recap, George is still out on the road riding intervals miles from home. I guess that’s what it takes to be a cycling legend.