Posts Tagged ‘Cycling with Tom Danielson’

An informal ride & “war stories” with Tom Danielson, Garmin Transitions Pro

| December 20th, 2010 | No Comments »

I was invited to do an informal ride with Garmin-Transitions pro rider Tom Danielson in Fort Myers, on the west coast of Florida. Fort Myers is a favorite destination to sun-seekers and retirees, and was once a winter home to world famous inventor Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. I thought it would be an interesting opportunity to ride again with the now world famous pro rider after having raced with him back in 2003 when he was a young pro on the Saturn team.

In 2003 we raced together in the US Pro Championships in Philadelphia and in the Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia. The 10-day Tour de Langkawi stage race was the fourth highest paying race in the world and attracted many of the world’s best professional teams.
 
 
Tom was racing for the Saturn team in the Tour de Langkawi. He had already established his remarkable talent early in the race by taking the leader’s yellow jersey. I remember clearly racing the decider stage up the extremely difficult mountain to Genting Highlands resort. As we approached the base of the 11 mile climb with a gradient ranging from 12-20%, Chris Horner and his Saturn team were charging towards the climb with the goal of setting up Tom for yet another attack. I was producing a steady 400-450 watts just to ride next to Chris and keep our best climber shielded from the wind and as fresh as possible for the immanent battle between the climbers.  
 
As soon as the first climber launched his attack, I went from being at the front to being spat out the back in less than 30 seconds. Close to 1.5 hours later, I approached the finish line, zigzagging the 20% pitch towards the resort hotel above the clouds. Dizzy and cold, and over 28 minutes lost on the climb, I learned that Tom once again had displayed his unbelievable climbing talents by winning the queen stage. He would go on to win the final yellow jersey.   
 
Back then as a young pro, Tom Danielson was beginning to make a name for himself as a powerful climber and strong time trialist. Fast forward 7 years and Tom has become one of the best US international pros, exploding into the big time when he defeated Lance, Floyd and Levi in the 2005 Tour de Georgia. His 2010 season resulted in a strong 8th place overall finish in the Tour of Spain, the third biggest stage race in the world.
 
For the past two Decembers, Tom, invited by Z Motion a top Florida racing club, heads to south Florida where he participates in two centuries for charity and resumes his base training.
 
As we left for our ride, I reminisced with Tom of our racing back in Langkawi and US Pro Champs. Our ride today would take us on a flat and fast 65 mile coastal route to beautiful Captiva and Sanibel islands, home to some of the top rated beaches in the US. Unfortunately, a thick coastal mist would hide much of the surrounding beauty on this day. It’s refreshing to see Tom’s humility and friendliness, void of any pretentiousness. He seems like a genuinely great guy.
 
 
Riding alongside Tom, my power meter was showing a steady 250 watts. I was thankful to be in good shape and riding my NeilPryde Alize, with its aerodynamic frame design. The Alize is perfectly suited for the fast, flat and windy coastal roads of Florida where wind drag is the main challenge to overcome.
 
Tom’s training included 5-6 hour rides each day at a similar pace for a total of 33 hours this week. I discovered his peak 20 minute power is 420W at 130lbs! No wonder he climbs as if he had wings.
 
After our 3 hours ride, most us weekend warriors were happy to call it a day. Tom however, would go out for another 3 hours. Such is the life of a top pro and this dedication is what is required to be one of the world’s top cyclists.