For this year’s “Training Day” segment we head to Girona, Spain to meet up with Professional cyclist Chad Haga. Chad is a multifaceted, talented individual. He is first of all, a smart guy – he graduated summa cum laude with an engineering degree from Texas A&M University. This academic distinction was achieved while simultaneously racing his bike and becoming the number one amateur in the country. So, it goes without saying that the guy is driven and has some incredible athletic talent. Chad is a talented musician as well – he has played the piano for sixteen years and can keep an audience mesmerized by his skilled mastery of the ivory. The six foot three, twenty-six year old from Texas also has had the courage to pursue his athletic dreams, and take a chance on making it to the highest levels of professional cycling. Instead of taking a secure well-paying job after college, he decided to delay that decision, and pursue his passion even if it meant that he would have to worry about paying the rent for awhile as he got going.
We first met Chad last year in Lucca, Italy through our mutual friend Ben King. Chad had just arrived in Europe to begin his first year on the World Tour – racing at the highest levels of the sport. At the time, I think Chad had quiet confidence, however, he wasn’t 100% sure how his body would hold up and respond to the demands of longer stage races, and a Grand Tour (if the opportunity presented itself for him to ride one). After we parted ways last year, Liam and I were able to have a sideline seat to Chad’s progress throughout the season by reading his well-written and entertaining blog. Did I mention that Chad is also an excellent writer? We were on the edge of our seats with his race reports and tales from the road. Chad had a stellar first year and an impressive showing in his first Grand Tour at La Vuelta de Espana in the Fall.
So, needless to say, we were really stoked when Chad agreed to spend a day with us riding bikes, talking life, and exploring his new training base – Girona, Spain. Girona is in the North of Spain (Catalunya) just across the mountainous border from France. Although Girona is only a 4-hour drive from where we live in France, it is a world apart. In Girona they speak Catalan, they eat at different hours than the French (lunch at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and dinner can be as late as 10 or 11 at night), people love to go out at night and be in the bars and cafes, and the crowd seems to just flow into the streets the later it gets (granted we were there on a Friday night, and Girona is a University town), and all around outside the city are miles and miles of nearly empty, well-maintained roads. As Chad told us, you can ride in the foothills, you can ride the flats, you can ride the punchy climbs down by the Mediterranean Sea, or chose to head into the mountains for the really big stuff. It’s got a little bit of everything, and the weather is generally good year-round.
|Girona -The Jewel of Catalunya|
|Liam and Chad on the "Go-To" Loop|
|River Front Girona|
|Gothic Cathedral - Center Piece and Anchor of Girona|
After the interview, we said our goodbyes and wished Chad good luck for the race in Italy and the rest of the season in general. Our day spent in Girona had left us thinking, not only about cycling, but also about the diversity and capabilities of a human being. One person has the capacity to be many things – athlete, musician, engineer, writer, Samaritan. We left Girona inspired and motivated to explore all the wonderful possibilities of life, both on and off the bike.
Live Strong, Train Safe, and Live Well!!
This is Bill and Liam signing out.