In the first of a new series, Travis McCabe shares his experience of competing at the top level of cycling for the first time at the age of thirty.
Well, here it goes. This is a little bit new for me, well actually it’s all very new to me. I’m entering into the top echelon of professional cyclists about ten years later than what seems to be the standard in today’s racing. It almost seems like you won’t even make it to the big leagues if you don’t immediately skip the U23 ranks, or sign right out of them. Well, that sure as sh*t isn’t me. I’ve been banging my head against the wall for an entire decade. Unlike the majority of Pro Tour riders, I wasn’t even riding bikes when I was eighteen. I was off running laps around a track, chasing girls, and just trying to figure out what being a legal adult was all about. So my approach to this blog is to give a different perspective within the top echelons of racing. How it’s different from the US and to give insight into the team’s operations along with the riders. Hopefully, some great stories about racing along with some off the bike as well. This is not only a big step up for myself but Israel Start-Up Nation as well. Of course, there will be speed bumps along the way, but that’s to be expected. The more important part is how we all handle them as they come, whether expected. In my opinion, that’s what defines everyone, nothing comes easily and nothing is gifted. Especially in this sport and at this level of racing.
Team Camp CroatiaTypically, the team camp is the only time of year that you meet everyone within the team. Riders, staff, owners, and sponsors all attend at some point throughout the camp. Ours was about three weeks long, so there was plenty of time to get to meet new teammates and catch up with old. We started in Croatia, where we received our new Factor Bikes, met with the Scicon, SwissStop, and FrogLegs sponsors. The weather was pretty grim. We would ride easily in the afternoons then attend meetings in the evenings. Most of it was shop talk from the sponsors and staff, so nothing too exciting. It honestly just felt like any other team camp, but I’m not going to lie, I was pretty nervous at first to meet everyone. Being the only American on the team, I only knew a few of the old ICA riders and not many of the new guys. Still, everyone was pretty much in the same boat, and fortunately, all the riders and staff were super personable and approachable. Next up was Israel, where we would have a team presentation, and camp would really kick-of.
We arrived in Tel Aviv, Israel, without luggage but we had our bikes! We spent the first day scrambling around trying to find cycling clothes and gear to at least spin the legs. Immediately, riders who did have what little spare clothing and gear with them lent out what they could, and the staff were able to grab some of last year’s clothes for those in need. I, of course, pulled the most rookie mistake possible and left my shoes in the suitcase. Pro-tip #1 ALWAYS travel with your shoes and even helmet if possible.
After the presentation, the training truly began. We departed from Tel Aviv and rode south to a small desert town of Mitzpe Ramon, passing the Gaza Strip along the way while also getting caught in a pretty insane Haboob. Look it up; it’s wild! We spent the next three days putting time on the bike and rode countless hours in the Israeli desert. Nights were full of eating dinner, laughing, and learning a new card game called Yaniv. I was half expecting to see camels crossing the roads, but unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough to see one in the wild.
I’ll leave saying this. I’ve spent the last decade dreaming of the day I was able to ride in the top echelon of cycling, and finally, after a decade trying, I have my chance. I’m incredibly excited to be here, and I am going to do everything I can to learn and prepare for the season ahead. I want to come out swinging and show my worth as a rider and as an individual. This sh*t is hard! And I haven’t taken the traditional route to get here. There have been many highs and lows already throughout my career, to the point where I nearly hung it up this year. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity Israel Start-Up Nation has given me, and I hope you follow the team, myself, and Factor Bikes through the 2020 season. Buckle up because I have a feeling it’s going to be a wild ride!