Leaving the cold, low-altitude climate of Maryland for the frigid, high-altitude climate of Colorado, Ellicott City cycling champion Brian Moroney was expected to arrive yesterday to begin training in Colorado Springs for cycling's National Team Level Elite Camp.
The two-week camp, directed by the U.S. Cycling Federation at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, invited the country's top 30 amateur cyclists to assess each of their abilities and intentions for the year. Although the Olympic team is their primary concern this year, the federation will grade cyclists for other races, such as the prestigious Tour of Somerville, which Moroney won last year.
Moroney, 21, plans to attend the camp for only one week, then will return to Maryland for his sister's wedding Saturday. While in Colorado, he and his colleagues expect to ride their mountain and road bikes, hike up Pikes Peak and possibly use their cross-country skis. Hedescribed the cycling as "low-intensity, high-mileage, early season preparation."
The cross-country skiing will come easy to the Centennial High graduate, who learned to ski before he started racing and favors the trails at Herrington Manor State Park in Garrett County.
Even though he has an automatic invitation to the Olympic Trials this April in Altoona, Pa., Moroney feels the camp offers other benefits.
"I'm going out there to get to know the coaches better. If possible, I'd like to get invited to some stage races in Europe."
For his part, Brian has been preparing for this fortnight in the
RockyMountains with a Spartan regime. Thursday he rode his mountain bike in temperatures that barely rose above 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
"I have to do it, because that's the way it's going to be in Colorado, along with snow and high winds," he said.
The high altitude of Colorado will not be foreign to Moroney, who participated in cycling campsthere in 1989 and 1990. "I have never had any problems with high altitudes. I can't explain it," he said. "I know I have good lungs."
Moroney plans to compete in several European races before the Olympictrials, and he believes that will help his chances. But, he added, the high competition for the trials might level that edge.
"I'm oneof the top 30 riders, but they have to narrow that field down to three plus an alternate," he said. "The only way I'm going to go is to have a really good ride in the road race."
His three months in Europe last year were marked with good fortune. He counts three amateur victories in Belgium and France and placing 11th in the 100-mile Eupen-La-Calamine pro-am race as his biggest achievements.
Once he returns from the camp, Moroney will have less than a month to prepare before flying to Belgium to join the Team Zanussi racing team for six months. He estimates they will race three or four long road races a week.
After racing in the summer months for the last two years, this new schedule will test Moroney's endurance.
"I have to prepare differently," he said. "I have to begin peaking in February and March, which is different because I'm used to peaking in June. This is new for me."