Last week was January training camp for the cycling team. Rather than staying at the OTC in Chula vista, we stayed at a hotel in Alpine, CA because the OTC was full. It was nice to stay outside the training center because one, I go from OTC to OTC so a change was nice, and two, the riding is much better there- no Otay Lakes Rd. each day.
Each morning we rolled out after a leisurely breakfast and descended into the valley only to start climbing right away. The road was either up or down, which for me proved to be a little mentally draining. I'm not a terrible climber, but I'm not a particularly strong one either. It's something I need and want to work specifically on this season. One of the team goals this season is to improve communication, so it was emphasized this camp. Both on and off the bike we need to communicate with each other better, and let our voices be heard.
We ("we" being the rest of the group) stayed each other on the climbs each day, and I dragged myself back to the hotel after clawing my way over each climb. To contribute to the group, I'd do my best to drill it on the flats to get the group up to speed and back home faster. Really, I just wanted to get off my bike and eat some lunch sooner.
The grand finale of camp was to be an epic ride up a road called Kitchen Creek. It's a gated road with no car access, no phone coverage, 12 miles long and about 3000 feet of climbing. At the bottom we refilled bottles, grabbed extra tubes and CO2's and warm clothes for the higher altitude. Matt and I prepared ourselves for a long climb, and settled in to a good rhythm and were chugging along. Then came some patches of snow, and frankly, it was a lot of fun! I was channeling my inner Katie F’n Compton to ride through the patches of now. The stretches of snow got longer, and longer, and soon there were no patches of dry road. It was time to start hiking. I was off the back of the front group but was making up ground. I was in the group mentality and was just focused on catching up to the group rather than stopping. When I finally caught up, I asked someone why we hadn’t turned back, but in reality, it was too late to do anything but go forward- we’d already been hiking for a while. If you know me, you know that I hardly walk anywhere, let alone uphill, in the snow, in cycling shoes, with a bike. I tried not to complain but I can’t lie, I did. Clark, being the gentleman he is, carried my bike for a good portion of the hike. We followed Sam like a bunch of little ducks in a row to the top of the climb, through the brush, and sections of knee deep snow, over rocks and up steep embankments. When we reached the top and walked out of the woods past a bunch of people sledding it was definitely satisfying to know we finished the climb. I’ve said before that bike racing makes you dumb, and this just might be a shining example of that. Our epic ride was definitely epic, but in a much different way than originally thought.
While it was a good experience, it wasn’t the best decision to press on, as our group was split in two with no means of communication between us. Something could’ve gone wrong, someone could’ve gotten hurt, but luckily for us nothing really serious happened to anyone and we can all have a laugh over it now.
All in all it was another good camp filled with solid riding, fun time spent with teammates and one more story to add to long the list.