April camp just wrapped up in Chula Vista, CA. Most of us have been racing for a while now, but you could say this served as the official kick off to the season. Unlike December or January camp where we log lots of miles at a moderate pace, April camp keeps it short and sweet. By "sweet" I mean painful, and the taste of blood is more prevalent than anything "sweet".
I’m usually excited for training camps because it means the whole team gets to ride together, and beat each other up. Bragging rights are on the line for our time trial tests, and it’s an opportunity to really measure yourself against teammates and your results from previous camps.
This camp I was especially excited for, and I can’t really pinpoint any one reason as to why; it’s the official season kick off, we’re going to Euro-land to race next week, some really fun workouts were planned, and I was ready for some sunshine. The heavy hitters were all there except for the men’s tandem (who we missed dearly) and we all took advantage of throttling each other every day.
The 20 athletes at camp broke into groups each day to do race-like workouts. Team time trial work, lead-outs, attacks, bridging gaps, and good old fashioned floggings were on tap each day. After slaying each other every morning, we’d drag ourselves up the hill into to the training center. (That hill seemed to get bigger and bigger as camp went on.)
Despite trying to ride each other into the pain cave- which we all did very well- everybody stepped up to the plate and rode better than ever.
As usual, the last day of camp meant our time trial up the famous, or infamous, Honey Springs road. It’s a 7 mile, 6% average climb that at the end of camp may as well be Everest. We do it on the last day of camp as sort of a nail-in-the-coffin ride, but also for the coaches to see how we handled the workload of the week.
This time around we had a bit of a tailwind which was welcomed, but meant it would be hot, hot, hot climbing. About two minutes in, my jersey was totally unzipped, and the glove literally came off right after. I’d had a really successful camp up to that point, and wasn’t really looking for a spectacular ride- I decided to just ride my bike to the top of the road. Instead of looking at my powermeter, I just looked up the road, and rode. Soon enough I was catching people, and knew I was rolling pretty well. It didn’t even feel like I was riding uphill. About half way up, a little group of three had formed and we rode the rest of the way together. None of us could drop the other two, but none of us were slowing down any either. It was hands down my best effort, and to do that on the last day of camp was really exciting for me.
I’m not only happy with how I rode, I’m thrilled to come home a little darker, with crisper tan lines. All the work my mother did trying to keep my pasty skin a fine English porcelain was for naught.
After this camp, I’m certain that 2010 will be a fantastic year for everybody on the team. Good things will come, I can feel it. Or maybe that’s just my sunburn.