So training camp has now finished up and boy, it was a lot of fun and a lot of work. We headed out to Tallahena, Oklahoma, Tuesday to Thursday. We stayed in little log cabins in what felt like the middle of nowhere. As soon as we arrived, we hopped on our bikes for an quick and easy 50 mile ride to the first climb we'd be TT-ing up the next day. On the way back, Nathan surprised us with a leadout race between the guys and gals back to the cabin. After dinner, we sat around the campfire and pretty much laughed for the next 3 hours before everyone was zonked out by 9pm (yeah, we're that cool).
Wednesday was the toughest ride I've done yet. It was a quality 102 miles, starting with an easy 1.5 hours, then a 5-10minute ITT up the climb we pre-rode the day before. After the climb, the girls pacelined with Nathan and Natalie behind us in the van...we went hard as we could sustain for another hour plus, including up three pretty long climbs. I was very happy with how my climbing has progressed compared to last year. After the killer pace line plus leadout, we did a 35-45 minute TT up "Radio Mountain." By this point, my legs were so dead and it took a lot of focus. We concluded the 5 hour, 22 minute ride with a simple double pace-line back to the cabins. I'm glad we did it that hard because now I know I can push myself that hard. This was New Years Eve and despite our best intentions of staying up and bringing in the New Year together, we were once again asleep far too early.
Thursday Nathan drove the girls out to Tallahena and we rode from there to the Radio Tower climb again for a leadout up the climb. We followed the leadout with a mountainous 30 miles of climbs...12 steep 1k climbs in total. The guys, who did not get the luxury of a car ride to Tallahena met up with us shortly after the climbs and we rode another 20 miles together before the girls stopped at the "Kuntry Store" where they sell a limited amount of groceries and an assortment of rifles behind the counter. The girls hopped in the car while the boys motorpaced behind us. I must say, after using race radios all week, I really like them and they definitely help with communication and directions (and encouragement).
Friday we worked on crit skills around the local crit course. We shared the course with people flying toy helicopters (a good dozen of them almost walked into us while we were zooming around the course) and people doing wheelies on motorcycles. The leadouts went really well and so did the paceline work- it's amazing to see how far the 8 of us have come in the past week training together. Jenny, the life coach and Living Well, came in and talked to us about organization and gave us tips on setting goals and actually accomplishing them. The session with her was great. We all went to Paula's sweet condo that night- she and her sister had cooked us a great feast of chicken, salad, and potatoes.
Saturday was the Mad Duck group ride. It's a ~50 mile ride with a ~7 mile "race" to a hilltop finish. Nathan had Shannon, Andrea, and I rotating and pulling around some of the club members for the race. I'm pretty sure we pulled faster than we did on the first day of camp, but maybe that's because we had Nathan physically in our ears instead of on the radios ;-) The Metro dinner party was awesome- it was at Main Street Bakery in Grapevine and plenty of club members and sponsors showed up. The bakery provided us with the most amazing food and the prettiest carrot cake I've ever seen. Afterwards, we all headed to Main Event where Brad treated us to laser tag and bowling. It was a very fun last night together...too much laughing, that's for sure.
Today everyone is flying out or driving home. The few of us that were still at the hotel in the morning went back to the bakery for an equally amazing breakfast. We chatted and laughed about the week. It's so nice that we all easily get along. Training camp felt both very fast and also like an eternity. I definitely learned a lot of skills and learned a lot about myself as a rider. My teammates are all awesome people and great riders. It's going to be a great season for sure.
Peter and I will head back to Austin tomorrow evening after our Living Well appointments, but we'll only be there for 6 days before the next adventures. It'll be great to be home and see friends, even though it's for such a short period of time. We'll see what this week home brings!
Sorry- I'll have to steal some pictures from the trip because I didn't use my camera! :-(