Monday, February 20, 2012

Training Camp is Over

If there's one thing bike racers are good at, it's finishing hard. It's not uncommon for the final hour of a race to be the hardest effort of the day. We know how to grit our teeth and push it all the way to the line, leaving it all out there on the road. The same can be said about how Team Exergy finished up this week's training camp. Friday's ride was a monster: we covered something like 112 miles, and climbed nearly 12,000 feet. Throw in several major efforts in there, and you've got a recipe for an exertion that should almost rival the most intense racing we're likely to see this year. Here's the garmin file from that day. My numbers are a little short because I accidentally switched off the timer on my Garmin whilst tucking down a descent, and didn't notice what I'd done for several miles.

Friday night we held our final team meeting. There's something magical about being right on the cusp of the racing season. Everyone is in shape. The team is strong. We're hungry, we're ready, and we're in it together. We also recognized that aside from one, possibly two other occasions, we're unlikely to all be in the same room at the same time. Training camp is what sets the tone for the whole team for the year.

On Saturday, our final full day of camp, we held our annual driveway time trial. For three minutes and change, we clobbered our way up a half-mile stretch of pavement so steep, there were pitches where I was honestly worried about falling backwards off my bike (my front wheel kept popping off the road if I wasn't careful). Average grade: 16.7%. Max grade: 31.5%  (which, were it to ever snow in Ventura, would make that stretch of road an avalanche danger). It's amazing the damage an all-out effort that brief can do to a set of lungs and legs. The previous day's big ride, while on a deeper level depleted me more, was nowhere near as painful. I'm sure there will be some internet content about the driveway TT coming soon -- Manual for Speed was there after all -- but here's a photo of the wreckage after the ride. Trust me, the looks on our faces doesn't do justice to the feeling in our lungs (however, the unseen little pile of drool I made does).

And finally -- the true kick to the finish occurred Saturday night. In typical Exergy fashion, we dressed to the nines and went out for a night on the town. Tired legs found new strength under the glow of lasers and strobe lights, and the pulse of the DJ's music. Team Exergy absolutely crushes it, no matter the discipline -- be it across the finish line, or across the dance floor.

And thus, training camp 2012 is over. The squad destined for Merco, the team's first race of the season, stayed in Ventura, while the rest of us scattered to the wind. Me, I'm writing this from a coffee shop in my hometown of Boise, Idaho. Back to the cold, back to the wind, back to the grindstone. Another month or so, and I'm off to the races myself.

Update: and for the record, Matt Cooke set a new course record for the Driveway TT with a time of 3:11.  I watched him finish, and he went so fast for the final 30 seconds it made my head spin. Personally, I finished with a 3:29, tied for 5th place.


kennett said...

I always have a problem finishing hard.

gibsoncn said...

you guys need a chair sponsor.

Sam Johnson said...

I know, right? I'm thinkin' these: