I know this entry is a bit late, and by “a bit” I really mean 6 weeks. I did write it in January, but I’m just getting around to posting.
January Camp is different than December Camp, it is attended only by the National Team, so it was a hard week of training.
In some ways I still feel like such a newcomer to the Paralympic Cycling team. The core group has been together for several years, so integrating with them does have its growing pains. Fortunately I feel that I made progress throughout the week. Another issue I dealt with was descending; it turns out that witnessing the crash in December on a fast descent really messed with my head. Since Columbia is flat to rolling I had not ridden down any mountains between camps, which turned out to be a mistake. I should have trekked to Greenville, but shoulda, coulda, woulda. I was in Alpine, CA and every ride was almost exclusivelly climbing and descending, trial by fire.
I rode with a PowerTap during the week and saw the best aerobic Power numbers on day 2 during an extended climb. The numbers are good and show that I am still progressing. I’m happy to be recording my rides again and learning from what it tells me.
The low point of the week was day 3; I spent a lot of time and mental energy getting more comfortable descending, I didn’t fuel properly, and I had a bad climb. We hit a climb and I was content to roll easy on the wheel of another rider. The tandem came around us with a head of steam and I hestitated with my jump to their wheel, wrong move, I never grabbed their wheel and couldn’t quite get on. It’s been filed in the “lessons” section.
Day 4 was pretty good with the highlight being the climb up Steele Canyon. I got on the front half of a mile from the base of the climb with the intention of pacing the group up the hill by setting a steady tempo. The rest of the ride was pretty good with some climbs and some better descending.
Day 5 was a lighter day which meant we only rode 40 miles. Day 6 was supposed to be the big ride of the camp; we would ride for over 4 hours and gain 6000ft of elevation with the final climb being about 12 miles with top King of the Mountains honors at the summit. We began our final climb about 3 hours in at a gated road. This means our support van could not follow. The group left in a few waves, and I waited for the tandem so I could roll with them. They were climbing very well all week, I wanted to be on even footing with them when we started racing. We started reeling in the other riders about the time that conditions went down the drain. By the time we made contact with the front riders we hit snow on the road. It was patchy and semi-rideable at first with a few hike-a-bike sections. Eventually the road became patchy, and then became covered in snow. When we started walking I was a hundred meters behind the front guy so I trudged on trying to catch up. Hiking in 6 inches of snow while dragging a bike and wearing bike shoes for over an hour is not fun, but we were following our mountain man, Sam K, and knew we would eventually reach the van. We did make a mistake here, cell phone coverage was non-existant and our group was strung out. We ought to have stopped and regrouped and then decided to turn around or press on. It turned out ok, we reached the top and hopped in the van to ride home, and with a story no one would have predicted.
It was a successful camp, not perfect, but lessons were learned and the next should be better