This One Time, At Team Camp

(beach cruiser waiting for a ride at our team camp beach house)

Having arrived in California yesterday for the second round of team camp, I figured now might be a good time to fill you in on round one. This year, camp was split into two parts by Redlands. We all met up in Carpinteria, California two weeks ago and then our eight rider Redlands squad headed to the first NRC race of the season. I headed home to pack and move (which, as I’m sure you can imagine, wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do after two weeks away). After moving all weekend, I had an early wake-up call Monday morning to fly back to California for more team bonding, sponsor visits and training rides. When camp ends on Friday, it’s off to Charlotte for one of the biggest one day races of the season.

As you might remember, I last blogged before San Dimas. I wrote daily race reports on my first road race of the year (you can read them here if you missed them and want to catch up). Following San Dimas, Amanda, Melanie and I stayed in Ventura for a few days. Jo and her husband Jeff Pierce (you might know him, and if you don’t, you should – here’s why) were doing their own thing, leaving Melanie, Amanda and I to our own devices. On Monday the three of us went out for an easy spin, but on Tuesday we decided a long ride with some climbing was in order. We talked to our former teammate and local, Alexis Ryan, who told us about a climb out of Ojai up to Rose Valley. It was a beautiful, mellow climb up Hwy 33. The gradient was perfect to put some tension on the legs but not overdo it. And the views from the top were amazing.

On Wednesday, we rode the couple hours from Ventura to Carpinteria and arrived sometime mid-afternoon. Our mechanic Josh and Jeff and Jo were already at the house getting things in order  for the circus to begin. Rushlee Buchanan, Sam Schneider and Jasmin Glaesser were the next three to arrive. The trio had flown in from Europe two days prior and were staying with our team founder Linda Jackson in Menlo Park. They drove down in a team car and arrived at the beach house a few hours after us.

Sam has been with the team several years and has become a familiar face for Team TIBCO fans. Rushlee joined Team TIBCO the year prior to me. She raced with the team for two years (so overlapped with me in ’09) before leaving to race with another North American team. Last summer, she represented New Zealand on the track at the London Olympics. She’s fully focused on road this year, and we’re happy to have her back! Like Rush, Jasmin represented her country in London last year. She was part of Canada’s bronze winning team pursuit squad and took the young rider jersey at the Exergy Tour. She’s a new recruit without a ton of road racing experience, and she was one of the two teammates I hadn’t met until team camp.

(the beach is just a few steps away from the back door)

The eight of us got to work sorting things around the house. Each year, we stay in one of two houses owned by the Cook family. The riders all stayed in the same house, so there we divved up the space, assigned rooms and ran to the grocery store for basics. Jeff cooked us a fantastic dinner, and just before midnight, the rest of the Euro crew arrived: our team director Manel, Shelley Olds, Claudia Häusler and our soigneur Nadia.

Way back when, Shelley raced for the Proman Hit Squad (what has now grown to be Exergy Twenty16). Primarily focused on track, she had hoped to earn an Olympic berth in the points race and scratch race. When her events were pulled from the Olympic track program, Shelley switched her focus to the road, began racing in Europe full time and represented Team USA alongside Evie Stevens, Amber Neben and Kristin Armstrong in the road race this summer. Claudia is best known for winning the Giro Donne and Tour de l’Aude. Although my new German teammate has primarily raced in Europe, she has traveled with her European teams to contest select US races in the past. This will be her first season racing with a North American team.

Chantal Blaak missed out on the first few days of camp. She stayed in Belgium to race Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) with the Dutch National Team. Although Chantal has been racing for quite some time, we have yet to officially cross paths, and I’m looking forward to getting to know her during this second round of team camp.

Back to round one – with the late arrivals, it was a late night. Lucikly, we didn’t have too early of a morning on Thursday. The first full day of camp involved sorting through all the schwag that accompanies the start of the season – new kit, new bags, new sunglasses, new shoes, new everything. We spent a good chunk of the morning getting our stuff sorted. Mid-day included a team photo session with Larry Rosa. He had joined us on Wednesday and did head shots and lifestyle shots with the early arrivals. Thursday was team photos on the road and more head shots. Our photo shoot was followed by an afternoon spent with sponsors. Shimano, Fuji and Reynolds each ran through the ins and outs of the equipment they provide us with during the season. Reynolds is a third-year sponsor and both Shimano and Fuji are new to Team TIBCO this year. The sponsors hung out while we took more team photos with Larry, and then stayed for dinner, which was a particularly delicious meal of catered Middle Eastern food. It was nice to have a chance to chat with the people beyond our equipment in a more casual setting.

Friday was more of the same – a late morning to give the Euros further chance to acclimate after the long travel and big time change. We got up at our own pace and did our own thing for breakfast. By mid-morning we were out on the bikes for more team photos. Larry captured action shots of us as we rode. When his work was wrapped, we picked up the pace and settled in for our first longer day on the bike. Post-ride it was massages, naps and enjoying the beach as dinner was made.

We had split the team into three groups of three, and each group would be responsible for one night of dinner. My group was me, Jo and Melanie – and we were up first. We put together fish tacos, and I made my (semi-famous) chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Meetings followed dinner, and Friday’s meeting involved an overview of logistics around camp and upcoming racing.

(climbing legs required)

Saturday was our biggest day on the bike. It included 6500 feet of climbing over 4.5 hours of riding. It was the perfect kind of climb to put a little tension on the legs without overdoing it before Redlands. We stayed together until we hit the main slopes of the mountain – then, at that point, we each rode to the summit in the way that best suited us. We were pretty split up as climb went on, but we regrouped at the top to take some photos and enjoy the all-around amazing day.

What comes up must go down, and we had A LOT of fun with the descent. We flew down the twists and turns, with everyone getting a chance to punch it on the front. An unspoken game of ‘catch me if you can’ took shape. Towards the end of the descent, the wind picked up, and we had to pedal hard as we shot down the road. Once we reached the bottom, we spun home at a chit-chatty pace.

Jasmin, Rush and Amanda handled dinner that night. Their menu included homemade pizza – with everything made from scratch (including the dough) and vegan brownies (to accommodate various diets within the group) with ice cream.

Sunday was a pretty miserable day. It dumped rain for nearly our entire four hour ride. We were soaked to the bone when we got home. Lucikly, it wasn’t a cold day, so the rain was tolerable, but the roads weren’t super clean, so we were super gritty and dirty. That night we went out to dinner for burgers in Santa Barbara at a cool burger joint called Eureka. The Euro’s had been jonesing for them, and we were all happy to indulge in greasy burgers for one night. Everyone left happy and content.

(Kim Anderson opened Handlebar Coffee after retiring from professional cycling)

We broke out the time trial bikes on Monday morning so that we could dial in our TT positions. After taking the bikes for a quick spin near the house, we reported back to Josh on the changes needed. After everybody was squared away with their time trial bikes, we grabbed our road bikes and headed into Santa Barbara, with Handlebar Coffee as our mid ride stop. Kim Anderson and Aaron Olson own the place, and it’s always a treat to drop in and say hello to those two. Unfortunately we were in and out fairly quickly because rain was threatening on the horizon.

By mid-afternoon, we were back to the house to enjoy a chill afternoon. Shelly, Sam and Claudia were tasked with cooking dinner using the leftover food in the fridge. They come up with baked chicken, potatoes, fresh veggies and salad with banana and strawberry sundaes for desert. Their meal was clearly a camp favorite since they were voted as the winners of the Top Chef competition!

That evening, Rushlee flew out, Chantal flew in and I packed up to head home on a 6AM flight the next morning before everyone else would head to Redlands.

Our five days at camp were less about training and more about getting to know each other and our sponsors, familiarizing ourselves with the equipment we’ll use all season and having everyone under one roof for (likely) the only time this year. It was nice to train with my teammates, but the emphasis was more on team organization and logistics than training.

I didn’t blog about Redlands because I sat out of the race this year, but I want to give massive props to Jo for her best-Redlands yet. She grabbed second on the first road race (in a thrilling finish at the end that included a protest), rode incredibly strong for third on the queen stage on Sunset and finished fifth overall. Claudia took the climber’s jersey after a gutsy ride on Sunset.

Before I sign off, I want to send out a huge thank you to Anthony at Cal Giant for hooking us up with wonderfully tasty strawberries that were enjoyed in some way in just about every meal, and to my new friends at MotoFish Images for sending us the tastiest care package every – gluten free treats that oozed amazing gooey goodness!


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