I have been here in California for nearly 3 weeks now and life is totally cycling oriented. I.E. life for me could not be any better. To be honest the track portion of the camp was a killer. Now that we are a few days into the road camp I feel mentally cleansed enough to do some writing.
We spent the first week in alphabetically arranged groups doing full out efforts. Morning and Afternoon, a 3 hour track session for each. Lots of 5km and 1km team pursuit efforts. Most of the time I found myself pretty cracked. The efforts were something really foreign for me. We were expected to go basically all out on the front for a lap and then sit in the wheels and catch our breath for three laps before doing it all again. By “catch our breath” I mean ride at 95% with an ideal cadence of 127rpm. The exchanges were challenging for a newbie like me. If I missed my drop in onto the back of the group, by even a wheel, the seated acceleration to catch onto the train traveling at around 55km/h was a total leg zapper, if I could even make it back at all.
After a few days of this we dove into the Los Angeles Grand Prix. My first race on the big track. I could spit out all the numbers but really they are pretty meaningless at this stage of my development, a lot of improvements across the board are certainly needed. I had a horrible pursuit, probably the most important race in terms of getting selected for the national team. My kilo was okay but I know I could go faster if I did a few trial runs and got used to the double disks. In my points race I took a lap on the field after 5 laps of the 120 lap race and was the star of show for a while as I had a 20 point lead on the stacked field. Soon the players showed up and I could match them as I drifted back in the standings. I was a little quick on the gun and rode the remainder of the race a little spent which I now know was a horrible approach to such an intense and long race (as far as the track goes). The eliminator though… that was my jam. I managed to survive all the way until the final three. It was French Olympian, American Olympian and little Benji. I did everything I could to beat the duo but they ditched me quickly and I finished a satisfying 3rd.
Here is a recording from the points race, notice me attacking over the top @ 0:36 seconds. By the 1:00 mark I am back in the pack. I would rather of thrown the elimination race in here but the video isn’t up yet.
Camp after the LAGP was a little different. We were in groups again but this time more speed oriented. I found myself starting in group 3 of 3 but quickly made my way up to group 2. I was pretty cracked of track and my form was certainly dwindling day by day. Once we were done with the track I cried a few tears of joy and we got on our road bikes and commuted north to our house in the neighbourhood of Venice Beach in Santa Monica.
Now I am based in a swell modern house a kilometre from the frigid pacific and I am in road camp mode. We are doing around 5 hours a day, which is more volume than I have ever done at a training camp. So far the one ride that stood out was our field trip out to Pine Mountain.
We drove out nearly two hours and rode a 50km climb to the newly paved 10km path to the summit at 8000ft. We were lucky that there was no snow at the summit, a mere 3 degrees separated us from freezing. It was a savoury feeling thinking I am here in Cali, at the altitude airplanes nearly cruise at, while most of my friends are in a packed lecture hall writing exams. I wouldn’t even dream of trading places with them.
On my Strava you can find all my rides and here is the one from Pine Mountain.
When off the bike I am usually relaxing, feeding, and doing a little homework. I have also bought an AeroPress so I can gorge on espresso to try to pull me out of my lazy slumps between rides, as if they weren’t merited anyways!
Planning for next year has also begun as I don’t know how ready I am for this track program with my little experience. I will be splitting the 2014 season between my new Belgian team and the National Cycling Centre in Hamilton. Exciting things to come but first more time here in CALI!