ic3 training campOn Jan 26 and 27, 2013, several members of the Norcal Spoke IC3 racing team spent two days in the beautiful south bay for training camp.  It was a great opportunity to get prepared for the racing season, and for a first-year racer like myself, a chance to work on some much-needed skills.  We all gathered at Bruce’s home in Palo Alto on Sat morning and got ourselves ready to ride.  Jeong, a college friend who lives in San Jose who occasionally joins us on our training rides, accompanied us on the ride and took some great photos along the way. 17 of us rolled out at 9:30 AM.  After 10 miles of warm-up, our first climb was Old La Honda, about 3.5 miles at an average 7% grade.  This was a tough climb that got my HR up real quick.  Unfortunately, Santiago had been struck ill the previous night and he finally had to abandon after his rear derailleur cable snapped before the start of the climb.  Marcus had us paired up with partners so we all climbed at our partner’s pace (for the most part).  After an 8-mile descent on OLH and LH, we started our second climb on Alpine Rd.  We climbed 5 miles at an average 6.7% grade but it was manageable as we rode a comfortable pace.  Big Tim showed his strength by riding in the front. Now that we got the climbs out of the way, the rest of the ride was fast, with cold descents and rotating double- and single- pacelines.  All told, we spent 3.5 hours on the saddle, climbed 5000 feet, and rode 54 miles.

After arriving back at Bruce’s home and taking “2-min” showers, we had a fantastic lunch consisting of tuna fish sandwiches, garden salad, and vegetable soup.  Many thanks to Bruce and his wife for preparing this feast.  After lunch, it was on to parking lot exercises.  We rode to a nearby church parking lot where we practiced several drills. These included leaning into each other while riding shoulder to shoulder, touching wheels, making our way up to the front of the pack, and riding in figure 8s.  The drills were aimed at getting comfortable riding in close proximity to other riders and staying calm.  I found these particularly useful as one of my biggest areas of difficulty is riding close to other riders.  Touching wheels was fun too, although Carl took a spill and got a nice gash on his right ankle.

After concluding our parking lot exercises, we headed up to Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in Mountain View for church service, where we got to worship and listen to an excellent sermon.  Among other things, Pastor Hurmon spoke about the difference between secular love and Godly love and how Jerry Maguire’s marriage would likely end up in divorce because he relied on Renee Zellweger’s character to “complete him” when in fact only Christ can complete us.  After church, we met Bob at Buca di Beppo and fueled up for Sunday’s ride.  We ordered five large plates and an appetizer, which was a bit too much considering there were 10 of us and only 9 of us ate.  Each plate was supposed to feed 4 people so we had basically ordered enough food for 20+ people.  My favorite dish was the Eggplant Parmigiana.  After dinner, we drove to Bob’s beautiful house in Emerald Hills, watched a movie, and got some rest.

On Sunday, we started our ride at the corner of page mill and arastadero. The first climb was on page mill road, an 8.4 mile climb at 4.5%.  After a beautiful descent on Highway 84, we rode along the coast on Highway 1 and then headed up to our second climb, Tunitas Creek.  This was a 6-mile climb at 5.5% and is known for the climb where Levi Leipheimer broke away from the pack during the Tour of California a few years ago and secured his win.  Everyone rode up at their own pace, with Marcus and Ben leading the way and Carl almost bridging up to them.  Finally, we descended down skyline blvd and rode a long stretch on canada road before turning on sand hill and completing our loop. Stats for the day: 4 hours on the saddle, 6100 vertical feet, and 63 miles.  We concluded training camp with a delicious lunch provided by Mike.

Overall impressions:

1)   The length and height of the rides were just right.  Enough to get some great fitness but not too long to kill our legs.
2)   Drank two bottles of water and Perpeteum mix from Hammer on each ride.  This kept me very well nourished and hydrated.  Still felt decent at the end of the ride.
3)   For the less-experienced, single and double pacelines are scary, especially during descents.  I’d prefer to practice this on flats with less traffic. One bad move by anyone can be disastrous for the whole group.
4)   Parking lot exercises were very useful and I benefited a lot from the coaching.
5)   For cycling enthusiasts like me, nothing beats two days of cycling, eating, watching movies, and sleeping.  Except for maybe 3 days.