February 8, 2008 (Palm Springs, CA) – “I’m going to California, going to live the life…(California by Wave).” These words have become our calling for the past month or so as members of the Cycling BC Junior Development Team looked forward to participating in a warm weather camp in Palm Springs, CA.
Finally, after enduring snow and other treacherous conditions back home throughout this winter, we have arrived. There are ten riders in total. Coach Richard Wooles masterminded this inaugural warm weather training camp. We are here to ride from February 2-9, staying in a rented house near Palm Springs in Desert Hot Springs.
Everyone has come from an array of different backgrounds. Some of the riders are mountain bikers putting in some training on the road, some are pure road cyclists preparing for the upcoming season, while others are track and road cyclists trying to get ahead of the competition. A few riders are from rainy and still slightly mild Vancouver Island, others are from the snowy Okanagan where city street shoulders won’t be clear until March, several riders are from the Greater Vancouver area where it is reportedly snowing today, and finally, some campers left Squamish and Whistler, where they are so close to the mountains, they may be tempted to do some cross-country skiing.
The fitness levels of riders are varied as well – some of us are raring to go, while others are suffering and the rest are somewhere in between. Despite all of these differences, we are getting along exceptionally well. Everyone is helpful to each other – something can always be learned, whether it’s fitness, nutrition or an unexpected tip as the group is always chatting away. The general consensus surrounding the mystery of why we are getting along so well is that we are all here to train, improve our fitness levels, and learn something while starting with the basics. What better way to accomplish that than by getting away from our environment and coming to sunny Palm Springs?
The environment in the Coachella Valley is that of a desert – hot and dry. The landscape is a cross between Lord of the Rings and one of the numerous slasher horror flicks. Quite different from the BC landscape, it still makes for good training with plenty of hills and some fairly flat areas.
Our training days have been as follows:
Saturday, Feb. 2
1-2hrs. Light spin, after flying that day. This ride turned out to be a bit more than expected with high winds threatening to blow us over. We all got back safely.
Sunday, Feb. 3
4hrs. Ride with two long TTT efforts. All was going well but the winds took a toll on everyone. The longer ride was a bit of a shock for some. Luckily it didn’t rain. Coming back, the wind had switched on us and was blowing strong at over 60 km/hr. Some gusts must have been hitting 90 km/hr. It was a long grind home for a short distance. Sand would whip us in the face and one teammate even fell over! We all made it back safe.
Monday Feb. 4
3-4hrs. Steady ride with one hill effort. The winds were still strong, but had calmed since Sunday. We rode out approximately an hour to a long climb in Palm Springs, which goes up to a tram that takes tourists up to the top of a mountain overlooking the whole valley. Riders went at their own grueling pace, climbing for nearly 30 minutes. Then we headed home.
Tuesday Feb. 5
1hr. Rest day. We meandered through Desert Hot Springs keeping it light and easy. Resting our legs up for the remainder of the week. We headed to Palm Springs to check out the town and do some shopping. Being thirty years younger than the other tourists was interesting, but we managed to enjoy the few “young” shops. That afternoon we were treated to a barbeque at one of the rider’s grandparents’ place.
Wednesday Feb. 6
3.5-4.5hrs. Steady ride. Those less fatigued and wanting more headed out for an extra loop before the rest of the group. During the early morning ride, we discovered some quiet back roads that went right past fields of windmills and rolled up to a nice viewpoint over the valley. Then, with the longer group ride, time was spent zig-zagging up and down the country side, with one steady effort up a drag through a place called a Thousand Palms.
Thursday Feb. 7
2 hrs. easy spin – AM then 2 hrs. TTT efforts and Sprint training – PM. In the morning everyone was beginning to feel the cumulative effects of fatigue. The easy spin was spent rolling through back roads, recovering and getting ready for that afternoon. Afternoon ride – after riding out a few km’s to a quieter road, we prepared for some team time trial efforts. First heading out all together, then three more in two groups. The efforts were 10-12 minutes long and were important to do. Everyone felt it after the efforts. Then we ran four team sprint drills, with two teams of four riders each. It was mostly for skill, but everyone still felt it.
Friday Feb. 8
5.5-6 hrs. Ride. The plan is to go for a long ride on our last day here. Riders are flying out early Saturday morning.
The camp is a positive and new experience for everyone. Here are comments from the riders:
“It was great to be able to come down and train in the warm weather, it got us motivated to push each other to train as hard as we could.” – Kevin Thorpe
“It was awesome to get some hard, solid warm weather training in. It has been great riding with the group and having some time trial and individual hill climbs.” – Tyler Allison
“It’s been awesome to get out [of] the cold of BC and come down to P. Springs and be riding in shorts and [jerseys]. The riding has been pristine. It’s been great riding with everyone, the training is going well, we’ve got in some solid days of riding.” – Evan Guthrie
“Coming down to Palm Springs has been lots of fun, getting in a great week of training. The weather has been beautiful and warm, and staying with all the guys has made it a great time.” – Cory Hess
“After the windy intro to our Palm Springs training camp, the weather has turned unreal. Everyone’s fitness has increased noticeably over the last few days and we are riding great as a group. Staying with such an awesome group of guys is the icing on the cake to an amazing week of training.” – Owen Harrison
“The weather has been an amazing change from the snow back home. Riding outside instead of being on a trainer is sweet. This has been a great week.” – Mike Rothengatter
“Sweet.” – Phil Cairns
“This is by far the best camp so far for the team. “Beats riding in the snow.” – Cody Campbell
“Great to train with people that share the same passion for the sport.” – Jason Manning
Cycling is an extremely difficult sport. The commitment of mental and physical hours is serious. Doing this camp has hopefully allowed us to experience the “bigger picture” of cycling.