Well hello! I know I have been M.I.A for the past month or so but wanted to check in with a recap I wrote from my experience at the Olympic Training Center. Enjoy!
As I type this I am on my way home from a surreal 10 days. A week and a half that tested me, had me in tears more than once, pushed my physical and mental limits, humbled me and gave me a deeper love, respect and hunger for cycling. In 10 days I formed lasting friendships, tried new things, gained confidence on the bike and left feeling high on the thin air of Colorado Springs.
At the beginning of May I received an invitation from USA Cycling to attend a development camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Specifically, the camp was for track team pursuit. Considering I am a relative newbie to the bike scene and have never even been to a velodrome I wasn’t convinced that this was the camp for me. I was reassured however that I did not need any track experience and that the worse thing that could happen would be to find out I hate the track. I was dazzled by the idea of training at the OTC and honestly, I would take any opportunity to jet away from real life and ride my bike for 10 days so I booked my flight and was off to the Springs on May 30 for 11 days.
To my surprise there was only 5 camp attendees. All 4 had much more impressive cycling resumes than myself. I was also the only one that had never been on the track before. While I felt honored to be invited I was also feeling a bit intimidated by these stronger, more experienced riders. I knew all I could do was my best so I committed to giving every effort, ride and exercise 100%.
We were warned before we arrived that this camp was designed to see who was “willing to suffer” and Andy Sparks, the Director of Track for USA Cycling, referred to it as the “Champions filter”. One workout in, I realized this was no joke.
Most days started with a 6am bootcamp. Boot camp consisted of too many burpees to count, sled pushes, push ups, sprints and plank offs, all while 3 coaches yelled at us and challenged us to give up. The goal was to make us hurt, mentally and physically… a lot… and see who could endure it all.
We had just enough time between boot camp and our mid morning track workout to eat a hefty breakfast and ride over to the velodrome. Although intimidating at first, I came to love the pureness of the track. Workouts were tough as we were tested on our standing starts, half lap, 1k and 2k times as well as team pursuit efforts and exchanges.
Learning team pursuit was my favorite part of camp. My biggest breakthrough was on the last day when I finally got team pursuit exchanges down and was able to finish every effort with the whole team intact. I really enjoyed the teamwork it takes to make team pursuit successful. There is something to be said for how much harder you can work when you know someone else is relying on you and the rewards are so much greater when you get to celebrate with three friends.
Afternoons called for either a recovery ride or an uphill time trial. Yep, twice in 4 days our 3rd workout of the day was a 3.2 mile TT with a 10% average grade. Although it only took about 20 minutes, the altitude, 12% grade section and tired legs put me deep into the pain cave for 19 of those 20 minutes. If nothing else, camp proved to me that even when my body feels like it has nothing left to give, I am capable of giving more.
I am not sure what is next for me and the track. What I know for sure is that I love riding my bike, I love the community it has given me, I love and am forever thankful that when I was at an all time low, the bike gave me something else to focus on. I love that in just 6 months the bike has given me years worth of opportunities and memories. Whether is it on the track, in the dirt, post swim or pre run I am open to wherever my wheels might take me.