Winter Training Camp Part 1
Last Friday, I packed up my bike at 6am and headed west for a weekend of riding around Marin County. Well, first I started my car so that it would be a nice and toasty refuge from the 18 degree air temperature. Then, I realized I was almost out of gas. Oops. After a quick drive-way gas can fill up by the husband, I was on my way.
Why was I going to ride my bike all weekend? The simple reason is that I want to become a better cyclist and riding my bike (a lot) is the obvious way to do that. As a person and as an athlete, I think the deeper reason was that I wanted to challenge myself and push my comfort zone. I diligently started planning my couchsurfing setup a week before so I would be sure to have a place to stay. Couchsurfing (www.couchsurfing.org) is such a great resource and I hope it continues to exist with the increased popularity of sites like AirBnb. At this point, I’ve still hosted more than I’ve surfed, so I think my karma is ok in that respect.
I arrived in Mill Valley by mid-morning and instantly found that it felt a little strange. It was my first time there so I tried to take in as much as I could and not just blindly buy in to the stereotypes. The homes seemed unnaturally crowded together on the hillsides. I wondered if people actually shopped at the fancy stores downtown. I could see the appeal though, of living in a small place less than 15 miles from one of the best cities in the country.
The weekend’s rides were organized and plotted out by a guy who was motivated only by getting a bunch of people together out on their bikes. It sounded great to me. And although the rides totaled almost 230 miles in 3 days, the thought of not doing all of them never crossed my mind. Starting at the later meeting point (and doing fewer miles) never crossed my mind either. I was there to log time and miles.
I had never ridden around the area, so I was excited to be discovering new (and amazing) terrain. The first ride was slightly confusing since a few participants wanted to go a bit faster than most of us and didn’t pay attention to the plotted out course. Since I had no idea where I was, I just tried to stay with a couple of people who knew where they were going. This proved to be harder than expected on a few occasions. Zone 4 and 5 (going hard) were not part of my weekend plan. And being somewhat of a control freak, I was happy to be riding with men that are stronger than I am, but I wasn’t going to spend the weekend out of breath and shattered chasing them around because they couldn’t grasp the concept of long and slow rides. My backup plan was to finish the miles with the lady in my phone telling me where to turn if worse came to worse.
Fortunately, I didn’t need my backup plan. The rest of the weekend turned out to be fantastic. Every time I started to think it was a bit crazy that I drove 4 hours to stay with a complete stranger and to ride with strangers for 3 days, I got on my bike and I felt like I was right where I was supposed to be.