|Evolution Cycling Club p/b Long & Foster|
2014 Lost River State Park, West Virginia
For the last 5 years, The Reston VA based Evolution Cycling Club p/b Long & Foster has called West Virginia’s Lost River State Park home during a 3 - 4 day period in March. To the hills and valleys we go in search of pain. We check out from our daily grinds, enjoy long climbs, fast descents, paceline practice, attacks, counters, and a few open discussions from more experienced riders. Camp allows one to verify their Winter training programs or clearly identify that you did not train enough. This time is the best of times for Evolution as we ride as a group, meet new members, eat large meals and drink lots . . . this is the bikeROCKstar life at its best. It is also the reason I fly from Germany to participate. Evolution is my cycling family and I need this to keep me sane . . .
Despite the baskets of goodness, Camp has always been painful for me. As I think about it, painful is really and understatement. Camp has often slapped a crushing blow to the TURTLE Shell. Fragments of TURTLE cover almost every climb in and around Lost River State Park. One day archaeologist will come across these remains and break down in tears over the volume of their find as they try to understand why someone would keep doing something he was most certainly not good at and should have stopped long ago . . . yeah, Camp was one crushing ride after another.
Evolution would set up three rides, an A, B and C Group. I was like a D-. On more than one occasion I was alone and afraid on the roads of West Viginia spinning my way through thoughts of a bad “Deliverance” and spandex mix. Yet I never turned away. My lungs would explode and my legs would start to fall off at the slightest terrain or tempo change and my solo ride would begin. I guess I just loved being crushed . . .
On a few occasions cats would slow down and hang with the TURTLE. I was always thankful for these times yet I knew I was holding others back. I knew I had to improve and last Fall I told Coach Quest I would not accept another Crush the TURTLE Fest. I was determined to not repeat the insanity of days of Camp past . . .
Yet, after blowing the TURTLE Shell gasket at the first race of the Schmolke Carbon Cup, I was a reck approaching training camp. I told Claudia I was nervous and at times even sick to my stomach. I landed in Virginia and began to tell SHAGGY I was worried as well. Three years of being crushed was a hard pill to swallow. Again, this is medicine I wanted to avoid at all cost . . .
So after arriving early (last year I arrived on Wed and went to Camp on Thursday . . . seriously bad math there) and putting two light spins under my belt we headed for camp. DAY 1 was a bitter cold beast. We took trainers and box fans and prepared for an indoor spin. It was at this point that SHAGGY mentioned he would join the small group of crazies on an outdoor ride. Being a big wimp to peer pressure, I joined in . . .
|Arctic Road Warriors|
The ride lasted 30 minutes as 10 - 15 minutes out the door my hands were so frozen that shifting and breaking was painful to impossible. I turned back with my cabin mate Kent and sat on a trainer for the next 1+30 to close out the day at 2 hours of saddle time. In my little brain I had just failed my first Camp test of 2014. The weekend was starting on a negative and slippery slope. First venture out the gate was an epic failure. Thoughts of “once a TURTLE always a TURTLE” ran through my rather small semi-frozen brain. I needed to snap out of this funk and find my groove . . .
At dinner that night I stated I would do the shorter ride option for Day 2 (the C Group). I needed a confidence boost and had to prove to myself that I could indeed climb the hills before me. I was already backing off on the words I shared with Coach Quest before leaving Germany. I was ready to accept defeat . . .
As I started to retreat, my Cycling Brother SHAGGY would not allow me to step back. He was well aware of my training efforts and told me to step up to the B Group. He would not let me back into my TURTLE Shell. Another great Brother and Friend, Dan Bailey jumped on the cause as well. He mentioned he would ride his pace and take it easy. So once again peer pressure wins and I took a bigger bite out of life . . .
So after feeding my face, and grabbing 3 rice cakes DIVA made for the cabin crew, I lined up w/ the B Group and off I went up the starter climb of the day. The leaders are the leaders and away they went climbing effortlessly right out of camp. No warm up, just up. WOW!!! One day the TURTLE will do the same but not this first day. This initial climb was all about survival . . . I had to survive as over 100K was on the agenda before me. I settled into my rhythm and climbed better than I ever had. Confidence grew with each pedal stroke. I stopped to drop a layer on the TURTLE Shell to keep for burning up and continued to climb. For the very first time in over 3 attempts at Camp, I was in the middle of the pack. It was AWESOME!!! The Winter Pain Cave efforts and long rides on the weekend were paying off. A new TURTLE was emerging . . .
The remainder of the ride allowed me to meet some new members of the team, catch up with a few of the other Brothers, and even do some pace line work as MAC, one of Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children (USMC) formed us up in military fashion. This was something I never experienced at Camp on my long solo rides off the back. Each rotation through the front of the paceline increased my confidence. My little TURTLE cranium was starting to swell under my helmet.
The crew made one last stop about 15 K out and others went up the road with a soft pedal. I lingered and then headed up the road solo. I caught up with the crew and just pressed ahead. I was in a euphoric TURTLE Dream. This was good, life on the bike was good . . . things were back on track and going according to plan. My best winter training effort had paid off. I was even giddy as I returned to Camp. The CAT 4/5 Team Captain (Phil Steinschneider) called me out as the most improved rider. I was on Cloud 9 as my little cranium was about to explode . . . the tender legs felt great!!!
With a few route options on the table for Day 3 and feeling a bit over confident (I even had trouble getting my helmet on), I once again gave into peer pressure and decided to go on an easy “A-” figure 8 route with just “two” climbs. SHAGGY described the 80 mile ride with colourful words and repeated “there are only two climbs” over and over again. I listened to the other options and decided to move my chips across the table towards SHAGGY. I rode strong the day before, I was ready for an upgrade. A few others were also lured into this “easy” ride of just “two” climbs . . .
|The smile hides the pain in my legs!|
Yet my eyes were bigger than my legs as the A- crew’s easy pace was at TURTLE Threshold. Cracks in the shell started to form even sitting on the wheel of another rider. As the first climb started I was soon gapped and drifting backwards. On the first descent the front wheel went soft at over 60 kph. I thought it was gravel at first but soon figured out I had a flat. I tried not to panic and get the bike under control and off to the side of the road. TURTLE road rash was not planned and unwanted so I had to remain calm. It was truly a struggle to remain upright but I did and to the side of the road I went . . .
Lucky for me SPUDS (Tom Begley) stopped and offered a hand. My CO2 loader was shot and although it punctured the cartridge it did not fill the tube. SPUDS performed a HABU (Hook A Brother Up) manoeuvre to fix my flat and off went went to catch up with the rest of the crew. On more than one occasion I tried to take a pull and could not as we rocketed to the rally point. He set a tempo that was FAST ’n FURIOUS. I sat in and soon we were back with the group that was filling up at a local 7Eleven.
After losing contact up the next climb (according to SHAGGY this was a large roller and not a “real” climb), a group of 6 made the first bail out and pushed for the cabins. On the run in I watched one Brother demo an EVO Drift through a tight turn of gravel. I have no idea how Todd kept his rig up. I would have certainly crashed and slide right into the nearby creek to take a bath in chicken coop runoff . . . YUM!!!
As we approached camp, MAC confirmed his call to climb a bit more and off he went on the Day 2 climb out of Camp. With legs of toast I bailed on my Brother and limped up the last climb to my cabin. I needed something in the tank for Day 4 . . .
Last year snow canceled the last day of Camp. This year it was once again threatened the day. With 48 riders dropping down to less than dozen, we made the decision to make the climb up to Wolf’s Gap the out-and-back point.
I looked around and I was in the mist of an all A group. In fact, it was more like an A+ group and I still need some extra credit to make up for missed lessons. I was ready to turn back before we started but peer pressure drove me forward. I am such a wimp!
|The ride before the snow!|
My legs confirmed I was a bit out of my league as we headed out and the “easy” tempo was once again at TURTLE Threshold. I switched screens on my Garmin as seeing Zone 6 and the “you are about to explode TURTLE” was too much negative reinforcement. However, once again MAC held back and paced the TURTLE along the rollers leading to the base of the climb. As we started up I told MAC to go with the A riders that had stopped short to regroup for the climb. My cranium was back down to normal size after the wake up call the day prior, I told myself I would just turn back after 1+15 and get a head start heading back to the parking lot. MAC would have nothing to do with that. He set the agenda and told me to “fall in” as I followed his line up the climb. We even picked up the tempo to sprint for the top . . . What a CRAZY JARHEAD!?!
The descent was cold . . . REAL COLD! I held back on every turn as my lack of depth perception could not tell where winter gravel and crap on the road started or stopped. All that climbing and I could not enjoy a wicked descent as I feared a monster wipe out or another flat. UGH!!! I was once again a wimp.
The Force Recon Marine was waiting at the bottom and a steady tempo home he did set. Up the road was one loan EVO rider and MAC closed the gap to form a group of 3. Temps had dropped and I was once again on my limit holding his wheel as he stayed true to his word and brought the TURTLE home . . .
The week was done and for those that are Power Junkies . . . I racked up over 1100 TSS points, road for over 17 hours, and climbed almost 5000 m (over 16,000 ft). I am in he best shape I have ever been going into a season. The current Schmolke Carbon Cup series are additional training events as my eyes are really set on Köln and the 125 km of the ŠKODA VELODOM 100. The event has almost 1300 m of climbing and I failed to finish last year. I will indeed finish it this year and ready myself for the remainder of the season . . .
The Lost TURTLE has found his legs and is ready for the season . . . BRING IT!