Team Camp in Words
Finally I’m recovered enough to write some words down about team camp:
Wow, this week was a handful to say the least. Have you ever been crammed into a house with 10 strong women and made to complete exhausting tasks while trying to make a good first impression? Sounds like the makings of a reality TV show to me. We were there; where were the cameras? The most cliché aspect of the week was how quickly it took us to have a group cry session. Two days. Is that a record or something? To our credit, it wasn’t completely unprovoked. Eric Plantenberg, a famous “personal development” speaker, came to the house to talk to us about the mental side of the sport. He had met some of the girls through host housing last year, they stayed in touch, and we got the benefit of his expertise for the evening.
Eric was at the house for two hours, spoke for an hour, and split into pairs for the second hour. In pairs we were supposed to share our best and worst moments in the sport. I managed to hold back the tears better than some of the girls, and I began to feel relief when I thought the sharing time was over. Too soon. Our next task was to explain our idea of the “worst possible outcome” for the 2012 cycling season to our new partners. I was paired with Kristin Armstrong and that’s how I found myself, two days into camp, balling in front of the 2008 Olympic Champion I had only just met. Ugh.
Wednesday was our mid-week rest day. We had done three days of hard training already and would have three days of it to follow. The day was mostly taken up with sponsor meetings. We also got to do baseline concussion testing (all the rage now) with ImPACT. The testing took about 30 minutes and was all memory-based (no math or anything). Now this was something I could ace! They’d flash words on the screen and later you’d have to identify various words as having been shown to you before or not. The same went for some squiggly shapes as shown below:
This was another task:
Pearl Izumi came to talk to us as did Felt. The representatives were very keen on hearing our feedback on things like arm warmer length, easy-pee bibs for women, and the “sausage legs” phenomenon. I’m most excited about the new Pearl Izumi speed jersey, which they tell us we’ll be getting by the summer. It’s got the same “painted on” look as a skinsuit, with seamless hems and dimpled material, but it’s still got pockets.
The rest day saved me. I had traveled 26 hours from the Middle East, arrived at the house at midnight Sunday night, and jumped into a block of 3.5, 4, and 4.5-hour days. Let’s just say there was a part of myself I felt was still on the airplane. By Thursday, however, I finally felt coherent. We did more leadout practice, tactics practice, and training, but we also got to make s’mores out back and cook some delicious dinners together.
For our tactics practice, Simon would split the team in two groups of five for some short, 10-minute races. One group would be “shirts”, the other would be “skins” (we’d turn our jerseys inside out), and we’d mix up the teams each time. I was nervous to say the least. I thought the fastest women in the World were my TEAMMATES, and suddenly they were my competitors! Coryn and Theresa were the teams’ respective sprinters, and the objective was the same as any other race: to win. The CEO of USA Cycling was there with his wife, and they said they had a blast watching us try to outsmart each other.
The Velonews article about our camp came out on Friday. It caused a stir at the team house. The detail is impressive and mostly accurate, but is it necessary to mention the number of carrots Tayler eats? And who’s going to read something that long anyway? The guy has a phD in English, so maybe he couldn’t help himself. We actually read it out loud at dinner Friday night, laughing and gasping together.
Overall, team camp was a challenge mentally and physically. I’m in Atlanta now taking a couple days easy and looking forward to spending Valentine’s Day and my birthday with my bf before I head off to Europe. Our relationship just survived a 4-hour trip to IKEA. You’ll understand that’s a good sign, especially if you saw last week’s episode of 30 Rock.
One last thing, my roomie for the first half of camp was Jessica van Garderen, the 2009 US National TT champion. Check out her February 12th cyclingnews blog, Becoming Mrs. Van Garderen.