|Group photo on Saturday|
Early last year we met our coach, Joby Gutierrez and his team. As we joined them on a few rides, we both couldn't help but wonder "Who are these nice people?". I mean, no one is that nice all the time. On our first ride I was a bit intimidated by everyone's chiseled legs and wicked pace as we climbed Glendora Mountain Road. I struggled completely, but no one judged me and conversation was peppered with encouragement and positive words. Even the guys were kind to each other instead of engaging in one-upsmanship or locker-room taunts. Both Adam and I were completely blown away. We continued to meet up with the Team throughout the summer and it became clear that we wanted to have Joby as our coach, and that we wanted to be on this team. Neither of us come from a really team oriented background, and tend to be lone wolves. This desire to be on this team was a new feeling. As the year went on and we got to know people more, we began to develop friendships and feel the web of connectivity weave us into the team. This year, as actual teammates, we've been able to build on those introductory friendships and everyone has been so welcoming and made us a part of their group. Weekends are spent with many of these awesome people and we both feel exceptionally grateful to be surrounded by such a unique and talented bunch of folks.
When the opportunity to sign up for the Team FC Cycling Camp in Mammoth came up, we jumped on the opportunity. Wide open mountain roads? Endless winding downhills? Complete car support? Gorgeous mountain views? Yes, please! We knew that the trip would be a great time and that we'd get in some incredible riding. I don't think we had any idea how much fun we'd have. This trip has been amazing. I've had the best rides of my life here (and one of the most challenging rides, due to weather) and had an opportunity to spend time with the Team both on and off the bike.
|All packed up + ready to go!|
Day 1 (Friday):
|Group at June Lake - beautiful!|
|Speeding around June Lake (pre-flat tire)|
From there, we pulled our wet-suits on and headed into the chilly snow-fed lake. I'm not going to lie, the first five minutes were rough. Having your face freeze is not a pleasant feeling, but once the blood vessels become acclimated to the temperature, everything is much more bearable. The water was so clean you could drink it, which was happening quite a bit due to the chop coming towards us as we swam out. From the beach-front, the lake is quite shallow for a long time and completely clear. Despite the chop, it was absolutely beautiful and swimming felt great! Adam and I caught up to Vicki and Joby caught up to all of us and we took off a bit farther into the lake. Vicki and I decided to turn around at some point and swimming with the chop was like sailing! You could feel the swells come up behind you, lift and push you forward - it was quite fun!
Later in the afternoon we met up for a run around Horseshoe Lake. The wind was whipping around the lake and the temperature had dropped quite a bit. I'll take a cold run over a hot run any day, and once we got going, the arm warmers were quickly stripped down and it was perfect. I hadn't quite acclimated to the altitude so my stomach hadn't adjusted to a new schedule yet and my lungs were definitely feeling the burn. Nonetheless, I did two loops even if it wasn't pretty ;) We came back to the cabin and enjoyed a delicious homemade meal that Joby's amazing wife Mia made for the team.
Day 2 (Saturday):
|So, so, so much fun - thanks for the photo Cassie Miller!|
|Look at those roads!|
too long or too tough. Around mile 29 we hit a slow grind uphill and after we crested the hill, I saw Jillian begin to drop down a steep grade. I noticed the sign warning STEEP HILL 12% grade and thought, "Well, that's going to suck to come back up!" and headed on down. It was really steep and after we cleared the twisting switchbacks a long, magnificent downhill was laid out in front of the bike. Absolutely nothing in the road, nothing but open road. I silenced the voice that doubted how the hell I was going to climb all that road on the way back up and just began to pedal. There's a subtle magic in riding my bike that simply explodes into pure unbridled glee when I get a road like that. Faster and faster as I hung onto my bike, finally I ticked over 44.3mph and decided to start tapping the brakes. I noted everyone gathering around the team car and was overjoyed to be getting a ride back up! After fitting 9 bikes, 9 riders, 1 dog, and 2 support staff in the car, we drove back up to the top and resumed our ride. The wind began to pick up at some point and push past the "breezy" stage to the "straight-up-blowing-in-your-face" stage. Nothing makes climbing more fun than a nice fat wind in your face. Nevertheless, I'm always happy to ride with Jillian and we took turns chatting with our heads down in aero and encouraging each other to push onward. And occasionally cursing at the wind. It was a beautiful, challenging and simply perfect ride. I will definitely look forward to this ride in the future. If we were out there for longer I would have driven back out on the road and taken our good camera to capture some of the stunning vistas.
|Sister + I|
Day 3 (Sunday):
We rolled up to the trucks finally and watched as those who have races coming up shortly headed out for a brutal run in the whipping wind. I'm not going to lie, I sat on my ass in the shade and ate pretzels happily. It's going to be a long rest of the year training for IMAZ and I'm going to have my share of brutal days. I put this one in the bucket to cash in on later.
Day 4 (Monday):
Monday I hauled out the road bike for our multi-mountain summit excursion. The plan was to head up to Minaret Vista (over 9237') then to Lake Mary (8966') and then possibly around Mammoth Scenic Loop. I was glad I had my road bike as the long climb up to Minaret Vista was definitely easier on the road bike. We finally reached the top after 6 miles of climbing and holy cow it was COLD! I've been cold before...but this really got into my bones! We hopped around in the sun a bit and I may have been dry humping the black SUV for warmth, but it was helping! We took as many pictures as we could as fast as possible and then bundled up for the ride down. Sometime in the group photo I made the decision that the hot tub was a much better call than another summit ride. I am eternally grateful for the wind vest Joby loaned me as it made the ride down bearable.
We spent the rest of the morning parked in the hot tub talking about the weekend and our experiences. It was a pleasant way to the end the trip and we were sad to pack our things and go. The trip was absolutely fantastic. Hands down, these were the most incredible, best rides of my life. Around every turn there was something jaw-dropping and on the top of every hill was wide-angle view of the Sierras. The roads were smooth and free of crap, the cars were few and far between, Mia's cooking was delicious and the support vehicle (and photographers) made for a safe and fun journey. What really made this trip special, however, is the group of people. Joby and Mia have built such a fantastic group of athletes, friends, and teammates. There is no denying that the magnetism of these two strong, positive people has drawn some of the best people in the area together to form a group. I've never been on a team in my life, and I've always preferred solitude to group activities. I've had to unlearn that behavior, and come to know that I do have a place in a group - they are a very unique, talented, supportive team full of people I admire as athletes and more importantly, as human beings. We will definitely be going back every year!