The last few days of camp have been pretty similar, and we started to get in some higher quality rides. Winter hit Tucson on our Sunday ride, and cut short was going to be 6hrs. The weather wasn't TOO too bad, 40s and rain, but since none of us really have winter riding clothes or (obviously) fenders it's pretty much impossible to stay warm. We rode up to around 5000ft then turned around and did some rotations into town to warm up. Not much different than training in Seattle, but this was actually one of my colder days on the bike this winter. Thankfully the sun came out for the last ten minutes of the ride so at least we could warm a bit before hopping off the bikes. It was too much of a PIA to carry my camera, so all the pictures are taken from the UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis facebook page, which is VERY much worth be-fanning.
Yesterday was our best ride yet. We did an out and back up Kitt Peak with some race drills on the way out and then up the mountain. To make the long, flat road pass by more quickly we split into two groups to practice lead-outs for the upcoming March races in CA. Everything felt pretty smooth and we were able to keep the rotation around 50kmh for the 10km efforts. I'm happy with my position in the rotation and will get the chance to do some big turns late race--something I've not yet had the opportunity to do but I think I can crush.
We got to the base of the 12mi climb with noodly legs from those efforts, and went straight into four climbing drills. Basically we did the same sort of ramp-up as the lead outs, just shorter and less organized. We started out riding together then things digressed into a cockfight by about the third effort. After attacking all the snap out we regrouped to finish riding comfortably to the top. We got up just about 6000ft, less than a mile from the summit, when ice and snow on the roads turned us back. The ride ended up at 5.5hrs and 170km, and was the best route we've done yet.
Last night we had our first team presentation at nearby sponsor Tri Sports. Mostly it was a Q&A for the team, but it was also a chance for the mayor of Tucson to declare the city "Winter Training Capital" of... the universe? Not sure. But it was our first dress-rehearsal for the formal team presentation this weekend, and went really well since the audience came with plenty of good questions.
It was also Rory Southerland's birthday, which we celebrated at the banquet and Rory celebrated by putting together a behind-the-scenes youtube clip of the mechanics and equipment in action.
Today was a rest day for us, and our first sponsor ride. We went out for a couple of hours through the Saguaro National Park with some VIPs from Tri Sports, maybe about 50 people in total. It was a gorgeous day (yet again) and a nice chance to spin the legs and talk about some things other than bikes (some of the time anyway). It's also a chance to catch up things--TT bike setups, laundry, and sleep. I think we have two more days of "training" camp before we move locations and get down to the nitty gritty sponsor stuff.
Without much to compare to, I think everything has been great and the group is doing well together. There is enough of a core of returning riders to give the team some feeling of structure, but there are also enough new guys that no one gets left out. I also really appreciate all the strongest philosophies of the team, all of them mantras that I came here with. Among them, 1). go to every race planning to win, 2). pay attention to details and do your homework, 3). always play fair, do the "right" thing, and be a good ambassador to the sport. I feel like 90% of the time these MOs alone will guarantee success; and the remaining 10%... well, there's to life than just racing bikes.