The entrance to the huge Home Depot Center complex.
Back in October I was unexpectedly invited to a USA Cycling National Team Pursuit Track Camp in LA. Unlike many other camps offered by USA Cycling, the athletes would have to pay their way; finding housing, transport to the track and their way home. To me that didn’t matter because it was the first time I had been contacted by the National Team and I would do anything to be exposed to that.
At the velodrome. The view from the front doors. Inside the track there were 3 volleyball courts and two weight rooms.
So right after New Years Eve, I packed up my bikes and headed out to the West Coast. I had prepared as best as I could, previously having spoken to my coach; we did a lot of the same power workouts I would experience on the track. For those who do not know what Team pursuit is, here is a video of the US National Team at the Olympics in London, with a really spectacular qualifying ride.
London 2012 Olympic Games Cycling Track Women’s Team Pursuit 1st Round – Start at 11:30 to see USA vs Australia in qualifying to the gold medal round
I had planned on staying with my cousins in Marina Del Rey and arrived late on the 2nd of January. I rode in the morning along Venice Beach and got an idea of where I was. Most of the sessions on the track were in the afternoon from 1-5, so that meant we were ready to ride at 12:45. Most afternoons were quite long and pretty exhausting. The first few days there were 14 girls; this group of girls was known as the “newbies”, we had either never ridden the track, had never been invited to a National Pursuit camp before, or didn’t have much previous track experience. I fit into the last two categories perfectly. The beginning 4 days we got used to the track, learned how to actually ride a pursuit, practice our exchanges, do some benchmark testing, and get to know each other.
These were my morning rides along the beach. Nice way to start the morning.
On the 3rd night, my lovely host caught the flu and I ended up moving into a hotel, feeling like I might be catching a cold as well. As it was, the next day I started to get a cough and felt not so awesome. The only thing I could really do was wait it out, take lots of vitamin C, drink lots of water, and try to get as much rest as possible.That night I was feeling very lonely and homesick and my family decided to send in back up. Erika hopped on a plane the next day and accompanied me for the rest of my trip. Sisters are the best friends and supporters in the world, unfortunately or fortunately Erika has been side-lined from her chosen sport right now due to an injury and was just hobbling around with me being an extremely needed help to me.
Me and my sis playing in the water like those people do the first time they see snow.
The rest of the camp was filled with coffee shops, new tv shows to catch up on, sleep and riding around in a lot of circles.
Erika and I ate at Urth Cafe.
During the trip I saw a large improvement in my exchanges and my pacing. I got into the somewhat annoying habit of counting “1,2,3,4” during each warm up, as I was trying to make sure my pacing was the same in the draft and in “Position 1” or “on the front”. That is the most difficult part of being in a Team Pursuit; when you are in “Position 2” you are shielded from the wind, moving to “Position 1” the sound of the wind makes you feel like you need to go harder, and you do, but you do not want to explode into “Position 1”. For 2 reasons; one being that if the pace needs to be increased, you want to increase the pace over the whole pull, and the main reason being that you do not want to drop your teammate, who is moving from “position 1” to “position 4”. This is a technique that I need to always work on. I was very confident in my starts, and my first half lap is really fast. So I just need to find the power in my legs to continue to accelerate and then hold that pace for 4 more minutes. Many things to work on, but I received good feedback from one of my favorite people who I train with down in Colorado springs, Mark Tyson. He is always someone I look forward to seeing and I was delighted when I heard he would be helping us out. I am excited to continue training on the track and still have lots to learn.
This is where I spent the rest of my day, when I was not riding my bicycle.
I really enjoyed the trip and in the end learned a lot. I am so grateful for my family, my coach, my boyfriend and all my friends that have supported me to get me this far. Hopefully there will be more chances like this to come. Next up, England. I was very lucky to receive an amazing Christmas gift: a flight the United Kingdom to see my man. Here is a shot from the first day in his hometown, Combe Martin.
Chris and I on the opposite side of the world, Little Hangman, Combe Martin, Devon. Looking west across the Atlantic ocean.