Monday, March 24, 2008

Florida Training Camp: Part 1

Alas, the Great Florida Training Camp has concluded, and we are now back in cold and morbid New England. Instead of finishing up a long ride in 80 degree sunshine, I'm sitting at my desk unable to ignore how tight my legs are. Worse yet, without the long hours on the bike, I'm forced to once again drink Coke Zero instead of my beloved Coke Classic. Anyway, enough whining. Let's get to the training camp recap.

The drive to Florida started at 5:30am. RKelly and I had the enthusiasm of a 5 year old on Christmas eve. However, we failed to realize our early morning start would put us in Florida at 4:30am. And, as Oscar Purwin would ask later, what the hell do you do in Clermont, FL at 4:30am!? Fortunately, we managed to sneak into our rental house and catch a few hours of sleep before turning the pedals over.

Nothing compares to leaving New England in a snow storm only to find yourself riding your bike in shorts, jersey and 50spf sun screen 24 hours later. Despite the sleep deprivation and the almost inedible Friendly's breakfast, we set out on the first ride with pure joy oozing from every pore in our bodies. How could we not be happy?! We spun by cow pastures and swamps for a few hours before returning to our temporary home and cooking dinner. It was a short ride but perfect to get the legs ready for the week ahead.

On Monday, we all awoke refreshed from well needed slumber. Our plan was to ride for about four hours and get the legs really moving again while etching in the first tan lines of the season. Corey Masson and Ryan Fleming of Metlife/ and Tim Mitchelle of Flatbread/Otter Creek were staying with us and accompanied us on the ride. We motored our way through two hours of riding and realized our intended route would be well over the initial four hour plan. Rkelly, suffering from an achy knee, and John Lamb, suffering from being off the bike for five months, turned around and headed home while Corey, Tim and I proceeded to put eachother into hurty land. We exchanged pull for pull with each proceeding pull faster and longer than the previous. Nothing beats putting in the last hour of a five hour ride into an impenetrable headwind.

The funny thing about Clermont, FL and the surrounding area is the lack of town centers. You either choose to ride through urban sprawl with chain restaraunts and Wal-Marts on every corner. Or, you ride down back country roads carving a path through ranches and decrepit homes with cars on cinder blocks as yard ornaments. Certainly, the back roads were best for riding. However, sometimes good roads traverse through seedy areas and you'rce forced to reckon with every maniac to sit behind the wheel of an old F-150 jacked up on muddin' tires. Like I said, it's just odd.

In Part 2, look for me or RKelly recounting the arrival of Team UNH, the group ride from Hell, a century of double pace lines and the 108 mile Webster-Roubaix epic road race. Until then, try not to freeze in the New England chill.

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