Bicycle Ride (USABA Cycling Camp) – 5/2-5/8/19

“{We’re] not here to fuck spiders.” – Australian saying

After seeing photos and hearing stories from friends last year, I slated the USABA bike camp into my 2019 schedule. I believed that it would be extremely beneficial — not just for improving my cycling skills, but also because it would push me outside my comfort zone.

But before any of that could happen, I had to confirm my pilot. With the Velodrome, mountain climbining and some other things that I knew would be scary the first time, it was a short list. Thankfully, Danny was able to do it and I was able to move forward with the application.

The first day of camp included the bike build and a skills ride. It was a short ride out to the crit course and then several laps around it. It was easier to do the crit course / drills clockwise than it was counter-clockwise. At some point during the first day, one of the coaches noticed the seat was too low, so we raised it prior to day 2.

Day 2 of camp started with skills and ended with a 20mi+ ride. Some of the skills (especially the hip steering ones) were a little unnerving; but we made it through them. The afternoon ride included climbing, a rolling pace line and a couple of dicey stop sign crossings on the way back.

I think the biggest challenge of day 2 was with height. With the higher seat height, I was having problems getting clipped in consistently. As it became more of an issue during the afternoon ride, we decided to try other cleats. Unfortunately, my shoes wouldn’t take the cleats that we planned to use. So we went to plan C — borrowing cleats and using pedals that I had had problems clipping into.

Day 3 was spent entirely at the Velodrome. Because I was having so many issues with clipping in, people had to physically help get my feet into them and I had to stay clipped in at stops. After going through the intro / overview of the Velodrome, it was time to conquer my fear of it. And after the first few laps, it got easier. That changed when we went high and another tandem was underneath us. The ‘people look like ants’ viewpoint was the issue I believe.

The afternoon presented even more stressful moments. We spent it doing standing starts, during which I felt so incredibly unstable and flying starts. The standing starts got a little easier as we kept doing them, but I was never fully comfortable with them. Thankfully, we only did one flying start — that was the worst for me.

Day 4 was ‘race day’ at the Velodrome. It started with pursuits (4K for men and 3K for women), followed by kilos. While we succeeded in not being caught during our pursuit, I didn’t have ‘track hack’ afterwards. That did happen after our kilo though. That and chain ring issues that caused the bike to throw the drive chain. Thankfully the mechanic was able to bend the teeth back.

During the afternoon ride, the pedal issue finally caught up with me. Because of the clipping issues, I was having to hold a position during red lights. This was usually at least 30 seconds, and sometimes longer. So as we rode, my hands continually became more numb. At about 20 miles both my hands and arms were numb enough that I no longer felt safe. I ended up in the van, extremely disappointed that I had dropped Danny.

Day 5 started with climbing and ended with TT recon. Because of the issues the prior day, I was in the van on the way to the base of the mountain. After the first climb up and photos at the top, we came down extremely fast. It was quite a thrill and a little bit nervewracking at the end. After the second climb up, we did group photos and came down at a much more controlled pace.

During the afternoon TT recon, the numbness was back in spades. The TT course had only one small downhill at the very beginning, which meant very little time to get pressue off of them. I wasn’t going to drop Danny again, so I did everything possible to get blood flow back during the last 3-4 miles.

Day 6 was just the TT, and it wasn’t in the best of weather. The out wasn’t that bad, but the back was. There were a couple of points where my struggles on hills made things hard for Danny. I did what I could, finishing the last couple hills with the ‘track hack’.

It was an amazing camp, and I learned a lot during it. I am grateful to all of the staff/coaches for their help during it and to Danny for being such an amazing pilot.

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