Monday, April 27, 2009

Hot Tubes Training Camp

Training Camp is undoubtedly my favorite week of the year. Brand new equipment, an ipeccably clean bike, riding in the North Georgia mountains, catching up old with teammates and meeting new ones, and embarking on team adventures combine to make the Team Camp an exciting time. This year I left for camp from the Tour of the Battenkill with my two teammates, Gavin Mannion and Stuart Wight, Toby and Gabriella taking turns driving the van. We returned to the Muir's beautiful house at the top of a mountain in Tiger, Georgia; where we met up with the rest of our 7-man team. Once again, our team has riders from a wide variety of locations around North America. The team is comprised of returning riders; Nate Brown of Memphis, Gavin Mannion from Massachusetts, and myself; and new riders Lawson Craddock from Houston, Ben Gabardi from Mississippi, and Ian Boswell of Bend Oregon, and Stuart Wight from New Brunswick.

The first night was spent unloading the van and fitting our new Cervelo R3 Sl's. We then enjoyed "Christmas in April" as Toby distributed team equipment and clothing articles. We rode along the roads made famous by the Tour de Georgia, including Hogpen Gap and the infamous Brasstown Bald. Spair time was spent checking e-mails, playing ping-pong and pool, and a wee bit of school work. We also took a trip to the movie theater and had our annual bowling tournament (of which I was once again last pick while selecting teams).

The undisputed most exciting part of the camp was our white water rafting expedition on section 4 Chatooga river. We arose early and rode the 17-20 miles to the rafting headquarters. Then we rode in an ancient re-badged school bus to the put-in. The water was once again a high and did not dissapoint when it came to thrills. The "climax" of the day came in a particularly difficult and dangerous part of the river known as "jawbone" or some other ominous name. We struck a rock with a "Ka-Boom" and we all landed in the bottom of the raft. We were all laughing until somebody yelled, "Where'd she go, where'd she go?!" referring to our raft guide. We looked around and couldn't see her for probably ten or fifteen seconds, until she popped up just downstream of the raft. No sooner did she surface than the raft slammed into her and pinned her to a boulder. By the time we fished her out she was waterlogged and scared.

The remainder of the rafting trip went without incident or emergency and we once again rapped up our Georgia team camp. From there I drove back to Massachusetts with Toby and left for Europe on the following Tuesday. Now I've had a couple of rides to get the jet lag out of me and am psyched for my first Euro race of the year today in Hoboken, Belgium.

Thanks for reading.

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