Elite California Training Camp Recap

Get the inside track on our elite men’s training camp in California, straight from team member Phil Kearns.

Max Eastman once said, “It is the ability to take a joke, not make one, that proves you have a sense of humor.”  On day three in California, at a brief stop halfway up Mt. Tamalpais, I decided to find out whether or not David Kuhns had a sense of humor.

He’d been riding strongly all week off of relatively little training, and, seeing as he was the most senior member of our quartet, I figured an age joke was appropriate. “You know what, DK?” I asked. “Your engine makes me wonder: have you been tuning it in secret or are you just fossil fueled?

His reply, accompanied by a sly smirk: “Ha. Ha. Good one.”

I thought it was pretty clever, and Cam found the joke amusing, but 15 minutes later, on the upper slopes near Mt. Tam’s East Peak, I had the answer to my question – no, Dave did not have a sense of humor. But, he had watts to spare, so instead of wasting time on retaliating, he dropped the hammer and left me wishing I had picked a flatter place to find out.

I gained a lot of knowledge from the California trip, and if being a student of life means learning something new every day, this trip schooled me. Some lessons were amusing: John Crandall has a hollow leg in which he can store more LaCroix sparkling water than I had thought humanly possible (seven cans in a four-hour span, to be exact). Other lessons were more serious: make sure your seat post is properly tightened or you’ll spend the last 15 minutes of a climb out of the saddle. Shakespeare states, and Cam and I concur, that “brevity is the sole of wit”. So, with that in mind, I’ll try to briefly summarize the most important lessons from the trip.

Cookies are Awesome. Seems like common knowledge, I know, but it bears re-stating. There is no ride that cannot be revamped, no bonk that cannot be broken by a massive chocolate chip cookie and a strong cup of coffee. We recommend the Bovine Bakery in Point Reyes Station.Euro’s not Aero. Sure, it’s faster to do the entire ride in a paceline in the drops, and double-layered jerseys are definitely sleeker (and provide more storage) than a wind vest. But there’s something to be said for the feeling of cruising down Cali roads on the tops, two abreast, and few things can match the aesthetic of a quality vest with arm warmers.

 

Pros have Flow. There are a lot of well-kitted dudes on very, very nice bikes in the Bay Area. But training with 80mm carbon rims on your S-Works Venge doesn’t make you a pro (or make sense for riding up Mt. Tam?). According to Cam, you can identify a pro by their fluidity, or “flow,” on the bike. How effortlessly the pedals float over the top of each stroke, how smooth the application of power. It’s about the motion, not the machine.

Just Keep Rolling. This was the biggest block of riding I have ever done (375 miles with 33,000 ft. of vertical in 23 hours over 5 days), and the only way to get through it was to keep rolling. Rolling through on the front of the paceline even when fatigue sets in (though my pulls could probably have been better) and rolling out my legs thoroughly post-ride even though I just wanted to lie down. Stretching and compression socks seem to help, too.

Coffee and Carbs. That’s how you ride lots. Strong coffee in the morning, and plenty of rice post-ride. And sometimes pizza, bread, and cereal. Normally, my diet consists primarily of plants and protein, but there was no way I would have made it through the week without plenty of caffeine and some good old fashioned polysaccharides.

Take It Easy. Hard rides take a toll, and big-ringing every climb you can certainly doesn’t make things easier. Yes, it feels awesome to stick it in the big dog and hammer, but sometimes the little dog needs love too. Arguably the most enjoyable ride of the week was the easy spin to and from San Fran, complete with touristy photo ops and a café stop for decaf espressos and chocolate croissants. The Golden Gate Bridge was the most terrifying stretch of riding all week, windy and riddled with selfie-stick-brandishing tourists on cruisers and aggressive commuters. We survived, and I big-ringed the last few climbs anyway.

California Dreaming.