“Wow Peter, you’re really bad at getting posts out promptly.”
Well, yes, but here’s why:
- I was never actually planning on posting a formal blog about my most recent training camps
- Eric J did a better job than I ever could documenting the shenanigans that took place in Brevard, NC.
- Now that I’m at school I have finally found the procrastination power within me to put writing a blog above catching up on missed work. Very skilled, takes years of practice.
Ok. So I guess we can go chronologically as that resonates with most people best.
Photos at the bottom!
– Que ‘California Love’
Setting the stage: Peter’s in class, starting exams shortly. The national team is attending their training camp in San Fran. Peter couldn’t attend this camp due to the fact it conflicted with all of his exams and term project due dates. So, he’s a little antsy. He decides screw it, I’ll still go south even if it be by my lonesome. And you know what kids? That’s just what he did.
Now stepping away from the third person narrative for a second, this trip would be my first ever training camp project thing where I would be completely on my own. I’m not saying like traveling without parents or traveling and organizing trips for myself, I’m saying that from A to B I was going to be alone. I got myself a nice private room AirBNB in Calabasas, I got myself a shuttle from LAX, and I got myself a flight. All of those things occured in the opposite order as listed by the way.
There were a few saving graces I should mention. First off, long time highschool / Hardwood Hills / Cathedral Pines friend Will Elliot would be living 60km away from me with his family in Silver Strand (Oxnard) during the time I was in California. This meant that a short 60 minute commute (by bike, as I did not have a rental car) would unite Will and I allowing us the to train together and keep this extravert (that’s me!) from going off the deep end. Second was a shaggy-haired, ‘legal alien’ by the name of Mckay Vezina. You might know him as a younger, DH version of Evan Guthrie (it is argued the two of them were separated at birth). Mckay posed as another riding buddy but also a provider of hospitality allowing me to escape the confines of my AirBNB briefly throughout the week.
Lastly, you might be wondering why I was at such a loss for people to travel/train with on this endeavour. Well, the timing was such that most chaps were either at the national team camp already or they were still in school. At UoG, we’re lucky enough to not have a fall reading week, allowing students to get out a week earlier than most other schools for the holidays. Needless to say, I reached out to a lot of people, most of which already had plans in place or prior commitments.
Ok, so camp time: ride 4-7 hours everyday.
Some hiccups came when some efforts were thrown into my training plan which crushed me, and when I hit the end of the first week and Keith was like “Bah, you can do more, that’s as much as I rode in Hawaii last week”.
So I spiced it up a bit more for the second week with more climbs, more ‘miles’, and more cookies.
It’s worth mentioning that on the first rest day Will came and picked me up to go see Episode 8 of Star Wars. It was a fantastic movie and the all you can eat Korean BBQ that followed was incredible as well. I stayed a night in the ‘Strand’ and got to dip my toes in the ocean in the morning before being driven back to Calabasas.
Furthermore, on the rest day in week 2 the Vezina’s invited me for dinner. Very thoughtful of them and I quickly jumped on the opportunity after hearing Quinton (my brother for people who don’t know) rant and rave about how great the food was when he went a few years ago. It was amazing. Really enjoyed the night and can’t wait to head down and see them again! They actually kind of reminded me of my mom, in the sense that athletes and friends flow so easily in and out for local races or training camps and always having the door open willing to host. Such a wonderful family.
After concluding the first trip, I’m so fired up I decided to go. Although being nervous about living on my own (again just because of the whole extravert thing / going crazy / climbing up the walls, etc) I had some good riding buddies for a couple days and some great hospitality. I got in some great hours, a ton of TSS, posted up my longest ride to date, (a not overly impressive 222 km) and it was sunny the entire time. I finished up the camp, said bye to the Kardashians and Bieber and headed home for the Holidays.
The Holidays – I’ll keep it brief. I kind of feel like a carny at this time of year. Rushing around between families, grandparents and grand meals. Food was amazing. Some great stories and times shared. Now on to the next one!
After a quick 3 day turn around post Holiday activities, it was time to head south again. Nicola [girlfriend] was not fired up about only having 3 days together between extended trips, and rightfully so, neither was I. However, gotta put in the work some time. This trip would be a little different than the one before it. We would be road trippin, we wouldn’t be going as far south, and there was a “WE” involved.
That’s right, for this trip Eric Johnston (another highschool / Hardwood Hills / Cathedral Pines [honorary member] friend) would be tagging along for the drive, and John Burgess (Team Nova Scotia Provincial Coach) would be flying in to meet us. We loaded up the Subaru, all-the-while admittedly a little nervous if she’d make it there and back, managed to get all the bikes inside, and infiltrated the USA. Starting 2018 off with a bang, we were in bed at 10:30 after a glass of wine for yours truly and a ‘Dave’s Craft Brew’ for EJ.
The riding that followed would be both a shock and a relief to us all. First off we were a little shocked by the temperature. The first few days of riding, a high of -5 was a good day. Mountain biking in the woods makes this much easier and having the proper gear really helps. After some pre-holiday purchases (hefty winter gloves and a windproof shell) I am pleased to announce that I feel fully capable to take on the elements no matter what the conditions. Combine some wool base layers with that shell jacket and I was toasty in -8. That being said, it is important to mention that it was very dry. There was the odd cloud in the sky but for the majority of the trip it remained sunny and dry; right up until it started to get ‘warm’ and wet at the end. It was a shock to the system, but the few days before driving south EJ and I were out XC skiing in -22. So we were acclimatized and felt good.
Another shock was the rawness of Pisgah. It is rad with lots of washed out gnarly trails, abundant river crossings with no bridges, hopscotch rock bridges, balance beam log bridges and the occasional ridable bridge. This trip featured epic rides and routes extending way out onto the center of a ridge with no cell service anywhere within the park either. Even though I am very used to the buff, flow-mania that is the Copeland Forest (my trails) this rawness in Pisgah was some of the best training grounds I have ever ridden, especially for early season miles. We were able to roll 5 hour days in the mountains without too much struggle. The huge network of forest roads makes for long steady climbing and then the epic single track descents bring you home. Throw in a few laps of your favourite trails and you’ve hit your quota. These mountains are grossly underestimated. They’re big, they’re bad, there’s a ton of local breweries. Brevard is a cycling destination.
My Optic performed beautifully. She’s only a 120mm but rides big to an XC kid. We got loose, had a few spills, broke a few parts and ate too many pop tarts. Yea. Pop tarts were the go-to for this trip. Calories per dollar.
I should mention we did a few days at the ‘more XC’ location: Dupont State Forest. Actually, it was one of the first rides that Eric and I did. We rode from Brevard to Dupont, looped some trails, got stuck on the wrong side of a river, tagged on a couple more minutes and then started our ride back. I grossly underestimated the amount of food we would need and bonked the hardest I have bonked in a long time. I pounded back a tall can of Cherry Coke and a double hit of Baby Ruth chocolate bars sitting on the ground outside the first gas station we came across. I was quite far gone.
All-in-all it was a fantastic two weeks with great company. Eric is an amazing route planner and director on the trails while John brought vegetarianism into meal planning (something I think I might give a whirl). In addition, he had rented a truck and took care of the young children for the week seeing he’s a 30+ master.
John and Eric packed up early and headed back to Halifax where Eric would be returning to Dal for the semester and John to work. That left me to make the 13 hour drive by myself. Not an issue. I recently discovered these things called Podcasts? Yea. Hardcore History. Nailed 3 of those hossies down on the drive.
The Subaru made it home and Canadian Border Security let me back into the country. School was already well underway, and with a couple dozen hours in my legs I couldn’t ask for more than that.
As promised a photo epic: