To kick off the calendar New Year, over 60 of our Cal triathletes headed down to sunny Oceanside for our annual Winter Training Camp from 1/5 to 1/12. Good food, good friends, and great practices… there’s a reason many refer to this as the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. If words aren’t your thing, you can see the whole week in pictures here http://www.flickr.com/photos/caltriathlon/sets/72157632060423613/show/. Here’s the breakdown of our week:
Thursday, January 5 (Day 1)
Everyone arrived in Oceanside by land and air (none by sea, unfortunately) at our two luxurious beachside houses . With three kitchens, fourteen bedrooms, three living rooms, four sundecks, and three jacuzzis – we were set for an epic week. Our arrival was perhaps made most apparent by the steady increase in price of the house’s contents, and by the time everyone had arrived, there was an impressive array of carbon and aluminum adorning the garage.
Friday, January 6 (Day 2)
We kicked off the first day of official training with a run along the beach from the houses in the early morning. For most of us, the run served as a much needed transition back into work-out mode. Or, if your name is Lauri, it offered the opportunity to run 10 miles and try to impress all the Tri Girls. After, we grabbed some grub at the houses and then got a clinic on open water swimming from two experts in the biz – Coach JD and Training VP Shannon. This was in preparation for a lot of people’s first flirt with open water swimming as the team headed out to the pier and back. The long day of training worked up our appetite and luckily we had a group of incredible chefs: Marcus, Katie, Michael Zimmer, Alison, and Ari. This bunch set the bar high for the rest of the week, as there is always a bit of competition among the cooks for the coveted title of Meal of the Week.
Saturday, January 7 (Day 3)
According to accounts from our two jet-lagged friends, Varun and Catharina, this day started with Nick sneaking out early in the morning to surf, and for the 2nd year straight, failing despite his valiant, persistent efforts. Once “Junior” had slunk back inside, the team took in a quick breakfast before readying for the first bike ride. And so began the clip-in adventures for many of our first-timers. The clip-ins claimed Ari as their first victim, as she toppled off her mount just out of the garages, much to the amusement of her friends. Just when it seemed the team would finally get going, and Varun promptly projectile-shot a water bottle out his rear, nearly derailing the entire line of 50 trailing along in his wake.
Finally, the team settled down and the Cal Tri train in all its matching-Euro-kit glory began motoring down the PCH. In spite of the ride being a “recovery”, the human pinball Lauri somehow managed to eat it on the curb. “It was the curb’s fault” he says… After an interesting ride to say the least.. the team dipped in the pool for a quick swim before attending a Run Form Clinic hosted by our very own Brandt Champion and Coach JD . Let me tell you, running with the whole team watching makes one very self-conscious. Dinner tonight was excellent once again, as Dan Riffe, Tayson, Jessica, Melissa Milder, and Kelsey whipped up enough main course and dessert to satisfy the ravenous bunch.
Sunday, January 8 (Day 4)
Little did we know as we sat down to breakfast on our third day of training that the upcoming day was to be one of the hardest yet most rewarding yet. An early morning start had the team shipping off in cars to Black Mountain Park for what was described as a “trail run”. For starters, some of the group got lost on the way there (Varun’s was one of them, incidentally… big surprise there… we don’t call him “The Navigator” for nothing). Once we’d all arrived in one piece and laced up the shoes, the run began. Only one problem – no one knew where to go. After some mountain man adventuring led by Junior (who let him lead again?) through brambles and thorns, some of the more intelligent members of the team finally consulted the all-knowing park map and found the way. After a grueling 6-12 mile run in the blazing heat, capped off by poor Coach JD getting outsprinted by some of his own athletes at the finish, the team piled back into the cars and headed back to home base.
A swim was scheduled for the evening, but it turned into more of an ice bath session considering how tired people’s legs were from the brutal run. As expected, dinner was ridic good, with Sam, Catharina, Roy, Michael Roper and Corey serving up delectables such as tri-tip and these little herb-stuffed mushrooms that were off-the-chart good. Many members of the team decided to make use of the conveniently available hot tubs to relax under the stars after the long day. Maybe no one told them that hot tubs dehydrate and make your muscles more sore… Other still took the chance to watch some good ol’ NFL Playoff Football. Let’s just say anyone who bet on Tim Tebow and the Broncos slept very well that night…
Monday, January 9 (Day 5)
DAY OFF! Well… as much of a day off as triathletes can tolerate. After a team breakfast chartered by Ben, Caroline, Austin, Lauri, and Brandt, team members diverged to go enjoy a day of recovery. Many members decided to go frolic (read as: frustratingly-kelpy open water swim) among the sea lions at La Jolla Cove before grabbing lunch at a wannabe-In-n-Out and then heading to the beach for some old-fashioned beach soccer and volleyball. It is here that we discovered how many multi-sport talents this team really has… while at the same time learning that some of us definitely top out at 3 sports… One beautiful sunset and a series of standard jump pictures later, it was time to head back to the houses.
However, it was not all fun and games as one sadistic squad composed of Fuentes, JD, Christie, Erika, and Lauri-and-Austin (these two have been grouped for simplicity, and shall henceforth be referred to as the Wonder Twins) took “day off” to mean a 6000+ foot climb up Mt. Palomar , so high that they ran into snow at the summit… on an 85-degree sunny SoCal day! As an aside, it has fast become a tossup for best bromance on the team (since the graduation of Bunny Basso and Papa Haas left a void there) between the Wonder Twins and Team Awesome, composed of Arthur and Varun, a fierce competition that will surely play out in the coming years.
Tuesday, January 10 (Day 6)
To the delight of many, and the dismay of some, Day 6 meant it was back to training. Today’s itinerary consisted of the long ride through Camp Pendleton military base. As was to be expected, there were numerous attempts at brakeaways and many pacelines formed. Props to Pretty Boy Mike Knitz for leading the chase and pulling the entire main group with him for the entire way out. Further props to everyone who completed their first truly long ride (50 miles, for those counting). It was quite a sight to see the Cal Tri paceline snaking through Camp Pendleton and performing a takeover of the entire coastline. After a brief lunch and another swim in the local pool, the team headed back to the house to rest up for the big day tomorrow.
Arguably, the best was saved for the last team-cooked dinner as the Tri Elders (Christie, Brandt, Erika, and Shannon) put on a culinary show with their Asian-inspired, multicourse meal. Meanwhile, CJ did his Social Chair duties by leading a massive group out for some beach soccer and some bodysurfing, in speedos no less.
Before bed, the team partook in some board and card games, and someone had the bright idea of playing Spoons (video – Tri Camp Spoons). Given the competitive nature of this team, perhaps this was not the wisest of decisions as it quickly spiraled into some sort of spoon-related, Sumo battle in which Varun came out on top and Alicia came down on top of him. Ouch. We’d say “no blood, no foul” but unfortunately blood was drawn on multiple occasions from overenthusiastic Spoon-ers. Then the Tri Boys asserted their manliness by destroying the Tri Girls in a game of Taboo, and with that, the team called it lights out and time for bed.
Wednesday, January 11 (Day 7)
Our last day of training was composed of the highly-anticipated Olympic Training Center (OTC) Tour and Race Simulation Brick in Chula Vista. We started with the tour, which had many of us clambering to spot famous Team USA superstars and Olympic hopefuls. Though we didn’t catch a glimpse of any, we did enjoy a tour of the premier facilities, as well as a view of some Japanese women’s club soccer team. Who knows – maybe one day you’ll see one of us out there… Cal Tri certainly has a history at OTC, what with alumni like TriSexton and El Jeffe, Coach JD. After the tour, we had a brief transition clinic in preparation for the highlight of our week of training – the OTC Brick. A 7-mile bike and a 1-mile run doesn’t sound too bad, until you throw in the fact that you’re racing neck-and-neck with some of the best in the business – your own teammates – and the fact that it’s 90 degrees outside, and the fact that the run was through some rocky hilly mountainside, and the fact that you had to do it 3-4 times, and… yeah you get the point.
There were multiple stories to be told, including Chris Fuentes pushing Coach JD to his limit only to get beaten down by El Jefe’s final kick, Erika giving Lauri the scare of his life as she nearly chicked him in the last 100m, and Varun and Arthur having an epic, brotastic final sprint. In spite of the difficulty of the day, it’s workouts like this that not only make us faster but also really instill the team spirit and camaraderie that is so present on this team.
After the long day, the team gratefully packed the cars and headed back to the condos. Somehow, 60 hot sweaty athletes showered up and got all pretty-pretty and we headed out to downtown Oceanside for our last team dinner. Thank you to Fratelli’s for providing enough pasta to suppress and satisfy even 60 triathletes’ hungers.
Of course, it was then time for speeches, and who better than El Presidente Brandt Champion. Brandt gave the whole spiel about thanking everyone on the team, not that anyone was listening while they stuffed their faces with dessert, but no one tell Brandt that. Finally, back to the houses for a well-earned night of sleep, and closure to Winter Tri Camp 2012. The next morning, we were all back off to Berkeley and other homes to get ready for Spring Semester and the Racing Season.
Before we depart though, some thanks are in order. Thank you to Brandt, Shannon, and Fuentes – our 3 Board Members with President somewhere in their title – as well as to Coach JD. And yes, thank you to everyone on the team. Beyond training, old and new members were able to do some great team bonding through countless board games, movies, endless food, and snuggly nights. Once again, thank you for everyone’s enthusiasm, patience, and commitment. You made the 2012 Winter Tri Camp one of the best ever, and continue to make it an absolute pleasure and honor to be part of this team.