RTR Camp Guinea Pigs

This weekend was the first big training camp of the year and fortunately the first truly nice riding weather.  Winds not savage, temps not brittle and sun in abundance.  Deep blue sky sharpened by quantities of resilient mountain snow.

Three days, three routes, three moves.

Saturday was the planned ‘big day’ and a chance for me to test out an exciting new RTR route.  I ran it once solo and again with guinea pig # 1, the ‘Soda’ and on both occasions, the length/scope felt right and invigorating.

Now it would be weathered under load with the Haymarket Home Vista Elite Race Team.

The loop is atypical for Lost River with long sustained river valley sections.  After the steep six mile backside descent from the barn the riders head south for almost 30 miles with very little elevation change.

Locked into a classic river valley bordered with sprawling ridges, and traveling on a smooth lightly trafficked state highway, the pace is fluid steady and relaxed.

A nice calm before the storm because gradually the road (and the river) curve as if they are coming straight into the ridge, now a looming wall.

A hard right ninety degree turn over the water and suddenly we are in the ridge.  Climbing up; quick…..

Questions come about the climb and, while I have a recollection of it, I have to admit I’ve only done it twice.   I know it’s hard, I know it’s steep, I know it hurts and I know it has some bold and striking vistas.  Just not sure exactly how, exactly they emerge.  We ride.  It’s even harder with the group but I already knew that.  They get my local knowledge and I get a new batch of guinea pigs; the boys roll it out.  Doing it with folks at speed gives a clearer scale of the challenge.  We ride deeper into debt.

The final tally is 90 miles and 7800 feet of elevation gain including the big push back up to the barn and an intermediate climb before Petersburg to the first store, 65 miles in.

Ride time is 5 hours 20 minutes.  Not too bad.

Friday.  The ‘warm up’ day was 65 miles/6800 feet/4 hours 20 minutes and an ascent to the barn on the plowed, but soft and moist dirt climb for maximum in strength and resistance training.

We capped it off Sunday with a ride centered around a grueling interval like drill.  The squad split up into two groups and set up competing lead-out trains on a flat three kilometer course.  We rotated positions so each played every role from sprinter to start-off guy.  (We including me, who was drafted to round out the odd numbered bunch, even though I’m just the RTR, guy I am forced to compete….)

Four times, full on, to max.  A great team building drill and a way to accrue a lot of pain in a little time.

Hopefully the camp moves the team forward.  For me it is the first block of hard riding. Trying to maneuver through the suffer chambers.  Lots of fun and lots pain; like it’s meant to be.  Maybe you can have one without the other, but when they fall in such close proximity the echoes are clearer and they last longer.  Now I rest and wait for the dividends to come.

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