This is a little letter/blog that didn’t get posted, which I wrote as a “day in the life” to some of my supporters back home in Kingston! Hope you enjoy it!
Hello from California!
Hope this finds all of you well. I thought I would drop you a note from Thousand Oaks, California!
Currently I am on a cross training camp with the rest of the team where we are riding bikes, lifting weights and spending countless hours on the rowing machines. We are just to the east of the Santa Monica Mountains and Malibu Beach.
Everyday we walk down from breakfast out into the parking lot where we stretch our bodies out from the previous days work and hop onto our bikes. We will spend the next 4 hours riding up and down the Santa Monica Mountains and grinding our legs along the flats of Malibu Beach.
The day will usually consist of two big climbs over the mountains, the first one will stay pretty mellow and the 9 of us will stay together, working together to get to the top. Each guy will spend 1-2 minutes at the front before switching off to let another set the tempo. I’m sure in professional cycling there is a larger impact from following a teammate and catching a draft, but if pro cyclist are Race Horses on bikes, rowers are more like Clydesdales. The watts/kg’s might be similar but the speeds certainly aren’t!
The first climb usually stays pretty mellow as the California sun hasn’t heated things up enough yet, and the morning coffee is only just kicking in. This climb usually lasts anywhere from 20 to 50 minutes before we descend down on to the Pacific Coast Highway where we again form into a pace line and put some hard work in. We are instructed by our coach to aim for a certain heart rate for the workout. Mine is to sit with my heart pounding away at 156 bpm as long as I can. In the climbs it is no problem as I’m dragging 100 kgs up some pretty steep grades, but on the flats we really need to put the pedals down and hit some pretty high speeds if we want to get in the zone. After a solid push along the flats our coach, Martin, smiles from the support car watching us all start to suck wind.
Once we have spent enough time cruising Malibu beach we hear the call on the radio from our coach it is time to turn off the Highway and head back up into the hills. This time around things don’t stay mellow. Typically one of the young guns on the team, Pascal Lussier will try to attack the group and pretend that it is nothing for him. I know whats coming and hop on his wheel and we both pull away into a heated battle up the Santa Monica Mountains. Now our heart rates rise up to 175 bmp+. We typically take turns attacking each other, accelerating off the front or attacking from the draft, seeing if the other will be able to find the wheel. Always make sure to look casual as you check to see if the person behind you is hurting as much as you are.
I’ll say on this camp I have had the upper hand, and have reached the top first on more occasions than Pascal, but he has found a way to ride away from me in the past so I try not to give him an inch! Yesterday I put in a final push and he didn’t have an answer, and I continued up the mountain on my own, my heart rate pushing past 180 bmp, waiting for that last switchback to show itself. My legs are getting very heavy now. Always looking for the finish of the climb and sometimes over my shoulder to make sure Pascal isn’t trying to make a late charge up to the peak.
Once we reach the top we exchange a silent nod of respect after the battle, fill our bottles, scarf down a banana and a Snickers Bar. We are all quite sick of your typical sports bars so we get a bit spoiled with candy bars on this camp. Then its back down the mountain where gravity takes over and the average speed flies through the roof. This might be our only advantage over pro cyclists, and our speeds get up to 85 km per hour. Particularly if you are following decent specialist Conlin McCabe and Kai Langerfeld. These guys will tow you down a hill like its nothing. Particularly if there is a Starbucks near the bottom. Then its back to our hotel and a hot lunch waiting in the Mediterranean Room.
Getting back to the hotel is quite relaxing, but is very short lived most days. We all know that when 3 o’clock rolls around we will be headed to the local CrossFit gym to lift weights for 2 hours, and then plant ourselves on the ergs for 90 minutes after that. We can take comfort in knowing that there are no hills on the rowing machines, but we know they will be waiting for us the next morning.
Well, I just wanted to give you a little insight into the day to day on our first training camp of the year. Hope you liked the Blog! Until next time.