I must admit that I was pretty anxious to go to bike camp. Every step of the way in joining and getting involved with the team has been an incredibly nerve-racking experience for me. From when I joined the team about one month ago, it had been 4 years since I had been committed to fitness with a team, or at all really, and thought that I would be seen and treated as less by the team because I was so slow in all aspects. Boy, was I wrong; everyone on the team has been incredibly supportive since day one and this group effort and support was deepened even further at bike camp this past weekend of November 11-13, 2016.
On Friday, November 11th I prepared my brand new bike that I had just picked up from the shop the evening before and packed way too much clothes (because what if it was hot all weekend? What if it was cold all weekend? What if the weather fluctuated dramatically? What if we went somewhere in which work-out clothes was not appropriate wear? What if I spilled something on myself at some point on the trip? What if…etc…?) in my bag. Nathan swung by the Village West to pick Josie and myself up in his mom’s sweet Mercedes, where Jasmine and Imran joined us so we could make our way to Borrego Springs. We arrived at the campsite in no time and set up camp, at which point I was starving. My timing appeared to be impeccable as the team announced that we were all going to leave for town to go to Tacos Jilbertos so we could scarf down as many tacos, burritos, rice, and beans as we could and wash it down with some horchata. The team returned to the campsite and we all gathered round the campfire, where we spent the rest of the evening reintroducing ourselves more in-depth, telling funny stories, and watching Jason wrap sweet potatoes in foil and toss them in the camp fire so that he would have something to snack on. I was so happy to find that everybody on the team was so light-hearted.
On Saturday, November 12th I woke up at 6:30 to the sound of everyone already outside getting ready for our 8am ride, so I grabbed some breakfast and got ready as soon as possible so that I could practice clipping my shoes in and out of my pedals. Coach Kim gave me some pointers and I successfully learned how to do so in no-time. I ended up having no trouble until later that evening when I fell over two separate times, only to have Coach find out that my pedals were too tight. Typical. We spent the morning ride learning how to draft as an entire team and then we split up into more advanced and less advanced group (I bet you couldn’t guess which one I got placed in). A couple of the others and I trailed far behind the rest of the team but it didn’t matter; the views were beautiful and the breeze was just right so the ride was comfortable and fun. Josie and I turned back at the time that Coach Kim had instructed us to do so and went back to the meeting spot to rehydrate, snack, and take in some shade. After regrouping, the team had lunch at Tacos Jilbertos again and we went back to the campsite. Coach Kim’s friend and fellow bike expert, Billy, gave a clinic in which he taught us all how to clean our bike chains and sprockets properly, and how to change a flat tire, tubing and all, on our own. It was great to be learning so much about my bike immediately after I purchased it, and it was made easy by all of the veteran triathletes on the team who were so willing to give all of the newbies instruction and pointers. The team president, Katie, then started teaching us how to do quick transitions from running to biking by switching out our shoes while riding our bikes. I clumsily tried to follow suit after Katie had made it seem so easy. So many parts of it just seemed to defy physics if you ask me. We then all went to grab some dinner and returned to the campsite to sit by the campfire once more. I finally got a chance to take a shower that day and it was so good and pure. Getting into my jammies all clean and fresh after that shower felt like a cathartic experience. I sat by the campfire with the others for a while to listen to a round of two truths and a lie and a very sweet recollection of the day by the entire team in the form of shout-outs and toasts by each and every member of the team. It was such a precious bonding experience where we were all able to express our appreciation for the members of our team. I was only able to stay for about an hour after that because my body could no longer continue to fight off the extreme fatigue from the day’s exercises. I slowly backed into the darkness at 9pm without saying good night for fear of being told I was a wimp or something, went to the tent Dustin let Josie and I borrow, and fell into a deep, dark, dreamless sleep.
On Saturday, November 13th I awoke at six in the morning to grab breakfast over a palpably sad atmosphere as this was the day we were to head back home. We packed everything up, tents and all, for when the bike ride was over, we were going to head straight home immediately afterward. As I prepared for the bike ride I was pleasantly surprised at the realization that my legs were not sore as I had expected them to be after Saturday’s long ride. I decided I was going to give the ride everything I had and so I did. The ride was not nearly as long as Saturday’s but we encountered a large hill on which I clocked in 38 mph on my way down. It was really one of the most exhilarating moments of my life. I pushed myself until the very end and I was so proud that I had accomplished things with the encouraging support of the entire team that I did not think myself capable of accomplishing on my own. We all gathered our things and jumped in our rides to head home, but first we all stopped by a bakery as a team to have one final meal together before really going home.
It was my understanding that the purpose of bike camp was to teach the newbies the basics and get them comfortable on their bikes, as well as provide opportunities for team bonding. If I was correct about that, then the weekend was an absolute success. It opened me up to a sport I had never considered in a really fun way and I’m never looking back. After bike camp, I am even more so excited and proud to have joined the UC San Diego Triathlon Team.