All together now

Rory delivers an insider's guide to team training camps

Many readers may wonder what goes on at training camp. Are we on the bike ten hours a day? What is said at those closed door meetings? Is camp is a wonderful and stress free experience?

Well, while it is a great experience, 'stress free' is not a phrase that comes to mind. A typical day begins with a 6:30 breakfast. Yes, that would be 6:30 in the morning. Fortunately, I am used to being awake at this hour with my son. Breakfast is followed by a core and stretching workout. From there we head out on the bike for five-to-six hours of training. We had lots of sun in Tucson, but we did spend a few days riding in the rain. There is a purpose and goal to each training ride at camp. There were days where we were getting to know each other as riders, while another was spent racing our teammates to the top of Mt. Lemmon (for the record, the 'Foreigners Team' won the 'race' on that day).

But the day doesn't stop after our training rides! Each rider spends time with the mechanics to make small changes to the bike and we also receive massages from our soigneurs every other day. From here the day really takes off…pre-meeting meetings, meetings, post-meeting meetings, interviews, photo shoots, sponsor presentations, and still more meetings. It is a cram session and I am amazed at what we can accomplish in a 24-hour period! This is the one time of year we get the entire team together - staff, riders and sponsors, so we have to make the most of each day.

As you can see, it is often not as casual and laid back as one might expect. The main goal of the UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis training camp focused on teamwork. I know most of us think of the riders as the team, but there is much more to a team than the riders. We have managers, directors, soigneurs, mechanics, bus drivers, and sponsors. Everyone needs to leave the camp feeling assured and excited about the team they are working with in 2010. How do we accomplish this? Well, riding is a great way to get to know your fellow riders and others involved with the team. But I find that the off the bike activities really allow us to have a good laugh and become a more cohesive group. We spent several hours at a local Tucson go-kart track. The group was not limited to just the riders and I really enjoyed getting to know other staff and sponsors in a different setting. I ended the night in second place, but things did get ugly out there!

The training is tough and the days are long, but the best part of camp is the new stuff. Aaahh, how every cyclist loves the first training camp of the year! It feels like a second Christmas with all of the new gear and I usually show up at camp without much of anything. Along with new bikes and helmets we receive luggage, riding clothing, casual clothing, sunglasses, compression wear, cycling shoes, and casual shoes. I’ve been involved with cycling at a professional level for the better part of 10 years, but it still manages to excite me as I leave home in January or February bound for training camp.

2010 brings back a lot of great sponsors for our team, as well as a new title sponsor. The great thing about training camp is meeting all of our sponsors and discussing their products. United Healthcare has come on board and we learned a lot about the company and their goals while in Arizona. They are very excited to be a part of the cycling community and this is significant for our sport. Where would all of us be without the sponsors? We made it through camp and I'm now about to head home to Boulder.

I'm sitting in the hotel restaurant thinking about how my body and mind have changed over the past ten days; I'm ready for a new year and the challenges it will bring! Time to head home and let the season begin!

Thanks for reading,

Rory

www.teamuhc.com
www.twitter.com/rorysutherland1

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