And then there were eight...

Just three days out from our first race of the 2005 season, and I am finally sitting down to write...

Just three days out from our first race of the 2005 season, and I am finally sitting down to write my much overdue diary. I am very happy to say I am lucky enough to again be riding for the T-Mobile women's cycling team for 2005. The team's been slimmed down a bit to just eight riders, but eight strong riders. Every girl plays such an important part. And after our recent training camp, I realized that we have a close, cohesive group.

Before I went to camp, many people had asked me what my goals are for the season. I have to admit that above any personal goals, my number one goal for 2005 is to make this team work. By work, I mean a team that understands each other, is committed to winning together, and truly has fun being with each other on and off the bike. I've had that feeling before with prior teams and I can assure you, once you come together and get that "feeling", there's nothing stopping the success. That's my wish for this team for 2005.

I just returned to my "second" home in Scottsdale, Arizona (thanks to my in-laws) after a beautiful 10-day training camp in Buellton, California. The question of the year out there was "Did you see the movie Sideways?" It was all filmed in that area. We even stayed at the Days Inn Windmill, the same hotel the two main characters stayed in during their escapades in the Santa Barbara wine country. We ate at the same restaurants, drank the same wine, and even saw the same ostriches that chased the one guy all the way from Solvang back to Buellton. And after all the rain that California has had this winter, we were fortunate to have 10 days of absolute sunshine. Our new director, Andrzej Bek, was the driving force in our successful camp. Never before have I actually had a director give team workouts. But day one, we were out there, split into two groups, practicing lead-outs. The next day we were paired into groups of two killing each other with lactate threshold intervals. (Are you sure they weren't VO2s?) After each day, Andrzej collected our SRMs and downloaded all our data to make sure no one was slacking.

Yes, SRM... one of the greatest sponsors a cycling team could ever have. Uli and his team at SRM both in Julich and in Colorado Springs work wonders with these devices. I am completely attached to my SRM and would be lost without it. We even have the new Shimano Dura-Ace cranks with the SRM built in, making the system lighter. It's absolutely one of the greatest cycling tools out there.

When we arrived at camp, Tom Davies, product marketing manger for Giant bikes, was there to greet us already. The Health Net team, which Giant also sponsors, was just finishing up their camp the day we arrived. Along with Tom came all our brand new bikes. They are so beautiful! Steve Kiaulas, our mechanic, had spent the weeks prior to camp building them all up with new Shimano 10-speed Dura-Ace and the SRMs. There's nothing like jumping on a brand new bike, built perfectly to your dimensions, and taking off down the beautiful Santa Rosa road. I felt like I was flying. THIS is why I ride. Well, that and a million other reasons. But I felt like a kid in a candy shop. Which is saying a lot... the girls know how much I love candy. Tom is a stud too. He had ridden every day with the T-Mobile men at their training camp in Mallorca recently, riding over 200km a day. So riding with us probably felt like the slow train to Georgia. On one particular ride, we were trying to get back to the hotel after a tough workout and the wind really picked up. Tom went to the front and we all echeloned (is that an actual word?) behind him like little ducklings. He pulled us all the way home.

So who are the eight strong women? Well, I know Mitch from Cyclingnews wrote an article on our camp, so I won't repeat everything he said. Needless to say though, every girl is a force to be reckoned with. I'm thrilled to be riding on the same team again with my good friend, Ina Teutenberg. She's one tough bitch. And she knows how to make people cry. I should know..I've experienced that first hand. So the devilish part of me is looking forward to seeing the other girls feel her wrath. Ah, but it's all in good fun. Ina is a brilliant race tactician and one of the fastest sprinters in the women's peloton, both of which were desperately needed on this squad. She will make all of us rise to another level in our racing. Plus, I'm just psyched to be racing with my good friend again.

We really have a Colorado-based team. Six of our eight riders live in Colorado, one in Idaho, and one in Utah. Brooke Ourada and Rebecca Much both live in Durango, Colorado. Personally, I can't imagine being a pro cyclist trying to get in training in Durango throughout the winter. But if Ina can live in Park City, Utah and get away with it, I suppose Durango can't be too bad either. Both Brooke and Rebecca are new to the team and bring a lot of strength and positive energy with them. I've never raced with Rebecca but met her for the first time on our World's trip to Verona last year. You'd never guess she's just 18. She's very put-together and well spoken for her age and has a lot of talent. I've raced against Brooke before and am relieved to say I will be racing WITH her and not AGAINST her this year. She's a tough little climber and very willing to learn.

Also new to the team is Kori Seehafer. Kori was three-time national champion Tina Pic's main lead-out chic for the past three years. I don't know how we got lucky enough to score her, but we did. Even in the practice lead-outs at camp, she was ripping our legs off! With these four new girls, and the returning members - Kristin Armstrong, Mari Holden, and Lara Kroepsch - I believe we truly have a great team.

I have so much more to say, but I'll save it for the Valley of the Sun race report, coming up February 18-20. Forecast for this so-called Valley of the Sun is rain, rain, rain. How ironic. I'll be back with you soon.

Kimberly (Bruckner) Baldwin

See also: On the move with the T-Mobile Women's Cycling Team

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