March 13, 2007
Now that we are nicely settled in our nine women fraternity house here in Tucson, Arizona, I can sit down and reflect on the past few days of our 2007 team training camp. With a two level, three-bedroom house, three bathrooms, large kitchen, and BBQ and about a 60-inch flat screen plasma T.V., we are pretty much set to go.
The fun, however, really started with our team staff driving across the country well before the riders were to meet up in Portland, Oregon, for our team press conference with our title sponsor, ExpressCopy.com. All set to go with car, van, and trailer in tow, the van decides to break down in -20 degree Toronto weather. The van was towed, the trailer was towed, and a long story later, the staff was on the road together again. Then in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma, the car decides to break down, too. With a fully computerized, all automatic VW Passat needing care, there was Ford, GM, and any other American brand car dealership that you can think of in this little town, not even big enough to be called a town, but nobody that knew a thing about VWs. The car was left there. The staff had a plane to catch to Portland, they had to get on the road, car or no car.
So, with one car down, three straight days of driving, and no sleep, they had to book a flight from Phoenix to Portland because they no longer had time to drive. All the staff miraculously made it to individually meet riders as they exited the baggage claim at the Portland airport with bags under their eyes, but smiles on.
Given the lack of team vehicles, due to the preceeding circumstances, we jumped in a taxi. The staff followed us to the Expresscopy.com factory in our sponsors' car. From there we got the chance to check out how expresscopy.com can take in virtual orders from all over the world and make over 30,000 printed, laminated copies per day and send them out overnight arriving at noon the next day to anywhere in the US. Pretty slick to say the least in fact as Lee from Expresscopy.com says "sophisticated and simple". That it is.
That day, riders continued to roll in and we all met up at the Inn at the conference centre hotel in Portland. We had an afternoon to chill before the press conference at 4:00 PM. As usual, the women's team went to the mall. Come on!!! Oregon no sales tax!!! Shopping we did, and a few haircuts.
The press conference not only involved our title sponsor, team riders and staff, and press, but also a local "women on bikes club" that came to present a talk on bike safety to other women Portland cyclists. The afternoon was full of checking out our new Argon18 Gallium bikes and talking with other cyclists and our sponsors, all of whom are very excited and supportive of the new women's UCI cycling team. We are equally as excited to be representing such a motivated, innovative group of people at Expresscopy.com.
At the crack of dawn the next morning, we were all off on the same flight to Phoenix, Arizona. After a quick van ride to Tuscon, that evening we were all settled in our new home for the next few weeks. Because there was only one house available for the first night out of two rented, we had a cozy sleep with 14 people in the house somehow. On floors, mattresses, blankets, and massage tables - I don't know where everybody slept as I was put in a room, and then slept in the next morning until everybody was already up.
From here on in, it was pretty standard happenings with bikes getting set up by the mechanic. However, to his surprise, there were no seat-posts in the bike boxes NONE!!! So, little announced by them, they had a slight delemma of somehow aquiring nine seatposts to temporarily put on the bikes until ours could get sent to us without blowing the team budget. Luckily, from the team staffs' previous crisis management across the country, this was a small, temporary setback. Craftily, they went to a community bike shop, picked up some seatposts that cost a few bucks each, and put them on our bikes. During this time, some riders braved the outdoors with the snakes and coyotes and went hiking, while only three could get on bikes, as there were only three seatposts at the time.
Let me tell you about the desert, which you probably already know .when it decides to get dark it gets dark reeeeally quicky. Here we are, all excited to be riding our new Argon18 bikes, Ann, Audrey, myself and Keith (U23 Expresscopy guy) head out for 2.5 hours. Knowing that we are cutting it a bit short on time to get home before dark, Audrey ended up having a slow leak in her rear tire. Luck has it that it is one of those really odd tires that snug up really close to the rim. Nearly breaking the tire levers, we decide to pump it up and have Audrey ride it until it needs pumping again.
One pump later, sun settling down on the horizon, Ann looks at her GPS and gives an estimate of distance to home we still have about 15km. We are on a flat, straight busy road, boom, Audrey double flats on a piece of shrapnel on the side of the road!!! To make a long story shorter .a guy in a pick up truck stopped and asked if we need a hand. Me, snuggling up to Audrey sitting on the side of the road (did I mention how cold it gets in the desert at night?), looking at the darkening sky, I looked at his empty pick up truck and said "Ya, we do need help!!!" Keith, jumping into the back seat of the truck noticed a big gun that the guy quickly grabbed and covered up. To his relief and ours he was a sergeant in the police force and a SWAT team member. We made it home safely.
As things settled in, the staff got their grounding again. Our team director sportif was doing double duty by washing the team van he slipped and broke his ribs. We get the phone call from another staff member that he can't make the scheduled evening meeting and he told us the news. The poor guy!!! They have all worked so hard, and now to have this top it all off. We got him a card and good big bottle of Glenfiddich scotch. He was happy.
So, from here on in, things have been slick. We have some great cooks on the team and some people who really like cleaning! A nice balance in a house of nine women cyclists!! Our first team bonding activity was a well suited SuperBowl party complete with quarter score cards with prizes, great snackies, b**r, w*ne, and BBQ buffalo burgers. It ended up that Alison Testroete and I each won two quarters with our score estimations. I won the last two so, I got grand prize of a deck of cards and a whoopee cushion! Funny how no matter how many times you make it fart, it is STILL funny! Well, up until Ann made it fart she jumped on it and blew a hole in it! No more whoopee cushion. Probably a good thing! The house is still littered with cardboard signs cheering for "da bears" or 'the colts'.
Tonight before dinner we all sat around the dining room table on a conference call with our media relations co-ordinator who is directing this awesome new program for young women aged 13-17 called Fit Spirit. This program is operated in conjunction with the Heart and Stroke Foundation to encourage young women to get involved and stay active. The team will be involved in speaking to school groups and leading rides all over Quebec and Ontario, with growth expanding to the west coast over the next few years. Already 3500 youth are involved. We look forward to corresponding with them and sending them postcards!