Driving will get you there, but you may not see much on the way. Walking is good, you'll find the most detail but the amount of ground you can cover is not very compelling. However, see the world from the saddle of a bicycle and you'll discover just the right proportion of speed of travel and seeing all there is to see.
Life is one big adventure, and returning to The 303 Project for the 2018 race season is an dream come true. Our 2017 debut was highly successful, jam packed with not only a stellar list of top placings but adventures galore. That's what cycling and racing is all about to me, the challenge is insurmountable, the competitive nature is great, but the glorious adventure is my favorite part.
As most are aware, base season is upon us and racers across the country are racking up the km's and kj's in preparation of the floggings our bodies go through on the road. I too am partaking in this annual tradition of laying down the foundation of fitness and doing my best that I can to physically prepare. Something new that has been a feature of 2018 is my attempt to incorporate my adventure and exploratory cravings into my base training. I'm finding that planning training around camping trips is a fine pairing, like a glass of Merlot accompanied with a thick slice of Gouda. My most recent escapade was a point to point ride out to Joshua Tree National park, which made me realize maybe all those clichés about the journey not the destination really are true.
It all started with a drop-off point in Temecula and a round of "good lucks". The plan was ride from Temecula over to Joshua Tree and camp out that night then hitch a ride back the next day. Seemingly simple, a wrench was thrown into the script pretty early on when my planned 8:30am departure was delayed until 10am. Alright, now not only do I have to cover 130 some odd miles with over 10k of climbing, I have to do it while I race the sun...
The first 40 miles started pretty rough, with the bulk of the riding being uphill and into a head wind, not to mention flatting about 30 minutes in. I soldiered on though, because in reality I didn't have a choice. Most of the training I do at home, there is almost always a bail-out point. If the legs aren't there or something goes awry, I can usually call it early or a call a ride. This was totally different. I just had to put my head down and get there, hopefully before it got too dark. Pushing onward, I was rewarded with a glorious view after cruising through the San Jacinto mountain range, alpine and rocks gave way to a vast dessert and Joshua Tree loomed in the distance. Once securely in Palm Desert, I was able to restock food and water, reassess my condition and realize I had very little time left. One last push and I was through the desert and the terrain began to change once again, I was on the final stretch...
Now I'm over five hours in and there are only 35 miles left, but alas most of them are uphill. With the help of my trusty Scott Foil, I went up and up and with about 30 minutes until sunset, I made it to the front gate of Joshua Tree National Park. I made it...except our designated campsite was about 17 miles into the park! Ok I made it, this was about six hours and now I'm hurting, physically but especially mentally. I'm ready to climb off my machine. After sucking down some Torq, some energy came back to me. I dropped the power down to cruise mode and pushed on and finally connected with my friends at the campsite. Wow, let's never do that again...until at least a week. Many brats and s'mores were shortly scuffed down as I reflected on what I just did.
Seven hours alone on the bike is a long time and a lot of time to think. It made me think of how grateful I am to live this life and even as the mental anguish crept through, I cherished every moment, because it was an adventure. I can't wait for all the adventures I am sure to encounter with the 303 Project boys this year, bring it on!!