Our team training camp was a whirlwind of meeting new teammates, training near the ocean, and reading plenty of books. We traveled two hours from our home base in Vaiano to Riotorto, a small town near the sea. We stayed there for two weeks training together and working with our team staff, learning more about each other and preparing for the upcoming season.
My highlights of the trip included riding the Strade Bianche course, meeting my new teammates, and eating pasta every day.
A week into camp, on a rainy and cold Sunday, we drove two hours to the city where Strade Bianche will begin. We unpacked our bikes, were handed race radios (I might have taken a selfie of the radio in my ear), and began our 103km journey. “Strade Bianche” means “White Roads” in Italian, an aptly named race as there are stretches of the course which traverse white gravel roads winding through the countryside, up and down some gnarly climbs. This will be the first year that there will be a women’s edition of the famous Strade Bianche race and I could not be more excited to be a part of the field!
While riding the course I was pushing myself hard on the climbs to stay on the wheels of two of my teammates, Ewelina and Rasa. They are both so fast on those hills and I sounded like a dying horse gasping for breath behind them while they strolled up the climbs like two graceful gazelles! By the end of the ride we were are quite dead…and that was only after a training ride, not even the actual race. The race will be held next Saturday, March 7th and will be one of, if not the toughest race on our schedule this year. Many of the world’s best women’s cycling teams will be in attendance and my goal will be to survive, for this year at least.
I have been trying to learn as much as possible from all of the people I am surrounded by here. There are so many questions I want to ask and so many cumulative years of knowledge that I hope to glean, this is what inspires me most to continue learning Italian.
While all of the women on our team are great riders, two of them are exceptional – Rasa Leleivyte, previously the European Road Champion, and Marta Bastianelli, a former Road World Champion. Both of these women are ridiculously strong and when I feel like I am at my limit up a climb, they blow right past me as if I were rolling backward. It is amazing to watch and makes me begin to understand the strength and power it takes to be a great cyclist. After our visions of cycling outside were squandered by rain and high winds during a few of the days at camp, I was starting to go crazy! All I could think about was how I was missing training and how close Strade Bianche was. Both of them had the same message to me, “remain clam.”
After two weeks of camp I was glad to arrive back in Vaiano. We have our team presentation tonight and training as a full team tomorrow morning. After that it is back to the grind before Strade Bianche next weekend!
Here is a link that *may* show live coverage of Strade Bianche:
Professional cyclist turned professional triathlete living in Boulder, CO.