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By Christian Vande Velde, CSC Professional Cycling Team
I’m back from camp and I have never been so happy to be home. Camp number three is in the bag.
It was a long one and to make matters worse we rode the trainers inside for the last three days. You might well ask why on earth we would ride trainers in “sunny Tuscany.” Well, it wasn’t for our fitness or for our health and certainly not for our sanity. I’ll get back to that.
We had a great start to the camp with the boys returning from the Tour of Med’ high on another win. We had a Champaign toast with the whole team and watched a few clips of the other half of our team putting it “into the gutter” in Qatar. And that lifted everyone’s spirits even higher.
The training was going well and we even made it through a full-on time trial or two. No shit. We had TT bikes and everything on the open road. Nicky S. won… but I think that there were some concerns over the quality of the timing. No protests were lodged but, I suspect there may well be some form of revenge later on. I only wish I was joking.
As things proceeded quite nicely, there came word that a weather front was bearing down on Europe… and all of a sudden we had this frenzied rush to get all sorts of training in before the snow hit. Some of us kinda brushed it off as the team just being a little too careful. Still, we left early for training, just so we’d miss the bad weather, but it never came. So now we were just pissed.
Of course, the minute we let our guard down, and left at our usual time, it snowed on us. I really wasn’t all that concerned since it was supposed to be just a rest day and for sure it wouldn’t last. Would it?
The next day we woke up to six inches of snow. Our options were pretty much limited to an impromptu snowball fight and three hours on the trainer. Next day, more snow… and more trainer time. Sorry, I forgot to mention that we were on top of this little hill and couldn’t get down before the plow came and cleared the road.
I felt like we were stuck in a remake of “The Shining.” Red rum, Red rum, Red rum….
Cabin fever was setting in and the Italians were starting to sneak out one-by-one, leaving us behind to worry about our planes and if we would ever see them.
The last day of camp finally rolled around and by this time there was no fight for a spot on one of the nine trainers. The snow was still coming down like a John Denver video and I had lost all hope of getting down this little hill and making my plane.
But we did and when we got to the bottom of this cursed hill there was almost no snow. And when we got to Pisa airport there was no sign of any precipitation. 48 degrees and sunny. We had just experienced the twilight zone. If you ever have a chance to ride in the hills of Tuscany in February, don’t do it. Put in a DVD of Tour of Lombardi and ride the trainer.
It will be warmer, cheaper… and did I mention warmer?