Wow. There’s nothing like summiting a mountain on two wheels that makes you feel so small yet so powerful at the same time.
Ever since I read the Nancy Drew Bike Tour Mystery book in 3rd grade, where Nancy and her best friends Bess and George go on a bike tour around Ireland, I had always dreamed about having my own European biking adventure. Spain is not Ireland, but alas, my dream did come true these past two weeks. Collectively my buds, Claire (aka Bess) and Johan (Claire’s boyfriend, aka George) cycled a total of 400 miles throughout the 14 day span on Mallorca Island.
The views were beautiful. The contrast of the beauty and pain I was feeling was enough balance to keep me riding. These training sessions were a big wake up call for me, a realization that as much as I thought I had ridden “hilly” courses before, the hills can always get “hillier”! As challenging as it was, I loved every minute on the bike.
I appreciated having some incredible guides to follow. Johan led us through multiple 3-4 hour rides, rarely repeating the same route, and somehow managing to never get us lost.
Reinout, Claire’s coach, and Kathleen Sterccx joined us for the second week of training camp. Together as a group of 5, we cycled a total elevation of 18,000 ft (assuming my Garmin is not telling lies). Kathleen is a fearless descender, so I picked up a few tricks trying to stay on her wheel winding through the hairpin turns.
Following Claire’s training plan and preparations for the Olympic season was impressive. It was inspiring to see her dedication to improving her weaknesses both in the pool and on the bike. She has spent much time looking at her inefficiencies in the pool, and working on her stroke. I can say from 6 months ago when we last trained together in Ann Arbor, she has improved a ton! I can’t wait to see her in action this season (Abu Dabi WTS in 2 weeks!). I think she will make Belgium very proud!
Training camp was not so different from the winter training camps I went on as swimmer in college. Daily routine was very similar. Wake up. Eat a lot. Drink a few espressos. Go do the first session of the day. Come back and buy lunch. Eat a lot. Drink some tea. Sneak in a nap. Go complete session 2 and maybe 3 of the day. Enjoy the incredible dinner buffet. Have some dessert. Head to bed.
The training camp ended in the best possible way. Waking up to find my alma mater had won the Big Ten Championships for the first time since 2004. My heart couldn’t be happier! I may be doing a new different sport, but my pride in Michigan Swimming is always so strong. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m happy to have been a part of the journey!