Fresh, cool sea air brushes up against my face; my body warmly tucked underneath a mammoth of blankets. Holding my breath, studying my cellphone clock, I take my morning heart rate while lying prone. Thirty eight today, not too tired, not too rested; good, great for day 7 of camp. After quietly leaving the motorhome, careful not to wake my teammates, I cook my quinoa and egg breakfast in the kitchen. Over the next 30 minutes, my teammates slowly file in, some more quiet than others...who will be strong today? Each goes about making their lunch, fixing their breakfast and bantering with one another about yesterday's ride.
Pre-Ride: Forty five minutes till departure, I rest in my bed to help digestion and practice a little meditation. I plug in my favourite music and relax. Beyond this auditory barrier, our seigneurs busily rush around the house and driveway, preparing 5-10 bottles per rider, packing bags of bananas, coolers of coke cola, boxes of tin-foil clad lunches into the Mini Cooper and the Volvo. They align our bikes in perfect formation against the wall lining the back of the driveway, our seats in a circle around a table filled with gels, bars and apples. Our mechanic touches up on any of the tasks that slipped his long list the night before, making sure the tires are pumped to 115-120PSI, the handlebar tape is clean and our top-tubes are clear of snot and drink mix from the day before. Every day it feels like we ride a brand new bike.
Brief: In a circle the riders relax in blue pop-up 'sofas', a white pop-up tent shades the sun; our Director calls attention to the route, safety concerns, planned stops and any structured efforts. "Today is our final big day of camp. 180km. 12,000-15,000 ft of climbing (no one has done the ride before). We have Heybuckshot here..so don't smile when they take your picture. Stay as a group up all the climbs, except the final one. Make it hard, it's a race ya?" We are up and we are off. Check your brakes, check your skewers, check your headset. Then the plastic cleat covers come off, we shove them into our 'car' bags (our KASK helmet bags with a makeshift name tag which include our special food, special bottles and extra arm warmers and gloves) and hand them off to the seigneurs as we ride past the cars at the end of the driveway.
Commute: Rushing down onto the 16-28% descent, adrenaline starts its morning drip. Flying down towards the Ventura valley floor, the sun warmly bakes our arms and chest, protected by black rainjackets. The jackets will come off in 20 minutes, so will the thick gloves and knee warmers. This is our commute. We try to stay comfortable during our commute, because we know that before long the day will start, the horn will honk, the bell will whistle, the pace will go up, the tailwind will die out, the road will tip up, and we will follow the double yellow line until told otherwise.