Winter Training Camp: Colombia
Winter Training Camp: Colombia
Miles, rice, and laughs
Each year August comes and goes, the major race calendar starts to dwindle, fall rolls around and teams start to talk about camp. Asking important questions in preparation for the first team building experience of a new season. Where will it be this year? Can we find good roads and nice weather in January? How will the food be? Are there coffee shops close by?
For the second year in a row the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team decided to travel to the city of eternal spring, Medellin, Colombia. Rains in the afternoon mean a temperate climate. Rural roads, a deep love of cycling, and generous drivers means you can ride nearly anywhere. An elevation, at the city, of nearly 5000ft lets you get some serious altitude on just about any ride. Finally, the coffee; this is Colombia, after all.
If you ever went to summer camp as a child, you have a good starting reference for winter training camp. It’s a chance for a bunch of people who know each other, and follow each other through letters, pictures, and conversations throughout the year to come together in person. It offers an opportunity to spend time with your friends and colleagues, catch up on old stories, and create new ones.
Important conversations that occurred in the early days of the men’s winter camp in Colombia:
- Jonny Clarke deeply needed to know what everyone else thought of Hegyvary’s mustache. Answer: needs work.
- How was Lachlan Norris’s journey to Nepal and Everest Base Camp, and how was it flying into the most dangerous airport in the world? Answer: as amazing as you think it would be.
- Did you hear that Daniel Jaramillo has a coffee shop?
- How is your family? In the case of our team, family can variously refer to dogs, nieces/nephews, wives, partners, girlfriends, or even chickens.
Ultimately conversations turn to commonalities like how does the new Jackroo kit fit? It’s a little shorter this year, but still comfortable. How are your Maxxis tires holding up? Well, my training tires are the same ones from September; can you change those out for me? Did you see that dog just sleeping in the middle of the road? Zero cares given for the world at large.
There is a point during training camp that we start to feel like that dog in the middle of the road. Each day becomes the same: wake, coffee, eat, chat, stretch, ride, eat, massage, eat, sleep. Throw in a game of cards, a coffee shop stop, and the decision between plantains or bananas and you’ve pretty much got the basic structure of training camp in Colombia. Cares for the outside world start to fall away, and you can spend time focusing on what’s right in front of you: roads, rides, and your teammates.
Part of the team was only in Colombia for a few days, they departed early for the first race of the season, the Vuelta a San Juan. The other half of the team is still in Colombia, still taking every day in stride, and still building those base miles for the season to come. They will remain at camp until through the start of their first race of the season, the Vuelta Colombia Oro y Paz. At which point all those base miles, all that time in the high Colombian mountains will be a memory filling their legs and lungs, another winter training camp in the books.