Solvang Day Five and Epilogue

I'm back in Boulder on this Tuesday morning, but I still never recapped the final day of the camp before leaving Southern California. It was a day (and camp) to remember.

The final day was scheduled to be a handicapped race that included the entire camp; both coaches and campers (65 folks). The A,B,C and D groups were divided even further so that we had a D1 and D2 group, C1 and C2, etc. This amounted to 8 groups rolling out across a 16 minute window. Mark P, Gordo, Mat, Gardie, Riley, Stan, and I were in the final group.
The entire camp had a neutral rollout for about 25 miles to the starting point for the race. The race course was a 28 mile out-and-back that had three climbs in either direction (six total) mixed with flats and wind (turnaround was at the Pacific Ocean).

All groups were divided by two minutes except for the two A groups that only had one minute between them. The first A group had Robbie Ventura, Captain Morgan (aka Strong Rob), and Brian Hass so it was hardly 'slower' than our group; it mostly depended on who was going to be doing the work.

Our group started out like the race was going to last about 28 seconds, and not 28 miles. The pace was fast and hard and it took a few minutes for us to calm each other down. Fortunately we hit a climb and the speed settled and our pace did as well.

Except for Gordo.
He started to slowly pull away and we were rather confused as to why he was riding up the road. Soon enough we realized that he was using the first climb to bridge to the first A group before they started descending. He managed to do so and it was a pretty clever move. Once our group ascended the summut we started bombing down the descent to try and take time out of A1. Unfortunately we must have been going too quickly because Mat was out in a tigh switchback (pic afterwards above) and we lost him.

We lost a bit of the wind in our sails at this point and we slowed up to make sure he was alright. We got word that he stood right up and was going to be ok so we regrouped and pushed on. From there we pushed the pace to the turnaround where another crash had dissolved Gordo's group and he was forced to ride solo. G mananed to link up with Jason Shizzler so he had one other rider to work with to the finish line. At this point we had four folks left: Mark P, Gardie, Riley, and myself, but we still had a good gap to make up and not many miles to do it.

It was really fun to see the team dynamics over the next 14 miles. We stayed together on the climbs to make sure we all summitted together and then Riley and Mark P would push the pace in the flats and downhills. This pattern was bringing us closer and closer to the two riders up the road. Gordo had no choice but to do all the pulling at this point so Shizzler was in a great position to be first to the line.

With 2K to go we were getting closer and with less than 500 meters to go our group caught Jason and Gordo and Gardie sent Riley up the road to duke it out for the finish. Riley was out-sprinted by Jason, but I think we all felt a great deal of satisfaction to have done everything we could to be in it in the end. I think all of us (except maybe Gardie) had moments where we felt we could no longer contribute, but we held each other together all the way to the finish.

The photo above Mat is the four of us after this finish. Nice country in the background, huh?


The Vision Quest Camp in Solvang was a fantastic experience. I learned a lot about myself and about how a camp and its dynamics can bring so much out of its participants. Regardless of ability, everyone had moments in the week where they reached into their reserve and pushed the ceilings the place on themselves a little furhter into the sky. I am pretty certain that Mat is going to come back to Boulder with more confidence in his riding and ability. I don't know every cyclist at the camp, but I know that he stepped it up like few I have ever seen.

Another component of the camp that will stick with me many years into the future was the presence of a guy named Gardoe Jackson. Gardie is a functional strength trainer out of Park City, Utah who is also a Cat 1 cyclist and one of the top 50 cross country skiers in the country.

He is also 40 years old and was easily the strongest amigo at the camp.

His athleticism was impressive, but his positive attitude and impact on others is what is going to last with me. Instead of internalizing his strengths, he spread it out to everyone around him and the entire camp became stronger, smarter, and more positive. I hope I can do the same for others one day when given similar oppurtunities.

Thanks to all the support and coaches in Solcang. I hope to hang with the VQ crew again in the years to come.