Monday, April 13, 2009

Giordana - Clif Bar Women’s Team Camp, Brevard, NC

Day 1 – The Arrival

I was the first one at camp. First and foremost, it was nice to see that Cupid and his friends were still at camp. Cupid is a goat who was only a few weeks old last year during camp. He was born on Valentines Day, hence the name we gave him. My spirits were high as I drove up to the large building that was to be our headquarters for the weekend.

In years past, we’ve stayed in a cabin at the Brevard Girl Scouts Camp. We stayed at the Camp again, but initially, we had a lot more people coming than actually showed up, so we had arranged for “larger” accommodations. As it was described to us, it was to be slightly more rustic than our usual cabin, but with 3 bathrooms and more beds.

I walked in the door to find what I can only describe as an elementary school art room. Long tables with plastic chairs all covered in layers of decade’s old paint; shelves of craft materials – paints, fabric, sparkles, wax; a concrete floor and cartoon murals all over the walls. In the middle of the room was a steel spiral staircase leading up to a loft full of bunk beds with mattresses covered in mold and fungus. There was a bathroom up there with no water coming out of the hot water pipes and a toilet that made you consider “takin’ it outside”(that was bathroom #1…standby for the others). There was a bedroom with a few more beds off the loft. I found myself the cleanest mattress I could find and staked my claim in a bunk in the bedroom. Then, I was off to check out the rest of the diggs.

There was a small kitchen off the art room with a fridge and a stove. Through the door of the art room and down a short hall were the other 2 bathrooms. The Mens Room. And The Womens Room. The womens room served as the locker room to the pool out back. There were 3 showers, none of which had curtains and none of which had hot water. There were also toilet stalls and sinks.

By far the stand out feature was the fireplace. And it wasn’t enough to keep my spirits from falling rapidly, I’ll be honest. I walked around for 3 hours hoping I was in the wrong place, but knowing I wasn’t. It wasn’t until my teammates started arriving that I started feeling better about it. Together, we could commiserate and laugh about it. My spirits lifted again with thoughts of the next days ride.

DAY 2 – Severe Thunderstorms

It rained all morning. No, it poured all morning. So, at lunch, when the sun peeked through for 20 minutes we all ran to get our clothes on and hit the road. We hadn’t even made it out of the camp gate before it started raining again. Within 6 miles it had started pouring. Some of us were seriously questioning what the hell we were doing, but were assured by one of the guys we’d be “fine”. And technically, I guess we were. After all, it’s Monday morning and I’m still alive.

Riding in the rain is one thing. But, when the thunder and lightning start, you’ve made a bad decision. One of my team mates suggested taking shelter but we were told, “It’s not even close to us.”

(FLASH)…one - one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one CRASH! BOOM! BANG! Not even close, eh? But, as I said, technically, we are fine now. Even when it started to hail…yes, m-f-in’ HAIL, we pulled through. We made it up Sassafrass Mountain and then high tailed it home. I think we got in a whopping 15 miles.

Here’s where the fireplace made the whole “cabin” rental worth it. There was plenty of wood and kindling for our use and the wood was tucked nicely under the porch so it stayed dry. We sat in front of a huge fire and, since no one was dead, laughed about our own stupidity in riding through a severe thunderstorm.

Dinner was stellar. Pasta Provisions provided us lasagna complete with all the fixin’s – spring salad, ricotta, croutons, focaccia bread, dressing, calamata olives, and tiramisu. I think we all felt better with a hot meal and a fire going. Also, more of our teammates started arriving and we figured out where to turn on the hot water, so we had a great evening.

Day 3 - The Big One
Originally, we had planned on a 100 miles for our Saturday ride. But, plans are made to be broken. It was a beautiful day. We headed out to climb Rt. 215 from Rosman to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here's the day in photos:
Getting ready to head out.

The sign at the start of Rt. 215

Suffering on the climb. But, apparently not suffering so much that I can't work the camera.

The sign near the top of Rt. 215. It was super cold up here. Even though you prepare for the cold, by the time you get to the top, you're very sweaty and sweat and cold don't mix. From here, we pushed ourselves hard up the Parkway to 276 where we descended back into Brevard and warmer weather. That's when we decided to bag 100 in favor of slightly more on Sunday. We headed back to the cabin, ending up with about 65 miles.

Quick story about a random dude: Upon approach to the cabin, I noticed a red van, not belonging to any of us, sitting outside of our living quarters. When we got to the cabin, a strange man was walking out. I asked suspiciously if there was something wrong and if I could help him with anything. All he said was he "didn't know nothin' 'bout that" and that he was "workin' out here and had to pee" he asked if I "have a problem with that" and that he "hoped not". Before I could tell him what my problem with it was, he was off in the van. Creepy.

Day 3 concluded with dinner at our usual Mexican place in Brevard, Cielito Linda, where the food is aplenty and the drinks are massive and strong. After dinner we found one store open, Hunter's and Gatherers, and shopped there for a while. The owner suggested we make our way to the gelato place down the street and we did. Half of Kiwi Gelato (owned by a New Zealander) was a chocolatier (Downtown Chocolates) with no less than 15 different flavored truffles, each of which needed to be me. Ye-haw.

DAY 4 - Good Bye

That's a good lookin' group right there. The last ride of the weekend ended up being about 55 miles and included a fast downhill on Rt. 176 and then a 7 mile steep climb up Caesar's Head Mountain.

We didn't get in quite as many miles as we'd hoped over the weekend thanks to a little nasty weather, but i think it's safe to say, the team is looking strong and, man, are they fun to hang out with. As usual, I had a hard time saying good-bye, especially to the friends who live in far off places...Missy and Kat. But, there's a lot of racing to be done yet this season and I'm already looking forward to next year's team camp.

Cheers. Ride safe.

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