By Sofia Schugar and Rory Runser
That One Time at Bike Camp by Sofia Schugar
Bike camp is much more than just bikes, it is bikes, burritos, bonking, and much much more, in fact we prefer to call it Barry’s Bike Burrito Brew Bonk in Borrego, and I’ll just leave that to interpretation. Upon arriving in the 80 degree weather at 8:00 in Borrego, I witnessed a group of athletes consume Mexican food at record breaking paces, and I myself indulged in the experience as to “carb-load” for some huge ride the next day. After this we found ourselves around a campfire getting to know the teammates we would suffer and succeed with the next day. There we also played a few ice breaking games that some of us were not as good at as others (think two truths and a lie turned into ten truths and a lie). After that, the sound of manic coyotes lulled us to sleep as we rested for our ride the next day. We wake the next day to a beautiful sunrise and Beril counting down the minutes until we needed to be dressed and ready at Christmas Circle, the most dazzling attraction in all of Borrego Springs, from there the real fun began.
I was instructed by Joanna that, “the slower, I mean, newer, riders are leaving now” so with that I took off. Apparently there is a phenomenon called wind drag, which I never really believed in, yet when Joanna and the faster girls began to pass me I was instructed to hop in their pace line which was supposed to diminish this wind effect. Miraculously this tactic worked, I’m not sure if it has to do with physics or gypsy Borrego magic, but for the time being I was satisfied with my place in this line. Rolling hills, the sun, and lots of desert shrubbery accompanied us on our ride towards the Salton Sea. At the turnaround point we enjoyed some tunes from Andie and some motivational kisses from their sweet dog Kosmic, then it was back on the road for another twenty miles my legs were not sure they could handle. I was spacing out hallucinating a desert Oasis when Joanna, my friend that had earlier called me slow, made me work my butt off to keep pace with her until we reached Christmas Circle. There our coach had an interesting “bike handling skills game” for us to play. The game consisted of us riding in a small circle on many of our brand new carbon frame bikes attempting to knock our team mates either off their bikes or out of the circle. For this I thank Coach Kim because I can now handle my bike like a real pro? Lunch consisted of a salad, with produce from who knows where in the middle of the desert. Fun fact, the blueberries at this market cost SIX DOLLARS. Back at camp I was mansplained how to change a tire by all the speedy gentlemen on the team, I also learned how NOT to get grease allover myself when doing so, but alas it was too late and I had chain marks all up and down my legs.
That night around the campfire I made sure everyone had an amazing marshmallow experience as we toasted marshmallows and told great riddles that left everyone upset with the prospect of there being only two beans. There was also mention of the one and only Pradeep Khosla and his ties to the Amazon black market. Sadly, this night we were not accompanied by the howling coyotes, so we were able to rest well before our trip up Yaqui Pass the next morning.
The pass in Yaqui is for when the boys and speedy girls pass you on the uphill as you struggle in the lowest gear possible climbing up this hill on your bike. However, the exciting part about struggling three miles uphill is that you get to go down the same distance. As we reached the top of this pass, my hands shook as I reached into my drops and literally FLEW for three miles downhill. I couldn’t tell if my eyes were watering from the wind or tears, but I did make it down alive. This pass was only the first portion of the forty five mile ride Kim had planned for us so my quads braved the next few miles as we ventured back into the arid badlands of Borrego. I believe this ride took us down all four streets leading to and from this desert town, so I may call myself a local from now on. As the ride ended, us extreme athletes decided to do some bike yoga until we found our teammates finishing up their lengthier ride. Yes, this bike yoga was nothing but zen as we took our hands from our handle bars, did a couple of sun salutations, and took up an entire lane in the road.
The real beauty of Barry’s Bike Burrito Brew Bonk in Borrego was captured when our team was able to inhale three entire pies and many sandwiches in sheer minutes. The new skills and friendships made in this camp make the UCSD Triathlon team one of the best college experiences I have ever had and for this I am extremely grateful. Next year I will be sure to eat way more burritos and hopefully bike way more miles.
I hate to mention that none of this actually happened because I wasn’t able to upload the data on Strava.
In cycling there are many types of flats. There are pinch flats, puncture flats, false flats, slow leaks–you get the idea. There’s also the “I told you so” flat, as in, “I told you to check your tire before changing the tube.” It was this type of flat that Zack got roughly 1 minute after changing a flat on his back wheel, just as we were nearing the final stretch of Sunday’s long ride. With a mix of exasperation and relief (some of us didn’t mind the extra rest) the group pulled over once again to let Zack the bike mechanic fix up his ride.
Up to this point the ride had been going well. We started off with a solid ascent up Yaqui Pass, my first real climb with the team. I had misunderstood how long the climb was, and was anticipating it to be 7 miles. I felt like we were going really fast for such a long climb, but I didn’t want to complain (yet), so I just kept pedaling away, trying to hold onto the wheel in front of me. Eventually, after 3 miles, I was just about ready to break off and slow down, when I realized we were at the top. Sweet! After a quick refilling of water bottles and snacking on Clif bars, we headed back on a screaming-fast descent to the base of the climb, with some of us hitting speeds of nearly 50 mph.
After regrouping at the bottom, the group headed out on a fast-paced, double-paceline attack along Borrego Springs Road. There was some confusion as to how the inner paceline should switch leaders, specifically whether the leader should pull towards the curb or split between the two pacelines. This ambiguity was never really resolved. We nonetheless kept a solid pace all the way until the turnaround at Highway 78, where Coach Kim fed us some wholesome recovery snacks and offered words of encouragement. From there, we headed back the way we came, preparing mentally for a second attack up Yaqui.
The second ascent of Yaqui was no less brutal than the first, and a quick pace was set right off the bat. This time around I was more prepared for what was to come, but I still found it tough to hang onto the wheel in front of me. One by one, riders started dropping off, until only the strongest of the group remained at the front, culminating in an epic sprint to the top. To be clear, I was one of the riders who dropped off, so I’m only speculating as to what happened. Either way, I was stoked to reach the top for a second time in one day, and this time I enjoyed a nice recovery while the rest of the group made its way up.
After regrouping at the top, we descended Yaqui once again, and headed out on the final portion of the ride. It was at this point that Zack got his aforementioned “I told you so” flat. While he was changing it, the lead group of ladies caught up to us, so we decided to join forces and ride together until the end. To make up for lost time, the paceline started to really pick up speed, and my legs, tired from a weekend full of riding, were begging to slow down. At one point, the ladies and I tried to break off from the rest of the paceline, but Barry and Zack wouldn’t let us, so focused even harder on hanging onto the group.
After a few more miles, we rounded a corner and found ourselves on a straightaway sprint to finish the ride. I tried to keep up, but was distracted by the large metal dinosaur sculptures perched among the surrounding desert scrubland. After snapping a few pictures, I cruised the final quarter mile to Christmas Circle, rejoining the team and riding a victory lap around the roundabout to celebrate the end of a solid weekend of riding and burritos. Thanks to UCSD Tri for organizing Bike Camp and being such an awesome group of triathletes!