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Training camp report for February 23, 2005
Cooking with Colavita
Colavita/Cooking Light Women's Cycling Team Camp, Gainesville, FL, USA, February 8-13, 2005
From February 8-13, 2005, the seven women of the Colavita/Cooking Light Women's Cycling Team kicked off their 2005 racing season with a training camp in Gainesville, Florida. It was a time for renewing old friendships, making new ones and laying foundations, both in terms of fitness and teamwork. By all those measures, writes Team Manager John Alsedek, the training camp was a rousing success.
Camp began in earnest on Wednesday, February 9, with a three-hour training ride, conducted by team member and Gainesville resident Rebecca Larson. While the seven women got to know one another, their ride was filmed by a University of Florida student who is doing a documentary on women's cycling. After the ride and a quick lunch and clean-up, the team headed down to Gainesville's Council Hall, the site for most of the week's meetings. Wednesday's topics were a general season overview, conducted by team director John Alsedek, and a seminar on sponsor relations, run by team advisor Ravi Rajcoomar. After that, it was off to Gainesville's finest restaurant - the Olive Garden, of course! - and an impromptu visit to the local Wal-Mart to prepare the racers for Day 2 of camp: a team outing to Ginnie Springs Outdoors.
One of Florida's most famous freshwater springs, and the source for many nationally-known spring water brands, Ginnie Springs Outdoors certainly didn't lack for things to do on its 200 acre grounds: snorkeling, horseback riding, canoeing, or simply relaxing and enjoying the peace and quiet. Of course, given that it was indeed a training camp, the trip involved a ride from Gainesville up to Ginnie Springs - a ride that looked simple on the map, but proved to be a little trickier than expected! Still, everyone made it to Ginnie Springs unscathed, where our host, Mark Wray, had a catered lunch waiting for the women, who spent the remainder of the day continuing to get to know one another while exploring the titular springs. "I think I saw the Little Mermaid!", remarked Kim Anderson upon emerging from the waters at one point. Come evening, it was time for dinner, a little more talk, and some well-earned rest.
Friday included a veritable smorgasbord of activities: a training ride in the morning, followed by a number of off-bike functions, including team pictures at Lake Alice (which is on the University of Florida campus, and which does feature alligators among its denizens!). Come late afternoon, it was back to the Gainesville Council Hall for a seminar on bicycle maintenance by team mechanic Dennis Angelo, and then a roundtable discussion about everyone's expectations for the '05 season. Unfortunately, we were one rider short, as Dotsie Cowden came down ill with what we guessed was a flu bug, and spent most of the day in bed, trying to recuperate for the weekend. With Dotsie not around for the latter meetings, we made sure to volunteer her for all the nastiest jobs during the course of the year ;-)
Then came Saturday, the team's first racing of the year. And if its results in the Team Florida Race Weekend prove to be a harbinger of things to come, the Colavita/Cooking Light Women's Cycling Team should prove to be one team to watch! First up was a 12-mile individual time trial, contested by Rebecca, Michelle Beltran, Megan Esmonde, and guest Jennifer Stevens. While the team's most established racers against the clock - Sue (who flew out Saturday morning), Kim (taking a day off) and Dotsie (still under the weather) - weren't in action, the rest of the team was more than up to the challenge. Despite a strong ride from Masters 30-34 National TT Champ Kristin Sanders - and not having gotten much sleep the night before due to helping with race registration - Rebecca pulled off the team's first win of the season; Michelle, Megan and Jenn all finished in the first eight places, despite not having special time trial equipment. Then, after a two-hour 'intermission', the racing continued with a 20-mile team time trial, won handily by the trio of Michelle, Megan and Jenn. Gold stars to Kim and Dotsie for their insights and good humor while in the face of interminable waits at the less-than-scenic Gainesville Raceway!
And then it was Sunday, the conclusion of both training camp and the Team Florida Race Weekend. Both ended on high notes. After one last training ride that, as most of them did, involved stops at a certain national chain of coffee shops, the quintet of Kim, Michelle, Megan, Rebecca, and Jenn toed the line for a criterium in downtown Gainesville. From the start, the five Colavita/Cooking Light racers dominated the nearly 40-strong women's field, sending break after break up the road until a solo effort by Rebecca - who'd earlier won the Collegiate Women's race - stuck. She was soon joined by Kim, while the three remaining in the field shut down any chasing effort. With two laps remaining, Rebecca and Kim lapped the field, and promptly joined Michelle and Jenn in setting up Megan to win the field sprint for third. And that she did, with Michelle grabbing fifth place. It was a jubilant group that headed out for one last dinner that evening, eagerly anticipating the team's California racing schedule.
"I have never been this pumped up about a group of women racing bikes before!", noted Dotsie, saying what everyone else seemed to be thinking. And, with that, it was back to Jacksonville for Monday flights... the conclusion of one journey, and the beginning of a much longer one.
Special thanks to the following for their assistance, without which the 2005 Colavita/Cooking Light Women's Cycling Team Training Camp wouldn't have been what it was:
* Matt Dunn and the folks at the Gainesville Sports Organizing Committee;
2005 Team Roster
Kim Anderson - USA
Directeur Sportif: John Alsedek
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by John Alsedek