USAC Northwest Talent ID Camp

Words by Gabrielle Lehnert

Forest Grove, OR

Day 1:

Today was the first day of the Northwest USA Cycling Talent ID Camp. The camp’s purpose is for junior riders to learn skills to help them improve their riding as well as for USA Cycling to find riders with the potential to race on a larger scale. They find that out through a couple of power tests and just by spending time with the riders and their personalities. I spent the morning packing and getting ready for camp. Then I drove to Forest Grove and checked in for camp. We went to an introductory meeting and found our rooms.

Marsh_2010_RM
Like Hogwarts, but for riders.

The camp takes place at Pacific University so all of us are staying in dorm type rooms. I have one roommate and we get along quite well.

After getting settled in, we went for a short ride to preview the course of the 5min power test tomorrow. The course is mostly flat at first but a little bit rolling, then it goes uphill for the last few minutes. I like the course and am excited to see how I do. After the ride we went to dinner at the cafeteria. There is a massive dance camp going on right now so the cafeteria was very crowded. The food was surprisingly good and there were lots of options to eat. When we finished dinner we had a little down time before we met up for a PowerPoint about time trialing, played a cycling trivia game, and designed a training diary as a group. I learned a lot from the presentations and will definitely learn more in the coming days. Now it’s time for bed to rest up for the time trials tomorrow.

Day 2

Today at the Northwest Talent ID Camp was the day of the 5min time trials. I got up at 6:45 and made some oatmeal for breakfast and then got ready to ride. I met the rest of the campers/coaches at the area we keep our bikes to do a weigh-in. Each rider was weighed alone and then with their bike before we headed out to the course. [The weighing allows for accurate calculations of power/weight ratio, which is one parameter that USAC considers when assessing talent]

The power numbers and times from the tests will be sent to USA Cycling so I was kind of nervous before and really hoping to do as well as I knew I could. When we got to the course, everyone did a warmup ride of the course at our own paces. Then we got two tries to do the course as fast as we could. I used my first effort as a warmup and a way to see the course in a more realistic race situation without going to hard. I did that one at about 80%. The second effort, I went as hard as I could and by the top I was completely done. There was a spot in the middle of the ride that I wish I would have pushed a little bit harder on but other than that I am pleased with my effort.

Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 7.12.31 PM
TrainingPeaks analysis from another rider. The elevated sections of the pink line represent the Time Trial efforts.

When everyone finished we rode back to the dorms and ate lunch. We had some down time after lunch and then learned about bike fitting, the USADA, stretching/foam rolling, and nutrition. All of it was very informative and I learned some good stuff from each presentation.

After those sessions, we went to dinner as a group. Right after dinner we went into learning about deciphering power numbers. We saw the times from the TT earlier today also. I was the fastest girl (out of 2) by four second which I am happy with. We then watched a stage of the 2015 Tour of California and compared the race to Ian Boswell’s power files from that day. More power testing to come tomorrow and lots more to learn.

Day 3

Today was the third day of camp at the Northwest Talent ID Camp. I got up at 7:00 and ate oatmeal for breakfast. It was the day of the 20min power test so we had another weigh in after breakfast. We then rode about 15 miles out of town to the course for the test. We all did a short warmup on the road at our own paces and then riders started being sent off.

Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 10.28.38 PM

I started a little too hard. It’s hard for me not to go too hard in the first 5ish minutes because with all of the adrenaline and fresh legs it’s very easy to overestimate your abilities. The course started out relatively flat and rolled towards the end. When the rollers came I was working really hard and just trying to maintain power. The finish line was a very welcome sight and I am actually pretty pleased with my effort. Even though my pacing wasn’t perfect, I would rather that than finishing with too much left in the tank.

After everyone finished, we rode back to the dorms for lunch. We talked about athlete coach relationships, bike packing, and some tactics after lunch. Then was a break until dinner. Next we watched another stage of the Tour of California and compared it to Ian Boswell’s power file from the same say. We also watched a race that was decided by crosswinds and learned about how to ride in the wind. Before bed we had a stretching session which was nice and relaxing to do before heading to our rooms. The power tests are all done now so the rest of the rides at camp will include practicing some kind of skills. Tomorrow will be a double ride day so I need to rest up.

Day 4:

Today was day 4 at the Northwest Talent ID Camp and it was our first day without a power test. The morning routine was still the same, get up, go to breakfast, and get ready to ride. Instead of riding far though, we practiced technical skills like emergency breaking, cornering, bumping, taking bottles, and criterium starts. I really enjoyed doing the drills because they were fun to do but also it was really good practice. That took up the whole morning so when we got back we went straight to lunch.

After lunch we went for another ride. This one was longer and we practiced rotation pace lines on a few quiet stretches of road. I liked getting feedback about how I ride in pace lines because it’s often times hard to tell on your own if you need to change something about your own rotation.

When we returned from the ride, each person got a short bike fit. My seat was raised by a little over a centimeter which is pretty substantial but other than that nothing was changed. After the bike fits we went to dinner and had a little break. We didn’t do much after dinner. Just looked at Ian Boswell’s power data from another stage of the Tour of California and then watched the stage. Before heading back to our rooms we had a stretching session. That was the conclusion of our day, a very peaceful way to end it. Tomorrow we will do one longer ride so it is time to rest up.

Day 5:

One the fifth day of camp, we only had one ride and it was in the morning. I got up at 7:00 and did the morning routine that I have settled into. I ate my breakfast at the cafeteria and all of the riders watched stage 12 of the Tour de France which was very exciting. We got ready to ride and then headed out on the same route as we rode to get to the 20min course. The ride out felt like it took forever this time but when we finally got there we split into 3 groups. Each one had 4 people in it based on results from the power tests and that was our team for a team time trial. All of the groups also had a coach who stayed at the We did it on the 20min course and then another team trial back to the start. On the way out, my group had a very hard time getting in a smooth rhythm. A couple of the people in my group didn’t have much experience riding in groups so their pulls made the rest of us have to work very hard to stay with the quick accelerations. On the second time we were definitely smoother but still could have been better. It was definitely good practice because I’ve never done an official team time trial. It helped me learn to pull hard enough that I was really tired out by the end but not too hard so that I drop my teammates. After our team time trials we rode back for lunch. Our post-lunch schedule was much different than the other days so far. Each athlete had an individual interview with three of the coaches. It was a chance for the coaches to get to know more about the athletes future plans and goals. The interviews only took 10 minutes each so while I was waiting I started packing up and did some laundry. I really liked doing my interview, the coaches asked me what I learned from camp and were all very optimistic about my future in cycling. Before dinner, we had a few guest speakers come. One talked about different injuries in cycling and how to treat and prevent them. The other guest speaker was a former pro cyclist (his name was Ian Crane) who started as a junior and worked his way all the way to the top. Sadly his story ended in a very bad crash that prevented him from returning to racing but I really enjoyed listening to his story and thought that he had some really great points. It put into perspective just how much work I will have to do to make it to the top of the sport but also that it is possible. Dinner was after those presentations and then we looked at power files from a few pros on their training rides. We finished the evening with some stretching and then went back to our rooms. Tomorrow is the last day of camp and it should just be an easy day. The week went by really fast!
Day 6:
Today was the last day of camp. We went to breakfast and then got ready to ride but instead of riding right away, we took camp photos. Then we went out for a short ride that was mostly easy but there were a few times when we got to ride really hard. That was the last ride of camp and when we got back, I finished my packing and went to lunch. After lunch, it was time for parents to start picking us up. It was a very mellow last day but a nice way to wind camp up. I learned a lot from being there and met some people that I will look forward to seeing at the races. Hopefully, the camp will open up more opportunities with cycling for me but even if it doesn’t, I had a really great week nad will be a better rider because of the things I learned there.
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