Each February for the past 3 years, I've taken my cycling team to St. George for a mini training camp. We use the camps to get some mid winter miles on the legs, get to know our teammates better and most importantly have a great time. Its also nice to get out of the cold here in Northern Utah and enjoy temps that are typically 20 degrees warmer in St. George. For the Chick-fil-a Cycling Team, this past weekend was one of our best mini camps yet.
We plan our 2 day camps with a 3 hour ride on Friday and up to 5 hours on Saturday. Friday's ride was windy and a bit cold when the sun went down but we managed a solid 3 hours with about 50 miles total. The blustery route took us from Coral Canyon towards the Zion's National Park entrance and back. The views along the ride were awesome. Southern Utah's red landscape is incredible and the cliffs in Zion's looked like they were on fire in the evening sun.
The post ride pasta dinner was yummy as usual but the best part of dinner was the company. I have some great teammates and the casual meal was a great place to get to know some of our new recruits and reconnect with others. We have some strong riders this year and above all they are great people.
We managed to get some extra zz's on Saturday morning and set out for our 5 hour tour about 10 a.m. While it was cool early on, temps warmed up nicely for the climb up Utah Hill. The 8% climb takes you almost to the Arizona border and feels quite remote. It reminded me a lot of the climb to Death Valley. Riding in the mountain west is truly a great experience and the starkness of the desert can make for excellent riding.
The rest of the ride took us on the Ironman loop which includes Gunlock Lake and the infamous "wall" to Veyo, home of Veyo Pies. Veyo Pies was my motivation for making the long slog up to altitude. Not only does this tiny bakery have the best banana cream pie ever made, its the best place for a mid ride pick me up and for some team socializing. I was so hungry by that point however that I finished off a quarter banana cream pie and split a chicken pot as well. It was sheer Veyo Pie deliciousness and got me through the 36 mile jaunt back to the house.
After 73 total miles we made it back. We had 2 flats among us, which was actually pretty good considering all the debris we saw along the way. The 60 degree temps that greeted us back to town were pretty incredible as well. A hot shower and Five Guys burgers were a fantastic reward for the ride. With pie stops and flats it was a 6 hour day but I can't think of much better ways to spend a Saturday in February.
I want to thank our team sponsors for their support this year. We have Chick-fil-a, The Bike Shoppe, Harristone, Sun Valley Mortgage, The Joint, Blue Iguana, The Women's Center in Logan and Excelerator Sports. Without these generous sponsors we wouldn't exist. The mini camp is a great way to start off the season and we look forward to promoting these awesome sponsors throughout the year. A huge thanks goes out to my teammates as well for making it a productive and fun weekend. Watch for the Chick-fil-a Cycling Team this year as we ride and race around Utah and beyond.