After surviving the first week of classes, the UO Cycling Team’s returning racers—and a few special guests—had the very special opportunity to convene in beautiful Bend, Oregon for a weekend of team building, education, and quality training, both on and off the bike. The team was generously hosted by the parents of two racers, Sophie and Austin, and after arriving and settling in on Friday afternoon everyone was treated to a delicious Mexican-themed dinner, provided by the Andrews family. Dinner was preceded by a thorough exploration of the Andrews’ house and land, which included—much to everyone’s delight—a rock climbing wall, a trampoline, llamas, and, most importantly, two dogs—including the French bulldog puppy Rufus, the new de facto team mascot. After eating, the team convened for a meeting detailing the workings of the upcoming season; topics of discussion included racing, logistics, sponsorship obligations, and more, and the returning racers got a sneak peak of next year’s kit (spoiler alert—it looks great). After talking late into the night and enjoying the balmy high desert weather, the team retired for a few hours of sleep before an early morning.
Saturday began with the usual beleaguered groaning of college students attempting to rouse themselves after a late night—a familiar sound from many a cycling team trip. Breakfast was a giant vat of eggs, toast, Greek yogurt, granola, fruit, and lots of water, followed by a trip to the famous Backporch Coffee Roasters for some choice caffeinated beverages before a long day in the saddle. The day’s ride left from Wanoga Snow Park, and the ten members split into two groups: The four boys of next year’s Category A squad set off with ex-MTB Pro, multi-time Canadian Cyclocross National Champion, and all-around nice guy Chris Sheppard for a searing loop around Mt. Bachelor, along with some pep- (and friendly trash-) talking; meanwhile, the group containing next year’s women’s A and B teams, and the men’s B team set off on a similar course, and the entire team regrouped at the beautiful Lava Lake to refuel and finish the ride out together. A long, high-elevation climb before the final descent back to the snow park took a toll on the exhausted riders, but everyone returned to the team van tired yet happy. After showers and lots of burritos back at the homestay, the team gathered once again, this time for a lecture from Steve Utzman, a top-tier physical trainer in Bend, who presented an intriguing and informative seminar about the necessity of off-season cross-training. After the talk, the team scarfed down some more food before an intense study session to stay ahead of classwork—only a week into the term, most of the riders already had to crack their books open to ensure they were fully prepared. Don’t let it be said that the UO Cycling Team is athletes first and scholars second!
Sunday began even earlier than Saturday, with a quick breakfast and then some team pictures before everyone set off on the day’s ride. The course was out along some back roads and little-known gravel shortcuts over to the town of Sisters, and, more importantly, Sisters’ Coffee Company. After refueling and re-caffeinating, the team split once again, with a small group striking out to climb the famous and scenic road up to Three Creek Lake, while the rest headed back to Bend (managing to get lost once, but in the serendipitous manner which often befalls cyclists and leads to an even more memorable ride). Quick showers and a hasty lunch awaited the returning team at the homestay, and after packing up, the van and truck-and-trailer set out towards home, so that the team members could get back to their studying and other obligations.
The team would like to extend the deepest thanks to our hosts for the weekend—The Andrews and Arguello families—as well as our new sponsor, Hammer Nutrition, for keeping us properly fuelled and getting us all home feeling good, and Steve Utzman for the stellar and informative lecture on crosstraining and injury prevention for cyclists. We look forward for the opportunity to return to Bend for another team-building weekend—next time we may even leave the bikes behind and focus on the most important aspect of any team—building cooperation and lasting relationships between our fantastic members.