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Hello Mother, hello Father, here I am at Camp La Plagne

We’ve made it to the last rest day of our training camp. There are only 3 training days left, but the miles won’t be quite as big as we’ve been doing—we all have races coming up next week, so we’ll have some intensity but won’t push too hard.

The training has been going very well, my legs are coming around again and will be ready for the last leg of the season. I have to focus on my goals in these next few months, as I’ve already done so much this year that it would be easy to become complacent, satisfied. Fredrik has spent most of the year trying to come back from injury and surgery, and only has 12 race days…I have 60.

The Tour has been notable for its heat, and we’ve had the same here. The Tour actually rode over some of our training roads yesterday, but we weren’t there to see it—we were doing a big day and valued training quality over seeing a race pass by. We’ve got our training well-timed so that we get back, get cleaned up, and have lunch while watching the last hour of the race. Watching Simon win in Pra Loup was awesome, there was so much shouting here in our hotel!

Anyway, the heat is what I was getting at: everyone copes with it differently. We had a couple of weeks where the temps were pushing triple digits down in the valley. It was a dry heat, though, which can sneak up on you because you don’t realize just how much you’re sweating. I grew up in Texas, though, and can quickly recognize when the heat is starting to crack me. I also know that my engine runs hotter than most, so it takes a lot of cold bottles to keep me running. The bottles are mixed pretty weak with drink mix so that the water/electrolyte ratio stays balanced. On one long day, one of the guys here got so dehydrated that he nearly needed to go to the hospital. The next big day, we had an experiment, where we weighed ourselves to see how much fluid weight we lost over the course of a big ride.

It was a really long day with a few tough climbs, and really hot. I drank frequently, but only when I was thirsty. Over the course of our 6:45 ride, I knocked back 18.5 bottles, which amounts to 11L/3Gal! When I stepped off the bike, I was over 1kg heavier than at the start of the ride. I had eaten about 500g of food and burned about 700g of energy stores, so I had about 1.5 bottles of water being processed. We had a debate about whether I drank too much, but I contend that I didn’t. Even after 5000kj, nearly 7 hours, my heart rate was not showing any heat-drift and my legs felt great. If it had been a race with a tough climb at the finish, I would quickly have run out of bottles and my body would have burned through all that fluid quickly.

On these huge climbs, we’re often climbing alone as we each have our own pace/workouts, and most of the guys just pop in their earbuds and climb. 2 weeks in and I’ve yet to do so. We’ve got perfectly clean bikes and the climbs are so peaceful, I just enjoy the silence. I think I crave podcasts/music only when I’ve had enough of my own company, but I spend so much time here with others that I take silence anywhere I can get it. To that end, I’ve been waking up at 6:30 each morning without an alarm. I’m always still tired, but I think my mind wants me to get up so that I can enjoy an hour of absolute silence. I drink coffee and read out on the balcony, then empty the dishwasher and clean the kitchen before the onslaught begins.

The internet here isn’t great, so the constant cleaning I find myself doing serves a double purpose: finding something to do that keeps the rest of us from getting sick. Having cleaned our home kitchen to cancer-patient standards, I see the table and countertops here and just see germs everywhere. I also realize that I’m the oldest rider here, which means that I’ve got the most-years-lived-away-from-home under my belt, and along with it the lowest tolerance for common-area filthiness. That’s okay, though, as somebody’s got to do it and I need to take a break from reading occasionally.

Check back later for part 2!