Spring Training Camp - Slade, KY

Another great things about Team NeighborLink is that we have many small groups of friends and riding buddies within the greater community that have a variety of athletic interests, experiences, favorite places to ride, and who are usually up for including new friends. This happened last weekend when new TNL members, Matt Thomas and Lewis Caskey invited some of us to go on their yearly trip to Eastern Kentucky in the Red River Gorge area on a spring training camp. Matt has been organizing this trip for 4-5 years now and does a great job creating a fun weekend for everyone full of riding, good food, and a really cool spot to stay. 

Unfortunately for those of us that live in NE Indiana, you've got to drive 6-8 hours away to guarantee decent temperatures at the end of March, or you need to have flexibility to be able to leave on a whim when the weather is nice. Because of this and the fact we're all working adults that have to plan around life, its always a weather gamble. This past weekend was no different. Friday's weather was just right, Saturday was going to be terrible, and Sunday had promise. 

More cell phone data was used Friday night trying to find any glimmer of hope in Saturday's weather than all of the rest of the weekend. No luck. The best window of riding was between 4-7am, which was not going to get our attention. However, we knew that if we got on the road by 7:30a, we stood a chance to get in some riding before significant snow/rain set in. We got to the bottom of our cabin's hill and the snow started to fall. So close. Our warmth, enthusiasm, and child-like sensibilities said to push on anyway, and led us to explored the roads near our cabin. We rode in the heavy, wet snow and cold for as long as we could before retreating to the cabin for coffee and dry socks. We loved every minute of it. Playing in the snow rarely gets old as long as you're not the first guy to loose the grip of your 25mm slick tires. 

One thing is always true when you get a group of guys together in a big cabin, time will pass quickly with or without bikes. Guys working on grad school projects and applications. Pool balls clanging around, cards being played, and a nap or two was had. Even David Park's rollers were the topic of many jokes until they got used for several hours by a few guys. We needed the time together to connect as longtime friends and new acquaintances. Life is busy and relationships are hard to prioritize or give enough time to. For that alone, we're grateful.

Sunday was an all in proposition as we knew we had to get some miles in to not feel like a total waste of a weekend. Cold temps through the night left us wondering just how icy the roads may still be. A quick car recon gave the green light as roads were dry enough to give it a shot. Because we had to check out of the cabin and it being pretty cold, we took off for only a 40-mile loop instead of a longer day. The route included some great rolling roads, a couple of long climbs that included a tunnel, beautiful sunshine that kept the 33 degree temps manageable, and all the rural canine tooth motivation you could sprint away from. 

We wonder why any of us spend the money to race bikes after weekends like these. The vision to put our racing money towards taking weekend trips more often seems like the way to go. Get together, go to a new place, ride our bikes up all the hills or on all the trails, and take in life at whatever pace you want to go is the future of cycling for some of us. Hopefully TNL athletes will keep inviting us on their weekend cycling trips so we have an reason to make this a reality.