California Dreaming

A thick blanket of sparkling white snow covers the ground and my thoughts turn to the most blessed time of the year – a time that fills my heart with warmth, joy and anticipation: Spring Training.

Being a recreational cyclist of no particular potential, “spring training” is really just a pretentious cover for going somewhere warm for a week of glorious bike riding uninterrupted by work, laundry, or hockey practices. It is a luxury that is inexplicably indulged by my family, and I’m just happy that my key still fits in the door when I get home.

Don’t get me wrong. I have fully embraced winter riding here. It is peaceful, fun and can be very beautiful. But make no mistake. It can also be very, very shitty.

For the last three years, I have travelled to Tucson, Arizona – a popular training spot for those of us without the means or desire to travel to Italy, Maui or Spain. Tucson in particular appears a winter nesting ground for the North American Road Cyclist, and we migrate there in spandexed flocks, piquing the curiosity of our snowbird cousins who tend to favour Tilley hats and RVs. In March, when Winnipeg is a cold, wet, sloshy mess, Arizona is warm, dry, and even has a mountain or two kicking around – which is something of a novelty to we flatlanders. The riding in Arizona is amazing, but after three years of riding in the dessert and peeing on cacti, I felt it was time to expand my horizons. I did some asking around for suggestions and after considering everything from Brandon to Capetown, I’ve decided to go to Oxnard, California. Oxnard came at the suggestion of fellow Winnipeg CycleChick Karlee Gendron, who rides for Specialized Mazda. Karlee spends her winters there and says it’s got some of the best riding there is, and she knows a little something about good riding. Plus it looks like this:And not this:California is chock-full of treacherous winding mountain roads and is smack in the middle of wine country. What could possibly go wrong? Oxnard is just North of Los Angeles and also quite close to Malibu. That got me pretty excited because my best friend growing up was from Malibu.

The house we’re staying in is right on the beach and rented out to we cycling types. They offer ride plans, skill sessions, and basic bike maintenance. I sure hope they can cook.

I found out there is a big-ass century ride going on in nearby Solvang right when we get there. Not one for moderation, I figure riding 100 miles on the first day of the trip seems like a pretty good idea. If that does not prove to be the case, I do have a number of fun recovery activities planned – like putting on enormous sunglasses and going shopping on Rodeo Drive. I’m hoping that if I behave badly enough, people might think I’m a celebrity. I can hardly wait!

In the meantime, there is this whole “End of the World” thing to deal with tomorrow. Oh well, I figure either way I’ll end up somewhere warm.