I’m in the air on the way to Fort Lauderdale, FL for team camp. People have spoken recently as if this marks the beginning of the season, but I’m not ready for that yet. This off season has been long and filled with challenges, but I’m not ready for it to be over. The beginning of the season means big things: nonstop travel, long stretches of time away from home, and expectations to perform. There’s a time and place when all of that feels normal, but that’s called the beginning of March.
Nevertheless, this is the beginning of something. The same team but with new riders, new leadership, and new sponsors. It’s comforting to have familiarity while exciting to have changes. At this point last year, I was a wide-eyed and eager neo-pro with no idea of what to expect. Showing up at camp felt like the first day of high school; I wanted to fit in and be cool while dropping watts and impressing everybody. Instead, I got norovirus, threw up on the driveway a few times, broke the plumbing, went to the ER, and was the weird girl that put raw egg whites in her recovery drinks.
I still do that. Live dangerously, always my motto.
Last year’s camp didn’t go as planned and I cried in the car on the way home from the airport, both out of disappointment and because my insides still felt like a nuclear wasteland. But as the season progressed, things sorted themselves out (as did my digestive system). I found my place amongst the team and it started to feel like home. While everybody still thought I was weird, it was okay and even welcomed. Well, either that or everybody is really good at keeping me in the dark.
I’m excited to get back to that place where I travel all over with my quirky adopted family like a spandex-clad circus, and happy to come into it with the benefit of last year’s experience. I’m not worried about trying to be cool or ride like I’m going to grow up to be Marianne Vos. All I want to do is show up, see my friends, make new ones, and blend all the raw eggs I can.
Also, I now know to live in mortal fear of norovirus.
But while this trip feels like an adventure and some kind of start, I’m not ready to let go of the winter yet. The polar vortex can go to hell (insert joke about freezing over) and I’m over bundling up and shivering through rides, but I still feel like a work in progress and need more time. My eating issues have been better – no throwing up or restricting excessively – but food is still a minefield and source of endless anxiety. People have been so supportive and I couldn’t have made this much progress without their wisdom and nudging. But I want more time to feel more confident about eating everything it takes to get through a long, hard season successfully.
I’m also not ready to say goodbye to Andrew just yet. Of course the season starting won’t change anything or really mean goodbye, but things will be different. Spending so much time apart is difficult and makes both people work harder to stay connected. We’re just over three months into our marriage and so much of the time has been focused on my eating disorder, several bouts of respiratory illness, the holidays, and that time I accidentally stabbed myself in the hand. I need the extra month between camp and the real start of the season to be at home, enjoy the perks of being married to my best friend, and find ways to enjoy life in spite of the challenges we face. Andrew makes me so happy and I want more of that before I join the traveling bicycle show for six months.
So camp will be great and I’ll share details and stories of the experience here (sure, if there are pillow fights, I’ll let you know but don’t hold your breath). But I’m also excited to return home to savor the final weeks left before the ride really begins. I suppose that, much like Florida in January, this is a good place to be.