Andrew arrived in Tucson just over a week ago. I was nervously primping (because even though he’s stuck with me for life, I don’t need to make him regret that decision) when my roommate asked, “Do you have any clothes that aren’t for cycling or the gym?”
No. I have mascara and sweatpants.
When he arrived, it was a whirlwind of activity for three straight days. I wanted to show him my favorite places around town (Stella Java, La Estrella Bakery, Mt. Lemmon, Time Market, Le Buzz…hmm, this list is rather food-heavy) and we also had to get all of the team bikes ready for camp. By “we”, I mean “Andrew” while I spectated and offered helpful suggestions like, “How’s my TT bike coming along? Will you be done soon? When can we go eat?”
And then in no time at all, we were driving with Julie in a caravan towards the Phoenix airport to collect our people and kick off team camp.
Pepper Palace took over a mansion just outside Scottsdale for the week. The house was awesome; brand new, massive, and full of perks like a pool table and an arcade. The only thing missing was a refrigerator large enough to hold the colossal load of team groceries. You could have fed a small country with the first grocery trip, and yet we were back at the store in a day. Because cyclists.
It wasn’t long before we’d exploded all over the house in a sea of red clothes, sparkling waters, hot sauces, and Gu products. Did you read the article about the chick who generated only enough trash to fill a mason jar over a period of two years? Yeah, that was not us. Taking out the accumulated trash yesterday required multiple trips by six people, one of whom (GOKES!) had to jump up and down atop the dumpster to get the lid closed enough to keep the coyotes out.
Camp itself was exhilarating and exhausting all at once. It’s hard to be constantly surrounded by so many people and so much energy; team camp is a crush of new everything, perpetual motion, and unending stimulation. Sometimes it felt like Andrew and I were just passing ships, crossing as I’d dash from one thing to the next while he raced around in the garage building bikes, adjusting bikes, doing everything bikes. Each day was jammed from morning until night with rides, team meals, team talks, and endless chatter and laughter.
And then, just as quickly as it started, it ended. I woke up at 4:35am today to drive Andrew to the airport and head to Tucson to live with a smaller group of teammates and race the Tucson Bicycle Classic.
Saying goodbye to so many people felt like a punch in the gut. It was wonderful to be surrounded by my team; I love each member and cannot wait to see what we accomplish this season by working together and how much fun we will have doing it. There was not a single person that stuck out as a bad fit (….wait, what’s that expression about how if you look around the room and can’t see the asshole, it’s you? Shit). I have never been more certain that a group of people were meant to be together and never more proud to be part of that group. And to be able to share that with Andrew was wonderful.
I hate goodbyes (and pre-dawn alarm clock settings) but optimistically this is just the beginning of something new. Andrew will be back in a little while, I’ll see all of the Peppers again in time, and there are a lot of snacks waiting in Tucson. Huge thanks to everyone who made this past week enjoyable – Sarah for building this team, Julie and Amy for their non-stop efforts to pull everything together, Nicky for being our new director, Andrew and Johs for being our tireless mechanics, Jay and O’Neill for their support, our sponsors for providing heaps of cool stuff, and my teammates for being the kind of people you can spend a week with and leave wanting more. It’s going to be a great year.