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In Los Olivos California, close to Santa Barbara is some of the best roads to ride anywhere in the world. In February, around the Super Bowl, an assembly of the greatest cyclists and staff where on hand to eat, train, relax and clear minds before the professional race season begins. These riders ride so much that the amount of food they have to eat would make most people diabetic. Dr. Allen Lim is the camps organizer and has worked with many of these riders for years. His plan for the athletes is to simulate racing yet provide a supportive and fun environment for these riders before they travel the globe to chase the biggest races in the world.
Mary Frances Heck and Biju Thomas are both chefs, authors and supporters of cycling and have made the decision to prepare food for the athletes. The quality and type of food is carefully selected. Many riders are eating thousands of calories and the little extra flavor that these chefs bring helps not only as fuel but as a way to bring a smile to the riders faces. The riders may have different tastes but they can all agree on the fact that one of the best parts of camp is sitting down together eating and enjoying each others company.
One rider in particular, who is a pioneer of sorts is now retired Dave Zabriskie. His experience in the European peloton plus his perspective on cycling is something of deep value to the riders. Dave has worn the yellow jersey in the Tour De France and excels at time trials. He is also clever, funny and a challenge to interview. Being retired brings with it having to think about life after cycling. That is something that is sometimes tough for the current generation of riders to really think about. But many times riders who leave professional cycling are sometimes ill prepared for life after the races. Having Dave there brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to guys he’s friends with and has even raced against during the later part of his career.
With all of the tools at the riders disposal, they don’t have to rely on things other than cycling. Their housing, bikes, equipment, every meal and snack and massages are all taken care of. The ability to have a singular focus may be good for the legs but not necessarily good for the mind. Allen stresses the importance of keeping the mind sharp, reading books, asking questions and really thinking about their place and impact on the world. The approach to these riders as people, and friends rather than a commodity where sponsors are looking for a result is something that pays dividends long after they hang up their cleats.