Eight of the MetLife riders convened at team member Chris Coutu’s home in Cape Cod last weekend for a training camp to officially kick off the 2011 season. After a long winter of slogging through cold, slushy rides or tediously spinning away on indoor trainers, the camp gave the guys an opportunity to put in some quality hours on the road, to give their legs the first few hard efforts of the season, and, most importantly, to lay the foundations for the teamwork that will be so crucial to success as the race season ramps up.
The boys got up out early Saturday morning to hit the road. Matt Spohn and Chris Coutu had already received and built up this season’s Cannondale race bikes. After a delay of a few minutes as the rest of the guys ogled the sweet new bikes, anxious to receive their own, they headed out. The plan for the day was to ride 35 miles to the Charge Pond training race, do the race, and then ride back. It was going to be a long day in saddle. But with eight guys rotating smoothly, the miles flew by.
The team was soon standing on the start line with numbers pinned on, ready for the first racing effort of the season. The course was a rolling, twisty circuit that favored breakaways. With such a strong contingent, the team expected to be represented in every move that tried to get away. The pace was timid at first as everyone in the field got used to racing their bikes again, but the speed soon climbed. Austin Roach launched a solo attack a couple of laps into the race that would prove to be the race-winning move. Behind him, the other MetLife guys dutifully covered everything that tried to break away. Peter Bell, having already ridden from Boston to Washington, D.C. earlier in the week on behalf of the bicycle advocacy group Bikes Belong, still had the energy to put himself in the next group on the road along with Trent Ashburn. Landen Wark-Acebo represented MetLife in the next bunch that split away. Austin managed to lap the remainder of the field, where Ryan Fleming and Andy Munas quickly went to the front to ride tempo and keep him out of trouble. The guys placed well in the sprints from their respective groups to come away with their first win of the season and a results list top heavy with MetLife riders.
The team rode back home and cleaned up. With over 800 combined miles on the day, it was time for some serious eating. So they headed off to a local restaurant for team bonding around a table full of pizza, salads, burgers, and beer. Sated, the squad got down to some more of the day’s business: divvying up products from the team’s generous sponsors. Boxes and boxes of drink mixes, gels, and supplements from Hammer Nutrition and bicycle components from Back Bay Bicycles were divided amongst the guys to support a full season of racing.
After a night of much-needed sleep, the MetLife squad hopped on their bikes again to cap off the training camp with several more hours of riding along the Cape. It was a very successful weekend, providing the team with some solid early-season training, and giving everyone a chance to practice the group racing skills that they will soon be putting to use in races across the country.