Winter Training Camps

Winter Training Camps

Like the cliff swallows of San Juan Capistrano, UCI Continental cycling teams return to Ventura County for winter training camps. You can catch glimpses of these pro teams on the road from mid-January to mid-February. I have seen the Rally Cycling team, the Axeon Hagens Berman team, United Healthcare team and the Men’s and Women’s Canadian National Teams.

Ventura County has some advantages as a base for winter cycling training beyond the mild weather in Southern California. There is easy access to the Santa Monica Mountains, Topa Topa Mountains and
Highway 33, "Maricopa Highway",
north of Ojai
the Santa Ynez Mountains in Santa Barbara County for hill climbing training. Each of which provides challenges for these teams as well as for us local riders. From Deer Creek Road near Mugu Rock with its 1,100 ft. rise in 2.5 miles to the 11 mile climb up Highway 33 North of Ojai to the Rose Valley Recreation, and finally, the tough 6.5 mile Gibraltar Road climb in Santa Barbara. For flat training, the PCH north from Malibu, and the Rincon Highway between Ventura and Carpinteria provide miles of riding along the ocean. Additionally, the Amgen Tour of California passes through this area annually. Continental teams that train here almost have a home field advantage during that stage. Neilson Powless of Axeon, came in fifth in Stage 3 finishing on Gibraltar Road last year.

This is the tenth year that the Rally Cycling Team has come to a beach house in Silver Strand that is owned by one of the team managers. The team stays in the house together for the length of the training camp. This is a team building exercise where the current team and new team member get to know each other and enhance team communications for the upcoming seasons. On my way to work, I would see the support vehicles, with the team bicycles loaded on top, heading out for a day of riding. You get used to seeing the teams training or doing team photo shoots. You can tell where the team took the team photo, like the Axeon Team out by Mugu Rock three weeks ago. Or where they shot the team commercial, United Healthcare did a few years ago on the roads above Santa Barbara. You will be riding along and a bunch of young riders, identically dressed, will glide by. They always are friendly and say “Hi,” or wave, and then they move along.

The continental teams will be around for a week or so more and then their season will start in earnest. For the local cyclists, like me, it is another indicator that there is no real off season for Southern California cyclists.