Now that you’re fully fed up with that #trainerlyfe and temps are dependably in the 40+ range, it’s time to start logging those long hours in the saddle outside again. There’s no better way to kick the season into gear than a training camp with teammies. A mix between vacation, nature therapy, and plain-old-endurance feats, training camps are great opportunities for team bonding, strategizing, and can provide joke and entertainment fodder to the group for years to come.
Prepare a Timeline and Budget
Be sure to check the pulse on what people want to spend and how many days are feasible to take off for this adventure. In addition to this just being good manners, this information is also key for everyone else (regardless of the role they have in the group logistics) to know throughout the planning process. Tally up costs once the trip is over and have everyone venmo/paypal/zelle the person in question for the expense incurred. Easy peasy.
There are lots moving parts when it comes to the traveling, training, and feeding of cyclists over the course of three to four days. Do not expect any one person to do all of these tasks (or more specifically, to do all of them well). Divvy up responsibilities over the following areas: Transportation, Lodging, Food + Cooking, Route Planning.
Assuming that this is a local or regional training camp, the transportation person should be in charge of figuring out: 1) how many vehicles are needed to move the group from point A to point B, 2) how many and who will be transported in which vehicle, and 3) bike rack logistics. Unless you want an inordinate amount of headache the day of departure, make sure that the person who own the bike racks have coordinated with the people who own the cars before people start showing up to load themselves and their belongings.
Role 1: Lodging
As for lodging, AirBnb is ideal. No annoying hotel policies to deal with and there are generally bike washing, building, and indoor storage options available. If it’s a large group for the camp, be sure to do a triple headcount on bodies and number of beds—or at the very least, bring an air mattress along. Another keep-the-peace-tip: Be sure that those who are sharing beds or rooms know beforehand about the accomodation logistics.
Role 2: Food
So important. So fundamental. The food coordinator can make or break the whole camp. Make sure whomever volunteers for this role actually enjoys eating and making food. There is nothing worse than seeing that the group grocery shop contains four days worth of wonder bread and eggs, or that the gluten-intolerant-freegan thought they could “wing it” menu-wise in the rural midwest. Pro tip: They cannot.
The food coordinator does not have to be in charge of preparing everything, but they should have done the shop beforehand and have menus worked out for main meals and on-the-bike food. Salads? Proteins? Bulk oatmeal? Rice cakes? Check and check. Also, if you know you’re going to be out in the middle of nowhere, buy food before you leave town.
Role 3: Route Planner
Similar to the foodie, this person should have an earnest love of the task at hand. They should study Strava routes, send an email or two to local groups or teams about favorite loops, and work out those routes in some sort of loadable file for all in the camp to use. No one wants to get lost in an area they’re unfamiliar with, and no one wants to prepare for a four hour ride, only to have it turn into a 6 hour ride during which you run out of food and water. If either of these things happen, blame the route planner.
The Journey and Destination
There are lots of decent location options for mid-spring camps within five hours or so of Chicago. Western Illinois is fantastic for rollers and loose gravel for miles and miles. St. Louis has lots of punchy little climbs, and is dependably 10-15 degrees warmer (even with a chance of sun!) than it is here. Brown County in Indiana is a great locale for a mountain bike camp.
Alternatively, if your teammates have larger budgets to play with and can take more than a long weekend off, then there’s really no limiting your camp location or amenities. And if there’s too much on everyone’s plate to organize a camp for themselves, there are a host of groups available to do all the planning for you. Trek Travel, Rapha Travel, and Ingamba Tours are all worth a browse if you really want to “up” the team camp ante.