Weekend Reading: What it’s like to be part of Team CTS

People ask me all the time what it’s like to be part of Team CTS for the USA Pro Challenge Race Experience or the Amgen Tour of California Race Experience. For the athletes, they are a combination of a fantasy camp and an adventure race. You’re eating dinner with the pros every night and provided VIP access to the course and finish areas, but you’re also riding every stage of the race with those same pros chasing you all day. Having recently completed the USAPCC Race Experience, there are a few highlights I think you’ll find entertaining:

Turning the Tables

During the ATOC and USAPCC pro teams typically gather in one hotel ballroom for a buffet-style dinner. For tired riders, it’s a time to relax and refuel. There’s some chatting within and between teams, but even with a mixture of ProTour and domestic teams you don’t see young riders going up to Tour de France veterans for autographs. And since there are no fans in the dining room, riders aren’t being chatted up by them during dinner either. So, in this environment governed by traditions, it was really interesting to see the pros coming over to the Team CTS dinner table to get their photos taken with basketball legend Bill Walton. More than once, the pros – including the every-popular Jens Voigt – ended up sitting down with Bill and our athletes for a bit.


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  • 2014 Bucket List: Join Team CTS for a great adventure in 2014!

Coming Together

When you bring together between 12 and 20 athletes, throw in 4-5 coaches, and roll out for a week of 100-mile rides through the mountains, it takes a little time for the group to gel into a cohesive team. During the USAPCC, everything clicked on Stage 3 (which is about normal), the ride from Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs. Rather than splintering into small groups over every climb, Team CTS rode as one and stormed down the road. Within the coaches’ morning meeting we were concerned that the team would get caught by the pros because we knew the stage would be a fast one for them (and it was, the pros covered 105 miles in 4:04). But after watching Team CTS work together like a well-oiled machine for the first 30 miles, I knew there was no way we’d get caught. Our team eventually split into two groups, but both made it to Steamboat with time to spare.

Cutting it Close

Stage 6 was probably one of the most beautiful and exciting days for Team CTS. The stage began in Loveland before rolling up Big Thompson Canyon to Estes Park and then down past Horsetooth Reservoir on the way to the finish in Fort Collins. It was 115 miles with more than 11,000 feet of climbing and it was Day 6 for our group of amateur riders! They were tired. I was tired. And we knew it was going to be a real challenge to reach the finish line before being forced off the road. The crowds were incredible and gave our riders that “tunnel of noise” experience near the summits of the big climbs. But as we hit the short, steep climbs around Horsetooth Reservoir the vehicles of the advance caravan started coming by. The race was getting close and the team had to come together as a unit to maintain a tight and fast paceline to the finish. In the final 5 kilometers of the stage, the police were closing intersections immediately after Team CTS went through them, and the support crews in our vehicles were honking and banging on the outside of the doors to spur us on. The last time I experienced something like that was the last time I raced a team time trial as a pro! Everyone made it in, and there were a lot of high-fives at the team parking area. It wasn’t long before the pros rolled through the finish and the teams started filtering into the parking lot, trading high-fives and war stories just like our guys. 

Lasting Relationships

Bucket List Events develop friendships that last a long time, and the 2013 USAPCC Race Expereince is no different. Here are a few quotes from emails that have been going around within the team over the past few weeks:

“What a week… very few things come close to perfect, but being a part of our ‘Team #17’ pretty much makes it on my list.” – Heidi

“Each and every one of you had an impact on what I personally “brought back” from that week, and I will cherish the memories that were created with you, individually and collectively.” – Kurt

“This was the best trip yet for sure!  Such a great group of athletes and staff. Thanks to each one of you for being your special self and adding to the synergy of the group.” – Tiffany

“I LOVE MY BIKE! Thanks for making everything so fun. I miss our team, it is always this way whenever you are part of something really special.” – Bill

I hope you’ll join Team CTS later this year for either La Ruta or the Trans Andes Challenge, or for any of the 2014 CTS Bucket List Events. Check them out and apply to become “Bucket List Qualified”!

Have a Great Weekend,
Chris Carmichael
CEO/Head Coach
Carmichael Training Systems

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