As the cliff swallows flock to San Juan Capistrano, UCI Continental cycling teams return to Ventura County for annual 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, Axeon Hagens Berman team, United Healthcare team and the men and women’s Canadian National Teams.
Ventura County has some advantages as a base for winter cycling training beyond just the mild weather in Southern California. There is easy access to the Santa Monica Mountains, Topa Topa Mountains and the Santa Ynez Mountains in Santa Barbara County for hill climbing training that 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 Stage3 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. They stay in the house together for the length of the training camp as a team building exercise where the current team and new members get to know each other to enhance team communications for the upcoming seasons.
I’ve seen the support vehicles on my way to work, 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 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 Axeon Team took their team photo out by Mugu Rock three weeks ago, and a few years ago United Healthcare shot the team commercial on the roads above Santa Barbara. 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 offseason for Southern California cyclists.
Amazon Author Website: