This week’s blog entry comes from one of our returning riders, Taylor Warren. Based in sunny San Diego, CA, Taylor has been racking up the base miles for the past few months. But unlike many professional bike racers, Taylor takes a unique approach to these base miles by making destination trips out of his long rides into the desert. Most recently, this took the form of a camping trip to Joshua Tree National Park. Here is that experience, first-hand:

#SeekAndEnjoy

Joshua Tree National Park, CA

Feb. 9th, 2018

Taylor Warren

Driving will get you there, but you will miss specifics on the way. Walking is good for discovering the most details, but the amount of ground you can cover is not very compelling. But travel the world by the saddle of a bicycle, and you’ll discover the perfect proportion of time to details and make meaningful memories.

Life is one big adventure, and returning to The 303 Project for the 2018 race season is a dream come true. Our 2017 debut was highly successful, jam packed with not only a stellar list of top placings but adventures galore. That’s what cycling and racing is all about for me: the challenge is insurmountable, the competitive nature is great, but the glorious adventure is my favorite part.

As most are aware, base season is upon us and racers across the country are racking up the kilometers and kilojoules in preparation for the floggings our bodies go through on the road. I too am partaking in this annual tradition of laying down the foundation of fitness and doing my best that I can to physically prepare. Something new that has been a feature of my 2018 training regime is an attempt to incorporate my exploratory cravings into base training. I’m finding that like a glass of merlot accompanied with a thick slice of gouda, integrating training plans with camping trips is often a fine pairing. My most recent escapade was a point-to-point ride out to Joshua Tree National Park, which really made me realize how true all those clichés about life being “about the journey, not the destination” actually are.

It all started with a drop-off point in Temecula and a round of “good lucks.” Initally, the plan was a long endurance ride from Temecula over to Joshua Tree, camp out that night, then hitch a ride back the next day. Seemingly too simple, an early wrench was thrown into the script when my planned 8:30am departure was delayed by 90 minutes. At that point, not only did I have to cover 130 some odd miles with over 10k of climbing, but I had to do it while I raced the sun.

The first 40 miles started out pretty rough, with the bulk of the riding being uphill and into a headwind, not to mention flatting about 30 minutes in. I soldiered on though, because in reality I didn’t have a choice. For the majority of the training I do at home, there is almost always a bail-out point. If the legs aren’t there or something goes awry, I can usually call it early or a call a ride. This was totally different. I just had to put my head down and get there, hopefully before it got too dark. Pushing onward, I was rewarded with a glorious view after cruising through the San Jacinto mountain range with alpine and rocks giving way to a vast desert and Joshua Tree looming in the distance. Once securely in Palm Desert, I was able to restock food and water, and reassess my condition, only to realize that I had very little time left. One last push to get through the desert, then the terrain began to change once again. I was on the final stretch.

At this point, I was over five hours in and had only 35 miles left, but alas most of them were uphill. I continued up and up. About 30 minutes until sunset, I finally reached the front gate of Joshua Tree National Park. I had made it. Except for the important detail that our campsite was about 17 miles into the park! I was almost there, now six hours in, hurting both physically and mentally.  I was ready to climb off my machine. After sucking down the last of my ride food, some energy came back to me. I dropped the power down to cruise mode, pushed on and finally connected with my friends at the campsite. Wow, I’ll never do that again… for at least a week. Many brats and s’mores were shortly scuffed down as I reflected on my journey.

Seven hours alone on the bike is a long time and thus, offers a lot of time to think. It made me think of how grateful I am to live this life. Even as the mental anguish crept through, I cherished every moment. Because it was an adventure. I can’t wait for all the adventures I am sure to encounter with the 303 Project boys this year. Bring it on!

— 303 Project Rider, Taylor Warren