Winter Training Trip Recap – By Rookie Rob

Well, after over 400 miles, 1 hard-fought game of football, several wrestling matches, and 6 awesome days, #BKBwtt2017 is in the books. I’d been hearing legends about the winter break trip since I first reached out to BKB last February about joining, and it’s safe to say it has lived up to the hype. It was a long week but a great week of hard training and getting closer as a team.

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2017 BKB (L-R) Back Row: Michael Chettleburgh, Noah Voyles, Will Ottenweller, Kevin Mangel, Charlie Hammon, Xavier Martinez, Front Row: Jay Rosati, Carter Conaway, Rob Mathioudakis

Saturday- After getting back to Bloomington last night, Jay (my fellow rookie) and I did a quick indoor ride at Charlie, Mike, and Noah’s house. Like good rookies, we stayed up all night, practicing our dish washing until our fingers were pruned and hands were rubbed raw. After a few short hours of sleep, we drove back to the house and got ready to go. Jay, Xavier, and I all got thrown in with Carter (my other fellow rookie) as he listened to loud trap music at 6:30 in the morning. After stopping to get breakfast, Cartio (Carter’s alter-ego rap name) exposed us to a whole new world of real music, as he played us his mixtape from his senior year of high school. 2 car naps and 1 gas stop later, we stopped outside of Birmingham for some classic Southern food- Whataburger. It’s no Burger King, but the spicy ketchup was a game changer. Jay took over the wheel in Mike’s car and after a few near-death experiences, we arrived safely in Gulf Shores, where it was 70° outside #blessed.

Sunday- Very shortly after waking up, us rookies were quickly put to the test today. Our drawing skills were evaluated as we made our famous rookie t-shirts. Chef Mis made some bomb breakfast sandwiches, and the whole squad (alumni included) rolled out for a quick exploring/shake out ride down to Fort Morgan and back. We even got to have an interaction with some Alabama natives as they threw a Polar Pop cup at us! Southern hospitality! Weather is incredible—sunny and 73 outside. Can’t complain about that at all. After getting back and hanging out for a while, some of us went down to the beach for some pre-intramural football smack talk and muscle flexing. After playing a few games of 500, it was clear that Team Mike (Dirty Mike & the Boys) are the clear favorites for intramural football, despite what Charlie and others may say.

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Monday- For the past 2-3 weeks, CRs (current riders) and alumni have been creating comments on my training plan, warning me about how bad I was going to get crushed on winter break and how they couldn’t wait to rip my legs off. I had dismissed it as some scrubby frat hazing attempt just trying to get in my head. I was quickly proven wrong. For the next 3 hours I did the hardest workout I had done to this point in my cycling career. The workout finished not a minute too soon, as it started to storm hard almost the minute we got back. Chef Mis whipped up an awesome dinner, and we all just hung out, watched the Bachelor, and had some chill bro time tonight. I’m starting to get the feeling that some of these rides are going to suck, but I’m having a great time hanging out with the CRs and alums. I’ve learned a lot about BKB and Little 5 so far, and am looking forward to the rest of the week.

Tuesday- I woke up today exhausted from yesterday. But, the best thing for recovery is to go out and do your longest ride ever right? We set out early this morning after breakfast and got back just in time to see the sunset. The route was beautiful and we got to explore parts of both Florida and Alabama, as well as ride on some great roads. I bonked several times but was saved by the Oasis- a giant gas station/Subway where we took a much needed food and water break. Distinguished alum and team back cracker Spencer Brauchla joined us on our ride for the last part as emotional support and rookie train puller. He saved the day once again when he had a crock pot full of chili waiting for us when we got back from our ride. I ended today tired and pooped. Really looking forward to tomorrow’s chill day to give my legs a break.

Wednesday- Today was a much needed rest day. We did a pretty chill ride to loosen the legs up after the last few days. Sadly I still got my ass kicked on the recovery day by both the current riders and alums. After we got back from the ride, I was the designated rookie to help Coach Val help the CRs motorpace. Being diligent to check the road for cops before we started, the CRs competed to see how fast they could go in our draft. Kinda bummed rookies weren’t doing it, but whatever. My main priority was to save my energy to win in intramural football after this. When everyone was back and recovered, we went down to the beach for some intramural football and a nice sunset. Unfortunately for Dirty Mike & the Boys, we were not able to secure the win in football. Sunsets like this make the loss sting a little less though.

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Thursday- Today, I woke up still tired from the week, but optimistic about not getting too destroyed on today’s ride. Surprisingly, I felt great all day and ended up still pulling as we got back into Gulf Shores – major confidence boost there going into the final day of the trip. Finally figuring out just how much I need to eat on rides after bonking earlier this week. The route today was awesome- we got to see some super nice houses and even took a classic southern red dirt road for about a mile. We spent tonight watching Harry Potter on ABC family and talking trash for one last day of riding and the intramural events yet to come.

Friday– Well, today’s the last day of the training trip. Everyone’s been looking forward to today’s ride and beach wrestling all week and the amount of trash talking reflected that. Being an overconfident rookie, I was sure it was just razzing and it was going to be fine. I pulled hard at the start of the ride but wasn’t long until I found myself off the back and regretting talking so much crap all week. We finished the ride and went back to our house to shower, eat, and rest up for later. I’d been looking forward to Friday night all week – tonight is full of beach wrestling and shenanigans and us rookies, having made it through winter break, were officially BKBs. After a week of hard training, being able to cut loose and bro out with everyone was the one of the best nights I’ve had since coming to IU.

While this week was the hardest week of riding I had ever done, I had a great time getting to learn more about BKB, hang out with some of the alumni and the current riders, and get closer with my fellow rookies by washing dishes. This whole week has me incredibly excited for all the Little 5 events this spring and for the rest of the 3 years I have as part of this team. #BKBwtt2017

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