The waves crashed along the rugged coastline, adding spray to the blowing rain and fog. I was soaked and cold as I stood behind the car, massaging coconut oil into my chain in the absence of lube, doing whatever I could to protect it from the elements that night.
We were parked off an old beach road North of San Francisco. It was stormy and four of us would be sleeping for the second night in a row in a Toyota Corolla. I couldn’t help but think to myself as I stood in the pouring rain pitifully attempting to protect my bike, that perhaps, this would not be suitable race preparation.
After team camp ended, three friends of mine from Winnipeg met me in Thousand Oaks, California, and we set out to drive North along the coast. I had a handful of days before my next race in Walla Walla, Washington, and couldn’t resist the opportunity to explore more of the world between where I was and where I needed to go.
The plan was to camp. I had been hauling my tent and sleeping bag, pots, pans and stove around to every race for the past month and a half, anticipating this journey. I had it all figured out: we would sleep in tents, and my bike would sleep next to me in the tent. I would ride a little each day, and if we went exploring, I’d put my bike in the backseat of the car under a blanket. This plan was foolproof, apart from my lack of consideration for inclement weather.
Of course, it rained all four nights we spent driving to Walla Walla. It was cold and wet and tents were not going to cut it. We opted to sleep in the car. Basically, just a pile of limbs in a foggy little car parked on quiet roads.
After spending the better part of 20 hours a day (sleep included) in the car for four days, I figured my legs would be pretty shot for Walla Walla. We arrived a day before the race which afforded me some time to ride and stretch the legs for a couple of hours. Surprisingly, my legs felt pretty good! Most importantly, so too did my mind! I was excited to race and felt recovered and fresh having had ample time to experience life off the bike after a big block of racing and riding in Cali.
The first three stages were okay. Most of my team was sick from a bug at camp though, so we just had two of us out there instead of the intended eight. My legs really started to come around on the third stage, a 90-minute crit, but racing in the cold rain took a toll on me. I was nearly hypothermic after the finish and desperately clambered into the team car with the heat on max. My teammate had to help me get my freezing skinsuit off as I had lost all dexterity and my violent shaking made the task impossible to do on my own. The bug from camp finally got to me that night and I was unable to race the following day.
I can’t confidently say whether living in a Corolla with three others is good for the legs. I can, however, say that I was quite pleasantly surprised by how I felt when I finally emerged from our safe haven on the fifth day. I figure I’ll have to try it again to know if it’s good race prep or not. Also, when in a pinch, coconut oil seems to protect bike chains (don’t quote me on that though).
Oliver Evans 20-year-old cyclist from Winnipeg, currently living in Victoria. In 2019, he will race with Trek Red Truck Racing.