California Dreaming w/ Trek Factory Racing and Greg Callaghan
Pre-Season 'gainz' from across the pond.
Images and Words by
Moonhead Media. I’m not sure gee actually expected me to follow up on his suggestion when he half-seriously suggested I come out to Cali during one of their annual winter training camps.
Deep into the British Winter and Having just wrapped a cold day of shooting up at Dyfi Bike Park, the thought of So-Cal sun was an inviting one.
I’d been wanting to visit this particular area of the planet for as long as I could remember and I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass.
Rach and Athy would be absent this time around, leaving just Gee and new team member, Charlie Hatton, along with mechanic Joe and a slightly less expected, Greg Callaghan.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love suffering through the Irish winter as much as anyone. I do genuinely enjoy the muddy and cold riding. But, if I was to say I wasn’t excited at the thought of riding dusty tracks in the Californian sun with a couple of the fastest bike riders around, I’d be lying.”
And so it began.
Right off the plane, LightBro was a very welcome sight indeed.
We were staying near San Diego, in a little place named La Jolla... which by the way, is pronounced entirely different to how you see it spelled... as the locals soon made me aware.
Mission Beach, just a short ride from the accommodation... this is more like it.
It didn't take long to find the local wildlife.
Kinda cute... if it wasn't for the smell they'd probably make good pets.
Settled into the new crib, the dinner table quickly became the workshop of Trek mechanic, Joe Krejbich.
Arriving later than the rest of us, Greg had a lot of catching up to do... it didn't take him long to settle into the SoCal lifestyle.
"It was great to have Greg there with us and really interesting to see how his training was different, how hard he pushed, seeing him putting in so much definitely pushed the rest of us on." - Gee
"This was the first time that I’d been on a really structured training camp - always before if I’d gone away in winter it was all downhill riding - this was a lot more intense. I had a schedule from my trainer and we all had different sessions to do - in the gym, on the road bikes... but we worked really well together and everyone was pushing each other on." - Charlie
All loaded up on the V6 beast, the bikes were ready to get their first taste of dust in a long time.
Expecting vast dirt tracks like you see in the movies, I was surprised to find every track we rode was uplifted on car packed main roads, often double the size of anything we're used to in the UK.
The 'Murican trucks really just seemed to make a lot of noise more than anything and were far better suited to the trusty tarmac roads anyway!
As the trip progressed, observing his warm-ups it became apparent that Greg is a man of many shapes and forms.
"It's just so much easier to wake up every morning, jump out of bed and give each session 100% when you know it's going to be 25 degrees today." - Greg
A final glance back to safety before entering into Rattlesnake territory.
It didn't take long for riders to adapt to the new terrain and they were soon pushing back up to go bigger and better for the camera.
Clearly feeling comfortable on the new rig, Charlie continued to impress as the training camp progressed.
"As good as the rain, wind, short days and mud are for making you a better rider and all the character building that comes with it, it's hard to beat a bit of sun and fast riding." - Greg
"At the end of last season, I knew I was fit and strong enough, I was just missing some speed when things got faster. So, when Gee messaged asking if I wanted to go to a training camp with Charlie & himself to ride downhill on fast tracks and do some training together, it was perfect." - Greg
So childish aren't you Joe...
In a place that receives an average of 10 inches of rain per year, cleaning the bikes almost seemed a waste of water.
Riding bikes and chilling in the sun is a lot of fun... but we, or at least 'they' couldn't forget that this was a training camp.
Everybody's favorite... sprints!
"It was really interesting to see how people’s motivation levels changed over the week, one day when someone was a bit over it the others would push them on, then vice versa - there was a morning in the gym when Charlie was struggling, but next day the tables were turned!" - Gee
"We worked hard! But somehow it seemed more chilled because we were in America, it seemed way easier to train two sessions in the sun than it would have been back home. The riding was tough too - the tracks weren’t overly technical but they were so dry and loose, really physical." - Charlie
Opinion on sprints?
Being EWS AF... Greg decided it was only right he followed up the session with a road ride.
You couldn't get to Sprints location without passing this view... how convenient.
You gotta' arrive early if you wanna grab a place in the front row though.
Next up for riding wise, Lake Elsinore.
This was by far the most scenic track we went to.
Here's one way of prepping your body for a downhill session.
And here's another.
"I'm sure that's gotta' be a track too..."
After debates about how many different ways the track led, one extremely rutted piece of trail prevailed.
The brief open section up top quickly intensifies after the first few turns.
Dropping into a deep, bar scraper of a chasm.
I mentioned this being the most scenic track we visited, it was also by far one of gnarlier ones.
With rock hard, gravel-covered ground, putting trust in your tyres was a challenge in itself.
It also made for a lot of fun.
Fair play to the Greg though... as the tracks got tougher and rougher, the little bike didn't appear to hold him back.
"It was awesome for me to see just how committed you can come into sections and what you can make the bike handle. When you're watching these guys ride you kind of forget they're on different bikes and just try to replicate it." - Greg
"It was a great chance for me to also get a different perspective on approaching a track. Downhill riders and enduro riders have pretty different approaches to riding, generally." - Greg
To sum up Lake Elsinore in one word... "rutted".
The track finishes with a nice big sender... landing right into a bed of... more ruts!
With it being so close, it was only right to add 'Ride to Mexico' to the training camp itinerary.
30 miles... and several slices of pizza later, I could practically smell the burritos.
The border was within touching distance...
But the sun was setting quick... and with just a few digits of battery left on my phone and another 30 miles of riding between myself and La Jolla, my Mexico dreams had to be cut short.
It was way after dark when I arrived back into San Diego... and was it worth it? Absolutely.
Charlie had to fly home a few days earlier than the rest of us.
The final track we rode before he left and by far my favorite to ride and shoot, Crestline.
The patchy light scattered throughout the woods was a welcome visitor.
We got right into it, eager to make the most of it before the sun went behind the hill.
The light didn't hang around long... but it didn't stop Charlie laying it down for the camera.
Despite Charlie's most extensive scrubbing tuition...
I decided I'm probably better off sticking behind the lens.
When he wasn't laying it down, Charlie became designated GoPro squid as Gee got his time in front of the lens.
"There was a really relaxed feel to the camp and a different vibe to when it's me Dan and Rachel with a coach - we definitely got things done but there was a lot of riding and fun, meals out and days on the beach all mixed in to keep things fresh!" - Gee
Right before we left, the birds put on a celebratory show for us... sorry, Joe.
Obligatory Super-Moon stop on the drive home.
Of course, no training camp would be complete without a trip to the pain cave.
I should also probably mention that there was more than one gym session throughout the three-week camp... this just happened to be the only one I dragged myself along to.
"Mixing everyone’s training together kept things varied. It’s important to have a camp that's so different sometimes to keep it fun, keep it keen." - Gee
"Fortunately, our coach, Nick is really down with that and lets me change things up a lot - he knows that I’ll always put the effort in but these days it's less about numbers…" - Gee
"Getting the chance to come train with some fresh people for a different perspective on myself and the training I'm doing was brilliant for reigniting the fire to smash each and every session to the best of my ability." - Greg
"When you're with a group like that you want to perform for every session, no one wants to be the guy that's lifting the least in the gym or with the slowest time on the track, so it really pushes you on... especially when every time you go to the gym, someone has an idea for a new challenge. A push-up challenge, box jumps, who can sweat the most (I'm the undefeated champion in that category haha)."
"What torture has Kilmurray got laid out for me next..."
Shapeshifting Greg, at it again.
The trip was quickly drawing to an end... we couldn't leave Cali without a proper session on the beach.
The recent Superbowl game had inspired the boys to buy an American Football.
Steeze, on and off the bike.
Tom Brady, where you at?
Okay, so the skills might not have been there... but if one thing's for sure, they definitely weren't lacking the commitment.
Greg comes through with yet another shape.
Football? Completed it, mate.
Three weeks passed incredibly quickly and what better way to end the trip than with a night of Supercross.
Stay classy, San Diego.
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