Happy Camper.

Back when I was simply a horrible alpine ski racer, I used to spend a lot of money going to ski camps at various resorts. Package deals that included lodging, coaching, dedicated hill-space for courses...  it's kinda the only real option for intense, focused training. At a certain point, the best training for running gates is... running gates. That's how you develop and refine the specific timing and techniques. It's not like you can set a practice giant slalom race around an office park every Tuesday night, so you are left with ski clubs and other programs to gather enough of you nut-jobs together to make the price only slightly astronomical. It's not a sport for the 99%. When you want to get even more deranged, you travel to ski camps where a whole 'nother set of elite-level coaches resist the urge to tell you how much you suck.
 
With the expenses that accompany a family of six, I don't have that sort of free cash floating around these days. My jet-set, ski racer dream is pretty much dead. That's fine, because I get to ski with my daughter, and she hasn't reached the stage in her skiing development to realize that daddy is a crappy skier. Won't be long.
 
What brought this to mind was Wanky's post on Trek Travel.
 
I would be lying if I said I didn't look at the brochures and dream of going to the pictured places to ride fantastic roads and eat incredible food. I've come close to doing it. What stops me? Mainly resources. On the one hand, I could have a great experience in an exotic cycling destination like Mallorca or Tuscany. On the other, my family could eat that year. On the surface, it seems like a no-brainer, but my family emits this persistent whine when I don't feed them, which would interfere with the positive mental state such a trip would create.  
 
I've thought about dirt-bagging it one spring to a more temperate climate in the Lower 48 for a self-guided training camp, but even there the math doesn't always work in my favor. Chances are, if I go someplace nice, the whole family is going to want to tag along. They're probably also not going to be satisfied with sleeping in a van down by the river. They will probably want to eat. All of this incurs additional expense. What's worse, they will likely want me to do things with them after I get back from a five-hour ride, when I should be doing nothing but eating and sleeping.
 
One of these days I'm going to do it, though. Not just a few rides squeezed in around a business trip or family vacation, but an honest-to-goodness cycling trip. Maybe a stage race or other adventure that will have the added benefit of providing me with new people to humiliate me on the bike.
 
Until then, the pictures sure do look Purdy.

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