At Princeton, the cycling club has always been one of my strongest communities, fostering many of my closest friendships. Since Freshman year, I have watched this club grow and extend incredible opportunities to our Princeton cyclists. This winter, we club leaders set our sights on one of the biggest projects we could undertake: winter training camp in my hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona.
In preparation for welcoming and hosting nine hungry cyclists in our home, my parents and I meticulously stocked up on groceries, linens, and other necessities. Our garage was transformed into a storage room for the plethora of bicycles coming in and out of the house every day. Together, we formulated an agenda that would allow the cyclists to experience all of Arizona’s greatest hits, both in terms of rides and non-cycling activities. We cleverly dubbed the winter training camp “Aerozona” (a pun playing on the aerodynamic features of cycling), and by January 14th, the cyclists were arriving with their comically large bike boxes.
Cyclists were split into two groups based on experience level. Group A would ride around 100 miles each day, whereas Group B rode about 60 miles daily. Following the team, I documented the rides with several pictures. The cycling routes showcased some of Arizona’s best mountain climbs and involved training workshops for our upcoming bike races this Spring. In addition, we filled our time with numerous team bonding activities. During camp, we explored one of Arizona’s most famous ghost towns, completed a service project packing food, enjoyed a stunning hike in the red rock country of Sedona, cheered for the Phoenix Suns in a thrilling basketball game, and attended a classic western rodeo. Over the week-long experience, I felt myself growing closer to my peers in this wonderful community that we have built.
There is something so gratifying in sharing your home with your friends. Whether people had traveled from as close as California, or as far as India, I felt truly lucky to introduce my friends to a little piece of Arizona. Coming from the west, I had always wondered how different Princeton would feel from home. In bringing my friends home, I’ve gained newfound appreciation for these differences and embraced the opportunity to provide my club with a different cycling terrain. Amongst the numerous inside jokes we had formed and the many grams of sugar consumed (yes, cyclists were mixing pure sugar into their water bottles for quick energy), I count myself extremely lucky to have found my people here in college. To pull off such an elaborate itinerary would not have been possible without the resources at Princeton, the support from my family, and the enthusiastic spirits of my peers. As I reflect on the company and experiences I have been able to enjoy, I know that cycling club will be one of my fondest college memories!