By Allison Vroman
For people who know Freddie Bexell, the Ride for Nature route director, they might think this is just his “To Do” list for any given day.
Of course, like most others who live in Door County, the ubiquitous “Work.” would be sandwiched somewhere in the middle, but from Feb. 18 – 26 Bexell will take a vacation from his job as the kitchen manager at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant and head to Solvang, California where those four words – Trek Travel’s Ride Camp mantra – will define his week.
“I wanted to do something different this winter, something challenging,” said Bexell. “I found this trip and thought it was a perfect way to escape the Wisconsin winter. Plus, I’m too busy in the summer to fit this kind of riding into my schedule.”
The intensive, seven-day trip is all-inclusive, with accommodations at the Hadsten House Inn boutique hotel in the heart of Solvang, breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as two guides, a support vehicle during rides, and the use of a Trek Madone 5.2 road bike. The European-style concept provides all of the essentials, allowing riders to enjoy an affordable bike vacation.
“Other Trek Travel trips enhance the culture more and include more activities,” said Kari Kruckow, trip consultant for Trek Travel, “whereas the Ride Camps just focus on riding and getting you ready for whatever that next thing may be for you, whether riding for the season, a marathon, or an Avid trip with us. The point is [for riders] to return from the trip better than they started.”
Trek Travel offers its Ride Camps in the spring and fall in Solvang and Mallorca, Spain – both popular locations for professional cyclists to train. Bexell, originally from Osterbymo, Sweden, has visited Solvang before.
“It’s a Danish community, and being from Sweden, Solvang kind of reminds me of home,” said Bexell. “The surrounding area – the nature of it – is beautiful. It’s a small little town with very friendly people and nice quiet back roads.”
Another aspect of the trip that he is looking forward to is the varied terrain, including the challenge of powering up mountain passes.
“I’m hoping to improve my climbing – even though I know you can’t improve that much in just a week – but we obviously don’t have that type of climbing in Door County,” said Bexell.
“Solvang specifically offers a lot of great climbing,” Kruckow said. “Each day we add on more mileage and elevation. The first day is 20 to 30 miles, 1,800 feet in elevation, and by the longest day, they’re doing about 75 to 90 miles and climbing about 10,000 feet.”
A few highlights include an out-and-back trip to Jalama Beach along the Pacific Ocean, as well as an undulating ride through Drum Canyon to Cat Canyon to Foxen Canyon, offering up killer views of Santa Ynez County. The pinnacle of the trip is the classic ascent of Mount Figueroa, known as “The Fig,” followed by a 16-mile descent.
Bexell has used the power-based, indoor cycling classes that he instructs six days a week at Nor Door Sport & Cyclery as his training to get ready for Ride Camp, but he’s looking forward to the role reversal, having guides tell him what to do.
“It’s nice to not have to do the research about where to go to ride,” he said. “It’s going to be really nice to have someone who can show me where to go and tell me ‘This is a great road.’ Someone who can tell me ‘We’re going to ride X amount of miles today.’”
“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to just focus on riding,” Bexell continued. And, for those who know him, they certainly wouldn’t be surprised to learn if he modified Trek’s mantra just a bit, something a little more like: “Ride. Eat. Ride. Sleep. Repeat.”