Here is how the week broke down for all of us in Tucson: Sunday: Campers arrive throughout the day. No organized training, but some folks snuck out for a run or spin before dinner.
Half the camp woke up early to get in a swim before the day's ride. The other half organized themselves for a 7:45 a.m. roll out (the early swim group rolled at 9:00 a.m.). The Monday route was an out-and-back to Madera Canyon. It begins with a false flat on Mission Road for the first 50K, then meanders through Green Valley, AZ before turning towards the Madera Canyon Park. From there the ride begins to climb gradually for 7 miles before hitting a a steep 5K climb to the turnaround. Then you go back the same way you came.
I was not along for this ride as I had some work to do at the Camp HQ, but it seemed as though everyone had a good ride. I took a group of athletes, that rolled out at 7:45, to the pool for an easy 2-3K recovery swim in the late afternoon.
Mt Lemmon Day. We all piled in the vans and drove across town to Udall Park for Day Two (Udall Park sits about 5-6 miles from the Mile ZERO marker of MT Lemmon). We had a neutral roll out to the base of the climb, regrouped for photos and drinks, and then embarked on an epic 21-mile climb topping out just over 8000 feet. The time to the top varied for each athlete, but everyone made their way up there (this is a serious climb whether you are from Colorado or the Gulf Coast flatlands).
From there the athletes descended back down to Udall park for a quick transition run. We had lunch in the park following the T run and then headed to Catalina pool for a 2-3K recovery swim.
The last two days were clearly felt by everyone attending the camp. We purposely designed the camp to begin with two big days to allow folks to get a challenging overload early on. I think one of the greatest lessons learned with this combo is that nearly everyone looks back to day one and concludes that they might have ridden a little two hard. Its only natural to see this within a group setting where everyone is fresh/rested, highly motivated, and (mostly) unaware of each other's strengths.
At any rate;
We started today with an early morning swim at Archer Pool. My lane had a main set of 20 x 100 with varying pace changes (written for DiMarco). We finished up around 3.5K total then headed down for breakfast before our 9:30 roll out.
Wednesday offered two ride options: One of 40K and one of 40+ miles. The 40K route went up and over both side of Gates Pass (not exactly 'easy' but not long). The longer route went over the east side of Gates Pass, headed North on Sandoria Road, East on Twin Peaks, and South to our starting point on Silverbell Rd.
The 40-mile crew practiced some team time trialing tactics after summiting Gates Pass and regrouping on the west side. I divided the campers into two groups with a mixture of ability levels. The first group went off with a one-minute gap on the second group. The object here was to hold off Group 2 until the end of the road, but neither group was allowed to drop any of its members. This forces everyone to think and to use their stronger riders appropriately without overworking the less-powerful riders.
Afer regrouping we headed back to the Hotel at a friendly pace. Some folks opted for a run off the bike while others opted for a nap.
Today began early with a Sunrise run on the Star Pass trail on the west side of town. Most campers ran an easy 40-50 minutes before heading back to the Hotel for breakfast. Following breakfast we piled in the vans and headed to the Oro Valley Pool; North of Tucson. The campers were faced with a challenging swim set of:
5 x 500 (mixture of paddles and swimming) 4 x 400 descending 3 x 300 mix 2 x 200 (first easy, 2nd IM) 1 x 100 choice
After the swim everyone had a quick lunch and got their bikes ready for the 50-mile trek home. This ride was primarily flat for the first 35 miles. It then moved to some rolling terrain before finishing with a summit over the west side of Gates Pass. The purpose of today is to give people a clear insight into how swim fatigue can affect your cycling ability (especially in the first hour).
Today was the Long run day. We headed to the far east side of town to run on the Cactus Forest trail in the Saquaro East Park of Tucson. The route climbs gently for about 5.5 miles with some rolling terrain on the far end. Since this was a cycling-focused camp, most campers opted for running in the vicinity of 75-90 minutes with varying intensity levels depending on each person's ability level.
Following the swim we headed back to the Oro Valley pool for a 3K+ swim. Then it was back to hotel to rest up for the last day.
Today was the biggest, and most challenging, day of the entire camp. The route broke down as: 40-miles flat to false flat, 12 mile climb @ 8%, descend 12 miles, then ride the 40 miles back to the starting point.
We had a pretty significant headwind to start the day so most people worked together in two distinct groups to shield the wind and keep the pace rolling. Once we arrived at the base of the climb we refueled and went out on one of the best climbs in Arizona. Kitt Peak does not see heavy cycling volume because of its distance from town, but its definitely worth the journey from time to time. After summiting and descending we headed back at a very fast clip. We split 2:15 to the base of the climb on the way out and 1:34 on the return. What a difference the wind direction can make.
We tried to arrange a week of training that challenged everyone in different ways each day. Most importantly, we hoped to provide a fun atmosphere that allowed everyone to simultaneously bump up their fitness levels as we head into the North American season.
Until next year,