By Athlete Ambassador (and camp helper), Katie Ozolins
Location: Carefree, AZ
Rides: 6 days
Kms: 460+ kms
Elevation: 13,100 – 19,250m
Accommodations: Carefree Resort
F&B: diverse and delish!
Who needs a beach when you’ve got a bike?!
Training camp is a great way to break up the winter and train with a group of fit and fabulous like-minded people! There are many reasons to head south in the bitter winter; amongst them: to continue to build your base miles, to build confidence, to hit the hills, or to learn more about skills and tactics. Rest and relaxation are a byproduct of the adventure!
The innagural ‘Hammer Powered’ Carefree Cycling Retreat kicked off on Friday March 6th with the arrival of the group at the Phoenix airport. We waited a while for the bike boxes and after my day-long delay of getting my bags and bike; Ryan and I were a tad worried that the guys wouldn’t get their bikes; but they did! Back to the Carefree resort to assemble the bikes, refuel and hit the road riding for a [light] spin out.
The week was packed with tons of good memories on the road and some valuable tips and tricks shared and practiced with the group such as:
- Body Position & Climbing: your body and weight play a large role in your ability to control your bike and preserve energy while climbing. When you get out of your saddle to stand, it’s key to keep you body/ chest low to avoid acting like a kite and catching the wind, keep your arms bent to allow for this and grip relaxed – focus on your breathing and try to get into a rhythm breathing in through your nose and out your mouth.
- Pedaling & Descending: coasting can cost you; don’t fall into the trap of coasting/ stop pedaling while riding downhill. It’s key to stay fluid, keep exercising (no, it’s not a respite) use higher cadence to keep your muscles warm and to avoid cramping when you hit another hill and have to hit the gears!
- Fueling & Flexibility: after a long ride when you’re away, it’s tempting to pack it in and put your feet up and grab a frothy drink to sip by the pool…not too fast though!! It’s important to finish off a ride with some stretching and rolling, as well as a recovery drink (i.e. Hammer’s Recoverite is fail-proof) or balanced meal of carbs and protein and lots of H2O to help your muscles kick start their recovery. After a few days of riding it’s normal to feel a bit gassed and sore; but to help delay the onset and maximize the next day’s ride; all rides should include a proper cool down and recovery.
It’s always great to practice some bike handling skills and drills when it’s the first time off the trainer (all winter) for many, and pack riding skills may be a bit rusty. S-turns around cones to simulate steering and reacting quickly to road-side debris, bumping wheels with other riders in a pace line and recovering calmly and, leaning into another rider and shoulder checking are all valuable skills that are great to run through.
The week included some epic rides:
- Carefree – Cave Creek and Scottsdale with a bit of a push for the first ride of the week. ROUTE
- New River – Time Trial-like stretches of fantastic pavement post biker bar (no not the ‘cyclist’ version; we looked a little out of place in our spandex next to the leather-clad bikers). ROUTE
- Bartlett Lake – great view descending and equally as great a 22km+ climb back to the top! ROUTE
- Fountain Hills – some punchy and pointy hills, great road conditions and a very scenic route to ride with sparkly neighbourhoods and terrain to traverse. ROUTE
- Tortilla Flat – gosh, what a great climb…up up up upupupupupup and away! Not sure what type of tortillas you eat, but this route was not flat but a great challenge and dynamic to keep you on your toes. ROUTE
- Prescott to Jerome – the prettiest little mountain town in the clouds; keeping the cadence on the Canadiana stretch of mountain. ROUTE
It wouldn’t be a rodeo without Bull riding, BBQ and Black Mountain! Between all the fun had on the bike there was plenty of time to explore the area and hike, run, and ride the bulls at the Buffalo Chip.
Undoubtedly a train-cation allows you to relax, explore and challenge yourself – mind and body. Get after it!
Our next Arizona camp will likely be a bikepacking adventure in March 2016, as part of our Spring training for the Great Divide Mountain Bike Tour. More info at www.greatdividetour.com ~Ryan