“Houshang has great knowledge of cycling and what it takes to get to the top!”
- Seamus McGrath
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January Camp Kicks Off 2011 for PCC Athletes

January 26, 2011

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PCC camp features spectacular terrain

Pacific Cycling Centre’s third camp of the 2010-2011 season took place from January 20-23. The camp consisted of long endurance rides, technical ITT’s and a gym session. We asked four athletes to give an overview of each day — thanks to Xterra World Champion Melanie McQuaid, Olympian Erinne Willock, and PCC athletes Annie Ewart and Tyler Trace for their reports.

Day #1 — Annie Ewart
The first day of camp kicked off as usual with two time trials — one up Willis Point followed by the 11km loop around Lands End. As opposed to the December camp it looked as if we were going to have a dry and slightly sunny first day, but as 10 o’clock rolled around so did the grey clouds. We made our way out to Willis Point to start the first time trial and we were fortunate enough to have a dry ride. The gruelling Willis Point time trial went well for most, as there were many improvements, which was great to see that everything was moving in the right direction.

Of course, it would not be a January day without a bit of rain, so as we spun out to Lands End it started spitting, and since it was only 4 or 5 degrees out we all got quite cold. Anyway, nobody was complaining because the conditions were one hundred times better than when we had done the time trial in December. The time trial went well until I realized that I had to be in English class in an hour, so unfortunately I had to do a “third” time trial cycling home, so that I could be in my desk on time. I assure you that I was only a few minutes late, but had not missed anything! All in all, the first day of camp was a success, and it was great to see that everyone is making big improvements

Day #2 — Melanie McQuaid
The morning of our second day greeted us with sheets of pouring rain. If I hadn't known that every other person in the camp was going to show up for the ride I probably would have decided that Friday was a good day for running trails rather than riding on the roads. We are definitely a hardy bunch.

The focus on day two was team time trial intervals with two main objectives from the training. The first was to give the younger or newer road athletes more experience riding in an echelon with some speed, and to learn the dynamics of the exchange. The second objective, which was universally beneficial regardless of your sport, was to increase aerobic fitness by injecting some higher intensity training into our long rides. The efforts were still 80% and less, so nothing anaerobic, but enough to make the 4-4.5 hours of riding of high quality in rolling terrain.
The athletes were grouped according to their present fitness for the intervals. I was fortunate to be in a group with Erinne, who is in fantastic shape this January in preparation for early season racing. Riding with her was challenging me to rise to her level as we have always had a friendly competitiveness in training that benefits us both. We had a group of four with strong partners in Michael, Annie and Nicole so the group rode consistently fast for the three 12km efforts. During the short rest after each effort we would discuss the dynamics on how to make the group faster.

Lucky for us the rain stopped thirty minutes into the ride (we were already soaked, of course) so by the time we got to work the sun had decided to peek out and we finished the workout and the ride in reasonably good weather. Everyone had fenders and rain gear so despite what looked like a terrible day for riding at the beginning, we were warm and comfortable by the end. Our bikes, on the other hand, looked far worse than we did when we finished.

For both Steve-O and I, the triathletes in the group, having the opportunity to ride with strong road athletes at a strong pace at this time was a great boost to our fitness in light of the half-Ironman races we have scheduled for early in the season. After the ride it was time for some strength training with a workout scheduled in the gym for the majority of the group. Keeping in mind the volume planned for the weekend, the workout was focused mainly on core strength and flexibility with some handball to flush out any leftover energy from the day. Then a quiet evening thinking about the journey to Duncan the following day was scheduled for everyone.

Day #3 - Erinne Willock
In Victoria we have to take huge advantage of our clear days. Saturday and day #3 of our January training camp was one of those days! NO RAIN! So we headed to Duncan which is a small town up island. Eleven of us met at the Pacific Cycling Centre offices at 10am and started the big day of training. It would be about 165km and 5.5 hours. Lots of climbing, rolling hills and big descents, with a coffee shop stop half way through of course.

The ride starts by going through Langford and then we hit the base of the Malahat which is a 20min hard climb up island. Of course with a big day like this in the works it’s hard to keep everyone together. Considering pee stops, mechanicals and the unavoidable punctures we have to keep a look out for each other and try to regroup often. Out here in the winter, the bike lanes and pull-overs are unfortunately filled with gravel and debris so it’s hard to avoid flats which on Saturday we had more than our fair share. Anyhow, we re-grouped after the climb and descended into Shawnigan, and then we completed a lap of the lake before heading to Cobble Hill. With more flat tires, Houshang was working hard changing wheels and motor pacing people back onto the group. We eventually reached Duncan at 3.5 hours and enjoyed our hot coffees and treats.

With everyone re-fuelled, we went on our way again. There is a big climb on the way home that we did a little effort on at 85%. After this many miles our legs were starting to burn and feel like lead bricks, but the job got done and at the top of the hill it’s (almost) all downhill home. And except for more flats it was fast and easy home.

We finished off a huge day of training, (probably one of the biggest days of the year for many of us). We were lucky to stay dry!!! I enjoyed a huge serving of a quinoa and smoked salmon when I got home, and then I think I continue going from couch to fridge and back to couch for the rest of the night.

Day #4 — Tyler Trace
It was great to ride with the PCC group for the January camp. Having a solid group helps keep you motivated through tired legs and poor weather. The last day of the camp was particularly tough. I was exhausted after the six-hour ride on Saturday and struggled through hill repeats on the Sunday. During the hill repeats we all work on our climbing techniques and efficiency while keep the intensity at ~85% of MAP. Houshang was on side providing us with instant feedback and adjusting the intensity depending on how we were feeling. After six repeats we had about one hour of climbing all together. We regrouped after the workout and did 54min of easy spin. We were lucky as the weather stayed dry at around 7-8C.

We all thought it was a great training camp with Houshang giving us full support - I find Houshang's camps to be the best way to prepare for the upcoming season.

Registration is now open for Pacific Cycling’s Centre’s Spring Training Camp which will be held from March 14 — 19, 2011. For more details go to: www.pacificcyclingcentre.ca/camps/default.html

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