“I have been working with Houshang Amiri since 2003. During this time I have won nine National titles.”
- Brian Cowie
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Weather challenges another successful Winter Camp

December 15, 2010

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Coach Amiri gives some pre-ride tips



Pacific Cycling Centre’s second camp of the 2010-2011 season was a great success, despite the challenging weather conditions. The camp — from December 9 — 12 — 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 Erinne Willock, Nik Vogler, Spencer Smitheman, and Annie Ewart for their reports.

Day #1 — Erinne Willock
I realized this past week that it wasn’t November anymore. In one way it was sad that my time off the bike and off ‘structured training’ had come to an end, but also exciting knowing that another year is on its way, and the winter months ahead are time to get stronger and faster for next season. The camps take place once a month during the winter and this is when we do our biggest volume of training. They are a great way to do our 4-hour rides with company, and we also get the benefit of a disciplined training group with similar goals.

The first day of the camp was the start of the first BIG week of the year for me. I’d been riding, running or hiking for the last little bit but now the time had come to get a little serious. So Thursday morning I showed up at the Pacific Cycling Centre offices in Victoria, and met up with Houshang and about 10 other riders. Houshang follows all the riders with a car to provide spare wheels and feedback to us throughout the camp.

As usual, we started the first day of the camp with two time trials. The first TT was a 4.5km uphill and the second was a rolling course of about 11km. Most of us have now done these TTs several times or more and we use them to gauge our fitness against other years on the same course. The new riders this year will compare their December times to their November times. Of course weather is a factor and this Thursday was no exception. The hill-climb was relatively dry and warm and therefore the times were good. I was actually really happy as mine was one of the fastest I’ve had in awhile at this same time of year. One of the reasons was that I had a good rabbit to chase in Annie Ewart. She’s the new junior rider training with Houshang and she’s showing great potential and is really strong. I almost caught her, but not quite. My goals although are also different. Last year I wanted to start my season slow and be in top form at the end of the season since I had the Commonwealth Games in October. This year, I want to start the season with better form since I’ll be hoping to go to Europe in the spring and then as much of a shocker it may seem, the Olympic selections will start this June 1st. Yikes!!!

After the hill-climb the group rode around to the location of the next TT. There were BIG clouds in the sky and then just before Houshang sent us off, a torrential downpour started. We froze and the roads were drenched, unfortunately resulting in some slower times. So after the TT we bundled up and headed home as quickly as possible. We still got in nearly 100km, some over 120km, and a great ride with two hard efforts. Everybody got their times, saw their fitness levels and got feedback from Houshang.

Day #2 — Nik Vogler
People that were taking part in the camp started milling in through the PCC doors ten to fifteen minutes before our 10 am start time. The plan for the day was 3-4 hour ride for women and a 4.5 hour ride for men and a hard endurance ride, which was expected. Our destination was Happy Valley Road. Once we got there we did a quick regroup before we started. What stood out for me about this ride was the steady but hard pace, the rolling terrain, cycling like mad to keep what remained of the group in sight. We rode our own pace to get the maximum benefit from the ride, as Houshang had instructed. After about an hour and a half, and after our group caught the front group Rob Britton lead the way to the top of Matheson. This was a ten to twelve minute climb, and let me assure you, it was MOSTLY steep! I think that at this point I went into autopilot mode because I remember there being just a few more up hills, and some fast flats as we headed back and did a final regroup in Langford.

At the end of the day I felt I rode hard and had a good ride, having benefitting from riding in the group with Olympians and pro riders, and seeing what it takes to take it to the next level. The pace had been grueling, but I'd gained a fond appreciation for "Happy" Valley and had been pushed to ride at a whole new level...and now, the only thing to look forward to is a dynamic strength gym session with lots of lunges and core work led by Houshang.

Day #3 — Spencer Smitheman
Day 3 brought in the rain clouds, meaning we would stay on the Saanich Peninsula. The loop is one that PCC athletes know well, but that did not take away from the intensity. We kept a high pace while rolling through Sidney and out to Land's End, adding sprint and cadence work on the rolling loops at the tip of the peninsula. It became obvious there were some sore legs and tired bodies at this point in the camp. Friday's combined ride and gym session were alone enough to do this, but many athletes were also preparing for exams, adding sleep deprivation as another factor to deal with. From Land's End, our group went to the challenging, yet rather hidden Panorama climb. After tackling this steep medium sized climb, we continued the ride through Central Saanich on a roundabout way back to Victoria.

Despite the ever-present threat of downpour, the rain held off until late in the ride. Our ride quickly began to draw to a close and a group of us splintered off to climb Willis Point. As we rode the front side, the rain began to fall harder. By the time we had descended the other side, the storm had settled in. The back side of Willis Point is steep and unrelenting and proved a worthy challenge at the end of the day. We regrouped on the descent, but the ride was soon over and we rode our respective ways home.

Day #4 — Annie Ewart
I woke up to rainfall warnings Sunday morning for the 4th and final day of the camp - but rain or shine, training goes on. As Houshang later told us before we started the ride “it doesn’t matter what is happening on the outside, the inside always remains the same,” meaning that it doesn’t matter what is going on around us because our goals and preparation towards those goals stay the same. So, I decided that I was going to be well prepared for the weather because I didn’t want to get cold and too wet, so I put on my heavy duty bright yellow rain jacket, plastic bags on my feet, and (to top it off) vibrant rubber gloves on my hands. I pretty much looked like a rubber ducky, but I didn’t care what I looked like because I was warm and I was not going to get wet!

As I left for the ride at 9:30 to get to Commonwealth at 10am sharp, the rain lessened, but the dark clouds in the sky did not look promising, so I was still happy with my decision. However, it never fails that on the days when you are prepared for the worst of weather it turns out to be a great day when you need half the clothes that you are wearing. We made our way out towards Land’s End to get a longer warm up before we made our way to face Dean Park for intervals of the short but relatively steep climb. And so we started our intervals up Dean Park - 4 times for the girls and five times for the guys. Lasting approximately 5 mins from the bottom to the top, we finished up our intervals still showing smiles on our faces as we finished off another successful camp.

Although, the rain never did come down during the ride, I did stay very warm and of course wearing the rubber gloves on my hands left them prune-like when I got home. All in all, it was another great camp with great people and really good training. Thank you again, Houshang for all of your support and advice during this second training camp of the season.

Camp #3 will be from January 20-23, 2011 and is now open for registration — for more details go to: www.pacificcyclingcentre.ca/camps/default.html


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