First of all, I have been slacking on the blog posting train. Sometimes life gets in the way, and that’s okay…. finally I’m back!
Today I’m finally talking about my training camp in VERMONT a few weeks ago, that totally changed me as a cyclist!
Camp was located a three hours drive north of my home in Mass to Sugarbush Resort in Warren, Vermont. The thing that’s really cool about living in New England (and something I take for granted) is that you can be in a different state, with completely different landscapes within a few hours drive. I am very lucky to have both the ocean and the mountains right at my disposal. I have never really spent a lot of time in VT, so I was happy to get the chance to spend a weekend up there. I was reminded of why it’s called the ‘Green Mountain State’…. all I could see for hundreds of miles was green:)
Each of our bike rides passed through the Green Mountain National Forest (just gorgeous). We rode by several farms, cattle pastures, maple syrup stands, country homes… it was quintessential Vermont. It’s hard to put into words, or even into photos what I experienced during my hundreds of miles of riding in VT. You really have to go there to experience it for yourself! Oh and I should mention there are HILLS, LOTS of HILLS. Hills so steep I couldn’t believe it! If you want hill training for an Ironman, go to Vermont, your power meter will thank you.
288 miles biked with 25,000 Feet total elevation gain.
Some hilly running miles
& 5,000 yards of swimming
Day 1: Thursday
103 Mile Ride
App Gap, Middlebury Gap
10 Minute Recovery Run
Day 2: Friday
Swim 3,000 yards
Bike 85 Miles
Run 30 minutes
Day 3: Saturday
Swim 2,000 yards
Bike 100 miles
App Gap, Brandon Gap, Rochester Gap
Day 4: Sunday
Rainy Day gym workout with plyos!
I was joined at training camp by Coach Jorge and some of my Age Group Elite Teammates i.e. fast cyclists, swimmers and runners. This group included the speedy Czech Chick AKA my friend Jana, who I tried to keep up with all weekend! There were about 6-8 of us on any given day, a great mix of people!
Each day started with a swim in the beautiful outdoor pool at Sugarbush.
Next up after swimming, a big breakfast (all the pancakes!) and then time to digest while getting our bikes ready to go. Digested or not (ha) it was time to ride for 5-6 (hilly) hours followed by a run.
After our long bike ride, we were all exhausted and it was time to eat ALL THE FOOD before hanging out and relaxing before bed. There were lots of laughs plenty of team bonding. I LOVED training camp!!
Training camp in Vermont made me not only fall love with biking but understand biking more than ever before.
What I learned at camp:
Spinning my wheels like a hummingbird (cadence 95-100 RPM), is NOT the most efficient way to cycle. Still working on this, but getting closer. Most of my rides were dialed in at 85-90 RPMs.
Cornering while going down hill is still scary, but I learned better technique. Clenching my breaks and upper body only makes it less safe. During camp I got to practice being more relaxed going downhill and cornering. One of the tips I learned was not to break on the corner, but just before, and most importantly, to relax the body as much as possible.
I realized that I wasn’t working hard enough (before) attending camp. I wasn’t feeling that burn in my quads, I was just ‘comfortably’ riding. “So this is supposed to be uncomfortable?’ Similar to running, riding your bike isn’t supposed to be pleasant all the time. It might burn and it might hurt, but this is what will make you stronger. It may have taken 5 years to realize this, but now I GET IT. In order to get better at cycling, I need to make it hurt a little. Oh and did camp make it hurt!
In order to keep up with the strong cyclists at training camp, I was going to need to put out more power and work harder. The thing is, before camp I was scared to push on the bike. Perhaps it’s because I had a knee surgery four years ago and my brain is still being ‘cautious’ with pushing on the pedals. I think in my mind I was always scared of getting injured, so I didn’t want to push too hard. Also, coming from a running background, I wasn’t sure how to bike and I was never coached for it, until now. Riding with your coach and teammates is something you can’t put a value on.
I’m actually a fast cyclist. I got to camp last Thursday thinking that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with my teammates. These were people I had rode with on the weekends and often got separated by about five minutes. I would start with the group and they would lose me. I thought the weekend of training would be the group riding together and me all by myself. I was pleasantly surprised that I was not only able to keep up, but I was very strong going up the BIG Vermont hills… HUGE confidence booster!
I gained confidence. This was definitely the most important takeaway from camp. Practice makes perfect and I think to think I’m well on my way to a successful Ironman one month from this Thursday!