What an amazing weekend! The camp was an absolute success. It was incredibly fun to participate and help out where I could amongst these behemoths of cross. The preparation was amazing by Frank Overton of FasCat Coaching, Albuquerque native and uber-coach to cross hardmen John Verheul of JBV Coaching and Boulder’s own Brandon Dubba Dwight. The camp also had phenomenal support from Donn Kellogg of Clement tires (and each participant got a free set of the new Clement PDX mud tire. Amazing!). Let me give you the blow by blow of the weekend….and if you’re on the fence for doing a camp or you think you’ve “already got it”, etc, think again and try and make it to next year’s camp. Amazing time spent.
To begin, the camp had some great and passionate participants: Denver-Boulder locals Tim, Ed, Doug and new Boulderite Dave Hackworthy. Dave is an Elite and U23 rider and Worlds and Euro Camp Participant for new the new Clement | Ridley | Boulder Cycle Sport team. We also had Wes from Indy and Joe from Idaho. Great characters. Make no mistake: This was a crew of passionate ‘crossers who want to get their game dialed. The skill levels ranged from first season to Pro. If a Pro rider is in the midst, you should be too! Everyone should continue to learn. It’ll make you fast!
The first day was spent with essentially a 3:1 ratio of coaches to camper focusing on your fit and your fitness. It was a true 'lab coat' session and wonderfully educational.
Coach John V used 20 + years of experience (and coaching many of YOUR heroes on the cross scene to huge seasons and World Championship podiums) to get YOU dialed on your bike. This is not a road bike fit for your cross bike. This is position-forward, milk-the-power fitting specific for your cyclocross bike, your style of riding and of course your physiology. The software programs used (primarily Dartfish) were amazing. You could see in amazing slow motion how various changes would radically improve your position which by extension improves your power and most importantly ‘freshness’ on the bike.
While one camper was getting fit, another was in the VO2testing torture chamber. FasCat coach Krista would work with you on the VO2 max/lactate testing. I’d never had this done before and it was…frickin’ hard!
The VO2/lactate testing was very ineteresting. It involves a radically hard ‘escalation’ of effort starting at 150 watts and progresses in blocks until you’ve reached your threshold. This could be 350 watts for some, 5 or 600w for others. The interesting part is how the body manages lactate during this load. I was told that I was at 2x the amount of lactate produced than any other camper at my threshold (400+ watts for roughly 60 seconds at the end of my testing). Good? I still need to get the analysis walked through but it’s really how you process lactate and manage it under load. Trust me, no Lemond am I but having the data is better than NOT having the data! I am better prepared with how to handle it during races.
To get your lactate measured, you offer your finger for prick
ing. You can see my right hand in the picture to the left about to get pricked. Or, here’s what it looks like close up (right)…
So, again, the effort was massive and was (for me) the first depth I’ve done since coming back from busting myself up. But it felt great to go fully cross-eyed for the first time in 9 weeks.
While one camper was being fit and another wired up in the hurt box, Rebecca’s incredibly capable hands as a PTA would ensure your muscular/skeletal system was in good order from the exertions you were putting out. She was also critical in the fit process to ensure your body dimensions matched the bike fit spot on to keep you injury free…
Day 2: Equipment and Skills…
Saturday morning was a cross geek’s dream. We spent considerable time diving into low level details of cyclocross equipment. Brake set up, tire pressure, gearing ratios, running double versus single rings….you name it. It was discussed. Brandon painstakingly walked the campers through all these details and answered everyone’s questions.
We then kitted up and got ready for our day-of-skills training. We would do an AM session at a large thickly-grassed park, the afternoon session at the infamous Elk’s Lodge: where legends are made and hearts are broken every Wednesday morning.
The instruction and training was infinitely low-level. All ninja tricks were exposed to the campers to ensure fluidity and fun. The smoother you are, the faster you are, and it all adds up to more smiles and podium potential.
For our skills sessions, Paul from CrossPropz was a huge help to the camp by providing TONS of his portable barriers. We had them spread out essentially in mini-courses on the grass with Coach Frank equipped with Dartfish taping EVERYONE’s game. We'd come through the barriers over and over again. We would watch the films, rewind, critique and try again until ALL the campers felt great and proud of their improvements. Everyone was markedly faster through barriers after seeing themselves and having some of the best coaches in the industry work with them to refine their game. Between sessions, we’d go back to the plush HQ of FasCat Coaching and analyze everyone as a group. It was enlightening to hear everyone help eachother out, no holds barred, just to ensure their camp-patriots were faster…
Later in the evening before team dinner, Coaches John and Frank got together with campers one-on-one to walk through individualized training plans…a HUGE part of this camp’s draw. Campers are worked with on their goals for the season and plans were created accordingly…for each individual. Amazing.
Day 3: Putting it all together…
The prior 24 hours were intense. Tons of watts put out, tons of hot laps put in and LOTS learned. Yet, still tons more to try out! In the morning, coaches John and Frank talked through a general philosophy of training for cross to ensure freshness by the end of the season (sound familiar??). We also talked of how to efficiently warm up. I did a small contribution on race day rituals....quite fun to articulate some of the ninja tricks I've learned over the last 14 years of racing this beautiful sport...
Hot laps and more instruction on handling off-cambers and run ups happened Sunday, the last day of the camp. Coach John dialed in everyone’s technique to show how to save energy, be strategic in taking ‘your space’ through barriers and finding lines that you’d NEVER think about. Only that amount of experience can show you these details.
If you’re interested and have plenty of time to waste, you can look through my Flickr album for the camp. Or, feel free to leave comments to ask any questions about it. Worth every second.
I HIGHLY recommend the camp, or any camp you can attend if traveling is hard to do no matter where you *think* you are in your cross ‘career’. You…Will…Learn…LOTS! You’ll also make some rad new friends in the process who share your passion for what we do on any given weekend in the fall.
Hup hup, buttercups! What did YOU do this weekend to get your head in the game for cross??
P.S. Our camp had Space Legs? Did yours? Ha!