ABA Spring Camp 2010

After logging more than 50 hours of training in the past 4 weeks, with most of that being riding - outdoors! - in Alberta, I began to wonder why I should be looking west, to the Okanagan valley, to help lead a group of Alberta cyclists at this year's Alberta Bicycle Association Spring Camp. But then this morning, I woke up to a snowy blanket covering everything and I immediately knew why it's such a great idea to head to the Okanagan - Alberta spring weather is so unreliable!

This time of year, the weather in the B.C. Okanagan valley is much more reliable, with temperatures usually above 10°C at least, and more often around 15°C. And the roads around Penticton, where we'll be based, are at least dry, relatively sand-free, and undoubtedly provide way more of a vertical challenge to us prairie flatlanders.

Yes, I'm convinced yet again that the ABA Spring Camp makes the most sense to kick start any roadie's cycling season.

ABA Spring Camp 2010 Itinerary

Cam McKnight and I led last year's camp, and hopefully we've been able to build on that experience and provide our riders another challenging and fun week - both on and off the bike.

Here's what we've planned (hyperlinks will take you to full map details at www.MapMyRide.com, but note some of the downtown riding may change depending on Penticton's traffic patterns this time of year):

Day 1 - Medium intensity ride to Summerland and Faulder (about 3 hrs). Group dinner to get to know everyone a bit better.
Day 2 - Killer climbing rides to remind you what climbing is like: up Carmi Road & Apex Mountain Resort (3 to 4 hrs). Later, the Red Rooster Winery visit.
Day 3 - Easy ride to laid-back Naramata, but their coffee shop is likely closed today - it's a Monday-thing (1.5 hrs). Recovery yoga at Purple Lotus Yoga
Day 4 - Hard Ride - X-Files Xtravaganza to Oliver, up a short but steep climb, then past the Astrophysical Observatory & Apex in reverse if you've still got the legs (3 to 4 hrs). Township 7 Winery visit.
Day 5 - Very Hard Ride to Osoyoos and up Anarchist if you dare (5-6 hrs if you do the whole out-and-back). Later, a run to DQ perhaps?
Day 6 - Easy ride to Naramata again, where their coffee shop should be open today. (about 2 hrs if you have a cuppa joe). Recovery yoga at Purple Lotus Yoga.
Day 7 - Medium ride - an easier, shorter version of the X-Files ride. (about 3.5 hrs). 8th Generation Vineyard visit.
Day 8 - The big challenge for those who still have legs: Almost the Penticton Ironman loop (161 km, 175+km if you ride Green Mountain Road again, past Apex)

This Is Not A Weight Loss Camp

Maybe you have packed on some pudge this winter, but to make it through this week and feel good enough to ride the epic Ironman ride on the last day, please don't turn the camp into a "Biggest Loser" competition. Make sure you are eating and drinking well enough both on and off the bike to maintain your weight.

I'll be bringing a body scale along so you can check your weight throughout the camp. The number on the scale will be for you alone to see.

It's a good strategy to check your weight before and after a ride - that'll let you know if you drank enough while you were out, and if not, how much you should drink in the hour after your ride to top up your hydration levels. And on a daily basis, you can track if you are eating enough to recover and ride strong the next day. A pound or two variation one way or the other is okay, but consistently losing a pound or two everyday during the camp could set yourself up for a miserable finish at the end of the week.

Fine Tune Your Fit

Cam and I will also bring some tools and knowledge to review your bike fit. Let us check your position and help you get into the best fit-window. From there, you can experiment with little millimeter-by-millimeter changes throughout the camp. By the end of the week we hope you'll have found that sweet spot on your bike, blending comfort with maximum power output.

Come Prepared

Each of our rooms at the Spanish Villa Motel has a fully equipped kitchen. But if you've got a favourite cutting knife or other kitchen utensil, bring it along. We'll be making shopping trips during the camp, but it doesn't hurt to bring some of your own staples like salt, pepper, sugar, cooking oil. That way you won't need to buy crazy quantities of these things for only a week's worth of cooking.

Penticton has a good quality bike store: the Bike Barn. It's virtually within walking distance of the hotel. If something breaks, you can usually get it fixed there, or at least find a replacement part. But if you've got tricked-out "event" wheels with special spokes, think about bringing some spare spokes (if you've got them - you do, don't you?) just in case... Don't rely on the Bike Barn to have anything special-order available at their fingertips. They will have tubes and tires, but it's still a good idea to throw in at least one extra set of each, over-and-above anything you normally keep in your on-bike spare kit.

Finally, though Penticton's spring weather is certainly more reliable than Alberta's, expect at least one wet day. Bring extra booties, a rain jacket or cape, and some water resistant gloves. If you've got some Race Blade fenders, it wouldn't hurt to pack those too.

Riding Through Europe In Canada?

After your week of riding the Okanagan valley, and visiting some wineries in the Penticton area, I hope you'll start to see how this is almost like taking a European bike vacation without leaving Canada!


  1. Sounds like we're going to be putting on some quality miles, which is great. Are there options for the "need longer to recover" crowd? Unfortunately, I've only put in around 35-40 hours on the bike since the beginning of the year!

  2. You'll be fine. The camp is not a hammer fest, and your coaches are there to make sure it doesn't turn into something like that. We have a range of riders with various riding abilities coming, so we should be able to manage everyone's early season fitness, or lack thereof.

    Most importantly while you ride is to eat, eat, eat, and drink. And start right away during the ride. That will make sure you have the best experience on the bike while riding 3 to 6 hours.

    Have a look at my archive of Recovery Tips. You should find a few ideas there to help you recover between rides. A camp like this is a little bit like stage racing, and I have a related tip in that archive.

    You'll be on your bike, so hopefully that simple fact will keep a smile on your face!

  3. I'm a new reader to your blog, but have loved the few articles that I've read here today. Good stuff!

  4. I like your tip about weighing before and after your ride to check water intake during the ride.

    I had severe leg cramps after a recreational tour this past summer, a 90 degree day riding 55 miles in one day. Although I'm a fitness rider, I couldn't get enough water so leading up to the 2011 tour I plan to do this before/after weigh in to gauge my water intake. Thanks!