ABA Spring Camp Returns to Penticton in 2011

Epic or awful - that's been our weather in Alberta so far this year. Epic if you're a skier. Awful if you're a cyclist. Somewhere in between, I guess, if you do both. While we're still shivering here in the sub-zeros (more like sub-minus-10s!), this week - yes the first week of March - Penticton is already flirting with +10°C temperatures! So if you haven't done it before, certainly this year you need to consider the Alberta Bicycle Association's Penticton Road Camp.

The camp runs from April 9 to 17 and should certainly offer us daytime highs of 15°C or better. The roads around the B.C. Okanagan Valley should be clean, dry, and will give us Albertans plenty of vertical climbing feet to wake up our winter legs. All the registration details are right here.

ABA Spring Camp 2011 Itinerary

This year we've altered the itinerary just slightly from previous years. The camp will be a day shorter - departing on a Saturday, rather than a Friday, requiring only 5 days of vacation time for those cyclists with full time jobs. And since the ABA no longer owns a van, all attendees will need to make their own travel arrangements to and from Penticton. For those who haven't made the drive before, plan on about 11 to 13 hrs of driving from either Edmonton or Calgary.

Here's what we've planned (hyperlinks will take you to full map details at MapMyRide.com, but note some of the downtown riding may change):

Day 1 - Medium intensity ride to Summerland and Faulder (about 3 hrs). This ride has a few short climbs in it, to help you gauge your spring fitness and your basic ability level in relation to the other attendees. Later in the day, plan on a group dinner to get to know everyone a bit better.

Day 2
- Climbing rides to remind you what climbing is really like: up Carmi Road and then over to Apex Mountain Resort (3 to 4 hrs). This will be a tough as you make it, depending on how far you want to climb. Both legs of this ride are out-and-back, so you can make things easier by turning around sooner.

Day 3
- Easy ride to laid-back Naramata. Do your best to keep it in the small-ring and save your legs for the tougher days to come. Naramata's coffee shop "Coffee Grounds" should be open - good for a high-octane pit-stop before riding back. We follow this ride later in the afternoon with a recovery yoga session at Purple Lotus Yoga.

Day 4
- Medium Ride - X-Files Xtravaganza to OK Falls, up a short but steep climb to See Ya Later Ranch, then past the Astrophysical Observatory (2.5 to 3 hrs). Later, we visit the 8th Generation Vineyard.

Day 5
- Harder Ride, maybe to Osoyoos and up Anarchist if you dare (5-6 hrs if you do the whole out-and-back). We'll all sit down together before this ride and decide how far and how tough we want to make it.

Day 6
- Easy small chainring ride to Naramata again, and a little bit further to Paradise Ranch. Maybe plan on stopping for lunch at The Bench coffee shop when you roll back into Penticton. Recovery yoga again at Purple Lotus Yoga, so you'll be ready the next day for the biggest ride of the week.

Day 7
- 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). Recover with a relaxing group dinner as we all share stories from our week together.
Make Sure You've Got The Right Gears

A few unfortunate souls in the past have shown up with less than optimum gearing for this camp. There will be lots of rolling terrain, and some pretty steep climbs too. Don't arrive over-geared. I recommend at least a 39/26 gear, and maybe even a 39/27. If you've got a compact crankset you'll have plenty of small gears to keep you spinning up most climbs.

This Is Not A Weight Loss Camp

This needs to be repeated every year. Don't turn the camp into a "Biggest Loser" competition. You won't have any fun. Plan to bring enough to eat and drink on every ride. Stash some cash in your jersey pocket in case you need to buy more when you're out on the road. Both on and off the bike, make sure you are eating and drinking well enough to maintain your weight. Typically, that means ingesting about 200 to 300 calories/hour while riding. Fuel up with 16oz. of chocolate milk immediately after riding to take maximum advantage of your post-workout glycogen "recovery window".

Fine Tune Your Fit

I'll bring some tools and knowledge to review your bike fit. Just ask me when you get to Penticton, and I'll check your position to get you into your best fit-window. From there, you can experiment with little millimeter-by-millimeter changes throughout the camp. By the end of the week I 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. Grocery shopping is a short drive away, 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. The motel also has laundry facilities - so you don't need to bring 7 pairs of riding shorts!

Penticton has a good quality bike store: the Bike Barn. It's virtually within walking distance of the motel. 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 of your own 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. Tights or leg warmers will be needed, even if temperatures run into the mid-teens. I always say it's better to sweat to stay cool, than shiver to get warm!

Not Sure You're Ready To Ride?

Over the next 4 weeks I'll be posting a Winter Wake-up training plan to get your legs going. If you've been training through the winter, just stick to your current plan. But if you've been doing very little, or if you've been doing mostly cross-training like skiing or running, then stay tuned for some weekly workout plans that will prime you for a great week of riding in Penticton!

Go register right now, before the camp fills up!

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