(All Photos by James Farrugia, https://www.facebook.com/pages/James-Farrugia-Photography/403227656506868)
I had an absolutely amazing week down in Tucson with The Cycling House. I am primarily a mountain bike and cyclocross racer/rider, so I was excited and a little bit nervous about attending a road bike training camp. I was so stoked to have won the TCH training camp scholarship. I left Missoula ready for some fun in the sun!
I was picked up at the airport by Ian, and when we arrived at the beautiful house, all my expectations were washed away. I was introduced to staff Heidi, Zander, and Brendan, all of whom were friendly and helpful. They helped me put my bike together, and we immediately set out on a gentle ride to wake up our legs from a day of traveling. I could tell that the week was going to be a blast just from our short midday ride. We finished our ride and went on a run with the gorgeous Arizona sunset as backdrop, and arrived back at the house to a home-cooked meal that Zander had prepared. All the food was spectacular, light, colorful, healthy, and nourishing. I went to bed the first night excited and ready for a week of riding with some new and exciting athletes.
My flames of excitement were fanned even further when Ben Hoffman showed up to camp. He offered us valuable tips on training, nutrition, fueling, and the lifestyle of an Ironman athlete. The second day, we rode up Mt. Lemmon, a 21-mile ascent. By far the most challenging ride we did, Mt. Lemmon promises to thrill with its stunning views and challenging road grades. I saw professional cyclists whizzing up and down the mountain the entire day, definitely indicative of the fertile training ground that Tucson becomes in the wintertime. The next day of riding was Kitt Peak, another challenging climb leading up to an observatory. The fourth ride was Saguaro East, a quick winding loop that takes riders through forests of cacti and other desert flora. We experienced rain throughout the latter half of the week, offering some reprieve from heat that this Montana girl wasn’t yet used to! I had a blast, even riding in the rain. Our final day was filled with rainy riding and yummy tacos from Mercado, a hip plaza near downtown Tucson offering coffee, Mexican pastries, and other local delicacies.
I left Tucson refreshed and feeling ready to train for my upcoming race season. I learned a lot about bike handling, nutrition, fueling, bike maintenance, and training. The staff was so hospitable and helpful, allowing me to truly focus on training, eating, and resting. I was stoked to have spent so much quality time with Heidi Rentz, a female athlete I admire. I met friends that I hope to see again, and I definitely plan on making TCH a part of my yearly wintertime travels in the future. I’d like to send out a huge thank you to The Cycling House and MT Alpha Cycling for fueling my passion for riding and providing the best training experience imaginable! Thank you!