Ed. Note—this article originally appeared on the Wattie Ink. blog. Reproduced here with permission.
What makes a training camp great? It's 2:42 in the morning, on the final day of the Wattie Ink./CBCG Spring Training Camp, and I can't sleep, thinking of the final things that have to happen to wrap the 2018 edition of Bend Camp, our 8th (how in the world did that happen?). I don't think it's the food, the bike routes, the swim workouts, the video analyses, or the massages, although all of those things help. As with most things in this world we love and value, it's the people. This year's camp set a new bar in terms of our campers and our staff, one that will be tough to clear in 2019. From the moment that Amy and I left Portland last Thursday morning, our staff and our participants have made this the calmest and happiest camp to date, resulting in higher quality training for everybody, and better results down the road. But I am, as usual, getting ahead of myself. Here's what we did this year!
Friday, Day One
OK, I know I said it wasn't all about the food, but something that took Bend 2018 to the next level was the presence of Aaron Vinten, who is The Athletes Table and an all-around great guy. Aaron came to our Tucson Dream Camp and made himself indispensable, so I asked if he could come up to Bend to help out with our second camp of the year. To say that he hit it out of the park would be an understatement (and a cliché, too). Aaron is a real cook, and he took the menu that I use—with some tweaks—year in and year out and made it brand new. We've been eating sesame peanut noodles most years at camp, but I can tell you it never looked (or tasted) as good as it did this year. The training? Right. Friday camp we like to get the travel out of our athletes' legs with a short hill session on the run, and also hit them with the highest intensity swim on the schedule, knowing that they'll probably be too tired later in the weekend to go fast in the pool. CBCG co-owner Molly Balfe wrote a challenging and mysterious set, asking swimmers to perform an unspecified number of fast repeat 100s, challenging them to keep going without knowing when they'd hit the stop line. This mystery was a theme of camp; we purposefully withheld the schedule from campers, forcing them to steadily confront the unknown, as they would have to do in races. It's a format I stole from QT2 Systems head coach Jesse Kropelnicki, as it's what he puts his professionals through each year at his own camp in Florida.
Saturday, Day Two
We've written about the magical Prineville Ride before, but the cycling gods gave us an extra level of stoke on Saturday. Cool temps and favorable winds made the 100 miles roll by in record time for many of our riders, and when the scenery looks as it does above, the living, as they say, is easy.
Saturday evening is always a fun night, as the biggest ride of the weekend is behind us, and that's when one of the local heroes of Bend comes to visit. We had the incomparable Linsey Corbin join us this year, and she got right down to business, answering a question right out of the gate and not letting up for an hour straight.
Sunday, Day Three
By the third day of camp, people were beginning to get tired, so we backed off on the volume a bit. We headed to Sisemore Road, on the eastern edge of Bend, for Sunday Runday. Depending on upcoming races and historic volume, campers ran between 60 and 120 minutes. Sisemore Road is a long gravel ribbon that connects Bend and its smaller satellite, Sisters, and the road is perfect long run territory: undulating, windy, and beautiful.
That afternoon we returned to the pool for another tough session that Molly cooked up, putting campers through a descending pace set of 2x400, 2x300, 2x200, 4x100, 200, then 800 for a grueling 3200 meters at Juniper Swim and Fitness Center, Bend's outdoor Olympic-sized pool.
After swimming we held a smoothie party back at Base Camp, using Fieldwork Nutrition Company's Primo Smoothie Mix as the base for our creations. Campers drew upon a huge array of ingredients to compete for top honors: spinach, maca powder, peanut butter, strawberry jam, almond milk, yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, honey, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds...the list goes on.
Monday, Day Four (Memorial Day)
By the penultimate day of camp, legs were close to toast and fatigue was on the rise. Regardless we headed west, towards Sisters, and another epic ride: Mackenzie Pass. It's less dramatic name is simply Oregon Route 242, and it snakes over the Cascades from Central Oregon towards Eugene. It's chief attraction, though, is the month or so from when the snow clears until early June, when a 22-mile stretch is closed to car traffic. For once, we cyclists are kings and queens of the road, able to ride carefree along some of the most beautiful scenery North America can provide.
Speaking of America (well, the United States of America), it was Memorial Day. We're incredibly proud of our Made in the USA status here at Wattie Ink., and we all stopped for a moment before the ride began to think about the servicemen and women who keep our way of life protected throughout the world. We're super grateful for your service, and to all those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice.
Tuesday, Day Five
Well, that brings us to right now. It's 3:39, now, almost an hour after I started writing this, and it's time to go and start shuttling some campers to the airport. Regardless that a few people have had to return to work, we're going to run and swim again today, before sending the campers away tired, faster, and happier. We couldn't be prouder or more grateful. Thanks to our participants who were awesome and positive, my staff who killed themselves to make every detail amazing, and to our sponsors who made the whole thing possible: Wattie Ink. (of course), Picky Bars, Fieldwork Nutrition Company, Skratch Labs, Sellwood Cycle and Repair, Worthy Brewing, and Stoked Roasters!
Interested in coming to the 2019 edition of the CBCG/Wattie Ink. Bend Training Camp? Head here and you can learn more and get signed up.