#FiercelySelfReliant: the Best Way to Make Camp Workouts Race-relevant

by CBCG Athlete Amy VT

“Be fiercely self-reliant tomorrow,” said Christopher Bagg, head coach and leader of our annual spring training Camp in spectacular Bend, Oregon. 

Chris was debriefing the next day’s long ride, imploring the concept of autonomy not because Camp staff weren’t at the ready with exceptional SAG and support (which we love to provide!), but because it’s actually ridiculously race-relevant to practice self-reliance and resilience during training. Camps provide an optimal opportunity for race simulation, especially when Campers resolve these questions:

WHAT IF I WAS ON MY OWN FOR THIS RIDE?

WHAT WOULD I DO IF THIS *INSERT ADVERSITY* HAPPENED IN A RACE?

Bend Campers sporting their Wattie Ink. custom kits

Bend Campers sporting their Wattie Ink. custom kits

We at CBCG believe the best way to parlay Camp to race-readiness is to surmount the above questions in real-time. To maximize a Camp experience is to seize opportunities to practice total autonomy during long workouts, and to practice real-time fixes or adjustments when adversity strikes. This week we’d like to highlight three consummate exemplars from our Bend Camp who were #FiercelySelfReliant.

1. Kristen Hughes

Kristen knew no one coming into Camp, and she’d never been to Bend. Talk about brave; I am personally unsure I could ever be such a daring trailblazer. Camps can be daunting to begin with, but not knowing what to expect, and having met nary a Camper nor coach exhibits utmost courage.

How was it, then, that Kristen was entirely self-reliant during all workouts, and grew exponentially stronger and faster over the course of five days?  Her success stemmed from these clutch moves: 

1.     Kristen was immune to competing with other Campers. Pro move right there. So many Campers, especially those new to groups, get caught up in racy demonstrations, especially during the first Camp workouts. Even those who swear they don’t feel like they have anything to prove are subconsciously drawn to strutting their stuff early, or when coaches explicitly command moderate or easy effort. Kristen was steady, if not conservative during the first few workouts, and then, can you guess what happened? That’s right. She ended up relatively stronger than anyone during final sessions. On the penultimate day, several of us marveled, “Where did she come from?” She is Kristen, and she comes from the land of wisdom. She will be stronger at her next race.

2.     Kristen prepped for rides as though she was going solo. On our second day, Kristen faced down a century ride reconnoitering the hinterlands of central Oregon. She guaranteed her own confidence and success, however, by downloading routes to her device, studying them before-hand, and packing as much fuel as possible. Of course our SAG vehicles were bountiful along the way, one with Tour de France soigneur extraordinaire Kurt Marion at the helm, but Kristen wouldn’t have freaked out if support wasn’t there at any given turn because: WHAT IF I WAS ON MY OWN FOR THIS RIDE?

Self-reliant enough to research and find her own solo adventure aprés Camp, Kristen camped out and went hiking in Bend the next day. Congrats on LA Tri, Kristen, and thanks for joining us! 

Kristen running and riding stronger than prior days during Monday’s brick sesh

Kristen running and riding stronger than prior days during Monday’s brick sesh

2. Kelsey Bledsoe

 Ask any Camper about Kelsey and she or he will tell you the same thing: she was always smiling. It was almost freaky - freaky because Kelsey had never been to a Camp, never ridden a century (by half!), and never, ever trained so much over five days. Going into Camp, both Kelsey and her CBCG Coach Molly Balfe aimed to sort of “see how it goes” every day. Welp, every day was stellar, and Kelsey did 100% of every workout despite Molly’s offering of rip cords. Moreover, she always donned said abiding smile.

 She was definitely feeling it towards the end of Camp, but she kept showing up (with signature smile) ready for the full workout because: WHAT WOULD I DO IF THIS FATIGUE HAPPENED IN A RACE?

 What made Kelsey so resilient? Coach Molly attributes it to her fierce self-reliance, “Kelsey had never done a ride over 45 miles before Camp, so she was understandably nervous that morning. She got to base camp early with basically everything she owns so she would have options for all kinds of conditions. She totally crushed her ride, and was tired at the end of course, but she made good decisions throughout. In fact, she rode all that camp fitness to a 2:35 first Olympic Distance last weekend!”

 Talk about race-relevant Camp experience...congrats, Kelsey!

Kelsey seriously looked like this the whole Camp - the most she’s ever trained in fie days by double!

Kelsey seriously looked like this the whole Camp - the most she’s ever trained in fie days by double!

3. Ann Hill

Ann just might be the most intrepid Camper I have ever witnessed. She was continually extended get-out-of-jail-free cards tendered by coach Molly, who saw legit reasons why she might want to cut a workout short. She took none. The most salient example was our final day, when rain and cold conditions made descending Skyliners Road less-than comfortable. Most Campers bailed on their last repeat - heartily condoned by coaches who’d rather everyone be safe and comfortable - but Ann went back up.

Ann had a jacket. Ann had grit. Ann went back up because: WHAT WOULD I DO IF COLD RAIN HAPPENED IN A RACE?

Coach Molly attests, “I figured Ann would turn around and head back to the parking lot, but when I hadn’t seen her 15 minutes later I got worried that she’d gotten cold and pulled over. We took one of the SAG vehicles up to find any remaining campers, and saw Ann cruising down the hill with a big smile on her face, dismissing a pickup and responding, ‘No thanks, I think I’ll ride!’” 

Our final day at Camp called for a final run that most Campers eschewed due to travel needs or physical fatigue. I swear Ann had more spring in her step on that final workout than anyone. Three days later she was spotted updating her Facebook profile pic with the below pic and the self-described caption, “The great Ann Hill.” I love this woman.

Our brick sesh before the rain came…nothing can stop Ann

Our brick sesh before the rain came…nothing can stop Ann

Again, CBCG Camp staff relish supporting, SAG-ing, and providing enjoyable experiences. We consider our Camps a premium experience, and hope Campers revel in five days of having everything taken care of for them, save for their own physical training. CBCG Coaches also want your next race to rock, though, which is why Chris and all the CBCG Coaches hope Campers line up at their next one with some gritty experience having practiced being #FiercelySelfReliant.