Sunday, 24 June 2012

Nelson Camp: Hippies, car farms and too much road biking.

I visited Nelson, B.C for the first time earlier this week and did a mini-training camp with the Alberta World Cup Academy crew. I was told that I would love Nelson since "Nelson is awesome, full of hippies!".  It did not disappoint, Nelson was a cool town and it was definitely full of hippies. As I entered the most expensive organic grocery store that I've ever shopped in, I noticed a basket of loaner crocs labelled for "Those who prefer to be barefoot - please borrow some shoes for your shop today!". I had a little laugh, continued browsing and then noticed a man dressed as an elf-wizard waiting to pay for his organic food. Strange, but delightful all the same.

Nice warm evening, looking out over Nelson
 The camp was a quickie, we arrived Monday evening, did two workouts on Tuesday, one epic bike ride on Wednesday and a short run before driving back to Canmore on Thursday. The main event of the camp was to ride the "Silver Triangle" loop that circles from Nelson through Kaslo and New Denver then back to Nelson. The whole loop is 219km and the day was set up as something of a test of our grit and endurance. After so many years of living the time constrained university-athlete lifestyle, 3+ hour workouts are neither high on my priority list nor high on my fave workouts list. This is something I'm working on this year...

Sweet paceline of girls led by Heidi Widmer
The girls had a sweet paceline for the day with 5 of us from the academy, two awesome biathletes (Rosanna and Mel) as well as coach Jeffries (Academy) and coach Roddy (biathlon). We were lucky enough to have our other coach, George Grey, driving the team van and meeting us every once in a while to refill our water bottles, get more snacks and pick us up off the road when we had just had enough.


I am not a photographic genius while climbing but this catches the idea of the scenery

Anyone reading who has done any long haul biking, running, hiking, skiing, ect can probably relate to what I would describe the rollercoaster ride of energies and emotions one experiences during such session. Less than two hours into the ride I was already wondering whether I'd ever be able to move my neck again once finished biking for the day and by 3 hours and less than halfway around the loop I began to wonder if this had really been a good idea at all. Thankfully, before starting the ride I had made a plan that I would pretend to be Jens Voigt for the day (my personal favorite road cyclist) so I simply thought "Shut up neck! Legs, do as I say!" and continued on. I had a big dip in energy around hour 3 but bounced back to have my best section of riding between hours 3.5 and 5, funny how that goes sometimes. Around hour 5 I began to feel as if I had had a few glasses of wine and contemplated riding my bike off the road so I could just lay in some grass for the rest of the day. Luckily we passed by a good car farm around this time and I was distracted enough by its awesomeness to lose my train of thought as to whether I should go for the grass or keep riding.  For those who don't know, a car farm is simply a nice piece of grassy land used as a hangout for old, rusty, abandoned cars, see photo later on for a visual.

cruising and committing a major bike fashion faux-pas to avoid tan lines.
 My goal had been to ride at least 150km and/or 5 hours and I can proudly say I completed 170km in just over 6 hours of riding. The team van happened to be pulled over right in front of a cute little car farm (pictured below) and I took this as a majestic sign that I had finished at exactly the right time. This was my longest road ride in memory by about 70km. And although a few days later my neck mobility is mostly back to normal, I still think I may retire my little old Trek for the season and stick to real biking, on my Anthem, on trails. 
One of a few good car farms spotted on the ride
The true highlight of my time in Nelson was the wicked awesome ski striding (funky uphill running with poles) workout we did on the Tuesday. We were able to run right from our hotel and found a dirt path winding up and up a mountain. The workout was 2x15 minutes uphill with 3x45 seconds very hard between the two intervals. Unlike overdistance road rides, ski striding probably ranks number 1 on both my fave workout and training priority lists. I simply think it is the single best kind of training that a skier can do and offers the best possible training benefit minute for minute. The economist in me just can't get enough of this efficiency! I spent the workout pretending it was actually a 10km classic world cup and used the recovery time to admire the obviously incredible mountain bike trails that laced in and out of our path. 
Visited a neat glass-blowing studio/shop open late in the evening
Overall, it was a decent first trip to Nelson with some fun and a few solid workouts. My single 6 hour biking day still pales in comparison to my old XC Ottawa teammates recent adventure (check it out here) but maybe I'm on my way to being able to do that ride with them one day. And if I ever find myself back in Nelson again, I'll be sure to bring the right bike :) 

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