Hammer Camp - Lessons Learned
Though I am not proud to admit this, I attended the most recent Hammer Camp with minimal fitness under my belt. “Why on earth would you do that?” you might ask. Well, it wasn’t intentional, that’s for sure. Let’s just say that ever since I retired from active competition in 2003, and have become more and more involved in work responsibilities, work-related travel, and home-related responsibilities, it’s become easier and easier to not workout nearly as consistently as I was when I was actively competing. As you can imagine, as an ultra marathon cyclist I spent many, many hours on the bike… it was as though a good majority of my world for 15+ years revolved around the bike.
In addition, it’s still very much winter here in Montana so riding outdoors isn’t possible yet (in fact, it’s snowing as I begin this article). During my 15+ years as a competitive athlete, I spent many, many hours in the gym doing trainer sessions (which I didn’t enjoy a whole lot then), so it’s become a lot easier to blow off going to the gym now, especially after a long day of work… instead of making that left turn to the gym I admit that it’s become a lot easier to make the right turn and head towards home instead. Also, I happen to be one of those “slow metabolizer” type of athletes so when the cold weather starts hitting Montana, my body goes into “insulation mode.” Sometimes I think I don’t even have to eat the food, I just need to look at it and next thing I know, I’ve got an unwanted 10+ pounds more on my already large frame (I was never the lightest guy on a bike to begin with… at the peak of my fitness I was still around 185 lbs)
Bottom line is that I’ve got no truly valid reasons, just a bunch of not-so-great excuses for arriving at the Hammer Camp in less-than-stellar shape.
Anyway, I get to the Hammer Camp in Tucson, AZ where there are a lot of already fit triathletes and cyclists, many of whom are prepping for soon-to-be-happening races. I’m coming in with minimal fitness, almost zero on-the-bike time (I’ve been on the bike one time since October if you can believe that), and now I am going to be riding lots of miles—some of them quite difficult—in temperatures that are easily 50-60 degrees warmer than what I’ve been living in for several months. Needless to say, though the riding was thoroughly enjoyable, I got my butt handed to me on a daily basis by these much fitter athletes. There’s a lesson to be found here and one of these years since my post-competitive days I’m going to learn it without having to learn it the hard way. Still, although I don’t recommend kick-starting your fitness by doing long, hard daily rides with a bunch of very fit triathletes and cyclists, my experience at the Hammer Camp was great and I look forward to attending another one in the future… in better shape, of course!
My time at Hammer Camp allowed me to experience a couple of things that really saved me and allowed me to ride better than my fitness level and lack of on-the-bike time would have indicated was possible:
The use of the Daily Essentials prior to each ride (Race Caps Supreme, Mito Caps) and after each ride (Premium Insurance Caps, Race Caps Supreme, Mito Caps).
The use of Endurance Amino and Anti-Fatigue Caps prior to the rides and every hour during the rides. Afterwards, I took another 4 Endurance Amino capsules. A 5-hour ride doesn’t seem like much until you realize that you haven’t done a 5-hour ride in who knows how long, in temperatures you’re not acclimated to, in windy conditions, and on terrain that’s challenging to say the least. I have no doubt that this supplement combination kept me going.
The use of Super Antioxidant and AO Booster after each ride. I would take 2 Super Antioxidant + 1 AO Booster with Recoverite (another life saver) after each workout, with another capsule of AO Booster with dinner. I am convinced that the combination of the Daily Essentials, Super Antioxidant, AO Booster, and Recoverite played a significant role in allowing me to even get out of bed the next day, let alone ride another lengthy and sometimes arduous ride.
The use of Seat Saver. For a guy who’s had almost no time in the saddle, I was fully expecting some significant discomfort, if not downright agony. I kid you not, Seat Saver worked so well and the irritation I experienced was almost non-existent. I have used many of these types of products over the course of several years of ultra distance cycling and, even after only a couple days at the Hammer Camp, it became obvious to me that there is not a product that I have personally found works better... this stuff is absolutely amazing and I will never use any of the products I had previously used.
Thanks to Owen, Andy, Brendan, and Jen for helping make my time at the Cycling House for this recent Hammer Camp so enjoyable.