Hammer Camp Recap - February 2009


The weather was the best we've ever had - 80 + degrees every day, no clouds, light wind... classic Tucson. The totals for the week were 19 hours, a little over 300 miles, plus the supplemental swim and run workouts that many added. We had a really good group this time around, as has been the case with all of the previous camps. Although the attendees came from all walks of life, and their ages varied greatly, everyone had so much in common that a cohesiveness developed right away. The fact that we were just about evenly split with veterans and rookies also helped get the first timers into the swing of the camp even more quickly with the vets. By Wednesday the daily routine of the house was established and everyone was fully enjoying the flow.

As always, Owen and his Cycling House staff, Mom Jenny helping in the kitchen and his crew of young Montanans - Brendan Halpin, Andy and Sam Schultz, and Jen Lupke, did a stellar job of running the house and making everyone feel comfortable, welcome, and pampered. They'd be up starting the coffee by 5:30 or 6 a.m. and have an enticing breakfast spread out by 7 or 7:30 a.m. (depending on the ride schedule), riding or driving support, making lunch and dinner, and cleaning until 9 p.m. at night. Owen definitely has the hospitality down and you'd be damn hard pressed to find a group of 23-24 year olds who are having more fun or working harder while training themselves than these youngsters. It's worth a visit to TCH just to hang out with them.

Everyone arrived on Monday (2/23) between noon and three and enjoyed a light lunch. The TCH crew had everyone's bike built, tuned, and ready to ride by 3:30 p.m.. We rolled out shortly after that for our first ride and ended up spinning around NE Tucson for a bit over two hours. Back at the house, many jumped in the "cold" pool because it was that hot. Showers and rounds of EMS active recovery ensued and then it was time for our first dinner. I've copied the menu to the right. I'll say the food was amazing in its wholesomeness and taste. Everyone was extremely impressed with it and went back for seconds and thirds. Our two vegetarians were well fed and happy as well.

After dinner, we had our meet and greet social time to get everyone acquainted and Jim and I discussed our plans for the camp - no formal presentations, just lots of face time to discuss each camper's individual needs, goals, questions, etc. whenever - before meals, during meals, after rides, while mixing up fuels in preparation for rides, during rides especially and so on. I am pretty certain that no one left the camp with any lingering questions or uncertainty about fueling or nutrition.

The Cycling House pantry was fully stocked with all of the Hammer products and everyone thoroughly enjoyed being able to taste all of the various flavors (the Caffe Latte Perpetuem was a HUGE hit) of our products and the opportunity to try all of the new ones like Endurance Amino (Kathy loved it), AO Booster, and Seat Saver (huge hit... 19 hours + in 6 days and not a sore bum to be found!).

With all of the miles being ridden, the campers quickly lined up for post ride e-stim recovery for their legs and massages to top off the pampering. There were a lot of endorphin blissed out athletes laying around in the evenings.

From Monday to Sunday, every day offered a new ride of epic proportions and campers were heard to say things like "that was one of the most beautiful rides I've ever done" (Mike from Canada, after riding through Saguaro East National Park on Tuesday). However, I'm pretty sure that the ride up Mount Lemmon on Friday or the Madera Canyon ride on Saturday were right up there too.

Our young tech/internet wizard Vince Arnone joined us for this camp to run the video camera and the big digital SLR. We ended up with 850+ high resolution images and lots of video, including some EMS instructionals and more.

On Friday morning, we made everyone skip breakfast - it was a 7:30 a.m. roll off and even though campers from the Central and Eastern time zones would have been game for breakfast at 4:30 a.m., the staff and the rest of us needed our sleep. So, it was coffee at 7 a.m., on the bike at 7:30 a.m. and nothing in our stomach. Most went with the new Caffe Latte Perpetuem and some of the hyper metabolic campers brought a bar to munch on as well. Despite knowing that we advocate this, many had never had the courage to actually try it. All were amazed at how strong they felt during the entire 6 + hours of riding. We finished off the ride with chilled Strawberry Recoverite and then set everyone loose on a huge lunch spread and watched it vaporize. More EMS and bliss followed.

By Saturday, everyone was fully in the groove - getting up early to have coffee, read the paper, or check e-mail before loading up in the vans for a short portage to the start point of the Madera Canyon ride. Wind patterns and elevation make this ride a lot more interesting and challenging than a cursory review of the length and profile would suggest. It's 65 miles out and back with the first 10 miles down a slight grade with a tailwind. After that, it's a long way up to the top of Madera with a subtle increase in pitch starting from 1% and going to 14%. On the way back, you get to work against a persistent headwind. By the time everyone got back to the van, they were more than eager for some chilled Recoverite and a quick return trip to The Cycling House for another mid-day feast. After lunch, everyone assumed the now familiar positions of relaxing, running Active Recovery EMS, and queing up for evening massages. Then, it was fiesta time - our normal gourmet fair turns Mexican (still 100% healthy and gourmet) with cervesas and margaritas the reward for a long week of training and more healthy eating than almost anyone was accustomed to enjoying. After living and training together for 5 days, the group now enjoyed the familiar ease of old friends handing out, talking about their favorite past time. Smiles and laughter quickly filled the house as we all enjoyed our last night in Tucson and looked back on the eventful week we'd all spent together.

The dates for our 2010 camps are already posted and people are signing up, so if you've been thinking about coming down to one of our camps, click on for all of the details.

Hammer Camp Menu

-    Fruit platter
-    Panini’s
* small snack between building up bikes and riding
-    Salmon roasted in cilantro salsa
-    Orange scented quinoa with spinach
-   Caesar salad

-    Turkey breast with leek and oatmeal stuffing
-    Homemade cranberry sauce
-    Brown rice pilaf
-    Salad
-    Fresh tomato soup
-    Sautéed tofu
-    Cornbread
-    Three bean salad
-    Wild green salad

-   Smothered steak Sandwiches
-   Baked zucchini fritters
-   Salad
-   Albacore tuna salad
-   Pitas and wraps
-   Wehani rice

-    Buffalo burgers
-    Sweet potato fries
-    Baked beans
-    Salad
-    Fruit salad
-    Chicken or tofu stir-fry with rice noodles
-    Edamame
-    Mandarin spinach salad

-    Lemon artichoke chicken
-    Spinach vermicelli
-    Tomato salad
-    African peanut soup
-    Dinner rolls
-    Roasted cauliflower
-    Spinach and avocado salad

-   Kabobs
-   Grilled asparagus    
-   Spaghetti squash with spinach 
Dinner - Fiesta Night!
-   Carne asada tacos
-   Beans
-   Salad
-   Chile-spiced fruit salad with queso fresco
-   Margaritas
-   Other Mexican fare

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