CTS training Camp: Brevard, NC
April 7 - April 12, 2014
I have been traveling to North Carolina for spring training camps for the last 11 years. Most of them have been as an event coordinator setting up the UW Madison cycling team's annual spring break trip. This year was a little different as I came to Brevard, NC to work with the coaches and athletes of Carmichael Training Systems (CTS) as a representative of PowerTap. This was a great camp for me to attend as I love riding in North Carolina and calling it home for a week every year during the springtime. North Carolina has everything from beautiful scenery to amazing weather this time of year! CTS has definitely found a training ground gold mine.
Athletes, coaches, and mechanics arrived on a rainy Monday for the busy and long week of riding ahead. 15 athletes, 8 coaches, 3 mechanics, and myself would be riding together during the week. During that time we'd be getting to know one another, training, and learning new methods of how to increase performance.
Day one is an easy and relaxing day for the athletes, but a busy day for the coaches and mechanics as they build bikes and prepare all the essentials for the week. Athletes were treated to a buffet style dinner along with a presentation on how to optimize nutrition during the week. I listened intently as my academic background in nutritional science always loves a little nutrition discussion. It's nice that the coaches not only worry about the training on the bike, but also the fuel that allows an individual to perform at their highest potential.
After a good night's rest and some delicious "Biju" oatmeal we were off for our first day of field testing. Each bike was outfitted with a PowerTap wheel to collect power data. With this information readily available to the rider, they were instructed to complete two maximum efforts over two climbs with a short downhill rest section between efforts. Both climbs were approximately 8-15 minutes in length (about 6-8%), depending on fitness level. These important all-out-efforts would allow athletes to gauge their fitness and for coaches to develop training zones for the week. Once the coaches analyzed and discussed all the athlete's performances, each rider was placed in one of three training groups for the rest of the week.
Riders filled the next three days with roughly four hours per day of riding, preparing for the Assault on the Carolinas bike ride on Saturday. Every day had something different, from leg crushing 20% pitches to moderate 10 mile climbs—and of course fun, twisting descents. The scenery out by Brevard is utterly jaw dropping. On day four, the CTS crew had everybody climb the 10 mile ascent up Hwy 215 to the Blue Ridge Parkway. This was a challenge to all, but getting to the top is such an accomplishment...and a sight! The long downhill afterwards was well deserved.
The capstone of the week was the 15th annual Assault on the Carolinas ride starting in Brevard, NC, touching in both of the Carolinas. Participants could choose from 25 mile, 35 mile, and 65 mile routes. Choosing the 65 mile route brings riders over the infamous Cesar's Head climb, a 6.5 mile climb with an average 6% gradient. The course is demanding with the elevation gain topping out at almost 5000 ft. Over 1200 participants were present, all with different goals. Some there just to ride and enjoy the area, while others treat the event as a race hoping for the best time on the day, or even a new PR. I, of course, had to try my hand at getting the best time I could on the course (8th fastest time of the day—not bad for a newcomer.)Beautiful weather and delicious catered food and beer greeted all riders after the event, making it a success.
It is a humbling experience to get the chance to train like a professional cyclist during a CTS camp. Coaches are available around every turn to help you understand your training and perform better. On each ride, the follow car is filled with water, Osmo nutrition, fig newtons, bananas, and probars to get you through those long base miles. The mechanics are there to ensure smooth shifting and clean bikes. To not have to think about anything other than riding, resting, eating, and sleeping does not come by too often in our hectic lives. Even the presentations on how to draft correctly, or how power is important in your training (presented by myself) allows for some thought-provoking moments.
I can see why cycling enthusiasts like these CTS camps. Living the week like a professional cyclist, gaining important cycling and nutritional knowledge, and riding with other like-minded cyclists trying to improve their cycling performance is a rare experience . The coaches are there to help motivate and push you to ride better. They are all very friendly and always willing to help with anything. I highly recommend checking out what CTS has to offer if you're thinking of coaching, or ever want to attend to a well-oiled training camp.
- Matt Waite, PowerTap and CycleOps, Product Sales & Marketing Manager