A little desert knife-sharpening

January 16, 2020 § 3 Comments

My friends Joy and Brian McCulloch are hosting a training camp on Feb. 20-23 in Palm Springs.

If you’ve done team training camps before you know what a waste of time they can be. Everyone arrives all excited, there’s a long speech about how the rides will go, there will be a lot of emphasis on training, and two miles into the first ride it will be a full-on race.

People will get shelled, then pissed, then bonked as they straggle back in ones and twos complaining of their woe. Much shit will be talked, there will be another couple of speeches, maybe some yoga, and the next day everyone will promise to be good.

On Day Two everyone will stay together and ride 2×2 for the first twenty minutes. Then the bombs will get dropped, grenades tossed, artillery will start firing, and strafing will commence. Those who arrived fit will destroy those who came to get fit. At day’s end there will be lots of preening served with big helpings of humble pie.

Everyone will go home wondering why they went.

Sound familiar? Read on, because Joy and Brian don’t run training camp that way. At all. This event will consist of four days modeled after their favorite pro team training camps, with extra components including a 200km fondo-style ride, a recovery lounge, training/coaching discussions that actually relate to your goals and issues, as well as group meals designed to riders make the first big step to achieving their spring and summer goals.

There will be long and medium route options each day, so riders can join the group that suits their fitness as well as their goals. The camp will not be a one-size-fits-all.

Big Wheel Coaching has been helping cyclists achieve their goals for ten years and counting. Head coach Joy McCulloch is a former teacher, professional MTB/Road racer, and is Level 1 USA Cycling coach. Besides the athletes she works with daily, USA Cycling contracts with Joy to instruct intermediate level coaches, with a focus on skills development and training plan design.

If you’ve raced or been around the scene in SoCal for any length of time you’ve met Joy or raced against her. She’s more than a badass on the bike; she’s a mom and a fun person to be around. I’ve always found her friendly, approachable, and absolutely lacking in the arrogance that often accompanies elite athletes.

Brian is a USA Cycling Certified Level 2 Coach and has coached juniors, masters, and everything in between. Brian is also a certified badass on the bike, and currently works as a professional road cyclist competing internationally and domestically. For the last ten of his eleven pro seasons, he’s been with Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling, where he’s the road captain. Elevate-KHS has been the winningest team in America every year for the last decade. So like he kind of knows his shit.

This unparalleled experiences is one of the arrows in his coaching quiver that Brian uses to teach race fundamentals and give one-on-one instruction to help racers apply these tactics throughout their racing season.

That’s all pretty awesome, but I’ve know Brian for years and can tell you something even more important about him: He is a tremendously friendly and upbeat guy. His first question is always, “How’s your riding going?” He really wants to hear, and he remembers what you say. Want his opinion? He gladly shares it. Just want to tell him what a badass you are? He listens.

There aren’t many current pro cyclists who have his pro level people skills and genuine interest in promoting the sport and promoting the goals of everyone who bothers to have them.

So, what are you actually going to, you know, learn at the camp?

Joy and Brian know that lessons are best absorbed in a fun environment. Proper training incorporates endurance/aerobic development as well as honing the specific anaerobic energy systems required to be a well-rounded cyclist. Camp will blend both concepts, integrating long bouts of endurance-paced training with short bursts of intensity to stimulate all aspects of performance. In a single, hyphenated word: “Multi-dimensional.”

The best cyclists also know that skill development is crucial to their success. Rides will utilize peloton-style riding in which riders will have the opportunity to share the work helping them go faster, train better, and achieve more. This group energy, guided by coaches, ensures every rider gets what they come for, with stronger riders pulling longer (not harder, a more challenging workout!), while riders building their foundation get the benefit of sustaining a consistent pace that develops their aerobic engine far more than can be done solo or in the typical free-for-all slugfest of the local group ride.

Riders will get daily 1-on-1 coach instruction before, during, and after training rides in order to ensure lessons learned are absorbed and fitness is built properly.

Camp is held near Palm Springs California, an area that is mostly flat to rolling terrain, and that is world famous for its sunny and warm winter weather. The dry and warm climate makes the location ideal for what is essentially their version of a big-miles spring training camp. Nor is the absence of huge elevation an oversight. Over years of coaching Joy and Brian have identified that producing power over flat terrain is the Achilles heel of most cyclists. Over the four-day training camp riders will experience and develop this critical element of their fitness which will serve them in every aspect of their cycling. Where climbing is generally followed by rest (the downhill or a pause at the top of the climb), training on flat terrain requires you to continually produce power, developing a depth of fitness not available to those training predominantly in the mountains.

Benjamin Franklin once said “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” This camp is focused on doing and on involvement. Instruction is backed up with quality saddle time so that the lessons and experience are carried over into the rest of the season. This hands-on approach teaches riders the nuances necessary to apply what they learn across all facets of their riding. Cyclists often equate big volume with increased fitness; the challenge is to blend quality and volume, a difficult balance to strike. Rather than junk miles and chasing saddle time, riders will benefit from the principle of over-load training, which when balanced with proper post-ride recovery, will help riders handle this big block of training and spring-board into their 2020 goals.

Sound like this might be the right camp for you?

You can sign up HERE.



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