I started doing triathlon and cycling camps in Tucson in 2001 with my friends, Colleen Kelly and Mike Urquhart, who lived in Flagstaff at the time. Our first camp attracted 15 triathletes from throughout the U.S., and we based it out of Starr Pass Resort. Needless to say, we were a little 'green' at the time with regard to the Tucson camp management and logistics! Looking back at that time, I'm just happy to say no one got hurt or killed!
Flash forward over 15 years, and we offer very 'dialed in' training camp experiences where safety and participant experience is most important. Wow, what a long ride it's been... with an estimated 300+ athletes from around the world having attended the Tucson Camp programs! I can't begin to tell you how many people have actually relocated to Tucson (or bought second homes here) as a result of their Tucson Camp experience... very cool!
|Pace line work with the PWR Train!|
This year's cycling camp was a little different, as every year we try to add something new and unique to the program to keep it 'fresh'. Our 'base camp' was the Westward Look Resort , and awesome 4-star resort hotel in the northern foothills area. The focus of the camp was cycling, although we had several triathletes attend too. We wanted to keep the camp smaller, limiting it to only 12 people, in order to cultivate more connection and exclusivity. I felt that we accomplished that mission, with 2 folks having to cancel and 10 people making the journey to Tucson.
|Getting ready to climb Mt. Lemmon!|
Our group this year, as with every year, was spectacular. One thing is for sure.... cyclists and triathletes are 'generally' super nice people! We had folks from as far as Canada and the Bahamas attend, with backgrounds and histories as diverse as their home addresses. It's always fun to meet new people, and learn about them over a 4 day period.
Camp started on Thursday evening with a brief 'meet and greet' and orientation, followed by a nice group dinner at the hotel restaurant. Good food, and nice conversation, as everyone got to know each other. Camp counselors this year included the best in the business, Spencer Roberts and Mike Urquhart. I couldn't do it without these pros!
|S'more's by the camp fire!|
Day one of camp started with our staple ride up to the small town of Oracle. There, we stopped at an eclectic cafe for a quick lunch, before our descent back into Tucson. Overall, it was a great first day of riding, totaling almost 70 miles. We rounded out the evening with a Yoga for cyclists class, to stretch out tired muscles and prepare for day two.
Day two began with a unique Staff Stretching class by local guru, Dr. Jim Wagner. Then, we piled into our MB Sprinter Van for a ride out towards Three Points, to climb 12 miles to the Kitt Peak Observatory. This was a first for me, and my legs were barking at me! Wow! The climb averaged about 7% all the way up, and the winds were brutal! After the ride, we treated the campers to lunch before heading back to the hotel, followed by a lecture on nutrition (Ketogenic Diets, was the topic) and dinner. There were some tired athletes in the group! ;)
Day three included a long ride of 84 miles over mostly rolling terrain. Our main group of 8 athletes pace lined like a UCI Pro Team, averaging around 20 mph!! This group included both A and B riders, just working together the entire time. It was super fun. That night, campers came over to Casa Jacobson for dinner co-hosted by Jen and I. They were educated on the nuances of training as a Masters Athlete by Coach Mike, and even enjoyed a bon-fire, including S'mores!
|Lunch after a tough climb!|
Day four was highly anticipated as we drove out to the base of Mt. Lemmon for an epic ride up the 'mount', and towards the 9500 Ft. Elevation. Mt. Lemmon is an incredible experience as you ride through 5 different climate zones on your way towards the top (26 miles). Everyone loves this ride, and remembers it for a life time! After a quick lunch and getting back to the hotel, we met for our final 'celebration dinner' together at a local restaurant sponsored by Life Time, enjoying stories about the adventures that week and discussing the 2018 camp.
|Training Lecture by the fire.|
In a nutshell, Tucson is simply a great place to be for anyone who likes to ride a bike on the road or in the dirt, especially in the winter and spring. It was a pleasure for Jen and I to spend time and train with a super group of people we're now happy to call our friends, and we hope to see them back in the desert again someday soon!
Look for more Triathlon and Cycling camps presented by Life Time Endurance for 2018, coming soon. We hope you'll be able to join us someday for an experience you'll remember forever!