Though the training season has been up and running for some time, it always feels great to get to the first Training Camp of the year. This year’s Grande Depart took the team back south of the border to Bend, Oregon. After some very positive reviews after last year’s edition and benefits for all athletes across the board. It seemed a no brainer to return. One change from last year was that the camp would be focused on roller skiing with no planned sessions on snow. A good thing too, when we arrived in Bend there was no snow, hasn’t been any for quite some time this spring. The camp focused on volume, altitude and technique on roller skis. We did get out for some running and riding, enjoying the true variety of natural terrain in the Bend area.
Locals informed us that this year’s spring and summer were close to six weeks earlier than normal. We most definitely felt that the day we arrived. With a balmy 38◦c, luckily the following two weeks cooled off a bit. With daily highs in the late twenties to early thirties, but with sun every single day. I believe that the weather, along with the climate and surrounding area all contribute to the atmosphere you find in Bend. The town and its surroundings are very active. The area attracts that type of person but the town itself backs it up. Investing in an active lifestyle between the wide shoulders on all roads or streets as bike lanes, or a very extensive paved path network (and an even larger unpaved network as well). The town is currently constructing a standing wave on the river a stone’s throw from downtown. I think it is a fantastic example of what a town can do to encourage an active lifestyle and continue to attract people to the town. At no point do you feel they are forcing it, it feels right, it feels natural. It is a town built on having an incredible time but responsibly. Another prime example of this was the Bite of Bend festival. The festival is a three (let’s call it four) day food festival in Bend. Kicking off on Thursday with the Bend Fermentation Celebration in the Old Mill District. You buy a ticket or a taster glass and stroll along the streets and boardwalk getting samples from dozens of craft breweries from Bend and surrounding areas. Just this idea takes the cake! That is only the unofficial start to the festival. The following three days, a half dozen streets downtown are jam packed with food trucks, carts, booths and tables. Anything you want: a Fro-yo cart, wood fired oven pizza truck, whole roasted pig sampling; to name a few just to get the mouth-watering. And a hundred others.
All together it makes Bend a special kind of place!
The first afternoon we kicked things off with a bang, as a group of us grab our bikes and hit the trails. It was a blast riding with this group. We had a couple of cross bikes and the rest were on mountain bikes. Just ripping it up, a great way to start the camp off right (well, maybe a touch too hard but it was too fun to stop). About halfway through the camp a majority of the team headed out to Newberry Caldera for a long volume run up higher. It turned out to be a four hour jog. I have to say it was an almost ideal trail for a long run. There were no really big or steep climbs from where I started. Besides some steeper descents in the last few miles the trail was really gentle rolling terrain. Much less pounding than on most other long runs you can do at altitude.
There was a lot of technique work this camp in both skate and classic. Get the foundations solid and work up from there. I made some big improvements throughout the techniques. A few light bulb moments where suddenly (or finally) a position or feeling clicked and made sense. It is the sort of things you want from a camp. Besides some great training, which there was plenty to be had. For me by all accounts the camp was a huge success. It is hard to find reasons not to go to places like Bend for a training camp.

Happy Canada Day!

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