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Whitney's Journey - The Training

Day by day we trained.....

Training: So it begins....

First day consisted of: travel from Toronto to Tucson → arrive at Homestretch and meeting my fellow December residences, general manager (Lauren Hall) and founder (Kathryn Bertine) → unpacking and grocery shopping → assemble bike and go for a spin up the road to see if my bike assembly practice payed off (phew, it did).


Day 2

Day two happenings. Get up, get to interval training along Old Spanish Road. Learned that Lauren Hall was offering some of her insight into sprints and lead outs later in the afternoon, so jumped on that opportunity and put in a spin in the afternoon then headed to sprint practice.

Morning Intervals

Afternoon spin and sprint technique practice

Took away some great pointers and things to consider and work on in my sprinting toolbox which is currently lacking some sprint ammunition but I'm working on filling it.

Of the group of 6 of that participated in the skills clinic, 4 were Canadian, .... we are slowly infiltrating and taking over ... shhhh don't tell anyone.

Part of the sprint practice crew, 3 Canadians and Lauren

Cycling Terminology - Lead Out: Sprinting technique where the rider will accelerate to maximum speed with a teammate, the sprinter, drafting behind, hoping to create space between the sprinter and the pack. When the lead out person is exhausted they will move to the side to allow their teammate to race in the sprint. Often a line of lead out riders will be used to form a Lead Out Train to drive the speed higher and higher (and to reduce the chances of other riders attacking) over the closing stages of a race. The purpose of a lead out is for the sprinter to achieve high speed at the sprint approach using as little of their own energy as possible, so they have as much energy as possible for the final sprint. (Wikipedia)

The last December Homestretch residence, Farid, arrived at the house later in the day. That evening we all sat down and shared our some experiences and journeys. The crew consisted of athletes from the US, Guatemala, Afghanistan and Canada. One of many things discussed was what Farid's been up to, check it out:

The 2019 December Homestretch crew.

Day 3


First endurance day, and why not take advantage of the infamous Mount Lemmon right in Tucson's backyard. A group of 4 of us headed out that day. We climbed for 3 hours and knew we were climbing in elevations when snow started to appear on the ground. I had heard of the Cookie Shack atop, but I opted for the home made fudge at the general store instead. Personally I think I chose wisely, however maybe I'll have to head back up next time to complete a true comparison. For science of course. Then what took 3 hours to climb only took 1 hour to descend.

Despite the snow, the crew was happy to be at the top of Mountain Lemmon, but also ready to descend to get back to the warm weather down in Tucson.

Caught checking out the views and grabbing for snacks. Fuel time all the time.

Views from the Mt Lemmon ascent.

Day 4

Rest day. Although I had been fitting in some time in the mornings to get work done, it was a great opportunity on my rest day to go to a Le Buzz Caffe and get a full work day in.

Feet up, work work work, eat, work work work, rest and onto the next day.

You may be thinking “why the rest day?” and “ shouldn’t you optimize training on all your days down in Tucson?”. Well here’s the truth I was optimizing my training by taking a rest day. Rest is just as important as pushing yourself when training. If you want to know more, I’d suggest checking out ‘Peak Performance’ by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness.

Want to improve and grow, don’t forget stress (push your limits) AND rest, ie Stress + Rest = Growth.

Stress + More Stress = short term can lead to growth, but long term inevitably leads to burnouts.

Day 5

Friday! On Fridays we do Homestretch group rides from Le Buzz Caffe. This is a social group ride and an opportunity to meet up, thank local supporters and get to know more of the Tucson cycling community. Intervals were also on my agenda this day so, after a the group ride I continued on and hit some micro intervals.

Morning group ride and intervals.

Afternoon 'The Loop' bike path ride.

The late afternoon included am easy spin along 'The Loop' bike path. Since arriving in Tucson I have been impressed with their cycling infrastructure, so finally getting to ride part of 'The Loop' I was even more impress by this multi-use trail system around the city.

Seriously this is what 'The Loop' consists of: paved, two-way traffic, no vehicles, and views like this. Just perfect for cyclist, walkers, joggers, and any other human powered forms of transportation.

There seemed to be a trend with eating all meals from a bowl. We decided the bigger the bowl the better.

Day 6


Endurance day. Planned out a route and headed out solo. I've always appreciated long endurance rides and exploring new roads. This one did not disappoint. Stopped twice for a quick refuel on water at gas stations along the way, and brought enough food to eat every hour on the bike. Only thorn of the day was when I got stung by a bee while going 40km/hr downhill. Ouch. But really it was a very minor bump in the day.

Day 7

Morning group ride.

Afternoon intervals.

Being part of Homestretch is being an active member of the Tucson community, as such they encourage you to volunteer while staying at the residence. I had the opportunity to join a ladies group ride with El Grupo through the city and onto 'The Loop' bike path, with a fantastic group of ladies. The morning was filled with laughs, stories, and ended with donuts and coffee at La Estrella Bakery and Presta Coffee Roasters.

El Groupo ladies ride.

**El Grupo:** A youth cycling organization that provides youth with experiences that are fun, skill-building, and bike centered, so that they can acquire the self confidence and leadership skills to be active and healthy members of the community.

That evening Homestretch organize a potluck with the December residence crew and a few additional friends, to wrap up my unforgettable training block down in Tucson. What can I say, I'd be back Tucson.

Day 8: Travel to headed home.

Next - Wrapping up the results from training......

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