Have you ever tried that Whole Foods pancake and waffle mix? It's been my main source of fuel for last week's training.
Crack an egg, smash a banana (optional, but better), add 2/3 cup of milk, 1 cup of the pancake mix, mix it all up and cook it in the pan. Bam! That's it.
Basically, it's a recipe for happiness. Add some fruits on the side and maybe drizzle a little bit of maple syrup or spread some peanut butter on it for an extra kick and your all set and ready to attack the day's training in full force.
That's pretty much how all of our days started last week. We downed our 2 pancakes, found some routes we wanted to explore, got dressed and hopped on the bikes. In Prescott, we rented a cabin at the top of Spruce Mountain, which is a 4 miles steep and rugged dirt road that access some sweet trails and great views. There were maybe a total of 20 cabins along the way to the top of the mountain, but we never saw or heard anyone. The cabin was solar powered, had gas appliances, running water coming from a well, no cell phone service and a kick ass working wifi. In my books, that's what I call a perfect setup - it was ideal to train hard during the day and come back to the cabin to rest and relax. Travelling can be hard and tiring sometimes, but when you have the right set up for yourself, I find it highly motivating to get away for a few days and it makes it easy for me to crank out some big training and take good care of myself. Everyone has its own preference about that, but I know it works well for me.
We spent 5 days training in Prescott and exploring the amazing trails that the National Forest has to offer. We got to ride on the new Whiskey Off-Road course (which is awesome), smash some good training on the road with Chloe and tackle a few of our old favorite trails. It was really fun to hang out with Chloe and TJ and get to know them a little bit more as well as discover their local playground. I wish I could've stayed longer to explore the countless paved and dirt roads and to have some more adventure rides on the amazing trails and climbs of the area... There are a few long rides I was looking at online that I absolutely want to adventure on. So I guess I'll have to come back!
After a few days, we switched from big mountains and trees to gigantic red rocks and tacky red sand as we drove up to Sedona for the weekend. Sedona is another gem of trail network in Arizona; there is something for everyone out there. The only thing about Sedona is that the scenery is so incredibly beautiful that it can be quite hard not to look up and take in the beauty...However, I'd highly recommend looking at the trail, because it would be a bummer to fall off a cliff or to not fully enjoy what the singletracks have to offer. Again, that's another place where I will have to go back. I found that even if we were sometimes going over the same trail, I could always challenge myself to do it faster or find a new line to make it more challenging or just simply more fun. We got to do 2 long rides (Oak Creek sector and Dry Creek sector) and one shorter but oh-so-fun ride with Chloe, TJ, Catharine, Keith, Ryan and Dave. Just starting to explore the area of the slick and red rocks paradise got me hungry and excited for more.
We finished our week with the Beti Bike Bash race at McDowell mountain in Phoenix. The race was at 8AM, so in order to save some time and belly pain, I opted for oatmeal instead of the pancakes. It was the second time I got to race there this winter and once again, it proved to be great. Extremely fast and flowy singletracks with punchy climbs and a few false-flat head wind sections to smash your legs...exactly what I needed to finish the week on a high note! The event was really well run and the energy around it was good and contagious. I took the win and got out of there feeling happy, strong and a little tired. But it definitely made me excited for some more racing, which luckily will happen fast enough as I'm heading to Fontana, Bonelli and Sea Otter in the coming weeks.
Arizona has so much to offer for riding, as much on the road bike as on the mountain bike and I'm glad I got to explore it a little bit more. Two years ago, I rented an RV with friends and we visited Prescott, Sedona and Phoenix to train on our mountain bikes. We had a great time doing that trip, but this time around my abilities allowed me to enjoy the trails a lot more, yet I could still challenge myself as much as I had done back then - just on a different level. I would not have had the guts nor the ability to ride with Catharine or Chloe back then. This week, though I truly enjoyed the opportunity and I think we all benefited from challenging each other. It's fun to see the progress that was made in those two years, mentally, physically as well as technically.
Next time, I'll probably add Flagstaff and Bisbee to the list of places to discover; I heard they are well worth a visit! Right now, though, I am back in Tucson and back to my traditional breakfasts. Pancakes are delicious, but if they become to regular, though they'll taste as good, they might become slightly less exciting. Now that I think about it, I see breakfast pretty much like I see my training environment; changing it up from time to time keeps things exciting and refreshing!
It was great to diversify our training scenery last week, but now, I'm happy to be back home as I rest up and prepare for the upcoming 3 weeks of racing on the road in California - Should be a good time!