Make the Most of Your Winter Training – Then Head South
Ireally enjoy winter, and, let’s just say I was served this winter – we got a ton of snow in Quebec and that was fantastic for an outdoor enthusiast like me. I had a great winter of training at home and on my cross-country skis and fatbike. For me, finding the right balance between my roller, my skis and my fatbike is essential to stay motivated and make the most out of the winter and its training opportunities. Still, as a Professional cyclist, it’s important to split up the winter and travel south for some quality time on the saddle to optimize training specificity and get the hours in.
My first camp, one week in Cuba in mid-December, consisted of high volume and low intensity on the road bike for an average of four hours a day. For me, it was the optimal training environment – I like it warm, really warm, and one can do a lot more than just bike four hours and sit in a hotel room surfing the Web after that. One can go to the beach, visit, kite-surf, read y hablar un poco de spanish con amigos. Getting the job done in a fun, low-stress environment is so amazing. Getting next-level tan lines for the upcoming season isn’t bad either, and my coconut and cane-juice diet was delicious.
After spending Christmas at home, in early January I was off to California with the Quebec provincial MTB team camp to the Santa Monica Mountains for two weeks of road training, great weather, amazing road quality and variety, from the tarmac alongside the Pacific Ocean to the nearly one-hour climb in the Mountains. I highly recommend this area – it’s my favourite road-biking spot in North America, plus it has great MTB options. It was a great camp, complete with my two solid senior teammates and good friends Léandre Bouchard and Alexandre Vialle.
I’ve always been tight with the up-and-coming younger generation of cyclists from the Quebec team, and it was a great opportunity to get to know each other better and to perhaps inspire them on and off the bike. Léandre and I did an Olympic presentation/interview, which was quite fun and interactive! We answered a gazillion questions and were happy to have the chance to share our story. The Quebec provincial team has helped me so much over the course of my career, from training to racing, being at those camps is a good way to give back, plus they’re still great, enjoyable training opportunities for me.
Fatbike fever has really picked up in Eastern Canada, and there are many race opportunities in Quebec, as well as fatbike festivals. In town, an impressive 500 members have been recorded at the largest fatbike centre – I’m lucky to have access to such well-maintained hometown trails. For that, I have to thank cross-country ski/ fat-bike/MTB centre Sentiers du Moulin in Lac Beauport. Its support is amazing, and where I first began mountain biking. There, I took part in three fatbike races, which were good training opportunities and, most of all, a whole lot fun. People now believe the fatbike is a big deal for me because I won those three events, however I still consider myself a mountain-bike specialist.
At the end of February, we had our annual two-week Canadian National MTB team camp at Bear Mountain Resort in Victoria, B.C. We had a number of very good sessions on traveling, recovery, tactics and strategy, mental preparation, nutrition and more. We also did many fun team-building activities on and off the bike. The training was primarily focused on MTB endurance base miles. The training schedule was challenging physically and technically. We had a strong team, and it was great to push and learn from each other. My biggest challenge in Victoria was surviving the humid cold, as I’m not used to that, surprising as that may be as I do a lot of cross-country skiing and fatbiking in the cold. I have no problem with racing in harsh, rainy cross-country conditions, though for training I admit I find it quite tough. The time spent with my National Team teammates was amazing on and off the bike – most are good friends and it’s a second family wherever we are in the world come race season.
The end of the camp featured the start of the race season with the first Canada Cup in Bear Mountain on March 4. It was only a C-level race, as it was quite early and far from the April U.S. Cups, but it’s always nice to get the legs going and have a fitness check-up. That was also my first race with my new Cannondale-3 Rox Racing team, and it was a fun, smooth transition. I was happy to take the win for the team, and it was such an amazing feeling to lead, knowing that I had two strong teammates in Derek Zandstra and Keegan Swenson in the chase group, ready to charge if I blew up. They ended up third and fourth, while teammate Erin Huck also took third in women’s Elite, meaning a strong start to the season for the team.
As I’m writing this, I’m at the end of a solid pre-race MTB camp with Félix Belhumeur at our Arizonian friend Ryan Geiger’s place in Flagstaff and Sedona, getting in some altitude training and money in the bank for the mid-season, in which there will be two World Cups high in Andorra and Switzerland. The riding has been amazing, and now I’m heading into the Bonelli San Dimas and Sea Otter U.S. Cups.
Enjoy the spring riding and see you on the trails.
Early March at Bear Mountain in B.C. with my National Team teammates who are like a second family.