Tuesday, July 30, 2013


I have watched the Tour de France from the time I was a 7 year old girl, fascinated with the beauty and colour of the peloton, the landscape of the country, and the competitive nature and speed of the athletes.

I have watched in awe as they suffer on the majestic mountains, sprinted for finish lines, and crashed only to rise up from the carnage and carry on.

The buzzing sound of the peloton, the helicopter shots of the teams racing through the sunflower fields and snaking through narrow European towns, the switch backs and summits of the epic climbs, the crazy fans in costumes and in nothing at all have captivated me every July for decades.

My imagination has run wild on many training rides where, in my head, I am attacking on Alp d’Huez, in a breakaway with Jens Voigt, been motivated by the cheers of the fans, and my triumphs are being narrated by Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwen, “oh, it’s a beast of a climb!”.

And yet, it is even better to experience it in person.  This year, as the pack rode through Ornon and Annecy I was filled with the excitement of also having ridden there, as they summited Mount Ventoux I could see the same roads that I had suffered on, when they climbed Alp d’Huez not once, but twice, I screamed “I’ve been there!”, when they summited the Semnoz I could barely hold my excitement “I’ve done that!”

There are few words that can describe the sense of accomplishment having summited a 30 km mountain and the thrill of the descent.  Life changing, awe inspiring, immense pride, and giddiness may be some, but the only way to truly be captured by the beauty and grandeur of the Alps is to experience it yourself.

So who’s in for the Cycling Centre France trip next year? 

Monday, July 15, 2013


July 10
Every Wednesday there is a time trial up Alp d'Huez, an epic mountain that will be climbed twice in the same stage at this year's Tour de France.  It is known for it's 21 hairpin turns and race drama with screaming fans lining all 13 km of the mountain during the race in July.

Wanting to test ourselves, we paid our 5 Euros to register for the race, collected our timing chips, and after a ready, set, go, we began the race.  The end would find Diane and Bridget on the podium for women, placing first and third respectively, and Chris finishing a very respectable 36th in the men's field.

This is how we really like to see Podium Girls!

July 11
Another Great day!  We drove to Annecy with the plans of having an easy recovery ride around the lake, a stunning work of Mother Nature.   The lake is apparently so clean that no animals live in it as there is nothing for them to eat.

The plan changed when we turned left instead of right to go up this small little 8km climb which turned out to be the very tough Col de la Forclaz, a knee ripper for sure!  It may not be long, but the grade is over 10%, I mean look at all the red in the profile!  At some point in this climb we all said to ourselves “ I thought this was supposed to be a recovery ride?”

There were tons of hang gliders and para gliders as well.  It was kinda eriee when they would fly over top and would cast a huge shadow over you. 

As we climbed to the top of the Col de la Foclaz the view of the lake was spectacular and well worth the work to get up!  Chris even found a souvenir cow bell, though he couldn't fit the largest one they sold in his pocket, so he got a travel size.  The descent was the best yet, long and curvy road with few hairpins to keep the speed in check.

It was a HOT day and most of the restaurants were closed when we wanted to eat. So we had snacks and headed back to Bourge for dinner. 

We had a huge laugh tonight and are really enjoying everyone's company.

No one was hurt in the making of this picture.

July 12
The Glandon was the nail that sealed the coffin.  For the past winter we have been training with a picture of the Glandon in our sites, imagining ourselves climbing this epic beast, and today was the day.

We set off under more blue skies with snow capped mountains enticing us.

We reached the foot of the Col de la Croix de Fer and after 30 km and an average grade of 5% we found ourselves at the top.  Only 3 km away was the Col de Glandon and the end of our climbing for the week.  Over the past five days we have climbed 7, 451 meters (24,446 feet), that's 5,000 feet above the Mt Kilimangaro summit!

We're all getting much better at descending and mastering the switchbacks, thanks to the tips that we read by Petrina before coming on this trip.

Tomorrow we'll be going in to Lyon to catch the end of the Tour de France and stalk some pros!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Our group has arrived in France and are enjoying the mountainous scenery and living in cycling bliss.

Everyone arrived in to Lyon on different days and enjoyed getting to know each other over drinks, good meals, and short rides to get the jet lag out and he riding legs in.

On Sunday the adventure began to Ornon, where we'll be spending the week at a converted school house that is now run as a cycling oasis by a British couple called King of the Mountains.

Discussing the Wimbledon win the town folk at King of the Mountains
 Just after arriving we set out on our bikes for a ride around the area and some flat roads at the base of Alp d'Huez.

On the way home we climbed up the Col D'Ornon, a beautiful climb 11 km in length with an average grades of 5.5%.  The good news is we get to ride 8 km of this climb at the end of almost every ride to get back to our accommodations!

Tanya and Chris at the top of the Col d'Ornon

On day 2 we set off for a 100 km ride full of ups and downs on a route called the Morte - believe that translates in to "death ride" in some languages!

The group took a wrong turn, but what kind of adventurous trip would this be without a wrong turn or two!  The signs in France are so great and plentiful though that it was easy to follow the route back to Col d'Ornon.

The group is separating in to climbers and descenders, with the climbers being more controlled on the descents, but by the end of the week the descenders will be stronger climbers and the climbers will have mastered some descending skills.
There was some spitting today and what looked like rain, but we've been lucky so far with the wet weather holding off until we're back in shelter enjoying delicious food made by our hosts.

Tomorrow we will do the town time trial. Apparently on Wednesday you sign up at the tourist office pay 5 euros and get a time chip. It's a neutral start from the Bike shop out to the bottom of Alp d'Huez and then it's a race. Guy and Helyn, our hosts, say it's a blast. You will have all kinds show up. There is a podium at the top for the first 3 places, Diane has her eyes set on the prize!

All is good, food, chatting, fatigue level.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


I want to thank everyone who came on the Cycling Centre Arizona Cycling Camp last week. I was proud to see the gained strength, technique, and speed of the athletes I’ve worked with in the past, you all had moments of brilliance.  Over the course of the week I saw many changes in the new athletes as well and am most impressed with how much you all trusted each other on the bike.  You asked questions and wondered why things were done certain ways, which I loved.  The more questions the better as it means you’re thinking through things and taking control of your own gains.

Over the course of the week you met my spouse, parents, and in-laws and hopefully realized the important role that family plays in my life, both in my personal life and my business life.  We respect each and love each other and are there to help when needed with enthusiasm, joy, and patience.

Spouse Darin
Parents Frances and Renzo

In-laws Helen and Len

I consider every athlete I work with, whether it be individual coaching, the winter training program, or trips like our camp in Arizona, to be a member of my extended family.  One athlete once said “I hate you Petrina, but love you too”, which I considered to be a great compliment.  I will push your buttons, test your limits, challenge you, but it is always lined with respect as an athlete and person, love, and with a helping hand when needed.

We had a great group of 9 women who enjoyed each others company last week.  We laughed, pushed each other to ride faster and try new skills, looked after each other and forged new friendships.  I am proud to consider you all part of my family.

Monday, April 15, 2013


It was with great sadness that I left the comradeship of new friends, and the warmth and great riding in Arizona this morning to fly home to chilly Toronto. Don't know when we will get the chance to get out again for a long ride in warm weather....I hope it's soon!

All of us agreed that it was a fantastic week at our Spring Training Camp.  It was the first training camp for many of us, and we got so much out of it.  Even the veteran bike training camp attendee, who has been to many camps, said that Petrina's was the best camp she had been to, due to the quality of Petrina's coaching, especially her 1:1 coaching while riding.

We all also commented on Petrina's attention to detail to our daily comforts, from the time of our arrival.  From the goodie bags, to personal notes, daily laundry, to ensuring that she supplied us with our favourite energy foods and drinks if we had requested them...from paying for several group meals, to enlisting the assistance of her lovely and willing family members to feed us one evening, and to drive the support vehicle to Bartlett Lake....to arranging the services of a massage therapist for us, and a bike mechanic...I could go on and on and will still miss something that I should have mentioned (kind of like those long winded Oscar speeches, they go on and on and the actors always forget to mention something important!)

Carefree Resort was an excellent choice for our accommodation, with its large rooms, willingness to let us wheel our bikes in and out of the rooms,  daily breakfast buffet, large pool, and jacuzzi, making it a great place to spend a recovery afternoon. 

This bike camp happened to be made up of 9 amazing, strong women, many who are tri-athletes and preparing to compete in competitions this year, and the rest of us, all strong athletes who enjoy biking in addition to other sports.  We all bonded and shared many stories and laughs throughout the week, and we are all excited to get back on our bikes (once we figure out how to put them back together) and challenge our non- camp attending friends to a long ride.

The week was also amazing in that we only experienced two flat tires, no accidents, no injuries, only a few belly upsets and two encounters with the evil cholla (jumping cactus) plant! All that in six days of riding, including two 100 km plus rides, and over 8000 feet of climbing over the week.

It's hard to find enough words to express our profound thanks to Petrina for this great bike camp, but the fact that we all hope to come back next year for the Second Annual Cycling Centre Arizona Spring Training Camp should say it all!

And because of this, we are all
                                AND STRONGER!

Thanks for reading this blog. 
Til next year,


Last evening we had a fantastic dinner at "Olive and Ivy", an uber trendy Scottsdale restaurant with, as someone put it, a "happening vibe". Although we only had reservations for four persons, when everyone decided that they wanted to eat there, Virginia used her finest negotiation skills to get us an indoor table for six and an outdoor table for four, in a fully booked restaurant.  Thank you Virginia!

The food was amazing, all the way from our artichoke heart, and hummus appetizers, to entrees of salmon, sweet potato ravioli, and wild mushroom pasta.  Bridget's birthday treat (see photo at end of day 6) was a chocolate and peanut butter ice cream bar.

This morning, our last day in Arizona, 9 tired cyclists dragged themselves out of bed and onto their bikes for an early start of 8 am, in an attempt to beat the heat.  One of the great things about this bike camp is that we have been able to start riding from the resort every day.  We set off and did about 20 kms to a small hill, where we did hill climbing drills while Petrina coached and filmed us.  Two cyclists then headed back to the resort.

Bridgette, Virginia, Sandi, Christine, Annie, Carolyn, Jo, Kathy, and Donna

The remaining six of us did the same fun ride we did on Monday, minus the strong winds.  We rode to the end of Cave Creek Road, it winds through part of Tonto National Forest, with several challenging hairpin turns.  The riding certainly felt much easier than it did earlier in the week!

The sun was getting stronger, and  time was racing on, so several more cyclists decided to head back to the resort to finish packing, leaving just two of us with Petrina to complete an 80 km ride under a hot sun.  We pushed the pace on the remaining 30 km and upon arrival back at the resort, I immediately jumped into the pool to cool off (hence the flattering picture of me floating in the water).  Today was the hottest day yet, with a high of over 33 deg. C.

We had a little time at the resort pool, then we all jumped into the Canadian National Cycling Team van to go to Faster,  a unique bike store and training/recovery centre.  Earlier in the week, Virginia had a five hour bike fit there, complete with wind tunnel testing.  She has raved about her bike fit with alterations ever since, leading several of us to plan on getting it done next year. Yes, life circumstances permitting, we all plan on returning to Petrina's Cycling Centre Arizona bike camp next year!

Faster also has hot and cold recovery pools, as well as "compression legs", so we all rotated through the pools and legs during the afternoon. Petrina also sat down with us to review the videos she had taken of us during the week, using both her handlebar mounted camera, and handheld camera. A great afternoon to end with!

Following our time at Faster, we headed to a Mexican restaurant called Sol where we enjoyed more wonderful food, and two group members discovered that their "pico" (hot) dish was simply too pico to be eaten!  

Our last evening concluded with us madly stuffing our bike boxes in preparation for an early morning flight, leaving the resort at 4 am. Ugh.  Petrina will be driving us to the airport then, then returning later to pick up the two persons with later flights to take them to the airport.

See tomorrow's notes for concluding comments!