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 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!

Sunday, April 14, 2013


This is a photo of Sandi, she's the one who has been writing all the blog entries this week and doing a wonderful job!

Today was a busy day with a ride, packing, recovery day at Faster, and group dinner.  Sandi will update you all tomorrow as she waits for her plane (which leaves at 6:30 am), but I wanted to post a picture of what she looks like.  So, this is Sandi.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


My apologies to the keen blog followers who have been anxiously awaiting each day's installment, only to have them posted late...we have been busy cycling, lounging by the pool and getting massages, so it has been hard  to find the time to write.  (Petrina's note: I think you're doing an amazing job Sandi!)

Today in the hot tub after our ride we were comparing sunburns.  As I write this I am sitting outdoors under a brilliant sun and it is 30 deg. C - remember those days?  They will be in Oakville before you know it!

We rode the New River loop today, 100 kms from our hotel and flat.  This was a very welcome relief after yesterday's climbing, but many of us are suffering from saddle sores after five days of riding.  As we rode along the flats today, in front of me I could see heads bobbing up and down as each woman would stand for relief, then sit again.  Then the arms would start, with everyone shaking out tight arms and wrists, it looked at times like a flock of chickens on bikes in front of me.

We worked on our pace line skills and spinning skills ("One gear smaller!" shouts Petrina from somewhere behind..she has a sneaky habit of suddenly appearing behind you and providing coaching- imagine that , coaching on a bike training camp!).  This week we have also been working on our descending and ascending skills, signals ("watch out for that cactus jutting onto the road!), how to adjust our speed by changing cadence and the pressure on the pedals, improving our "circles", trusting the riders we are with and enjoying each others company.  All the women here have been doing a great job of keeping their lines and learning new skills quickly.

The ride was hot, but we were able to stop a few times for cold water (which did not stay cold for long.) The first place we stopped at was the Road Runner, a saloon style bar.  

Over the past day, a lot of the cacti have started to bloom, like the ones below outside the Road Runner.  It's too bad we won't be here in another few days when the dessert will be littered with beautiful flowers.

After the ride, some of us headed to Dairy Queen for ice cream which was wonderful and cooling and much deserved treat!  Carolyn and Virginia were also on a mad dash for the mall and power shopping.  When we met up with them later they had so many bags they had to store them in the restaurant's wine room!

We celebrated Bridget's birthday at Olive and Ivy where everyone enjoyed their meals and few cocktails.

We are already starting to lament the end of the trip, which is coming far too soon.  And we are only coming home if the weatherman can promise us no more snow, okay?!!


Ahh, the big day of climbing has arrived!  As the brilliant sun rose into a bright blue Arizona sky, we were all receiving emails and texts from back home...something about some big storm, schools closed...snow is the furthest thing from our minds here.

We set off at 8:30 am accompanied by Renzo, Petrina's dad, and Allan.  We lost one rider who did not feel well within the first 20 kms (well we didn't really lose her, she just turned around and went back to the resort). Shortly after that, all the riders stopped to answer natures' call and squatted amongst the various cacti at the side of the road.  Kathy emerged quickly with a "Jumping Cactus" (cholla)stuck to her riding shorts and the barbs digging into her skin. 

Allan to the rescue! He raced over as she was trying to pull it off- wrong thing to do....Cactus removal is something that none of us Canadians knew how to do, until today! Bridget pulled a pair of tweezers from her bike bag (who carries tweezers in their bag ??!!) Darin, Petrina's husband had advised her to do this, in case cactus gets embedded in a tire while riding.  They also came in handy to extricate barbs from skin!

Allan gently removed the cactus clump from Kathy's shorts, and flung it quickly away from himself, as these jumping cacti are known for jumping onto flesh. The cactus immediately jumped onto the closest piece of flesh, which happened to be Petrina's shin as she was standing next to Kathy taking photos. Dr. Allan then surgically removed the stubborn cactus from Petrina's leg and flung it where it would never hurt anyone again.

We continued on to Tonto National Forest to commence the epic part of our ride.  Tonto National Forest encompasses almost  3 million acres of rugged and spectacular country, ranging from Saguaro cactus studded desert to pine forested mountains". Starting at the rangers cabin, we started a 13 mile descent to Bartlett Lake.  True to the description, the scenery was spectacular, miles and miles of cactus and hills as far as the eye could see, the only signs of civilization the dozens of motorbikes passing us.

It was an exhilarating ride down to beautiful blue Bartlett Lake, where Saint Frances (aka Petrina's mom) and Nikki, the wonderdog, met us in the car.  Frances brought out cold water for us and a buffet spread of smoked salmon, crackers, oranges, chocolate, and an assortment of other goodies. We had some goodies and water and then set off for the first 7 mile long ascent under increasingly warm temperatures.

Shortly after starting our climb I heard someone yelling, but could not see what was happening.  Bridget was behind me and being a Good Samaritan, stopped to assist a woman who had been attacked by the jumping Cactus (aka cling on cactus) while taking photos.  Renzo pulled up and, borrowing her husband's cane, extricated the cactus from her clothing. Beware the dangerous jumping cactus of Arizona!

We continued climbing and climbing and climbing....oh did I mention that we were going uphill a long way on our bikes?  Thank goodness the grade was only about 6 percent.  The spectacular scenery we had all admired on the way down faded into the background, as we focused on surviving the ride up.

At the top of the climb, who should  be there waiting for us but Saint Frances again, with her trunk full of goodies! Thank gawd for Saint Frances! And according to rumors, the first thing out of many cyclists' mouths was "Holy #*"+"  that was quite the climb!" It was about 5000 feet all told.

As we stood and enjoyed the treats, we heard a loud noise and we looked up to see a swarm of thousands of bees passing just over our heads, like something right out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.  Thank goodness they were not in the mood to bite humans at that moment!

We all regrouped back at the resort and heard more stories from the ride up. Hardly a kilometer from the top, Allan's frame actually cracked on one of the rear stays when he stood up to hammer, to catch up to someone.  That was the end of his cycling day...a good Samaritan to the rescue, who drove him back to the resort. In a show of solidarity, Virginia offered to accompany Allan in the van to the top of the hill, where she was dropped off so she complete the last 10 kms of the ride, all downhill.

The rest of the day was anti-climatic, we actually had time to lie beside the pool. We swam, lay in the warm sun, jumped in and out of the hot tub, while those of you back home were experiencing one of nature's little April fools jokes.  We also went  one by one to get our sore bodies healed under Athena's healing hands.

Most of the group spent the evening shopping at a local mall, then went to sleep dreaming about our 100 km. ride tomorrow.