T-Mobile Training Camp - Tucson, Arizona
21 - 24 November 2002
Some days you just have to thank the cycling gods for sending a tailwind your
way or giving you that extra bit of energy to complete a course. It wasn't my
birthday and it wasn't Christmas, but even old road dogs get lucky sometimes. So
I was pretty excited when I got the invitation to go to the T-Mobile Fall Camp.
I mean, bikes, beautiful pro womens riders, desert and warm weather...did I
mention the good looking women pro riders?
Photo courtesy of Westward Look Resort
I was off to Tucson, Arizona, to meet the "other" Telekom team - the American
pro women's team sponsored by T-Mobile USA, a subsidiary of the same Deutsche
Telekom that supports Telekom Div I mens team - who are always a factor in
the European racing circuit.
T-Mobile Team is an extension of USA Cycling's vision to create a long term
project establishing the support and environment for American women cyclists to
excel at international elite competitions. The accent is on development and to
provide the best support through coaching, training and sports science; and to
gain exposure and experience at international world class competitions. It is a
bold new strategy in which commercial sponsors, USA cycling and a grant from the
USA Olympic committee have the purpose of bringing home the gold.
The sole title sponsor, T-Mobile USA Inc., is a member of the T-Mobile
International Group, the mobile telecommunications subsidiary of Deutsche
Telecom (NYSE: DT), leading global provider of wireless voice and data services.
Using the latest digital technology, T-Mobile operates a nationwide highspeed
wireless data network and has the largest and fastest growing network Of "Wi-Fi"
wireless broadband which can be accessed at at over 2000 "Hot Spots" such as
Starbucks, Borders, and selected airlines lounges.
The digital wireless revolution has arrived and T-Mobile is in the fore front
of delivery of the latest technology which will make it possible use all the
features of the internet through live wireless technology. If you're interested
in finding more about their services you can go to
T-Mobile. Or you could do as Daily
Peloton team member Jaime Nichols did after the announcement of the T-Mobile
team, and switch your cell phone service to a company that supports cycling.
You may have noticed the TV commercials with Catherine Zeta Jones advertising
the T-Mobile message internationally: "Get More from Life." Honestly, who better
than a pro women's cycling team to promote such a positive message?
The 2003 team includes last year's members Amber Neben, Dotsie Cowden, Kim
Anderson, Katrina Berger, Mari Holden, Dede Demet Barry. Joining the squad are
Kristin Armstrong, Kimberly Bruckner, Stacey Peters, and 'le enfant terrible' of
the team, Sarah Hammer. More on the ladies' palmares in a minute.
The Training Camp
Photo courtesy of Westward Look Resort
camp was held at the Westward
Look Resort nestled in the Sonoran Desert foothills of the Santa Catalina
Mountains, which rise to 9000 feet to the north of the resort.
Tucson, known for its warm and sunny winters, is a perfect place for cyclists
to train and ride during that season. This weekend in November was also the Tour
of Tucson, a 108 mile open race to raise money for charity, taking place with
over 6000 riders! Tucson is a cycling town!
Due to a late flight, I arrived late at the Westward Look, so before hitting
the sack I arranged for a wake up call for the morning carb buffet and the
Five hours of sleep, six cups of coffee, breakfast and off on a seventy mile
group ride to the Desert Museum in the hills outside of Tucson. Over breakfast I
met Jim Miller, T-Mobile's Directeur Sportif. A retired pro rider and founder of
Peak to Peak Training Systems, Jim is very happy with the assembled team and is
looking forward to a winning season. He is especially excited by his new team
members, who will be great additions to his already strong team, filling out the
disciplines essential for the international races they will be competing in.
In Jim's words, "The girls are so willing to work hard, to win it is a pleasure
to coach them." This year's schedule includes early spring races in Europe and
the Tour de Feminine (see schedule below).
Herwig Reus, Sports Manager of T-Mobile, mentioned his plans to see that the
team is supported at the highest level so they can succeed. Coming from Team
Telekom, Herwig is no stranger to the needs and demands of a successful pro
Herwig Reus. Photo by Jeff Tse
Carb loading done, I went down to the bike area and handed over my antique
Campy pedals (circa 1961) with Christophe Clips and leather straps to the
T-Mobile Mechanic Mike Pitts who said, "Geez you almost never see these any
more!" Mike quickly set me up on a Cannondale Caad 7. Clipping in, someone asked
me what brand my leather shoes were.
I am certain they are Italian but long ago the name disappeared somewhere
along the road. Antiquity aside, I mounted the bike to do a few rounds in the
parking lot to warm up - I kept reaching for the shift levers on the down tube
only to find nothing... I realise it will take a conscious effort to remember to
use the Shimano shifters built into the brake handles.
We assemble in the parking lot, fifty riders dressed in the new, good looking
pink and black T-Mobile kit. We are strong, fearless and ahem, dressed in pink.
The ride will split in two groups. The pros and the brave will lead off. I say
brave because I have seen some of these ladies race; keeping up with them on an
"easy ride" will be anything but easy - these girls can fly.
Photo by Jeff Tse. Click for larger image
The second group, the "humble, take it easy riders" or more correctly, the
"laughing group," will follow. I of course miss the start and charge off the
hill chasing the second group. Oops, I follow the rider in front of me and make
a left when we should have gone right! Thank God it's downhill. We chase to
catch on to the end of the Pink Train as it speeds over the rolling terrain of
North Tucson, heading west toward the local mountains.
Photo Courtesy of T-Mobile
A year off the bike due to a freeway rear-ender and back treatments hasn't
helped my conditioning. It feels good to be on the bike again; my legs feel
strong as we leave the city limits. Gradually the pace builds, I am riding and
chatting with Scott Montgomery of Cannondale. A small rise ahead and Scott
announces he is going up front. He effortlessly passes rider after rider and
disappears over the rise. That boy can ride! My legs still feel good... a hill
looms, a left turn - hey! Not a hill - a mountain. My good legs and the
excitement of being on the bike soon meet head-on with my aerobic threshold, or
should I say lack thereof. Gasp, I am off the seat, I am swaying like a pro
rider bonking on the Tourmalet but the hill ahead is nothing, a pimple in the
foothills of the Alps... my lungs feel like someone used a heat gun to dry them
I pull off the road to catch my breath as I watch the blur of the riders, a
pink cloud, steadily disappear in the distance. My attention is drawn to what
appears to be a large white cloud with wheels crunching on the roadside gravel.
An angel appears out of the mist and asks, "Are you ok?"
"Oh sure," I gasp, "give me a minute and I'll be just fine." I focus, and
have the pleasure of meeting one of the soigneurs of the team, Michelle Jacques.
I wonder if pro riders consider their soigneurs as guardian angels?
Reason eventually wins over my desire to ride on, and I climb in the team van
which temporarily functions as the broom wagon... I remember the words of spoken
by Clint Eastwood in one of the Dirty Harry movies, " A man has to know his
limits." For the moment I believe I have found mine, so I wisely join Michelle
in the team van. Michelle is looking forward to the new season, and the
pre-season testing and training with the team in the USA Cycling training
center. The care and help she gave me proves that T-Mobile is in good hands.
Photo by Jeff Tse. Click for larger image
We ride along until we catch the team riding together on the long uphill
approach to the museum Michelle cranks up the radio for the riders they all
smile and cheer. They are all riding uphill in the saddle and in spite of thirty
some miles seem as fresh as at the start of the ride. At the museum we split
again into two groups the Team will finish the ride with another thousand feet
of climbing and the 35 mile return. The remainder of riders a mix of Media and
Sponsor Representatives take the bus back to the Westward Look for a pasta
buffet and a rest.
That afternoon I chat with Stacey Peters as she finishes her training ride.
The chat revolves around how women's racing differs in the USA and Europe.
Stacey's viewpoint is that the women's teams in Europe have had a higher level
of support so that the riders can devote all their attention to training and
racing. Stacey makes the point that if there were more women's teams in North
America like Saturn, RONA and now T-Mobile, where the women could devote
themselves to training and racing full time, it would translate into victories
on the international scene. This is, after all, the European model.
I heartily agree with Stacey's assessment - the talent is here and
T-Mobile raises the bar for pro women's racing in the USA. It is going to be an
exciting season this year.
That afternoon I sat and watched as equipment was distributed to the ladies
as they bantered amongst themselves. I could see that they would be a cohesive
unit in races as they enjoyed each other's company and were in high spirits.
Each is looking forward to getting home and resuming training. I ran into Dede
Barry and asked how Michael Barry (USPS) is doing after his accident in the
Vuelta. Dede said Michael is fine and recovering well, which is great to hear.
We will enjoy following both the Barrys' adventures this year.
I went to the pasta buffet and met Bob Stapleton, Vice Chairman of T-Mobile
Corp. Bob is one of the founders of Voice Stream, which merged with Telekom to
form the international T-Mobile. An active rider and fan himself, he was
instrumental in the creation of the new team. He acquitted himself well on the
day's ride, finishing with the main group on the ride to the museum.
Bob Stapleton and Zap Espinoza of
Mountain Bike Magazine
was demonstrating some of the new devices available through T-Mobile. The
"Pocket PC" has features that allow you to surf the net (to the Daily Peloton,
of course), send and receive emails, has an organizer for your calendar,
contacts, task list and files and functions as a phone with or without a
The most popular device was the new "T-Mobile Sidekick" which is a wireless,
all-in-one device that combines a full featured mobile phone with a variety of
data communication applications including a web browser, keyboard, e-mail,
instant messaging, personal management features, 500 phone numbers, games and a
digital camera accessory. The camera accessory is able to take a digital photo
and send it via email. Imagine the possiblilities!
We kidded the riders that they could take it to the races and send us digital
photos of the race in progress or photo themselves as they crossed the finish
line. This item was so popular that it had to be pried from the hands of those
who had the use of one during the camp.
Of interest, the media invitations included all of the major cycling press
but also included Sue Berliner of Sweat magazine, Sal Ruibal of USA Today,
Glamour Senior Editor Lauren Naverson, Michelle Basta Boubion of Her's Magazine,
Kirsten Begg, a freelancer who writes for Procycling Magazine. [We originally said Kirsten wrote for Muscle & Fitness but that was incorrect.] I personally
can't wait to see a Fashion Spread in Glamour, or Her's magazine showing the
attractive ladies of T-Mobile decked out in the latest fashions on and off the
bike. It's time for the women's pro racing to get the attention it deserves; it
shows the forward thinking of the T-Mobile management and USA Cycling to include
them. So a "heads up" to all to watch the magazine racks for the ladies -
attention like this could spur more people to join us all on the roads and
single track as cycling continues to grow spurred by the successes of American
riders on the European circuit, especially Lance Armstrong and US Postal team in
the Tour de France. Coverage in major international magazines can only help the
exposure of the Sport and increase the ranks of riders and fans alike around the
world. If we're lucky that will include many more women at the races in
the future; already women's cycling has experienced its largest growth in the
Standing L-R: Dotsie, Katrina, Stacey
On bikes L-R: Amber, Kristin
The Sponsors/Partners presentation
T-Mobile's Herwig Reus opened the meeting with a smile, and stated that in
keeping with the highest level of support they wanted for the team, each of the
equipment sponsors were chosen to provide world class equipment to the team.
Cannondale: The team will be
riding the Caad 7,
an improved and lighter frame over last years model. Team Mobile will ride the
same bike that 7Up/Nutrafig uses on the USA Pro Circuit and that Saeco will
ride, featuring double-butted proprietary Optimo tubing, wishbone seat stays,
machined head tube and bottom bracket, and lightweight Hollowgram crankset.
Since 1997 Saeco using Cannondale bikes can boast 23 Giro stage wins, two
Italian championships and numerous other road races in Europe. I think we can be
assured the team will be happy with the Caad 7 bike and add more victories to
the Cannondale tally.
Kristin's bike. Photo by Jeff Tse. Click for
Time will provide
the full Carbon Fork for the bike to complete the frame. Developed and tested
will provide the drive train components and brakes. The full line of
been chosen. T-Mobile will be one of five pro teams that Shimano will be
receiving feedback from on their equipment this year, with an eye to the future
Mavic will provide wheels, the Kyserium
SSC SL which uses Zicral spokes, interspoke milling to reduce the weight of the
wheel by 40 grams, Mavics lightest and fastest wheels.
SRM Power Measurement
technology will be used in each of the team members training to assess their
progress in training cycles. This is the first time that SRM has sponsored a Pro
Team. SRM (Schoberer Rad Messtechnik ) started in 1986 their goal has been to
develop the best tools for training. The SRM component makes your bike an
ergometer to measure wattage and output; its great advantage is that it creates
an objective standard of measure of power and progress in training.
an Italian company, will provide competition clothing and helmets. Trialtir is
the distributor of both Biemme Clothing and Limar Helmets made in Italia.
Fi'zi:k will provide the saddles
which will be the newer models specifically designed for women riders. The
saddles are designed in the USA and handmade in Italy.
Cat Eye, the bicycle electronics
company, will provide the the heart rate monitors, on board computers and
lighting systems for the team.
Clif Bar, one of the most well
known and leading energy bar manufacturers, will supply the girls with enery
bars including the Luna bars made specifically for the nutritional needs of
women in mind. Personally, the Luna bars are one of my favorite energy bars,
especially the key lime bar... and no jokes out there, eh?
Upon completion of the presentations we are bussed to McMahon's Steak house
for dinner. My dinner companions at the table are: Jim Miller, T-Mobile D.S.,
the lovely ladies Deborah Engen (communications Director of USA Cycling), Sue
Berliner (Publisher of Arizona's Sweat Magazine) and Glamor Magazine editor
Lauren Naverson, as well as Chris Clinton (Mavic Wheels) and Adrian Montgomery (Cannondale
Dir. Promotions). Hot topics are the expansion of womens pro racing, a redesign
of the USA Cycling website and tomorrow's Tour de Tucson.
Jim Miller comments on the difference in coaching women and men teams. To
illustrate his point he tells of his first experience with his team, coming upon
them when they took a "natural break" in a race in Belgium. Jim explains that
unlike the men, who are likely to break off singly and take the "break," women
approach it differently. They tend to stop in groups when the need arises, toss
their bikes to the road and run into the bushes. The first time this happened,
he came upon bikes scattered on the road - an immediate shock ran through him
that a disastrous crash had occurred... the anticipation of injury...
Jumping out of the team car, he ran to the bikes, only to realise that the
girls were on a "natural break" when he saw a few heads popping out of the
bushes alongside the road. Covering his eyes he hurriedly returned to the car, a
bit embarrassed by his discovery. I knew what Jim meant as I had come across the
same scene earlier that day following the training ride. Typical of my
experience with the members of the cycling community, each of my companions had
a great sense of humor and we all had a great time over dinner.
Back to my room at 11pm with a 5 o'clock wake up call for the Tour de Tucson
To be continued...