My Stay at The Homestretch: An 8 Week Syllabus
by Daphne Karagianis
photos by Snowy Mountain Photography
When people ask me to describe my time here at The Homestretch, I keep coming back to one word: University. An education institution designed for instruction, examination, or both, of students in many branches of advanced learning. There is a wealth of knowledge in this house and every day I'm learning with instruction from some of the best cyclists in the peloton.
Class in session.
OFFICE: Focus Izalco Max
OFFICE LOCATION: Tucson, Arizona
WEB PAGE: www.homestretchfoundation.org
CLASS HOURS: 4AM (first person to start grinding coffee 😭 )—8:30PM (lights out)
The Homestretch Foundation is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Tucson, AZ established to assist female professional athletes with free housing, eradicate salary inequity for women in all occupations, and teach its members how to become activists to create change. From December—May The Homestretch provides free housing for six female elite/professional endurance athletes who are selected via application. I was quick to apply for such an amazing opportunity—and eager to elevate my winter training after becoming part of the Velo Classic p/b Stan’s NoTubes 2017 squad.
After speaking with Kathryn Bertine—former professional cyclist, Homestretch founder and creator, women’s cycling fearless leader and future great friend, I packed up my Chicago apartment, sent my kitties on vacation, and happily waved goodbye to winter 👋 .
C. COURSE OBJECTIVES
• Get fast so I can be a great teammate on Velo Classic p/b Stan’s No Tubes
• Get the best advice from the best racers
• Make new cycling friends
• Explore More
• Suffer More
• Climb the mountain…a lot
• Don’t get dropped
• Drop everyone
D. COURSE TOPICS
• Equality in women’s cycling
• Motor Pacing: That feeling when you’re about to get dropped and you feel like death—except they won’t let you get dropped
• The Shootout: Hardest group ride in Tucson. “About to get shot out.”
• Mt. Lemmon (https://www.strava.com/activities/830912306)
• Gates Pass (https://www.strava.com/activities/841251511)
• Bike Maintenance
• Core + Strength
Motor Pacing with The Sufferfest in Tucson, AZ
E. TEXT & REQUIRED SUPPLIES
• "As Good As Gold" by Kathryn Bertine
• Podcasts: We Got To Hang Out, NAA, Wheel Talk
• Stan’s NoTubes tubeless road wheels and sealant—seriously essential for the Arizona desert
• Sun protection
• Bandana for when you get coal rolled
F. CLASSMATES & MENTORS
• Lauren Hall, UHC
• Emma Grant, Team Colavita/Bianchi
• Amber Pierce, Team Colavita/Bianchi
• Brad Huff, Rally Cycling
• Jennifer George, DROPS Cycling
• Aliya Traficante, Folsom Bike/Trek
• Amelia Kirby, Sweet Spot Cycling
• Jen Luebke, Visit Dallas DNA Pro Cycling
I asked my coach, Alison Powers of ALP Cycles Coaching, to grade me on my time here. She gave me an A- and here’s why:
“For the 8 weeks that Daphne has been at Homestretch in Tucson, she has gotten the best wintertraining she has ever had. Numbers and fitness wise, when she arrived in Tucson, her Chronic Training Load (CTL) was at 45. Now, her CTL is at 88. The highest it has been since June.
Not only has Daphne been able to ride more hours outside than she could have at home, she had the opportunity to ride up and train on climbs. In my opinion, this has been the most beneficial. The best way to get faster climbing and gain confidence on climbs is by climbing and doing workouts on climbs. Another great benefit has been the fact that she has been able to ride with and learn from stronger riders. Riding with stronger riders either in a big group ride or 1-on-1 riding is really helpful in that is forces the weaker rider to 'up her game' a little bit. Ride just that much harder than she would alone.
If there was any downside to her time in Tucson, is that it's hard to take days off the bike. Being surrounded by people going riding, and nice weather, it's tough to take a day off the bike without feeling lazy or guilty. But she did a good job.
Overall, Daphne's grade is an A-. An 'A' because she has become a much better, faster, confident, and more knowledgeable bike racer in these past 8 weeks. I gave her the - (minus) because, thanks to great riding opportunities, she went over in duration on several rides. That makes a yellow in her TrainingPeaks calendar, and I don't like yellow—or red.”
H. CLASSROOM RULES OF CONDUCT
• Stealing food is prohibited
• Enter designated pooping bathroom with caution
• Do not sit around in your chamois, no matter how bonked
• Clean yer dang bike
• Listen to everything Lauren Hall says
• HYDRATE, you in the desert!
I. SUGGESTIONS FOR SUCCESS
• “We don’t take no shit from no Master Blaster.” —Brad Huff
• “Enjoying the present moment.” — Lauren Hall
• “Embrace the pace.”
• Sample the most expensive facial lotions at Whole Foods 2-3x per week —Emma Grant
• “‘Once rejected, now accepted” #skuxlife
• Stay positive!
I am thankful for The Homestretch and for this time in my life where I can take advantage of this opportunity. This experience has changed my cycling career profoundly and has set me on the path for success. I look forward to this coming season of racing and seeing all of my “stretchies” out on the road. Moreover, I look forward to seeing how this home changes the scene of women’s racing for years to come.
Apply to stay at The Homestretch: http://www.homestretchfoundation.org/application/
A few Stats:
112,297 ft climbed
1 race entered
1 race won
Countless new friends I will cherish for life