While most of us are thinking about getting our skis waxed and sharpened, Garmin Sharp team bicyclist Tom Danielson is already focused on next cycling season. With his sights set on capitalizing on his success this year — capturing the yellow jersey in the Tour of Utah and finishing third in Colorado’s USA Pro Challenge — he hopes to take that momentum into next year’s Tour de France.
This month, the 35-year-old Boulder resident will be headed to Tucson, Ariz., his winter home for off-season training, but this year he’s inviting anyone who wants to get a feel for what it’s like to be a pro cyclist to join him.
Part bed-and-breakfast, part winter retreat, part training camp, Tommy D’s Cycling Escape will be 100 percent cycling experience through and through.
“We’ve taken this ranch and we’re converting it to the ultimate cycling hotel,” Danielson said. “It’s set up as a place I’d want to stay for training.”
The ranch is set to open in October with a number of five-day riding sessions limited to eight guests per session, the same number as a pro team. Guests will have the opportunity to ride with Danielson, but more than that, they will get what might be best described as an all-inclusive cycling experience, complete with meals cooked by Garmin team chef Sean Fowler.
“This program has nothing to do with riding with a pro cyclist.” Danielson said. “What people are doing in this camp are things I’ve learned along the way.”
Danielson said the idea is to “give normal people the feel for what it’s like to be on a pro team.”
Guests will get to ride with Danielson and learn training and conditioning tips relevant to cycling. He said he will host nightly queston-and-answer sessions to talk about riding, his past, the next day’s ride, things he’s learned and anything else cycling related. The ranch includes a number of amenities and a full workshop of bike gear with number of Cervelo bikes, the same style bikes the Garmin Sharp team uses in competition.
The program is geared toward all ability levels, Danielson said.
“People think, ‘This is way over my head, I can’t do this,’” he told the Daily. “The goal is to have many different abilities there at the same time. With my team we train with many different skill sets. It’s all about the work that each individual has to do.”
Danielson described the group rides as a team environment.
“That might mean the best guy has to go a little slower than he’d like to,” he said. “You’re never going to be a match.”
The idea originated in part through charity rides he’d done with friend and “Grey’s Anatomy” star Patrick Dempsey.
Danielson said he enjoyed interactions at public functions but found it difficult to have enough time to really interact with people.
“The problem at these charity events is you see 4,000 people. Having an impact on people (in that situation) is really hard,” Danielson said. “We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if we had time with these people?’”
Initially the idea was for Danielson and Dempsey to do something near Dempsey’s house in Malibu.
But with the costs involved in potentially running a program through an existing resort in California, Danielson decided instead to take the reigns himself and run a full-service cycling retreat in Arizona, where he’s been training for 11 years.
“That’s when I decided to pull the trigger and buy the property,” he said. “I want to keep it my deal. It’s kind of my baby.”
He also said keeping it affordable for anyone interested in cycling was one of his main objectives. The five-day, six-night all-inclusive program costs $2,500.
While Dempsey won’t be directly involved, Danielson hasn’t ruled out having the occasional celebrity guest, fellow pro or teammate participate.
Though the retreat is part of his retirement plan, the cyclist said he has no intention of stopping anytime soon.
“Definitely not,” he said when asked. “I feel like I can go 15 to 16 years as a professional cyclist.”
Having started his career late at 24, that leaves another five years that he plans to compete.
For the first year of the retreat, camp sessions start Oct. 21 and run through December, giving Danielson time to really focus his training prior to next cycling season. He said they are already around 70 percent booked but still have openings closer to December.
More information is available at www.tommydcyclingescape.com.