Back at the end of the 2011 Summer, Gordon Wright (head coach for HWCC RT) told us to aim for some riding in the sun over the winter months. Having already experienced Train In Spain (TIS) (www.traininspain.net) based in Denia in the March of 2011, we didn’t have second thoughts about where to go. What we hadn’t counted on was having such a mild winter in the UK!
Fortunately for us, the morning we left for the airport, the temperature was a bleak -5 degrees and looked to stay that way for a few days. Had we picked the perfect time for some sunny miles?!
To give you a bit of background for those of you who; a) may not have been on a training camp and b) those who haven’t been with TIS before…… firstly, the idea of a training camp for us is not to spend seven days beasting the hell out of ourselves! To give you an example, over the entire week my maximum heart rate was 177 apart from a few times when we did some interval type efforts. The idea is to get some long steady miles in at a decent tempo.
With regard to what TIS do to support this, well firstly they sort out everything! Transfers, hotels, board, the routes are fully guided and the guides are all pretty decent mechanics should you need their service’s. The guides also provide invaluable advice and are there to be a back stop, as well as having another guide to be a front stop. No one gets left behind. Standard club run rules are exercised; no half wheeling, regroup on hills or ride back down the hill if your first up, stronger riders do more time on the front, etc, etc.
TIS had also organized for Team Raleigh Pro rider Liam Holohan to be a guest on the camp and as such we had time to talk to Liam about his training and lifestyle as a Pro. Interestingly, one of the key differences to how Liam tackles a standard training ride (apart from the obvious difference in speed ability) is that any rise, short climb or general terrain change does not effect tempo; it’s constantly the same.
Whereas I often find myself powering over short climbs, or pushing much harder into a head wind, or a gradient change just to keep the same speed; I realized after three days of riding that there is really no point and you’re better off just keeping the same pace/tempo (not necessarily speed) and consequently each day I didn’t wake-up with the usual stiffness and tight leg muscles I am quite often used to, and I managed to get through the entire week with none of the usual fatigue I feel on a Monday morning after a 4-hour ride.
We were under strict instructions not to do too much hard effort, by Gordon, and to ensure the final day was by no means tough, to ensure our immune systems were as strong as possible before flying home.
The day we arrived, the weather was fantastic and we managed to sneak in a cheeky 90 minutes despite Adam having issues with his fork and the bung somehow dropping down and the stem bolt now unable to reach it; Simon (TIS Guide, as well as continental pro for KMC Mercia) and Liam somehow manage to fit a temporary solution which seemed to hold for the week (cue, Tim Osborne for a fix). Day two brought more great weather and after 2.5 hours we stopped for lunch in the sunshine and I had my first, and last, experience of a baguette with an omelet inside! A few coffees and a surprisingly cheap bill later, we were back on the road for 2.5 hours back to Denia.
The third day was overcast, but we still managed three hours and a great lunch/café stop back in Denia where we celebrated one of the other girls Birthday; Kayleigh Brogan. She’s a track star in Scotland and to her name, amongst other palmarès, has a 2nd place to Victoria Pendleton at a National BC event. Kayleigh is transitioning to Road Racing this year after a year focused on Track and Crits (in the US) and has been ramping up her mileage since October/November time…by day five Kayleigh was regretting a 53/39 11/25 and was desperate for a 27/28 on the back.
I couldn’t blame her; some of the climbs were long and you just wanted a small gear to tap up it with. Fortunately for me, I have a 50/34 – 11/28 so never got to the point I was wishing for more gears or cursing my hamstrings for being too tight.
The only time I did begin to feel it in the hamstrings was on day four when the weather wasn’t up to its usual standard, so we avoided the mountains and Liam set us some 10 minute efforts on rolling/uphill terrain ensuring we were heavily geared. Having never done this before, I found that my hamstrings/quads felt as sore as they did after a four hour ride after only two efforts! Usually on efforts, I sit in the gear which I’m most comfortable with… again, another learning curve on the camp.
After only two hours on day four, Adam and I were keen for a few more hours in on the Thursday and we set off in sunshine to the climbs of Vall Debo where we were graced with the presence of Team BMC! Throughout the week, we had seen several Pro teams in the area including Sean Kelly’s An Post, Top Sport, Garmin, Movistar, Cofidis, Euskatel, Vacansoleil …it was an endless list which just demonstrates that it really isn’t all about Majorca!
The weather on the mainland does seem to be more consistent and as such is attracting a larger number of pro teams. But BMC dominated the area and set up Camp in Denia back in late November; this week we got the pleasure of seeing Taylor Phinney, Cadel Evans, Gilbert, Hushovd, Hincapie…. It was just fantastic to be in the presence of such amazing riders and after 10 minutes of watching them all climb up Vall Debo,Cadel Evans took to the decent so I thought ‘sod it, I’ll follow the grumpy Tour de France winning ex world champion Aussie down’. I have a video of it so will try and upload it on the blog!
Adam had his picture taken with Taylor Phinney. Now we all know Adam is a lightweight but seriously, next to Taylor, Adam looked like a Burrower and Taylor a Giant!
Day 6 was our biggest day; we did six hours and most of it in the Mountains where it was a few degrees cooler. Adam and the boys pulled away up the Col De Rates as Kayleigh and I spun up together and had another glimpse of the BMC team who were doing Lactate Threshold Testing. We were graced with the presence of one of TIS best assets on this Col, Big Al, who was on his bike for the first time in a month after doing just turbo work in Switzerland for the previous four weeks!
After the Col De Rates, we made our way towards a cheeky 25km climb; 12km in, I left Adam to crank it out with the boys and found myself climbing on my own for the next 12km. About 2km before the end, Adam reappeared coming down the hill and it was good to see him as I’d completely bonked and sluggishly made the 7km decent to the lunch stop where I had to sit inside for being so cold! Had I fuelled slightly better, I don’t think I would have felt the cooler temperatures too much.
After a hearty lunch, the climbs sapped the last ounce of energy out of me, as we made the long decent back to sea level and home in time for a café con leche and a slice of cake. Adam annoyingly looking as fresh as a daisy. I slept well that night and woke up with the satisfied feeling of bruised quads; a sign of a good day in the saddle!
The final day was just as excellent as the others; a gentle three hours with an extra long café stop. The climb out of Javea is no place for anyone with vertigo, and I believe the expression ‘are you serious’ left Kayleigh’s mouth as we tackled the eye wateringly steep gradient. Big Al tried to cheat me of the sprint finish at the top but I gave his shirt a tug and took HWCC first victory on the continent.
John Fegan (TIS Owner) tried to contest the final uphill sprint into Denia but I took that from him too, so HWCC RT has two continental wins to add to its palmarès. Wheeling into the Marina, we all found a spot in the sun and had a beer before getting ready for a night out at the curry house; what better way to finish a training camp!
We then returned to the chilly UK weather and the 50 mile flat reliability ride to finish off an 800km week of training. Sunday was by far the hardest day as my team mates put me under pressure and eventually dropped me 33 miles in!
A great week with TIS and we are pleased to be going again on 24th March where everyone else is most welcome and we will be joined by James Walker, Joe Clark, Tim Osborne, Mike Landers and Hannah Evans. Other HWCC RT riders will be heading off to Majorca in early March.