Training Camps: Paceline RT in Spain

Here’s a day-by-day look at Paceline RT’s trip to the Cycling Holiday Spain’s resort where they get to climb plenty of mountains and are looked after like pros

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Training Camps: Paceline RT in Spain
by Grant Fraser

The team write:  We were met by two friendly representatives from CHS, we landed in Alicante for what was set to be a pleasant escape from the UK, where the Beast from the East was at full force. Nine of us from Paceline RT were loaded into two vehicles and driven down to Cycling Holidays Spain HQ where, as we would grow accustomed to, we were met by the smiling faces of Noz and Jubi.

We were given the tour, and all settled in to our new home in preparation for what lay ahead.

Waking up to food on the table is pretty much the norm at CHS, Jubi is only to happy to dish up perfect poached eggs, porridge and endless tea/coffee. Noz gathers everyone around the projector to discuss the week ahead, see if anyone has any specific goals and also figure out the levels of ability within the group. Being a race team, we’re all competent but there are still the stronger riders, Noz ensured training goals could be met alongside the daily routes.

The first day of riding has us planned for just over 100km taking in a few climbs.

Safety is paramount with Noz. He cautioned up multiple times about the slippery roads in mixed conditions. But once out of the village, we all settled in for a 60 minute climb to open up the legs for the week.

After climbing Guadalest, we stopped for a quick Espresso in Gorga and moved on double time before the rain caught us. The rolling hills had taken us steadily up, leaving only one option…DOWN!

One very long and fast descent later we find ourselves at the bottom of the Col De Rates. Some of the team know it like an old friend, others meeting it for the first time. It’s one we’d learn to have a love/hate relationship with over the week. Noz was never far away in the team car, dishing out endless words of encouragement and the occasional chocolate bar!

Back at the villa and as soon as we unclipped, Jubi handed us a protein shake and sat us down to lunch. We’re told that the sauna is on, and the pool temperature is good for a cold plunge pool. It really seems like their main focus other than the actual cycling, is proper recovery in order to cycle to the best of your ability the next day. Just when you thought you’re recovered, two well trained masseuses gave our legs a massage. We’re in cycling heaven!
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Day 1 – 108km – 2,550m – 4hrs
Now that the legs were awake and so are all the team, we are sat down for the second day of pre-ride prep. It’s planned to be a bit longer and a bit tougher. Noz mentioned the “Badlands” but the newbies, to CHS, amongst us, had no idea what that meant. But boy would we find out.

We climbed out of the village and backwards up the Rates (Col de Rates), getting to the top and looking down over that view made it all worth-while, and not something we had the time or mental capacity to appreciate the day before. Double time down the Rates and we’re off into some beautiful rolling hills before hitting a small town of Pego.

This was the start of a 20 minute leg sapper, Vall d’Ebo, where after 1 puncture and a few beads of sweat we reached the top and rolled into the town for a quick snack. The Badlands lay ahead: not a moment after we’d left the town than we were hit by a headwind that could have stopped us in our tracks. The terrain however was the real enemy – 30km of 18% ups and downs whilst steadily climbing our way back to the base of the Confrides climb.

A tailwind up the climb was the only a consolation to our barely intact legs. What we soon found at the top lay the reward of 30 mins of technical and fast descending dropping us right back into CHS HQ.

Food – Sauna – Pool – Massage – 3 course meal and bed with very heavy legs.

Day 2 – 127km – 3000m – 5hrs
Seeing that some of our legs were still a little worse for wear in the morning of the 3rd day, Noz opted for a slightly flatter route that took us down to the ocean. When I say down, I mean down. 80w average for the first 16km at around 45kmh was an uplifting way to start the day.

Noz decided to ride with us, which was a nice change to the dynamic of the experience. Still bubbly as ever and always giving words of encouragement, whilst his fresh legs put the hurt on our slightly less fresh limbs.

After taking on the relatively busy road to Benitatxell (quiet by UK standards) we climbed up and through Xabia, before stopping for Lunch in sunny Denia. The lunch stop was a little over an hour, not by our choice, but due to the kitchen staff forgetting some of our food. This however was welcomed by the likes of myself, as I gulped down Coke and Espresso in equal measures. A very flat run back to the bottom of the Rates lay ahead of us, and Noz lead us out for a 2nd attempt at the Col. Some attacked, others aimed for a recovery spin. But we all made it up and back to HQ without any significant issue.

Day 3 – 119km – 2425km – 4.5hrs
Dawn breaks on the well-earned and eagerly anticipated rest day. Discussed over multiple cups of coffee as to what the plan might be, we welcomed a warming sun and thought back to the snow covered UK.

There was only one thing we could do… get to the top of the Rates and spend a couple of hours being gluttons. So that is what we did. Very much a recovery ride; we span up the back of the Rates and into the restaurant at the top.

We sat in the midday sun for at least two hours, eating multiple courses before using the additional weight to get us swiftly down and back to HQ. Rest day still means recovery whilst back at CHS HQ, saunas and massages still on offer. The legs started to come back to life and spirits were all high as we saw out the day with another 3 course dinner and then a movie
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Day 4 – Rest Day – 43km – 1275m – 2hrs
Opening the curtains on the fifth day, and the sun of the day before was a distant memory. We were in a cloud and it didn’t look to be passing any time soon. A delayed start gave us time to fuel and discuss options, and also for Noz to organise for a team car driver so that he could join us on what turned into a great day of team moral building.

We rolled through the local towns before hitting the base of the Aitana (used in the Vuelta and made famous by a small smiling Columbian a few years before). If you’re good, it’s a 40 minute climb, but for me it was just under an hour. Mainly, because Noz and I rode up at tempo whilst having deep and meaningful conversations about life.

A man who refuses to accept that there are no positives to take out of every day, he’s highly motivated and along with his brother Jubi, they are what really make CHS what it is. The camp could be located anywhere and they’d make it flourish, they’re just those kind of people!

Over the top, and we regroup for lunch, where we shock a very small café owner (the café, not the owner) with 11 of us ordering food and drinks. Her one coffee machine couldn’t keep up. Nor could her sandwich making skills, as we were presented with bread, ham and cheese for a DIY lunch. It was an experience and we all had a good chuckle about the odd situation.

Having had the later start, it was a group decision to make a right turn home; so we climbed up the Confrides (a lot quicker this time) and back down our favourite 30 minute descent into CHS and the smiles and protein shakes Jubi had waiting for us.

Noz told us to do some youtube research on a climb he had planned, so after our standard evening routine we got to watching what Noz had planned.

Day 5 – 87km – 2150m – 3.5hrs
The route Noz had been waiting to unveil on us, finally made an appearance on our penultimate day, the Cumbre De Sol (Summit of the Sun). Made infamous in a Vuelta not so long ago, for its eye watering gradients!

Noz was back in the team car, as he knew we needed the support on a tough day ahead, and we rolled out and back up the Rates for a 3rd time. Rolling hills across the countryside of the Costa Blanca, we head towards Benitatxell. The roads are quiet, wide and the vehicles few and far between: They are a cyclist’s dream.

We roll through the town into what our research had shown to be a mellow run into a roundabout before the gates of hell presented us! 26% straight off the bat, even with my compact chainset and 32t cassette, I was struggling at 50rpm and 500w. However, Noz was there to keep the teams spirits high and upwards we rode. It mellows out after a few minutes, to a blissful 10% where it stays almost to the top.

Where, with 300m to go, it kicks back up to a silly 21%. Oh but was it worth it! The views at the summit were awe inspiring and after we found our lungs, we took it all in. Including the contents of Noz’s snack box!!

The route had us turn around and head back the way we came. Welcomed it was too, as it meant we could have one last pop at the Rates. Something happened on the way back and after a few digs from some of the team, we were all geared to attack the Rates.

Conditions were as good as our legs felt and almost all of us set a PB up the climb. The attacks didn’t stop though, as we blasted down towards HQ, any incline in the road was a chance to have a dig at your team mates, and we were all in pieces by the time we got back.

One last sauna and massage didn’t go amiss, that was for sure.

Day 6 – 124km – 3220m – 5hrs
Final day and we all had different ideas of what we wanted to do. Our flights weren’t until 9pm, so we had the day to ride before packing up. Noz left us to our own devices. Some ascended Guadalest for a Coissant and Coffee, whilst a couple of us headed to the beach.

Plotting our own strava Route, Simon and Myself headed off and it wasn’t long before we were deep in the orange groves, then gravel and a few very short steep ramps. Perfect sunshine and great coffee kept our legs going, as we reminisced on what had been an amazing week, that had seemed to fly by.

Back up the HQ and we all packed our bikes away. Hugs all round and the Paceline RT training camp was done for another year…but don’t worry Noz & Jubi, we’ll be back!





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