Winter Miles Summer Smiles!

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“Tartiflette!”

This was the response from @Jonhinio when I asked the Twittersphere what was important on a Winter/Spring Cycling Training Camp!

Not surprisingly the other answers revolved around food, sun and scenery with @SJcyclist feeding back “I loved Mallorca, quiet roads, great weather, sympathetic drivers and stunning scenery”

It is often hard to fit winter miles in around life, work and of course the variable UK weather, so a winter or spring training camp allows you clock up some serious mileage before your racing season or sportive season starts and get some much needed vitamin D!

Whatever your cycling goals the extra hours in the saddle early season will certainly help and if you are aiming for a big sportive like the Etape du Tour you will have the chance to ride climbs of similar length, which we just don’t have in the UK.

And yes the food is vitally important! If you have only been riding occasionally over winter then expecting your body to ride 4-6 days in succession is a big ask, and certainly not wise on calorie deficit!

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David Butcher, Owner of 7hundred in Windsor and organiser of Training Camps in the Costa Blanca, says
“Motivation is the biggest driver. When it’s dark and miserable in the UK it can be difficult to find the motivation to ride, that can affect endorphin levels creating a negative feedback loop. The allure of different roads and warmer climes, even if only for a short period, can help restore motivation and reinvigorate your training.”

Hundreds of options exist for organised training camps where everything is done for you, the real pro experience! Just book a flight and pack your bike (or even hire one there) and everything else is taken care of.
45 Degrees North in Morzine, in the French Alps offer a luxury chalet with a hot tub, delicious food from a professional chef, a Level 3 Performance Coach, complimentary sports massage, a bike mechanic, homemade energy bars, laundry facility and a full support vehicle to carry extra layers, tools, food and drinks (and riders who fancy starting part way up the climb or a lift home at the end of the day!).
IMG_6522I asked Chris Sellings at 45 Degrees North how a rider should choose a training camp.
“This depends entirely on you, your budget, what you want to get out of your training camp and absolutely the time of year. For example, if you are looking for an early training camp in the mountains, you can rule out the Alps, but could find several in Mallorca, Andalucia or even South East Asia. This depends on your race calendar and targeted events. Generally, athletes will attend a training camp early in the season (February to May for UK) to improve their base fitness before the season really kicks in. Athletes targeting races later in the season (August to September) can absolutely benefit from a training boost mid-season (June to August).Some people go for camps run by big name coaches and for others it’s about taking the opportunity to explore a new location. There are a plethora of training camps out there to meet every budget and time restraint. The key is to think about your race season and whether you want to attend a training camp to lay base fitness or to peak for an important race. This determines the time of year to aim for. Next think about the type of fitness you need for your race. There is little point heading to the mountains if you are targeting flat, fast crit races and vice versa. Then it comes down to your budget. If you can afford to attend a training camp run by a famous coach and staying in luxury accommodation, then get in fast and book. Otherwise seek out a good quality camp that offers great value for money and the more beautiful the rides on offer the better!”

Often riders are concerned about their ability to participate or concerned they might be the slowest and hold the group up. David from 7hundred advises “choose your camp carefully, if in doubt don’t be afraid to ask questions and be honest about your abilities when discussing pace. Why not encourage those you ride with to join you? It’s not a race! It’s also easier to ride in a group you know”.
Chris agrees “We all have to start somewhere and any self-respecting training camp will recognise this and cater for weaker riders. There are a variety of ways to do this. Weaker riders will generally ride together with an experienced guide. For longer more challenging rides such as sportive routes, they may be set off before the faster groups and even from a point further along the route. There will be a no drop policy in place so you don’t need to fear being left behind and becoming lost. Sometimes vehicle support will be offered. This means, if you become too tired you can climb into the vehicle and be driven home. This said, you should have a reasonable level of fitness before attending a training camp and be able to comfortably meet the minimum requirements set by the training camp. If you are not sure, seek guidance either from a club coach or the training camp operator prior to booking.”
Most training camps will offer a variety of riding groups, with the distance and speed of each ride varying accordingly. Helen from Twickenham Cycling Club, who make an annual pilgrimage to Majorca for Legro’s Training Camp, feels “setting expectation of the groups, advising people which group they should be in and having enough group leaders to ride with the slower riders and allowing those who up the pace unnecessarily to go off on their own” is key to a successful week.

IMG_6527At Hotel Dory in Riccione, Italy, the 4 routes for the following day are posted up on the notice board in the bar with the distance, speed, profile and estimated time. Riders sign up for the one they would like to complete the following day and the hotel allocates the appropriate number of ride leaders to each group. The convenience of having the lists in the bar means that should you find yourself still in the bar at midnight with another glass of Italian red then you can quickly cross your name out on the 150km mountainous ride and swap to the 40km flat tourist ride!

Alternatively, how about a DIY training camp with your friends, you can then choose everything yourselves and decide your own schedules and rides, but you may miss out on the support, structure and local knowledge of an organised trip.

There are also plenty of cycling holidays to choose from the difference according to David from 7hundred being “A training camp is more focused, concentrating on building an aerobic base and while a cycling holiday may be guided and cover the same ground, it might not be as beneficial for those looking to improve. Cycling holidays are generally more relaxed and an excellent way to explore new terrain without the pressure to perform. Decide what your goals are for the year, if you intend to race or you’re targeting some big sportives then a training camp will be beneficial. If you’re simply looking for motivation to get back on the bike and rediscover your cycling mojo, or purely for enjoyment of being on the bike, a cycling holiday is the way forward.”

Just booking a training camp can be the incentive to get out and train in the winter, it gives you something to work towards and look forward to when you are slogging it out in the gloomy UK winter. It will reinvigorate your training, boost your fitness and up your motivation levels, what’s not to like!

Holly Seear
Level 3 British Cycling Coach

2013 So Far – Ready for Spring

JodyDrinkBC

January

2013 started off by eating grapes, in fact 12 of them, one for each chime of the clock ringing in the New Year. I was in Majorca and this was a Spanish tradition to bring good luck. It was nice to get back into a routine of training and have no distractions. Also the weather was pretty good compared to back in the UK and I managed to get 10 quality days of training in, covering a good number of miles and a plenty of climbing to boot. Back in the UK I continued race in the Manchester Regional Track League, and enjoyed getting back into the competitive side of bike riding, although the endurance side of racing has never been my speciality.

 

Towards the end of January I attended the London Bike Show, and although there was quite a bit of snow disrupting travel I managed to get there and back in one piece and without too many delays. The show was good fun, signing autographs on the British Cycling stand, and then doing a half hour interview on the stage with Anthony McCrossen. The bike show was also a good chance to chat to manufacturers and distributers about the coming year and meet the industry insiders.

 

February

The start of February saw me heading north to Glasgow, to ride at the final round of the Revolution track series, and the first time the series had ventured away from Manchester. Once again I was riding for Face Partnership with the endurance riders. I didn’t quite get off to as good a start as in the first round as I finished 6th in the Flying Lap, an event I’d managed a 2nd in October. The Madison kilo was a much better ride than the 1st round though, riding with Jake Ragan we managed to post a sub 60 second kilo and good enough to take the lead at the halfway point. In the end we ended up 5th, but the time and placing was an improvement from previous rounds. The bunch races went pretty well this time around, although I didn’t make any of the top ten places I had much stronger rides than in the October rounds and was more aware of what was going on around me. However still need some more racing and training to properly get in the mix and contest the finish sprints.

 

With unsettled weather conditions and having spent 2 days straight on the turbo, I was online booking another camp out in Majorca, this time it was only for 7 days, but it was long enough to continue working on the base fitness, and clocking in the hours. I was staying in the Playa de Palma, and it was pretty much a cycling hotel, with the hotel filled with cyclists. I was joined on a number of rides by fellow Paralympic Colin Lynch, who was staying in the same hotel. I also bumped into one of my main rivals and good friend, Jiri Jezek, who was staying a few hundred metres away in another hotel, I joined him out on a big group ride where we discussed the issues we’re having in our sport at the moment. It was good to get out riding with these guys as I do a lot of my training on my own, and when you’re on longer road rides it’s good to have someone there with you going through the same miles and hours. My fitness was on the way up, and I set a few PB’s up some of the shorter climbs on the island I use to test myself.

The camp wasn’t without a few hiccups though, as on the 2nd day I was knocked off by a car, which in itself was pretty shocking, but I was incredibly lucky and managed to escape with a few cuts and bruises. Thankfully it didn’t affect my training and I was able to finish the week strongly.

 

Once back home it was off to another bike show, this time the Bike and Triathlon Show in Manchester. It was a smaller event than the one in London, but certainly felt like I signed more autographs this time around.

 

March

With my fitness going in the right direction, it was time to test myself out on the road, and I was set to race in the Eddie Soens Classic at Aintree Race Course. It was the first race of the season for most people and historically has been cold and wet, but with 250 riders from all categories of racing it was going to be organized chaos! The race set off at a good speed and I was off with the Cat 2 riders in the group just ahead of the Cat 1’s and Elites. It wasn’t long before we were caught and the bunch was 250riders strong and shortly after that the first crash happened, fortunately I managed to avoid it, but with the rider on the ground each lap the bunch would have to squeeze past before regrouping. A few more laps in and there was another crash, this time I wasn’t so lucky and got caught the wrong side of it. After not quite making it back on, I ended up riding to the end of the race in a small group, and with the peloton out of our range it turned into a strong training ride. Still it was pretty enjoyable, and my legs felt pretty good throughout.

 

Then it was back to Majorca again, this time with almost all the GB Para-Cycling Team. It was one of the most relaxed camps I’ve been on, although the craziest weather conditions. We had sun, rain, wind, snow, and hail, but all in all it didn’t stop me getting in all the training I had planned. This camp was about adding intensity to my rides, and working on specifics that’ll hopefully convert into more speed on the track during my kilo.

 

Well that’s spring done and dusted, off to race at the Good Friday Meet at Herne Hill Velodrome (weather permitting) and then it’s into the meaty part of my training block, as I aim to make the 2014 Commonwealth Team.

 

Catch you all soon, as I keep you updated on my progress

 

Jody

 

P.S. Catch me tonight (29/03/2013) on the last show of the season of Channel4’s The Last Leg, 9.30pm on Channel 4 in the UK.

 

 

 

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