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

Ciao Italia!

19th April 2011

Hello everyone! Thank you for stopping by again!

I have been training like crazy! I’ve just come back from my team’s training camp in Italy and it was very hard! It was the first time that I met all my teammates and they are all great, we have a great atmosphere in the team, everyone is super friendly with a great attitude.

We are about to start the season this week in Belgium and some other riders have been racing since February so we did some intense training to get in shape for racing. Every ride we did included amazing climbs and we had to do efforts and sprints! The first days were hard but fun and at the end of the first week we were all super tired of the hard work out we’d done.

We were usually doing blocks, 3 days hard training and one easy day. Our first easy day was on Wednesday and we arrived on a Sunday, we went for a 2 hour ride (on a rest day!). The second rest day was on Saturday and we were all super tired so we took the day off and went to the beach to enjoy the sun and the amazing weather in Riccione.

Seriously, if you are thinking of a good place for a training camp you need to try this place. It has the most amazing climbs and the view when you are climbing is incredible! (not that I had a chance to enjoy it during the efforts tho…)  the weather is amazing and I haven’t even mentioned the food yet, I think everyone loves Italian food as much as I do.

We were training with Jamie Burrow he is a former pro and was riding for US Postal with Lance Armstrong, it was great to train with him and learn from all the experience he has. He is super friendly and he was always giving us feedback and advising us oh how to become better riders, you can’t get that every day so we tried to learn from him as much as we could do in 2 weeks.

The first week of training was hard but the second week was even worse (at least for me) I got a bit sick and couldn’t do all the efforts in the rides but I still did all the distance, we were doing almost 4 hours every day which is pretty hard and if you include the efforts it makes it even harder and I guess I didn’t take care of myself as I should have and I was feeling a bit week.

The thing is that when you train that hard you need to take as much rest as possible, drink a lot of water and eat good for the next day but coming from such a different continent and not being used to the food and everything makes it a bit hard for me. Anyway… I was feeling better by Wednesday and we had to do some Team Time Trial efforts and I am happy I could be a part of it. We have this Team Time Trial in Luxemburg coming up so getting the training done was important!

After the 2 weeks we were all exhausted but happy with the training and the hours on the bike. Everyone was looking in better shape every day and I think the team is ready to start this season. I leave for Belgium tomorrow, I do two races this week and then some races in Luxemburg and I am very excited to see that everything is already happening. I’m looking forward to going back to Mexico in June for the National Championships, I think racing in Europe will give me loads of experience and confidence and I really hope I can get a good result there.

Will give you guys more updates after my first races!

Nancy

 
 
 
 
 

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