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!
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!).
I 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.
At 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!
Level 3 British Cycling Coach
It has now been around 13 weeks since the Ras finished and my learning journey has continued, both on and off the bike. The pain that I had during and immediately after the Ras in my hip/pelvis has gone, but from time to time, my knee is still sore. So back to my physio. George checked over my glutes, hamstrings and quads. Whilst the spinal injury I had has gone completely and I’m much stronger, I effectively have no glutes, and the strength of my quads to hamstrings is 60% to 40% (that at least is an improvement as I was 100% quad dominant before!). No glutes basically means my ITB has slipped slightly, giving me knee pain when I’m on the drops and working hard. Its funny because I have no pain in my ITB when I foam roller every day. To strengthen my hamstrings and glutes I have yet more physio exercises to do (I think I must spend at least 45mins a day doing my physio exercises now to put it into context!). To say these exercises are torture is an under statement – one hamstring rep is enough to make my hammys burn like I’ve just done 1 million lunges. My hammys shake during the exercises and its a real test of my mental strength to do more than 1! I’m now up to 5 x 10 and can hardly walk after them. Reminding my glutes that they need to fire is a lot less painful, although mildly frustrating. And actually, seeing it on paper like this has made me realise I did well to finish the Ras, never mind anything else, especially given the virus I had going into it.
So I’ve learnt a lot about my body. My core strength had gradually been slipping away throughout the season and it took the Ras – which was far more stressful on my body than a single RR – to highlight this, resulting in injury. It was hugely noticeable on the rollers – when I returned from the Ras, I was so unstable on the rollers and hated it. This is coming from the girl who loves the rollers and taught herself to ride no handed on them before being able to ride no handed outside! Fast forward 10 weeks of (nearly) blood, sweat and tears and I can now stand up out of the saddle on the rollers again. Massive progress. I’m happy that I can feel my hamstrings working when I ride now (even if they hurt when doing so!), and I’m determined that the imbalance will be fixed by the start of next season. Not only will I be injury free, I’ll be a stronger and more efficient rider – and just think of the impact that could have on my season!
I’m about to finish the 3nd block of winter training. It’s going well and I’m very happy with the progress I’ve made. I’m surprised at how fast I can go in z2. Uphill is amusing, especially on steep hills – I think my slowest was 5kph up a 10% gradient in z2! Any slower and I’d probably fall off. This winter, my coach and I are doing things differently from last year although certain things still stay the same – like 3 weeks on, 1 week off (to my dismay, the easy week is only 5 hours, mostly inside! I say dismay because its not that I dislike resting, it’s just that I love riding my bike – it’s my method of transport, it’s my way of unwinding from work, it’s freedom and escapisim), zone 2 aerobic rides etc. I’m in the gym, but the focus isn’t on a power block this year. And of course, there’s my core and physio exercises which are like a second full time job!
As last winter, I’m eating clean. Today marks 6 weeks of eating clean, and no refined sugar or chocolate. Every winter I eat clean to give my system a break from the energy products I use over summer time. Last winter I lost 2kg by doing this, and so far this winter, I’ve lost another 1kg, along with the bulk of my tummy fat. My energy bars and gels have been replaced with proper home made food, and during training is the only time I allow myself something sweet – usually gone in my bars to make them stick together. I’m still eating fruit, but as I’m dairy and gluten free, along with not eating meat, I feel it’s important to keep it in. So many people ask me what I eat when I say I don’t eat meat, dariy or gluten. My answer is loads! 2 or 3 portions of different veg is eaten at lunch and dinner time. Rice, quiona, butternut squash, lentils, beans, potatoes and sweet potatoes are my starchy carbs if I need them. I eat eggs and fish every day, take hemp protein twice a day, whey protein once a day, coconut milk yoghurt, peanut butter, smoked salmon and avocados for healthy fats. Chai seeds, flaxseeds, goji berries also feature every day. So you see, lots!
Eating clean also means my recovery is better, my energy levels are stable and I feel strong. This is reflected in my HRV scores, all of which have increased and a new PB of 106 (unlike RHR, the higher the HRV number, the better). When I go for a sports massage I have no niggles – I guess I feel balanced. What’s better is my taste buds have changed – I can taste the sweetness in vegetables now. I now plan to follow this approach into my 2014 season, with a little more emphasis on starchy carbs if I need them.
Team 22 had their first team weekend where we had a ride with the sponsors. It was great to meet the full line up of riders and sponsors. I feel very lucky to be part of this team. I read somewhere on twitter recently a quote that said: “Trust your coach, trust your team, trust yourself” How very true this is. I completely agree with that quote, and let’s face it, as I do this for fun / a hobby (albeit a very time consuming hobby), being part of a team with a great ethos at its heart, an exciting vision for the future and a Team Manager who I have the uttermost respect and trust for is really important to me.
New riders Lauryn Theryn and Joanne Blakeley will join current riders Eve Dixon, Frankie White, Melissa Bury and Nicola Soden for the 2013 season.
Lauryn joins the team with a wealth of sporting experience and success. Athletics was her main sport up until the age of 20. She was a thrower who competed in the Javelin and Discus at World Youth Games and Commonwealth Games standard. She finished her athletics career in 2006 in order to focus on Bobsleigh where she competed for Great Britain on the Europa Cup Circuit, World Cup Circuit and at the World Championships. She finished Bobsleigh in 2008 ranked 6th in the World, the best result for a British Women’s team in over a decade.
Lauryn Theryn Bobsleigh
Lauryn took up cycling in 2011 after attending a talent transfer programme run by UK Sport called Girls 4 Gold. She joined the Cardiff Jif Cycling Cluband raced for them on the road and track winning Welsh National medals in both disciplines. During the winter she took up playing Rugby and was selected for the England 7’s Development Squad.
After sustaining three serious injuries early in her rugby career she took up cycling again to keep fit. She moved to Manchester in April this year to work for British Cycling setting herself the goal of competing in the British Track Championships and won a silver medal in the Team Sprint.
Champion Systems Maxgear
Lauryn commented “I am really excited to be given the opportunity to race for a local team and am really looking forward to racing with the other girls. My goal for next season is to be a reliable rider who works hard for the team and isn’t afraid of pushing my own physical boundaries in order to rise to any challenge.”
Jo is relatively new to cycling after coming from a running background. She was shortlisted for the Girls 4 Gold programme along with Lauryn. She joins the team after a year of riding with local club Seamons CC in which she achieved a great deal. She won the TLI National Road Race Championship and has produced some solid top twenty placings in National Road Race Series Races. She is also a very strong time triallist with several wins and podium places and 5th at the National Hill Climb Championships this year.
Jo wants to build on her road racing experience next year and is “eager to start racing with and learning from my new team – who love cycling as much as me! I’m particularly excited about racing in Belgium with them next year and gaining more experience on the track and in other areas.”
Ian Bury, team manager, said “Lauryn has had a spectacular sporting career so far both on and off the bike. She is a very driven individual and has much to offer to the team with vast sporting experience and a strong team ethic. Jo is also an exciting new addition to the team with a lot of raw talent. She can do a strong time-trial and is super enthusiastic to work hard with the team. We are very excited about 2013.“
The team have worked well as a unit this year with top tens and podiums in the National Women’s Road Race Series, National Women’s Team Series and races in Belgium and Holland. There has also been top National Championship performances, with Nicola placing 10th in the National Scratch Race Championship, Melissa winning Rollapoluza National Championship and second in the Grass Track 800m National Championship and most recently hill climbs with Eve winning the National Junior Women’s title for the second year running.
2013 line up:
Follow the riders progress at maxgearettes.blogspot.com or on twitter @Maxgearettes
Pictures kindly supplied by Ed Rollason: www.edrollasonphotography.co.uk
The Welsh brand will be supporting 6 Welsh juniors as well as national and professional riders in four track meets over the winter.
Alex from howies said “We’re proud to be part of a nation responsible for producing current Olympic and World cycling champions and Revolution will be a great place for our Welsh team to race against giants in cycling. This years team kit has also been designed with elements of the Welsh flag for riders to fly in…. Pine. Rubber. Lycra and speed. We can’t wait”.
Other teams racing this season are: Team Sky, Rapha Condor Sharp, IG-Sigma Sport, Raleigh-GAC, NetApp-Endura, Rudy Project RT, Maxgear, Team Sportscover, Team WD40, Rouleur and FACE. These teams will bring a number of stars to the track; Sky and Rapha have named Alex Dowsett and Olympian Ed Clancy. The lineup also includes three of our own writers; Tom Murray (IG-Sigma Sport), paralympian Jody Cundy (riding for FACE) & six day rider Christian Grasmann (Rudy Project RT).
Nancy & Anna Review the Ana Nichoola Snow Cat Jacket
Between us we use the full range of Ana Nichoola clothing and have been fans since the arrival of “Bo Peep” Gloves. We are both always at the front of the queue to purchase our next item. Ana Nichoola has now ventured into clothing with the Snow Cat Jacket and what a triumph it is. Below are our thoughts on it and links to our reviews of other products in the range we have purchased.
Cycling is a sport that’s dominated by men and all the equipment is made for them but with the new Ana Nichoola collection that will change! No more boring design, no more jackets and warmers that never fit… You can actually look girlie and stylish while riding your bike.
The brand is created by female bike rider Anna Glowinski, who better than a woman to understand the needs of women in the sport. Ana Nichoola has an innovating line of accessories with very cool designs; each piece has little details that make a simple item look extraordinary.
Apart from the good looks, the quality of the products is exceptionally high. Both of us agree we haven’t seen anything for female cyclists this good!
We agree our most favorite item is the “Snow Cat Jacket”, no other jacket on the market gets close to this one, it’s a warm jacket perfect for your cold winter rides, a great windstopper and like the arm warmers it fits amazingly well, tailored for a women’s body. The fabrics are of the best quality with a mix of reflective fabrics, sweat wicking, stretchy, soft and warm.
The collar is a double layer with a lovely soft polar fleece lining at the neck, the outer collar is a stand up mandarin style collar with a press stud fastening in a pale duck egg blue colour. The top sculpted part of the jacket and sleeves is made from a gorgeous white waffle textured fabric with tiny flecks of shiny thread woven into it (you can see the flecks in the blue collar too), it looks like snow glistening in the moonlight. The top lining is a lovely soft fleece. There’s a pair of embroidered circles on the shoulder in pastel pink and blue providing just enough embellishment to bring an elegant feel to the garment, this is repeated further down on the left hip. The top half is all about keeping your chest warm. The lines of the jacket are very sympathetic to the female form and rather than having a horizontal band or line between the two fabrics (as you find on most male or unisex cycling jerseys) it has a swooping blue stitched edge between the white of the top and the grey of the bottom. The bottom half of the jacket is a thinner fabric enabling more movement, it has a grey and dark charcoal horizontal stripe pattern. On the front at the left hip there’s the Ana Nichoola logo and just above it there’s an secure zipped pocket. On the back of the jacket there are two large pockets like all good cycling jerseys should have, but these pockets are again sympathetically styled to echo female curves. The pockets are stretchy and also have press-stud closures, there is a smaller pocket nestled inside the right pocket; ideal for a snack bar or a mini pump. Centre back of the jacket upper is a golden embroidered circle between your shoulder blades. The cuffs are finished with a matt silver reflective fabric. Running down the sides of the body and under the arms on the sleeves is a black lycra wicking fabric for a better contouring fit and to make your ride a comfortable one. Overall it provides an extremely flattering silhouette. You can tell a lot of thought and effort has gone in to designing this jacket.
[flagallery gid=12 name=Gallery]
Click SL (slideshow) or FS (fullscreen)
This jacket has provided more protection from the wind and wintery weather than any other cycling jacket of it’s kind we’ve owned and it looks great off the bike too. We’ve both had loads of compliments and questions while out and about… plenty of jacket envy. It’s easy to clean. The price is premium but lets be clear this jacket is premium quality and there are many jackets in this price bracket that aren’t near this quality. The stitching and finishing is excellent along with the fabric quality. The sizing is quite accurate, we would say that buying your true size will give you a good fitting jacket, the size range is a UK6 to UK14, bustier ladies may be disappointed that larger sizes aren’t available, but maybe that will change when the brand grows. We’ve seen a sneak peek of the Spring/Summer collection and the clothing range is increasing, you won’t be disappointed no matter what type of bike you ride you’ll want to get your hands on something from the collection!
Ana Nichoola also has gloves, neck warmers and ear warmers in the range so you should take a look at the Ana Nichoola website and read our reviews of the rest of the product range.
Come on girls, what are you waiting for… Style Your Ride!
Nancy & Anna.
Available from www.ananichoola.co.uk
1st Snow Ride Of The Season By Will_Cyclist
Santa is coming with many gifts for all of those who have been good this year and I’m sure everyone is getting ready to have a nice dinner and spend time with their families this weekend. But how is Christmas in the life of a bike rider??
For road riders this is the off-season, they don’t have any races at this time of the year, its more about recovering and getting in shape for the next season. But for track riders and cyclocross riders this is where they need to be 100% and really focused on riding their bikes and pushing themselves further in races. Don’t ask me much about MTB, BMX and other cycling disciplines because to be honest I really don’t know much about those disciplines!
Lets start with road riders; I think the hardest thing for them is to stay in shape, at Christmas there’s a lot of good food and people tend to gain weight in the winter, that’s something that a bike rider and especially a road rider can’t allow themselves to do as weight does matter!
Drem Airfiled Snow Ride By Jason Liddell
There are usually training camps with their team to build up relationships with new and old teammates and to get a nice block of training for the next season under their belt, they need to stay focused to achieve their goals for the upcoming season and manage their time wisely to also be able to spend quality time with the family.
It’s harder when you live in one of those really cold countries in Europe where there is a lot of snow and rain during the winter and you need to go to other places to train, my boyfriend, Jetse Bol had to go to Fuerteaventura for training last year and couldn’t spend “Sinterklaas” (it’s what Dutchies celebrate over Christmas) with his family in Holland.
Things are a bit more complicated for the ‘cross and track riders, they are in the middle of the season right now and they do have to train and compete at the highest level in the World. The cross riders have a World Cup on December 26th and plenty of other races after that which means they probably won’t be out celebrating on New Year’s Eve!
The track riders don’t have big races close to Christmas but for example, the case of my sister Sofia; she is based in Mallorca during the winter because it’s better for training than Mexico and because it’s easier to travel to all the races but she was lucky that there was a World Cup in Colombia this month so she could come over to Mexico to spend Christmas at home but she is flying to Mallorca on the 26th in order to get ready for her next event in Beijing.
Sometimes you need to make some sacrifices and sometimes you are lucky enough to be able to do it all but in the end all that matters is achieving the goals set for the season, the Olympic year is coming!!!