Life in Lanzarote
Just back from the camp. The weather improved a fair bit as the week progressed (although it never really drops below 60°) This meant the mileage also incresed. So now I need a week off to recover, but here's the rest of the diary. Thanks to all who came, it was a fantastic week - great food, good company and dry roads. Now let the season begin!
Day 5 - "Rest" day - 80kms
The plan is for a gentle spin. Good idea as the weather is looking threatening with rain cloiuds on the horizon.
Lanzarote is about 100 kms from the African coastline and the desert beyond. So the weather is usually dry and hot. But it can also be windy, very windy. Which is a good thing too, wen the temperature can reach ludicrous levels in the high summer you need a breeze, just to able to breathe. There's also few trees and hedges on the island either so it can be relentless and pretty soul destroying cycling, however it does mean that it makes for hard training and, after all, you need to practice riding in all weathers.
Fact is though, it's a quantum leap in temperature from the UK in January - certainly no thermals required - so rather than taking an hour to get ready you just need a jersey and armwarmers for all but the coldest of morning starts.
The rain is with us for about half an hour - it was actually the highlight of my week as I managed to send Dean Downing back to the car for my rain jacket! Soon after we cracked up the pace to get home quickly and by the time we get back the rain has cleared. Time for (another) well earned Club La Santa burger.
Day 6 - 160kms
The big plan today is to ride the Lanzarote Ironman course. For anyone who doesn't know this is a 112 mile loop around most of the island and for some reason triathletes want to do this after a 4km swim and before a full marathon - nutters. Today the weather is looking ominous. Strong winds have set in and the flags at the reception gates are showing that the usual inland breeze is a tad on the strong side - the flagpoles are bending. However in true training camp style the ride is to go ahead, but it will be shortened so that we can all get around before it gets dark.
It turns into an epic day, for everyone. And although there's plenty of weather (a little rain, wind and some sun) it wasn't as bad as first appeared - the ride left everyone feeling as if they'd acheived a great deal on one of the toughest days we endured and plenty of tales to tell. It's all great training.
Day 7 - 75kms
To say that my legs are tired is an understatement. They hurt like hell, even when I pull my socks on as I stumble out for a bacon and egg breakfast. Another day might just finish me off. The pain is slightly reduced because the ever energetic Dean Downing has left for the UK this morning (phew) and that Mr. Elliott actually (for the first time) said he's feeling it a bit. Hallelujah. At long last.
Well this ride started out with the best intentions to spin out the legs and relax a little but before too long we're pushing on a bit. The weather's much improved and the wind is no longer shot blasting our faces. It's actually an OK pace for once and with only one hill all day the legs get a chance to recover. The rest of the day involves sitting by the pool and drinking coffee in the blazing hot january sunshine. It's a hard life.
Day 8 - 60kms
I've broken every training camp rule this week. Enjoyed too much good food, trained too hard and for too long and forgotten that there's a reason why Elite riders ride so fast. Of course I could have taken it easier and trained in a more steadily paced group (I did try) but it's hard to resist the chance to ride with the top guys and although I usually ended up in trouble for a part of the day, we enjoyed soldiering on. However you can get a lot from a week like this, especially if you listen to the Sports Tours ride guides (Ian, Joe, Andy and Tim) - Training camps can be steady and controlled and perfect for building up for the Etape or the racing season. Sporting Tours International pitched it perfectly so that those who wanted to (try) and rip the pro's legs off, could. But for the majority, who wanted guidance and a good base to build their fitness on for the Etape could find that also. A job well done.
It's also worth mentioning that La Santa has a bike team that are second to none. Jon, Richard, Claus, Martin, Laurent and Tiia all did a marvellous job and do provide cycling groups of all abilities with the support they need - we didn't need a map or a spare wheel or bottle or a banana - we just turned up and rode.
As for today we have a late flight and so a chance to ride once more. This time it's just two of us and the chance to ride at a (much) slower pace. "Blimey I've not seen that before..." as we cycle past a vicious red caldera (iron deposits not larva!) and an early 19th century church. The thing is, there is a lot more to Lanzarote than being a bit bleak and windy - it is perfect for cycling though and La Santa has everything you'll need for a week or more of quality training. Quality is definitely what I got, although staring at the wheel in front of me for six hours a day hasn't been great for sightseeing.
Picking up the papers at the airport to find that we're all going to freeze for the next few weeks as the Moscow chill blows in, charming. It makes me want to turn back and do another ride around Fire Mountain, you forget what a bit of sunshine can do for the motivation... Training camps certainly get your season off to a flying start.
Look out for (loads) more photos next week...