Worried about not being fit for those sportives you’ve signed up to ride early next year? Planning a ‘biggie’ such as Etape du Tour? Or just fed up with the weather and fancy getting away from it all (because who really needs an excuse to ride, ride and ride a bit more)? Why not take a leaf out of the pros’ book and book yourself onto a winter training camp for a long weekend or – even better – a whole week!
Just imagine it, sun, blue skies, beautiful scenery, quiet roads and days of nothing but cycling. Europe has plenty to offer keen cyclists and it’s well known that pro teams do a lot of their training in places such as Majorca – it’s spawned a booming industry aimed at the likes of you and me who want to improve fitness and test the legs over some challenging climbs.
Winter training camps tend to run from December into the early Spring months, dependent on location. Joining an organised training camp has the obvious advantage of having everything arranged for you, from the routes to bike hire. You can of course go DIY, but you could possibly miss out on the structure of an organised trip, and you’ll need to do plenty of research to familiarise yourself with your chosen location and routes.
Mallorca attracts plenty of tourists through the summer months, but winter is much quieter and the roads can be fairly empty of traffic. There is a mix of flat coastal roads and inland climbs in the mountainous region of Serra de Tramuntana – Sa Calobra, one of the island’s ‘must do’ climbs, has 26 hairpins and rises to 668m at an average of 7.1 per cent. Check out Sunvelo and Stephen Roche Cycling who both operate on the island.
If it’s good enough for Sir Brad (who started riding in Tenerife several years ago) it’s good enough for us – especially when you can expect to enjoy temperatures of up to 24 C. Tenerife is brilliant if you want to focus on climbing, with Mount Teide offering great altitude training up to 2,200m. Cycle Gran Canaria runs six-day guided training holidays from October to May.
The volcanic island of Lanzarote also offers varied terrain. The highest mountains are 600m and there are several reknowned climbs, including Fémes and Tabayesco, the latter a 10km ascent. Club La Santa can accommodate all abilities, from novice cyclists to riders wanting to get race fit.
Andalucia is often included in the Vuelta de Espana, so you know that this part of mainland Spain will offer some great challenging routes! It’s a very arid landscape so chances of rain are minimal, you’re more likely to be enjoying warm temperatures up to 25 C. The scenery is stunning and there is little in the way of traffic, certainly no one blaring their horn trying to get past you for no reason other than you are on the road! Andalucian Cycling Experience runs week-long camps based in Montecorto from January to April.
Wherever you end up make sure you have adequate travel and personal liability insurance. Carry ID and ICE (in case of emergency) details with you at all times. Many organised camps supply bikes, which saves the hassle of transporting your own, but make sure you pack helmet, shoes, pedals (if you’re using your own) in your hand luggage just in case your suitcase goes astray. And remember that you’ll be riding in warm conditions, so keep hydrated!