In a lot of ways, the hardest training camp we do every year is the cycling camp to Majorca. We spent two weeks there at the end of February this year and we were either on a bike, on an ergo or lifting weights. The ergos and weights are of course something we are used to but spending two weeks on a bike is not
The overriding memories of a lot of cycling camps that I have been on is the pain; the pain in your legs and yes, the inevitable saddle soreness!
I am not a natural cyclist and our cycling coach Sandy Gilchrist when he first saw me on a bike, I think was pretty horrified! But with Sandy’s expert coaching along with hours in the saddle I am now able to get the most out of my riding. I have though had a couple of falls over the years which are never nice. In 2015 I came off and hit my head pretty hard and suffered mild concussion. An important reminder to always wear a helmet as they save lives!
Last year my gears didn’t pose a problem but now my legs weren’t as conditioned and it showed. It was a long grind! I paid for the 5 months off!
The reason for cycling as a rower is you can cycle continuously longer than you can row for so it’s a great way to work on your base level endurance. Also the change in gradients of the roads provides variability in the demands on your lungs, heart and legs. In Majorca there are some great flat rides but once you get into the north of the island and into the mountains it seems like the only way is up the whole time!
There is a particular ride we do every year that everyone who has been on the camp remembers well for the sheer challenge that it presents. Its long and has some serious climbing which includes the infamous Sa Calobra climb. Just under 10km long with an average gradient of 7.5%.
This year I knew that this ride was going to take a lot of grit due to being less fit than normal. Last year I had a new and much lighter bike which made climbing a lot more enjoyable but this year even on the same bike when climbing up Sa Calobra I was constantly searching for more gears. Last year my gears didn’t pose a problem but now my legs weren’t as conditioned and it showed. It was a long grind! I paid for the 5 months off!
When I get really tired, I get grumpy and at the end of the camp I was seriously grumpy. On the second to last day we had one of the biggest rides to do and I did not want to get back on the bike. The ride was out along the flat, climb a mountain then turn round and cycle home. I was with Jess Leyden and Charlie Booth for this ride and we were all very quiet on the ride out. It was just heads down and get the work done. I really appreciate my team mates on this camp. We all have bad days at some point in the two weeks but we always stick it out together. If someone is struggling, you will sit on the front for longer to help them out and you know they would do the same for you if needed.
It’s the hard sessions that stay in my memory bank and when I am nervous about a race I draw on them for confidence and I remember that racing is the fun part! It’s in training that you find out how far you can push your body and finding new limits is exciting even if at the time it’s not very pleasant!