Thursday, 13 June 2013

King of The Mountains

i've just returned from a month in the Pyrenees, staying with good friends Ian and Julie  at Pyrenees Multisport practice riding up mountains in preparation for the first ever staging of an EverydayTraining camp in the region.
 I have been blogging daily from camp  -here - so you can read what a great time we all had. We had a little bad luck with the weather, though to be fair most of this hit in the week prior to the camp, the knock-on effect was that the lake water temperature was unbearably cold for some, and the pass over the Tourmalet was not yet clear of snow for us to ride through. There's not a lot that we could have done about either of those things - perhaps arrange some pool swimming? - and so in all we view this camp as a great success. It was certainly a bike -oriented camp, with a LOT of riding hours leaving us a lot less time for running or swimming ...i think that with the bike volume that we were doing, a reduced amount of running was sensible .That said, some of the guys DID opt to cut some of their rides short in order to get some longer runs done. We were able to accommodate those variations quite happily - those guys did not "complete" our camp schedule, but made the right training choices for their own needs with respect to upcoming race preparation. "Camp completion" is something that we make a bit more of a thing of on our Endurance camps in Lanzarote ...and we view it as a way to keep the handicapping system that we use for the KOM competition honest....but for a camp in June for Triathletes, we have to appreciate that  there will be guys with different objectives. That said, the KOM races did get every one motivated, and by the end of the week, people were taking it proper seriously!  My self included- having lead it from day 2 ( Steven won day 1, which was awarded on scratch, by being the fastest up the Aspin) and missed out in the finale by a handful of seconds. The points score for each placing increased daily - a reflection of the increasing difficulty in beating an ever more accurate handicap. The final 1km of those latter climbs were very intense with some close finishes. Each rider had to start out slowest first with each at calculated time intervals after. Sometimes that interval seemed impossibly long ...and each of us had to start knowing that they'd not see the guys ahead until those last few hundred meters - and even then only if they had started out sufficiently hard. It was a real mental battle, but having a Powertap sure helps with this!

The final climb in the competition was the Col des Ares - 6.7km long climb up a 700m ( ish) col very close to Pyrenees Multisport base. All of the cycling camps that they host there finish with this known time trial, with the top 10 fastest times proudly on display in their communal dining room, and also on their website . The fastest lady rider also makes it onto the board...and having timed myself riding it "very hard" on a group ride in my first week out there, and fallen almost a minute became a bit of a mission for me! It may seem a bit of a trivial goal for a Pro athlete to have set herself, and yes, I do know a whole peleton of other pro triathletes who could rock up and wipe me right off that board instantly, but it motivated me to do some hard workouts on rainy days and there's nothing wrong with that.  Each week of my 4-week stay I made a point of ending one of my rides with a timed effort up this hill...and managed to know handfuls of seconds off each time. So, on the final day of our camp I had two objectives 1) to catch Paul, who'd set off 1:20 before me, to win the KOM comp and 2) to post a new best female time on the TT.  I was sufficiently please with myself for achieving the latter,  despite failing by 18 seconds to catch Paul.

By that point in the week, it's been 7 consectative days which started at 6:20am getting up to start the and  briefing for the following day over dinner before heading upstairs to work on the blog, publicity, photos and urgent emails until midnight. I'm quite accustomed to early starts, and long training days, but those late nights really dug into me and so by day 6 I was feeling pretty run down with that tell tale sore throat . I knew that the minute we waved goodbye to our campers, it'd hit me ...and so it has. Fortunately I had scheduled a few days off training in order to recover and get fresh for Wimbleball. I had not planned on being ill for 4 days with a chest infection, but it has forced my to really rest up this week, in the hope that my lungs will be better by the weekend. Fingers crossed.

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