At the start of January we clubbed together with our friends at High5 to give one lucky customer & a chum the chance to ride in Majorca with Team Raleigh.
Majorca is a mecca for riders looking to enjoy mile after mile of open roads, breath taking scenery and switchbacks that get you digging deep and powering hard. At this time of year the weather is a pleasant temperature compared to English shores making for a brilliant training base. (apart from an uncharacteristic bout of snow prior to our arrival which apparently was a first for 50 year but that is another story!)
We arrived at Team Raleigh’s training base in Santa Ponca. Glimpsing the terrain on the way and seeing the Raleigh boys stream in from a 7 hour ride, one thing was becoming clear that whatever was to happen over the next few days, we were going to need energy and a lot of it!
Under the experienced direction of duo Cherie Pridham and Eddie White, Team Raleigh spend just over a week in Majorca getting in the ultimate shape before the race season kicks off. This is no holiday as the guy’s clock up over 927km of riding and will spend up to 8hours averaging at 35kmhr in the saddle at a time. The training camp is an important time for the team to bond and develop a language on the bike as this is the first time that many of the riders have met.
As Cherie confides these guys are “taught to pedal a bike not to push a bike” and as I took up my place in the support vehicle to dispense High5 drinks, I soon saw what she meant. A ‘gentle’ pedal out to the gruelling climb that is ‘Randa’ soon picked up pace. Our Get in Gear ride more in 2012 competition winners clung to the peloton with gusto. Having been armed with High5 bars and Zero they kept pace until sprinter Briggs cranked up the revolutions and they were off moving as one, only to drop behind the support vehicle and start drafting for minutes at a time!
Back at base I caught up with the team and Cherie about plans for 2012, the importance of High5 nutrition in training and top advice for riders looking to get in to the sport.
Q. Cherie, what are your hopes for the team in 2012?
Our goal is to win races. We have a great team of guys with a mix of skills including sprinters, climbers and all-rounders. The younger riders are constantly absorbing, learning and pushing themselves to do better.
Q. What is it like riding in the team?
There is a lot of pressure on these guys and education, passion and having the right tools are important. Using High5 products helps to support training and performance. Zero tablets are an easy to use isotonic which provides minerals while Source is a great energy booster to maintain performance. Typically for a 100mile road race you would need 4 to 1 or ‘Energy’ which gives you nutrients and proteins and supports recovery.
Q. How do the Pro –Race categories work?
Pro cycling teams are ranked according to UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) categories. These are ProTour, Pro Continental and Continental. The team rosta size is larger for Pro Tour teams of 25-30 riders while Continental teams like Raleigh have 8-16 riders where the average age must be under 28.This gives a great opportunity to harbor new talent and sustain the sport within future generations.
When catching up with Sulzberger, Russell Hampton and Briggs over breakfast their advice to anyone who is looking to get in to cycling is simply to ‘enjoy it’. Getting along to local rides to meet like minded riders helps too.
Try High5 at our RideIt! events. Enjoy hassle free cycling for road and mountain bike. Check out dates here.
Feedback from Get in Gear competition winner Rowan:
Landing in a sunny (ok, cloudy) Majorca, I was feeling a little nervous at the prospect of riding with Team Raleigh GAC as they prepare for a new season. After arriving at the hotel I waited for the first signs of the team, and waited, and waited. I had seen the team van fully branded with Team Raleigh graphics so I was definitely in the right place!
Finally at 5pm the team rolled in, having completed a mammoth 7 hour ride covering 195km and including 3200m of climbing. In all honesty, I was a little relieved, maybe the guys would be so knackered tomorrow that I stood half a chance of keeping up! Later in the evening I was introduced to the lads, all of them looking a little spaced out from a long day in the saddle, but friendly nonetheless.
Saturday morning started with an early breakfast and a visit to see the team mechanic to get fitted with my bike. I had bought my own pedals (what with us cyclists being pretty protective of using our own) so required the expert mechanic Pete- definitely one from the old school- to sort me out.
The nerves were beginning to build and we rolled out at bang on 9.30am being followed in the support vehicle by Cherie (team manager) and Pete the mechanic. I could definitely get used to having a support vehicle on hand and will be trying to persuade my girlfriend to get up with me at 7 on a Sunday morning to follow my club ride laden with High 5 energy drinks and spare wheels. I was instructed to sit at the back of the group and enjoy the ride, I could guarantee only 1 of those demands!
The pace was noticably quicker than I am used to riding (and this was an ‘easier’ ride after yesterdays efforts) but I was just about able to cling on for the first 80km. I can fully understand why so many teams choose Majorca as a training destination- fantastic roads, great climbs and very patient drivers. I am sure the weather is usually a major positive too, unfortunately not on this occasion. It was an impressive (plus a little scary) sight to see how quickly the team ascended a stunning 5km climb and left me feeling rather humbled as I limped my way up after them. I made a valiant but fruitless attempt at rejoining the team following the climb at Randa, instead enjoying a nice leisurely 30 mile roll back to the hotel (via inner city Palma- but we won’t talk about that unwanted diversion).
The thought of day 2 in the saddle was scary at this point but at least I could get a nice early night- the now legendary Pete ‘the mechanic’ had a busy night in store, cleaning and preparing 14 bikes to showroom-like condition ready for yet another day on the road.
The plan for day 2 was to stick with the Team for as long as my legs would hold out, which turned out to be 35 minutes! I guess that is the difference between professional and amateur cyclists, the Raleigh Team clock up hundreds of kilometers and go again the next day and the day after that!
I enjoyed every minute of riding with the team, it has been an exhilirating, once in a lifetime experience which will stay with me for a long, long time. Thanks Evans Cycles and High 5 nutrition!