The dawn of February heralds the start of the next phase of the cycling year: Warm weather training camp season.
We’ve noticed bike travel bags flying out of our warehouse at an alarming rate over recent weeks – and that tells us just one thing: you guys are taking your bikes on holiday.
Warm weather training camps, often in Majorca, are an annual excursion for many cyclists. These intensive week long riding holidays often take place in February, March and April – and they’re a great way of getting some solid miles in away from the changeable (at best) and dreary (at worst) British Weather.
If you’re planning on an early season training camp, or cycling holiday for those after a more relaxed experience, here are some tips:
1) Make sure your bike is ready – this means serviced, with reasonable brake pads (many typical cycling destinations have some serious climbs, and that means serious descents), no clunking bottom brackets or dodgy gears. If you plan to ride all day, every day, you just don’t want a groaning bike. If you need any advice or servicing, you can take your bike to any of our stores for some TLC. If you have a torque wrench, take it with you to put your bike together properly when you arrive, so there is no guess work involved.
2) Go with a group you are comfortable riding with, and agree your aims and plans. Maybe it’s about getting the miles in, or perhaps you and your friends want to explore and spend some days doing shorter rides, or your goals might be to get some short high intensity sessions in or practice group riding at speed in sunnier, dry conditions. Whatever you want, make sure you are all on the same page before you leave.
3) If you’re doing long rides, don’t go off too hard in the first 40 miles, and then bomb for the rest of the day – it’s not fun being dragged over a mountain on someone’s wheel. Take it steady, and if you’ve got some gas left in the tank, save it for the final sprint home. (It will happen. Every. Day.)
5) Take a variety of nutrition products. I spent an entire week one year eating the same yoghurt covered apricot bars. The bars were nice at first, but by the time I’d eaten half a box I never wanted to see another again. You will get taste fatigue, and with so much choice around, there is no need for that.
6) On food: take caution with the buffet. It depends what your holiday goal is, of course – but if riding is the key concern, be careful to eat food that will sit well on your stomach. Sometimes the buffet dinner isn’t for a couple of hours after you return from a ride, so some recovery drinks could be a good addition to provisions kept in your room.
7) Prepare for all weathers – of course, you’re going away in search of sunny climes – but bear in mind though it will likely be sunnier than the UK, it is still early in the year. If you’re going up into the mountains, especially, you have to be aware that there may be snow and ice on the top of them – so when you stop for a coffee arm warmers and a gilet could be a good idea. Of course, you hope it will be sunny, but you should take riding gear for an array of weathers.
8) Have a bike box or bag that you trust. We’ve all heard horror stories of bikes bashed in transition. I’ve never personally known anyone this has happened to – so there is no reason it should happen to you – but a good box or bag will add protection and set your mind at rest. I always pack foam or bubble wrap around the frame and components, for extra protection (and I usually wrap that in most of my lycra – but if you do that, don’t admit it to anyone in airport control). Also – make sure you let the air out of your tyres, or it might not just be your ears popping on the plane!
9) Don’t pack CO2 in your bike box, or luggage. I’ve seen cyclists pulled over at airport control, only to have 20 CO2 canisters taken from their bike boxes. It’s not allowed and it isn’t really worth having it confiscated – if you’re going to a common cycling destination, there will be bike shops.
10) Enjoy yourself. This is, afterall a holiday. Enjoy time with your friends, drink good coffee, and come back with razor sharp tan lines.
Enjoy the ride! If you’ve got any questions, post them in the comments, and we’ll get back to you with an answer.