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Home / Physical Preparation : Planning for Performance

Knowledge level: Advanced

Sportive

Article posted: 10/01/2013

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When scheduled well into your training plan, delivered at the right intensity and matching the needs of your target events, a dedicated training camp can be very beneficial. Training camps can be a great boost for all level of riders and can take your overall fitness and competitive motivation to a new level.

Warm weather training camps used to be the preserve of pro riders but now bespoke packages are available to cater for the burgeoning sportive scene.

The Great Britain cycling team coaches and riders have taken the full benefits of training camps and have passed on their top tips to have a good camp experience.

Travel

It’s very tempting to book the flight with the cheapest available ticket and chance your luck at maybe sitting next to your mate or possibly grabbing an aisle seat for some extra leg room. If you’re intending on making the most of the intensive training opportunity available, do you want to be arriving tired, stressed and stiff? This could seriously affect your first few days riding and a few pounds more spent on bookable seats, some extra leg room and civilised flight times could make all the difference.

Look after yourself on the flight. Make sure you keep well hydrated, consider taking your own healthy food onboard and regularly get up and walk about. Remember, you’re going on a training camp not a holiday, so, go easy on the booze as you don’t want to be riding the next day with a sore head.

However, you’re not just travelling on your own, your bike has to go with you and you should be thinking carefully about the bike transit along with your budget.

Insight Zone Expert Belinda explains further: “Expect bike and baggage carriage to cost more than your ticket on the budget airlines. Remember that you are not the only person trying to get away with your bike so check that there is no limit to the number of bike boxes the airline will guarantee to load on your flight. Don’t expect the baggage handlers to care about your carbon frame that you packed in a soft bag… it doesn’t matter how many ‘Fragile’ stickers you put on it.”

Destination

Don’t just look at the climate and terrain for your training camp, consider what you want to achieve from your time spent training and what events you have coming up. Picking your venue should be dictated by the events you are taking part in not just where you fancy a holiday. You don’t want to be in the Majorcan hills if you’re entering a cobbled flat sportive. The time of year in relation to your key events will dictate what you’ll be doing. Far out would be best spent training but, nearer to the season, you might choose to go for a camp in the locale of your event and reconnoitre the sportive route. 

Also to be taken into account are any non-cycling members of your party. A remote villa in the mountains might be great for your training but, if you’ve got a partner and children with you, what are they going to do when you’re out cycling. If you are going to be travelling with a family, it can be a good idea to consider a resort location with plenty of non-cycling facilities and activities available.

Leaders

New destinations will mean new routes and experiences, hopefully not the experiences where you become lost and take a longer route than you were planning on.

Going with a tour operator or having a guide for the first days of your trip can be money well spent. Former pro continental and domestic pro riders can be found in favourite cycling destinations to take you round the local training loops.

Costs for these guides can be between 10 and 30 euros per day per person, a great deal split between a group of riders with amazing routes and stories included.

Insight Zone Expert Belinda explains “buying an all-inclusive riding package can be the easiest and most rewarding experience. All the logistics are taken care of allowing you to make the most of your holiday. Shop around; the prices vary with the biggest companies often giving very good value for money.”

Guest speakers

The evening time can be spent on other training activities, in local bars or tourist hotspots. If you prefer to spend more time on your cycling development, booking with a tour operator could have added benefits of expert sessions or guest speakers of an evening.

In these sessions you will find more information on planning your training, tailoring your nutritional needs, or just great stories from years gone by from the world’s best bike riders who took part in the world’s biggest races.

Groups

We all know that riding with others is a great when done properly so make sure that this is the case on your training camp. If you’re travelling with friends, then make sure you are of similar cycling ability or that they are willing to wait for slower members of the group. You don’t want to be pushed too hard and return home demotivated.

If you’re booking with a tour operator then make sure there are plenty of groups that you can ride with that are not too large and have suggested average speeds. If you’re unsure, opt for a slower group on day one and then move up a group if needed. What group you ride with can also be determined by where you are in your training plan. If you are in a base phase you will need long steady miles, strength phase you need some hills for slow cadences and speed phase you need some flat valleys to get the leg speed going.

Training gains

Every session on camp that Great Britain Team Riders complete has a goal or focus, giving every rider in the group something to work towards in that session. Consecutive days of training without distractions and focus in combination with full recovery and rest in the evening will lead to impressive training gains.

This is true to the feelings of Belinda when on camp you should “challenge yourself: work on any weakness that you have identified but be realistic about how much riding you can handle. You don’t want to come back so exhausted from your training camp that you need a holiday to get over it!

Like minded people

Training camps are a time to leave the people and problems at home behind and ride your bike. On your camp you will find like minded people in the same situation or even taking part in the same events. Socialising when riding and learning from others will mean that you will become a more rounded bike rider in the process, furthering your knowledge base while you build fitness.

You need to be cautious when choosing how much riding to do “Remember that unless you are a paid Pro, this training camp needs to be a holiday too. Take a little time out from the bike to explore the area. Early season camps attract riders from all over Europe and further afield too. Be prepared to try out your language skills, it will make for a more interesting trip.”

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