While many teams jet off for their annual team training camp in Spain, Scottish Cycling took the option to head a little closer to home and spent a week in the beautiful New Forest National Park. 14 riders and 9 staff took residence in Avon Tyrrell Outdoor Centre on the edge of the park in preparation for the new season.
A mix of riders were in attendance from Endurance, Sprint and MTB for an intense few days of training on the road, in the gym and in the classroom, supported by a team of coaches headed up by Head Of Performance, Gary Coltman, giving the riders some of the best cycling expertise available in the U.K.
I spent a day (Monday) with the team to discover exactly what happens on a team camp and how the new influxes of riders are put through their paces. The camp started a couple of days before I arrived and already the riders had got 2 days of racing in their legs. The endurance guys had raced at the Perfs Pedal race the previous day and ridden the 40+ miles back to the team base so Monday was going to be a relatively easy day, but an easy day tends not to be that easy.
With breakfast done the riders were split into 2 groups for the morning, the sprint and MTB riders had a morning in the gym to look forward to with the Scottish Institute of Sport team of Paul Coyle, David Brandie and Mike Smith before an afternoon on the road, whilst the endurance team went for a 50Kms steady(ish) ride around the roads of New Milton and a quick coffee stop at Bashley.
Riding on the roads as a team with a team car always creates an interest and as we were leaving the coffee shop for the return leg, We had the pleasure of meeting Sammy Miller MBE who gave us a tour of his motorbike museum. 83 years old and a life time of knowledge to share. With lunch on the horizon the pace home lifted with the group tucked in behind the car through and off across the open moorlands.
With lunch done the afternoon session would be the turn of the sprint and the MTB groups out on the road for a hard few hours of team time trial drills with Mark McKay (Endurance Coach), Dave Daniell (Sprint) and Paul Newnham (MTB) along with Gary Coltman on the road overseeing the groups.
A steady ride out after a morning in the gym got the legs spinning before the hard intensity of a time trial. The riders were split into 2 groups of 4, some of the riders never having ridden a TTT previously, it was a steep learning curve having to ride a few centimetres off a riders wheel and sharing the workload but a few times around the 3 mile loop and times started to plummet. Sprint Coach Dave Daniell said that the opportunity to use TTT for training was excellent for the riders as it helps to work on capacity and anaerobic efforts as well as improving technique and skill. The effort plain to see on riders faces as they returned to the cars for a debrief.
With the goal met for the afternoon session, it was time to ride back to base for a stretching session - something that was carried out every day on the camp as part of the recovery strategy. Dinner and a team meeting to review the day and plan the next wrapped things up with just sleep required to be ready to do it all again
Sounds fun? it is but that was an easy day for the riders. Another 4 days of gym work, nutrition classes and hard days on the road before heading home is a small part of what it takes to, hopefully, be the best.
The riders on camp last week were Andy Brown, Angus Claxton, Phil Trodden, Lewis Mulholland, Tom Chandler, Matt Devlin, Neah Evans, Jonathan Biggin, Robyn Stewart, Emma Baird, Gemma Penham, Lucy Shaw, Isla Short and Kerry MacPhee.