“After returning from gold at the Columbia World Cup and the change of direction for me with my training and racing after the team pursuit was removed from my schedule, it was time to make a quick and decisive change to the plan that would lead me into the Para-Cycling World Championships in February 2012.
After spending the best part of three weeks on the track and racing it was time to put some of the bigger road miles back into the legs and so I contacted Club La Santa to get myself out to the sunshine of Lanzarote so that I would be able to have an uninterrupted run of road training into the New Year.
Club La Santa is based on the north west coast of the island of Lanzarote and for just four hours flight time the weather in December is far more reliable and warmer than anywhere else in Europe. It was the perfect place to head to and so I enjoyed the final three weeks of the year in the warmth and putting in some good long rides and specific time trial efforts too.
Spending Christmas abroad was something I haven’t done since my family spent the Christmas of 1986 in Malaysia with family friends based in Kuala Lumpur, but with building work on our house meaning there wasn’t room for a Christmas tree let alone a turkey, it seemed the best place to be and whilst finishing off 2011 with a great block of training!
The weather on Christmas Day was glorious, but it was a scheduled rest day for both Barney and I, so we were able to enjoy a couple of games of mini golf, before chilling out by the pool and enjoying the sunshine. We’d managed to be clever with our packing and I had taken a mini Christmas tree and some extra wrapping paper, so we could decorate the apartment with paper chains and streamers!
"Whilst Lanzarote doesn’t have the same variation of climbs as you might find in Mallorca, there is no shortage of climbing and the constant rolling nature of the island means it is possible to climb 2km in a four hour ride. "
Being out and about on the island and riding through the small villages and towns like Teguise, Femes, Yaiza and Costa Blanca, it was interesting to see the varying lengths people went to in decorating their homes and gardens. In the UK it is not unusual to see a whole street lit up like the Blackpool Illuminations, but there were fewer external lights in Lanzarote, well that was until you rode through Tinajo on the way back to Club La Santa. This is the closest and largest village to the resort in which we were staying and taking pride of place on the roundabout that was the entry and exit to the main street, was a huge snowman that rotated when lit! The street was lined with lights and it was looking much more like a street from back home!
Whilst Lanzarote doesn’t have the same variation of climbs as you might find in Mallorca, there is no shortage of climbing and the constant rolling nature of the island means it is possible to climb 2km in a four hour ride. The longest climb on the island is up Tabayesco and this is 10km in length when climbed from the east coast, but there are three ways to get up it and so plenty of options to traverse the lanes and keep climbing all day long!
Most of my rides were four hours in length but there is little chance to freewheel, even on the descents because the wind is so strong you have to pedal down too. Towards the end of the camp I spent some time doing starts and sprints with Barney’s help and it was good to see the power meter still showing some decent figures despite the long miles and fatigue that was setting into my legs. It’s fair to say by the time we headed back to the airport after the last four hour ride on the morning of our departure, I was well and truly ready to come home and have a few easy days to allow the benefit of the training to sink in. My legs had fallen off as I crawled back to have my final lunch and coffee by the pool!
Travelling home on New Year’s Eve was something of a lottery as to where we would be when the clock struck midnight and with our flight scheduled to land at 11pm it seemed likely we would be waiting for our bags in the airport. Fortunately for everyone the pilot was on a mission to get home and we landed half an hour early so everyone got very excited they may well make it home in time for midnight. It seemed likely for us that we would make it back as we went to collect the car, but at 11.40pm we were about 15 minutes from home when the car got a puncture on the front nearside and we celebrated the New Year at the side of the road with the fireworks of Hazel Grove going off above and the countdown on Radio One for company!
By the time we got going it was well past midnight and I was driving carefully on the strange feeling of the space saver spare wheel. We passed a police car parked up waiting to pull over any potential law breaking motorist and I felt sure he was going to pick on me for curb crawling! Fortunately though he didn’t and we made it home for a delayed glass of bubbly!
Happy New Year to you all, here is to a fantastic 2012, may all your dreams come true.”