Sunday, 28 February 2010

La lluvia en España!

Good afternoon readers and fellow cyclists. I'm just starting to get back to full recovery from our fairly epic training week in the mountains of southern spain. The conditions were interesting to say the least! On arrival, although a bit on the nippy side, the weather "seemed" quite nice. Not so - the next 5 days we would experience heavy downpours, hailstones and gusting winds!

The day we arrived, things started nice and easy, setting up the bikes and heading out for a nice easy 1 hour spin on dry roads. Our plan was initially go for easy day, hard day but we soon realised there is no such thing as an "easy" day in the sierra nevada mountains. Day 2 we had decided to go on a "brisk" 3 hour ride, but due to navigational error we ended up on a 5.5hour route which saw us all starting to flag and forced a stop and begging for food at a small town towards the end!

From there on every day was a matter of survival. Every climb was a race to the top, and each day finished with a "king of the mountains" style finish at the town of Lanjaron for those that had enough left in the legs to contend after 4-5 hours on the bike. Day 4 took us up a steady mountain climb to the highest village in europe where we encountered possibly the worst cycling conditions ever - what started as rain, soon turned to hail and snow along with mega strong winds. It was so cold it got to the point where I could no longer operate the brake/gear shifters. Not to worry - the pro's go through worse than this right? Well, possibly. As we descended down the other side of the valley, we then had to negotiate a mud landslide which had filled the road. Andy B chose the "straight through the centre" route and our moods lifted as we laughed watching him sink nearly waist deep in spanish mud! Luckily we all started to warm as the air temp improved lower down the mountain, which resulted in a nice finish to the ride.

After a much needed rest day, we were finally blessed with our first dry conditions which were very much welcomed. At last, we could hammer those alpine style descents at 40-50mph, Valentino Rossi style! That was, until a massively strong sidewind threw myself and Andy B into the armco barrier, resulting in Andy bending his front wheel, bending his forks and picking up several cuts and bruises! Luckily we were ok and were able to continue thanks to Simon, one of the guides from (cheers again!).

On our last day we picked up some race pace action from a couple of local pro riders which saw the heart rate sitting in Zone 5 for around half an hour! They were fast, and gave us all a good challenge, but considering we had 4 hours in our legs compared to their meagre 10-20km's we didn't do half bad!

So, despite the weather conditions I can safely say that it was a very productive week in terms of training. 22hrs in the saddle and around 400 miles isn't to be scoffed at. Everyone was riding strongly, so we were able to give eachother plenty of challenge on the climbs. It should make for some interesting racing at this years SXC. We also introduced Andy Barlow to the delights of a double espresso mid-ride, being that he was a coffee virgin. "This stuff is amazing" and "Tuned to the moon" are two quotes that I vividly recall.

So, that's about it for the mo. Preparation for the season ahead is pretty much complete, so let's hope things go well. For more pics, check out my Facebook!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Heading for the Mountains of Spain!

Morning all!

This weekend i'm heading off to Spain for a week, for a repeat of last years training camp in southern spain, hosted by the nice people at . Fellow scottish racers Andy Barlow, Dave Henderson and Douglas Shearer are amoung the crew that are joining me for a weeks enjoyment (or should that be punishment?) on the roads and mountains surrounding the town of Lanjaron. Check the google map below if you are interested in the location!

View Larger Map

Despite the adverse weather conditions so far this winter, i've managed to get in some quality training which should put me in good stead for the year ahead. I can confidently say i'm in good shape for this time of year, and very much looking forward to the upcoming season. My friend and European Quad racer, John Mitchell (ATV world Yamaha) has been joining me on the roads for those longer miles, which has been a great help - not only to me but also for his off-season conditioning, too.

So, spain here we come! I'm very much looking forward to it, and will definately be more prepared than last years episode as I know what to expect from the grueling 15km alpine like climbs which we will encounter. Last year, every day was like a road race so, this will be my first real "high intensity" training of the winter so far, so let's hope the legs (and body) hold up.

My bike is prepped up with a 53/39 front chainset, and this time round i've decided to go for a 12-27 rear cassette. I ran a 25 last year and it was a bit of a "grind" in places, and feel I could have been more efficient by keeping at a higher RPM which i'm inclined to do. My "race" roadie hasn't seen tarmac all winter, so i'll no doubt be making a few other adjustments along the way (I always seem to be adjusting things...).

So, that's about it for now, to the mountains we go! Lookout for my report (will pics) soon after arrival.