Last week this was the view from my window. Just got back from a couple of weeks of training camp in Sierra Nevada in Spain and no, I did not ski!..
I just woke up from a huge nap, that was dangerously close to going into the category of a night’s sleep instead. A few days ago I got back from this year’s first training camp. I usually go on training camps this time of year to enjoy some better weather for putting in those base miles. Often I go to the Canary Islands since there the sun is almost always shining with very little cold/rainy weather. This time though Thomas, my coach Rune and I are taking a little different approach, since I will have more races at altitude this season. Spending more time throughout this season at altitude will make my body more used to adjusting to the thinner air. Whether it will work or not, we’ll have to see, but most importantly we’re now testing it to find out! Clever is better 😉
Sierra Nevada is located at 2300 meters above sea level and during the winter is also a skiing resort. You can’t really train on the roads up there, so we had a rental car and shuttled down the mountain for training. It worked okay, but was a little hard to spend that much time in the car. Luckily the only radio station, that worked properly was “Energy”, so we had entertainment most of the time. Somehow we had planned our training camp to run parallel with some of the worst / hardest winter weather, that this area had experienced for a long time. That meant regularly snowfall. The spanish efficiency (sorry to all my spanish readers) of cleaning or not cleaning the roads meant, that we sometimes had to take an unplanned restday. Well, nothing that ruined our masterplan. One time the snowfall came while we were down the mountain, meaning that we battled increasingly bad weather as we made our way back up towards our residence. One of the two danish young guys that I shared the car with at this moment was driving the car and showing his rally car driving skills. At this point it was so late, that daylight was completely gone. At the same time snow was falling heavily and the car was sliding all over the road. It was quite scary. In this slippery blindness we made it almost to our accommodation, but had to mount snow chains after having burned off almost all the rubber of our spinning wheels. The only problem was, that we were all snow chain virgins. As we stood there freezing and fumbling around with the chains, luckily some driver got stuck behind us on the narrow road and came to our assistance. When we finally got back and inside our hotel, my hands were so cold, that I spend almost half an hour twisting myself in pain as the blood returned to my hands. Me and frozen hands were never a great match! Well, I finally got hold of myself. The six hours we spend on our bikes that day felt like nothing in comparison to the adventure of getting back to the hotel.
The training itself was great. If you’ve been dropping by my blog before, you might have heard me say, that the sun always gives me a kick. It also did this time. Even though the temperatures most often were somewhere between 5-10 celcius degrees we almost always had plenty of sun.
The area is excellent for training. You have both flat and quite hilly terrain very close to each other, which makes variation in training very easy. The only issue is the wind, that we experienced some days on the mountainridges along the coast. We had some extreme situations, where we were blown off the road. Literally! I once ended up in the guardrail along the road. Many times we had to get off our bikes to fight our way forward on foot with the bikes flickering in one hand behind us like a dragon’s tail. At several points along the ridge, they actually had roadsigns telling you to watch out for heavy wind ahead. Already struggling to stay on the bike and then seeing those signs made me a little scared honestly, for how could that wind possibly be any worse?!.. Well, for sure those windy days assured, that training on the road never got boring or monotonic.
The start of the season is slowly approaching. I will race the stage race on Cyprus in a couple of weeks and then by the middle of March awaits on of the biggest mountain bike stage races, Absa Cape Epic. This year I will no longer be a rookie to that race, which will be somewhat different to last year. Never the less, I’m super excited to get going!