Training camps and cycling holidays can provide some of the best riding conditions and most enjoyable experiences on the bike, but getting the most out of them can be tricky if you aren’t organised and approach them in the right way.
So here are five ways to ensure your training camp is on to a winner.
Firstly the location of your training camp is crucial and for most of us that has to include a good dose of sunshine. It’s important to take into account that even in the most traditional of training camp locations, weather conditions can be changeable.
This is particularly common if you are heading off to mountain ranges such as the Alps of Pyrenees. Where it may be baking hot sunshine one minute, followed by a torrential downpour the next.
Its also important to take into account the cycling infrastructure where you are staying, otherwise you could be in for a nasty surprise if your 'off the beaten track' cycling holiday turns out to be surrounded by miles of old farm tracks.
Perfect for a Paris-Roubaix experience, but perhaps not if you want a solid week of pain free riding.
Guided or non guided
Another thing you have to take under consideration is whether to go it alone or book up with a cycling holiday company or training camp.
Both have their benefits, with cycling companies providing experienced guides and logistical support in terms of travel and food - making your trip a lot more carefree.
However despite requiring a bit more organisation and planning, going it alone does allow for more freedom and flexibility to suit your requirements.
Don’t over train
It may be very tempting to take advantage of the good weather and riding conditions and go all out when away on training camp. However it is important not to overdo it, especially early on in the trip where you may be fresh and keen to smash it up the first mountain or on the first ride.
Obviously you still need to push yourself hard enough to allow for a degree of training overload, but pushing it too hard too early can cause more harm than good. Especially if you are sleeping at altitude where it can take longer for the body to recover compared to sea level.
Don’t get too competitive
Just like over training, it is important not to push yourself in comparison to your cycling holiday companions. The odd races for the signpost or a sprint to the top of the climb aren’t going to push you over the limit.
But getting into an all out battle royale up a 20km mountain, may well tip you over the edge. Especially if you find yourself riding with someone who has higher fitness levels, remember that training camps are about improving yourself, rather than proving yourself to others.
Complete off the bike activities to relax the mind
You may classify your cycling holiday as a training camp, but this doesn’t mean you have to train all the time. So take some time out of your day to do other things other than cycling or work to relax and unwind.
This can really help psychologically as well and make the difference when you get back to training at home.
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Paul Knott is a fitness and features writer, who has also presented Cycling Weekly videos as well as contributing to the print magazine as well as online articles. In 2020 he published his first book, The Official Tour de France Road Cycling Training Guide (Welbeck), a guide designed to help readers improve their cycling performance via cherrypicking from the strategies adopted by the pros.
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