The joys of winter
If you’ve read any of my blogs before, you may have gathered that I am not a fan of winter. Whilst I’d like to think I’m not a fairweather cyclist as I still get out in the cold and wet, I find it very hard to motivate myself to do so; my legs and performance always seems to decline in the cold weather, I feel the chill pretty badly, and the constant bike cleaning really pisses me off!
I’ve been undergoing my annual loss of form and absence of mojo through this winter. I’ve been trying to keep a good volume and intensity of training up, but the inevitability of a lot of turbo work, which I find doesn’t work as well for me as getting out on the road, as well as the soul-destroying nature of it, means I’m in desperate need of a training boost!
Salvation, courtesy of a bloody huge volcano
Fortunately, I took the plunge before Christmas of booking myself onto my first ever winter training camp, safe in the knowledge that I’d need that winter boost. My choice of winter sun / torture for unfit legs was Tenerife in very late February, on a trip organised by Azur Tours (info here: http://azurcycletours.com/tenerife/). I’d heard of Azur before – a cycling company that Paul Hamblett, past winner of Haute Route triple crowns, works with – and heard good things. On seeing that Paul, who I know very well (i.e., a 5 minute chat at Haute Route 2015 and via social media) will be out there leading rides, I knew that I’d be in very good company for training. In fact, far too good company as Paul seems to be quite a beast on a bike…
Those of you that follow pro cycling, or are interested in ‘performance’ riding at all, are probably aware that Tenerife is a great training location for riders. Team Sky have used it many times in the past, including in the seasons of Wiggo and Froome’s Tour victories, as have many others, including Astana, Movistar and Katusha. Obviously, being nearer the equator than Majorca et al, it benefits from great temperatures all year around – I know that even now, in late January, it’s topping out at around 25 degrees every day, with not a rain cloud in sight. I’m just keeping everything crossed that it stays this good for the next 6 weeks so that I can blind all the inhabitants of Tenerife with my beautiful pasty legs when I’m in my shorts.
The main thing that seems to distinguish Tenerife from the Balearic islands, and which is probably a reason the less mountain-goatish choose not to go there, is that it is essentially one bloody huge volcano, and so the opportunity for flatter riding is relatively scarce. Said hillock is call Mount Teide, and, topping out at a very impressive 3,718 metres above sea level, Teide is the world’s third highest volcano on a volcanic island and, at the same time, the highest mountain in Spain.
Paul Hamblett is out there riding now, and I have been keeping a beady eye on his rides on Strava – here’s a couple of the segments he’s ticked off.
As you can see, 20km+ with 1500m+ gain is quite something, and will easily match some of the biggest cols I’ve tackled to date. I can’t wait to get my trusty TCR onto this climb and have a go on this mountain myself, so keep an eye on those segments for my extremely unimpressive results.
I’m pretty much gagging to get out there to boost my flagging form and mojo and start my Haute Route training for the year proper. The only problem will be maintaining that form through the soggy UK spring – I’m riding the fearsome Tour of Wessex in late May and so will need all the legs I can get! But hopefully I may be able to get out to the Pyrenees to visit Matthew and do some work with Expedition Ariege prior to Wessex to keep the momentum up.
Now, better go and have a short sleeve jersey stockcheck….
P.S. Paul also writes a blog. It’s super interesting (but not as good as this one obviously). Have a look at it: http://piglet8me.wix.com/piglet-is-cycling