As I said in the last blog post, the winter is a time of uncertainty for me about my form. I don’t train with other riders that often as I enjoy being out on my own and pushing to my own rhythm. Consequently I can get a long way without knowing how good my form is and whether I am ready or not to start racing. Yes, I have a power meter on the bike and can do lots of analysis but this is not everything.
On the 3rd day of the month we started this 10-day team training camp in Mallorca with the aim of gauging where the fitness of all the riders stands, as well as preparing the legs for the first races of the year with some high intensity work mixed in with some other race-specific training. There is a type of fitness that you get from riding as part of a group that is more suitable for racing, it’s a slightly different pedal stroke, a much less constant effort, and a mental focus for staying centimetres from the wheel in front as well as sweeping through the corners at a greater speed. This is primarily why we’re here!
In the first week of the camp we clocked up about 850km of riding in the form of two 3-day “blocks” of riding. The main challenge has actually been keeping a lid on things! As everyone would find in this situation, being amongst a set of strong teammates with a really positive atmosphere, it would be very easy to push too hard with the adrenaline and the motivation to show your legs but we have enough time here and it is more important to get a good standard of work across the whole stay. Luckily we have the older guys in the team with more experience and the support staff keeping a very close eye on things, even down to the daily weigh-in and checking of the resting heart rate..
Our training has consisted of lots of hours on the bike including sprint work, strength session (riding with a low cadence at a higher power), mini races against each other, breakaway-style efforts, and then a local race to get the legs moving properly. I have found that the hard work and long hours on the bike has really helped the team to gel together, something very important that is sometimes overlooked. The fact that we have all been sharing rooms in the hotel and always eating and spending time in each other’s company is also an essential contributor to the good team chemistry that we have built up.
Now, how do the legs compare with the others and do I feel ready to take on the start of the season?
Unfortunately in the amateur race we did on one of the final days I had a fast crash with some other riders and messed up the muscles around the ribs and lower back, keeping me off the bike for some days but ignoring that, I actually could not be happier with how I’m feeling with the form! I have taken some big steps on from last year in quite a few ways. The signs that we can take from the little tests and exercises we have all done together have all been very positive for me. It’s been a tough few months of winter training but I now feel like a considerably bigger part of the team and I am now really hopeful that I can take some strong results early on in the season, but we shall see! I think with just some more intensive training sessions from here I can come into my first few races in a good shape.
Presuming the recovery from the injury I got in the practice-race crash goes as expected, my real race-season will be starting on the 22nd February with the Tour of Antalya, a 4-day stage race in Southern Turkey before heading to France for some more classic-style races in the bad weather! I can’t wait!
Many thanks to Elisa Haumesser for the photos