It’s that time of year when a lot of people are trading the chilly, wet British weather for a training camp. Getting some sun on your back, the wind in your hair and some good quality miles with friends can go a long way. It certainly breaks up the British winter. With our athlete Jack Schofield having a few camps booked in this year, we asked him some of the dos & don’ts he’d recommend!
Do: take your bike measurements
Obviously, if you’re flying to training camp with your own bike, then you’re not going to have to worry about this one. But making sure that you have the right measurements is crucial. If you don’t have the measurements, make sure you check before you leave or drop in for a bike fit.
A good bike fit will keep your hips aligned, glutes engaged and legs moving straight. Avoiding any injuries from the start will be important to make sure you function for the rest of the week.
You’re no use to anyone if you’re injured by day 3 of a week long training camp. Not even on the golf course when you try and squeeze in a cheeky round.
Don’t: assume it’ll be hot all the time
Checking the weather before you go is an important one. I’ve been in the blazing sun in Mallorca one day, and had snow up in the mountains near Puig Major in the same week! Taking the right kit is an important one.
A good set of arm and leg warmers can be a top addition so you can keep warm in the mornings – but be in shorts and a t-shirt by lunch. Some areas of France and Spain are still quite cold at this time of year, don’t get caught out.
Also making sure you’re prepared to eat according to conditions is an important one. You’ll need more hydration if the sun is blazing, less if not. And gloves could save your hands – it can get very chilly on your way down a mountain!
Do: take nutrition/supplements
Make sure you check what you’re going to be eating for the week. Do you have a kitchen? Is it half board? These are important questions to make sure you’re fuelling properly when you’re out there. You’re going to burn a lot of calories on your training camp, you need to eat accordingly.
Taking the right nutrition/supplements with you is a must. It’s a great chance to practice race nutrition and get your hydration right. Some electrolytes, gels or energy bars will go a long way. And you’ll thank yourself if you bonk 20km from home, don’t rely on your friends to save you.
If you’re flying with a bike you can fit most of your nutrition in the bike box. Or at the bottom of your hand luggage so it doesn’t take too much space. Don’t forget gels can’t be carried on the plane in hand luggage!
Don’t: forget your chammy cream
If it’s going to be a long week of miles, the kind of volume you can only really do on training camp, your body will feel it. Even the best athletes are only as strong as their weakest point. And unfortunately for most of us, that comes if we’re caught without chammy cream. This is an essential for camp.
Any chaffing or unneeded blisters will hold you back much more than fatigue will. You can train through fatigue, you can’t train through that pain. So it’s definitely one to consider, and male or female, you’ll need to consider it with the same weight.
Do: check the routes
I check all of my routes on Strava and import them into my Garmin Fenix 3 watch or my Garmin Edge 520. This is a great way of making sure I don’t get lost when I’m out if I’m by myself. And if we’re in a group two of us always make sure we have it.
Strava is great for making routes, but sometimes can go a bit wayward. You have to give it a brief check over to make sure you’re not going to be doing any unnecessary off-roading or any dead ends. Planning cafe stops here is also great to know how long you’re going to have to wait until you get to the watering hole for your next cake & coffee.
You’ll be able to find the most popular routes to make sure that you’re riding where the locals are. This will keep you away from any busy roads or sketchy sections, we hope!
Don’t: get caught without water
An important one – know where the next towns are, or the next petrol station. You can often just pull over and grab a bottle, but if you’re out in the mountains, these can be few and far between. Knowing if/when you can stop is important, you’ll need to consider this when you’re planning the routes.
Spain and Portugal often have taps and fountains in the small towns so that you can fill your bottles up for free. Don’t worry, the water there is fine, they’re not as backward as you think! Even if you have to carry a bit of extra weight, you’ll thank yourself for it.
Do: make sure you have a back up plan if you get stuck!
Snapped chains, burst tyres, a huge huge bonk. Make sure you have a back up plan. It’s easy to say it won’t happen to you, but we’ve all said that before. Can you get a taxi back to your apartment? Or is there somewhere closer you can get a train from? Maybe one of you can nip back for the rental car…
It definitely should be considered before you head out on a big session. If you’re running it’s slightly easier as a taxi/uber shouldn’t be too far away, depending on how long your session is. But you can cover a lot of miles fairly quickly on the bike, so make sure you’re ready for it!
Don’t: leave without checking the local cuisine.
Whether it’s the local watering hole for a few lemonades, or the local restaurant, be sure to stop by! A lot of these places have some fantastic food to offer, so be sure to check it out. You can’t beat local produce fresh that day, so grab your pals and head down.
It probably won’t cost too much, and even if it does, it’ll be worth it. Water it down with the local wine and beer, ask the staff what they recommend. It can be a great end to a solid week, or a good way to start it.
Wherever you’re headed this winter for some sun, I hope it treats you well and you come back happier and fitter! Enjoy.