The simple answer is YES – absolutely. Here are the why’s, what’s and where’s…
WHY? A warm weather training camp is a chance to escape from the cold, wet, windy weather of Northern Ireland, and get in a solid block of training before the season kicks off. You’ll have the chance to ride on exciting and challenging new terrain. You might even meet up with some of the pro teams also escaping to the warmth of southern Europe.
And you’re sure to come back with some great stories! (check out the picture captions)
Where? The most popular destination is Majorca. Tens of thousands of cyclists descend on the island in March and April. The roads are fantastic – smooth, fast, with a choice of mountains in the west and flatter runs in the east. And there are lots of well marked routes, and support facilities like bike hire, cyclist friendly hotels and cafes.
The Canary Islands are also popular, particularly Lanzarote. They are further south, so you’re almost guaranteed better weather, particularly in February. But the exposed lava terrain has rougher roads and it is always windy, so don’t expect to do as big a mileage as in Majorca.
Southern Spain, Italy, and the south of France are also popular.
WHEN? Many riders try and go before the big Easter stage races at home. The Canaries are best if you want to go in February. By March, Majorca is also popular, although you might still get a wet day (or even a dusting of snow in the mountains). By April, Majorca is just about perfect!
WHAT? Most riders plan to do a block of long, steady runs, with perhaps a few sprints thrown in to liven things up. Elite riders with easily do 500-600 miles in a week in Majorca. In Lanzarote, expect to do about half that distance. Plan your week carefully – perhaps start of with shorter runs, and build up to a special long run mid week. And don’t be afraid to take an easy day if necessary.
Check out our training guide and plan how this fits in with your goals for the season.
Riders used to take their own bike, but many now hire a bike when they get there – it’s almost as cheap, and saves the hassle of packing it for the plane and coach transfers. And there are great bikes available at reasonable prices.
HOW? There are three basic options –
- Go with a club group. This is probably the cheapest option, and you’ll know the people you are going with. You might also want to take the whole family and make a proper holiday out of it.
- Many tour companies offer cycle camps, with organised rides for a variety of standards, and the chance to ride with cycling stars (e.g. Roche, Kelly, etc.). They may also have training talks, etc. as well.
- Go with your pro team 🙂
Any risks to be aware of? Just a couple –
- If it rains, DON’T GO OUT. The roads in Majorca turn to glass and everyone falls off. Better to take the day off, than risk spoiling your holiday (or worse)
- When you get home, you’ll be tired. The jump from 200 miles per week to 500 is big. Don’t expect to come home on the Thursday and win the Tour of Ards on the Saturday. Take it easy for a few days, and get used to the colder weather again. And after a couple of weeks you should really see the benefits.
Go for it!