I love Scotland and I love cycling in Scotland.
For the most part, I find motorists to be courteous; we have glorious scenery, the hills are generally manageable and we have a whole network of quiet country lanes to play on. The weather at this time of year is a different beast however. I don’t mind the cold, the rain or the wind but when it’s all three at once, I just can’t muster the will power to get out the door and ride my bike. Particularly, with the latest bout of stormy weather. It takes a special type of person to be out on the road bikes in 40mph winds!
For the last three years, I’ve booked a spring cycling break to Mallorca in March with friends from Fleet Feet Triathletes and Aberdeen Wheelers Cycling Club. A small dose of sunshine and the opportunity to get some proper miles under my belt always starts me up for the year and encourages me to keep the training up. I’ve travelled to Puerto Pollensa on the north coast of the island giving access to the Serra De Tramuntana mountain range and loved every single second of it. So much so, I’m off again next week for another week of ride, sleep, repeat.Here’s my top tips for a cycling training camp:
1. Take your own bike or at least your own saddle – although there is often a very good selection of cycles to hire, I’d recommend taking your own noble steed. I’ve travelled with my own bike with no problems so far and I couldn’t imagine doing hundreds of miles in a week on a bicycle that I’m not fitted to and comfortable with. If this isn’t an option for you, consider taking your saddle (possibly even still mounted to your seat post) so at least your bum will have some home comforts.
2. Don’t waste yourself in the first day – it’s very easy to get over-excited on the smooth roads and sunshine and overdo it on the first day. If, like me, you’ve not got as many miles in the legs as you had hoped over the winter, this is only setting you up to have stiff legs the next day. Don’t ramp up the mileage too quickly.
3. Be prepared for the weather – although you might be heading for warmer climes, the weather can still be changeable, especially in the early season. Together with long mountain descents and ferocious rain downpours, I’ve had chattering teeth too many times in Mallorca. My recommendation is to dress in layers with arm and leg warmers and a thin showerproof jacket that can easily be stowed in your back pocket. After a particularly bad time stranded in pouring rain at the top of Sa Colobra, I’ve even been known to carry an emergency blanket in my saddle bag!
4. Rest and recovery – cycling means carbs and carbs mean beer and pasta. Enjoy the opportunity to refuel but watch what you’re eating. Too much rich food can upset my stomach for the next day so I stick to bland foods such as pasta and rice to keep up the energy levels and only have the odd beer when I’ve deserved it. Take the opportunity to recover in the evenings so that you’re fresh for the next day.
5. Make sure you have adequate insurance – check that your travel insurance covers cycling activities and consider whether you want to insure your bicycle. Some home insurance policies will cover your bicycle worldwide for accidental damage but there are specialist insurers who will also provide cover for your bicycle. If you are racing whilst abroad, you and your bike are not normally covered by standard travel or bicycle insurance, so be sure to check the wording of your policy.