Friday, September 21, 2018

Solo Triathlon Training Camp

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With a handful of unused holiday from 2017 that I had until the end of March to take, I headed out last week to the warmer climes of Mallorca for a few days ‘solo training camp’, otherwise known as the ‘cycling on my new bike and doing the bare minimum of running and no swimming’ camp.

 

One of the benefits of flying so much with work is that you do rack up the airline miles, so Business Class return flights to Palma on British Airways cost me a whopping £75 and I managed to get a cheap hotel in C’an Picafort for just £40 a night (half board).

As I’m already attending a training camp with Race Hub teammates in April in Pollenca, I didn’t want to just do the same routes I’ll be doing in five weeks’ time.

There were two downsides to basing myself in C’an Picafort, however:  1) pretty much every day had a strong wind coming out of the south-west, which meant it was a headwind to get anywhere on the island (C’an Picafort is right on the east coast), 2) it’s completely dead in March with most of the bars and restaurants closed (thankful I went for the half board option at the hotel).

Aside from a problem with a disc brake rotor on unpacking the bike (fixed by the ever-helpful guys at Bimont in Alcudia by ordering a new part that arrived overnight), I managed to reassemble the new Giant TCR Advanced Pro 0 Disc without difficulty, ready to ride on Friday morning.

Before dinner on the first evening, I managed to get a semi-decent 13km run in from C’an Picafort to the outskirts of Alcudia and back.   After dinner it was early to bed and time to get addicted to Stranger Things on Netflix (watched the whole first season, awesome).

Day One

Day one proper started cold and foggy as I headed out of C’an Picafort towards Alcudia and Pollenca.  My intention was to climb Formentor and head out to the lighthouse, hoping that the fog would burn off.  That didn’t happen so by the time I reached the Formentor summit for the first time and I didn’t fancy riding out to the lighthouse in the fog, so instead I descended before climbing again, then back down to Pollenca and across to Sa Pobla (enjoying the strong tailwind!) and back to C’an Picafort for a business call at lunch.

Call done, and with the weather looking much brighter, I decided to head out again on the bike and make my way over to Port de Pollenca for a late lunch.  A nice easier ride after the morning’s efforts.

If you’d like to check out the routes:

Ride 1: https://www.strava.com/activities/1443710489 (83.5km, 670m climbing)

Ride 2: https://www.strava.com/activities/1444014716 (50.5km, 148km climbing – a nice easy ride to flush the legs)

Day One totals: BIKE: 134km, 820m climbing

Day Two

Day two was intended to be a big bike day, but I quickly discovered that my legs were definitely feeling the after-effects of the Formentor climbs (and maybe the 13km run on Thursday evening – I hadn’t run for nearly 10 days previously due to man flu).  Nevertheless, with the good weather (and strong wind that would be a permanent feature of my time on the island….) it was a good opportunity to head out all the way to the Cap Formentor lighthouse.

I tried to put a little more power into the Formentor climb, but missed a PB by a few seconds, gutted, blaming the wind!  However, I did have a great descent down the far side of Formentor, where the TCR’s frame and Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes really shone (I did a review of the bike here).

With the wind out of the south-west again, the journey out to the lighthouse was pleasant and I was able to chug along nicely without having to put too much power down.  After the world’s most expensive coffee and coke at the lighthouse (plus the obligatory selfie with a goat), it was time to head back, into the headwind.

It was a headwind that barely relented all the way to Pollenca (20kph average!) and then the climb up to Lluc.  I certainly wasn’t endangering mine or anyone else’s PBs into that wind.   I had planned to ride along to Sa Calobra and either do the descent / ascent or continue to Puig Major and descend into Soller.

However, the thought of yet more headwind really didn’t appeal and I confess I took the easy option and stopped for a refill at the top of Col de sa Batalla and then headed downwards (and with the wind at least to my side, if not behind) into Inca.

Once in Inca, I turned for Sa Pobla and finally got my tailwind. Chugging along nicely at 40+kph it was a relief to both have some speed and not feel battered by the wind.  I even managed a PB on the 8.4km-long ‘Power Plant Road’ segment on Strava.

Finally it was home, or at least the last few kilometres back from Alcudia to C’an Picafort.  And back into a crosswind!

It wasn’t the long day in the saddle that I had hoped for, but it was still a mostly enjoyable ride and I felt like I was done for the day (I did a short swim after, but to be honest, I wasn’t feeling the love).

Ride: https://www.strava.com/activities/1445652998

Day Two total:  131.5km, 1686m climbed (time into headwind: 54.5% of 4:38:27)

Day Three

After a lazy start, day three got underway with a run along the beach from the hotel into the sand dunes between C’an Picafort and Son Serra de Marina.  Although the soft sand made it hard going, part of the route were hardpack or rocks, which made for an enjoyable run. And the scenery was beautiful.  An easy 9km was enough to blow away the cobwebs without killing my legs for the cycling ahead.

After a bit of a chill, it was time to head out on the bike again. Into that same silly strong wind coming out of the west! In fact, according to myWindsock, it was even stronger.

Since I was in C’an Picafort and I had not previously explored much of the east coast of the island, I decided to make my way down to Capdera and on to the lighthouse at Cala Rajada.

Most of the route was on the major Ma12 road to Arta and then the Ma15 to Capdera.  A bit busy for peloton riding, but since I was a solo it was actually fine.  The hard shoulder is pretty gritty though, so you have to ride in the main roadway most of the time (be warned if that bothers you).

The trudge down to Arta was just that. Not a brutal headwind but a super-strong crosswind that meant you couldn’t relax and were constantly concentrating to keep the bike pointed in the right direction.  I would have been interested to see photos of how far over I was leaning into the wind.

But from Arta to Capdera the crosswind became a tailwind and suddenly I was a cycling pro, carrying nearly 50kph for less than 200 watts through the pedals.  A nice lunch in Cala Rajada and a short visit to the (rather disappointing) lighthouse and it was time to ‘suck it up princess’ back in the headwind to Arta.  The 24kph average speed says it all.

From Arta it was time to head back to C’an Picafort and just accept that it was going to be a slog.  About halfway, I made a mistake and turned left onto the road to Petra, directly into the strong westerly wind.  Thankfully I realised my mistake before I’d gone too far (the road ONLY goes to Petra, which could have added 40km to my ride) and doubled back onto the Ma12.

I passed the turning I originally intended (which would have taken me to Santa Margalida, from where I would have looped round to C’an Picafort) to take suffering a sense of humour failure and so decided I just wanted to get the ride over with by trudging home on the Ma12.

Short story, I got back and was in no hurry to extend the paltry 85.5kms I had ridden.  I was toast.

Run route: https://www.strava.com/activities/1446969423

Ride route: https://www.strava.com/activities/1447754810

Day Three Totals 9km running, 85.5km cycling, 955m climbed (time into headwind 54.3%, longest block headwind 1hr 13 mins)

Day Four

Day four started with a short run intervals session, my first since the man flu.  I thought I’d better do some speed work as I’m supposed to be running a 10km this coming weekend.  I think the man flu and the Mallorca trip have put paid to any plans for a good time, however!

Then it was back out on the bike, this time across the island westwards towards Inca via Santa Margalida and Sineu. Again there was a strong wind from the west, but I felt it better to meet it head-on in the early stages of the ride and enjoy the tailwind on the way home.

That sentiment lasted as far as Alaro to the west of Inca.  I had considered climbing over Orient into Bunyola and then Soller before climbing Puig Major on the way home.

But after two hours of solid headwind the last thing I wanted to do was climb over Orient.  So a change of plan meant a diversion back to Inca for some much-needed food and a rethink.   Plan B became to refuel in Inca before climbing to Selva then northwards to Pollenca via Campanet.  At least it was flatter and the wind wasn’t directly in my face.

A nice ice cream stop in Port de Pollenca was then followed by an easy ride to Alcudia and then back down the coast to C’an Picafort.

And that was it, a mediocre 120km over the course of just over four hours.  Time to break down the bike again and box it up.

Bike route: https://www.strava.com/activities/1449344733

Day four totals:  Run 7km, Bike 120km, 923m climbed

Day Five

Just time for a short leg-flushing run in the morning (managed to get completely lost in the sand dunes behind the beach….) before finalising the packing at checking-out.  I tried to visit the Rapha shop in Palma on the way home, but never made it thanks to some protest closing some of the city centre shops.  My bank manager is probably grateful!

Day five totals: Run 5km

Summing up

So that was it; 471km cycled and 34km running.  Not to mention eight sachets of Elivar Endure.  Eight of Hydrate Plus and five of Elivar Recover.  And more coffee than I kept count of!

A solo training camp that, if I’m honest, was more just bumbling around the Mallorca roads than it was real ‘training’.  Still, it was nice to be away from the cold of England and in the relative warmth of Mallorca.  I even managed to eat at Tolos in Port de Pollenca a couple of times (met up with some teammates on my last night / their first).

Now I’m left looking forward to heading out to Mallorca again in late April with some Race Hub teammates.  I just need to put a lot of training in between now and then so that I don’t embarrass myself in front of others on the climbs!

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Matt Fisher runs TriathletesDiary.com - so it's all his fault! He pretends to be a triathlete, but really he is a husband, father and company VP. But he has raced for the GB Age Group squad a few times and is a two-times qualifier for the IM70.3 world champs

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