Mallorca Spring Training Camp

For anyone considering joining our Spring camp in 2016 here is a piece written about our very similar camp, at the same villa in 2013.

Spring Tri Camp Mallorca 2013

How can it still be snowing, early in the spring morning our Born2tri team travelling out to our first Born2tri Mallorca training camp gathered at Stansted Airport.  The snow was falling steadily outside as we nervously packed and weighed our luggage and bike boxes anticipating the week ahead.  The bikes and baggage had been entrusted to Easy Jet and we waited for the plane which we soon learned was delayed in Amsterdam.  Most of the team had packed warm clothes for the trip but snow would not be an ideal training surface in the mountains.

The group all had different reasons to be there, Pete and Brian were preparing for the mountains, strong wind and heat of Ironman Lanzarote in May, Teresa and I would be travelling with Stewart to tackle Ironman Austria in June, Chris, Ollie and Steve were preparing for their long distance races, Sam, Sue and Emma were looking forward to challenging the Mallorca roads.  Of course after our dreadful winter we all hoped the weather would be kinder and allow us to live and train in a little more comfort, if only for a week.

As we flew south from every window we saw snow covered peaks, the pilot optimistically observed the Mallorca temperatures were in double figures yet this seemed unlikely from what we saw below us.  A little over two hours later, with a bit of a bump we were in Mallorca and the sun was shining.  We collected our luggage, all bikes intact, tracked down our hire van for the luggage and the mini coach for the passengers and we set off for Pollenca about an hour away across the island.  We left the main road and it soon became clear our local bus driver had no idea where our villa was.  After numerous phone calls it would transpire we passed the lane a few times but it was well off the beaten track.

As we drove through the metal gates the villa looked fantastic, was it all ours?   We had booked it from photos and expected the real thing to be a little smaller and more shabby but in fact it was better.   Large well appointed rooms, luxury bathrooms, a massive kitchen, outside eating areas, a pool (bit cold!) and we could not see our nearest neighbour although from the balcony we had a great view of the sea.   We were running a bit late so we hurriedly set about collecting hire bikes for those who did not bring theirs over, building bikes from boxes and shopping so we could eat that night.   We soon settled down for our first meal, pizza, beer and wine was just what we needed although the food dramatically improved from the following day thanks to the combined efforts of the team.

Mallorca has over the past ten years or so grown into a popular destination for cyclists, from leisure riders to professional teams, the Team Sky hotel was just ten minutes ride from the villa.  The traditional ride start time is 10am when thousands of cyclists take to the roads in small groups or massive pelotons.  The majority of the riders are English or German and the locals, appreciating the significant boost to their economy welcome the cyclists.  Where else would drivers patiently follow a group of cyclists for miles then overtake with a happy wave or hoot of encouragement rather than a torrent of abuse.  The weather is a significant attraction but so is the landscape, the south of the island pan flat farmland with long straight roads yet the north has a spine of mountains with roads snaking around them, a challenge for any rider.  This allows you to choose the type of ride you want, the town squares have open air cafes surrounded by bike racking for coffee and cake stops and many cycle shops to hire top quality bikes, arrange repairs or buy equipment.  The area offers plenty of running opportunities too, from quiet lanes and tracks to the seafront paths there are plenty of runners out there, we devised and signed a quiet 5km and 20km running route from the villa.  There are local swimming pools but we decided all our swimming would be open water in the calm and relatively warm Mediterranean sea.  Pollenca and Alcudia both offer great swimming off their beaches and were just a short bike ride from the villa.

Our first full day of the week started with a gentle group ride, ensuring the bikes worked well and a chance for everyone to get used to riding on the wrong side of the road.  The weather was fine and we rode in shorts and shirts for the first time in months.  Our route took us along the lower slopes of the hills, giving just a taste of the climbs which would follow.  50 kilometres or so later we were back at the villa, soon eating our first meal in the sunshine.  The afternoon saw us back on the bikes, a fast flat couple of hours, arriving back at the villa to start a 5km run on the quiet lanes.  A great first day was finished with a Pilates session on the lawn led by Teresa.

Months ago the group had decided creation of the evening meals would be shared between the team, no one wanted the title ‘Camp Cook’ can’t imagine why.  Everyone contributed 100 Euros to the food and drink fund and a supermarket visit each day topped up supplies.  For a group of dedicated and highly tuned athletes it’s odd the alcohol bill was a similar size to the food bill.  With plenty of calories being burned the meals were genuine banquets, the massive table was covered with plates, bottles and glasses and very little left at the end.  Those who did not cook completed the washing up and the beer and wine was finished as we debriefed the day.  Breakfasts were also quite an occasion, Steves porridge in a massive pan being the carb-loading meal of choice, as Brian put it ‘Best porridge I’ve ever tasted’.  The villa had a big TV with English channels, it was rarely watched but the Wi-Fi connection proved useful.  The exercise, warmth and fresh air ensured most were in bed early, preparing for the following day.

Monday was for swimming and running, the morning session saw us run the 20km route taking in both country roads and the long beach front road between Alcudia and Port Pollenca.  It was a nice route but the wind was strong making it a challenging run, on passing through Port Pollenca a pharmacy thermometer was reading 26 degrees.  Anyone not wanting to do the long run did the shorter route all meeting back at the Villa for another lunch in the sun.  In the afternoon we rode down to Alcudia where we met the van, locking the bikes safely away and changing into wetsuits.  The beach was clean and shelved gently into the water, the sea was calm and sheltered, ideal for swimming.  The water was chilly but everyone had a swim however nervous of the open sea, at least when the swim was over the sun soon warmed and dried us as we sipped drinks in a beachside café.  A short ride back to the villa and already day two was over.  The evening meal was starting to become a bit of a ‘Come Dine With Me’ competition, each pair looking to out cook the night before.  As a result the food was superb and so much of it, there was no chance of losing weight on this camp.  Each evening we debriefed the day and looked to adapt the programme for the following day if necessary.

On the Tuesday the logistical challenges began as we offered two different sessions, a morning ride across the flat lands to a lunch stop in Campanet, split into two different groups covering slightly different mileages aiming to arrive for lunch together.  In the afternoon there was the option to ride home over the mountain or take the flatter route home.  A glorious ride through the flatlands in the sunshine got us to Campanet for lunch.  On asking for the menu we were told ‘Ham & Cheese’, that was the menu but luckily we were so hungry it was fine.  The miracle was both groups arrived almost together, during the stop after some gentle persuasion everyone elected the mountain route to Lluc.  We left the sunny town square after topping up water bottles and headed for the bottom of the climb, as we rode closer the mountain towered above us, we were going up there.  What followed was a steady climb through the forest, a traditional bottom gear zig zag up the mountain side for 7km with just a short respite after about 5km.  As we climbed riders were racing down from the top, we would get the adrenaline rush of the descent in an hour or so.  As we rode the view occasionally opened up so you could see how high we had climbed, the view across the flat lands was stunning.  The climb was a real challenge but everyone made it to the café at the top to refuel, no hill in Essex would ever seem the same.  Suitably refreshed the group left the café and headed for home, we were at nearly 600m and our villa was at sea level, it was going to be a fun trip home.  After a few drops and climbs the road dropped away and the real descent began.  The road surfaces are generally good, much better than at home and with the open flowing corners speeds are high.  The skills practiced at Redbridge Cycling Centre over the winter soon made sense and the group raced down towards the sea and home to the villa, although some did get delayed by an ice cream in a seafront café.  The third day was over already, everyone had a long ride, conquered a significant mountain and were tired but happy.  The washing was done in the villas machine, the next massive meal was consumed and by 9pm watches were being checked sure it must be bed time, another big day would follow.

It was in the shower when the effect of the sun came to notice, my pasty white skin was not used to this fiery ball in the sky, it being so many months since it was last seen.  My skin was now an angry shade of red, indicating exactly where my cycle shirt and shorts had been some sunscreen would have been a good idea.  Wednesday started with an early sea swim, the water was still cold but helped loosen the muscles ready for the days ride.  The big ride of the day was to cross the island and take on the descent and ascent of Sa Colobra, an infamous Mallorcan climb subject of many photos and videos.  Some of the group had done enough climbing the day before so the bikes stayed home and we went running, the group would all meet up again later in the day.  The mountain group led by Pete did a 100k ride returning with tales of their daring descent and the 10km climb back out, with video to prove it.  By now the whole group were starting to suffer, various foam rollers and other massage instruments of torture were in regular use, compression clothing was the recovery attire of choice and Emma had a long queue for massage each evening.  However spirits were still high and the evening meal another triumph, but bed time was getting earlier and earlier.

Thursday was the climax of the week, a long brick session, either the Ironman 70.3 bike course followed by up to a 20km run or a flatter ride across the island, again returning for a long run.  The flat land group enjoyed the sun and a long ride to Petra for the lunch stop.  The town square was packed with riders and we enjoyed a nice meal before setting off across the farm lands towards home.  Off the bike and on to the run, everyone choosing their own distance from 5km to 20km, an excellent long brick session for those training for Ironman.  Spirits were still very high as we debriefed the day over another exceptional meal and plenty of wine but it was clear the week was taking it’s toll, even the strongest athletes were tired, the planned mini duathlon the following day was dropped, replaced by a swim and more relaxed recovery sessions.  Massage and recovery clothing was the order of the day and soft cushions for the saddle sore.  ‘Dr’ Lambert was dealing with a tremendous blister on Teresas foot, so big it had been named ‘Lance’.

The Friday ride was a more relaxed affair, exploring the flat lands and foot hills close to the villa, back for lunch then packing bike boxes and reluctantly returning the hire bikes.  The evening meal would be made from all the remaining food, as this was a considerable amount it proved to be quite a feast and was unanimously voted the best of the week.  It also meant we had to drink all the remaining alcohol; this session was also completed without complaint.

On the final morning we had to leave by noon but there was still time for a last run, everyone doing the distance they wanted before the final packing cleaning up and setting off for the airport.

As we flew home, Easy Jet actually bringing us in early to Stansted with all the bikes and kit undamaged, we saw the snow on the ground and as the plane door opened the freezing weather hit us once again.  As we arrived home there was just the sunburn, aching legs and great memories left to remind us of our week in the Mallorca.