The weeks are starting to fly by now as the start of my season fast approaches. If you read my last update you will know that I have just spent the last week with my team at a training camp. Like Americans, the French don’t usually holiday outside their own country, so for our training camp we went to France and specifically the Cote d’Azur. Oh what a week it was.
We started off on our 1.5 hour flight and then 1.5 hour drive to our hotel where we stayed the night and then spent the next day messing around with new kit and bikes etc. After all this was thoroughly sorted and we decided we had enough kit and clothes for a week, we got ready for the 4 o’clock start the next day and our 7 hour drive to the south coast. Most of this was spent sleeping, snoozing or dozing until we finally started to notice the weather getting warmer. Once we arrived we were shown up to our bungalow/villa things, did the usual unpacking job and then went out on the bikes for about an hour and a quarter.
The rest of the week was spent training....obviously and lots of it. Sunday we did a 3.5 hour ride with a self- timed TT effort at the end, I had a problem starting my watch at the start so I probably didn’t win by as much as everyone thought I did. The next day I podiumed in my first 3 races of the season, unfortunately I was 3rd every time and they were only 8km mock races in which the group was split into 3 teams. Tuesday was spent merrily riding up hills for 5 and a quarter hours with the Auber 93 team who were staying close by. I sat in for the first 140km and then ripped it up at the end, oh how they laughed. The next day was spent recovery riding in the morning and then a few more hours in the afternoon with 2 x 30 minute efforts in 3 teams simulating a break. But after the first one, most of the team hid from the coach so they didn’t have to do another one, obviously I didn’t know what the hell was going on, so blindly followed. Our “easy” day consisted of a 3 hour ride with some “Force”, basically riding up a mountain in your biggest gear for 5 minutes at a time. We spent Friday having another jolly around France for 5.5 hours and then on Saturday, a short ride with the TT effort again only properly timed. I finished 3rd that time...
Once again the views were pretty spectacular, but a lot of the time I was too busy munching on my stem to notice. We were based in a place called Les Issambres, about 20km east around the coast from St Tropez, we saw plenty of other teams out there training, most with following cars. Although some of the main roads (of which there are plenty) are quite busy, it’s possible to find some great quiet roads with nice climbs and descents. The weather was hot, but not shorts hot although we did spend one afternoon on the beach, so I might recommend it as a potential training camp venue.
The team were interesting to say the least and serious is definitely not the word. On the rides we’d ride through towns and villages scaring the hell out of everyone we went past and, needless to say, the hotel waiting staff didn’t like us by the end of the week. But if you put a bunch of 19-20 odd year old guys together, that’s what you get. The evenings were spent mauling Tom at Rummy or mauling everyone else when we played Dame de Pique (Hearts) and generally chillaxing and looking forward to eating.
The thing I enjoyed most about the week was the food, and especially the breakfasts. French hotels warm the milk up, which makes it really nice on the choco flake thingies they serve. Never had warm milk on cereal before, it’s great. The thing I enjoyed least about the week was the pain the lower half of my body had to experience; we did just under 30 hours and 900km over a 7 day period, my longest ever week.
Pictures of my week in Issambres can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=93752&l=781a2&id=624435000
While we were there we had a couple of meetings to discuss things like how to race, tactics etc. We were also given our main race calendar for the season which was pretty hilarious. Our 2nd and 3rd races are apparently extremely tough, with the 3rd being a 180km UCI 1.2 race, Paris-Troyes. Bearing in mind I have only ever ridden 180km once, I think I have a good chance. It’s a very good but very tough calendar, which see’s us racing all around France, doing several tours including the Essor Breton and the Tour d’Alsace and also two Coupe de France races.
Next week is my first race, 120km 1, 2, 3 + junior categories. Going on how all the team was riding during the training camp, I think we have a very good chance of getting several good placings, we need to so we don’t all feel bad about the placings we’ll be getting in the next race (if indeed we get any placings). This next week I’ll be recovering and sorting out an apartment and it may be a while before I get an internet connection up and running. So until then.