We recently assisted UCI Team Raleigh GAC with their 2016 training camp in Calpe, Spain. Here’s an insight into the information we consider to ensure a team maximise their time together on and off the road.
Planning the routes for a team camp starts weeks before the riders and staff set foot on Spanish soil. We base everything on the Team Manager’s training plan, usually the length of rides are given to us in hours with a specific training session to be done each day. Whether it’s riding a long climb at threshold, through and off or sprint drills, it’s necessary to use a suitable section of road.
For racing teams, we use an average speed of 30kph to calculate the correct number of kilometres for the required duration of each ride.
Next we incorporate the correct terrain for each ride whilst bearing in mind the location of the roads we need to use (and at what point during the ride) for the specific training exercises. We are always mindful not to include too much elevation gain as it’s easy to over-exert the riders, especially when intensive interval type training is being included on multiple days.
The planning stage is the most difficult part of the whole camp and the most crucial to get right, it is the essence of the entire camp, everything hinges on getting it correct. This is where our local knowledge and experience as a rider and manager comes into its own, knowing the roads and the effects they have on the riders, means we can ensure each route has the correct balance of terrain throughout the ride. It also means we can seamlessly adjust the route mid ride should the need arise. We tend to avoid large towns and navigate around them to minimize stopping and the chances of the group becoming disjointed.
We lead from the front in the team car making it clear which direction to take at every junction. It’s a balance to keep the correct amount of space to the riders, too close and we stall them, too far away and we lose them! Executed well, this system keeps the group of riders moving and flowing smoothly without having to worry about directions, creating a much more consistent training effort. This means minimal time is wasted with no wrong turns or stationary group discussions on where to go next, and therefore a five hour ride is five hours on the road not six hours. This makes for a much more efficient training camp, meaning the riders are back in the hotel sooner resting and eating, therefore recovering sooner. The mechanics and carers can start their work earlier and more importantly finish earlier before everything is repeated the following day. A spare hour in the evening is very welcomed to these guys!
The smooth running of each ride makes for a more relaxed and stress free camp for everyone involved. It can be the difference between a disastrous training camp and a brilliant training camp!