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What cyclists look for in a cycling training camp

Which training camp suits you?

You know you're a real cyclist when your holiday, trip away or mini-break takes place just before the start of the racing or sportive season and involves travel to warmer climes with, of course, your bike.

These ‘holidays' are a great way to make sure you can compete for the whole of the season ahead, and since they're referred to as training camps, even if they're more of a holiday, they makes us feel more ‘pro'. Getting a group together and heading for sunnier skies, smoother roads and quieter towns mean those last few miles will be easier to claim.

What are the benefits?
Camps are used to gain every benefit from your winter's base training and to prepare you for the up-and-coming season by fine-tuning your form both physically and mentally.

Many riders have different training aspirations, but generally speaking, intensity and volume are raised during the first two weeks.

Being in a larger group of riders of a similar ability while in a better cycling environment will mean those increases don't seem quite so harsh, creating a perfect environment for you to improve.

Why go to a camp?
The whole idea of these camps is not only to get fitter, faster and stronger, but also to motivate you before, during and after the trip.

Knowing you have a trip booked in sunny weather is the perfect motivation to get you training steadily throughout the winter. It will encourage you to do enough to handle the harder training while out on camp. Heading to warmer weather always brings a smile to your face, so once there, getting up and doing a long, hard ride isn't so mind blowing. And after a good week or two of solid riding on a camp, you'll be fitter and stronger and will be ready to enjoy your local roads back home with new found speed.

When's the best time?
Choosing the right time to go on a training camp is crucial and this varies from one rider to the next. If your racing or event season is during the summer, going on a training camp at the end of the year would be pointless - that's the time for resting up and enjoying a relaxing riding holiday or time off the bike.

Start training too close to an important race date and you might not have sufficient time to reap its benefits, while training too early may mean that you haven't acquired the base fitness needed to support a concentrated hard work out when on camp. The window between late February and early April is the most popular period and it's when most commercial camps take place.

Be smart, be prepared.

As the old saying goes, "failure to prepare is preparing to fail". Heading to a training camp without having done any preparation could be worse for your overall fitness than not going at all, as sudden extra miles and intensity could leave you exhausted, injured or ill. More miles means more rests to recover, leaving you riding less when you should be doing more if you aren't already able to cope with the volume.

What are the options?
There are various ways to plan your training, the two main ways are either to let someone organise it for you or to do it yourself. Many organisers or companies offer a stress-free way to train by sorting everything out for you so all you have to do is ride your bike.

This can be a costly option, though, and the often strict regime might not be to your taste if you want a more free-and-easy approach. However, organised camps have various levels of ride groups available, so you will always be training at the correct effort level and every day of your stay can be easily planned according to how you feel at the time.

‘Do it yourself' is a good alternative option, and could potentially work out more cost effective. Having total control should give you the absolute security that everything is in place, but without any knowledge of where to go, stay or which route to take, it can be tricky, though an adventure nonetheless. For a DIY trip to be successful, everyone needs to be clear on their goals as well as being willing to either ride together (or not) in order to reach them.

Think carefully about how you want the week to work out; who is taking their training goals seriously and who just wants to have a good time.

Organised camp - don't worry about being too slow as every level of rider is catered for.
Often the worry with organised training camps is... will I be too slow? Will I get in the way? Will I be laughed at? Well, ‘no' is the answer! However, camps of this nature can be varied and depend on location, the experience and type of organiser and who actually runs the camp. This option can be beneficial for everyone: novices and first-timers in particular. Novice riders will be able to gain reassurance, while elite riders will be able to get the work-out they need.

Typically, there will be three or four groups defined by speed, ability and distance, ranging from an average of 15mph for the lower groups over a shorter distance of 40 to 80 miles, to an average of 21mph over 70 to 110 miles for the faster groups.

Smoother roads and larger groups make this speed easier to achieve. It would be worth finding out who has attended the camp to find out what type of riders turn up, and how many groups at what level ride out, to see if a specific camp will work for you.

This kind of camp can work well for groups of different abilities, as everyone can get the training they want, but still spend social time together off the bike. Equally, it works well for anyone on their own, as you will quickly make some new friends.

A large selection of cycling training camps can be found here.


Further information for your cycling training camp or tour | Company & Venue | Coaches | Training Camp Calendar | Tour & Sportive Calendar

Categories: All topics, Interviews, Cycling

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