Gran Canaria Training Camp with Thomson Tours (02.23.14 – 03.01.14) March 03 2014, 0 Comments
The Adventure Begins
Upon arrival at Indianapolis Airport the adventure had already begun. We were the first flight out for the day, we were checking 2 bikes and heading to Chicago, then Madrid and finally Gran Canaria. Our flight leaving Indy was delayed 2 hours for no apparent reason. We were going to miss our connecting flight in Chicago and likely be a day late on arrival.
We made some calls to the airline and they said they were aware and had us rerouted through London. The airline couldn’t give us our flight confirmation at the time. Somewhat distressed I was beginning to worry about my bikes.
Once in London, we boarded our final flight to Gran Canaria. The flight attendant came back to tell me the bikes were still in Chicago but would be out on another flight the next day.
Uhhhhhhhg!!! Training camp with no bikes? In the Canary Islands??
Day One – No Ride Day
Day one was a planned easy day for all the camp travelers. With no bikes, I opted to join my wife at the pool for the day and hit the spa for a massage. Even without a bike, this was a pretty good start to the trip. At about 1am, my bike arrived at the airport. I picked it up, built it until 3am and got up at 6am to ride the next day.
Day Two – Extra effort for me and Phil (oh and Kate)
In our pre-ride meeting, I had taken a look at competition for the week. I felt confident that I was the strongest guy in the bunch with the exception of one Brit living in New York City named Phil. Phil had a shaved head, looked lean and was 34. I made some small talk with him and eluded to the fact that the two of us would probably share a lot of saddle time this week.
Once on the bike, Phil and I rolled at the front at a nice pace. Then I flatted at about an hour into the ride. Jordi (one of my favorite Thomson employees) waited up and I went through both of our CO2's. With nothing to do, we called the support van back.
25 minutes later, tire repaired, Jordi and I chased like mother fuckers to catch on to the group. That dude is STRONG. For about 15 minutes we chased and I sat in most of the time doing 300+ watts.
The rest of the ride up was pretty amazing. I've never ridden through desert landscape, massive rocks, palm trees, cactus, camels and then evergreens at the top all in one location.
As we reached the next rest stop, we decided who was doing the add on loop that consisted of 20+% grades for 10k. It was Phil, Kate (one of Thomson's best guides and head of marketing) and I. All the guides rode this area 2 days ago and they all said it was harder than many of the climbs in Italy and other places the group has been.
I expected suffering and pain. Surprisingly, it wasn't that bad. It was difficult, but not impassable. This was my first day after all. The 10k went by quickly keeping the pace under threshold and chatting with Kate. Phil was riding ahead of us, but always within sight.
After the add on loop, we continued our original climb to the top of the mountain and stopped at a bar in a town called Ayacata to have lunch. I had salad and a cappuccino.
Then came one of the coolest descents I've ever done. 35k down. Super windy roads. Good pavement - lots of cars coming up on narrow road.
Strava info: http://www.strava.com/activities/116118573
Day Three – **THE VALLEY OF TEARS**
Today was possibly the hardest ride I've ever done in my life. Climbing forever. 20% grades forever. No food or water for 2hrs due to missing an opportunity early at the support van. Pure agony!
Needless to say with 10k to go to the top I felt dehydrated and a bonk coming on. At 4k to go I didn't think I'd make it. I dismounted the bike for a second and drank the last drops of water in my bottle. I got back on and my power meter was reading 150 max. I was convinced there was a calibration issue with the altitude, pressure, temperature or something. Nope. I was just toast. 2k to go I got off again. It was so steep I could barely keep the pedals turning. I thought about waiting for the van which was still likely over an hour away. Instead, I sucked it up and rode on. Slowly... I arrived at the top and met a few of our guys. Then the van came! Super stoked, I jammed down any fruit I could get, a gel and 2 bottles of water, some nuts… anything… just fuel me up!
From there, it was 4k down to the Ayacata bar where I got more food and a cappuccino.
After lunch, I had a 35k decent back to the hotel. SO glad to be back, I took a shower, got a massage, ate dinner, did our ride meeting and was off to bed.
Strava info: http://www.strava.com/activities/116118528
Day Four – Easy Recovery Day
Day 4 was strategically placed in the week for a recovery day. We rolled out along the ocean side and over to Maspalomes then north up a short climb of about 500m. Back down to Maspalomes and home the same way on the ocean front road.
I was pretty excited to get back early. I had time to hang out at the pool with my wife and then go into town to explore a little bit. I’ve decided that I could easily live here forever. The people are very friendly. The weather is perfect. The views are breathtaking. And the cycling… well it’s something special.
Strava info: http://www.strava.com/activities/116294863
Day Five – The Queen Stage
We started our ride early on Day 5. This was the longest ride of the trip at around 85 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing. Even with that distance and climbing there was a bigger challenge facing us (literally). A nasty headwind at about 35mph was beating us down for the first 40 miles.
We had agreed to take it easy and keep it steady. Staying in a group was going to be faster than any heroic superman solo efforts on the day.
Once we reached our main climb the group split up a little bit. It was called “Pico de Las Nieves”. This one was a 16'ish mile climb with elevation gain of 6000+ feet and 18% grades At one point, I was doing 3.8mph, 44rpm and 320w.
Another ride, another day happy to be back at the hotel buffet.
Strava info: http://www.strava.com/activities/116579853
Day Six –Yet another tough day!
Strava info: http://www.strava.com/activities/116765429
Day Seven – The Final Countdown…
By day seven everybody was pretty cooked. But we had one more major climb to do (again). The 34k monster from the hotel we had just done on Day 6. I decided at the base of the “proper” climb I’d hit it and see if I could place on strava. It was about 24k up. I had aspirations of breaking the hour but that didn’t quite happen.
Daniel (super Spaniard ride leader) and I went from the bottom. He’s a better climber than me, but was a great team player pacing me and trading pulls up the steep stuff. About 10k from the top it flattens out a little bit. This was where I could keep the pace high, but he struggled a little bit. With 2k to go, I knew I wasn’t going to make the hour mark, but I still wanted my best effort. I dug deep and Daniel popped. Finishing the climb at about 1:08 put me fairly high up on the Strava board. Daniel rolled up about 2 minutes later.
The rest of the day I was nursing it. I wanted to make sure I had enough to get home and over the final climb of the day. On every little bump Daniel would put the screws to me. I chased a few times, but I was out of my element and he was the stronger guy on the punchy stuff.
At some point, Phil caught back on. He’d been suffering from a knee issue most of the week. The three of us rode the rest of the way together. Sensibly, but quite quickly too.
As we rolled to the final decent into down we talked about spinning the legs out and taking it easy. And, of course, as soon as the decent came it was race pace for 20 minutes to the doors of the hotel lobby.
Strava info: http://www.strava.com/activities/117028911
I’ve done 3 Thomson trips now. Two of them were Tour de France Alps Extreme trips. They are super hard and super fun. You get to see many stage finishes. Meet some pros and mingle with the crowds on the most famous climbs in the world.
This trip was something different though. It wasn’t about the “cool” stuff at le Tour. It was about busting your ass every single day on the bike and training like the Pros we all admire. The resort we stayed at was 4 Star. Pools and a great spa to recover in. 2 buffet meals per day to refuel the body with anything you could imagine.
I’ll be back Peter Thomson – you better believe it.
Rockhard / Rollfast