The first full day of EverydayTraining Pyrenees training camp started with a 30 minute swim in the lake. There was no question of extending the swim as it was icy cold. Even those smart enough to have included neoprene swim caps in their packing list complained of “ice cream headache”. A new EverydayTraining record was set when Andreas, Swiss athlete but living in Singapore and recently spent 3 months travelling and training through a Southern hemisphere summer, managed the shortest ever swim. He estimated a full 100m before he concluded the water was just too cold to have any training benefit and got out. The rest of the campers, Brits and a few of those with Ironman 70.3 UK on the near horizon, relished the opportunity to practice swimming in cold conditions (and prove their mettle on day one).
The weather wasn’t looking great so we hung out over breakfast for a 10am start time, and by then it at least wasn’t raining. We enjoyed a relaxed paced group ride “through the lanes” to the start of the Col D’Aspin which was to be the first climb in the camp’s handicap King Of The Mountains competition. This was started on scratch at minute intervals for the 12km long 790m ascent up in to the cloud and rain.
Steven, 44 years old today!!!, was last man to go, a minute behind Jo…with the other guys up in an estimated order. He made short work of the first few kms, passing the entire field within the first couple of kms – and clocking a lifetime best average power for a 42 min interval in the process. There was no need for jokes about letting him “have that one” …as we all worked hard in or own battles – against one another, ourselves and the worsening weather!
Julie was there to greet us in the foul weather at the top, recording official times and giving us…and other random cyclists…a huge cheer over the finish line. We now have the first set of data to handicap our start times for tomorrow, which means tomorrow’s climb should be a much closer fought battle.
A very cold but fast descent brought us down to Bagneres De Bigore for a quick stop to peel off a few layers of clothing before our return route …back “through the lane” a rather scenic ride which took in a few smaller Cols, the first of which was Col de Palomiere. It was good to be climbing and warming up again! The D26 road from there is just a beautiful ride. Small, pretty and well-maintained roads with virtually no traffic on them. The weather improved as we rolled along at a nice rate, enjoying the small rises and technical descents. As you look ahead, it’s hard to work out where the road will go so it’s great fun to ride for the first time.
The final 30km was along a road that Jo knows well and, with the taste of home, she took to the front and set a pace that had us working solidly but not too hard that anyone was dropped. Eventually Mark, who’d been “almost” off the back for much of this section, made a surprising surge to the front and from that point: all bets were off!! Chased down immediately by Jo and then Steven, who took to the front with a demonstration of how to ride. He was clearly digging deep in an effort to split the group…but much to his disappointment (and the rest of our private delight!)…everyone clung to close behind and no one was dropped. After that there seemed to be a succession of surges provided in turns by the camp coaches, until finally we managed to pop Andreas off the back. We joked that this marked the training session as a success and eased off to regroup for the final 5km home. It’s always nice to finish as a group after such a good first day.
All ran off the bike, most choosing a flat 30 minute option along the bike path, whilst Jo introduced Paul and Mark to the local “hilly and muddy” 10k loop…for a more Wimbleball specific session.
Julie provided yet another fantastic dinner all rounded off with an delicious carrot cake and a round of Happy Birthday for Steven.
The camp is currently lead by Paul Rodger on the basis of being the fastest camper up The ‘Aspin today, and he will ride in the Leader’s Jersey tomorrow.