Our first day on camp began, as usual, in the very dim light that our 7am offered- and 16 slightly apprehensive athletes struggling to see the very distinctive yellow swim buys that Steven and I were pointing out to them. A triangular circuit of approximately 750m marked out by a new set of swim buoys provided by Puerto Del Carmen beach management meant that with 2 laps, we’d fulfilled our daily 30 minute swim. This seems to be one of the most evenly matched group of swimmer we’ve had on a camp so far – to the extent that we experienced quite a realistic bit of “crushing” as we rounded each buoy. One or two of the guys found that their GPS had measured just shy of a “mile”, and wanted to swim a few more hundred “yards” …so we completed their Ye Olde imperial swim target with them for a few extra minutes in the water ( no wild cards for that though!).
As per tradition on camp, we do the El Golfo Time trial – this is mainly for the purpose of establishing handicap times for the Tabeyasco Hill climb later in the week ( which has camp points attached) but also enables a relatively short ride on the first day, but that is sufficiently intense for all those fresh legs and bundles of testosterone that have just come off the plane! Again, it’s a strong and fairly evenly matched group on the bike this year, and predict that it will take a few days to settle into out three different paced groups – first impression that everyone could potentially ride together in one large group – albeit somewhat harder for some than others. of course this is not really what we want, and with 3 ride leaders feel it’s better to split into three groups of slightly different pace and a more manageable size.
Today has been a rather overcast, cool and windy day…in fact the winds coming from a slightly odd direction and with some force..making this one of the harder years around that “sporting” 16 km loop that I can remember. Even so, the results which you can see below rank very well – Steven an I rode about 5 minutes slower our best times ( both in 2014 on TT bike and in good conditions) whilst Wayne was only 2 minutes off his previous best time ( from last year).The average times of this group were 30:33, compared to the average across all camps of 30:03 ( i.e given the conditions, not far off standard and similar to the very tough conditions in 2012) – but with a range (difference between slowest and fastest time) of only 9.5 minutes compared to an typical range of around 15minutes.
Following the “fun” around the race course, we regrouped in the cafe in Yaiza to deliver the provisional results…..and news of a surprise new feature to this year’s camp. Emma and I had been out exploring the south parts of the island a couple of days ago, and discovered a dead -end road from Yaiza to a small settlement in the surrounding hills. Whilst disappointing in it’s lack of a cafe, the top did offer spectacular views over El Golfo, the national park and Fire Mountain – as well as a tasty 3km ascent with a sharp kick in the tail. We were also intrigued to discover that this was a stretch of road seldom ridden by Strava users, and that our very leisurely ride to the top had ranked us 2nd and 3rd on that particular segment …just 4 minutes behind the fastest time, which was actually held by a dutch woman. We knew that this piece of news would make it rather easy to sell it to our male-dominant camp, and so everyone was game for this “optional” add -on. We used the ranking from El Golfo TT to establish start order, and set the campers off at 30second gaps …..the challenge starts with long roll out very gradual ascent before hitting a “wall” which, if going full bore along this first bit, can only be tackled by standing on the pedals and digging deep for a few more minutes, before the road dips back down to 5 or 6% for the last blast to the line. We ensured that our start and finish points encompassed the segment that had been created on Strava, certain that our best climbers would have eared positions high in the rankings, if not a King/Queen of the Mountain from amongst the group (for a few days at least!). Personally I was pleased to have beaten Aine by a whole second ,and Emma by a little more
…but rather disappointed to find that I was still more than a minute behind the Queen of the official segment…that is until Steven also discovered that he was still a few seconds off her time, and a little investigation via Emma;s contacts at Britsh Cycling revealed that she was indeed 2014 BC national hill climb champion….and probably riding up there for a picnic and an unusual photograph of the island on that occasion. Still, she must have been worried….
The standard planned route after that was the nice descent back to Yaiza and then the most direct route back to the hotel…however ony 4 of us took that option – the remainder rode as two groups over Fire Mountain or a “wild card” …or really just for an extra 20km of riding, into a stiff headwind up the climb for the reward of a very nice “swooshy” ride back across the lava field home.
The day ended with a camp minimum 30 minutes run, and by this time the sun had emerged back in Puerto Del Carmen, and it was very pleasant, relaxed run along the seafront. A few smart and seasoned campers took the opportunity of a relatively early return from the bike to clock up a “double” run of an hour , and earn a wildcard to use after the much longer ride that we have planned for tomorrow. The rest decided that being back for Happy Hour at the hotel’s pool bar, or the chance of a massage, was a preferable alternative to round of an enjoyable first day on camp.