The typical “camp day” starts with a 7am sea swim…and so early on day 1, the sun barely risen as we walk from our hotel, we took the new group of campers over the street to the beach for a half hour ocean swim. As usual ,a little apprehensive as I attempt to convince them that there’s a solid and line of buoy about 300m off shore, which we’ll swim out to…hard to spot from shore unless you know that they’re there!
The sun gained height in the sky, lighting up that elusive line of buoys, and swimmers adjusted to the unfamiliar experience of their first sea swim for some time (and in a few case ,their first swim of any kind in over a year!) everyone relaxed and enjoyed the warm clear water, watching the fish and remarked on what a pleasurable way to start the day it was. Welcome to Lanzarote, folks!!
Having arrived to Lanzarote shrouded in the hot dust of Calima that the Southerly Sarahan winds bring, campers rose on their first day of camp to the more typical winds Northerly winds blowing with some force. The first ride of camp is always a little “pacey” with riders unsure of which group they’re best suited to riding, and the urge to demonstrate prowess along the road to the start of the day’s main “event” – a 10 mile TT around the El Golfo loop.
As we took our groups around the scenic loop on our warm up and preview lap, we noticed how strong the winds were against us on the lower section, and that it was certainly not going to be a “fast” year!
Returning course record holder Mat Davy’s time of 24:19 has stood since 2014 … he was determined to defend this against our cycling power house Wayne who has posted best times on our previous two camps. Ladies record holder and fastest around that loop for 6 consecutive years, Mel, is not with us this year – it seemed highly unlikely, given the conditions, that any of us ladies would beat her remarkable record of 26:31!
Having now hosted 8 camps in Lanzarote over 6 years, each with 18-20 riders, we have a pretty good database of results for this race…and Steven has been able to calculate “adjustments” for conditions (based on average times) for each year….. the two record quoted above were set in 2014, with favourable conditions by -1:40 ( i.e the average time was 1 minute 40 faster than the average of all times).
But – as with any race, you have to race the conditions and the competition on the day – and so that is what we lined up on the start line to do! Myself and Emma off first as time keepers, we always try to give an honest effort, but with a 5 minute start I have to admit that all we really focus on is getting there in time to record the first finishers. In the last couple of kms, as i was slogging up the last climb, I caught sight of Emma, who’d eaten up my 30 second lead over her beating my time of 34:05 by 10 seconds.
We didn’t have long to wait as the riders all came through as a nice compacted group, demonstrating that our “guesstimated” start order was about right – and that everyone had really worked hard, as ever!!
Over coffee and ice-cream in the cafe, we calculated results – Tanya, our camp masseuse but also a handy Iron-distance triathlete herself, was our fastest lady of the day, and 11th overall in an impressive 33:19 and top 3 mens times were Wayne in 27:43, Steven in 27:37 and Mat in a fairly astonishing 25:30. The adjustment for this year that Steven calculated was +2:10 which really puts this time into perspective (i.e equivalent to a 23:30 in “average” conditions). The majority of the camp decided to take in a bit more of the local scenery by extending the standard ride home to include a route home over Fire Mountain, whilst I lead a few directly home for a bit of a longer rest before run-time.
Running from the hotel in the afternoon is really fun, views of the beaches and dodging the tourists along the Aveneda. The majority of campers were happy to get the daily minimum of 30 minutes completed, given that they were unaccustomed to temperatures in the mid twenties – but one or two who have had the advantage of a little more acclimatisation ,decided take the opportunity of relatively short day to run on a bit for wildcards. 5 time returning regular Matthew surpassed himself, and all campers we’ve ever had before, with a 32km run to round off the day. A bold move on Day 1, but as we well know by now – that’s Matthew’s style!
It sounds like the winds are picking up this evening, and the forecast is for some high speed gusts tomorrow – unsettling conditions for those inexperienced with strong winds (and even for those with plenty of experience to be honest!) …. we’re reviewing the plan for day 2 and will post more tomorrow.