What a windy day. Last night Jo and I had long discussions about what to do today as the wind forecast was for very strong winds. 28 knot winds with 34 knot gusts. This pretty much translates to 50 km/h wind with 65 km/h gusts. We decided that we would switch the Day 2 and Day 3 rides around. This gave us more options for cutting the ride short and allowed assessment of the conditions during the early part of the ride with the option to return with the wind if the ride leader decided the conditions weren’t safe.
Prior to exposing the campers to the challenging riding conditions we had a swim. Having considered having some fun doing swim towing we decided to stick with the tried and tested formula of practising entries and exits. This means whilst everyone does a 10 minute warm up I set up our turn ‘buoy’ in about chest deep water. Today there was a big swell so it was chest deep in the troughs. This is great conditions for this sort of practise as everyone has to get through surf and then swim in on the surf. We do a race lap to agree pairs and then do a relay race. As ever it’s keenly contested and judging by the number of people doubled over gasping for breath it was yet again the most intense effort that will be done on camp.
The rides headed up the Donkey track into the wind which gave a solid 40+ minute effort for all groups before hitting the spine road and riding into a block headwind. The (faster) last group off caught the group ahead, at which point Gabriel switched into Jo’s “steady” paced group, 4. One of them, Matthew, very quickly declared that he would have to sit in all day – this is almost certainly due to his 32k run the day before!! A big run on camp has a tendency to impact the next days ride.
On the descent in to the headwind down from Monumento De Campesina it was the sort of conditions that can see the person on the front burying themselves whilst those behind are having to feather their brakes. After my turn on the front as I came back, Matthew, how had yet to put his nose in the wind, said “we could do with a bit more juice when you’re not the front”. A few turns later he was on the front so I shouted the same. He put in a massive effort and then following his turned popped off the back and had to shout for us to ease up!
The hellish headwind continued down to Famara where we turned and enjoyed fantastic riding for 30+ k all the way to Yaiza for a coffee stop. It was great that we managed to meet up with Rob who had split from the second group to take the shorter option. After we’d left he then met the first group and rode back with them doing some great pulls.
The ride continued around El Golfo, up Las Brenas and down to Playa Blanca all pretty much with tail winds. Then the slog back home in to the headwind. Wayne put in massive turns on the front pulling the group appearing completely unaffected by the wind. We reckoned we’d found his natural habitat. We decided to take the direct route back from Uga reversing the start of the Ironman route. In hindsight this was a bad choice which luckily none of the other groups made. They made the wise choice of going up through La Geria in to the headwind directly but giving them a final 12k descent with the tail wind. Our route took on a main road with tremendous cross winds which saw us holding our bikes at what looked like a 45 degree angle. It was hard, heart in mouth, work at times only broken by the descent to Puerto Calero.
All the groups ended up finishing within about 15 minutes of each other. This meant I could sit at reception and see that everyone was back safely. It had definitely been the strongest winds we’ve ever had on camp and will have set the campers up to deal with conditions like this in the future. I’m pretty sure now that in most cases if someone says “It’s windy” they’ll be able to say “Well it’s not as windy as Day 2 of the EverydayTraining Lanzarote Endurance Camp 2017” !
A massive well done to everyone, especially those in Emma’s group, our less powerful & lighter riders experiencing such conditions for the first time.