As usual most people had earned wild cards to avoid a swim on the final day of camp when everyone is riding either the full Ironman Lanzarote route, or our extended 200km version of it. This meant at 7:55am much of the camp were up and ready in bike kit and waiting outside the hotel restaurant for breakfast to be available. There followed 20 minutes of so of rapid eating to fuel ready for the long day ahead.
I [Steven] was leading some of the faster guys on our Ironman+ route which is a just over 200k loop of the whole Island – following the Ironman route with extra loops at either end to Playa Blanca and Orzolo. On last two years’ rides we agreed to aim to cycle non-stop as far as Teguise in order to make time
for a proper lunch. This also means we’ve done just over half the ride in terms of distance, ride time and ascent.
There was very little chat in the first half of the ride which is a sure sign of how tired everyone was feeling. We rode in two rows, with riders taking it turns to sit on the front and break the wind for others. It was sensibly paced all round which is absolutely required as on such a long day there’s no point ripping the legs off anyone in the group. We passed Emma’s group early on in the ride but knew they’d leap-frog ahead of us when we turned over Femes to create part of our “extension”
We were making great progress as the winds were light. We had a short stop at Mancha Blanca to get water and then not long after as we approached Tiagua we spotted I had a very buckled back wheel. It turned out I’d managed to break a spoke. We descended to La Santa to head to Pro Bike. We found both the other groups there as Jo’s group (the medium paced Ironman route) were filling bottles at the super market and Emma’s (steadier paced) group were having a coffee in the cafe opposite the bike shop.
Having established that Pro Bike could quickly fix my spoke, I sent the rest of my group ahead of me towards Teguise, where we’d planned to stop for lunch anyway – effectively negating the delay caused by this mechanical. Repairs all done, I managed to time trial to Teguise, spot them in the cafe and had my food ordered and eaten before they’d finish their dessert!
Next up was the hilly section of the course – I tried to set a steady but not too hard a pace to allow food to digest. We crested together as a group and headed on to Mirador Del Rio. As ever, this arrived quicker than you think, and before long we were at Orzola for a (double) ice cream stop. Only 65k home from there and with a relative tail wind. We got the guys with TT bikes on the front John and I did a great pull to Arrieta and then Martin switched with John all the way to Tahiche. From there we really backed off as there were some seriously tired legs in the group by then!
The road from Nazaret did not disappoint – I’m still hoping one day it will be tarmac’d! I offered the option of climbing to Teguise and down to avoid it (longer with more ascent but definitely nicer). It was declined on the basis it was not the “Ironman” route.
We got back to town and, with James, the camp winner in the group, we put him on the front to ride us in along the sea front giving, him a cheer. Although we’d made good pace all day, we were the last group to return to the hotel, so we’d had the longest elapsed time on bikes of all the campers
Jo’s small medium paced group had ridden the 180km in a bit over 7hours, she reported that they’d all struggled with tired legs through the day, and stopped a little more than that group usually would ,with a sit-down lunch at the top of Mirador Haria. At the traditional ice cream stop at the petrol station by Arietta they picked up Frank, who had left Emma’s group at their lunch stop in Haria, and ridden the very north section of teh course on his own. Frank’s a well seasoned camper – this is his 6th consecutive year on camp – and also very familiar with the Ironman route, and will be racing here for the 9th tie in May!! The group apparently hitched a ride on the back of a large group of Colt triathlon club for a while to save their legs on the LZ1! The accumulation of saddle sores dictated their decision to avoid the torturously bumpy cut-through at Nazaret in favor of the extra 2km climbing up to Teguise.
Emma’s group, which typically contains our less experienced campers – those new to the sorts of volume that we ride through the 6 days, and generally with less (or no) experience of training for and racing ironman distance events. Every year Emma requests to lead this group – and we understand it; although it’s sure to be a long day out on the bike with a high chance of “emotions” along the way, there’s a huge feeling of pride and satisfaction when the group roll in after an 8 hour ride on one of the toughest 180km routes you could think of!
Bikes had to be hastily packed, a lucky few were able to “enjoy” a quick massage from Tanya before meeting up for a slightly late dinner, camp wrap up, awarding of prizes and the traditional evening of relaxing on the dance floor in Route 66.