Journals Riders

James Jobber journal: a guide to winter training camp locations

Rider journals 2020: James Jobber #02

James Jobber and five other cyclists are keeping rider journals for The British Continental this season. The 26-year-old will continue his odyssey on the UCI Asia Tour this season, riding for yet-to-be-announced Malaysian Continental team. This is James’ second journal entry…

Living in the UK means you’re spoilt for choice for options to head away on your next training camp, but where do you go? 

Costa Blanca: Calpe, Alicante, etc.

Roads/terrain4*
Weather4*
As a non-cycling destination2*
Calpe roads. Photo: Band of Climbers

The ‘go-to’ training camping for most Brits. In terms of bang-for-your-buck, this is a tough one to beat. Cheap flights and cheap accommodation mean even if you end up eating in Restaurante Tango every night, you won’t be disappointed. 

You can easily accumulate a lot of climbing without feeling like you’ve been hit by a train after a week on the pedals

The roads offer a wide range of climbs but there’s also the option of flatter routes to mix things up. The relatively forgiving gradients on the climbs mean you can easily accumulate a lot of climbing without feeling like you’ve been hit by a train after a week on the pedals. Not only that, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll bump into someone you’ll know out there, seeing as half of the UK will be there at some point over the winter months. 

The only real downsides to Calpe are the potential for rain (albeit considerably less than the UK), the bang average coffee and the lack of things to do beyond riding. But overall it’s pretty easy to see why people head back year after year.

Costa del Sol: Malaga, etc.

Roads/terrain4*
Weather4.5*
As a non-cycling destination2*
Malaga sunset. Photo: Manfred Werner /Wikimedia Commons

The Costa del Sol is very similar to Calpe in terms of its pros and cons but it’s a couple of degrees warmer and has a few more degrees of incline on the climbs.

When the roads kick up it’s often above 15%

Flying into Malaga gives you the option to head in either direction along the coast. Whichever way you head, though, you’ll struggle to escape the mountains. When the roads kick up it’s often above 15%, so a 32T cassette doesn’t go amiss. Unless you’re Chris Horner. 

Off the bike, you’re spoilt for choice if Irish bars, fry-ups and ‘locals’ wearing England football shirts are your thing. 

The Canary Islands: Lanzarote, Tenerife, etc.

Roads/terrain3.5*
Weather3.5*
As a non-cycling destination2*
Pyroclastic layers “La Tarta del Teide”, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Photo: H. Zell / Wikimedia Commons

The weather in the Canary Islands remains consistently warm (for the most part) although there is the risk of getting caught in a storm at the top of a mountain.

The terrain, on the other hand, varies from island to island. Lanzarote offers mixed terrain, with some mountains but mainly rolling terrain. The only real downside here is the prospect of a three-hour ride into a headwind on some days but overall its a great place to ride. 

If you’re aiming to improve your climbing ability and tan there are few better places to train

In Tenerife, you’ll be greeted by a two-hour climb out of the door instead of a headwind, unless you’re minted (or on Team Ineos), in which case you’ll be greeted with a 30-minute descent from your hotel situated at altitude on Mount Teide. It’s tough going but if you’re aiming to improve your climbing ability and tan there are few better places to train.

The main difficulty of training here is the extremes of weather. You can start a ride in the clouds at 10 degrees and by the top its 30 degrees (or vice versa), so without a team car it can be difficult to carry enough kit with you to get it right.

Costa Brava: Girona 

Roads/terrain5*
Weather3.5*
As a non-cycling destination4*
Castillo de Rocacorba. Photo: TETITITU / Wikimedia Commons

The dream location, somewhere I’d move to tomorrow rather than just spend a week or two visiting. Of all the roads and climbs I’ve ever ridden, the top five are all based around Girona.

You could spend six months here and still be discovering gems you never knew existed

There’s every type of climb you can imagine, most of which you’re unlikely to see a car on. For me, the biggest selling point is the abundance of different routes. If you spend more than a week at the other locations mentioned you’re likely to end up on the same roads a lot of the time. Whereas you could spend six months here and still be discovering gems you never knew existed.

The town itself has kept its identity. There are some great local places to eat out and a fresh food market twice a week to get some supplies. Not only that, you can get a decent coffee (in Spain?!) before a ride, which always helps the morale after days of training. 

The real downside here is the weather. You’re not guaranteed 20 degrees like the other locations but I’d happily put on a set of leg warmers to be spoilt with the roads on offer. The other difficulty is actually getting there. Direct flights to Girona from the UK in the winter, so the best option is flying into Barcelona then travelling up, which seems like a lot of hassle but it’s worth it.

If you’re jumping on a plane in January to fly out to any of these locations. You’re not going to end up disappointed!

Find out more

James Jobber journal #01: what motivates me

Rider journals 2020: introducing James Jobber

James on Twitter

James on Instagram

James’ coaching business, Upshift Vélo

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