Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Preparation for the new season

It's been a long time since my last blog and I've done a lot since my holiday in November. After my last race in 2012 - Roc D'Azur in October - I had 3 weeks of social riding followed by another 3 weeks completely off the bike. After such a long but successful year we decided to treat ourselves to a windsurfing/surfing holiday in Barbados where we have lots of great friends who we haven't seen for far too long. It was so nice to take time out of our 'normal' bike life and do something completely different.

Helping hand from some Bajan children

A change from biking!

After our holiday we were lucky to be able to start winter training in South Africa where the MTBing is amazing. It was a bit of a shock to start training again and it took a couple of weeks for my body to relax back into riding, but eventually my heart rate lowered and my legs started to feel like those of a cyclist again! The weather was amazing, but often it was so hot (40+ degrees celsius) that we had to get up at 6am or earlier to try to beat the heat. Lots of people choose South Africa for winter training and I was lucky to be shown around by Sharon Laws, Ariane Kleinhans and Jennie Stenerhag. The road riding in South Africa is nice, but it's not entirely safe so often Dave followed in the car behind me. Sadly after we returned home we learned that Burry Stander - a very talented MTB rider - was tragically killed when he was hit by a vehicle while training near his home in South Africa. 

So many trails - the only problem is deciding which ones to ride!

Stunning view of Table Mountain from our apartment in the winelands

'Four Passes' ride with Sharon Laws
We reluctantly left South Africa and landed at Heathrow on Christmas morning. After a 4 hour drive we arrived at my parents house in time for Christmas dinner :)  I had a couple of very wet, cold road rides in The Peak District, ate lots of nice festive food and relaxed by the fire. After briefly touching base at home in Poole we left again to start another block of training in Gran Canaria on New Years day. During our fleeting visit back to the UK we both managed to get ill with colds, sore throats and unavoidable part of winter it seems!   

Gran Canaria is brilliant. The climate is perfect (20-25 degrees) and the weather is often very stable. The roads are about as safe as roads can get and the options for riding are vast. It's so easy to eat up the miles here; no clock watching and counting down the hours! The motorists  - with the exception of some tourists - are often very respectful of cyclists: patiently waiting to overtake, gently sounding their horn to let you know they're there and offering words of encouragement. This couldn't contrast more with the cycling experience in the UK where motorists can't waste precious seconds to overtake, aggressively sound their horn to get you out of the way and use verbal and gestural abuse to vent their frustration with being confronted by a cyclist! 

The view from Pico de las Nieves. The highest point of GC at 1949m

View of the GC606 (switchback road in the distance) aptly named 'The Valley of Tears'. 

We have one more week left in GC before we go to Club La Santa in Lanzarote where I will take part in my first race of the new season: the Lanzarote 4 day stage race. The race also forms part of a week long Cape Epic Training Camp where I will be a guest guide and offer training tips and race advice. We hope to see you there! 


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