It's that time of the year when the British winter weather is becoming unbearable to the cyclists in out-of-season training. Gradually you start to see an accumulation of “Calpe content” plastered over social media, as athletes across the country give in to the lowered flight prices.

Pre-season training camps have become more accessible over the past 5 years with popular locations like Girona, Mallorca, Calpe, Tenerife and Lanzarote becoming a cyclists' haven. Although technically a holiday, this time abroad should be used wisely, a good step in fitness can be made if time and effort are managed correctly. There are a few simple ways you can ruin your time abroad and your ability to get stronger. I've laid out some major DOs and DON’Ts to help maximise your time away.

Whether it’s your first camp or third, take notes, it's not fun to learn the hard way - trust me!

DO: Check your bike is working BEFORE you leave

It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people I've turned up to train with and their bike is falling to pieces (I am also a culprit of this). Being in a foreign country adds a whole new level of stress to bike mechanics, under time pressure too. It's even worse if your bike decides to fall apart whilst on a ride, conveniently in the middle of nowhere, don’t be that person- it’s an expensive taxi ride home! To help prevent these things from happening: firstly, check and double-check you've built your bike correctly once taken out of the bike box (take a torque wrench please!).

Secondly, make sure your bike is insured, Laka is my go-to, they have worldwide travel cover so that you can sleep peacefully whilst abroad.

DON’T: Go too hard on the first day

I get it. It's so easy to go and smash all the famous climbs on the first day. It’s sunny, the roads are smooth and your mates are sprinting for every town sign…but going out for your longest, hilliest ride on the first day will ruin you. If you manage to keep this up, by the end of day 2 or 3, you’ll most likely find yourself hitched up on the side of the road in a gas station, struggling to get enough carbohydrates in to replenish energy levels. You’ll be most likely in bed the next few days and If you’re lucky enough to avoid illness, perhaps you get out on the bike for day 6 just in time to fly back on day 7. To put it simply, it’s not worth the Strava record.

DO: Fuel effectively

Training camps often involve a big block of hours in the saddle, the volume of training is increased and therefore requires a significant amount of food to fuel your body. There's a

tendency to want to try and “lose weight” on training camp and as a result riders often underfuel the training and are cracked by the end of the week. Setting them back further than initially.

YOU WILL NOT LOSE WEIGHT IN A WEEK! Turn your focus onto replenishing your energy stores, this means eating carbohydrates pre, during and post-ride. To get technical (weight depending) you want to be taking between 60-90g/hr of carbohydrates during your ride, this will help fuel and recover your glycogen stores. Now this may seem like a lot of food, however bananas only have about 23g of carbohydrates each and it's pretty tricky to eat 4 bananas an hour, not to mention carrying them!

Perhaps take nutrition with you, something you are used to: gels, bars, homemade rice cakes or flapjacks. In my opinion, the easiest way to intake enough fuel is through Carbohydrate powder in my bottles, especially when the weather is warm you end up drinking your hours' worth of carbs and staying hydrated too. Win-win!

DON’T: Forget to enjoy yourself!

Not every ride has to be serious or strict, even the pros go for a cafe stop if they fancy it. Maybe mix things up like on your recovery/rest day, ride to the beach and back for a swim or ride to the cafe and spend as long as you like there. Don’t get me wrong, sticking to the plan is key but

ensure you know where being strict matters and where it doesn’t - there's a time and a place.

DO: Prioritise recovery

This is where knowing when to be strict with yourself matters most. Prioritising recovery means many things but it could mean: steering clear of too many ‘cold bevs’ in the sun on rest days or simply taking the time to do a short stretch routine in the evenings. Recovering in time for the next big day is half the work, you expend a lot of energy during training sessions, so being tired is expected. Taking the time to maybe have a short nap or ensuring you intake a high level of carbohydrates post-training will maximise muscle glycogen replenishment. Let me make it clear though, going for a hike up a local mountain or spending hours shopping the markets, is not going to help recovery.

DON’T: Forget chamois cream or sun cream.

Bib shorts and jersey tan lines are worn like a badge of honour in the cycling world. However, the clout is not worth the redraw burn you’ll get when you don’t wear suncream, trust me you will still get a tan if you wear suncream. My go-to is the roll-on Pelotan, it’s easy to apply with no greasy hands, it's sweat-proof and lasts forever- would highly recommend it.

It's the small things that make the biggest difference. The smallest of errors like forgetting chamois cream (if you wear it usually) could mean not being able to ride your bike the next day, or one very painful ride! Either way, it’s worth investing in some if you haven't already, it's on the longest of rides where you'll suddenly realise you wish you had some!

Well, to all of you lucky readers heading off to Europe training, good luck! Stay focused and really take the opportunity to make some real gains, but like I said, don't forget to have fun!! I’ll be joining your cycling clans out in the land of sunny Spain soon and with that, my last tip: Please do yourself a favour, and take a raincoat. Contrary to popular belief, it's not always sunny in Spain, so don't get caught out, training doesn’t stop for a bit of rain!

Amy :))

Instagram: @amyperryman_

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