For many a keen road cyclist, their year wouldn’t be complete without a cycling training camp or two. Ask those that go on them the reasons as to why they do, and you’ll likely be met with the same answers:
- Long climbs
- Smooth Roads
- Indulgence – Feeling as close to a pro cyclist as is possible
They also provide riders with something to look forward to (motivation to get them out onto the bike beforehand), and the mileage needed ahead of a racing/sportive/club season.
Make no bones about it, foreign training camps are great and we love them. However, ask the same riders some of the things that annoy them about training camps and you’ll soon realise why training abroad could easily put off some riders.
The annoyance, unsurprisingly, is all centred on the travel; specifically travel of the winged (budget) kind…
- Firstly there is the journey to the airport, then the airport parking (Time & cost).
- Then comes the biggest issue – transportation of the bike. The experience could begin with a lengthy check-in process and one that could turn out to be more expensive than initially thought (bike surcharges).
- Once checked-in, you really do leave your pride and joy at the mercy of the baggage handlers. You face the risk of damage, or your bike not even turning up at the other end.
- When on the other side, there can be another bit of travel from the airport to the camp that can require further negotiation.
- Then… finally, you arrive at your destination to a camp where accommodation is basic to say the least.
One bad experience is enough to put anyone off trying it again, and tales of such are what put the plans of others on hold. Clearly, the whole process can be stressful (and expensive), but there are ways to reduce the levels of annoyance, and so here are a few of our recommendations for doing so:
- When booking your flight pay close attention to the bike surcharges. It can vary widely from carrier to carrier. Some airlines will actually include your bike within your weight allowance. So be sure to check these and the weight of your bike before you leave, so that you know what you are working with.
- Arrive at the airport early. Big luggage can take time to check-in. Try to minimise the risk of your bike not joining you on the flight.
- A hard case will offer your bike the best protection. Alternatively a cardboard box can be used. Be sure to add in extra layers of cardboard, specifically around the edges of the box, and don’t be shy with the duct tape to hold it altogether. Take some extra duct tape with you, just in case.
- Condense the bike by removing the wheels, pedals, seat, derailleur and handlebars. Mark the position of the seatpost before removing it. Use fork and frame spacers. And use foam pipe cladding to protect the frame and bubble wrap to protect everything else. Plus, don’t forget the Allen keys.
- Don’t leave loose items within the bag, unsecured pieces have the potential to chip away at your frame, or puncture the box.
- If using a hard case or bike bag, use zip ties or padlocks for added (security) piece of mind.
- Make it clear on the outside that within the package is a fragile bike.
But do you want to know our biggest tip when it comes to cycling training camps based abroad?
- Stay at home in the UK.
By that we mean going on a UK based cycling training camp instead. Of course, we would say this, we are a UK based cycling training retreat after all.
However, On the Rivet was born in acknowledgment of the frustrations of foreign training camps, and the need for improvements to the facilities that can be found in many of them. Dorm like style accommodation isn’t suited to todays discerning road cyclist, nor is it conducive for rest and recovery. Cycling camps/retreats are changing and we want to play a big part in that.
Perhaps more importantly is the fact that cyclists in the United Kingdom are all a little guilty of not truly appreciating what we have on our doorstep - Breath-taking scenery, deserted country lanes, and challenging rides that can rival some of the best in Europe. Added to this is some luxury country house accommodation, and it does beg the question, why train abroad?
It’s actually a question the guys from Rouleur Magazine have given some pretty compelling answers to after a recent stay with us. You can have a read of what they said, here.
Hopefully we’ve provided you with some food for thought when planning your next cycling break, whether that is home or away, or both. In our next post we'll look at the do's and don'ts of a cycling training camp/retreat, before, during and after your stay.
Jim & Debs