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Training camps have been a routine for pro cycling teams during the winter for many years. The purpose is to get a good base foundation and make training as controlled as possible. On the other hand, winter usually brings bad weather, which is another reason why pro teams choose nice sunny places with quiet roads.
The spring is a great time to increase your volume to build your base. Many athletes benefit from capping their long winter rides to two to three hours and focus more on building power and strength. Then, during the spring, when the weather is consistently warm, they can finally get out and ride those long miles. Using this structure allows you to have enough miles in your legs to execute a good training camp while keeping you from burning out. Additionally, many camps are based on specific events and the organizer must wait for predictably warm weather to hold the camp.
Choosing the right time to go on a training camp is very important. Start training too close to an important race date and you might not have sufficient time to recover from over-reaching, while training too early may mean that you haven’t acquired the base fitness needed to complete the training camp. Give yourself a minimum of 6 weeks or more from the end of your camp until your big event.
Organized camps usually offer different levels to accommodate for every level of rider & are often set up around a specific event. These camps are typically full service, meaning you simply show up with your bike and they will have the routes set, food taken care of, mechanic available & other amenities. The groups are usually larger, and riding in a larger group means higher speeds and more miles. An important aspect of an organized camp is that there will be a coach available.
Every day will have a structured plan for each level so you can avoid overriding. Getting instant feedback from your coach about how a session went and planning the next day based on how you both feel the session went is really valuable. You also have the added benefit of having your own personal Soigneur, who will look after you from every aspect.
Be smart this season and book your “dream training camp”, it will be worth it when racing season is in full effect. Boost your base period fitness, and you´ll enjoy new roads, new sights, new countries & keep your training on track.