Helen Russell´s blog update Back in The UK
Back in the UK
Two weeks have passed since I returned from my winter training in Spain and of course I am really missing the sun, stunning views and mountain climbs of the Costa Blanca. My five week training holiday was a dream come true and I am so grateful to Ciclo Costa Blanca for helping to turn my dream into a reality.
I was eager to get in as much riding as possible but realised that in order to not get too fatigued and burn myself out I needed to be sensible and therefore eased myself slowly into the training. However, three weeks into my stay and I was definitely ready to do some longer rides and hit the more challenging climbs, including Port de Tudons (1024m), Carrasqueta (1020m) and Benifallim (1010m).
There were still plenty of pro teams training in the area and it was a real buzz to watch them speed past. I spotted Lotto NL-Jumbo and the EKZ Racing Team and stopped to listen to the BMC Under-23 Team briefing near the bottom of the Confrides climb. One of my most memorable rides was chasing down the Italian women’s team La Classica and then passing them on a climb. I heard shouts from their team van to chase me down and some riders gave pursuit but I was amazingly able to stay ahead of them. I was really surprised but then maybe they were just having an easy day! During my stay the triathlon Brownlee brothers were also training in Benidorm but unfortunately I didn’t spot them.
I stayed at Ciclo Costa Blanca’s partner hotel-the Terralta Apartotel , which is really bike friendly. It seems that Benidorm is a favourite base of the Norwegian teams, as also in the Terralta were Edvald Boasson Hagen’s former club, the Lillehammer Cycle Club and Team Ringeriks-Kraft. With the teams and other individual riders staying in the hotel it felt like there was real cycling community at the Terralta.
My partner joined me in my final week and we hired a car, which meant that I could do some riding a bit further south around Alicante whilst he played golf! To be honest the roads weren’t as interesting this far down the coast but it did make a welcome change to ride on the flat for a bit rather than the mountains. The nicest rides in this area were on the palm tree lined roads in the nature reserves of Elche, which is famous for its 200,000 protected palms.
As a triathlete it is important that I train in all three disciplines and Benidorm was also an excellent place for running and swimming. I trained a few times at Benidorm’s public pool but a real highlight of my stay was swimming in the sea. I couldn’t fit my wetsuit into my suitcase but was really fortunate when the respected triathlon coach, Martin Hill, who is based in the area offered to lend me one of his. The water was warm enough to stay in for about thirty minutes and the large waves meant that the rough British race conditions were easily replicated!
It has been hard to adjust to being back in the UK. On my first ride I headed out to the Malvern Hills, which is the hilliest part of my local area but it just wasn’t the same as riding the switch-backs of a 1000m climb! Most of my riding since I have been back has inevitably been indoors on the Wattbike due to the mixed weather. The good thing about the Wattbike however, is that it provides you with lots of data and my training stats look good. The five weeks in Spain have given me a great level of winter fitness, which will hopefully translate into good summer results!
I was so lucky to have the opportunity to be able to train in Spain for five weeks and I realise that I will probably never have the chance to do it again. I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences of my life and I know that I will return to ride with Ciclo Costa Blanca-if only, unfortunately, for a week at a time!