Shortly before the season starts, visiting a training camp is a great idea. So traveling to a camp based in Mallorca for the first time was very exciting. It´s there that a cyclist has a mission to get in prime condition for the start of the season, doing like a pro, enjoying the training in an awesome area in fine spring degrees while the mates at home are still soaking in snow. The training is super focused, giving you the edge when it comes to competitions. It´s all worthwile as being stronger and fitter than cycling buddies back home – it´s as known philosophy amongst cyclists.
Mallorca has its own charm and ambitious road cyclists get the much needed early form that is required. So it should be a great first week of camp.
I have always enjoyed traveling. I grew up taking off on cross country vacations. While I was at University I used to travel a lot and I was always up for a good road trip. Some of the most memorable parts of any trip is what happens along the way. For the athlete, the art of travelling changes. The classic beach holiday of suntanning, lying around from dusk till dawn is almost unthinkable. The athlete needs high energy, whilst time to rest is always welcome, lying around for long periods of time is almost torturous. As an athlete, the best kind of holiday to book is one comparable with sports.
It all starts with the packing. Packing for training camp can be a bit trial and error process. It is important not to pack too much and because I have never been on a training camp before, there was a thing called the “just in case” – syndrom. The “just in case”-syndrom is the special syndrom you have that you maybe need that one special outfit for a “just in case”- ocassion. Chances are high you won`t need that dress or this heels. “You only need jogging suits and slippers” my friend Ilona told me over packing my stuff. My era of obsessed about It-bags and dresses are over but “Only what? Me? Never!” and having been shown where I was wrong. Of course I have packed Jogging outfits too – nevertheless I didn´t give up on a couple of dresses and heels.
Authorized to transport 38kg I managed to get 37,5 of checked baggage, including my bike. Arrived in Mallorca on a sunny day in march, out of the airplane, check- in, unpack everything, the bikes where hardly finished – and we already on the road. “Easy! – do not build up any pressure or create any stress – just easy rolling” – it´s the very first time on the road after a long winter, so easy is the right speed for the first ride out in sunshine and rolling warm for a long week of camp. We were a group of Athletes meeting for this week of camp and I met my cycling mates the first time at dinner. I was the only girl in a group of 3 ambitious male athletes, two of them from North Germany I have never met.
On camps there were organized and guided cycling groups with a few different levels – but I was courageous enough to go on an individual tour with the boys. Of course the first meeting with my cycling mates at this dinner was friendly but cool and reserved – but you know man in general think in a traditionally male domain – when it comes to sports a girl is a “big-time-whining”, a brake, too slowly, something you need to take care of while you really don´t want to care of anyone except yourself. So the only way a woman can succeed in a man´s domain is, to forget that she is a woman and battle it out on a man´s terms. And cycling surely doesn´t belong to men but walk into a camp and chances are you will see a few woman amongst a sea of men.
What a shame! It´s been a long time since society moved past saying women can only be mothers and housewives and cargivers. We run companies, start movement, we hold high positions – but we can´t turn our bodies into powerful, beautiful shapes? Of course we can! In this camp I am a scene-causer. It´s not unusual to find a set of eyes laid my way, perhaps because of the tiny shorts I´m wearing or the way I move. I don´t know, the only thing I know is, there should be more girls cycling.
My mates are my Tobi, Hendrik and Daniel. Daniel is Crazyrider and Hendrik is ironWalther. I always give them niknames. Crazyrider because he push´and pulls his pedals like he is surrounded by enemies on all sides and ironWalther because he is iron like iron can be. So Crazyrider and ironWalther should be my company for the next week and I thanked myself at this very dinner that I hardly missed my training during the wintertime. I was fit and strong enough to cycle in their slipstream but it wasn´t easy at all. I had to give my last ounce of strength day by day but I could feel how attentive they all were when it comes to cycling. See how they style everyday for cycling how they shine, it´s the place to see and be seen. The air is filled with testosterone, glancing muscles everywhere – and they all have fun being in their element, finally on the road again, smiling faces and dirty jokes, I didn´t miss out of fun all the way.
So, every year in spring the athletes meet before season starts. The funny thing is that I would never expected such a huge scene out there, everyone knows everybody else – some of them had been on the island many times before, crazyrider appears every year and knows the cycling routes like the back of his hands and I, yeah I was the newbie. Our group was growing every day, most of them were friends and friends of friends staying in different hotels in Port Alcudia, the daily hectic routine started at the breakfast table in unbroken communication busy chatting via whatsapp to bring the group together. It took hours until the decision had been made even if it´s running or cycling, always depending on the weather and the direction of the moving clouds.
Once on the tour, the two hardest mountains of Mallorca must be defeated. Sa Calobra is on the hit list of any cyclist who visits the island and the playground for the Pro´s. I rode the queen stage the last day on camp, to tackle it´s most famous climb and my ride takes me from Port Alcudia after a handful flat miles up the Puig Major – I keep my heartrate and pace in check knowing that the hardest is yet to come I didn´t ride at hard pace throughout. It´s a good feeling with the sun on my back after a long wet winter, while sweating and heavy breathing dominates my ride I have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the stunning view – the road is spectacular. After some hours of warm sunshine I finally got confronted with a nagging headwind – the wind rushing through the vents of my helmet as I then climbed the Puig Major receiving a heavy rain area but the most difficult section of the ride was saved. During this ride I could feel the hard work in silence over the long winter months, this tour was my personal test, I finally feel I am coming stronger than ever before. I rode over the mountains back to Port Alcudia and arrived the camp with legs and lungs already burning, frozen and wet from head to toe after killing 155km (96miles) and over 2000 feet and went to the spa to rest my tired legs.
I was too tired to eat but after a while I could feel my spirits coming back and I was totally in love with this awesome week of camp and I shall return next year in spring. There are so many beautiful places in this world and I am curious where I will end up next. To be continued…
text and pictures copyright Charlotte Graf