A NEWBIE AT CAMP

Once Girona was decided as the venue for BBBC’s early season training camp, I was pretty excited to go. The number of pros based out there must mean it’s got something pretty good going on, while the opportunity to get in a solid few days riding with some proper climbing and escaping the never ending British winter was too good to pass up. That said, I’d read about the Majorca trip in 2017 and knew that 2/3rds of the team had barely ridden a bike for about three months after – so I was also pretty apprehensive. Promises of a high beer & ice-cream to kilometre ratio sealed the deal, and so a few weeks ago I got up at 4am on a Thursday to catch a far-too-early flight to Barcelona.

Day 1 – 45km

Pre-ride thought “I’m tired, I’ve been up since 4am”

On arrival in BCN I picked up the Ford Fiestina Affair hire car and Schroder and headed north to meet Woodall and de Calbiac at our hotel. Following a brief jaunt into Girona to procure hire bikes/food/water, we headed out for a quick warm up spin to Banyoles, where we managed to convince a kindly café owner to stay open while we necked a quick espresso/coke. We promptly ruined her day by acting as a beacon to all other cyclists in the area, who had the same idea. She’s probably still open. We got back to the hotel and had a sit around in the garden/car park as another group of BBBCers arrived to regale us with tales of multiple hire car cock-ups and general chaos. Beers were consumed before we decided to head into town and find food. After a short meander we found a restaurant that sold pizza – we then found the final remaining BBBCer, more airport horror stories. Then there was ice cream.

Day 2 – 120km

Pre-ride thought “I hope I don’t get my legs ripped off today”

The complete BBBC road team met at the hotel garage at 9am to roll into town to grab breakfast at one of the mega-instagramable cafes Girona is known for. La Fabrica drips with cycling appeal, from the bike racks outside (and thoughtfully provided locks) to the jerseys, bikes and memorabilia that adorn the walls. We ate well, someone had flowers, then we headed out for a loop to the coast. The roads were smooth and fast, the sun was shining, the pace was decent but no one was about to have their legs ripped off. We regrouped at the top of the first climb and began the up-down descent to the coast. It’s hard not to have fun on roads like those, the peloton stretching as the descending speed ranged from conservative (disk brakes not bedded in) to the ludicrous (Nathan, as per). We found our way into town for a little coffee stop before heading along the coast and looping back towards Girona over the Hincapie climb (named after the famous Death Eater who used to ride it a lot in his US Postal days). Dinner was a return to the same restaurant. We had pizza. And the same waitress. We’re adventurous like that. Then there was ice cream.

Day 3 – 103km

Pre-ride thought “My legs feel ok, hope they hold for the biggest climb I’ve ever done”

We met up at the garage at 9 am. Rolled into town for food. Another insta-friendly café – Federal today. Someone probably had flowers. I had a breakfast burger. It was pretty good. Heading North out of the City towards Rocacorba, I had in the back of my mind that this would be my biggest ever climb, just over 10km at an average of 7%. It’s a climb used by the pros to gauge their pre-season fitness, so I had a worry or two. Once the road started to ramp upwards Woodall and McMorrin set off on a blistering attack, foolishly I tried to hold their wheels, killing myself to bridge the gap. I succeeded in only putting myself into the red very early and dragging El Presidenté up to their wheels to continue his chase. My early effort left me a sitting duck for Schroder and Evans who passed me with ease. I tried to settle into the climb and enjoy the scenery. The countless pros on their way up and down showed this place really does have a top-end appeal. The surface in places was pretty sketchy, but upon arriving at the top we were met with stunning views of the surrounding countryside. We descended to the famous Rocacorba food truck for sausages and more pro-spotting. We rounded out the route home and enjoyed the largely flat roads until a headwind made the return leg a bit more hurty. Slightly broken up we all rolled back to the hotel and sat around feeling pretty done. Dinner was somewhere different. Then there was ice cream.

Day 4 – 106km

Pre-ride thought “Seriously, how are my legs ok?!”

We met up at the garage. At 9 am. Rolled into town for food. Back to La Fabrica. More breakfast flowers. We were losing a few of the group today to early flights, so as we rolled out of the city towards the dam at Panta de Susqueda, we knew a few guys would be heading back the way we came leaving just five to carry on. The route up to the dam was pretty scenic, taking a meandering path alongside the river, before climbing up. At the top we said our goodbyes before hitting a short sharp climb. At this point I got swallowed up by an EF Drapac peloton out on a training ride, sitting on the wheels I followed them up to where Owen and McMo were waiting “Nice shorts Tom!” came from someone in the group. They are nice shorts. Another climb took us to the top of Santi-Hilari where we got to enjoy a Nathan-special 45km descent back to Girona. The roads were wide and flowing, it was a great way to end the last big ride. Dinner saw us hit up Konig for big beers and burgers. Then there was (probably) ice cream.

Day 5 – 64km

Pre-ride thought “I don’t want to go home”

We met up at the garage at 9 am. Rolled into town for food. Back to La Federal. Avocado. For the last day we decided to follow a route that Dan Craven had on his website, the route took us up to Els Angels, the climb meandered up, switchbacks aplenty. Again, the views were pretty good. After standing around for a bit we got cracking, the descent was pretty sketchy with some of the worst roads we’d ridden on in Girona, that said, they were no worse than a Surrey B road and really stood out for being such a rare occurrence. At the bottom of the descent we stopped to watch/help/evangelise on the benefits of tubleless tyres, to a stranded group of cyclists including Lotto NL Jumbo’s Sepp Kuss. Despite being a pro, the guy cannot change a flat.

We found a deserted little square where we stopped for coffee, definitely a highlight (thanks Dan!). We revisited the climb from the trip to the beach to head back to Girona. McMo went off to turn his ride into a 160km epic while the remaining three headed for the hotel, returned bike, had coffee and cake at Espresso Mafia, then headed for the 90 minute drive back to the airport to go home wishing it wasn’t time already.

Would I do a training camp again? Definitely. Would I go back to Girona? I want to live there.


Words. Charlie Marshall. Photos. Charlie Woodall. There's still time to sign up for Austria 2018 this August.