PLAN YOUR OWN
Cycling saw a bigger boom during the pandemic than any other time in recent memory. Not even the superhuman Lance Armstrong circus years inspired as many people to get outside on bicycles. But like that era, many are now aspiring to take their cycling to a new level, improve their fitness, and maybe get a taste of what it’s like for the pros at spring training camps.
Spring cycling getaways have been popular in certain circles for years. They are a fabulous way to kickstart the pedaling season and maybe give winter whitened skin a chance to soak up some vitamin D. And while there is no shortage of tour organizers offering curated packages of accommodations, gourmet cuisine, and personal pampering options, planning your own cycling sojourn can offer a lot more freedom to tailor your own custom training camp.
You’ll find plenty of benefits to planning your own itinerary. For starters, pick the destinations and routes you most want to ride. Whether it’s coastal vistas in the Canary Islands, sneaking peeks of the pros on Mallorca, or going on a gravel vision quest in the desert southwest, choosing your own adventure means you're in charge. Feel like skipping that big climb, or maybe riding later in the day? Want to indulge a little while longer at your new favorite patisserie? No worries. The days are yours to enjoy as you will.
So part of going your own way is figuring out which way you want to go. Are you setting out to load up on early season road miles, or do you want to find some lonely singletrack to refresh your mountain bike skills? Your riding style, preferred terroir, and cultural elements all come into play here. Dreaming of Sedona red rock adventures is bucket list stuff for some, while others might prefer diving down Côte d'Azur backroads on their way to sipping a coffee in Saint-Tropez.
If you’re going solo, or at least not with a fully catered group, you should check to make sure that your desired destination and riding preferences align with what you want out of your camp. Are there plenty of roads or trails that match your riding preferences? Spend some time poring over Google Maps and Trailforks to get a proper lay of the land. And even if you like loads of big climbs, for example, is there potential for some more mellow rides when you’re feeling a little burnt? Or are there attractions in the area that can offer alternative activities on down days? Taking in sites and culture are maybe the biggest perks pro cyclists enjoy. So if you’re playing pro for a week or two, you should take full advantage and do the same.
Not all destinations are equally accessible. Plenty of cycling cities are served by major airlines. So if you’re heading to a place like Nice or San Diego for your spring break riding, then logistics can be pretty simple. Your biggest hurdle is simply making sure you can pack your bike and gear appropriately to get there. Though you should research ahead of time what your intended airline’s bike baggage policies are to avoid any surprises when you go to check in for your flight.
If you are looking for a more remote and intimate experience, then you’ll likely need to consider additional travel details. Car rental is probably the most convenient way to go, but vehicle selection is worth investigating before you book. Within the US, you’re likely to find plenty of larger options to let you easily stow your packed bike inside with no worries.
This may not be the case in Europe and other regions where the Ford F-150 isn’t the most popular vehicle on the road. The more ‘economy’ size rentals here may mean that you’ll need to unpack your bike to make everything fit. And that also means that you cannot travel with a hard bike travel case. Instead, you’ll need to opt for a bag that can be folded down to take up less space.
Professional cyclists eat a lot. This is because they ride a ton and burn an enormous amount of energy. On your bike getaway, you’ll be riding more than you usually do, so you’ll likely be more hungry than if you were home at your 9 – 5 job.
Listen to your body and eat. As much as some are tempted to try shedding a few preseason pounds, starving yourself during a big week of riding is going to leave you feeling empty. If you’re depleted, you may not be able to ride as much as you had hoped, and ultimately, you won’t enjoy your vacation as much. And isn’t that really why you’re going?
Anyway, the occasional mid-ride café stop is a great energy and morale booster. And besides enjoying a nice break with some local culture, you may just end up savoring a coffee and pastry next to the local pros doing the same thing.