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Ian's Training Log

3 Days of Iron CAMP

tripyreneesby tripyreneesJul 31st 2010
3 Days of Iron CAMP
When I plan bike tours and training camps I always get excited over how many different ways we can ride routes and if certain routes have just been made famous by the Tour de France then even better. This past week we held our annual Iron CAMP which is a high volume triathlon training camp in the Pyrenees. The camp started with the International Duathlon Val d'Aran which was an 8 Km mountain run, 71 Km bike over the Col des Ares, Buret and Menté and ending with an 8 Km hilly run. Then there was a recovery day with about 50 Km of biking, a lake swim and a short run. The main course was to come and I was getting a little worried.
I had planned to ride stages 16 and 17 of this years Tour de France. We started off early on Tuesday around 8 am. There were 3 of us going for the full ride. We had a 30 Km lead in to Luchon which was the official start of the stage. The Col de Peyresoude was the first of the Category 1 climbs and was also our King of the Mountains points climbs. It started out fast and didn't slow down. I was all about pacing and finally caught Kevin up at 2 Km to go (Nate was up the road). Kevin surged to get my wheel and I knocked it down a few gears, stood up out of the saddle and accelerated putting a decent gap and a second place over the climb. I think we were all to suffer for these early efforts. Down the decent, zipping up the jersey and onto the Col d'Aspin. Gentle climb, riding together but naturally splitting towards the top as the competitiveness crept in (this was to be the flavour of the camp). Straight over the summit and onto the Tourmalet, luckily I got a good lead in with the descent and had some recovery before the boys rode up to me. It was hot hot hot and the 18 Km climb was tough. I started cramping bad and Nate had now lost all power due to his efforts in the Duathlon. Kevin took the second KoM points by a big margin as I followed up Nate a few minutes later.....hurting.... a lot!!
It was time for some food - Croque Monsieur and Frittes in the Tourmalet Café. The descent was warm and bumpy (in fact it snapped my Garmin mount off). We regrouped at Luz and road the 20 Km to Argeles together to try and shield the heavy head wind down the valley. Climb number 4 was tough. It is another 10 Km lead into the base of the Soulor and that hurt but had to be done. The climb up the Soulor was murderous and although my cramping had gone I was now lacking in fuel. We were at about 180 Km by now and I think I rolled through at 8 hours 2 mins which picked me up a little. I reached the summit a while behind the guys but instead of stopping I took off for the Col d'Aubisque and into the mist. I caught a chap on a hybrid wearing T shirt, shorts and sandles. I kept looking behind and kept seeing him. My legs knew what they were supposed to do but they were not doing it. By 1 Km to go he rode past embarrassing but I bet he had not got 185 Km under his belt. I dropped back a little just so it looked like I was catching him when we reach the summit ;o).
It was cold on top and I just zipped up my my gilet and took off and flew down the 18 Km descent. Only the second time for me descending this way as we normally ride up on our Coast to Coast rides. I then decided to head to the hotel which was around 25 Km away. We had one more climb to go, a 5 km 5% Category 4 obstacle right at the end. I kept hitting slopes and thinking that was it but it seemed to take ages to get to. But I rode it with a solid cadence and a heightened level of energy. I took the stage finish in 9 hours 16 minutes. 220 Km and 5000m of climbing. The guys came in about 10 mins later and it was time for dinner.

The next day was Stage 17 and also it was the Etape du Tour stage this year. Although we were missing the first 40 Km of the ride we were taking on the Marie Blanque, Soulor and finishing on the Tourmalet, the second time in two days. I was toast on the first climb, the guys had left me and descended. I caught Nate up and pulled him 30 km catching the others up at the lead into the Soulor. This side of the Soulor is tough, around 12 Km and hot (remember the sheep in the road on the Tour, this was the climb). I was suffering now but these point to point rides make your go even though you feel like curling up at the side of the road taking a snooze. I reached the top after a long while and had a sandwich with the guys. They took off to the Tourmalet but at this moment I just wanted to ride alone.....suffer alone......die alone.
I reached Luz and stopped for an icecream. I started the Tourmalet and died in the first Km. I carried on, I died more, I carried on, I died, was cremated and blown in to the wind. I had absolutely nothing, legs blown to pieces, no energy and could not eat anything. I was within 7 km of the top and just curled up at the side of the road. Julie scraped me up and took me to the cafe for more crogue monsieur and frittes. I descended to the hotel shivering. 149 Km and 3900m of climbing.

The final day of the tour was short 110 Km. We took off at a descent pace and I had had a good meal the night before. Lewis had now joined us and our group had grown to five. We headed up the Col d'Aspin but just before the top we head off right to the Hourquette d'Ancizan. I had never climbed this mountain from this side before and boy it was good. 10 Km and a descent grade most of the time of around 8 to 9%. Lewis took it out and I was a close second, then Paul, while Kevin and Nate came up chatting to each other. The descent was deadly, a very thin road with many blind bends. But we made it.
Straight on to the Peyresourde and we seemed to ride that together. There was even an option to take a different route to the Ski Station, but I preferred to get to the café for some food. It was very hot but we all seemed to dry out while eating and drinking. The optional climb of the Port de Balés was decided to be one climb to many and with the Mountain Time Trial tomorrow, we agreed to ride back down the valley. Ride, was an all out slaughter house. surging, attacking and some very high speeds. We were back in no time and the legs we grateful it was all over.

The mountain time trial up the Col des Ares was a top priority for some of the guys. They really wanted to get on the leader board and Lewis was throwing out a lot of trash talk. Overall the group were the fastest we have had for the TT. Legs were tired but the minds knew they could hit the climb with all they had. Nate was the victor and got himself on the board with 16:35, which is 2 seconds faster than Lewis' best time. Lewis was within 30 seconds of my finish time so there is hope for me still (both of us plan to PB this course this year). Finally the legs could have a rest. We had ridden around 750 Km in the past week with 500 Km of that in 3 days.

Time for some relaxing riding and get some runs in.
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