Last week I went on a magical summer holiday with me family to Iznajar in Spain. Nestled in the side of the hills is a beautiful villa called Casa Pino Solo. It was from here I explored / trained.
My key thoughts on training in Spain were to test out my ability to stand the heat and altitude.
The village of Iznajar itself is situated on top of a huge rocky outcropping overlooking the Embalse de Iznájar, the largest reservoir in the whole of Andalucía.
It was this reservoir that I planned to explore on my bike.
Arriving on the Saturday I gave my body a few days to adjust to the heat, the weather was a lot hotter than usual for the time of year reaching 40 degrees some days. Coming from the UK where 20 is a warm day this was unbearable cycling heat for me.
On the Monday I programmed in a 4 hour route to my Garmin and set off, my Garmin soon took me off road through rocky paths made by tractors between olive trees. The climbing was tough, made worse by the dusty terrain which I inhaled with every breath.
Soon my route joined a road and with some relief the first downhill part of my ride took me all the way down to the reservoir. One thing I noticed about riding in Spain is the drivers were very patient and gave me lots of room when they past.
Crossing the reservoir I carried on uphill for what seemed like an age! The sun was starting to really heat up and I was getting a bit concerned about my water levels, I carried on and soon reached the top. The view back over the olive plantations was incredible. My path turned a few corners and then was downhill all the way to the lake. I was amazed that the hill that had just taken nearly an hour to climb could be descended in about 20 minutes!
I made my way home as the heat was starting to get to me cutting my ride short. My first day riding in Spain was brilliant I loved the challenging climbs and the scenery was fantastic.
The next couple of days were too hot to ride, on the Wednesday I went out at 3 blow thinking that it would get cooler, 40 mins in I knew something was wrong with my bike the handling was juddery and my arms were uncomfortable, I jumped off and noticed my headset was loose, I decided to call it a day ride home and tried to fix it. I didn’t seem to be able to fix it so I got in touch with a bike shop in Malaga called Recyclo they kindly offered to have a look at it for me and fitted a new headset.
The next day Martyn and I drove the hour to the beach to drop off my bike and have a beach day. It was so nice being near the sea I love the ocean and the sound of the crashing waves has always made me relaxed.
It was soon time to pick the bike up and with my problems solved I was determined to get up early and get in a good ride on our last day.
My alarm went off at 6 the next morning, after one snooze I got up and went to make breakfast, my little nephew Henry was already up having his breakfast so I joined him with my porridge and sorted out my snacks for my ride. I had planned to head out following the lake towards the dam towards a town called Rute and then follow the main road back into Iznajar and across the reservoir.
The morning breeze was nippy but I knew the sun would be out very soon, so with a few goose bumps I set out, I was soon feeling warm as I climbing the hill to the left of the lake, the view was incredible as the sun rose and shown on the glistening turquoise water.
The path contoured around the side of the lake, the road soon turned to a gravel track which made for a bumpy ride so I stopped and adjusted my suspension. The 29inch wheels made light work of the trails ruts and bumps and I felt really good flying along at a consistent pace.
Since I have been getting a diet plan from Rachel Hobbs I have been sticking to natural foods on training rides and have found a new love for dates! They seem to keep me going far better than any energy gel or jelly baby and are far better for me!
I could see the dam in the distance and with every pedal stroke got closer and closer. Soon I was passing some local tree fellers and making my way onto the dam, the road which had been shaded by the hills was now exposed to the rapidly increasing heat of the sun as I made my way up to Rute.
I kept drinking every 10 minutes and new my hydration was good when I had to make a quick ‘nature’ stop!
The climb to Rute was on a really nice road, somewhat like a motorway in the UK but with far less cars.
I stopped in Rute to fill up my water bottles and after a short sharp climb out of the town I had an 8% hill to descend it felt very steep and I clocked 53kph as I flew towards Iznajar.
Crossing back over the bridge and starting the climb towards our villa I felt a huge sense of achievement; I decided to do a few hill reps to finish and then went back to the villa for a well-earned dip in the pool.
I loved riding in Spain the heat made it very hard and I know this is going to make the Trans Alp challenging. Only a month to go now!