My Year on the Bike 2014

My year in numbers: http://2014story.strava.com/video/1162556

In one sense it hasn’t been a great year. Dogged with chest infections and various other ailments at the start of the year, meant I never really hit any type of form and struggled to improve or even match my 2013 speed. Fortunately, I’ve never been too bothered about speed and the only reason I want to go faster is so that my friends and club mates don’t have to wait too long for me at the top of the hills. Realising there wasn’t too much I could do to improve my speed, I just set about enjoying my riding and it turned out to be quite a year.

There have been many memorable rides in 2014 the first being my attempt to scale the heights of the Farrapona with my good friend Mark. It seems appropriate that it was on April fool’s day as it was probably a foolish thing to do considering the weather conditions. Nevertheless, it turned out to be one of those rides you will never forget. Conditions were atrocious and finding the roads blanketed in snow higher up meant we never made it to the top, although Mark gave it a damn good try and then climbed San Lorenzo. You can see a summary of the ride and video here: https://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/an-overdue-summary-and-snow-blocked-roads/

April produced another epic ride, this time my first 200k ride with my club Nava2000. The route was a loop around the Picos de Europa, starting in Cangas de Onis and passing through Cantabria (where we had to climb the excruciatingly long San Gloria) and Leon, before heading back to Asturias and Cangas. Eight and a half hours after starting I finally made it to Cangas, just a little behind the others. https://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/an-epic-ride-my-first-200km/

Saying I would never do it again of course meant that I was back in Cangas several months later with Mark and Ian to ride it again. I’m still not sure how I managed to convince Ian to do it or how Mark convinced me to do it again, but we did and it was a great days riding: a summary of which you can see here: https://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/the-200km-maratoniana-again-with-video/

Mark looking a little fresher than me and Ian

Mark looking a little fresher
than me and Ian

In May I took part in my first sportive of the year and my first participation in The Marcha Villa de Gijon. The sportive is not that tough until you get to San Martin de Huerces, which is a back breaking climb of about 2k with persistent grades of between 12% and 17%. Carlos Sainz the rally driver took part and the Sportive was in honour of Carlos Barredo who also took part (and who will be mentioned again later). Despite my lack of form I made it up the Huecera and it was a great day out, details of which you can see here: http://wp.me/P2SWhh-lY

My next epic ride came just before my first attempt at the Classica Los Lagos de Covadonga. Once again Mark had a lot to do with the route, so once again it was another leg breaker. Mark was on his second visit to Asturias of 2014 and Geoff a friend from California (who I also met via my blog) was also over with his wife and it was great he could ride with us. We decided on a route that would take us over the Torno and then up Los Lagos de Covadonga (the last 40km being the end of stage 15 of the Vuelta a España). Geoff proved to be a strong rider and I struggled to keep up with them but hung on the best I could. It was a stunning ride but by the time I got to the bottom of Los Lagos I was exhausted. To this day I will never know how I made it to the top, but I did. Geoff struggled but also made it and despite a bad back Mark also got there. Here-s a summary of the ride: https://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/route-of-the-alto-del-torno-and-los-lagos-de-covadonga-108-kms/

Lagos 4

A week later I was back in Cangas at the start line of The Clasica Los Largos de Covadonga alongside another 3999 riders. I must admit I was feeling a little nervous and not that confident about my ability to finish it considering my form the previous week. However, I paced myself well and at the bottom of Los Lagos was feeling much better than I had the previous week, so enjoyed the climb to the top. I must admit I felt pretty chuffed finishing it and will definitely be back for more next year: Here’s the summary: https://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/clasica-los-lagos-de-covadonga-2014/

Los Lagos de Covadonga

As I’m relatively new to cycling I hadn’t ventured much further than my back door on a bike but in August I went on my first dedicated cycling trip. I got together with my good friends Ian and Roberto, stuffed my van full of bikes and camping equipment and set off on the 6 hour drive to the Pyrenees for 3 days of riding. My 2 months of meticulous route planning was soon washed away by the torrential rain and hail storms that greeted us upon our arrival. Fortunately our re-jiggled routes still incorporated the main climbs and somehow we managed to avoid all the downpours when riding. It was a brilliant trip and one which has fuelled a fire in my belly to travel more with the bike. The trip summary can be viewed here: https://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/3-days-riding-in-the-pyrenees/

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It’s not every day you get to ride with an Ex World Tour Pro, so when my friend Pepe invited me to come and ride with him and Carlos Barredo I jumped at the chance. I rode with them twice, the first ride was a 140km hilly ride that certainly stretched the legs to their limit. The second ride included the climb of the Maravio. I hadn’t heard much about this climb but it proved to be a real gem. The road conditions aren’t great so I presume that’s why it’s not well known, but at the speed I was going road conditions didn’t really matter. It proved a pretty tough climb nearer the top but Pepe and Carlos waited for me. Carlos is a great guy and I really enjoyed riding with him. Nevertheless, I couldn’t stop worrying that he must be getting really bored going at my speed. Here’s a summary of the climb: http://wp.me/P2SWhh-qM

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In September the Vuelta came to town and so did Mark for yet another visit to Asturias. I feel tired and cold just thinking about our ride. I met Mark at the top of La Llama and we rode to and up Los Largos de Covadonga. On the way down, to find a suitable place to watch the Vuelta come by, a sudden down pour soaked us to the bone and the temperature dropped as the sun disappeared behind the clouds. It wasn’t as cold as the Farrapona ride but we’d gone from wiping away sweat on the ascent to shivering with cold within about ten minutes. Fortunately, we stopped at a mobile cafe which had a generator behind it and made full use of the heat from the exhaust pipe. It was great watching the Vuelta come by and the atmosphere was fantastic despite the rain, which soon cleared. On the way down there were lots of professional cyclists mixed in amongst the hundreds of riders which was pretty cool. The ride back up La llama was one to forget though, I went so slowly that I had to avoid embarrassment by returning a week later to improve my time on the Strava segment :).

In September I also rode the Sportive Los Puertos de Esmeralda. I had ridden it the previous year but had struggled round. A year on, and I was far more used to riding 117km, so really enjoyed the ride, as we never really pushed the pace. The weather was perfect and the atmosphere great and it was good to get another Sportive under my belt. https://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/clasica-los-puertos-esmeralda-2014-video

The following Sunday I found myself in a supermarket car park at 7:30 in the morning waiting for Ian. Somehow, I had managed to talk him into riding the Somiedo Loop, a gruelling route which takes you up and over several HC climbs. The ride up the Puerto de Somiedo was stunning, indeed, the whole ride proved to be stunning, with amazing views virtually all the way round. However, by the time we reached the final few kilometres of the San Lorenzo climb, the last thing on our mind was the views, but more like our survival. We really struggled to the top but we made it. The ride was spectacular and a must do route if ever in Asturias but be warned, It’s damn tough. Here’s a link to the route: http://wp.me/P2SWhh-ty

I’ve been on many other great rides this year and all in all I would certainly say it was a successful year on the bike. It was a year that helped me realise that speed really isn’t that important, at least not at my age. What is important is setting goals and achieving them, being able to breathe in the fresh air and appreciate your surroundings and about enjoying and sharing great riding experiences with your friends.

Happy New Year and Happy Cycling to you all!

Pre-Season training Tips by Carlos Barredo

Wondering how to prepare for next season? Well wonder no longer! Carlos Barredo shares his wealth of experience to help you achieve your future objectives:

I once had a coach who told me “Carlos you start winning your races in November” . For our form to coincide with our objectives, an effective and well planned training plan during pre-season, adapted to our own personal characteristics as a rider, is paramount. Below I will share with you a few tips which will help you reach the correct fitness to achieve all your goals.

To read on and gain access to this invaluable advice from Carlos Barredo, click on the following link: http://www.roadcycleasturias.com/training

 

 

Hotel Las Caldas Villa Termal – Dream Cycling accommodation in Asturias

Back in August I had the pleasure and the privilege to ride with Carlos Barredo following an invitation from my friend Pepe who runs www.roadcycleasturias.com. I met them at The Hotel Las Caldas Villa Termal where Carlos will be carrying out Training Camps next year. Whilst there, I had the pleasure of meeting Fernando, the Director of the Hotel and he kindly invited me back to take a tour of the hotel and its facilities.

Two weeks later I returned to visit the hotel and after chatting with Fernando for a while I was taken on a personal tour of hotel and spa by the lovely Marina, the hotels coordinator.

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Now I’m not easily impressed but Wow! In itself the hotel is amazing but the facilities it has for cyclists are really quite mind blowing. It was easy to see why some of the Top teams stay there when they are in Asturias for the Vuelta a Eapaña .

I was first taken to the medical/physical analysis centre to look at the facilities they provide. The facilities are state of the art and geared specifically toward the sportsman/woman. In the centre they have the means to test every aspect of your physiology and condition including  an assortment of machines to test your  heart, lungs, posture, positioning on the bike and anything else you could think of.

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Highly trained staff are on hand to test every aspect of your physiology, offering professional advice on how to improve your performance.

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We then went to take a look at the Gym. I was expecting a smallish room with a few machines but it turned out to be probably one of the biggest and best equipped gyms in Asturias and even has a balcony for exercise.

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Marina then proceeded to show me the spa, pool and bath/sauna facilities. Unlike most people, I’m personally not a great lover of spas. However, following our tour I seriously wanted to stay there. The spa and other water facilities are truly impressive. The domed pool is truly unique and pools also lead to the heated outside pool without having to get out of the water.

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For the cyclist they have everything you need. There are special cold water pools for after a ride next to the sauna or heated ones if you prefer. There is even a special room with a sculpted heated marble tiled bench where you can sit to heat the muscles. Indeed, every possible aspect of your fitness, recovery and comfort has been catered for; from Turkish baths to steam rooms.

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Following our visit to the spa Marina took me to see the bike storage, workshop and cleaning bay facilities. Once again the facilities were top class, providing everything you could possible need. If that wasn’t enough the hotel will also rent you bikes and a gps device if you haven’t got one, with 28 road routes and 28 mtb routes. Alternatively you can just download them to your own gps device.

 

 

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There are two parts to the hotel. The newer 4 star part of the hotel is where most of the bike facilities and medical testing facilities are located and where most of the above photos are taken. The older, original 5 star part of the hotel is on the other side of the road, accessible via a lovely corridor (see first photo). Marina kindly showed me around the quite stunning 5 star facilities and spa before we headed back to reception.

The visit was great, far beyond what I expected and I was really taken aback at just how good the facilities are. I doubt you will find a hotel anywhere in Europe which could provide such a complete Bike friendly environment and it would be hard to find a hotel/spa as impressive as Las Caldas. It is located just outside of the capital Oviedo but is situated in a beautiful valley, surrounded by countryside. It’s a perfect location as there are hundreds of cycling routes which start from the door of the hotel. It’s not very far from the L’Angliru either if you are really feeling adventurous and Los Lagos de Covadonga is not too far away.

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One of the best things about the hotel is that it caters for all the family, so you can go out on a ride and there are plenty of things for rest of the family to do while your out.

So of course all this must cost an arm and a leg right? well no! It’s actually very affordable.I know you would end up paying twice as much in the UK, if not more for a hotel of this quality and with a spa and pools etc. Better still, if you are up to it you can take part in a Cycling Training Camp run by Carlos Barredo (for details see www.roadcycleasturias.com) which are based at and run from the hotel. Taking part in a training camp and staying at Las Caldas really would be a cycling dream holiday but an affordable one at that.

For prices go to: http://www.lascaldasvillatermal.com and for prices for training camps and cycling holidays visit http://www.roadcycleasturias.com

To read testimonials from cyclists who have stayed at Las Caldas visit: http://www.roadcycleasturias.com/testimonials

Note: BikeAsturias is a non profit making site and I don’t get paid any commission from hotels or any other business which appears on my site. If I publish something about a hotel, house to rent, etc it’s because I believe it’s a great place for a cyclist to stay and wish to make my readers aware of it.