2009 ABRT Spain Training Camp

In 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 ABRT did spring training camps near Malaga Spain ( Villanueva del Rosario) hosted by Idlebreaks. We typically did two groups and I went in 2008 and 2009 with the “non-Elite Team” group.

Wow, what a difference a week makes! At the risk of gloating about how nice the weather was, the ABRT group two had 8 days of bright sunshine and temperatures in the mid 60s, although we did have to put on arm warmers the last 3 days, which really put a crimp on my tan. It was, like the first group, very windy most days.

Group 2 consisted of 3 ABRTers, Rick Paukstitus, Doug Shapter and Alex Pline along with Heidi von Teitenberg from C3-sollay.com and Nick Baker and David Edmondson both triatheletes from the UK. Heidi, Rick and David were there for a few days until Rick, Doug and Alex showed up on Wednesday. We all flew Air Chance, uh Air France, but luckily all bikes and baggage showed up at the prescribed time and place after paying the requisite $150 fee. After getting to Idlebreaks, we put the bikes together and went for a warm up ride up to Archidona. Alex stayed at Idlebreaks to nurse his sore back in the hot tub; a tweak the day before nearly kept him stateside, but a few pep talks from the peanut gallery made him realize the worst that could happen is that he would have a 7 day vacation in the hot tub in Spain. Luckily, it improved quickly.

The first full day on Thursday was a very nice 75 mile ride that we had not done last year. It took us through Antequera, up El Torcal, down through Almogia and around the reservoir Embalse Casasola which is about 10k north of Malaga, and back up to Conception. At that point, Rick, Doug and Alex had had enough given that it was just the first day. Nick, David, Jon and Heidi continued the last 10 miles home after Andy (with a straight face) told Heidi there is only a “little hill”. As with all things, proper context is very important. Andy fessed up after they left saying it was a “bitch of a climb” which validated the decision to stop after 75. Watching them suffer while we passed them in the van was amusing.

steep road coming up from a valley with green fields around the road.
Looking down from the switchbacks on El Torcal.

Given that some of the group did a long day on Thursday, on Friday, we did a “semi” recovery day of 45 miles up through Archidona. Those of us who were fresh also added the “Church of Pain” climb. I was happy to get to do this, since last year I was cooked by the time we got around to it. It’s about 1 mile at 15-20% with some really cool switchbacks. The surface has deteriorated a bit due to the weather this winter, but going up was not a problem. We just had to go very slowly down.

cyclist coming up up a steep hill to a flat section with beautiful green mountain behind.
Rick grunting it out at the top of the Church of Pain.

Saturday we went directly north to the reservoir in Iznajar. You can really see the difference between last year and this year as the reservoir level was up something like 25 feet. The highlight of this ride is the smokin’ descent down to the reservoir and the climb back out. Since we decided to do the Pico Veleta climb on Sunday to accommodate David who was leaving Monday, we did not do very much climbing on this ride. Of course we did have a very nice cafe con leche in a small cafe next to the reservoir.

reservoir with steep banks and olive trees around it.
The reservoir in Iznahar was much closer to normal level due to all the rain in the winter of 2008-2009. Last year it was probably 25 feet lower.

On the way to Iznajar, we went by the gas station that was the infamous site of the “Ho Ho Incident” where James was left behind. I felt this strange sense of Deja Vu and quickly whipped out my camera to catch a photo of someone who looked like James standing the doorway.

gas station with a guy standing in the door.
Funny a guy who looked just like James was standing in the doorway.

Sunday was one of the days we were really anticipating. For Doug and Alex a real objective of the trip was to significantly best last year’s times on this climb. Hearing about how horrendous the weather was for group 1 really raised the apprehension level. After setting out on the lower section out of Monachil, the group split pretty quickly with Alex and David opening a pretty wide gap on the switchbacks. They paced themselves up through the quarry, with Alex opening gaps occasionally due to his lighter bike and lower gearing, but David always clawing back. They got out onto A-395 at about 45 minutes in and continued to work together. At about 14k to go Alex got a bottle from Jon at the van and was gaped by David; a gap that would never get closed. In the end both Alex and Doug cut nearly 1/2 hour off last year’s time (2:21 and 2:45). David should have come in right about the 2 hour mark, but missed the turn at 7k and took a sightseeing trip into the ski village which cost him official time. Heidi came on strong on the flatter section to make up a lot of time with a time of 2:19. After the ride, we took some pictures and had beer and french fries in the outdoor cafe just below the finish line. It was quite the zoo up there due to the nice weather.

kid sledding on a snow bank above a road with parked cars and people.
The last 1km was a zoo with cars parked everywhere and people sledding and having impromptu picnics. This is a vew of the last few hundred meters.
four people standing on a high snow bank with a mountain behind.
Dave Edmundson, Rick Paukstitus, Heidi von Teitenberg and Alex Pline celebrating at the finish of Pico Veleta in the Sierra Nevadas in southern Spain.

It is just amazing how different the weather was. For comparison purposes between the two weeks:

image comparison between a snowy and sunny day.
The turn at 7k to go.
image comparison between a snowy and sunny day.

5k to go.

On Monday we were all quite tired, so we did a ride with the long 17k descent into Loja followed by a few minor climbs, some rolling like D-ville terrain into Salinas (for coffee!) and some flats back home.

Tuesday was Puerto del Sol, which we all had personal record times for – given a nice tailwind all the way up. In general a beautiful day of riding. After stopping for coffee in Alfanarte after Puerto Del Sol, it happened to Doug – he was left getting gloves out of the van as Alex, Rick and Heidi started up Lactate Hill because it was very chilly. Angry Doug made an appearance, rocketing by us and big ringing it up Lactate Hill. I think in the future, we just need to tick him off before he races.

four people in bike clothes standing at the finish line of a hill.
The top of Puerto Del Sol, a beautiful climb – 7k at about 5-8% grade. This year’s time: 28:10, 4 minutes faster than 2008.

Tuesday was of course St. Paddy’s day. We started at Patsy’s and then walked around the corner to Manulo’s where it felt like we were actually in Ireland. The pictures we took were waaaay tamer than last year, although there were certainly some that are not suitable for this family blog. Before we knew it, the evening was turning into morning and we didn’t get back to Andy’s until about 3am. Somehow, the Kirkwood Express route we decided on for the last day wasn’t seeming like such a hot idea.

Rick and Heidi were up and raring to go at 8am (Doug and Alex were still bleary eyed) so we eventually got rolling figuring we’d ride until we didn’t feel like riding. It was very, very windy that morning, so we decided to start the ride away from Andy’s just after the highway on the way to Archidona since the wind was most severe around Idlebreaks. The Kirkwood Express route goes north in a large clockwise circle which culminates with the long slog up the 17km hill from Loja. The night before we were all looking forward to this long ascent – evidently the source of some Ali humor in group 1 – but as were underway, the week’s riding was certainly taking it’s toll, not to mention 5 hours of sleep and, eh hem, some fuzziness from the night before not to mention leaving the compound without our lunches. Ouch. El Jefe bore the brunt of the previous evening’s Guinness and kept Jon entertained riding shotgun in the van. Heidi was the first to say enough as her Achilles tendon was bothering her, going only 1.5 miles after our coffee stop to the base of the last climb as she wanted to hit 450 miles for the trip. After the last climb, Rick had enough and Alex, determined not to be Mr. Sag Wagon like last year continued on to Salinas where he finally called it quits.

Tired and sunburned we returned to Idlebreaks to pack up the bikes, relax in the hot tub and have our final dinner. Once again, this was a fabulous trip. While we certainly lucked out with very nice weather, Andy, Tracy and Jon still worked their tails off to give us the best possible experience. Debbie’s massages everyday were awesome! My experience two years in a row is that there is no better trip for a training camp that I could ever imagine. Our dynamic was a little different because the group was smaller, but that in and of itself was interesting because it gave us a lot of flexibility as we could travel easily in the van without the trailer. I encourage anyone who is even mildly interested to really try and attend next year. Thanks again to Doug Miliken for putting it together.

Check out the photo albums from 2008 and 2009.

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