The final day of the camp had always been planned as a big day with everyone doing at least the Ironman course. In the planning we hadn’t realised that it would be dark till after 7am so the plan to have everyone swim before the ride wasn’t realistic. Instead most campers swam extra yesterday to earn a wild card so they didn’t have to swim this morning. There were some that did though so I headed out with Simon (no wild card but if there’s training to be done he’ll do it!) Marc, Ted and Matt at 7am. Jo was right, it was dark. As we stood in waist deep water and chatted about sharks, as you do ahead of swimming in the see Marc pipes up to Simon:
“I’m a yacht master back home. See that boat out there?”
“Yes” says Simon
“See those lights ?”
“Yes” says Simon
“Thats a shark fishing boat”
Simon almost leapt out of the sea before he saw us all laughing.
We swam along the edge of the beach in shallow water and enjoyed a relaxed swim staying right next to each other and enjoying the colours change in the sky as the sun came up. Not convinced any of us would have viewed it as training but it’s the principle of getting it done that matters – showing committment to just getting it done.
Everyone came to breakfast ready to ride. So lycra everywhere at 8am as the buffet opened. It was like a whirlwind as food was stuffed down and everyone was ready to ride at not long after 8:30am. The plan was to set the majority off at 8:30am with Emma and Jo who would split it in to two groups as required shortly in to the ride. I was leading the fast guys who rumour had it wanted a hard ride. Now with hindsight I do wonder whether this was a cunning ploy by the other campers as thinking about it I don’t remember one of the “fast guys” specifically saying this to me just other people saying they “heard”. Jo and I wanted to our best for everyone to really push themselves so I was determined to help it be hard ride.
Good on Kevin for choosing to have a go riding with us again after the second days blistering pace and the talk of the pace we’d achieved the day before. We headed out at 9:10am … 10 minutes after our planned start time but I knew it didn’t really matter as we’d almost certainly still catch the other groups but it would be later which I felt would be better for moral all round. For us, it’s great setting off like this as it, not only, gives a target ahead, but also it means we get so see and chat briefly with everyone else on the camp.
Once out of town and on the bypass road I decided we should start as we mean to go on and I set a decent pace. This was slightly tempered by having to have two stops to sort out my front derailleur. It was slipping due to the bolt not being tight enough. I blame the mechanic (me!). Up the first hill I think Kevin was already realising it could be a solid day ahead. Down to El Golfo John and Brett got on their aero bars and kicked up the pace. I knew that being on a road bike I needed to jump on wheels quick on these fast sections to keep with them. My plan was to get on their wheels when they were TTing on the flat / rolling sections and then put in top efforts on all the climbs.
At the start of El Golfo I dropped back to Kevin who decided he would drop in with one of the other groups when we caught them. At this point we didn’t realise how well everyone was riding so I wondered whether we’d see them at La Santa where we’d planned a stop. Over Fire Mountain be put up a cracking pace, light winds, cloudless skies made for a hot day but also for great riding and fast riding for the day.
Down to La Santa – no one ! We had a pretty quick stop and then back on the pace all the way round Soo and up to Teguise for a quick stop at the garage there. Here we saw Jo’s group but unfortunately for Kevin this was the slow group, the faster group was up the road being lead by Emma. Jo’s group set off pretty much as we arrived so we went by on the climb to Haria. I enjoyed being able to ride past everyone and have a quick word. I was really impressed how they were going and it was clear they were riding strong and keeping it rolling through the stops without faff.
Top of Haria having really ridden hard still no sign of the faster group. Through Haria and up to Mirador Del Rio we continued to push and finally we saw the next group. They’d really been riding well and they all looked very happy. We all whizzed down the descent and had lunch at the garage at the bottom. We’d not been there 10 minutes and Jo’s group arrived so we were able to enjoy lunch the whole camp together which was an added bonus.
Emma’s group were quickest back out on the road so when we passed them I assumed Kevin had just joined up with them as he said. Brett had snapped his front derailleur cable after lunch so was stuck in the small chainring. He did surprisingly well to stick with us. The final climb up to Teguise was hard but I managed to stick with Jon who then really pushed the rest of the way home. My legs were screaming over each rise as he surged over the top having to push 450 watts to stick with him. Finally we reached Conil and the fast stretch home. Ironman course (minus the bit along the front of PdC) in 5:37 and an average wattage of 250 (~10 above Ironman Pace) – a very solid ride indeed and I felt I deserved to just chill out.
Our worry about a long day for everyone didn’t really materialise with most back in time to run off the bike or chill by the pool with a beer (or both). It was nice to have time to relax with everyone and shoot the breeze after a great camp. Stories trickled in of Kevin’s major mechanical – snapped rear hanger, cracked frame, buckled wheel … he had to get a lift home.
Paul Weinreich had asked me earlier in the week about running a half marathon off the bike. I was not one to say no and it was definitely in the spirit of the camp so was keen to encourage it BUT I thought there was no way he would have time. Far from it, the guy cycled really well and had plenty of time to cover 20km in 2 hours for just over 9 hours training. He instantly became a legend on the camp and in my books. Ironman Lanzarote should hold no fear for him now !
The Grand Finale of the camp was a ride around the full Ironman course. Of course we’d built this up as a big day – which it is, even if you’re riding fresh – and those on the camp who were feeling the strain by wednesday had mostly made sure to have a lighter day yesterday in preparation for this ride. Having experienced very strong winds yesterday Steven, Emma and I were braced for and planning around a potentially very long day on the roads if people were suffering.
Completion of this ride was critical for ‘completion’ of the camp – and those who’d not earned or managed to obtain any ‘wildcards’ also had to swim and run 30 minutes too. To allow sufficient time for even the most weary paced riders to finish, everyone heeded our advice and were ruthlessly efficient by swimming in the dark, breakfasting in cycle kit with bikes, drinks and nutrition prepared the night before. It did seem rather rushed, but the first group – everyone except the ‘fast boys’ who were hoping to ride the course in as fast a time as possible (like 5 hrs) – rolled out at 8:30. It was a beautiful morning, cloudless and still skies and good spirits. I was really looking forward to the ride and happy with the relaxed pace. Emma and I decided to ride as a single ‘group’ until after the El Golfo loop – allowing a natural split in pace to establish two groups for the remainder of the day. We did make a slight detour off the course for a re-group and stock-up at Yaiza supermarket, at which point people were given the option to ride a bit faster with minimal stops with Emma, or a more leisurely pace with me. In general i may not be the most patient of people but today i was feeling relaxed and happy to cruise round – and thought i was doing Emma a Favour with an eerier job and shorter day. Ted, Roz, Farouk, Paul and I agreed to ride with stops to Teguise and rolled out toward fire-mountain. I was so impressed with how our group worked together -each using their own strengths to off set their weaknesses and keep the ride moving. I generally rode near the back where i was able to see if any one had dropped back and help get them to the group, or at least force the front riders to wait for us at the next turn, but aside from the longer hills this didn’t really happen much. I was pretty stunned when we arrived at Teguise garage to meet Emma’s group still there, and the fast group pulled up just as they were leaving. Steven had been sure he’d have caught us a long time back! Ruthlessly efficient Farouk, being the first to arrive after the climb to the garage, had been in and bought water for everyone’s bottles, and Paul was saving us all time by eating his sandwich and peeing simultaneously! We maintained a great pace and good humour through the day and saw both of the other groups at each refreshment stop – we even had time for a photo stop at the top of Mirador del Rio, whilst Steven and his gang were smashing themselves around the island!
Having worked very neat chain-gang all the way down the Lz1 that stretch of road passed quickly and had given us all a bit of recovery before the terrible drag from Tahiche to Teguise. We all had our heads down and getting on with it when we saw Emma’s pack at the side of the road. They’d found Kevin at the side of the road with a major mechanical, having been dropped by the fast group, and were helping him to convert his broken rear mech to single speed. Mel, Marc, Matt and Sergio transferred to our group briefly – but having ridden the last portion of the course many times through the week felt confident of the route to ride on home ahead of us. I guess that given that they were riding 2-3km/hr faster but hadn’t made any more progress than us in the past 6 hours, they’d had a lot of dead time hanging around in the sun. We arrived to PdC sufficiently fresh that when I offered to extend the ride a couple of km to show the actual race-day route into town ,everyone accepted.
Most of us were pleased to only have 30 min to run, and mostly chose to run ‘in private’ – certainly no one took me up on my offer of company – but Paul W donned his camel back and set off for 20km!! Relatively new to cycling, Paul had been doing his very best to stay with the group and not hold us up. He’d worked hard all day and saw this as a rare opportunity to test how he’d feel come race day .Good on him! We were all sitting around the pool enjoying chilled beverages when he returned from his 9hour day. We have no doubts about his ability to get through the ironman now.
Friday is BBQ night at the Arena Dorada and we enjoyed few bottles of wine to celebrate the end of the camp – before hitting the town!