I recently travelled to Spain with a few Mersey Tri triathletes for a week at Idlebreaks training camp , exploring the surrounding mountains, lakes and stunning olive groves.
Based in Villanueva del Rosario, a village on the outskirts of Malaga, Idlebreaks has a fantastic set up for any cyclist or triathlete who enjoys the challenge of exploring mountains and riding up lots of hills. Andy and his family who run the camp do a fantastic job of making you feel welcome and at home.
Even though I knew it would be challenging riding a TT in such hilly terrain, I took my new TT bike anyway. I figured it would be good training for IM Wales. It was definitely a baptism of fire given some of the windy conditions we rode in, but I survived to tell the tale and now feel quite confident riding aero in all weather and terrain.
You can hire bikes, or bring your own. After first arriving at the camp those of us who brought our own, unpacked and reassembled them before having lunch. We then headed out on a fairly easy 45km ride to check everything was working properly. This included a killer climb to the top of a hill nicknamed church of pain. A tough hill to start with on the TT that’s for sure!
The camp is fully supported and tailored to meet the training goals and abilities of each rider. We had a mixed group so some riders would get leapfrogged 20-30km ahead of the stronger riders to ensure no one got left behind or felt at a disadvantage. If you got too tired or had enough you could always jump in the van at some point. I took advantage of the van on one particular windy day where it was blowing a gale in all directions. I didn’t need a rest but the wind had picked up and I didn’t fancy getting blown off my bike on the way home like I almost was earlier.
Each morning we would get up fairly early for a hearty breakfast and jump in the van where we would be dropped off at the nearby garage to get our bikes ready for the day ahead. Water bottles filled, pockets stuffed with energy bars to keep us fuelled and tyres pumped we would head out on a route in various directions, support van tailing or leading the way. Most days we would cycle for around 5-6 hours with a few coffee breaks along the way and a stop somewhere for lunch. Having the support crew following us in a van meant that if anything went wrong it could be quickly sorted. After each ride we would stop at the garage, pop the bikes back in the trailer after which was the optional 3km run back to base. On site, Idlebreaks has a 25m lap pool, a cold plunge pool and a hot tub on site with minimal chlorine used so wetsuits can be worn without being damaged.
We were blessed with fantastic weather during our visit. It rained one afternoon but having predicted this, Andy set us off on the bikes a bit earlier in a different direction towards Malaga. This was followed up with a run along the promenade at the beach. It was only after we’d eaten lunch and were safely indoors enjoying a coffee that the rain came down.
By the 4th day of cycling hills most of us were well and truly ready for a rest day to allow our muscles to recover from all that climbing. We took a day out to visit Alhambra palaces in Granada. Although it didn’t seem like that much of a rest with the number of stairs we climbed!
One of my favourite lunch breaks was the day we rode to the lakes. This area of Spain grows 10% of the worlds olives and there are literally olive trees as far as the eyes can see. That day we had a picnic lunch by the side of the road at the top of a mountain with some magnificent views.
Afternoons typically were filled with some lazy sun bathing by the pool followed by a hearty dinner. Portion sizes were no problem at all for any of us with huge appetites after a day in the bike and any dietary requirements were suitable accommodated for. I think the BBQ dinner on the last evening was one of my favourites!
I would thoroughly recommend Idlebreaks to any cyclist or triathlete looking for an affordable training camp or active holiday in Spain. Many of the athletes I went with on this trip have been going for many years and I’m sure I’ll return at some point as well.
Training stats at Idlebreaks
- Cycling (19 hr), 400km, 7300m climbing, top speed 64km/hr
- Running (1.5 hr) – 13km
- Swimming (2hr) – 3.8km