Albir Gardens Spring Camp notes from our Ride Guide
by Darrel Glover, Ride Guide for Sports Tours International.
2019 will be my twelfth year working for Sports Tours International, so I wanted to share some thoughts on our longstanding season opener, the Albir Gardens cycling training camp.
This trip was my introduction to overseas cycling and became my spring cycling holiday before I started guiding. It taught me a great deal about what you are capable of with a little application and the correct mind set. Riding with like-minded others and without the pressures of a big event, it gives you an excellent environment to learn from. I know that by just doing the rides, and enjoying your time on the bike, you will benefit greatly and have fun. And the roads are great …
Returning to Albir for my 18th year may seem a little sad with so many impressive cycling destinations, but at this time of year when we are getting ourselves ready to enjoy the next season, you really can’t beat it!
With the Pro teams returning to this region year after year to enjoy the challenges that the roads provide, it is a given that we are in the right place. This is also proven by having the Vuelta pass over the most popular climbs twice in recent years. (Tudons, Confrides, Rates and Tarbena all in 2016 Vuelta)
We structure our daily rides to allow us to cope with different abilities of riders, from touring, to racing with all routes running roughly circular so they can be adapted in distance for the different groups.
Sunday is an assessment day for ride leaders and customers, a steady start with a couple of small digs up to Benitachell, then from Gata over into the Xalon (Halon) valley for a coffee stop, followed by a nice first climb, Coll de Rates, which covers 4.5 miles at 5%. A trip across the bowl between the peaks gets us to Tarbena for the first quality descent of the week; we then run down to Callosa and on down to sea level before we head back to the hotel. This day covers around 67 miles with 1700 meters.
With the first ride done everyone should now have a feel for their place in the groups, Monday has a bit less climbing over a few more miles so this gives a more endurance feel to the day. Going out in the same direction as Sunday, we take on a short climb from the coast road, after 15 miles up to Benimarco then across to Javea (Havea). We then nip over the Massis Del Montgo (another short one) and down to Denia for the much enjoyed flat section. We loop back from Pego through Orba (coffee stop) into the Xalon valley, then up to the far end of Benissa befofe the long descent back. It’s around 80 miles with 1500 meters.
Tuesday is a true mountain day. We climb pretty much from the off, with a few dips before the top out after 25 miles at 1024 meters on the Puerto de Tudons. The groups stay together for the first 12-13 miles through Finestrat, then everyone settles into their own rhythm for the main climb which is just over 9 miles at 5% average. It’s a super climb and an ideal one to practice your technique. Then it’s over the Tudons and down through Alcoleja to climb the Puerto de Confrides, not so long and again about 5% but with a little sting in the tail. A lovely 9 mile descent follows to Guadalest where we enjoy a coffee, before more descending to Callosa. We then we reverse the route from Sunday and go on up to Tarbena across to Coll de Rates and around. There is also the options to return from Tudons or Callosa, for those who don’t want to tackle this full route. It is around 85 miles with 2800 meters for the full route.
Now it’s time to calm things down a bit on Wednesday, and we have a several options for a recovery or easy day subject to what people want. Mileage for today would be 25 to 45 miles.
Back on it for Thursday, we tackle a steady run up through the lemon groves to Callosa and Guadalest, topping out at Confrides at 960m. Next is a wiz down past the bottom of Tudons and a right turn for a long undulating loop around and through Castell de Castells to the base of the Rates. Now it’s time for refuelling in Parcent, then over the Rates for a rest at the hotel. Today covers around 84 miles with 2400 meters.
Friday – Last day today. We start by running up to Relieu either via the Villajoyosa Dam road, or Finestrat. After a coffee, we usually head down to Benidorm for an ice cream at Pinnochios on the prom, it’s lovely! Today covers around 50 miles with 1400 meters.
So there you have it, around 400 miles ridden and 10,000 meters climbed – not bad for your first big chunk of riding in the year, plus it makes a perfect platform to work from.
In 2017 along with my winter miles, my Albir Camp week helped me prepare for my third London-Edinburgh-London Audax in August. That was 870 miles in four and a half days! So for me, this week’s work was key to my success.