Tag: vacation

Visit the Outer Hebrides (Iain)

 

There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to confess something to his partner. He’ll have struggled with the confession for weeks in advance. He’ll spend ages trying to get the correct phrasing. In the weeks leading up to it he’ll use bribery and flattery to get his partner in the right frame of mind to hear him.

But… eventually… he’ll just have to confess – “I’m going on a biking holiday!”

He’ll then try to explain to his partner how his week long “training” trip to Mallorca or the Canary islands wont be fun. He’ll claim – nobody will be drinking!  He’ll say – we’re not going anywhere near Shagaluf…sorry Magaluf.  He’ll state – it’s all about the hills.

A few years ago, I went on a week long “training” holiday to the famous Lanzarote resort of Club la Santa or as  I prefer to call it, Prison Camp la Santa. The accommodation was so spartan the film 300 was filmed here. (I might have made that last bit up).

The accommodation, at that time, was terrible (and subsequently has been upgraded) The room was tiny with old broken furniture. I had to pay a small fortune for food and drink and there wasn’t much to do once I’d been for a spin on the bike as Santa is miles away from any big town. What made it worse was discovering someone else was staying in a 5* all inclusive hotel near by which was half the price!

This year, instead of an overpriced training camp on a windy, desolate, overbearingly hot island I went to a  windy, desolate, cold island – the Outer Hebrides.

During the week, I was able to bike a different route every day on virtually car free roads.

Tour De Harris – https://www.strava.com/activities/1099040596

One of the greatest cycling routes in the UK. The road hugs the coast around the Isle of harris. On the west side I passed golden sand beaches and amazing views across to small islands. On the east coast I biked through a rocky landscape that wouldn’t be out of place on the moon!

Tour De Point – https://www.strava.com/activities/1102079723

A flat out and back route to a lighthouse. From here you can watch whales pass by. On the way back a small detour will take you to a 15% hill climb! It’s short but hard. I needed a quick rest at the top!

Tour De West Side – https://www.strava.com/activities/1103897867

A great way to see some of the island’s best attractions. The route takes in the ancient stone circles at Callanish as well as visiting the blackhouses, the Broch and some of the best beaches on the west side.

Castle Grounds Mountain Bike trail – https://www.strava.com/activities/1100545590

If you tire of road biking then a recently completed mountain bike trial has been constructed in the Castle Grounds. An area of forestry next to Stornoway.  I hadn’t tried it before and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. There’s no major hills but lots of undulating tracks. It was a great way to pass a few hours.

As well as cycling there’s great places to swim, to run run, and to go on walks.

It’s one of the most beautiful places in the UK and everyone should visit at least once. If your partner asks about the pubs then you can says that the Outer Hebrides has the highest rate of abstinence in the UK! Just don’t mention that the one’s who don’t abstain love to drink…a lot! 🙂

Gran Canaria (Iain)

Last week I went on vacation to Gran Canaria. I did some biking, running and swimming.

Some athletes would claim this is winter weather training but why train in the sun when 90% of Scottish races are in the cold and rain?

If I want to race faster I should go somewhere I can train in weather worse than my planned events. Then, on race day, I’d wake up, see the bad weather but be relieved that it’s not as bad as the time I trained in hailstones and a gale in the the Arctic circle.

So last week wasn’t winter weather training, it was a holiday!

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Gran Canaria is very hilly! Be prepared for long ascents. The road surface is great because they don’t get frosts that break up the concrete.

http://www.free-motion.com/en/gran-canaria/ is a great place to hire a bike.  Although, minutes after receiving one, I accidentally dropped it against a concrete column. I spent the rest of the hire period worried I’d damaged it! Thankfully it was OK.

At home I use a 11-25 cassette. On vacation I used 11-32. What a difference it made to climbing hills. I’ve now ordered an 11-28 for my own bike so that I can change it depending on the event.

Electric bikes are amazing! I set a speed and then started cycling. The bike takes my pedalling speed and then then gives the bike a boost to get the speed up to what I’d set. I wasn’t aware of the boost whilst cycling on the flat but as soon as I reached a hill I could feel it kick in. It meant I could race up hills without breaking a sweat. If you’ve ever worried about getting sweaty biking to work then get an electric bike. You’ll never sweat again!

Spanish roundabouts are lethal! You go round them on the right but cars seem to come onto them at high speed. I found it easier to stop and let the cars clear before crossing when it was empty.

Spanish pedestrian crossings are even worse than roundabouts. They don’t have traffic lights so you step out onto the road and the cars will stop. That’s the theory but in practice I ended up eyeing up the driver hurtling towards me and only starting crossing if they registered they’d seen the fear in my eyes. A number of cars didn’t and failed to stop.

Once I’d left the main town the roads were very quiet and I’d hardly see any cars.

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By the end of the week I’d cycled, ran and swam further than any other week this year! So this week I’ve done bugger all. Training is all about balance!