I have been running road cycling/triathlon training camps since 2012 and have visited many areas of Europe looking for the perfect venue. The Italian Dolomites the French Alps, the sun kissed roads of Majorca and the wild and beautiful scenery of Corsica and Sicily all have there plus points, but Crete contains elements of them all in a stunning package.
In essence training retreats are where you eat, sleep and breathe your sport, friendships are forged and amazing memories are made. With one of the biggest advantages being that you get to focus completely on yourself.
The best and obvious things about our training retreats are you have more time to train, learn new skills and something often overlooked is you have more time to rest. Without work, kids, and the other demands of normal life, you can spend most of your time off recovering. And recovery time is when the adaptations from your training really occur.
The friendly competition in the group is also a great motivator to push harder than you normally would by yourself. In a way our training retreat is almost a holiday (obviously your definition may vary!), you get to escape the varied weather and get uninterrupted time to discover what you are capable of. If you go in with a strong mental attitude, a determination to succeed, put in the effort then you will return home fitter and stronger than ever before and ready to take on the next challenge! All you have to do is train, eat, and sleep; train, eat, sleep, train, eat, sleep, until you travel back home and spread your focus elsewhere.
Starting the day with either a swim and or functional warmup session sets you up perfectly for the day. The included breakfast has been designed to fulfill your nutritional requirements a lovely balance of protein carbs and fats to fuel your day.
We start the rides as the sun and incredible blue sky reveal a beautiful rolling landscape. On the whole this area of Crete is hilly with low level mountains, it has in my mind the feel of an alpine retreat, only a lot warmer and the smells of the orange blossoms and herbs are better than the aromatherapy in a spa.
The climbs vary from gentle to more challenging, with many lasting over 9km. The tarmac is crisp, and there’s no traffic to speak of. The gentle sound of bike drivetrains is only occasionally interrupted by the scuffle as a mountain goat leaps up the stony cliffs. High above a few birds of prey lazily hang circling in the thermals above the valley floors, and many times during a ride as you crest the top a perfect set of tight, newly-cut hairpins shimmer into view, cascading down the other side of the climb towards the twinkling blue Libyan Sea.
The island is stunning as anything I’ve seen anywhere in the world - an enticing mix, thin and wide gorges carved into the mountainsides caused by millennia of gushing water, the winding road roads elevated high above the valley floor, a tiny blue and white chapel chapel shinning brightly in the distance, a beacon that indicates the top of many climbs. From the outside these exude an air of history and secrecy, along with rudimentary charm and indisputable beauty. I can’t help thinking just how well these sum up the island, a picturesque if obvious façade from without; a trove of unseen riches from within. Crete has an abundance of hidden treasures and all you have to do to discover them is ride a bike.
Before you rush to book, below I address a few issues that newcomers have about committing to a training retreat.
Whilst many people are perhaps happy to ride/swim/run at home some are still reluctant to take their passion and turn it into a foreign training retreat choice. We have heard numerous reasons what may delay what seems like a no brainier, here are a few that spring to mind
They are too slow and will hold everyone up/will they be able to keep up or will they be too fast and have to wait around for slower riders
I have only been on spin bike, never outside don’t even have a bike
Riding in a group is intimidating, They have never done this before
It is too much hassle to take their own bike
Will there be good hire bikes?
Are the roads very busy?
Will it just be a bunch of Racing Snakes on Strava fuelled thrash fest?
Here are my thoughts on the points above
You will never know if you are too slow if you do not come and give it a try. As an experienced training retreat company we provide progressive ride options on a daily basis. We have a “No Drop Policy” on our rides. We encourage riders to ride at their own pace and we regroup at key junctions and tops / bottoms of climbs.
The joy of riding outside is that many of the techniques you have learnt in the spin studio transfer easily to a real bike, in addition you will learn new skills and your fitness will improve quickly
It can be a hassle to bring your own bike, but there are many bike box hire companies who will pack your bike for you. We offer assistance for building and packing away your trusty steed. We will also do a bike safety check before you ride your bike to ensure it has been correctly reassembled and is road worthy.
Bike Hire. I have heard a few horror stories about bike hire over the years. We only work with trusted local bike rental partners and can arrange quality road bikes for your time with us with all the accessories you may need, so you can either just bring your pedals and helmet or we can have them available.
The roads in and around southwest Crete are very fabulously quiet. Even the main village roads are not busy and you will see many more goats than cars on the rides.
Racing Snakes. We will always put you in appropriate groups for your ability and emphasise that the training retreat is not about racing but improving all round fitness.
We endeavour to look after all our clients needs and our aim is to encourage and nurture our clients to become better/stronger/faster but more importantly to ensure that they have a great time. When you leave hopefully you feel that we have challenged you on a number of occasions, that you have improved but have not been broken in the process and you leave with a great sense of new knowledge, achievement and enjoyment from the week.
In summary Cycling outside especially in such a fabulous environment brings numerous benefits. Escaping the weather to enjoy your sport is a great reason to go on a training retreat no matter what your ability level or goals. Getting away from work and home life for a while, spending time with friends or making new ones can be extremely valuable.
Whatever your level of experience, our organised training retreats take the stress out of planning, which will appeal to many. Think how enjoyable it’d be just to wake up and train. Our cycle routes are carefully chosen with breaks at appropriate intervals and mix hills and descents to provide a balanced day, and with the addition of optional stretching and warmup we have a perfect balance of effort recovery and adaptation to make your time with us effective.
We are looking forward to seeing you in 2021.
Paul & Hana