Sun, summer and cloudless skies for almost four weeks is like music to the ears of us dwellers of the north who have a cycling career. Now, quiet days of training at home await us - well wrapped up in waterproof and windproof clothing from top to toe.
It really is a wonderful experience to be able to wake up to blue skies every single day and only use five minutes getting one's training kit on. Today, it took almost half an hour to dress myself and Bjørnar to go to "work", at the nursery and then a mountain bike ride for me. Even so, it is always good to get home again after a few weeks of travelling.
We landed at Sola Airport on Saturday night after a five-hour direct flight from Palma to Stavanger. We sprinted quickly out to a taxi, as a biting cold wind greeted us at the door. Bjørnar of course thought it was fantastic to see snow on the ground and was convinced that he was going for a ski trip the following morning.
New personal sponsor
I'm proud to announce that I've signed up a new personal sponsor, Aarbakke, who I will be working with throughout 2013. My first meeting with the employees was on Sunday afternoon, when we were invited to their "Health Day" at the company, and it was a great experience for both Kenneth and me (www.aarbakke.com).
It was a physically fit gang who had turned up on Sunday at Aarbakke. Kenneth and I got to tell a bit about our everyday lives and experiences as athletes. Hopefully, we were able to inspire the employees towards a continued active lifestyle. The deal with Aarbakke is primarily aimed at motivation and greater insight into one's own training regime, regardless of personal goals, physical fitness level or activities.
Great training camp
The four weeks of training that now lie behind us have been good, with effective and varied content. We've been able to increase the intensity each week, and my body has responded well and coped with the added strains, as we had hoped. We weren't feeling too great when we left Norway on the 29th of December after several weeks of sickness. Even so, we quickly got into the training routine and have been working on details, both on and off the bike.
Neither Kenneth nor I have been able to do much tanning on the beach, but Bjørnar and his grandparents have been out for walks nearly every day and practically always had a trip to one of the beaches in the area (Porto Rico, Amadore, Tauro and Cura). We had a lovely garden outside our apartment that we rented in the Tauro valley, with a pool in the garden. Bjørnar and I had a swimming stint every single afternoon, but only a short dip as the water was freezing cold (about 15 degrees C). Bjørnar has become really good at swimming with blow-up rings on his arms.
Relaxed training at home
I haven't trained all that much since we arrived home again and have stayed inside as much as possible. Luckily, it hasn't been as cold here as it was while we were in Spain, but the transition has been huge even so. My body has been very worn out, and that was the idea when we set up the training plan for this period.
I have had massages several times since we got home, and today my muscles felt better than they have done for many weeks, so the restitution is proceeding as expected. I also popped into the Stavanger Sports Clinic yesterday and received a thorough check-up from top to toe from osteopath Camilla. I'm going back again on Monday to further correct a rather tired body.
Few, but good days at home
Also, it's nice to come home to everyday life and nursery for Bjørnar. We were a bit worried about how things would go at the nursery after nearly five weeks away, but everything went smoothly, and Bjørnar was ecstatic after the first day together with all the other children. Apart from that, we've had some meetings here and there, I've had coffee with Brit, and I've found a few new nice items of clothing at Lyst.
We don't have any plans for the weekend. If the weather is good, we'll go for a three-hour, slow-paced ride on Saturday and a mountain hike on Sunday. Bjørnar has been asking for his granny (Kenneth's mother), so he's going to have to have a trip to visit his grandparents at some point in the weekend. I've promised him a long bike ride in the woods one of these days, and it'll be a wonderful trip for both of us.
I'm already leaving again on Wednesday morning, by air, headed for Alcudia, Majorca. Merida is having their annual press camp next weekend, and there won't be any fewer guests than last year - quite the contrary. Close to 350 people are expected to come, and these will doubtlessly be four to five exciting days with team sponsors, Merida dealers and world-wide media.
We're focusing on alternative types of training these days while the weather gods are providing us with such varied conditions, here on the west coast of Norway. Continuity in training is important to achieve steady improvement, and that means that it's important to be flexible. If one isn't able to cycle for two to three hours on a Sunday, head out for a two-hour hike instead with lots of clothes on, and close off your exercise stint with one hour on the bike roller indoors or on the ergometer bike. This will have given you a great workout anyway, and will guarantee a fantastic feeling in both body and mind.
Cyclist's greetings from Gunn-Rita
Multivan Merida Biking Team
[Translation: Crispen T.P. de Lange]