There are a handful of occasions each year when I really stretch myself in training. Epic Camp brings eight days of pushing my limits together and places them in a supportive, but highly competitive environment. A camaraderie develops between Epic Campers, we share the suffering and also a cruel pleasure in making each other hurt. We’re all going to hurt at some point and we’ll make sure we take somebody with us! Everyone is dedicated and focussed.
Bring the group together and conversation quickly turns to tough days of training and tougher days of racing. When Steven and I met at the airport we were trading stories in minutes. In a quiet coffee shop in a corner of Terminal five we caught up on life since Lanzarote. Discussion drifted round our respective experience with new run technique, walking in races, coaching and our thoughts for the camp ahead. It was good to be back in this world dedicated to athletic improvements.
His first Camp blog may have raised questions about his potential, but Steven still has the Yellow Jersey mentality. Anyone chasing that has a competition on their hands. With Clas in attendance I know the Polka Dot Jersey is a battle out of my leagues. Leaving the Green to contend for, the coaches choice, requiring a heroic effort in the days ahead. A Contador style early attack on our Alpe D’Huez day?
Four camps, no jersey. How much am I willing to suffer to stop that?
Arriving at camp early is a relaxed affair; casual breakfast and bike build, long conversations and a chance to meet and greet fellow athletes properly. Secretly eyeing everyone up, trying to judge how much of a threat they really represent; they all look fit and they all tell you they’re not. The next few days will show just who is and isn’t competing. Everyone is here and it looks like a good group, a strong mix of veterans and first timers.
An afternoon spin confirmed that bike and legs were in working order, though small creaks and twinges leave me with paranoia that they’re not. That was it for the day, relax.
Fully assembled we headed to a local restaurant and proceeded to eat too much, or at least I proceeded to eat too much. A good meal to start the camp is tradition, but I don’t want to follow my usual routine of gaining weight; I declined the offer of left over pizza.
The evening was closed with the camp introduction and most importantly the points game. Similar to previous years it’s built around points for minimum units of training – 30km of cycling, 50 minutes of running or 3km of swimming; then bonuses on top, competitions and daily minimums to achieve. If you’re chasing the Yellow Jersey it’s simple – if you can train more, do.
The game is in my head. I’m tempted. Steven and I returned to our room discussing the opportunities to tack on and gain points. This could be dangerous.
Camp officially starts with a ride to Embrun. We will be swimming and running later, but details are sketchy. Then register and rack up for the Embrunman Short Course Triathlon the following day. Throughout camp I aim to keep a daily blog, but tomorrow’s mountain top lodgings may make this difficult.