Jake Gray is neo-pro currently heading into his second season on the continent with VC Toucy. In between team duties he is also part of the Irish national set-up. After training analysis was done, we asked him for an insight into pre-season training camp life.
The start of any camp is one of the mixed emotions. In the Ireland set-up, I know most of the guys and it's all friendly and good banter, but there is always that nervous tension as you wait to see how your form looks compared to the others.
Breakfast in the hotel has everything you can wish. I find porridge and fruits are the right blends for me before the majority of training rides. The slow release of the carbohydrates keeps me going well into a ride and topping along the way is what is expected of a full-time rider.
Cycling Ireland go to great lengths to organise these camps, so it's our duty to make sure we look after ourselves with good nutrition to get the most from the week's work.
After gathering ourselves on the road it was off to Col de Rates, one of the region’s most famous climbs, to hit some threshold efforts. There was a slight sense of trepidation on my part as I've not been riding my new bike for long, but the efforts went to plan.
For me a big focus today was working not only 'on the money' in the right power zones, but also being accurate with the cadence range Kenny had set for me to get the correct physical response.
Total distance 127km - Elevation 1582m - Normalised Power 247W
Breakfast was always going to be bigger after a lot of glycogen usage in the threshold efforts of the previous day. I try to consume protein in each meal and adjust on individual days to suit the plan, but hotel living makes this a challenge on occasion.
None of it went to waste!
Five hours of endurance riding and some much-enjoyed banter with the boys.
Total distance 145km - Elevation 2167m - Normalised Power 239W
Fatigue levels should really be starting to bite today but I was pleasantly surprised. During the off-season I devoted a good amount of time in the gym with my personal trainer back home and worked a lot on aerobic strength on the bike. Today I definitely felt the benefit of that work.
The day's session was to be longer tempo efforts to develop and expand muscular endurance. We rode a big loop up from the coast taking in Benissa and Jalon before meeting Col de Rates once more...
At this point, training went a little off-plan! It can be difficult not to test yourself on infamous climbs like this, and with the competitive spirit within the group it quickly became a race to the top.
For me, cycling needs to always have a bit of freedom, and I can rely on Kenny to adjust training after the frequent changes which occur on the road. I did not regret my decision to carry out an impromptu test on the Col De Rates climb; setting a new PB power output- 395avg watts for just shy of 16 minutes.
Total distance 97km - Elevation 1780m - Normalised Power 255W
A welcome recovery day and a trip to the cafe.
We decided we would head 15 miles along the coast for a dead easy, 'Garmin in back pocket' type ride to “D.Origin Coffee Roasters”. The coffee did not disappoint. I also had a cheeky bowl of granola and a fruit yoghurt mix, and it went down a treat. It was then an easy spin back to the hotel with all afternoon and evening to relax and get ready for the rest of the week.
Shout-out to Xenia for the excellent massage today also!!
Total distance 35km - Elevation 295m - Normalised Power 163W
Another 4 hour day with 1-min aerobic capacity efforts being my main focus for entertainment.
In previous years I would be hitting these in the pouring rain of Ireland so it's a refreshing change to have the sun on my face and a more than pleasant temperature of 23 degrees. Later in the day, I squeeze in a slightly longer controlled effort, just below my threshold power. Working different areas of power is important and also mixes up the ride well.
Total distance 115km - Elevation 1993m - Normalised Power 252W
Six hours solid in the chair today and just a really good day out with the lads.
Taking in 180km and 3,200m of climbing is a real privilege with weather like this and company to match. On a day like this it really is about getting hours in the saddle and keeping my aerobic system in good condition to cope with the harder efforts of the upcoming season.
It feels like we have achieved a lot and at the same time, it's flown in.
Total distance 180km - Elevation 3196m - Normalised Power 245W
I'd like to thank Cycling Ireland for making this happen, especially Kurt Bogaerts, Neil Martin, Xenia, and all the staff at Diamante Beach hotel for putting us up.
Cheers also to all the lads for a great week's training. I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch.
Looking forward to what will hopefully be a very successful year!