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Altitude Training Camp

28th July 2014

The Tour of Utah is raced at a minimum altitude of 1600 meters above sea level and reaches just over 3000 meters a few times during different stages. The team recently spent 10 days in Healesville for specific training to help acclimatise for this which included sleeping in altitude tents and training at altitude. Here’s a little bit of insight into the training at camp.

Day 1: Easy afternoon ride (1 hour)

Most of the day was spent travelling to the accommodation in Healesville at the base of Myers Creek Rd Climb. I don’t know why but I thought travelling in a convoy with two team cars and the mechanic truck was pretty exciting. Just a couple of us headed out for an afternoon ride around town to tick the legs over for an hour.

Day2: Ride around Kinglake and 3x myers creek rd efforts (5 hours+)

This was the first proper training ride and straight away I had a strike from the team for wearing socks over my leg warmers. Thanks for pointing that out Wes (Sulzberger)! I honestly cannot remember any other time this has happened and it won’t happen again. Karma would strike shortly after with Wes getting a double puncture.

Day3: AM 3x10min efforts up Myers Creek Rd + afternoon ride (5 hours+)

For the afternoon ride while some of the guys tested out their time trial positions on Steels Creek Rd Bernie Sulzberger and myself continued up the dirt section at the end of the road that climbs up just east of Kinglake and looped down the Melba descent. I had never done that climb but I’ll definitely do it again!

Day4: 2x Donna Buang climbs via Panton Gap (5 hours +)

We rode halfway up the backside of Donna Buang straight out of Healesville over Panton Gap, which joins up at Yarra Junction. I’d never done this before either and I don’t know why. It was probably my favourite section ridden throughout the training camp. The road is generally quiet and it looked amazing riding over the top through the fog. There’s also quite a bit of climbing involved!

And yes it was very cold up the top of Donna Buang, which we had to climb. Twice. This meant descending. Twice. Freezing once in the snow was bad enough. This particular ride highlighted how helpful it is having a team car follow us while training. Besides the added safety, quick fixes for punctures and looking professional, we’re also able to bring spare kit with us for bad or cold weather. Keith and Ago from the car also organised hot tea which was greatly appreciated by the team on the summit and the base of the climb.

Day5: Rest

We hadn’t yet stopped anywhere for a coffee so far but made up for it today with a very short ride into town and a visit to a couple of different cafes. Two coffee stops in less than 10km! Fortunately for the rest of the time we had a pretty good coffee machine at the accommodation. It’s fair to say I was very happy to put my feet up today.

Day6: AM Altitude Ergo PM + 3x Myers Creek Road Loop (4 hours)

We had been sleeping at altitude since day 1 but today was the first time we did some riding at altitude. This meant riding on a trainer with a mask strapped over my face which was hooked up to the altitude machine. Tapping along at 3000 meters above sea level is harder than you might think. After doing three more ascents of Myers Creek Road in the afternoon we had become very familiar with the climb. Fortunately I really like the climb. It’s picturesque and reasonably quiet with traffic which helps to keep your mind from things.

Day7: 4x Yarra Glen Efforts (2 hours 30 minutes)

Today some of the guys did more time trial efforts along Steeles Creek Rd while I managed to do 4 efforts up the Yarra Glen climb, which took about 8 minutes each. I only ended up riding about 2 and a half hours today due to a sensitive saddle sore that popped up overnight. Literally.

Day8: Easy Altitude Ergo (<1 hour)

Following on with the soreness from yesterday I decided to cut this day really short and try to recover a little bit for tomorrows big day. I spent a lot more time in bed at high altitude during the day instead.

Day9: 2x Donna Buang + Myers Creek effort (6 hours+)

This was the biggest day on camp. It was very similar to day 4 except there was a lot more snow. We took the first climb at tempo and then picked it up for the second ascent. I bumped into David Collins up there who was taking his son to the snow for the first time. It was a nice surprise to see him pop his head out of a car as we passed while he was stuck in the long queue of cars waiting for a car park near the summit.

Once we finished with Donna Buang and had climbed back over Panton Gap into Healesville we still had to climb Myers Creek Road for another time. And we were told to take it pretty hard. This wasn’t easy with 5 hours of solid climbing already in the legs but surprisingly the body coped all right and the numbers were pretty good.

Day10: Altitude Ergo + Easy spin (2 hours 30 mins)

I took it a little bit easy today back on the lemond with an altitude machine and a little roll around Toolangi afterwards before packing up all of our stuff and heading back home.

The training camp was very solid, but it wasn’t too far from something I’d done in the past. Knowing that I was getting prepared for the Tour of Utah provided plenty of motivation, and training with the team was really enjoyable. They’re a good bunch of guys and I’ll be very happy racing with them in Utah.

Writing this on the plane from Melbourne to Salt Lake City and I can already feel the warm weather! I’m definitely looking forward to leaving my arm warmers at home and rolling around in summer kit!


For more detailed rides you can have a look at the strava files =)