Andorra Training Camp
Andorra. The country I’d heard so much about and seen the various professionals spending time training or living there. This small nation in the Pyrenees hugged by Spain and France from all angles is less than a three-hour drive from Girona, and has a few ski-resorts nestled up in the hills at close to 2,000m above sea level. On my drive up I crossed the border into France, arriving via the North because my Accommodation was in the town of Soldeu. I only spotted Estaban Chaves, Carlos Betancur, and Louis Meintjes along with a handful of cycling tourists on holiday making their way up the long climb to 2400. It turned out that both Estaban and Betancur were staying in the same accommodation. I must have picked the right place.
Staying in Soldeu at 2,000m above sea level, my day usually started with over 20 minutes of descending with very little pedaling before turning off the main valley road onto a small, quiet climbs. I could do a loop or two further down the valley with a couple of longer climbs, but it meant that my day always ended with a long drag back up to the hotel. In general, though, time went pretty quick out training. Do two climbs, and you’ve been riding for nearly three hours. By the time you get back to the hotel its nearly 5 hours. I don’t think I saw an average speed greater than 25km/h for the entirety of the week. Usually, it was 22-23km/h! That’s to say that A 5 hour day of training was 110km. (But also included close to 4,000m of climbing)
Down in the main city, Andorra la Vieja, Australian cyclist Leigh Howard runs a nice little café called Odei. Instantly recognizable with the Australian flag on the window and some bike memorabilia inside, there was a nice selection of cakes and coffee to help me on my way back up to the hotel. (I only stopped here twice in a total of 12 days, mostly I didn’t stop anywhere!) During my first visit, I bumped into Cam Myer and Callum Scotson having lunch, and would later cross paths with Jack Haig and Simon Clarke on the bike moving in the direction of Odei, Maybe it will become the La Fabrica/Mafia equivalent of Andorra?!
The main town is quite bustling. Sure there are lot’s of people on summer holidays, but I imagine it would be WAY more hectic during winter. There aren’t too many main roads around with only 1-2 ways in or out of town (Via France or Spain). Riding here was fine though, and it means most of the roads that aren’t on the main road are very quiet. The weather was quite nice for the duration, although there was one day where it rained most of the afternoon and ended up dusting snow on the highest peaks nearby. The Riding temperatures had quickly gone from the 30’s down to single digits, and I am quickly reminded of times I’ve ridden up Donna Buang back home in bad conditions, and how quickly things can turn nasty. That’s probably why most people opt to do altitude training further south west earlier in the season (such as Tenerife the Sierra Nevada) to avoid snow.
I was staying by myself up there, so it was nice to pop out from my Apartment on my rest day to explore a local cafe or restaurant. Lot’s of things are closed during Summer, but there were still some nice little spots open. My Andorra smoked Salmon for lunch was one of the highlights! Much better than my own cooked meals anyway. Betancur was often down at the spa area at a similar time as myself after training, and his wife was doing a good job at translating after I had exhausted all of my current Spanish knowledge. I also took the gondola up to take a look at the snow slopes and it turns out there is a 9 hole golf course up there!
Before I knew it, it was time to come back home to Girona. I clocked up nearly 18,000 meters of elevation in a week, and it’s the most I’ve ever done!! (The next highest week of climbing I’ve ever done was Criterium du Dauphiné.) It was nice to get away from things for a while for some fresh air along with a solid block of training and, hopefully, it will pay dividends over the coming weeks!
As always thanks for reading!