CUCC General Secretary 2021-22 Matt Bryan reports back from the club’s annual trip to the sunny roads of Spain…
After two long years, CUCC was once again able to return to Calpe for its annual training camp at the start of January. Situated on Spain’s stunningly beautiful Costa Blanca, the area is one of the most popular cycling destinations globally, and as a result attracts a huge number of riders, from professionals to Cambridgeshire-based choppers. Whilst the area is known for beachside resorts like Benidorm (and its unique culture), CUCC’s finest were there with strict goals in mind: get faster, eat a lot, have fun whilst doing it. We can confirm that at least two of the three were achieved.
The trip started very early in a dark and miserable England (or Amsterdam if you are CUCC’s resident European), but just a few hours later we reconvened in the bright and sunny baggage claim of Alicante airport. After sitting around for a good 20 minutes waiting for Zoe’s bike box to materialise despite it having already come off the conveyor belt long before we arrived, we made our way to the first cafe of the trip (even on holiday, CUCC has its priorities straight). Having re-energised and devoured the first bocadillo jamon of many, we were met by our very smiley transfer driver, who helped load our bikes and bags into the Green Machine. The Green Machine felt a very apt name for the retina-damaging lime-green Mercedes sprinter with a huge trailer that whisked us an hour down the coast to the villas.
Having settled into the two huge conjoined villas that would be our base for the week, and acquainted ourselves with the hire bikes, we headed out to the local supermercado whilst Joe, Tom, Hugo & Zoe continued to bodge their bikes together. For me, the foreign supermarket is the most enthralling part of any holiday; so familiar yet so alien. What is this vegetable? Can you buy sliced bread? How cheap is the alcohol? We promptly answered all these questions, but this is also probably why this trip to the shops took a good 90 minutes. With daylight fading at a welcome 6pm, we snuck out for a quick 45km with more climbing than the average rower does in their lifetime. The roads were smooth, drivers friendly, views immense – we had truly arrived in a cyclist’s paradise.
On our return, naturally, we did what any Brit would do in the depths of January; have a big old fashioned barbeque. Luckily we realised that Sam was vegetarian beforehand, so prepared him a delightfully solid veggie burger that more resembled a NHL-grade hockey puck than food. It was at this point that a fantastic idea (which I will take full credit for) was born – CUCC does Come Dine with Me on tour. 6 nights, 6 hastily organised couples prepare a two-course meal and entertainment and compete for the most points – what could go wrong? After a couple of isotonic IPAs and fermented apple juices, we retired for the night. The next day brought the first proper day of riding, which we all unanimously agreed was Day 2. At first 82km seemed like a bit of a joke – ‘that’s less than 3 hours surely?’. Oh how wrong we were. The major issue was the ascent of the Puerto de Tudons, all 17.5km of it, taking us nearly 900m upwards. Unsurprisingly, this took a while, but less time for Joe Adlam-Cook who pulled an absolute classic Joe move and attacked almost instantly. Well, it was more of a case of cruising to the front of the train, asking how long it was to the top, and just going anyway. Rather unsurprisingly, this took everyone with him and it was every man and woman for themselves from there on in. The Tudons climb was featured on Stage 20 of the 2016 Vuelta, and I can tell you for one that I did not resemble Nairo Quintana on the way up, but it was thoroughly enjoyable, especially the descent into the mountain town that would be our lunch stop that followed.
In Guadalest, CUCC did what it did best – eat a lot of food, including lasagne and cheesecake, perfect training fuel – before cruising down the valley. In this section we were pursued by a couple of friendly DSM riders who particularly enjoyed it when Zoe sprinted past them on the descent. This took us down to the beach where Sam almost had a head-on with an irate QuickStep rider (which might have made the Classic season a bit more interesting). Here we enjoyed a refreshing drink and the end of an Arsenal game, how wonderfully British. Back home, Joe & Joris prepared a hearty serving of traditional paella and a roscon de reyes for dessert, a Spanish Christmas cake thing with lucky beans inside. Turns out these beans aren’t edible, and neither is the weird little porcelain Jesus figurine. Just a heads up for you all.Continue reading