After having two weeks off over the christmas holidays due to having the flu, I ventured out to Spain with a few of the Biketreks lads for a weeks battering in the hills of Callosa d’en Sarria (using a villa run by Nozad at Cycling Holiday Spain). We flew early on the 5th and arrived at the villa just after dinner time, unpacked and decided to wake our legs up with a 2 1/2 hour spin to a cafe at the top of the Col du Rates for a coffee. After a few minutes of being sat down admiring the view looking out towards Denia and the coast, Johnny Hoogerland and Jan Bakelandts roll up and sit down on the table next to us. Everybody got pictures and a short conversation and off they rode (after they both asked for my advice on how to pull off the high sock look).
Day 2 we wanted to get a big ride in, so decided on doing 6hours. This included such mountains as the Serra de Aitana and the Col du Rates (again), which have both been used in the Vuelta Espana. Due to my two weeks off, I was reluctant to push hard on the climbs and took it as easy as I could with 2,500metres of climbing! Once again we saw Johnny Hoogerland going the opposite way aswell as others such as Jose Rujano, Egor Silin, Assan Bazayev, Arnaud Demare.
Day 3 was once again a long day as we got 5hours under our belt, after meeting up with Matt Pilkington and a few others in Calpe, we headed out along the coast road which was more like a roller coaster as it was up and down for hours until we reached Denia and started heading for the foot of the Col du Rates (once again), which we all raced up (must say I lasted until 2km till the top which I was surprised with, due to the two weeks off). On the descent I showed everybody how to go downhill fast and corner like an idiot, which was all caught on video due to James Dunlop using a camera (the video is here).
Day 4 was a rest day (which was much needed). So we set off for a 3hour easy spin to a cafe for a coffee in Benidorm, on the way down we got passed by Johnny Hoogerland who was smashing it (by now we thought he was stalking us). We saw the lovely sights of Benidorm, had a few coffees and a good laugh and headed back home easy.
Day 5 we were back in the saddle for a tough 6hours and plenty of mountains! We headed out towards Castell de Castells and climbed up the Serra d’Aixorita, which had an average gradient of 16% and climbed through a forest which overlooked a magnificent reservoir. Due to it being a dead end at the top we descended the tricky descent and headed towards Alcoleja and up the Pena Cache climb, then down towards the Alto de la Pene de Sella which then dropped us onto the foot of the next climb which was the Serra de Cortina climb, we descended this and dropped along the coast to Benidorm and started the long drag back up home through Polop. On the long drag home, we were passed in the opposite direction by several Pro Teams, including; Cofidis, Astana, Saur Sojasun and Blanco.
Day 6 was another long ride, 6hours in the hot sun! We set off at a strong pace heading over the Col du Rates and once we reached the top, the Omega Pharma team car was parked up with Mark Cavendish, Sylvain Chavanel, Tony Martin etc all putting gilets on and about to head back down the climb (they do know how to descend like mad men). After showing Cav how to sprint for the sign to Parcent we parted ways and headed on towards Pego, then along the coast to Denia and started abit of through and off along the lumpy coast road. With 5km to go to Calpe on a sharp ramp I decided to test everybodys legs and see who could come with me, it ended up being a lonely 5km sprint for the Calpe sign! With Russ Falder and the Biketreks lads fighting for 2nd (I stopped after the sign so I could watch them all scramble for second ).
Day 7 was more of a chilled out day as we only did 4hours steady with minimal climbing (1500m). We headed upto Tarbena, which in its own is a 5km climb with a lovely shallow gradient (perfect for the town sign sprint!). Once we reached the summit we turned left along a lumpy back road that brought us out in Castell de Castells, once we got through the town we decided on doing some steady through and off until the foot of the Col du Rates due to this road being lumpy but very fast (averaged 29mph for 20km, curtosy of a nice tailwind). After a very fast run in we decided to ride tempo up the climb and see who was at the end for the sprint. I managed to clip off the front with 3km to go, then a Dutch National team rider jumped on my wheel and off we went to the summit for a good sprint showdown! (managed to surprise him by telling him to look at the view and then attacking him!)
Day 8 was our last day, so we decided to get a good 5hour ride in, which meant setting off earlier than normal! we set off doing some steady through and off along the coast road until we hit Finestrat, which is the foot hills of the Serra de Aitana. We all then picked our easiest gears and hauled our tired legs up the 20km climb (with a headwind all the way up). To our delight we reached the top all within a few minutes of each other and threw ourselves down the descent! (by this time everybody had got sick of trying to hold my wheel downhill so I let them all have a 2minute headstart, soon caught them up with a few risks!). We headed along a lumpy road towards Confrides where we stopped for a quick coffee and to admire the views and set off back to the villa for some dinner and game of pool.
In all, CHS is well worth the money, with Nozad (the host/owner) being a real gent and making us feel at home, came home with tired legs, topped up tan and well fed (even though I lost weight). Next stop Mallorca in February!