Firstly, I would like to thank Mr Goddard for recommending Dorset for this years training camp. We were hoping to head to Italy after last years success, however, due to the current situation we settled on Dorset and it didn’t fail to deliver. Our HQ was the Isle of Portland which seemed an appropriate location as we could cycle east or west of Dorset in search of specific gradients. The Isle of Portland also offered us hills and Chesil beach for recovery.
Day One - Steady State
Within fifteen minutes of arriving on the Isle of Portland, we were already riding across the sandbar towards Weymouth en route to Maiden Newton. The roads were shockingly busy, however the schools were back and we were heading up out on the coastal road. Taking the right turn out of the village of Portesham was the first encounter of Dorset’s arduous hills – Portesham Hill which is a laborious 18 percent! I had to get off my bike just short of the top to catch my breath. A tractor came past me half way up and caught up Ricki (who was sauntering up the hill), however, Ricki put his foot down and made headway leaving a trail of dust and tractor behind. This sudden burst recorded a 185max HR which was the opposite from what we were trying to achieve – a steady state ride. From Portesham we cycled up to Winterbourne Steepleton east of the Valley of the Stones. Heading north out of this quiet village we got onto Roman Road and headed West. A few miles up Roman Road we turned right and headed up to Cattistock via Maiden Newton. Cattistock had an innate beauty about it, although we thought of it like a scene out of Hot Fuzz… After checking out the incredible St Peter and Paul’s church, I realised I had messed up the timing of this ride and thus missed the train from Maiden Newton back to Weymouth. We tried to sought refuge in the Fox and Hounds; sadly it didn’t open until 6pm and seeing that our train was at 18:37 we headed to The Chalk and Cheese. Once inside we wolfed down a huge plate of chips. Departing Maiden Newton we appreciated the views that we could not see whilst cycling up the main road out of Weymouth. After returning to the Isle of Portland we celebrated with a specific 20-minute stretch routine before bed.
Total Duration – 02:37
Total Miles -33.3 miles
Fatigue Level – Low
Day Two - Specific Hill Repetitions
A full English was in order at 07:30am in the Aqua, and it went down an absolute treat. Fats are the best source of energy, however, due to their chemical makeup carbs always come first. We hit the road at 08:01, and felt the cool air of the English channel blast us in the face as we cycled across the sandbar. Once again, we headed out of Weymouth along the road of death up to Portesham. Instead of heading east towards Maiden Newton, this time we headed west to the glorious and very inviting village of Abbotsbury for the first specific hill session. Once in Abbotsbury, we headed back out along Bishops Lane where we met two ladies on a horse. We knew it was steep around the village due to the gradient on Google, so they pointed us further up the hill and by God they weren’t joking. The hill in principle was 18% and named, ‘maximum attack – heart attack!’ on a Strava segment. Ricki had three sets of 10*10- second repetitions off 20-seconds recovery and twelve minutes between each sets. He flew up the hills like a mountain goat. The first repetition on the third set did not go according to plan as Ricki found that his bike didn’t feel right. The cassette had become loose and we make a gentle but swift ride to ‘sweat, mud n tears’ for the tool required to tighten the cassette. This was accomplished swiftly and we cycled back to our base in Portland and headed down the beach for recovery.
Total Duration – 02:10
Total Miles – 28.1
Fatigue Level – Moderate
Day Three - Steady State
We boarded the train to Wool from Weymouth in anticipation. I have been looking forward to this ride since planning and it didn’t cease to amaze me. Milton Abbas was the goal because of the affinity I have with landscapes designed by Lancelot Brown, a hero of mine, whom was commissioned to move the town and create the landscape around the village. Arriving in Wool, we took the road leading up to Moreton and then through Puddletown. From there we headed through Cheselbourne and Ansty, finally heading to Milton Abbas via Hilton. Approaching Milton Abbas leading from Hilton is an absolute wonder. You cycle down a straight road before the road goes up and bends to the left. As you hit the bend you see Milton Abbey directly in front of you, and what a beautiful sight it is. As you cycle past the abbey on your right you cycle down the narrow road which then bends left and leads you to the bottom of the famous ‘The St.’ We then cycled up the road full of thatched cottages and stopped at the Hambro Arms. Here Ricki decided to do an additional 13 mile loop, whereas I decided to take a leisurely ride up to Bulbarrow Hill and then back through the villages of Ansty and Hilton to the pub. En route to Bulbarrow, I took the road north out of Milton Abbas and to my right were some of the biggest and oldest oak trees I have ever laid my eyes on. Lying in wait back at the pub, I had a voice message from Ricki stating that he had a puncture 3 miles north of Milton Abbas. Luckily he had a spare inner tube on him and he patched up the tire to the best of his ability. After devouring a couple of pints of IPA and ‘Catch of the day,’ we cycled 16 miles carefully back to Wool Station. A couple of miles from our destination, we heard the sound of Tanks after seeing a road sign saying, ‘Beware, Tanks.’ I have never seen that sign before, albeit there they were, at Bovingron military centre. Once the train arrived in Weymouth Ricki went to Halfords and purchased a new tire.
Total Duration – 03:53
Total Miles – 53 miles
Fatigue Level – Moderate
Day Four - Specific Hill Repetitions
After three poached eggs on toast we cycled up to the east of the island to Incline Road. There was a cool eastern wind this morning, however, the sky was beautiful as ever, so there was no complaining. Isle of Portland is a funny little place and is completely full of surprises. One second there’s a prison, the next you’ve got an Indian takeaway, and then a vast of barren land. It’s the strangest place I’ve ever been to. Incline Road has a huge construction site one end, and at the top you’ll find an old disused Victorian house which once housed two steam trains. Twenty meters from the top of incline Road is a sheer drop whereby you can see one of the world’s most impressive manmade ports completed in 1879. Ricki had two sets of 4*60-second repetitions with 60-seconds recovery in between each one. He flew up the first set, however, unbeknown to me, his poached eggs were about to make an appearance. Luckily the 15-minute break kept them down. He absolutely obliterated the final set achieving the KOM (Strava King of Mountain) in the process and registered a 185MHR. The ride back to the hotel was only a short 15-minute journey and called for an invaluable stretch session. During the afternoon we headed to Chesil Beach for a functional twenty minute core session involving the medicine ball.
Total Duration – 01:09
Total Miles – 11.4
Fatigue Level – Moderate to High
Day Five - Steady State
We boarded the 08:03 train to Wareham after a windy start from Portland to Weymouth station which felt like more of a tempest. Again the sun was out for the fifth day in a row minus the wild eastern wind. As the morning started to warm up we cycled south to Corfe castle, then headed west to Lulworth castle and Lulworth cove, and finally Durdle Door. After a short break we headed north to Dorchester passing through Dorset AONB and the wonderful Winfrith Heath Nature Reserve. This route was fairly steady and didn’t register too many gradients. This was helpful in our preparation for our final specific hill session tomorrow in the Blackdown hills.
Max HR registered – 175bpm
Total Duration – 04:07
Total Miles – 53 miles
Fatigue Level – Moderate to High
Day Six - Specific Hill Repetitions
We cycled from the Premier Inn just outside Taunton and headed seven miles to Old Combe Hill outside the Somerset Village of Corfe. The hill was in such an impressive quiet area it was an absolute delight to cycle there. Ricki completed his last session of 3*2-minute repetitions up the 14% gradient. His heart rate clocked a record 189bpm way over the lactate turn point which was planned. We then headed back to Premier Inn, where we then headed into Taunton to celebrate the weeks training success.
Total Duration – 01:23
Total Miles – 17.4 miles
Fatigue Level – High