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Gosh the last couple of years have been rough, right?! 2021 has felt like the never-ending season with all the cancellations, rescheduled races and the fact the 2020 season never really ended, just blended into the next one. The RIAK Triathlon Training Camp 2022 offers a chance to put all that disruption behind you and take control of your 2022 preparation!
The unique thing about this camp is that it is tailored to its guests. So it doesn’t matter if you are training for a full Ironman Triathlon or simply looking to smash your sprint distance time, the session plan for each athlete will be individualised for their needs. The camp itinerary below provides a good idea of what we will be up to, but we take the time in advance to establish the requirements of each individual athlete and then tailor the itinerary further for each athlete. It really is the best of both worlds, with the motivation and social side of group training, but each individual has clear instructions on the way they are to perform sessions to maximise their own fitness gains.
Swim training is covered, with a beautiful reservoir about 30-mins from the accommodation and in early summer, it might be a touch on the cold side but ideal for some proper wetsuit race training. In particular, the main swim session will include plenty of work on open water technique, sighting and pacing.
There is also a 15m pool at the accommodation, which can be used for practising drills and a little bit of technical instruction.
In terms of bike training, the key thing to know about the area around Serre des Ormes (our accommodation) is that whilst the climbs look long on paper, they are incredibly accessible and rarely breach 6%. Therefore, if you lack climbing confidence/experience, this truly is the perfect area to make a break through and also to practice your descending skills on wide, quiet and excellent quality roads.
At the beginning of the camp, we will spend a bit of time explaining to everyone how the training zones work and their relationship with different metabolic systems in your body. The purpose being to help everyone understand the purpose of each of the sessions we will be doing and importantly, with the longer low intensity rides it is perfectly fine to ride at an easier effort in order to keep the group together, because the higher intensity sessions are where the stronger riders can be let off the leash! Lessons such as this are an example of the knowledge we hope athletes will be able to take away with them and incorporate into their own training and club rides.
What this means in practice is that no one will be dropped if they’re finding it hard going and there will be no judgment. Everyone will be looked after. Further, a requirement will be that everyone has the routes downloaded onto their cycling computer or phone, so if necessary, we can split into groups of similar capabilities. Whilst it’s important you attend the camp with some confidence in your fitness, you can be sure that you will be riding with a considerate bunch that will look after you.
The famous cols for cycling up are often the main attraction for this area but it should not be overlooked just how great an area it is for running! Morning runs on the trails will be an absolute delight (but obviously somewhat hard work too)!
Just think about it, being able to run as a group along secluded mountain trails one day, then the next performing structured conditioning sets around a picturesque reservoir in the morning sun followed by a dip in the water to cool off. The unbridled joy will be so eminent, we’ll be like a triathlon version of the Von Trapp family!
Strength training for endurance athletes is one of our specialities as a business and it would be remiss of us if we weren’t also teaching you the importance of strength training and injury prevention on this camp. That is why we will also be providing equipment and instruction for group strength sessions by the pool!
It’s your holiday!
The camp will be well planned and structured but it will also be your holiday. So it will not be run like a detention camp! We will provide a cracking itinerary but if you don’t have the energy to do it all or fancy a bit of time doing your own thing, do not hesitate to tell us. We want everyone to get what they need to out of this camp, so never be afraid to tell us how you’re feeling. You can do as much or as little as you wish!
All in all, we can actually guarantee this camp will be epic! It’s a unique adventure and because the numbers are small, you will be well looked after and have a coach at hand to answer any of your questions.
Col St Jean is the perfect start as there's an easy 10km roll out before we turn to take on the one and only ascent of the ride. This is a great opportunity for guests to get used to riding with one another and from a coaching point of view, a chance to let people get the inevitable over-excitement out of their system before the real work begins!
There will be two routes, an 82km loop and a 122km loop. The group will seek to ride together for the first 60km until the coffee stop at Ribiers, which is where the two groups will split. The riders doing the shorter route heading straight back up the Gorge de la Meouge to Serre des Ormes and the longer route continuing on for another 40km taking in the pretty little commune of Ventavon and punching up a naughty little climb at Upaix where there's an incredible viewing point of the surrounding valley plain.
If you're not familiar with tempo running it's essentially intervals working at or near your aerobic threshold. The details of the session will be made known in advance once we have an understanding from the Athlete Questionnaire of each athlete's level and needs.
The plan would then be to relax by the lake for the remainder of the morning and enjoy some lunch whilst drinking in the sun.
In the afternoon, once our lunch has gone down, we'll suit up and head into the water for a coached open water swim session.
Once everyone has had their fill of running, swimming and sunning, we'll hitch a ride back to Serre des Ormes and have a slap up dinner.
We'll roll out nice and easy to Lachau about 10km away. Here there is a perfect 3.5km stretch of road for performing time trial efforts, which should last between 5-7mins depending on the rider. At least we'll be doing it together though!
Once we're all finished with the TT reps, we'll roll back together before we transition straight into a 5km trail run roughly following the course of the Meouge river.
And that's our morning done! The whole session should take about 2-hours in total.
In the evening, we'll be focusing on every triathlete's favourite discipline, strength & conditioning! Performing it by the pool with the stunning mountain backdrop will hopefully make it less of a chore to those not a fan of S&C work and you never know, they may even enjoy it!
Like Day 2, there will be a long and a short route. We'll again seek to stay together for the first 70km ascending Col du Perty before those doing the shorter 97km route branch off at Mevouillon and head home with those doing the longer 115km route, carrying on towards the hilltop town of Montbrun-les-Bains and checking off Col de Macuegne before turning for home.
In the afternoon/evening, there will be an optional technique session in the pool. The focus of which will be to teach athletes what we are striving for when we think of the perfect swim stroke. So often, in our opinion, swimmers are incredibly motivated to improve their stroke but simply haven't been taught what they are aiming for. This light session will seek to change that.
This initial route is 12km long and we'll stay together for the duration. Before we reach home, there is an extra 6.8km trail loop that branches off for those in need of more miles.
There will be two options for the final day depending on how you are feeling.
For those feeling the week in their legs, they'll enjoy a lift over to Sault, from where they can crack on with the ascent of Mont Ventoux along with some riding around the Sault area should they wish.
The sadist option is a long but incredibly beautiful 170km ride out from Serre des Ormes ascending the massively exaggerated Col de l’Homme Mort (Dead Man's Pass - which is actually very manageable) in the first 30km as a warm-up. From there we head straight to Sault to take on what is considered the easier of the three routes to the top of Mont Ventoux (you will not suffer from FOMO for the harder routes by the end of the ride trust us!). We descend down the Bedoin side of the mountain and head towards the dramatic climb through Gorges de la Nesque. As we turn for home there's still two back-to-back climbs to complete before we can relax, Col Auban and Mevouillon to finish things off and from there it's a 20km cruise with a slight downhill all the way home. RIAK founder, Rich, ranks this ride in his top 5 of all time. It truly is a wonderful mix of challenging, relaxing and awe-inspiring.
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Serre des Ormes is an oasis of calm and rustic French charm and our hosts, Kate and Paul, could not be more welcoming.
Kate and Paul are both strong cyclists and runners themselves (hence why they own a cycling, running and hiking B&B!), which means our accommodation is tailor made for a training camp with:
- secure bike storage;
- all the tools, pumps etc. you could possibly need;
- a 15m swimming pool for practising swim drills or simply chilling by;
- well balanced breakfasts and dinners making use of their diverse veg and herb garden; and
- a level of knowledge of the area that most indigenous locals would envy.
Our hosts will provide breakfast and dinner every day, save for the Thursday evening where we will instead head out for a group meal, almost certainly pizza (our fave)!
For lunch, we will generally be eating out, so factor that into your budgeting other than for the big biking days where our hosts will prepare sandwiches for our return.
As it is a high volume training week, we can also create a kitty and do a trip to the supermarket to get snacks and drinks to supplement what is already on offer.
Things to do
Serre des Ormes is rather secluded and that is one of the most attractive things about it! However, it does mean that unless you rent a car, or are willing to cycle to places, the majority of our time when we are not training will be spent at the accommodation. Don’t fret, this old French farmhouse has plenty of places to relax including a library with super comfortable sofas, the pool for sunbathing and cooling down, the terrace area which is lovely for reading and taking in your surroundings and there’s also a dangerously relaxing hammock in the garden!
If you are driving down to the camp or renting a car from Marseilles, there are however some beautiful places to visit should you have the energy. Our hosts will be only too willing to provide you with a list of the best places to see or go for lunch if you want a bit of time to yourself.
Serre des Ormes is less than 2-hours from Marseille airport, which is the nearest airport or 1-hour 45-minutes from Aix en Provence TGV.
Transit from and to the airport is included in the camp price, however, our hosts can only do the one trip so we will recommend an approximate flight arrival time and of course, a bit of time either side of that suggested time will not be a problem.
Here is the location of Serre des Ormes on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/AC234WiDGKJFMb8P8
At Serre des Ormes there are 2 twin/double rooms and 1 group room sleeping up to 4. This means we can accommodate 8 people, so make sure you don’t dilly dally too long before securing your spot!
The twin/double rooms will be prioritised for those booking in pairs, on a first come first serve basis. So, if you are a solo traveller, please anticipate that you will likely be sharing a room with other wonderful and hygienic athletes.
The total camp cost is £1,220 with an ‘early bird’ discount of £100 off should you book before 1st January 2022.
The camp cost is split over two payments, with the first due immediately during booking and the second by 30 March 2022.
What the package includes:
- 7-nights’ accommodation at Serre des Ormes cycling, running and hiking B&B;
- Breakfast every morning of your stay;
- 3-course dinners with free flowing wine for 6 of the nights;
- Coached training sessions planned out roughly as described in the itinerary above but with each athlete essentially having their own training programme;
- RIAK cycling jersey;
- Access to an experienced and approachable coach for the duration of the camp to ask all of your training and racing questions;
- A sandwich lunch for the 3 big bike days;
- Group transfers from and to Marseilles airport; and
- Secure bike storage.
Not included in the package:
- Your flights (to help you pick your flights, we will suggest an arrival time for on the Saturday so you can take advantage of the group transfer);
- Transfer from or to Marseilles airport should you not join the group transfer;
- Any COVID tests required for you to travel;
- The group meal out on the Thursday, which will be at a restaurant (probably pizza!);
- Any lunches (save for the sandwich lunches which are included for the three big bike days); and
- There is a nearby spa facility, which could be nice for anyone desiring some post-session treatment.
Should RIAK have to cancel the camp for any reason (i.e. COVID), guests will have a choice between a full refund or transfer onto the rearranged camp.
As we have significant upfront costs (the accommodation etc.), we’re afraid that once booked on, we cannot offer any refunds should you no longer be able to make the camp. However, please still do contact us as there might be a compromise available depending on the circumstances.
Sadly, due to the persisting situation with COVID-19, only those that have had both their vaccinations +14 days are eligible for this camp.
It is also important you understand the additional requirements for travelling to France, which at the time of writing is an ‘amber country’ on the UK’s travel restrictions list – https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france
Albion Cycles in Sault would be our recommended bike rental location. If you intend to rent a bike, please let us know before you do so, so we can arrange the collection.
- Your bike in good working order (unless you are renting one) – we won’t have any mechanics on site so you will be responsible for building your own bike on arrival, we can provide advice and tools but there is a bike shop in Sault should anything major go wrong;
- Trail running shoes – the trails aren’t too technical and are mixture of dirt tracks and gravel fire roads;
- Running vest or running backpack with water bladder – it can get very hot and the longer run session in particular is likely to require hydration;
- Wetsuit – the water is likely to be a touch cold so it is advised that you also bring thermal hat, gloves and booties;
- Spare inner tubes if you run a clinchers set up on your bike – we will have extras should fortune not be kind to you;
- Bike mini-tool;
- Bike computer with navigation if you have one – one of the few rules we’ll have is that everyone needs to have the bike routes ready to go either on their bike computer or phone;
- Hand pump or Co2 cannisters and trigger system (check travel restrictions before you back them!);
- Sports nutrition for the longer rides and runs i.e. energy gels, bars, hydration drink etc;
- Rain jacket – unlikely but rain does happen;
- Tri suit if you would like to test your kit during the bike-to-run brick session;
- Beach towel;
- Swim goggles; and