Karen Darke – 31 January

Recently returned from three weeks bike training in Mallorca, the last week with the British Paracycling Team. I’d been scheming it since all the snow of last winter, a ‘Great Escape’ to a place where the sun shows itself and the temperature can be counted on being plus instead of minus.

Thanks to Fit for Purpose, there was lots of hard work (fun too honest!) and daily emails about power, heart rate and efforts to keep me on track. Miles of sweat and switchbacks up into the mountains and a fair share of freewheeling back down to the sea, practicing cornering, trying not to launch over a cliff or collide with an oncoming car. Mallorca is a cycling Mecca, and its Traumantana Mountains an inspiring place to pedal, even if it takes four hours to go up and only thirty minutes to come down.

Back in the hotel (www.reedshotel.com quite swanky, including spa complete with German nudity) I kept hearing the term ‘adaptation week’ being banded around by other riders. Now being new to this game, I wondered what technical term this was. Did it mean a week with special sorts of efforts on the bike? Some secret training formula that I hadn’t yet discovered? Or maybe it meant lots of physio and massage…after three weeks of battering my muscles that sounded good.

Not wanting to appear stupid, I built up to asking at the end of the week, “What happens in an adaptation week then?” The answer was surprisingly simple, and I’ve been adapting ever since. It’s all about loafing, lying in bed, on a sofa, eating well, resting up, and getting ‘horizontal time’ as it’s called in the trade, all in the name of ‘adaptation’.  My body is tired, really tired, shoulders aching, my resting heart rate high, and barely rising when I do any exercise. The training stress of some hard weeks on the bike is showing, and now it’s time to rest up. But very soon, it’ll be back to hard biking, faster and stronger than a month ago….hopefully!

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