Spring cycling holidays are a chance to pile on the miles in warm weather destinations that are easy to get to and welcome cyclists with a range of services and accommodations tailored toward cycle tourism. Or, if the experience is a higher priority than warm weather, sign up for a ride that travels the same race routes as the fabled Spring Classics.
Here’s where to go to train like a pro.
Spring cycling training camps are a chance to pile on the miles in warm weather destinations that are easy to get to and welcome cyclists with a range of services and accommodations tailored toward cycle tourism. Or, if the experience is a higher priority than warm weather, test yourself on the fabled racecourses of the Spring Classics by signing up for a ride that travels the same routes as the pros. Whether you DIY or book a trip with a cycle tour provider, these “best of” cycling training locations will set the stage for you to become your best-ever.
Spain’s mild coastal weather makes for ideal year-round riding and guess what? Spain has lots of coastline. Sun-seeking cyclists have been descending upon Spain for decades to take advantage of the warm weather and the rolling terrain that’s mostly traffic-free in the off-season. Each year early season mountain bike and road stage racing draws cyclists to Andalusia starting in February. From there racing spreads northward to Catalonia and later to the Basque Country as the season heats up (along with the weather). By popular opinion, here’s where you’ll find the best cycling training camp locations to ride on your own or go with a group.
- Mallorca The go-to place in Spain’s Balearic Islands for pros and amateurs alike, Mallorca’s February-April temperatures volley between 16-20C, which are perfect for cycling but still a tad bit cold for the beach crowd. Cyclists virtually take over the island during this time since it’s a popular cycling training camp location for professional teams, who start arriving at the end of January to test their legs and lungs in the Challenge Mallorca race series.
- Costa Blanca This 120-mile stretch of Mediterranean coastline starts 63 miles south of Valencia and boasts a whopping 300 days of sunshine per year, so that’s a pretty broad target if you’re aiming to have nice weather to ride in. Calpe takes the top tier as a training location, followed by Dénia 21 miles up the coast. Traffic on the coastal highway can get dense at any time of the year but that’s easy to avoid by heading away from the coast and riding the solitary inland roads.
- Girona You’ll want to set up camp in Girona later in the spring in order to take advantage of Girona’s majestic climbs that of course, lead to magnificent descents, which can be chilly on the way down. Girona has long been a seasonal home base for professional cyclists and triathletes who want challenging terrain where to train without having to travel too far to races. What Girona has that none of the other places have — in addition to a vibrant social scene and liveable city vibe — is easy access to a major metropolitan city (Barcelona), which makes for some fun rest day tourist activities.
- Canary Islands Lanzarote and Tenerife each have their own claim to fame among cyclists who travel to Spain’s farthest outposts off the coast of Africa to challenge themselves on the bike. Tenerife’s El Teide holds rank as Spain’s highest point at 3,718 m/12,198’ and lures cyclists to ride Europe’s longest continuous ascent that rises up 2,100 m/6,890’ in just 22 miles. Each year in Lanzarote the tri’s have it almost all to themselves in the Ironman Lanzarote, which is one of the world’s most celebrated triathlons. There are few places better than Lanzarote to work on your aerodynamic positioning since the wind provides a real-time testing environment for wind tolerance.
Even the Italians finger Tuscany as the place they’d go to if they could choose anywhere to ride on home turf. Tuscany’s fame as a road cycling destination is universal but what you may not know about Tuscany is its network of white dirt roads that discreetly lace the landscape. If you’re a member of the off-road crowd, breaking free of the tarmac to explore Tuscany’s quiet side with a gravel or mountain bike on empty double-track should prove irresistible, especially because you’re more likely to see things that won’t turn up in any guidebook or tourism website. A good time to go is March-May, when temperatures range between 16-23C.
Some of cycling’s greatest talent hails from Belgium, which should give you an idea of the cycling culture that’s there. To fill that talent pool, Belgium has a racing scene that starts young and local with kermesses and leads all the way to the international stage with some of the highest profile races in the world. Amateur events have been organized around those races to give fans a taste of the suffering as well, like the Liège-Bastogne-Liège Sportive that traces the same punishing racecourse that the pros ride. There’s also the Paris Roubaix Challenge and the Gent Wevelgem Sportive plus many more that provide the opportunity to race yourself into shape. Shorter options are usually available if you don’t feel up to going the distance just yet.
As the go-to training destination for many US and Canadian pro bike racers, this far-flung region possesses added benefits that go beyond warm weather. Ride for miles with the timeless desert as your backdrop, or visit the constellation of state and national parks in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico where you can ride both on and off-road. Mount Lemmon northeast of Tucson, Arizona rises up to 2,792 m/9,159’ and the climb up Mt Lemmon via the Catalina Highway is popular with road cyclists. Pioneering mountain bikers first flocked to Moab, Utah at the dawn of the sport and its fame has spread far and wide since then. Moab’s brag-worthy Slick Rock trail serves as natural selection for who’s done their winter training and who’s hit the Christmas pudding a little too hard. Other places that warrant consideration include Monument Valley and Sedona, Arizona, and Farmington, New Mexico. If the riding doesn’t blow your mind, the Grand Canyon will take your breath away.
Spring holds all the hope of what’s yet to come but there’s no harm in speeding that up by going somewhere warmer or more difficult to ride. Warm weather or personal challenge may be your underlying motive, but the results are so much more rewarding both during and after your trip once you’ve found your new best spring training location.