Stephen Roche Cycling Camp 1998

Stephen Roche

After the usual flight delays we arrived at the hotel at Palma Nova at 11.30pm on the Saturday evening to be met by Marga the administrator, who called Stephen over to introduce himself. He chatted about flight delays, passports, and said that he would be in Edinburgh on the 29th May in the publicity cabin for the PruTour.

As it was a Rotary Cycling Week there were cyclists from all over Europe, with the Belgian, and Dutch having thirteen cyclists, followed by the U. K and France. Stephen held two introductory sessions on the Sunday morning, one in French and one in English, at which he stressed the importance of listening to the guides who were all ex-professional cyclists, but who could give advice on cycling position, climbing, descending etc. We were told to go to the garage and get a bike from one of his staff. His garage had 100 Carrera bikes with Campag equipment. We had 30 minutes to get set for the first run which was a 40km run taking on the Col de Galilea, a 5km hill (mountain) at 5%. The first problem is the heat when you are climbing, descending is cooler but the hairpins are difficult at first until you learn to lean into them like your guide. Stephen was at the top of the Col De Galilea, and joined our group on the descent to the hotel, so I managed to ride a few kilometres chatting about cycling and in particular the PruTour in Edinburgh etc.

Proof that Graham was there

That evening at the dinner in the hotel, the Stephen Roche staff distributed photos of Stephen who in 1987 won the Giro, the Tour de France, and the World Championships. He talked many different languages and autographed all the photos.

We were split into different groups, and I eventually managed to move up to the second group. The distances I went in the week were first day 40k with 2 cols, then on Monday 50k with 3 cols, on Tuesday 110k flat, followed by a rest day on Wednesday. Thursday was 70 k with 4 hard cols and Friday 5 cols over 85k. At the start of the week you get a package, which has 10 circuits, detailed in a pamphlet which you take in your back pocket, along with a map of the Island in case you lose yourself. The Guides have mobile phones, and there is a car going round the circuits with water, food, first aid, spare wheels, and all mechanical back up you could need.

It was a memorable week for me. The temperature was always in the mid 20ís, it was always a challenge, the climbs were so long, and the descents round the hairpin bends were difficult for the first few days, but following your guide with his line and the lean into the corner, improved confidence and speed.

The camp is based at the Hotel Ponent Mar in Palma Nova. It has apartments so that you can be self-catering, or in our case half board. We had a superb apartment with a sea-view and a big balcony. There is a large outdoor pool, an indoor pool, a gym, and a Stephen Roche Boutique with high fashion cycling gear (The Guide MarieJo looked really good in the kit) and casual clothing. There is a wall in the garage, which has some interesting autographs of cyclists who have been to the camp: -

Olano, Chiapucci, Induran, Pantani.

They did not ask for my autograph, but I would recommend it to any cyclist.







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