Tag Archives: Spain

Spain – our winter training camp 2016

OK, another long pause between the blog posts. It has proven very difficult to keep up the blogging as the weeks go by much too quickly. However, this week we were in Spain. Jason was already there for a week and then I (Sofi) came down on my school break for a week as well. After months of darkness and cold weather it is truly amazing to be here and feel the sun on your face! 😀

We are not just enjoying ourselves though, as the week is all about getting some training in on the bike and for me to do a few running sessions. Jason has been lucky as he has two weeks in Spain to train. It is perfect weather for cycling and running, not too warm and not at all cold. We have been able to cycle in shorts and short sleeve jerseys. It will be a few more months until we will be able to cycle like that in Sweden.

I arrived on Saturday and we went on my first ride on Sunday. It was very windy so we took it steady and did a short climb, only a few kilometers. I could tell that my legs were not used to cycling after the winter and it took a while to get going again. It was a good warmup for the ride we did on Tuesday, which was cycling up Sierra Espuña. It is a mountain near Murcia and we did it last February as well. The aim was to get a better time than last year and I did 🙂

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It is a very beautiful climb, about 1500 m over 23 km. There are parts of the climb that are tougher than the rest, and it is definitely not easy to cycle uphill for 2 hours. The key is to find a rhythm in your climbing and a way to control your breathing. It is easy to get stressed when the climbing becomes steeper so focusing on how you pedal and breathe is key. I had my two little cycling buddies with me though (Jason and Colin), so they kept me motivated almost all the way. The last part I did myself and then I was really tired 🙂 But I did a new PB so I am satisfied. The descent was not enjoyable though, it was so cold that I could not feel my fingers which is not the best when you need to brake a lot. The descending is so fast and I need to practise it a lot more.

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I did a run on Monday and Thursday. My legs really get some training this week and to combine cycling and running is not the easiest since both require you to use your legs. On Wednesday my legs were really tired so a rest day is exactly what I needed. My dad is in Spain to play golf, just down the road from where we are, so we hung out with him on Wednesday as well 🙂 It was the first time any of our (mine and Jason’s) parents had met, and both our dads got along really well. I was surprised at how much English my dad knew – he spoke just as much in English as he usually does in Swedish 😀

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On Friday we cycled Cresta del Gallo, a climb used in last year’s Vuelta a España (where Jason and Colin went to watch the stage as well). It was about 50 km to the climb, then the climb, and 50 km home. On the way home we had a headwind the whole way, so I tried to conserve energy by sitting in the wheels while Jason and Colin took turns in the wind, but even they were tired and we all struggled on the last bit.

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Yesterday we flew home and unfortunately our flight was delayed by about an hour due to the snow in Gothenburg…a bit different from what we had in Spain! Today we have unpacked, built our bikes back up, cleaned the flat, done our grocery shopping, done the laundry, and (I at least) had a nap! We started the day off really well though, with some delicious homemade scones!

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Back to work tomorrow, and Jason will be starting his new job as well.
We hope you all have had a good weekend,
Sofi and Jason

Our Weekend, Week 7

So, a long wonderful week in the sun has sadly come to an end.

We went out for a long ride on Friday. It was the perfect weather, about 25°C in the sunshine and not too much wind. We had planned to do a 100 km ride (and Jason’s ride). The feeling of getting out in the fresh air and to move your muscles was particularly great this day. We know that we had a 4 hour ride in front of us and we were stopping for lunch halfway, as well as having our raspberry and mint rice cakes along the way.

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Sofi enjoying her raspberry and mint rice cake 🙂

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Jason enjoying the last of the sunshine.

The first part of the ride was quite flat, but then we got to a long climb, about 7 km long. The rest of the way was downhill and then flat. We were not the only ones thinking the weather was great for cycling, when we stopped for lunch we saw a large group of female cyclists.

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Nice bendy roads up into the hills.

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Sofi testing her legs out of the saddle.

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Back on quiet flat roads along the canal back home.

In the evening we went enjoyed the sunset from the roof with a bottle of Cava before going out for dinner at an Italian restaurant. The perfect way to end our week.

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The sun disappearing behind the clouds before finally disappearing behind the horizon.

Yesterday, (Valentine’s day! ❤ ) we got up early to see the sunrise and were saddened by the fact that we were going home to the cold again 😦

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We then had to pack up our bikes and head to the airport. When we came home we were very tired and made a quick dinner before bed.

This morning we had a lie in and then we have spent the whole day unpacking our bikes, preparing what to make for dinners next week, doing our weekly shopping, and making bars, granola, and kimchi. We made two different types of bars, both of which will be on the blog tomorrow.

For dinner tonight we made Korean steamed buns with sticky tofu, kimchi mayonnaise, kimchi, and pickled cucumber and radish.

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We hope you have a good week,
/Sofi and Jason

Mid-Week Catch Up, Week 7

So far we have had a great time in Spain.

On Monday we had a very windy ride and also some rain which made those 60 km quite hard. On Monday evening we went out for dinner to an Italian restaurant. We ate good food and treated ourselves to some nice desserts.
DSC06099On Tuesday we had a rest day and went to Torrevieja for some shopping. We also tried a vegetarian restaurant and the food was really good.
DSC06105 DSC06100 DSC06106In the evening we made pasta with asparagus. You need carbs when you are training and what can be better than pasta for that 🙂

Today we cycled up my first mountain 🙂 Jason has cycled up Sierra Espuña once before with his dad. He has also cycled other mountains on Jeju (South Korea) and in France last summer (Tourmalet and Hautacam among others).

I have really been looking forward to this as I want to keep pushing myself when it comes to cycling and see my abilities. This was my first mountain, but it will certainly not be my last, so much fun!

If someone had told me 3 years ago that I would love cycling and couldn’t wait to cycle up a mountain I would not have believed them. Life can change so much in a few years and right now I am loving the feeling of having found something I love doing 🙂 with someone I love doing it with ❤

DSC06137Sierra Espuña is 1500 meters. It is 25 km to the top and Jason was expecting it to take about 2 h. That is a long way just climbing.

We took it easy from the beginning, the goal was just to do it, not aiming to do it fast 🙂 Unlike the Astana pro cyclist that went past us at a very high speed. We heard him coming and then he was gone just as quick 🙂

DSC06149The higher we came the colder it got 🙂 When we reached the top there was snow on the ground and it was very misty. However, it felt very good and like a great achievement for me!

DSC06187DSC06193 DSC06198The descent was VERY cold to begin with. But when we came further down it got warmer again. Hardly pedaling for 25 km going down was great though!

Tonight we are enjoying some wine and homemade tapas. Tomorrow will be a short ride to watch the sunrise and get me some QOMs 😉

We hope you are enjoying your week as much as we are and that you are able to go out in the fresh air and get some exercise.
/Sofi

Our Weekend, Week 6

This weekend is the one we have been waiting for – we’re now in Spain! 😀 On Friday, Sofi went to town after work to meet her friend Malin for fika, and I suffered at home by doing an FTP test on the turbo trainer. I recently bought a power meter (a pair of Garmin Vector pedals) for my bike, to help me improve this year, and I hadn’t tested my FTP since the autumn. I’m happy to say that I went up 17 watts. For those that don’t know, FTP stands for Functional Threshold Power and is the amount of power (in watts) that one can sustain for one hour.

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Sofi enjoying herself while I push myself hard, cheeky!

We then made a very simple pasta dish afterwards – homemade pasta, as always, with an olive oil, truffle oil, chili, and garlic sauce. Just what we needed 🙂 On Saturday we got up early (7 a.m.) and ate a small portion of porridge and changed Sofi’s handlebar tape, before Sofi went on the turbo trainer to do a fun Sufferfest session. Afterwards we ate banana pancakes to help with recovery and as a little treat. Then it was all about packing up our bikes and gear, and cleaning the flat so it will be nice when we come home. We then watched the final stage of the Dubai Tour – it was a great stage, with Mark Cavendish winning the final stage and winning the overall as well! DSC06056 We then made a nice spinach, ricotta, pine nuts, and cheese pie for lunch, with a simple salad. My friend Sam came over for lunch and to watch the football on TV. We watched the north London derby and then most of the Chelsea match before me and Sofi had to leave for the airport. After arriving late (we landed at 23:45), we got to the house, turned on some heaters and crawled into bed. We had a lie-in this morning (until 09:00) and then had some porridge before heading to the supermarket to get our supplies for the week. Once we got home, we had a small lunch, built our bikes, and headed out for a 55 km ride. The ride was really nice, and was an opportunity for me to cycle with my power meter outside, and for Sofi to test her new Rapha jersey! We both love cycling together and it’s been a while since we did it in shorts and under the warm sun 🙂 We decided to enjoy the sunshine until sunset, but having a little fika stop on the way back as well – we need to make the most of our opportunity to get some vitamin D. DSC06060 DSC06064 DSC06083 DSC06093 20150208_172347 Dinner was a yummy tomato soup, and now it’s time to unwind watching some TV 🙂 Tomorrow we have a nice undulating 60 km ride planned, as a final preparation for cycling Sierra Espuña on Tuesday (1500 m over 25 km 😀 ). We’ll post an update in our mid-week catch up. We hope you all have had a nice weekend, and enjoy your upcoming week! /Jason and Sofi

Mid-Week Catch Up – Week 5

Gosh, it’s Wednesday already! I feel totally unprepared to write this post, as the days this week have flown by already. We haven’t been up to much, but we have certainly been eating 🙂

On Sunday we made a delicious pie, with three types of cabbage: Brussels sprouts, purple Brussels sprouts, and white cabbage. On Monday we made our yummy noodle soup (although we replaced the tofu with more vegetables). Yesterday our friend Sanna came over for dinner and we made pizzas and a deliciously-moist chocolate cake for dessert. Today we made our quick Asian salad. Tomorrow and Friday we are planning some more new dishes though, with some corn pucks and roasted vegetables on the menu tomorrow.

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As said, we haven’t been up to much at all, but we have started to plan the agenda for our week in Spain a bit more. We plan to do five rides with the week totalling about 300 km, with one ride up Sierra Espuña (about 1500 m climbing) and one ride of over 100 km.

We plan on blogging while we’re there, and will try a vegetarian restaurant, as well as making our own food. I think we might try a few new portable food recipes as well, so keep an eye out for them. We made some rice balls the other day, but need to perfect the recipe.

DSC05949Tomorrow we are going to town to see what the local shop has in the way of women’s bib shorts (as she needs another pair), and then it will be a session on the turbo trainer for me 😀

Fortunately the snow and ice has all melted here, but now it’s raining, and that’s not fun 😦 So we are really looking to Spain and the spring beyond that. One of the things we are most looking forward to is probably going to Italy to see the Giro again! We will be going with my mum, who also loves cycling, and we booked all our hotels yesterday.

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Hope you all have had a good week so far and that we all get to the weekend soon!
/Jason

Mid-Week Catch Up – Week 3

So what has happened so far in week 3?

Perhaps the most interesting thing is that I (Jason) went to Spain, leaving Sofi all alone in Sweden. This isn’t a bad thing though, as it means she can eat some of her favourite things that I’m allergic to, like mushrooms and goat’s cheese. She even made a goat’s cheese pie yesterday 🙂

So why am I in Spain? Well, lots of pro teams go to Spain during the winter for their training camps, because Northern Europe is far too cold to get some serious kms in. In fact, Etixx Quick-Step, Lotto Jumbo, and FdJ have been having their training camps about 1 hr north of us for the past few weeks – if it’s good enough for them 😀 But my dad was already coming over to fix a few things, and he said it would be a great opportunity for us to ride together.

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You can’t just wear shorts and a short-sleeved jersey in England or Sweden at the moment 😀

Like I said in another post, one of my goals is to cycle more each month, especially during the autumn and winter, so this holiday helps fulfill that. The weather here is dry and warm – over 20°C in the sun – which is ideal for getting some good base kms. Neither me nor my dad have cycled enough over winter to put in some long and hard rides, but that is why a holiday like this at the beginning of the year is perfect – it kick starts your year!

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Lovely weather and lovely roads – ideal!

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A bit of sunshine means wearing colourful clothes again, which I think makes riding more enjoyable 🙂

We’re keeping our rides steady (although being able to push slightly has been a nice change), and including a few hills but no serious mountains. We did knock out 100 km yesterday with 1000 m of ascending though, which was really nice to do – now we know our legs can handle it. But it also means that today is a recovery day…now where are those Conguitos 😀

I hope you all have a good week and are able to train as well!
/Jason

The Year Ahead – 2015

To begin the new year we thought it would be appropriate to take a look at what happened in 2014 and set new goals for 2015.

2014 was the year when I (Sofi) started cycling further and more often. I bought my new bike in March and then it became even more fun to cycle. I had never cycled before so it has taken me some time to build up strength and endurance. Now when I feel stronger I love cycling and I hope it is something I will continue doing for the rest of my life.

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I have always been running as well but, I have now signed up to do the Gothenburg Half Marathon in May 2015, to have a clear goal and something to keep me motivated. I love running and the feeling you get from running is hard to get from anything else. Everyone who is into running will understand what I mean. However, it is difficult to begin if you have taken a longer break but, you just need to decide to go out a few times a week and then you will get into it again.

My goals for 2015 are to set clearer goals for my running. I want to be able to run faster than I do today. I will make sure I go out at least 3 times a week and vary my session more.

Another goal is to keep up the cycling and be able to cycle longer distances without suffering too much 🙂 We are going to Spain, England and Korea (and maybe Germany) where we will cycle and I am really looking forward to seeing new places while on my bike. When we go to Korea in the summer I will make another try to cycle up the mountain on Jeju (an island south of the mainland) which I did not manage to do 2 years ago.

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Goals for 2015:

  • Running at least 3 times a week – distance runs, short runs and intervals.
  • Cycling in Korea, Spain, England and maybe Germany.
  • Cycling on the weekends.
  • Gothenburg Half Marathon.

And what about me (Jason) then…Well I am going to Spain next week to help with some of my cycling goals 😀 And I have also signed up to do the Gothenburg half marathon.

I do a lot of sports these days: innebandy (floorball), tennis, badminton, running, cycling. My aim is to keep up with all of them, but to set specific goals for running and cycling. I have a specific aim for the half marathon, but I am also intending to start competing in cycling 🙂

Last year I started cycling more seriously, more often, and more intensely. This has improved my cycling a great deal, and I really saw the improvements throughout the season, particularly when climbing mountains in the summer. I am going to Spain next week to cycle with my dad, and me and Sofi are going together in February for some more cycling. I think this will really help get my season going early and motivate me for what is to come.

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I had only ever cycled a mountain once before last year (2 years ago on Jeju, although it was 3 times, but it was the same mountain), and with me and dad signed up for the Étape du Tour, we went to Spain in May to get some climbing in our legs. I really felt that helped and showed me my limits, and then when we got to France in July, we enjoyed a lot of climbs and they all felt (somewhat) comfortable and I felt like I could do whatever climb I wanted. (Like on the last day of the holiday when I said to my dad I wanted to put one more climb in and was going to get up a 7 a.m. to do it before we left for England. We both did it, and we both loved it!) This is why I am heading to Spain twice early this year, so that I keep that climbing confidence! 😀

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Goals for 2015:

  • Run the Gothenburg half marathon sub 1:45.
  • Increase my VO2 max, as well as other fitness-limiting things.
  • Cycle more every month of the year – this applies mostly to autumn and winter.
  • Do yoga and stretching/massage more times a week.
  • Cycle some already-cycled mountains quicker (particularly on Jeju).

What about the blog then???

Well, this blogging thing is still fairly new to both of us, but we love it so far! We like the interaction we get from people, and we really like that it is like this post – we can look back at it and see what we have done, and how far we (and our food) have come. 🙂

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We both were fairly busy near the end of the year, so there were less recipes than we had wanted to post. This is something we will work on this year. We have also noticed that many people like our weekend posts and we get a lot of interaction on our posts linked with exercise and lifestyle, so we will probably have more posts about our training and goals. Maybe we should include more recovery foods in that case!

What goals do you have for the year ahead? Please tell us 🙂

/Sofi and Jason