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DIY training camps for cycling and other sports-good idea?

To DIY it or not DIY it? The pros and cons of building your own training holiday for cyclist, triathletes and other athletes.

If you’re looking to get some base miles in or some touring/training with little structure and are happy to ‘self-support’ then DIYing it is the way to go. Economic issues are also a factor as the best organised camps are more expensive than a normal B&B or self-catered holiday. With the right planning DIYing it can be the best solution, especially for longer training breaks.

foia, algarve 2013
Pros in the algarve

experience level

Generally experienced athletes, triathletes and cyclists like to just get on with their training holiday with minimal fuss. The less experienced cyclists can benefit for an organised cycling camps.

time, and organisation

Some people like minimal fuss, but to have the peace of mind that everything will run smoothly, for them DIYing it isn’t the best option. It takes a good deal of effort to organise a new training holidays.

time of year

In contrast to, I think there are two times that really make it worth taking a training camp:


  1. In mid-winter prices are usually much lower (whether you DIY it or go on an organised camp). Hotels tends to be empty, flights cheap.
  2. The weather and the longer days: You can take a couple of weeks away from the turbo and get some proper mileage in!
  3. winter weather in the algarve

  4. testing. Testing is fundamental to good training and getting into race shape. A training camp offers the ideal opportunity to see where you’re at with your pre-season training.

Tie it in with something fun too, the early season races in Andalucia and the Algarve attract some of the biggest teams; get quality training in and see the race.

Sunshine + good roads + pro bike racing = excellent training week

Before a target event

The week before a even you’ll have begun tapering, so the key aspect is rest and regenerative training. But 2-3 weeks before an event, it’s time to get the final and important bits of quality training in. In fact, hit this stage correctly, with your weight near race weight and a reasonable amount of fitness and it can make a huge difference.

For this week or two of honing your form, it’s key to be free of distraction and focus on the sport, the training and the recovery. It’s here that organised training camps come into their own.

oops… I need a mechanic/forgot some kit/I’m lost… etc

Even experienced people get it wrong some times. If you’re on an organised camp, generally the camp organisers (should) be happy to sort out little issues, like a missing bit of kit, or getting you back on track should you get lost.

If you’re DIYing it keep a check list of things you need. Think of what you need for sport, logistics, etc.

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

Some steps to prevent things going wrong

Generic advice

  • Planing: Once a holiday is under way it’s extremely difficulty to alter things, especially if a busy week is planned
  • bring winter gear just in case
  • plan transfers to a variety of training locations before hand. Might be an idea to rent a vehicle.


  • get the contact of a local bike shop
  • check out the terrain and where not to ride; busy roads etc
  • spare tubes
  • mobile phone
  • bidons
  • bike shoes, helmet, etc
  • bike food (can be hard to source locally).

If you’re a runner/triathlete:

  • training facilities (tracks, pools) can have odd opening times and odd regulations (presentation of specific ID and the like). Find out about these first.

if you DIY’it in the Algarve

You can ask me for advice and I’ll give it too you: Places to visits, good places to train etc. This free of course, the ‘raison d’etre’ of this cycling is to get people training and doing sport and above all enjoying it!

…and this is what I charge for:

You can request support: You can have the peace of mind of knowing that if you need it, someone can help out. ’emergency pick ups’ need to be ordered in advance and then they’re charged a €0.2 per kilometre.

Routes are a popular choice too and these cost €10 per route, are fully customized: They start and end at your accommodation and you choose your desired difficulty and distance.

Guide: Good value for big groups and useful on day one of a camp to get to know the lay of the land.

Bike rental: I’ve had one frame broken on the plane and one (incredibly) 53T chainring. Avoid this and the excessive charges by the airline and the trouble of packing the bike by renting a good quality bike.

Of course we also offer bespoke camps and set camps:

Next cycling camp is in October:

spring triathlon camp – Algarve – April 2015

cycling focused spring triathlon camp. Introduction to good training practices across all three sports. 4th-11th April 2015

This spring triathlon camp will focus primarily on bike skills and cycling training. We will also focus by each sport by characteristic and how to integrate them to become a better over all triathlete. Everyone, from complete beginner to pro is welcome and will benefit from this camp. This is the true spirit of triathlon.

Cycling: from sprint distance triathlon to IronMan

Training for a sprint triathlon is very different to an IronMan and as such the bike serves a different utility in training and the training aim is different. The longer the race the more important biking tends to be and as such deserves specific attention, in this spring triathlon camp we will deal with the following:

  • economizing effort -absolutely key in any triathlon is to get of the bike fresh as possible and nail the run.
  • technique -something oft ignored in triathlon, this knowledge can save you energy and make you faster.
  • training -using the non-impact and practical nature of the sport as the primary tool for build aerobic-capacity.

We will make sure to cover all these aspect both in theory and in the practice at this spring triathlon camp.

Where about?

This camp is going to based in a top quality sports resort in the Algarve, with lots of good running routes, a track and pool nearby. You will not be disappointed with the quality of the facilities. The resort is exquisitely located in a large gardened resort and literally only 5 km from the hills which have excellent roads and very little traffic.

On reservation you will receive a full itinerary detailing the whole triathlon camp, including the accommodation training and meal plan.

Why Swift Momentum Sports?

Think of this spring triathlon camp like full immersion into the sport. You’ll have full access to Tomás, the head coach, to learn as much as possible about getting the most from cycling. In the evenings there will be informal discussions on specific aspects of the triathlon and cycling. Mostly we’ll work back from the basics: For example, if we’re dealing with economy of effort, we’ll focus on aspects such as the physics of cycling, the metabolic mix and how this fits in to triathlon… And how to go faster for less effort!

spring triathlon camp while triathlon isn’t so developed, the region is well known to cyclists

We have a huge depth of experience racing across a range of sports. We’ve been living in the Algarve for years and as such have unrivalled local knowledge. A strong academic background balances our experience.

What’s included in the triathlon training camp?

Everything you’ll need! Live like a pro for a week.

excellent conditions feb 2012 Algarve TT
a photo from the Volta ao Algarve February 2012 -that’s winter sunshine

We’ll take care of every, right from the moment you arrive at Faro airport on Saturday the 8th. You’ll be picked up by an excellent (and exclusive) transfer service that will bring you to the resort about 25km to the west of the airport.

The accommodation is in excellent villas that hold up to four people. Breakfast and Dinner are included as well as an all day ‘brunch facility’ that means you’ll get your post training snack no matter how late we get in from training. On the bike you’ll have access to energy food and isotonic drinks.

A follow car provides a measure of safety, quick recovery from punctures, a place to keep extra food, and that assurance that should you not be able to go the whole distance for some reason or another, you’ll be able to cut training short at any point.

Full use of facilities included too. That is, pool, track and cross-country running course. A state of the art gym.

The cherry on the cake has to be however the testing and evaluation, that will allow you to train optimally. We will do a lactate threshold tests and a body fat evaluation. Based on these test we’ll provide a training plan (for a month) and tips based on the information gathered over the course of the week.

All this is just €1122. Make your reservation now with a 20% deposit refundable (up to one week before the camp is due) The balance is due one working day before the camp. You can also just pay in full.

Chose to pay the deposit, or the full price

Come to our spring triathlon camp for a truly fantastic week cycling, running and swimming in the Algarve. Any questions get in touch:

cycling training camp October 2014, algarve

The SMS October cycling training camp 2014

from Sunday October 26th till Sunday 2nd of November

In case you don’t know me already, I’m Tomas Metcalfe. I was a professional cyclist for 6 years and have had ongoing experience in top level sport for a decade. I’m racing triathlons now, hoping to jump up to elite level. I’m currently studying sport science and this is my ‘new’ passion I’ve been studying for 4.5 years. 

Algarve in February 2012

What is the SMS October cycling training camp?

It’s a one week intensive cycling training camp in October. There will be both open water and pool available, as well as running track and trails should triathletes wish to join. The program can be adapted to work around these activities, as it’s highly individualized.

Why do it in October?

I chose October because it’s the ideal time to begin building a pre-season. Baseline values can be obtained and then form built up slowly and completely so that for all the warm months the following year one can be in good form -rather than using them to build form. The weather is usually still very good in October in the Algarve. It’s one last opportunity to get some sunny kilometers training in before the winter.

Even if you’re in terrible shape and a bit overweight, you can hope to reach an excellent level of fitness by the summer, if you start working on it by October.

What’s going to happen?

Aside just training in a sunny place (as per the usual sports camp), we are going to look at the following key aspect on each rider attending the camp:

Bike 3D position and subjective evaluation. Great care has to be taken with bike position and sometimes a ‘bad’ position becomes so well learnt, changing it can do more harm than good. Hence we look at: what’s most efficient, what’s safe and what works for you to find the right balance. Subjectivity, is important in bike positioning, more often than not, what feels right, is right.

Physiological testing in the field. I started field testing because of economic constraints. Yet have learnt that it’s also highly effective and more task specific than lab testing. As they say, ‘the lab is far from the road’ so we do the testing with high precision on the road and get real world values for performing in the real world. With these values we plan the pre-season for you and a broader season plan.

Physiological testing in the lab. Is also used. We test things like power, body composition and other things, that are extremely useful in building a profile of the client as an athlete and not only suggesting optimal training, suggesting optimal goals and why. Some athletes might require a ‘ramp’ test, but we will check this running up to the event.

Drills and exercises will be taught. Early pre-season is not the time to begin huge training volumes or intensities, it’s the time to build it up slowly. If you’re pre-season doesn’t go well, you’re season will be very hard to manage with injuries and form ‘not quite coming together’. We’ll also work on bike handling and riding quickly but safely.

Team work. If you’re a cyclist, you know the value of teamwork. If you’re a triathlete, you’re probably wondering what you can learn? You’ll be surprised how much the suggestions I mention cross over into triathlon. We will work on group dynamic and tactics.

Obviously around all this, there isn’t much time, but there are also informal evening seminars on diet, ‘the engine’ (brief run down on the physiology), general ‘do’s and don’ts’ and lifestyle. There will be bike rides and a hike organised too.

All the activities are done in a relaxed, enjoyable manner, as that’s fundamental! These sports have a bad reputation for being about ‘suffering’, we’ll show you how that’s not the point, nor strictly speaking necessary.

Why do I need all this?

Well, the difference between someone who ‘just trains’ and someone doing structured training is about 15%-20% in my experience, this is not to say you will improve by this amount. In someone completely new to the sport, the gains are bigger again. In some ways, training ‘properly’ is easier too… It kind gives purpose to the training.

If you’re new to the sport this cycling training camp will allow you can skip forward a few steps, experience and knowledge wise.

What is the point?

Sport is a way to gain an edge in life in general. You’ll be fitter than if you ‘just trained’, training will take less time, you’ll feel better in other areas. With a year plan you’ll be more likely to stick to your goals. What you invest in sport, sport will pay back many times over in both physical and cognitive health and fitness. People who aren’t (yet) athletes are those that have the most to gain.

Athlete will gain an edge. By how much depends how thorough they are to begin with.

Think of it as getting an excellent suit made by a tailor, versus getting one off the peg suit: Sure it might say ‘Armani’, but it’s never going to be quite right…

What do you get?

Aside the experience itself, you get get a full review of all the aforementioned aspects we look at and a training schedule for the next 4-6 weeks depending. You will also get a season plan with which to structure your training throughout the season. These will all be fully personalized.

Does my fitness level matter?

High level athletes can use this camp to gain an edge, however those with most to gain are non-athletes. So I’d encourage anyone who’s passed fit to do sport to come. I get far more pleasure bringing people the joy of sport, than ‘preaching to the converted’!

What about getting here?

This cycling training camp starts on Sunday 26th and goes on till Sunday the 2nd of November. You’ll arrive at Faro airport and we will pick you up and drop you off at the hotel: Transfers are included. Bike rides are planned each day and at the end a challenge is set. If you need a bike, you can rent one from us.

Where are we staying?

A five star hotel called Val d’Oliveiras. This hotel is exceptionally well located, just 2km from the sea and surrounded by countryside. You literally go out the door and you’re on safe, scenic (and challenging) rural roads. The hotel has all the conditions to host athletes including a spa and a gym.

Val d’Oliveiras Hotel

And the price?

The price of this camp is €1295 (roughly £1030), to reserve we take a €300 or £250 deposit, fully refundable up to 2 weeks before the camp and in case of cancellation. Full payment is then only due one week before the camp begins.  Payment can be taken via Paypal or bank transfer with an adjustment made for charges -Paypal takes 2.8%, with the bank it depends.

I like the sound of this! How do I find out more?

The best way is simply to e-mail me at ‘’ or phone me on 00 351 922011153. We can arrange a Skype chat too (my skype name is ‘swiftmomentum’).

There will be some communication running up to the camp as I plan out how I can make it work best for you.

I look forward to welcoming you to the Algarve this Ocotber!