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

-By: Tomas Swift-Metcalfe

Last modified: April 6, 2014

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:

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