Tri-ed and tested……

by Lisa McKenna

Like a lot of people coming out of Covid restrictions and lockdown, I was relishing the thought of getting back to normality, embracing new challenges and saying yes to everything! So when Sara put the Mallorca warm weather trip in the WhatsApp group, I signed up straight away. Being relatively new to the club, I thought the trip would be a great way to meet and get to know the other members and being new to cycling it would be an even better way to get some advice and experience. As the date got closer, and the texts and training plans went up on the group chat, suddenly the initial enthusiasm and can-do attitude started to wane…. what had I signed up for? How would I keep up with all these speedy Ironmen (and ladies)?! Thankfully I was reassured that there would be other new members joining the trip away and all abilities would be catered for, from novices like myself to people recovering from injuries as well as those using the group to advance their training for specific events.

Spirits were high on the journey over from Dublin and everyone was relaxed, chatting and looking forward to the trip. Thanks to Sara and Colm’s brilliant organisation of hotels, transfers and beyond and the coaches Will and Tami taking care of our training itinerary, we were all in good hands. Unfortunately, whilst I arrived safely in Mallorca my luggage didn’t, but this was the first opportunity to experience the warmth and generosity of the T3 cohort – by the time our bus had arrived at the hotel all the girls had put together a complete wardrobe of cycling gear for me for the next day!

The next morning, the group was divided into three different ability levels much to my relief, as I looked around anxiously for any other ‘non-cleated’ cyclists! I needn’t have worried, and the hours fell away as I enjoyed the chat and the beautiful countryside. We rode two abreast side by side chatting and the pace is kept such that no one gets left behind with those up-front shouting back warnings of any hazards ahead. After regrouping for much welcomed coffee and cake in a gorgeous village square, we climbed back on our bikes for the return leg. Feeling a bit more settled, I enjoyed the thrill and confidence that came with stepping out of my comfort zone, leaned a little further forward on the downhills, and pushed a little harder on the inclines.

Over the hotel buffet dinner that night the excited conversation quickly moved to the next day and Sa Calobra, a 100km cycle with hairpin bends with some serious climbs and descents for those who had never attempted it and those who had done it on a previous trip, all were hugely looking forward to the challenge. Following a memorable early morning sea swim the next day, coached by Tami, five of us had opted not to head to Sa Calobra instead setting off on our own cycle. The Famous Five mimicked an Enid Blyton adventure that involved cycling and lots of stops for coffee, cake and lunch! A perfect day out. Back at the hotel that evening the buzz was palpable with a very happy, tired group exchanging banter and delighted to have conquered the hills of the infamous Sa Colobra – an amazing achievement! Who knows maybe one day…..

Unfortunately, the weather on the following day was wet and windy which meant a long cycle had to be abandoned and instead everyone chose to do their own thing. My muscles were glad of the break! The weather didn’t dampen our spirits as we headed out of the hotel and down to a beautiful restaurant on the pier for our last night of the trip. Anna and Colm (MC extraordinaire!) entertained the group with awards and reflections of the past few days while we ate and drank the stunning food and wine. It was a great evening swapping stories, chatting and getting to know the group more.

The weather held up on our last day allowing us to get in our final cycle of the trip before packing and having a farewell lunch before our departure. The cycle back felt tough and it was thanks to Anna and Colm’s encouragement for the final kilometers back to the hotel that kept me going despite the creeping ache in my calves and the inevitable saddle sores that not even Decathlon’s finest padding could keep away! I was delighted to see the hotel and the chance to finally dismount my bike. That being said I was also a little sad that the few days were coming to an end, but I was already planning my shopping back home for cleats and maybe even a pair of arm warmers….

The best thing about the T3 warm weather camp is that it is accessible for all levels including first timers like me and by doing something you thought was out of your reach you gain more confidence to tackle your next challenge. It is impossible not to feed off the enthusiasm and experience of fellow members, a great bunch of people who are all willing to share their knowledge and time. Will I sign up for another Club trip away? Definitely!