I recently completed my final 11 day “intensive” training camp for my RAAM 015.
11 days of 12+ hour rides with 3 days of climbing at Jebel Hafeet.
My training camp started at the Al Qudra bike track in Dubai with a 12 hour ride which I had to maintain at least a 30km/h for the 12 hours…
I did all my 12 hour rides from 5pm -5am at the Al Qudra cycle track in the desert outside Dubai (cycle track is perfect cycling path with all paths together is 115 kms — its safe, flat and there is always head/cross wind! The map above does not include the 28 km extension)
It was a good 12 hours and I was off the bike for less than 10 minutes, but averaged only 29.5km/h — the last two hours of the ride, I had a strong cross wind, and I probably didn’t eat or drink enough.
After a few hours sleep, I drove about 2 hours to Al Ain to do 9 x jebel hafeet. To make sure I finished the 9 x jebel hafeet NOT under the sun, I began the ride at 5:30pm.
Jebel Hafeet is a mountain in the middle of Al Ain, UAE (about 90 minute drive from Dubai) I ride from the roundabout before the bridge to the top parking lot, about 13 kms at average of 9% … beautiful, near perfect road that climbs non stop to the top.
Only someone who has visited Jebel Hafeet has any idea how hard it can be to ride a bike up it 9 and 10 consecutive times
I guess it’s the lack of trees, but this climb seems much harder to me than a long 15-19% climb I did several times in France.
My first climb took 55 minutes and the rest of the climbs took between 60 – 70 minutes.
I drank 2 water bottles on each climb, and when I got to the top, I would drink an ensure+ and ride back down.
It takes about 15 minutes to ride down it.
9 x jebel hafeet took me 12 hours and 28 minutes and was a bit more than 8,200 meters climbing, for the most part the ride felt good …
Then I had 7 consecutive days of 12 hour rides back in Dubai at the Al Qudra cycle track … but one of the rides I had to do on my turbo at home because of a sand storm in Dubai.
After a couple days of 12 hour rides, a German friend of mine and a top ultra-endurance athlete, Tobias Frenz rode with me for a few days in a row for the first 5-6 hours of my rides – it was great to have him because it helped kill the time riding with someone, as well as, he likes to ride into the wind, so he would always start our rides into the strong wind.
The last 6 hours of my rides were always tough mentally … lots and lots of wind and riding through the night on a 98km bike track in the middle of the pitch black desert can be tough … and boring.
One day, between mid-night and 3am I had 3 flat tires … so I got good at changing flats in the complete blackness, far from my truck.
My 11 day hell week ended with 10 x Jebel Hafeet (9,000+ meters of climbing at 9% average)
The first training week I ever did with Marko back at the end of 013, we went to Jebel Hafeet to do it 3 x …
Although back then I had just recently made it half way across RAAM before failing … and I was still in my RAAM cycling shape, I had never trained at Jebel Hafeet.
And I failed miserably that day back in September 013. I was slow and had to stop a few times before making it up that final 3rd time.
On the drive home that day, Marko told me that before I go back to RAAM, I will easily be able to do 10+ x jebel hafeet without stopping.
Over the year and a half, I have trained a lot at Jebel Hafeet. Nearly, every weekend, I go there to do the big climb multiple of times.
I have done the climb 20 x in a week before, but broken up over 4 days .. the most consecutive climbs I had done was 9 x and it took me 12 hours and 28 minutes … and its miserably painful. For me, the 9 x of JH and the pain throughout the 12+ hours seems more intense than pain I felt when I swam the English channel.
But I was ready for the 10 x …. And I had a great experience, and they felt good.
My 10th consecutive climb was my 3rd fastest. The 10 x took me 14 hours and 10 minutes with no stopping.
Oddly, the 10 x which were done at the end of a long tough training camp felt easier than the 9 x i did on the 2nd day of the camp.
It was a great 11 days, but I am tired of all this training; riding around a cycle track in the desert and or climbing the same mountain over and over is a big mental challenge …
I am looking forward to just getting on with RAAM.
But i have to make it happen….
No matter what happens, it will come down to this simple thought: finish or failure.