“Authentic passion for riding”

Let's give a voice to those who know us best : the riders! The Sa Calobra Cycling Club is a team, your team! Today, an interview with Gus, who talks about his experience at the Sa Calobra Cycling Club.

When did you start cycling?
Gus van Setten
: Like so many others I was a child of the pandemic. I started out cycling around the deserted streets of central London in January 2021. It’s unlikely it will ever be possible to experience those roads in the same way again, now that the traffic is back.

Where did you find the Sa Calobra Cycling Club?
When I qualified as a lawyer I had a couple of weeks off before starting a new job. I had been cycling for about a year at that point and wanted to connect with experienced riders in a great cycling location to test my legs and get stronger. I started googling and SCCC stood out from all the others offering winter training camps. No one else was putting the amount of effort in that they were, so I messaged Aurelien and got a response within thirty minutes even though it was a public holiday in Mallorca that day—that level of service set the tone for everything these camps would offer me over the years.

You have been here three times already. What makes you come back?
The fundamental reason is the same as why I came in the first place—no one is as dedicated to offering a holistic training camp experience to amateurs. I didn’t realise this in my first year, but getting amateur riders of different levels who usually do not know each other through a training camp where they are doubling or tripling their usual weekly training load is extremely difficult. You need the knowledge, skill and experience to optimise every aspect of the week’s training and recovery, and one man cannot do it alone. Every member of the team (including the mechanic, soigneur, chef, massage therapists, etc) needs to be an expert and fully dedicated to the experience in the way that support staff for pro teams are. SCCC achieves this consistently, so you can come and follow their advice and be guaranteed a huge dose of training stimulus that your body can actually adapt to without breaking down, physically or mentally. I have tried to do training camps by myself or with friends but it never works anywhere near as well.

The other reason is that it’s fun. Aurelien has this authentic passion for riding a bike that shines through in every moment of each SCCC camp. He really cares about making sure everyone is enjoying themselves and getting stronger, so along with his team he makes sure that we are fuelling properly, that the rides are challenging enough without anyone overreaching too much too early, and that off the bike the food is good, the beds are comfy, the massages are specially designed for cyclists pushing really hard, and that we have some great pictures to look at after each ride and good company to keep us motivated. On top of this, he takes the time to explain why SCCC does everything the way that they do it so we have confidence in his approach and the knowledge to improve our own training when we get home.

Do you prepare specially for the camp?
It’s the other way around—the camp prepares me for my season. I see it as an important part of my training rather than a goal in itself. Cycling in the UK in winter is hard. It is cold and usually raining, the roads are poor and the days are short. I’m not hardcore like some of the guys in my club who are ticking off four or five hour rides every weekend throughout the winter months. I don’t need to be—as long as I have a few weeks of decent training in the legs (which doesn’t need to be specific to the riding we do in the camp), I know the camp will get me the aerobic stimulus I need to have a great season.

What is your favourite route?
MA-10, the road that runs between Andratx and Pollenca through the Tramuntana mountains on the northwest side of the island. It is a beautifully paved road and probably the favourite of most cyclists who have been to Mallorca. It’s amazing in both directions, but I like doing the long side of Puig Major so I prefer to start in Andratx. As a world heritage site, the Tramuntana mountains need no further endorsement of their magnificence.

And your favorite climb?
The climb from Port de Valldemossa back up to the link with MA-10. It’s not the best climb to train on because it is really narrow and usually has rocks that have fallen onto the road, and should be avoided outside the off-season because the traffic will ruin your experience. If you get the chance, though, this climb is switchback after switchback on a slightly steeper gradient than most of the other climbs on the island, which means you rise up from the coast and get amazing sea views almost instantly.

What will be your next cycling challenge after this camp?
Road bike time trialling is taking off in a big way in the UK. I love the challenge of solo efforts and my power curve is best at around 20–35 minutes, so this suits me well. I will be working on my 30 minute power and seeing how I get on with some races later in the year!