Five of the best offbeat cycling training camp destinations

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The calender has ticked over to the New Year and it’s time to start thinking about the year of riding that lies ahead. Have you planned your training and race program yet? Booking an early season winter training camp could help kick start your season. But where to go? Of course, you can pick a popular destination for your training camp. But if you are looking for unusual or off the beaten track, there are some pretty incredible options just waiting to be explored. Ad a few of these to your bucket list!
With its roots in Africa, but charged with eastern exoticism, Morocco represents an incredible and truly different destination. Morocco is a vast wilderness of towering mountains and desolate desert where rural life has hardly changed in hundreds of years.
The Atlas Mountains provide an ever expanding network of quiet roads and some serious climbing test. The landscape here is like none we’ve seen anywhere else in the world. Zipping silently along winding roads, we couldn’t think of a better way to experience this extraordinary part of the world.
Then there’s the coastal paradise of Taghazout, which offers access to smaller, but no-less wondrous foothills of the Atlas, as well as spellbinding coastal roads. And with an average temperature that never dip below 13°C, you can leave your thermal cycling clothes at home.

Morocco cycling 
(Pic - Rupert Fowler)

South Africa – Cape Town
Several South African cycling routes offer stunning roads, spectacular scenery and the means to see parts of the country not always accessible by motor vehicles. There are many different and well documented cycling routes on Table Mountain, all offering panoramic views of the Mother City and her surroundings. Whether you are a beginner or a cycling pro, make sure to check out these routes when visiting South Africa and prepare to be amazed by the sights and at times, challenged by the difficulty. For those travelling without bicycles, there are many good guided tour options and bicycle-rental companies in Cape Town.

South America - Colombia
Colombia is like a giant adventure playground for cyclists: the three mountain ranges that bisect much of the country make for a wealth of winding, uphill climbs and hair raising downhills, and it remains gloriously undiscovered. Despite of that, cycling is a big deal in Colombia, and there will never be a shortage of fellow riders to share the road with.

But Colombia is steep, so bring your climbing legs! The Andes Mountain range begins in the southern part of Colombia then fingers out into three distinct chains trisecting the country. The nation’s capital, Bogota, sits at an elevation of 2,600m above sea level. That’s the same as the summit of the Col du Galibier. A country that produces top-class climbers, Colombia is the place to go if you are really serious about training at altitude.

Colombia cycling
Asia – Japan
The iconic roads, bergs and cols of Europe are well-travelled and figure highly on the must-ride lists of many riders – but when it comes to Asia, much less is known about the best roads to ride. If you want to spread your wings, capture more of the world on two wheels or simply want to ride somewhere a little different from your normal training camp destination, then Japan gives you the chance to go off the beaten track. With forested mountains and rugged coastline it’s no wonder. Outside big cities, the land is sparsely populated and with little traffic, but still offering good cycling infrastructure. There are numerous country backroads you never expect them to be there, and many of those are tarsealed and very comfortable to ride.

 (Pic – Marcus Enno)
USA: Utah
The problem with paved roads in beautiful areas is that they’re often packed with cars. But if you’re willing to rethink your definition of road riding, consider gravel cycling. The gravel bike is an increasingly popular category of cycling that combines elements of road- and mountain-biking.

High in the arid southwest of the United States, Utah is teeming with a wealth of desert moonscapes, much of it protected in a patchwork of federal lands. While much of wind- and water-sculpted desert is accessible on pavement, some of the most magnificent beauty lies many miles down dirt roads.  Between Park City and Moab, Utah is home to some of the best biking in the world. It has many incredible stretches or roads for your two wheels.
Make sure you make the necessary preparations, nothing is worse than getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with a flat or broken chain with nothing to fix it.

(Pic - Neil Shirley)

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