Steve Berry trains with Joe Skipper and Eleanor Haresign

joe skipper ele haresign

Top age-grouper Steve Berry recently trained with two top domestic pros in Joe Skipper and Eleanor Haresign. Check out his insights and what it takes to train with these guys at the top level.

When Joe Skipper tweeted asking if there was anyone that would like to train with him out in Tenerife, I jumped at the chance. I had met Joe after his win at Challenge Weymouth and in him I saw a very affable young pro, who has a great future in front of him. The chance to train with a pro triathlete wasn’t an opportunity you got everyday and I thought, if nothing else it would be a good laugh.

Also joining us would be Eleanor Haresign, again the winner of Challenge Weymouth, you couldn’t ask for 2 more talented UK pro’s to spend some training time with. Joe and Ele were out in Tenerife with their partners, I would be there on my own, though I am sure my wife would have loved the nice warm sunshine.

Even though I had met both Joe and Ele in Weymouth I was pretty nervous about going out there, I just hoped that as a older age grouper I would fit it. I needed have worried they were both absolutely wonderful people to hang around and train with and I soon felt at ease. One on the luxuries I had this week was no set training plan, I would just do whatever Joe or Ele were doing.

Monday :

I arrived mid afternoon and set about getting my bike all sorted, thankfully using a Scicon AeroComfort Triathlon bag this was a very easy job as my tri bars can still in place. I then paid a visit to the local bike shop to stock up on some spares and have a quick test ride. Even this little ride gave me an indication of the flavour of the week – HILLS.

In the evening I met up with Joe and Ele, as well as Laura and Niall for the evening meal, and had a little discussion of the following day’s activities. I decided on a more relaxed first full day there, I would go for a spin with Niall up Mount Teide, Joe and Ele trained as their plan dictated.

Tuesday:

After a massive breakfast, it was a nice cycle with Ele and Niall, and then once we got to the foothills of Teide Ele set off doing her hill repeats. Niall and I had a little bit more of a relaxing time as we started the 2 hour journey to the crater at the top of the volcano. A brief stop at a café to meet up with Ele and then it was on up again to the top. The 2 hours of climbing was new to me, and it was a great experience climbing up through the clouds to get to a cold windswept crater area.

The ride down wasn’t so enjoyable, the road across the crater was like the RAF had been practising bombing, and the road down to Chio looked nice and smooth, but had ripples that just shook your bike and body to bits. Never before have I felt the TT was the wrong bike, I was hanging on for dear life and only going 20mph. Mental note made, DO NOT come down that route again.

Still the ride back from Chio was a nice fast blast even on a fairly busy road. Later in the day we were all going to Tenerife Top Training, a great training facility nearby. I thought I would run there to find a good run route, and possibly train with Joe on the track there. The route as a bit longer than planned though and I was cooked by the time I got there, Joe would have to do his track session alone.

Wednesday:

Another big breakfast, and the start of the infamous porridge saga, now Joe likes his porridge, in fact Joe likes his food full stop. What was generally being served up was some hot milk with oats floating in it, Joe decided that he needed to take matters into his own hands, cue several bowls of oats into the milk to try and make at least a half decent bowl of porridge. It was a good game before someone tried to add more milk.

Today Joe and I decided we would do a ride up to Masca, and the devilishly steep climbs of the Teno Massiff. Now I am a pretty good cyclist, but I was slightly worried about these climbs, I had read reports of people needing compact chainrings to get up them, and here I was stuck with a 39/25 gearing combination. It’s been along time since I walked up a hill.

The ride started off nice with a nice climb to Santiago Del Teide and then a pleasant descent towards El Tanque, we then turned off to descend down towards Garachico, the views were spectacular, though with northerly winds it was pretty windy going down. We had a nice blast along the coast road to Buenavista and then started the climb through the mountains on towards El Palmar. The views were breathtaking, and although some of the climbs were steep they weren’t too bad. We arrived at a cliff top café and what a sight for a café, perched over the gorge. A quick stop for refuelling and then we made our way down towards Masca. Now we had the pleasure of the climb out of Masca, it isn’t a long climb at around 4km, but with regular ramps of 15-20% and the occasional 25% one it was a tough old slog for me, but it was done without walking – ha ha.

Once over the top it was mainly downhill back to the hotel, a great ride with Joe, that certainly made the legs ache. After a couple of hours rest I joined Ele for a swim, though not quite as fast as Ele and with a tiring ride in my legs it seemed a very tough session, though looking at my splits it didn’t seem so slow.

Thursday:

This was going to be an easier day for me, I joined Ele and Niall at the beginning of their ride (it was their turn to do the Masca loop, and Ele had a 6 hour ride planned), but I peeled off at Santiago Del Teide, I didn’t fancy the climb out of Masca 2 days in a row. After the ride I took some time out to chill by the pool and have a quick catch up with Joe and Laura who were doing the same.
Later in the day I went for a long run, now this should have been a nice easy one, but with the hilly nature of Tenerife no run around here could be classed as easy, though a near on 2 hour run in the sun was very nice, just meant my legs were well and truly battered.

Friday:

Ele and I had planned on a nice easy recovery ride, Joe did his best to tempt me into doing a 30 min timed climb up to Santiago Del Teide, but my legs were dead and I really needed a very easy day to try and recover them a little. Ele and I ended up having a nice spin, though we did end up almost getting lost in Los Gigantes.

In the evening we all went to Tenerife Top Training to see Ele and Joe in the state of the art swimming flume, think endless pool, but just larger and a lot smoother water flow. Joe and Ele did several video sessions and it was really pleasing to see that top end pro’s still have flaws in their strokes. If you are ever in Tenerife check it out, it really is an awesome bit of kit. Sadly there wasn’t time for me, but it was good to see others in action.

Saturday:

This was going to be the big ride with Joe, we had been talking about different routes around the island, but settled on a Masca/Teide double. Yes after my ride the other day and the struggle to get up the Masca climb, I was going to do it again before climbing Teide. There was one concession however, we would be going the other way through the Teno Massif, hopefully the climbs wouldn’t be as bad. Breakfast was a real massive affair today, though the porridge saga was still ongoing, I just tried to eat as much as possible for the day ahead.

I will admit to feeling tired at first but soon I felt better and Joe and I chatted as we climbed up through Santiago Del Teide and then to the top of the Masca climb. The descent to Masca was a bit worrying for me, big gusts and 50mm rims meant I was holding on for dear life at times. As for Joe, well he just flew down without a care in the world, oh to be young again.

After the descent we than have to get back over the top again this time in the opposite direction, looking at the café perched over the edge, it seemed a long way up. The climb up wasn’t quite as bad as the other one out of Masca, but boy there were still some steep old sections that had me almost to a stop, luckily with a bit of a tailwind it wasn’t that long before we got to the top, no stopping this time however, it was down to Buenavista and then a nice 2up blast along the rolling coast road to Puerto de la Cruz. This was a nice change, a relatively flat road for some speed/power work in the TT position. A quick café stop in Puerto de la Cruz had Joe eating what seemed to me like a Sunday lunch rather than a quick snack, boy the lad can eat .

After the stop it was on up Teide via La Orotava, I had said to Joe that I was just going to ride up it at around ironman power and not to bother waiting if he rode away. He promptly did ride away as he rode it around his ironman power as well. This was a pleasant route up the mountain, and I had to stop a few times to take pictures of the scenery. After a solo 2 hour ride up the mountain I found Joe at another café (surprisingly enough he had eaten something there as well) at the top. I was hoping by now for a fun blast back down, but no there was still more climbing to do across the crater.

Eventually we hit the downhill for Vilaflor and now for a chilly ride down through the clouds, it didn’t take long to get back to sea level and the easy ride back to base. It was one long ride, 120 miles and over 8 hours, our legs certainly knew about it.

Sunday:

My last day, legs didn’t feel too bad and over breakfast I said I would join Ele on her 6 hour ride. Little did I know how knackered they were, though I later found out Joe’s were the same so no shame there. After the first climb up to the top of Masca again, I really don’t know why I did it, and my legs, back and shoulders were telling me that 6 hours was going to be a no go and I decided to head back to base and try and recover for a last run when Ele got back.

Ele finished her 6 hour ride and looked fairly fresh, I am sure she wasn’t but I was a bit apprehensive of running with her, after all she powered past me at Challenge Weymouth like I was standing still. At least I knew where I was going if she went faster than I could manage. Luckily the pace she was running at was similar to my normal pace and it ended up being a pleasant run for me, I don’t think Ele saw it in the same light. It was quite clear she might have looked fresh, but with all the recent training I think she was just glad to get it over and done with.

It was really great to be able to train with Joe and Ele, two of the most friendly people you could ask to meet. It was a real insight to how others train and manage to get the best out of themselves, even when tired. It isn’t just us age groupers that get tired, it happens with the pro’s as well.

I wish Joe all the best in his early season races, and hope all goes well at Challenge Dubai. I will catch up again with Ele in March as we are both doing Ironman South Africa, I wish Ele all the best in the lead up to South Africa.

Once again guys, thanks for having me along for the week, it was a real pleasure.

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