There are lots of ways of doing a training camp. A camp can be as short as a long weekend or as long as a couple of weeks. You can also have a camp that is totally self service or a camp that provides all the services you might need like housing, food, mechanical support and more.
Many coaching and bike touring companies hold what they call camps around the world, but what you do at one of these events can vary depending on the company running the camp. Some camps are basically cycling vacations where you get to ride on challenging and sometimes famous roads around the world. Others have specific goal such as an endurance or climbing camp where the goal is to get in a specific kind or riding. And still others have varied goals including tons of training miles, sweet roads and educational presentations so that you come away with more than tired legs at the end of your stay.
In general, other than the camps stated goal, the thing that differentiates most “store bought” camps is the level of support and accommodations. Expect to pay a bit more for a camp that includes room and board and even a bit more if you want a private room. Food at camp can be hit or miss, with some groups really laying out a varied and healthy spread where others may just provide the basics and any extras you will need to find for yourself.
Almost all organized camps will provide some level of on the road service and also food and drink for each ride. This not only makes sure that everyone will be able to finish each day’s ride, it also helps to avoid the lasting memory of a camp from being a major bonk or being left stranded on the side of the road miles from the hotel.
If you are running your own camp or even working with your team to develop your own camp, these “store bought” camps can provide a good model to use when it comes to planning what to bring and who to invite or hire to support the event. It is great to have a teammate who is a great mechanic, but it can be even better to have a full set of tools for that mechanic to use to make repairs on the road. Having a dedicated mechanic to support your camp will help to avoid the situation where one rider’s mishap affects other riders’ camp experience.
Having a sag vehicle to follow or even leap frog your group’s riding route will let you plan longer and more varied routes without the worry of less prepared riders from slowing the whole group or being left behind. Sometimes just being able to sit in the sag wagon for a few miles to avoid a super tough bit of road will allow even the weak or tired riders to finish each day’s workout. The sag vehicle can also provide a great way to allow everyone to pack a rain bag with wet weather gear so that a sudden rain shower does not end the day’s ride. And what may be most important, the sag vehicle can carry extra water and food to reduce the chance of the fun ending due to a bonk.
If you are planning to do a solo camp, and cannot have a sag vehicle or any other on the road support, then it is a good idea to plan for the worst and hope of the best. Carry a rain jacket and have a plan for what to do if the weather turns ugly on you. Also bring way more food than you think you will need, or have a solid plan for where you can get extra food and water on each training ride. Carry your cell phone and have emergency info in your pockets in case something happens. Plan for the worst but hope for the best.