“Caffeine, Sugar & Cycling in the sun & calling it ‘training'” – Monte Gordo 2024

By Ric Motti & Anna Sayers

While London faced a rainy February, a group of Ful-on Tri explorers set out to the south of Portugal to chase sunny days, calm seas and custard-y sweets. Here’s what training holiday first-timers Anna Sayers and Ric Motti had to say about the club trip to Monte Gordo:

Happy campers: Ed Challes, Ben Carroll, Tim How, Bryony Allen, Anna Sayers, Richard Huntrods, Pablo Aligia, Viola Traem, Maciej Sedlak, Charlotte Cogger, Denis Smirnov, Mike Harley, Euan Lees, John Smelt, Ric Motti, Amy Elias, Milla Rogers, Christian Bergara, Claire Bracher, Leah Walland, JeongMin Lee.


What were you hoping for?

Anna: Warm weather, sweet cakes, lots of cycling and some impressive cycling tan lines. Maybe also some crystal-clear sea swims and beautiful trail running, all along with some good company from the club… so expectations were high! Yet somehow the trip still exceeded expectations.

Ric: Not being dropped on the bike rides. I told Sophie when I booked the trip that I was going to be the most unfit person — which proved correct. Good news: it did not affect my enjoyment of the trip.

It was your first training holiday! Did you have any worries?

Anna: Well I have a confession, this is not strictly my first trip with the club as I managed to get a very last minute place for the long weekend in the New Forest, but this was my first camp abroad.

My major concern was jellyfish. Other concerns included, waking up in time for the early pool swims, and how I would get on with my roomie (Bryony A) who I hadn’t met before and now had to share a room with for a week.

The trip however proved that these were needless concerns, there were no jellyfish, I even woke up early to watch sunrise and my Bryony was an absolute dream to share with.

Ric: Let’s see…. I didn’t really know anyone, I’m not an experienced triathlete, I barely knew what to pack, and I woke up with a banging toothache the day before the trip. What was I not worried about?


First impressions?

Anna: The hotel was so nice (better than expected), bed was super comfy, amazing location so close to the sea. All in all I was v impressed.

Ric: Waking up at 4am to catch the flight made me tired and hazy, I certainly mixed up a lot of conversations and repeated the same questions to a few people. Sorry 😬


Best thing about the Monte Gordo training holiday?

Anna: Can I say the club? That is what made it truly special. But if we are discussing location alone then I would say that the trail running is so pretty and the sunrise and sunsets on the beach were very special. The coffee and sweet treats were also so cheap – it would have been rude not to drink 80 cent espressos at every given opportunity.

Ric: Really, all the lovely chats during while on rides, runs, dinners, café stops, swim breaks gasping for air, sunsets on the beach… That, and the kudos on Strava.

Favourite training session?

Anna: Every single bike ride, they were all amazing. There is nothing better than getting buzzed on caffeine and sugar, and cycling in the sun with friends – calling it “training.” On the last day we even had a mid-ride restaurant stop where I filled up on protein packed octopus!

Ric: I’m going to go with the second sea swim. I felt more comfortable because I knew what to expect, and I had a job to do (making sure star swimmer Charlotte didn’t get attacked by imaginary sharks). Plus it was a lovely sunset!

Unforgettable moment?

Anna: Erm, this is a hard one as so many come to mind. On the last night we headed to a karaoke bar, particular highlights were hearing Milla and Amy’s rendition of SOS by Abba and Euan’s version of Jump around by House of Pain.

Pablo and I (slightly by force) sang (read, shouted) Tequila by The Champs and took a shot of tequila. That shot was certainly not forgotten the next morning when in the transfer to the airport feeling slightly worse for wear.

Ric: Can I choose two?

First, Mike sending it on ‘The Beast’ on the way to lunch (a 40km round trip!). Words won’t do it justice, some pics below.

Second, being greeted by 40 dogs in the middle of a ride. And men with huge guns – they were hunting boars, not cyclists 😉.

And…. any sketchy moments? 

Anna: Now I must make a confession, my sketchy moment would be falling off the bike on Day 2… I wouldn’t recommend it. I really thought that if I picked myself up fast enough and pretend that nothing happened, then nothing did happen. Although it was slightly hard to cover up in practice.

I cannot thank Richard, Christian and Amy enough for helping me at the café stop and providing vodka and moral support. I also found out that my neighbour Maciej was well skilled in bandaging people up and provided some much-needed medical assistance. He also taught me that you can’t have “sort of sterile” dressings.

Ric: One day we were supposed to cycle 44km straight into an unseasonal 40+km/h headwind to the café stop. After 10 miserable kilometres, I decided to bail out, fully expecting half the group would give up too. Let’s say it was a lonely (but incredibly fast!) cycle of shame back to the hotel. [ed. no shame in that Ric!]


Best snack? 😋

Anna: Chocolate salami – I found it in a little café in Faz Fato. I had previously discovered this on a different trip to Portugal and it’s not something you can find easily in the UK. It’s like a round version of a rocky road but minus all the horrible raisins and cherries. Just a dense slab of chocolate, sugar and biscuits – ideal cycling fuel.

Obviously, the Pasta de Natas were amazing and needed eating at every opportunity especially the mini ones at breakfast.

Ric: Literally anything from the café stop in Azinhal, but still dreaming about the walnut cake.


Who was your roommate and…. what did you learn about them? 😅

Anna: As already notably mentioned my roomie was Bryony and I found out that she is one of the Marma-ladies. Disappointingly not a band just the house share of dreams by the sounds of it with other FoT members.

Ric: Denis, who I knew from L1 swims. This happened:

Denis (arriving from a 100km ride): Wanna go to the sauna?

Me: Sure.

Denis: Let me take a shower first.  

A shower between a ride and a sauna! Denis probably set the camp record for most showers.


If you could change one thing about the trip, what would it be?

Anna: For it to occur for another 51 weeks of the year, that’s the dream.

Ric: Should have put in my songs for the karaoke DJ earlier in the evening. Was shocked when the DJ closed shop. Really gutted we didn’t do Taylor Swift or ‘Tainted Love’.


Marks out of 10?

Anna: 10/10 would do again and recommend to a friend.

Ric: 10/10. Put it this way: I emailed asking for a place in the Mallorca camp about four minutes after getting home. (Spoiler: it worked!)


Any last words?

Anna: Nothing just ✌️🫶🙅‍♀️🧢looking forward to seeing you all at training sessions.

Ric: It was such an excellent group of people, I’m actually suspicious they were all paid actors. Only time will tell?