Baggies keeper fresh from feared cycle climb
BEN Foster is loving the cycling element of Albion's Austrian fitness camp - after conquering one of Europe's most feared climbs in preparation.
The Baggies keeper has become a cycling devotee in recent years especially as the discipline helping him make a successful recovery and return from ACL injury last season.
And with a healthy biking element involved in this first phase of the players pre-season schedule Foster is in his element.
At the end of the last campaign, he embarked on a cycling holiday in Majorca, much loved by the cycling community for its mountain terrain, and took on the most feared climb on the island Sa Calobra.
It's 10km of tarmac draped on the side of a mountain with 26 harpin turns and a climb of 668m at an average 7.1% gradient.
Foster explains: “I did the London to Paris ride for Cure Leukaemia last year and that was a great experience.
“I went away with my mates this summer to Mallorca for five days and we hit the road quite hard out there.
“We did some of the big old climbs on the famous mountains which was really good.
“Now we’re into pre-season training it has held me in good stead because that’s what me and a few of the other boys are doing instead of running.
“I did the Sa Calobra in Mallorca which is a big old climb.
“To climb up it you have to go down it first because it’s by the sea. The only other way down is by boat.
“Just to get down is quite an objective because if you overshoot any of those hairpins you’re in serious trouble.
“I did the climb back in 45 minutes 12 seconds and it’s a constant grind but you couldn’t be in a better place for it. Mallorca is fantastic for cycling."
Foster, though, is now a huge fan of the sport and keeps tabs with the Tour de France in his down-time between training sessions.
It brings major advantages, he believes, to his conditioning as one of England's and the Premier League's top keepers.
“I started cycling properly about two or three years ago," he said.
“Ever since I started playing football I’ve been keen on cycling because of my knees.
“I’ve had a couple of knee injuries and you need to be able to train without putting too much pressure on them so biking was always a good way of doing that.
“I love it, it’s a good way to get out the house when the kids are running crazy, so I quite often go out and do a couple of hours on the bike.
“It helps you clear your head and it’s great exercise too.
“It’s really helped me because what we do out here is really tough. We all have our heart rate monitors on and I’d imagine it might have been slightly easier on mine than some of the others just because I’m used to it.
“Don’t get me wrong it doesn’t give me a huge advantage, we all need to be fit and it’s part and parcel of being a footballer that we need to bit. To do that you have to work very hard in pre-season."
And how are his team mates coping?
“Not far from our hotel in Austria we have a very steep hill that we climb.
“It’s three to four minutes at a good pace to get up it and we’re all at 95 per cent of our maximum heartrate.
“It’s a good test of your threshold and your anaerobic heartrate.
“It’s really tough but it’s a great session for us all to get fit.
“The lads look very good too, and we’ve all come back in good shape considering it’s early days," he says.