Forum home Road cycling forum Tours, routes, audaxes & organised rides Sportives/audaxes/training rides

Hell of Ashdown vs Etape

Bush75Bush75 Posts: 29
I have only been cycling for a year and after some minor rides last year really going for it in 2008.

Did the Hell of Ashdown today - well sign-posted and run event in perfect weather. Claimed to be 2000 metres climbing over 105km ride. 6 climbs and I was really creaking by the end and narrowly avoided bonking. I managed my sugar intake poorly, did 60km on Saturday in Chilterns and went too quick on flatter parts early in the ride.

I was crucified for the last 20km and although I was rarely overtaken on the hills (which as a scrawny former marathon runner is as expected), I really struggled. I was surprised given I found the much longer British Sportive last summer OK.

It has left me really worrying about the Etape which I have entered. If a 200m climb in the Downs is killing me - what hope in the Pyrenees???

Yes I will have more in my legs by then, have done Dragon ride, turbo-ed away, done plenty of long rides and a load more sportives BUT...I'm sat shaking at my PC right now.

What do you experienced boys reckon??
«1

Posts

  • stu99stu99 Posts: 177
    Hate to break the news but my bike computer recorded only 1597 meters today. Still, a tough course with a really challenging hill towards the end.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    Hi Bush75,

    At this time of year its not surprising your feeling a tad wasted after a meduim route like you have done, I did a 60+miler with around 1500meters in really strong winds up here in Scotland yesterday and I was a tad wasted myself...with the recent weather its hard to get fit...but you have until July, and not long before the lighter nights come in and milder weather - and thats where you really up your fitness...Turbo's etc are good for topping up but nothing compares to the outdoors.

    As you are a ex-Marathon runner I reckon your endurance will be ok, but I must ask you...Have you did any Mammoth Continental climbs? If not then youve picked a brute for your first...the Tourmalet from St Marie de Campan is probably the 3rd toughest foreign climb ive ever did....not bad at first but it just gets steeper and steeper - no shallowing can be had for any rests...its monotonously consistent..it steepens to 10% (and I mean Avg 10% for a few kms) approaching La Mongie...after that its just a struggle for the next 5kms...youll be feeling it by then....then youve got one hell of a scary decent of that for AGES...all the way to the base of Hautacam...never did this but its supposedly brutal...maybe not quite as difficult as the Tourmalet but they say the gradient changes all the time...one minute your on 5% km's..next your on a 11% km....probably about same difficulty as Alpe De Huez...its gonna be a very tough run...especially if the Blazing hot sun comes into play....30+degrees.....on the plus side...be thankful its Hautacam and not Pla D'Adet theyre finishing on....as that climbs just a beast...

    I'd suggest to get the endurance on the bike up and get into the hills as much as possible....

    hope this helps..
  • pjm-84pjm-84 Posts: 819
    Really enjoyed . I was the numpty doing it on a cross bike with off road knobblies on.

    Felt good on the hills but suffered a little on the Wall as I wanted to play with one of the Rahpa guys who came by me.

    Nice work out although I think the cross bike is a bit sick.
    Paul
  • BronzieBronzie Posts: 4,927
    Bush

    If you can, try and fit in a weekend to the Alps or Pyrenees in May or June to try a few longer climbs. Nothing in the UK can prepare your legs for climbing for 1-2 hours non stop. At least when you do the Etape, it won't be quite such a shock.

    FWIW I did the 2003 Etape on a diet of nothing more than long rides in the Chilterns plus a couple of rides in the Dales, but that Etape wasn't as hard as some of the more recent versions.
  • kmahonykmahony Posts: 380
    Great day today. Good weather, excellent organisation and route. I found it tougher than I was expecting.

    Measured as 107.5km and 1565m of climbing.
    I think the Etape will be 164km and 3760m of climbing (estimate).

    So today was about 66% of distance and 42% of climbing.

    Not bad for January, but I've realised I've a lot of work ahead.
  • hamboneshambones Posts: 407
    Some interesting variations being thrown up - my Garmin measured it at 109.8km and 1753m of climbing so I prefer to believe mine because it sounds better! :D
    Still breathing.....
  • Today I marshalled for my club the Catford CC who organised the 'Hell of the Ashdown Forest' cyclosportive ride.
    A 100km and 50km option the 100km having approx 2000m of climbing.

    After the last outgoing rider went past I shot off to take some other pics at Ide Hill and Star Hill.

    Here are my favourites from the set;Hell of the Ashdown Forest - a photoset on Flickr
    This because it shows best the gradient of Star Hill
    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2326/2223154659_f634565264.jpg?v=0

    This one because her smile really makes the photo :-D :-D
    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2236/2223141127_46963aae11.jpg?v=0

    and this because you can just see why most riders are looking to their right, the view over Bough Beech reservoir.
    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2397/2223937684_59bd67d25d.jpg?v=0




    Interestingly I organise the 'West Kent Invicta Grimpeur' [ 9th of March this year]which is 100km with 1850 meters of climbing and people who have ridden both think that the Grimpeur is more relentless, the quoted figure for THOTAshdown was from mapping software :)

    Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves thats the most important thing :D
  • ricadusricadus Posts: 2,379
    I was doing my own ride, checking out part of a route for next week, but did cross the Catford route a few times: old men with flags waved furiously at me because I wasn't going the way they wanted – "I'm not on your ride" – but did that Kid's Hill climb and the return route through Groombridge to check whether my 3 year old chainrings worked OK under stress with my new chain. Then called in at their HQ for coffee & cakes on the way home.

    Re: original post – January is way too early to start panicking about the Étape; just keep at it.

    Not sure about usefulness as Étape training but the Invicta is good prep for the Tour of Flanders weekend – especially that Yorks Hill. Is it in the middle of the ride this year – hope so – or at the end?
  • Bush75Bush75 Posts: 29
    Firstly - Catford - great organisation. The flagging, route and timekeeping was all first class yesterday.

    I am worrying that I have bitten off more than I can chew with Tourmalet in 30C in July. My issue is I can fly up a 200m climb leaving most in my wake but cannot envisage a 1500m climb...jeez

    Anyway only one thing for it - get on the bike and put in the miles.
  • Bush75Bush75 Posts: 29
    Good tips RichyBoy and Bronzie
    Etape will be my first biggie and the Tourmalet is a beast from all accounts.
    I hadn't planned to get out to Alps in May BUT...that might be about to change! My wife better get used to weekends alone...
    I did though take solace last night in reading some of Paul Kimmage's book on his hellish existance as a domestique - anyone fancy carrying a few bidons for me through 2008?
  • GreggyrGreggyr Posts: 1,075
    Great ride, very well organised given there was over 400 riders I'm told, and super directions & marshalling...many thanks to catford CC for that.

    I chugged back to the finish, I was very glad to see the village hall appear in front of me.
    After this, I know I need to train much harder just to do a club run, let alone The Etape !! chapeau to all who can climb mountains.

    Greg
  • I have done the last 4 Etapes and did the Hell of Ashdown yesterday. These are 2 totally different types of event . The ride yesterday was more intense with riders attacking the short hills and often riding long periods without protection of a group in the wind and cold. The Etape tends to be ridden in large groups where you get decent protection between the long climbs. The Etape climbs , due to their extreme nature, are taken more conservatively by most, people like me just cant attack for 90 minutes and tend to take them a lot slower. I would definitely say it would be worthwhile going out and riding some big cols in Europe before the Etape.
  • andypandyp Posts: 8,860
    Bush75 wrote:
    It has left me really worrying about the Etape which I have entered. If a 200m climb in the Downs is killing me - what hope in the Pyrenees???

    Yes I will have more in my legs by then, have done Dragon ride, turbo-ed away, done plenty of long rides and a load more sportives BUT...I'm sat shaking at my PC right now.

    What do you experienced boys reckon??
    All of us, even the "experienced boys" get a slap in the face now and again which serves to remind us that you have to train seriously to achieve a goal like the Etape. My view is that it is better to get that slap in January than a few weeks before your main goal of the season.

    If you do the training you were planning then I'm sure you'll be fine. It's not clear to me if you've ridden a col like the Tourmalet before but if you can get a weekend away to ride in the mountains then I'd recommend it. The Megeve-Mont Blanc sportive in France is a good event for us Brits as it is easily accessible from Geneva airport. The route is tough but there are bail out options if you're on a bad day.

    Climbing for an hour or more requires specific training too so work out building your sustainable threshold power. There's plenty of advice on this in the Training section with the 2 x 20 min sessions being one of the best.

    Most of all though, don't panic. You've the best part of 6 months to go so if you keep the training going then you'll cope with the Pyrenees in July.

    Good luck.
  • Bush75Bush75 Posts: 29
    More top advice. Thanks Andy. I have not done a big col before...so Tourmalet will be my first serious one.
    But the message about getting out there and doing a couple as prep. is loud and clear. I have been on the email to fellow protagonists and pushing those boys to join me...
    Encouraged at least now to look at results from Ashdown yesterday as I was in the top 20% finishers despite the pain.
    Next job is to learn to cycle a mountain at 165-170 HRate; not my usual 95% of max the moment the incline kicks in
  • xioxio Posts: 212
    Yesterday was my first ever sportive - really enjoyed it, especially the hills, but them I'm weird like that. Also doing the Etape in July - having done a few alpine climbs now, I can't recommend enough that you do at least a couple before the big ride. There's a certain psychology involved in climbing for that period and I certainly didn't have it the first time I tried. Longest climb I've done so far is Ventoux, but I don't know how that compares to the Tourmalet. Will also be in the alps in May sometime for more practice...
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    xio wrote:
    Yesterday was my first ever sportive - really enjoyed it, especially the hills, but them I'm weird like that. Also doing the Etape in July - having done a few alpine climbs now, I can't recommend enough that you do at least a couple before the big ride. There's a certain psychology involved in climbing for that period and I certainly didn't have it the first time I tried. Longest climb I've done so far is Ventoux, but I don't know how that compares to the Tourmalet. Will also be in the alps in May sometime for more practice...

    Ventoux is tougher than the Tourmalet....definately the climb from Bedoin....not too much in it right enough...but after Ventoux there is no Hautacam :wink:
  • richaricha Posts: 1,634
    Bush75,

    If you finished top 20% then it looks like you already have a good base. Remember it is only January. You have several months to hone your strength & endurance.

    Set yourself up with a decent training programme with some long stuff, some intense stuff & some long intense stuff and you´ll be fine.

    FWIW I think the dragon ride makes a great warm up to the Etape. The climbs are about as similar in type as can easilly be found in the UK. I would encourage you to enter a few more sportives as they are good practice runs to check out your pacing, fuel stategy, etc.
    Rich
  • Bush75Bush75 Posts: 29
    Hey Rich
    Great to have a reply from the man behind the blog. My chubby mate (who is also doing the Etape) has been basing his training on reading your blog...can Hobbes match your 2007 weight loss?
    Good point on refuelling and pacing...nothing like a sportive to push yourself more than you really should!
  • ricadusricadus Posts: 2,379
    Also traveling to events you get into the habit of packing the right things (and packing up properly so nothing gets damaged), not unnecessary stuff, keeping the baggage weight down for the flight.

    If you have the time and cash available there's a Mont Ventoux sportive early in June that could be a good rehearsal.
  • Also my first sportif and really enjoyed it. I also thought the signage and marshalls really good, and the route very attractive. Really impressed with the Catford member volunteers (and the long-standing member reminiscing about 24 hour rides in the 1940s!).

    Thanks, stu99, kmahony and hambones for reporting your computer readings - the bikely estimate for altitude gained was only 1360m, so I'm pleased to hear numbers closer to 1600m. I guess bikely doesn’t catch the tiny ups on such a bumpy course. On my machine the distance was 107km (they said it was a bit longer due to roadworks)

    I think I saw you pjm-84, just after the muddy track early on where I could have done with your treads….

    I’m a bit confused by the results – a half hour gap between top 5 and no. 6? The chap who checked riders in at the end gave arrival times one hour early to a few of us.

    Nick
  • xioxio Posts: 212
    Richyboy - thanks for pointing that out (the Hautacam) - I've been trying to avoid thinking too much about that. Watched the dvd of the etape route and the guy looked very fresh all day until you saw him on the Hautacam...

    Trying to persuade kmahony that practice in May should be Morzine to the Colombiere and back via the Joux Plane. I can see he's not sold on the idea yet...

    Couple of days after the Ventoux we did Alpe d'Huez and frankly couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Can't see myself thinking the same about Hautacam. And we only did Ventoux from Bedoin, without riding 100k before we got there. Still, a top 25% finish for the first attempt on Sunday wasn't a bad start...
  • pjm-84pjm-84 Posts: 819
    Probably heard me as well. :wink: I was riding a red Kinesis Crosslight with a Camel pack on, and at 6ft 5in and just under 16stone I stand out a little.

    I have to say I thought it was really well marshalled. Although that didn't stop me taking a wrong turn . I went back to road junction, turned the sign around and tightened the cable ties to prevent anyone else making a similar mistake or the sign catching the wind and blowing around again.

    The key for me on endurance rides is fuelling . I've suffered like a dog on the Etape before and was in a very bad way on the Marmotte last year and looking back I've realised its always been a tale of two halves. It's taken me 3 years to work out that I need to eat 3x more then I used to.

    I rode yesterday without speedo, hrm or watch so I hadn't nothing to guage myself on. However generally I would aim to eat every 10km on the flat, less on the long hills. I think I had 4 gels and 3 high calories bars yesteday and was running short towards the end but still finished strongly.

    I didn't spot the time difference between 5 and 6 so I'm a very happy bunny at the moment ! Just wish I bought the Madone now.
    Paul
  • andypandyp Posts: 8,860
    xio wrote:
    Couple of days after the Ventoux we did Alpe d'Huez and frankly couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Can't see myself thinking the same about Hautacam. And we only did Ventoux from Bedoin, without riding 100k before we got there. Still, a top 25% finish for the first attempt on Sunday wasn't a bad start...
    Do the Alpe at the end of the Marmotte then come back here and say that! :wink:

    I agree though, in isolation the Alpe is a straightforward climb.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    I must say I found the Alpe De Huez a very tough climb, I found the first 5kms very steep, and the rest not much better...the only easier thing about this climb is the rest at every switchback...but it does average 8.5% or so, not much other climbs approach that in the Alpes...Joux Plane?

    I reckon as this climb is just so famous that most people depict a ventoux type category climb, whereas its not in the same world, but for a very average lad like me the Alpe is still a monster, don't event want to think of climbing it after the Glandon,Telegraphe,Galibier!

    I've never did a easy continental climb :wink:
  • pjm-84pjm-84 Posts: 819
    Do the Alpe at the end of the Marmotte then come back here and say that!

    I agree with that..... I bonked near the bottom last year and it took me 2hr 10min to climb the blighter.
    Paul
  • clantonclanton Posts: 1,287
    Just what I need to hear :-(
  • zoomcpzoomcp Posts: 975
    I've ridden L'Ardechoise and La Marmotte and would say that nothing in the SE of England will prepare you for l'Etape in like for like terms; but having said that you're are unlikely to find as steep hills. Just keep riding hilly events (one a week if possible) and you should be fine; I've got a good 50km loop of Ashdown Forest I used 2 years ago. The climb up from Groombridge is far more representative of what you will get on the continnent.
  • motdocmotdoc Posts: 97
    Mate you'll be fine.

    I did last years etape never having cycled a "proper mountain" before. Just take it steady, don't attack the climbs and whatever you do don't stop for more than a couple of minutes. Oh and don't walk.

    I did it with a triple which I think helped a bit.

    Best of luck to all.

    PS Really don't attack the climbs unless you're well ard
    Arrrrr I be in Devon.
  • With a decent level of training and the right gears all these big climbs are possible. However, note that even in the summer high cols can be subject to some really bad weather. On the plus side if you want to conserve some energy for the climbs in the Etape there are plenty of wheels on offer to give an easy ride on the flatish section at the start. My biggest tip for those wanting to get up the climbs quickly is keep your body weight down. It is amaizing how many pot bellies you see in the Etape sat on top of the range racing bikes. For those really scared of the mountains - Ryanair or Easyjet can get you down to the Pyrenees for some pre-Etape training.
    Regards
    Peter Manley
    Petites Pyrénées Couladère
Sign In or Register to comment.