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Etape 2008

MegaCycleMegaCycle Posts: 236
Is anyone up for a discussion about this year's Etape? I am thnking of some sort of forum where people can exchange information.

I am a first timer (and frankly terrified about what I am facing). It's the unknown that's the problem, so I reckon it'll be less daunting if I could share with those more experienced than me!

Let me know...


  • Ken NightKen Night Posts: 2,005
    During the spring, you'll find lots of threads/posts about the Etape-it happens every year :D

    Here is a link to an article I wrote for a friend's site-might answer a few of your as yet unasked questions ... eId=162096
    “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best..." Ernest Hemingway
  • Fab! Thanks mate.
  • The main thing is not to get too stressed out at the prospect of riding the etape. You don't need to be fanatical or even superfit. Though if you're going for a gold or silver medal then extra training is definitely required. I attempted my first etape in 2001 also in the Pyrenees and included the Aspin, Tourmalet and Luz Ardiden. I had to abandon when going down the Tourmalet when the temperature dropped to 2c and it began to sleet. I was so cold that I literally couldn't pull my brake levers. Very scary.

    I entered again in 2004 the route being from Limoges to St Flour across the Massif Central. This was a long difficult stage covering 149 miles and travelling over 9 categorised colls two of which were category 2 and one category 1.

    In the lead up to the stage I found that my time for training was unexpectedly reduced and I seriously considered pulling out. In the event I decided to give it a go.

    I've just checked my training diary for that year to give you an idea of how little training I was able to do.

    In April 2004 I cycled a total of 143 miles the longest ride being 35 miles.
    In May I cycled a total of 309 miles the longest ride being 56 miles.
    In July I cycled a total of 420 miles the longest ride being 71 miles.

    I finished in time. And got my medal. Though I was definitely one of the last entrants to finish within the time limit.

    I returned in 2005. From Mourenx to Pau. About 110 miles and across the Marie Blanque and Aubisque.

    And once more my training had to take a back seat.

    In April 2005 I cycled a total of 208 miles the longest ride being 37 miles
    in May I cycled a total of 289 miles per longest ride being 59 miles
    in June I cycled a total of 400 miles per longest ride being 61 miles

    Again I finished in time and got my medal. Though as before it was a close-run thing. Especially as the temperatures were in the mid-30s most of the day.

    Now I hasten to add that this is not a training regime that I would recommend. I simply mention this brief history to show what can be done by one ordinary ageing recreational cyclist ( over 60 ) who is also a sedentary desk worker.

    As I said earlier you don't need to superfit to finish within the time limits. Though it certainly helps.

    And this years etape looks like one of the "easiest" for a long time. So much so that I'm going to give it another go.

    And my training miles for February ? Well I'm not saying but I will try harder !!

    Above all else enjoy the day and the whole experience. When you get that medal it will all seem worthwhile.

  • Check out he has some very useful training hints about what you should be doing each month to finish.

    I'm doing this years, and have done 2006 & 2007, i'm hoping for at least a silver medal this year.

    Here's a link to an article I wrote about 2007, don't let it put you off though....
  • popettepopette Posts: 2,089
    Hey MegaCycle,

    How you doing? How's the training going?

    I seem to flip from feeling reasonably upbeat to utter panic every few days. According to the site, I'm probably about on track for this time of year. I've cycled 76 miles as my longest ride and 350 miles for the month (67 and 310 for Jan). As the nights get lighter, we'll all have more time to get more miles in and I'm sure that our speeds and fitness will increase. Hopefully, that'll give us a bit more confidence and we won't be quite so terrified come the big day. Certainly for me, the more miles I do, the more my confidence grows.

    Skelly, thanks for posting your training prior to your Etapes. It's good to know that you can beat the broom wagon with as few miles as you did. I know you're not recommending that as a training plan though. I'm going to follow the advice of Ken in his article and do as many centuries as I can manage.

    Did you see the DVD, which came with C+? I've also bought a cycle film DVD about Etape 2008. I think the free one which came with the mag seemed to give a much better representation of how difficult it's going to be. Those guys were fit and were really feeling it weren't they? One message which stuck with me was the recommendation to really prepare well so that you finish the day feeling that you've acheived something, rather than finishing and feeling that you never want to repeat the experience.

    It's going to be great. As I write, I'm actually starting to feel quite excited. :)
  • popettepopette Posts: 2,089
    here's a question - all i've been thinking is how I'm going to cope in heat, but as Skelly points out above, it might be bloody freezing! What would your essential kit be to prepare for all eventualities?
  • Popette,

    Which issue of C+ is the DVD on? The one in shops now?
  • popettepopette Posts: 2,089
    UncleFred wrote:

    Which issue of C+ is the DVD on? The one in shops now?
    hi uncle fred - yes its the current issue
  • dombo6dombo6 Posts: 751
    I am doing it this year, having just started road riding a couple of years ago after 15 years mtb-ing. Important thing is to get miles in your legs and get used to spending 6-8 hours in the saddle. At the moment I'm just doing 50-mile club runs once a week, and two spin classes, but will be upping the mileage and intensity as the months progress.

    One piece of advice I was given was to get a triple. Either that or a compact to give you a low enough gear for if you're really struggling.

    Drink and eat lots at regular intervals and resign yourself to a couple of climbs on the day that'll probably last anything up to 2 hours.

    Good luck with the training and on the day itself.
  • Skelly - thanks a million! That is very reassuring. This may sound crazy, but until today, it never occurred to me that if it gets really tough, I can always walk the bike up the steepest bits!

    And Popette! Hi again. You are an inspiration. You really are. So good to hear the same sorts of thoughts I keep having, how you flip up and down in confidence.

    You guys just rock!

    Thank you!

  • skellyskelly Posts: 7
    Hi Megacycle, just to confirm that my previous training regimes are definitely not recommended. I'll be doing a lot more miles this year. But I just wanted to show that doing the etape does not require superhuman effort. Certainly if you're going for gold or silver then intensive training is essential. Otherwise you can finish without having to go completely overboard in your training. Though you will need to focus on hillclimbing. Not that any UK hills can prepare you for the length and steepness of the Pyrenean Cols, but neither the Tourmalet nor the Hautacam are especially steep, just long. A good standard of cycling fitness should get you through. A bottom gear of 39x27 should be sufficient.

    And there's still plenty of time to build up the miles.

    Actually, great weather today so I'm off !
  • stjohnswellstjohnswell Posts: 482
    I'm really looking forward to it at the moment. I'm off to do the 140km route of the Tour of Flanders in 5 weeks - can't wait. This will be first ever sportive. I've recently started really enjoying my weekend rides rather than suffering them. I'm even looking forward to starting turbo training on Monday. I'm probably still high on endorphin from this arvos ride.

    The only concern I have for the Etape is if it turns out to be a scorcher.
  • MegaCycleMegaCycle Posts: 236
    Yep, as you say, great weather. Just done 100km with some hard climbing in the middle. Much more confident now that I might actually be able to pull this off! I am only looking to finish the Etape...not do anything spectacular like a gold or silver (not sure what they are, but they sound scary!)
  • HMSHMS Posts: 9
    popette wrote:
    here's a question - all i've been thinking is how I'm going to cope in heat, but as Skelly points out above, it might be bloody freezing! What would your essential kit be to prepare for all eventualities?

    I completed the Etape in 2002, 2004 and 2005. I abandoned the 2006 Etape at the base of Alpe d'Huez and was swept up by the voiture balai on the Peyrosourde in 2007. The heat definitely was a problem for me in 2006 and 2007 and is a concern for me this year. But, even on days that ultimately turn out to be quite warm, you will need sufficient layers to protect you from the chill in the morning and on the descents. In addition to summer riding gloves, bibshorts and a reqular short sleeved jersey, my kit has included a pair of gloves with full fingers, a lycra skullcap to cover my head and ears, arm warmers and a thin waterproof shell. I can get all of the extra things into my jersey pockets when they are not needed. I never have taken knee warmers or tights with me on the ride, but I have had them in my traveling bag and would have taken them with me on the ride had the weather prediction included colder temperatures.
  • normanpnormanp Posts: 279
    edited March 2008
    MegaCycle - get some 200k rides booked - you will find that you can do them and this will boost your confidence. After the first one try to reduce stopped time (in cafes etc) to a minimum eg 3 x 5 to 10 min, and get your organisation/ kit/ maintenance as perfect as you can. I am a very ordinary rider - but have finished comfortably within the time in the last 2 etapes. The advantage of doing lots of miles beforehand is that you can really enjoy the day - have fun riding and looking at the amazing views rather than spending the day suffering and just holding on. On the day the cheering crowds at the cols give you a great boost at the hardest moments!

    BTW I recommend a triple: I have used 30x26 and 30x29. This reduces suffering enormously - I had to look away from the tortured expressions of those with compacts on Alpe D'Huez as I twiddled by overtaking them (slowly!)
  • MegaCycleMegaCycle Posts: 236
    Great advice normanp. Thanks.

    I certainly plan to up my mileage now the weather is improving. I managed to keep riding all through the winter (with either a turbo trainer and warm clothing).

    I shall make the 100k a minimum distance from now on (already it's getting to feel like pretty normal ride).
  • normanpnormanp Posts: 279
    Sounds like you're on doing the right thing - I use the turbo on weekdays all winter (1hr just spinning enough to break a sweat) and alternate a 50k-70k ride one week-end on my own then an organised ride (Audax or Sportive) the next week-end. I exercise 6 days, rest one. If other stuff gets in the way or the 2 week cycle gets upset I just lose a few days training - it doesn't matter. I suggest booking well ahead to give the coming few months some structure. My last organised ride is 22nd June - to allow time to taper and avoid injury near the big day.
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