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July 2009 - touring for a week in Provence & Haute Savoi

foxy3373foxy3373 Posts: 4
edited November 2008 in Tour & expedition
I've just booked my trip with my brother for July next year to ride a couple of days around Provence, to see the Mt Ventoux stage of the tour then we are heading up to Chamonix for 3 days of riding.

I've only been riding a road bike for a couple of years now since i took up triathlons and I have nooooo idea how to prepare for a ride like Mt Ventoux or some of the bigger climbs around Cham e.g. Col de Montets etc. I'm pretty fit - i spend most of my time running (2 marathons a year and 1 ultramarathon - Thames Ultra) but im getting bored of running and want to do more cycling.....Any training suggestions greatly appreciated..

Foxy

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  • zonczonc Posts: 37
    spend the winter getting in the miles - good quality riding. Not hard but endurance stuff. if you use a heart monitor you need to keep below 130bpm for the complete ride for every winter ride till Feb. This is hard because it will seem SO slow but mile eating not mile racing is the idea. Then up the pace a wee bit. Haute provence has some monsters and the heat and lack of shade can be unbearable. As you are experienced in Ultra Marathons the psychology side ought not be a problem. You must keep your fluid in takes and food up otherwise if the bonk hit then that's you. if you have had no experience of hills/mountains it would be worth riding a few before you depart. Maybe get on a handful of Sportives early season or even Audax too.

    good luck.

    zonc
  • pneumaticpneumatic Posts: 1,989
    The challenge with training in the UK for the Alps is that there are no comparable riding experiences. Hills here are shorter and often steeper, gradients vary all the time and, of course, the temperatures are much lower.

    I'm no expert on training but I reckon endurance is the most important quality you rely on when you get onto some of those monsters, moreso than power. If you ride long over the winter, you should be in a good state to ride high when you get there.

    Curiously, my experience of riding Alpe d'Huez, Galibier, Ventoux and a few others was that the roads were not scarily steep, just frighteningly relentless. Belief that you are going to reach the top is important and, frankly, if I can do it, so can you.

    BTW, don't just ride Ventoux, the other terrain around there is wonderful, too. A favourite of mine was the Montagne de Lure: good climb, fantastic views at the top, thrilling descent.


    Fast and Bulbous
    Peregrinations
    Eddingtons: 80 (Metric); 60 (Imperial)

  • The most important factor is as already stated endurance. The other aspect is your mindset. Here in the alps you cannot jump out of your saddle and sprint up to the top. (Unless your name is Pantani or Armstrong). You have to accept that you could be going uphill for an hour or two or more. The trick is to get into a steady rhythm and just spin your way to the top. If you have a turbo trainer or rollers where you can vary the resistance set your gradient on 5% to 10% and ride this for an hour. This is the nearest you will get to the real thing without doing it.
    Before you do your big ride, Etape or Gran Fondo come over for a short break to get an idea of what it is like. That way you can be really prepared for the "Big Day".
    Good luck and remember to enjoy the climb. After all what goes up must come down! :P
    My playground is the Alps, come and join me!
    http://www.ifhannibalhad.com
  • My wife and I stayed in Chamonix a few years ago. We then road into Switzerland, over Col de Forclaz and ended up at Verbier - a big climb. I'm past 50 and was riding a fully loaded mountain bike. I was tired by the end, but Forclaz seemed very easy, so you shouldn't have a problem if you are reasonably fit.
    It's an uphill climb to the bottom
  • Brian BBrian B Posts: 2,071
    All the advice so far has been great - But I would suggest getting in as much hill climbing as you can. Its the only way to really get to know your body when you are stressing it on a climb and you'll know when you can push it or when its time to slow down before you blow.

    North England and Wales have steep, long hills which are not a patch on the Ventoux in size but are good for training. Lots of miles on a turbo, flattish terrain on big gears is great for stamina but its a million miles away from climbing a steady gradient.

    Try a few of the earlier sportives in the year to test out your fitness.
    Brian B.
  • andrew_sandrew_s Posts: 2,511
    On that level of running, fitness is going to be no problem.
    If you've not been doing a lot of cycling, then time in the saddle to toughen up the bum and get the leg muscles trained to the different action is what is required. If you increase your level of cycling too fast you can give yourself knee problems.
    Once in the alps, it's going to be a case of pace judgement and getting used to how fast you can go without blowing up. The longer climbs can take non-racing people two or three hours, so I'd suggest that you stick to a pace you can hold a conversation at without dropping below half sentences.
  • Please do bare in mind the transition from cycling to running and running to cycling is very different. Running (simplistically) requires less muscles than cycling and cycling of course more than running. What you will find is that your running muscles will need a lot of support for endurance cycling. As mentioned already, your mind, lungs, heart and stamina would appear to be bang on but do not under-estimate the big mountains, on a hot day it is as close to hell as I have been! But sooooooooo much fun. I will ride the etape next year and you cannot prepare for the climb up Ventoux other than by being very fit! What you can do is aim to get to the bottom in as good a shape as possible so long steady miles - as said already AND practice eating regularily whilst riding too, sounds daft but you do benefit from learning to eat and digest on the bike. I suffered hugely from ignoring my eating in the 03 Etape...

    Bon appetite :wink:
  • pneumaticpneumatic Posts: 1,989
    LazyRacer wrote:
    - as said already AND practice eating regularily whilst riding too, sounds daft but you do benefit from learning to eat and digest on the bike. I suffered hugely from ignoring my eating in the 03 Etape...

    Bon appetite :wink:

    +1 for the food advice. I got into a horrible mess in the Alps by not eating enough of the right things regularly. You get through an incredible quantity of calories on those slopes and a mountainside is definitely not the place to find yourself burning fat. However, despite feeling sick, drained and almost delirious, reaching the top of the Galibier has to be one of the best experiences I ever had on a bike.


    Fast and Bulbous
    Peregrinations
    Eddingtons: 80 (Metric); 60 (Imperial)

  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    Chamonix village is at 1035 metres and the Col des Montets is 1461m. It's a steady climb, not steep by any means. If you're used to doing marathons I'd have thought that would barely count as a warm-up.

    The main problem as far as training is concerned is that there aren't many (any) roads in the UK which climb steadily for mile after mile like many roads in the maountainous areas of France (not surprisingly when you consider that Chamonix village is higher than anywhere in the UK).

    I'd just relax and say 'sod it I'm on holiday'.

    I expect that the major issues are likely to be heat and traffic - I wouldn't choose the Chamonix valley in July for riding.

    I would recommend taking a trip up the cable car from Argentière.
  • I go to Chamonix a lot, and interested in any ideas of where to cycle if i was to take my bike?
    I hadn't thought of cycling as most of the roads tend to be busy.

    Apologies for the thread hijack! :oops:
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