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Alpine like Hills in England?

daccordidaccordi Posts: 8
I'm training for L'Etape and a bit concerned about my lack of long hill training. Where are the best hills in England or Wales for training for this? I'm staying in London with no car so ideally it would be relatively easy to get a train there or cycle.
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  • mrushtonmrushton Posts: 5,182
    Longest (continous) climb in England is Cragg Vale nr Hebden Bridge in Lancs at 5 miles. But the Yorks Dales has some good climbs that you string together.
    Probably a bit late now but you should try to get out to the Alps or Pyrenees to try out the climbs beforehand. I'm out there at the end of June and the climb to Val Thorens from Moutiers is 34km. The Cormet de Roseland is 23km and so on. You also need to test yourself in the extremes of temp you might face. It could be 30 deg C going up the Ventoux but it might also be a 50mph wind and rain/snow plus a significant increase in altitude. You are going from basically sea-level (London) to 6000ft and it can be a shock to the system.
    M.Rushton
  • bigmatbigmat Posts: 5,111
    Quick answer is there are no Alpine like hills in the UK, nothing even close to the length of climb you'll be doing on the Etape. Surrey Hills offer a good workout though, Box Hill (see separate thread) is quite "Alpine" with its switchbacks, but not very steep and only a couple of miles long. Still, a few consecutive ascents will offer a good workout. There are plenty of other good hills round there - check out the "Evans - King of the Downs" sportive route, which took in most of them.

    For rest of UK, there are some good hills in Wales - the Dragon ride goes up the Bwlch (?) which is pretty long for a UK hill, although not hugely steep. Fred Whitton in the Lake District has some killer steep climbs although nothing as long as in the Alps. Peak district and Yorkshire also have some hard climbs.

    Whilst its great to do some like for like training ahead of the big day, any sustained effort for the length of time needed to climb Ventoux (say 2 hours) will be good preparation. Find a nice hilly loop and just ride as hard as you can for that length of time and that will help a lot. You can then use the shorter UK hills for getting used to climbing - when to be in / out of the saddle, what gear to be in etc.

    Good luck by the way!
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,143
    Nothing like that close to London, I'm afraid.

    The only "Alpine like" climb in the UK is probably the Great Dun Fell, which has both steady and very hard gradients, combined with length.

    Close to London the Chiltern Hills offer some good climbing, but the longest climb you can find is just short of a mile, although you can find steep hills, like Kingston Blount, Whiteleaf, and generally all the climbs in the Hambleden valley. They're good training for the Ardennes spring classics.

    However, ou don't necessarily need to find a Ventoux-like mountain to prepare for the Ventoux.

    Good luck
  • mrushton wrote:
    Longest (continous) climb in England is Cragg Vale nr Hebden Bridge in Lancs at 5 miles. But the Yorks Dales has some good climbs that you string together.
    Probably a bit late now but you should try to get out to the Alps or Pyrenees to try out the climbs beforehand. I'm out there at the end of June and the climb to Val Thorens from Moutiers is 34km. The Cormet de Roseland is 23km and so on. You also need to test yourself in the extremes of temp you might face. It could be 30 deg C going up the Ventoux but it might also be a 50mph wind and rain/snow plus a significant increase in altitude. You are going from basically sea-level (London) to 6000ft and it can be a shock to the system.

    If you are here, then the climb out from Hebden Bridge over Oxenhope Moor is another long steady climb (3 miles ish, I think). Drop into Keighley and then come back out again.
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    If you're in London you can probably get to Lyon more easily than some parts of Wales, although it's a bit late to book cheap prices.

    Remember, even done slowly Box Hill is only 10 minutes of climbing before you freewheel down again, hardly an alpine effort. Instead, aim to improve your fitness in general and you will be ok, climbing on your bike is 90% fitness, the actual slope is not so important.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    Agree with mention of Great Dunfell...thats one killer effort....7 kms longs at near 9% average...I think this was tougher than Alpe De Huez!...it has such steep sections.

    But I reckon the whole North Pennines offers the greatest opportunity for sustained climbing...you can string up a 100 mile loop and finish up GDF!....taking in monster long efforts of Shot Moss, Hartside Pass, Langdon Fell enroute etc...

    We did a ride there last year......excellent area, quiet roads, enormous long grindng climbs...yes fantastic training...have a look:-

    http://www.sportivecentral.com/index.ph ... 321&page=1
  • ColinJColinJ Posts: 2,218
    mrushton wrote:
    Longest (continous) climb in England is Cragg Vale nr Hebden Bridge in Lancs at 5 miles. But the Yorks Dales has some good climbs that you string together.
    Probably a bit late now but you should try to get out to the Alps or Pyrenees to try out the climbs beforehand. I'm out there at the end of June and the climb to Val Thorens from Moutiers is 34km. The Cormet de Roseland is 23km and so on. You also need to test yourself in the extremes of temp you might face. It could be 30 deg C going up the Ventoux but it might also be a 50mph wind and rain/snow plus a significant increase in altitude. You are going from basically sea-level (London) to 6000ft and it can be a shock to the system.

    If you are here, then the climb out from Hebden Bridge over Oxenhope Moor is another long steady climb (3 miles ish, I think). Drop into Keighley and then come back out again.
    Despite boundary changes over the years, Cragg Vale is still in West Yorkshire! :wink:

    I wouldn't drop all the way down to Keighley - there is a lot of flat road along Haworth Brow and the traffic really builds up below that. I'd go round the mini-roundabout in Oxenhope and head straight back up to Oxenhope Moor.

    You could string the Cragg Vale and Oxenhope Moor climbs together in a nice loop thus - Hebden Bridge, Oxenhope Moor, Oxenhope (mini-roundabout), Oxenhope Moor, Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Cragg Vale, Blackstone Edge, Littleborough, hairpin left at the Rake Inn back up a steep little climb (Blackstone Edge Old Road), follow that round to the A58, Blackstone Edge, Cragg Vale, Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge.

    That's about 54 km total distance with 1,300 m of climbing in 22 km (a nice selection of gradients), 22 km of good descents and 10 km of flat roads. Do it 3 times back-to-back and you've got yourself a tough hilly century!

    cv_om_loop_profile.jpg
  • DatameisterDatameister Posts: 33
    It's "only" an average of about 5%, but the climb of Hartside Fell from Melmerby helped me no end last year. It's a nice steady gradient all the way up, and some nice bends on the way back down for descending practice.

    And being only 5%, it won't rip your legs off (unless you really push it)
  • jgsijgsi Posts: 5,025
    daccordi wrote:
    I'm training for L'Etape and a bit concerned about my lack of long hill training. .

    Just a bit concerned...? with facing Ventoux with no mountain miles in my legs.. I'd be more than concerned...
    whats PLAN B buddy?
  • term1teterm1te Posts: 1,462
    If you are in London try the relatively short trip out to Westerham, get on a the Pilgrims way and take evey hill you see going up the North Downs. They are not Alpine long, rather short really, but there are a few of them heading up to Cudham and Knockholt that will test the legs and lungs. Heading west along the Pilgrims Way there are a few more worthy of the name hill. Think of it as interval training, but with a different hill each time.
  • BlondeBlonde Posts: 3,188
    Nothing except high mountains will really prepare you for high mountains. Improving your power to weight ratio and improving power output will certainly help, but you can still easily be caught out by the effacts of altitude (and heat). Feeling short of breath or getting strong headaches at altitude is common. You will probably need to pee constantly at altitude too. This is NOT because you are over hydrated though, it's just an effect of altitude, so do keep drinking a LOT as you'll need to replenish any fluid lost. Enjoy the ride!
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    Please guys dont get confused.

    The best training for mountain (as opposed to hill climbs like what we have here) is 1 hour plus time trial efforts on the flat. This forces you do to use steady but non stop effort.

    Climbs here mostly involve hard but short effort with frequent changes of pace/recovery. They have some benefit
    >> but the main zone they train (above threshold) is the zone you want to avoid at all costs when climbing real mountains.

    In fact I think main benefits of doing UK climbs are to check gearing and build up some mental resilience. But if you really want to ride well do long steady sub threshold efforts.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    Blonde wrote:
    Nothing except high mountains will really prepare you for high mountains. Improving your power to weight ratio and improving power output will certainly help, but you can still easily be caught out by the effacts of altitude (and heat). Feeling short of breath or getting strong headaches at altitude is common. You will probably need to pee constantly at altitude too. This is NOT because you are over hydrated though, it's just an effect of altitude, so do keep drinking a LOT as you'll need to replenish any fluid lost. Enjoy the ride!

    Sorry disagree with this as well. Even the highest climbs in Europe dont have much altitude effect. Galibier is a classic in this respect. People complain about the altitude but real killer is having to last km at over 10%. Beware: if you think there is an altitude effect you will probably feel one.

    Also altitude doesnt have effect like you mention, people will differ in terms of how much they need to drink. Its important to find your own needs as 2 things you dont want to do on long climbs are
    - lug loads of water up the mountain. Its just dead weight,
    - stop for frequent pees, since once stopped getting started is tough.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    PS. I've done a lot of climbs in EU and sportives here. So far the route I've found the closest to EU climbs is that used by the excellent Tour of the Black Mountains sportive. Its in south wales so not too far from London. 2007 route here:

    http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/Tour-of-the-Black-Mountains

    2008 route was better ignored A30 out of Brecon and added another climb up Myndd Iltud. Dont have GPX for this but profile/climbs here

    http://mr-miff-on-tour.blogspot.com/2008/07/blog-post.html

    Its a good route because most of the climbs are long and steady, not short and sharp. Best example is first up Gospel Pass which goes on for miles getting ever steeper. Will probably take at least 45 mins. Route also has a nice mini Alp up Onnau at the 100 mile mark. Its only 4km at 7% but still a reasonable simulation of what you find abroad and perfect for checking gearing. Its also got some good safe fast descents to practice going down as well as up.

    I would guess, very roughly, that the time/effort needed to do this ride will be a bit more than this years etape.

    Not a bad training plan would be do lots of steady 1 hour efforts then tackle above course aiming to do each of climbs at your steady 1 hour effort pace. If you can maintain this on all of the climbs then you should be more than ready for etape or similar. Also nutrition needed to keep going will be similar.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,143
    Blonde wrote:
    Nothing except high mountains will really prepare you for high mountains. Improving your power to weight ratio and improving power output will certainly help, but you can still easily be caught out by the effacts of altitude (and heat). Feeling short of breath or getting strong headaches at altitude is common. You will probably need to pee constantly at altitude too. This is NOT because you are over hydrated though, it's just an effect of altitude, so do keep drinking a LOT as you'll need to replenish any fluid lost. Enjoy the ride!

    Mt Ventoux tops at just over 1800 mt, altitude has no effect there. Altitude problems might kick in above 2000 mt, but as mentioned by another user, they're often confused with fatigue. In order to get to that altitude, often you have to climb for 20+ Km, which inevitably causes fatigue...
  • mjhalemjhale Posts: 28
    bahzob wrote:
    Sorry disagree with this as well. Even the highest climbs in Europe dont have much altitude effect.

    Agree completely - the top of ventoux is 1900m and you really shouldn't be suffering from the altitude at that height (plenty of other reasons you will suffer!).

    I think the main things you will notice is the length of the climbs (nothing equivalent in the UK) and the rapid changes in conditions from 30 degrees to sub zero etc.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    To be honest...if you can do ANY seriously hilly sportive in the UK then as long as you have approriate gearing then you should manage no problem on this Provencal trip...the main problem might be the heat....the heat can be suffocating down there in July....and us brits are not used to such climates...

    Try and concentrate on building endurance and be realistic with gearing...Ventoux's one of the very toughest....its very steep for 10kms through the forested area upto Chalet Reynard...and its still very tough afterwards....but theres no magic formulae....I find the hilly UK sportives tougher than the big climbs out abroad...even last year after the Mortirolo and the Gavia loop I felt 10 times better than I did after the likes of the FWC or the Dave Lloyd Mega.....

    P.s...I did have altitude problems on Galibier....felt very dizzy.....but I was ok on the Stelvio...which is higher....no problem with this on Ventoux....
  • daccordidaccordi Posts: 8
    Thanks for the replies they've been very useful. I have been training alot and have done a few hilly sportives already in preparation and have the dragon ride to do as well. Got a few spare weekends left that I'm going to try to make a route to do from your information, thanks.
  • daccordidaccordi Posts: 8
    JGSI wrote:
    daccordi wrote:
    I'm training for L'Etape and a bit concerned about my lack of long hill training. .

    Just a bit concerned...? with facing Ventoux with no mountain miles in my legs.. I'd be more than concerned...
    whats PLAN B buddy?

    EPO

    not that concened really, have been doing hilly rides with over 2000m of climbing but the climbs have never been that long. Was more wanting to get the experience of consistent climbing for as long as possible.

    Or does everyone go out there with alpine experience?
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    Dragons a good sportive from this POV and last long climb up the Bwlch is great pacing experience. Good target would be do so second climb at faster average speed than the first.

    As a very rough guesstimate I'd say that adding 5-15% to Dragon ride time will give target for Etape.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • DaveMossDaveMoss Posts: 236
    On a midweek day you could get the 05:47 from Euston arriving in Carlisle at 9:21 then do this route http://bikeroutetoaster.com/Course.aspx?course=54207 over 12 000ft of climb, and though it has a few steep climbs, it does not include the main infamous 25/ 30 % climbs, mostly the gradients are alpine sort of stuff. You have 10 hours to get back for the 19:49 train from Carlisle back to Euston. You could always review your progress at Keswick and cut it short if you need to. And heading straight to Ambleside instead of my little detour at Grasmere would shave half an hour and a sever wee climb off.

    Of course, If you have never ventured this far North before, you might decide to let the return train go without you and just stay forever; you would not be the first.

    Equally, with one overnight stay, the Cumberland challenge in September would be doable by train from London, and highly recommended.
    Sportives and tours, 100% for charity, http://www.tearfundcycling.btck.co.uk
  • The MechanicThe Mechanic Posts: 1,277
    What about the Bealach na Ba from Tornapress to Applecross. 10km to clime from virtualy sea level to 600m. It's one hell of a climb. Its got steady bits, steep bits and hairpins. A fantastic view from the top as a reward, provided you head is not in hte clouds.
    I have only two things to say to that; Bo***cks
  • jhopjhop Posts: 369
    [quote="

    Or does everyone go out there with alpine experience?[/quote]

    Each year there seems to be an unrealistic emphasis, with some contributors on this and other forums, regarding the necessity of actual high mountain experience if a rider is to succeed on the etape.

    For many riders like myself the trip down for the etape is a once in the year experience and all preparation and build up training is done in the UK.

    Before my first etape in 2003 Ron Cutler of Etape.org fame told me that if I could do a hilly UK 200 K Audax comfortably then it would be likely that I would survive the etape. Armed with his advice I went to Pau and had a great day which inspired me to return again and again.

    I think that preparation for a successful and enjoyable etape can be achieved riding hilly UK Audax and Sportive events. The Dragon Ride for example is an excellent preparatory ride. What you wont get so easily here is the extreme range of temperatures and weather conditions that high mountain riding can throw at you. My ride from Pau in 2003 was done the morning after a huge thunder storm. A day earlier and the clammy, hot and thundery conditions could have made it quite a bit more difficult. The last Ventoux etape had extreme weather and in 2006 it was mighty hot on Alpe d'Huez. Last year descending from Hautacam to the finish village was extremely cold and many of us copuld barely eat for shaking with cold.
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    jhop wrote:
    Each year there seems to be an unrealistic emphasis, with some contributors on this and other forums, regarding the necessity of actual high mountain experience if a rider is to succeed on the etape.

    Maybe a valid point. But not on this particular thread. Which has got lots of examples violently agreeing with you that its perfectly possible to train for the etape here in UK.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • jhopjhop Posts: 369
    bahzob wrote:
    jhop wrote:
    Each year there seems to be an unrealistic emphasis, with some contributors on this and other forums, regarding the necessity of actual high mountain experience if a rider is to succeed on the etape.

    Maybe a valid point. But not on this particular thread. Which has got lots of examples violently agreeing with you that its perfectly possible to train for the etape here in UK.

    Fair comment but I was responding to the question raised regarding whether or not it was the norm to have high mountain experience for etape success.
  • JamesBJamesB Posts: 1,184
    Some of the hills on Exmoor Beast are long, particularly really remember the Lynmouth climb up to Simonsbath goes on very gently for 2 ish miles before kicking up at end..sea level to 450 m. and Dunkery Beacon but that is a bit steep in places!! :(
    Otherwise look at mid Wales climbs, as before posts some TOBM climbs, Devil Ride Eppynt climb , GFC climbs eg back over Berwyns Milltir Gerrig. :)
    enjoy!
    James
  • BlondeBlonde Posts: 3,188
    Blonde wrote:
    Nothing except high mountains will really prepare you for high mountains. Improving your power to weight ratio and improving power output will certainly help, but you can still easily be caught out by the effacts of altitude (and heat). Feeling short of breath or getting strong headaches at altitude is common. You will probably need to pee constantly at altitude too. This is NOT because you are over hydrated though, it's just an effect of altitude, so do keep drinking a LOT as you'll need to replenish any fluid lost. Enjoy the ride!

    Mt Ventoux tops at just over 1800 mt, altitude has no effect there. Altitude problems might kick in above 2000 mt, but as mentioned by another user, they're often confused with fatigue. In order to get to that altitude, often you have to climb for 20+ Km, which inevitably causes fatigue...

    Hmm that's odd. I distinctly remeber feelling light headed, full of headaches (like I had cotton wool in my head) and really rather terrible as well as kind of breathless the first time I was cycling in the Alps - the first time in my life that I had ever been above about 1000 metres. This was initially on the first day, after, maybe a few minutes of cycling, despite having slept at altitude - I even woke up with a headache, so I don't think it was fatigue related. The second time I went out there I was a bit better and the third time I didn't feel bad at all, even on the Iseran (we did Chamonix to Nice in four days and I felt really great). I still pissed contantly though, especially on the nights where we slept at altitude in the mountain refuges. Last year we went out there again and I still find I pee constantly at altitude of around 2000 metres - you just have to keep drinking, that's all.
  • GreenbankGreenbank Posts: 731
    More info at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pressurized_cabin

    Those kinds of symptoms can appear, in some people, as low as 1500m (so below the top of Ventoux), but start with most people at 2500m. It affects everyone differently.

    Aircraft cabin pressure generally peaks at about 2400m equivalent altitude. If you aren't affected by flying then you shouldn't be affected on Ventoux.

    I'm lucky that I don't have any problems, even up at 3000m at the top of some Alpine ski runs, or near 4000m going between Chile and Argentina in a bus.
    --
    If I had a baby elephant signature, I\'d use that.
  • GreenbankGreenbank Posts: 731
    And to answer the original question, without access to a suitable hill I'd simulate a long boring steep climb with an HRM and a turbo.

    Warm up and then set the turbo to a high enough resistance (or go into a high enough gear) than you're grinding away at comfortable climbing cadence at the appropriate HR.

    For me this would be 80rpm and about 150bpm (65% MHR for me) and sit on it for 2 hours. If you've got an easily variable resistance I'd do occasional 5 minute blocks at 60% MHR or 70% MHR.

    Adjust for your favoured cadence and sustainable HR for climbing.

    Your speed is unimportant, you want to be simulating long periods of time at a steady (high-ish) heart rate.

    Frighteningly dull though. Sit the turbo in front of a TV or a laptop and watch a film or two.
    --
    If I had a baby elephant signature, I\'d use that.
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    Blonde wrote:
    Hmm that's odd. I distinctly remeber feelling light headed, full of headaches (like I had cotton wool in my head) and really rather terrible as well as kind of breathless the first time I was cycling in the Alps - the first time in my life that I had ever been above about 1000 metres. This was initially on the first day, after, maybe a few minutes of cycling, despite having slept at altitude - I even woke up with a headache, so I don't think it was fatigue related. The second time I went out there I was a bit better and the third time I didn't feel bad at all, even on the Iseran (we did Chamonix to Nice in four days and I felt really great). I still pissed contantly though, especially on the nights where we slept at altitude in the mountain refuges. Last year we went out there again and I still find I pee constantly at altitude of around 2000 metres - you just have to keep drinking, that's all.
    That all sounds like altitude sickness. Different people experience it at different levels, an screaming fit SAS soldier can get symptoms at 1500m, a sedentary pensioner might be able to go to 4000m before they get the syptoms, it's personal. It's more the effect of spending time at altitude, you won't really notice too much of this on Ventoux, rather you will be a bit short of breath and towards the top, any short sprint will put you faster into the red than normal.

    As said before, you don't need to train on the long climbs because all a long climb is simply a long effort. Replicate this at home on the turbo or enter a long time trial or get a heart rate monitor and aim to ride as close to your threshold as you can for an hour. It's probably worse to find some 10 minute climbs as you will sprint up and freewheel down, this is not the same effort.

    Who was the greatest climber in the Tour de France? Well Charly Gaul was from Luxembourg, Pantani was from Cesena and Lucien Van Impe from Mere and Bahamontes from Toledo. All these places are not mountainous, just hilly.
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