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Training for the Etape

dereklderekl Posts: 7
Hi,
I have just had my entry to the 2010 Etape confirmed and I am looking for training advice. I will be 50 next year (present to myself) and am not a member of a club. I can commute between 50~125 miles per week on mainly flat roads with some additional work at the weekends. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Thanks,

Derek

Posts

  • phil sphil s Posts: 1,128
    Ride a lot more. When you're pushed for time ride at a pace that's beyond 'comfortable' but not so uncomfortable you can't sustain it for 60-90mins.
    -- Dirk Hofman Motorhomes --
  • vorsprungvorsprung Posts: 1,953
    derekl wrote:
    Hi,
    I have just had my entry to the 2010 Etape confirmed and I am looking for training advice. I will be 50 next year (present to myself) and am not a member of a club. I can commute between 50~125 miles per week on mainly flat roads with some additional work at the weekends. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Derek

    Enter some sportives or audaxes before the etape to give yourself some intermediate goals
  • inseineinseine Posts: 5,786
    Your commuting distance is fine especially if you do what phil s recommends but you need to do a longer weekend ride too. If you're doing an hour or so up it to a couple of hours and increase it each week so you're doing 3 or 4, then next year you nedd to occasionally do some even onger rides. Try to ride non stop at as constant an effort you can manage (don't attack the hills, but don't let off on the decents either), arrive home tired, not exhautsed.
  • Thanks for the advice it all seems sensible.

    D
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    You dont say if you have had any experience of riding abroad on the sort of big climbs that will feature in the Etape.

    If you havent then these will come as a shock to the system. Key thing about them is that they are unrelenting, requiring you to keep up a constant effort for 1-2 hours. There are 3 of these on the 2010 route, all different in character. (First climb is easy start then brutal last 4 km, second is moderately long and features constant changes of gradient, last is an epic that will take close to 2 hours for many)

    So as per above the best training to prepare for these is a 25-30 mile constant effort on a circuit thats flat and doesnt need any stops/freewheeling. I'd advise using the winter months to find one that you are comfortable with and just ride at a steady pace round it once a week or so, (also aiming to put in some longer steady pace rides aiming to have done one over 100 miles by end March). Feb or so onwards next year push a bit more and aim to go a bit faster each time you ride. If you can bear the boredom a good routine would be to ride 2-3 times with a 15 min or so easy spin between each lap. Ideal would be to hold pace/go faster each lap.

    Also definitely suggest entering a sportive or 2, best in terms of being like etape/timing in my experience is the Dragon which happens in June.

    Another thing to search out is a hill with a 10% gradient. The first climb ends with 4km of this and very last km of the whole ride is this steep so its good to practice riding up this sort of slope to check bike setup/gearing. Hopefully you will be able to find a 10% climb nearby that will be a reasonable length. One thing to do at some point is do hill reps up/down it so that ride total of 5km. Inevitably you'll find the going harder each time up, if start to have real difficulty keeping the pedals turning even in lowest gear its a sign you may need to try a different gears, (One point, the vast majority of the time spent on the climbs should be done seated).

    One other suggestion. Despite the advice you'll get here, the best guarantee of having a successful etape would be to use the services of a personal coach. Given the cost of the event its also a good investment in terms of money and may even save some if you are considering buying any new kit for the etape.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • BronzieBronzie Posts: 4,927
    Excellent advice from Bahzob there.

    One other thing nobody has mentioned, get used to riding in a group before the event. The first 50km to the Col de Marie-Blanque are pretty flat and there will be huge groups (100+ riders) forming on the run in to the climb. Make sure you are confident riding close to others and learn how to sit on a wheel behind another rider (it will save you valuable energy on the day) without getting carried away and burning yourself out early on.

    Joining a club that has a decent group club run or chaingang would be one way of achieving this (but be aware that most social club runs are not in themselves particularly great in terms of physical training benefit).
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    bahzob wrote:
    You dont say if you have had any experience of riding abroad on the sort of big climbs that will feature in the Etape...
    ...One other suggestion. Despite the advice you'll get here, the best guarantee of having a successful etape would be to use the services of a personal coach. Given the cost of the event its also a good investment in terms of money and may even save some if you are considering buying any new kit for the etape.
    All very good advice. You won't go wrong with this.

    But I'm not no sure about the coach. All the coaching plans I've seen for others simply have the old formula of building up the mileage, the base miles and then sharpening the efforts as the big day approaches. They are a bit more sophisticated than this, but not much more so.

    Some will come with recommended heart rate or wattage zones but such precision probably isn't needed for a beginner, it's like setting an Olympic coach to work with someone hoping to complete the London Marathon dressed as a rubber chicken, their aim is to trot around the course and have fun, not to set a new competition record amongst the elites.

    I've seen several training plans from different coaches and none has mentioned the basic premise that bahzob touches on above, that the climbing is unrelenting and the way to prepare for this is to tackle a 1-2 hour loop on the flat.
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    Off topic, but re coaches I can only go from personal experience and say that what I got was very helpful and focused on the event(s) I had in mind. I came with some experience of riding sportives but still learned one hell of a lot.

    Key thing about a coach is that they should be a good listener and make plans appropriate to individual. For that reason I think a coach is especially suited for a beginner as they should be able to help them set realistic goals, hopefully based on real life experience of similar people they have worked with in the past.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • Thanks for the input on this I am starting to build up a picture of how tough this is going to be. I have never ridden in France before so the intensity of these hills will be new for me, my only experience of cycling overseas is a once a year visit to LaSanta (if you have never been it is a great all around training venue) where I predominantly run, this year I was injured and did a few of the intermediate cycles 70~90k although not as hilly as France it did have a few good pulls, somehow I think cycling around Warwickshire in winter will not be as pleasant.
    Any way many thanks for all contributions please keep them coming
  • mrushtonmrushton Posts: 5,182
    Audaxes are a cheap way to build miles/endurance but you should think about going out there in order to see what you are up against.Pyractif in the Pyrenees or GPM10 in France or White Room are good firms to deal with.

    www.gpm10.com
    www.pyractif.com
    www.whiteroomchalet.com
    M.Rushton
  • derekl

    If you want to look at Coaching try checking the web-site www.sports-coaching.com we do a lot of etape training.

    Mail me if you want further information

    [email protected]

    Cheers
    John
  • Derek - some good sensible advice on here and you are right to ask for it. Too many people do Gran Fondo events utterly unprepared for them. Good friends of mind went out to do a recce of the Etape route a couple of years ago in the Spring and, having done the whole ride in one go, decided it wasn't too bad.

    When they went back in July the temperatures had changed from 10 degrees to closer to 40 degrees and they literally melted. If the sun is out, climbing in the Alps and the Pyrenees in mid-summer is completely different to anything you can experience in the UK. Your whole sportive strategy can literally be torn up and thrown away as it becomes a battle of hydration and nutrition as much as fitness. The amount of riders you will see with shorts caked in salt-line marks and with leg cramps will amaze you - you need to drink copiously throughout the event - a litre an hour is a reasonable target, if you sweat even that might not be enough.

    If you have the opportunity, think about a week of cycling in the sun somewhere 2-3 months before the etape. Train in Spain (www.traininspain.net) do training weeks in April for Gran Fondo events. The idea is to do lots of long climbs and 4-5 hour rides each day including one day of something similar in profile to the etape. Just as importantly, it will normally be in warm weather!
  • Derek - some good sensible advice on here and you are right to ask for it. Too many people do Gran Fondo events utterly unprepared for them. Good friends of mind went out to do a recce of the Etape route a couple of years ago in the Spring and, having done the whole ride in one go, decided it wasn't too bad.

    When they went back in July the temperatures had changed from 10 degrees to closer to 40 degrees and they literally melted. If the sun is out, climbing in the Alps and the Pyrenees in mid-summer is completely different to anything you can experience in the UK. Your whole sportive strategy can literally be torn up and thrown away as it becomes a battle of hydration and nutrition as much as fitness. The amount of riders you will see with shorts caked in salt-line marks and with leg cramps will amaze you - you need to drink copiously throughout the event - a litre an hour is a reasonable target, if you sweat even that might not be enough.

    If you have the opportunity, think about a week of cycling in the sun somewhere 2-3 months before the etape. Train in Spain (www.traininspain.net) do training weeks in April for Gran Fondo events. The idea is to do lots of long climbs and 4-5 hour rides each day including one day of something similar in profile to the etape. Just as importantly, it will normally be in warm weather!
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    Derek - some good sensible advice on here and you are right to ask for it. Too many people do Gran Fondo events utterly unprepared for them. Good friends of mind went out to do a recce of the Etape route a couple of years ago in the Spring and, having done the whole ride in one go, decided it wasn't too bad.

    When they went back in July the temperatures had changed from 10 degrees to closer to 40 degrees and they literally melted. If the sun is out, climbing in the Alps and the Pyrenees in mid-summer is completely different to anything you can experience in the UK. Your whole sportive strategy can literally be torn up and thrown away as it becomes a battle of hydration and nutrition as much as fitness. The amount of riders you will see with shorts caked in salt-line marks and with leg cramps will amaze you - you need to drink copiously throughout the event - a litre an hour is a reasonable target, if you sweat even that might not be enough.

    If you have the opportunity, think about a week of cycling in the sun somewhere 2-3 months before the etape. Train in Spain (www.traininspain.net) do training weeks in April for Gran Fondo events. The idea is to do lots of long climbs and 4-5 hour rides each day including one day of something similar in profile to the etape. Just as importantly, it will normally be in warm weather!

    Seconded. To quote Brad Pitt the first rule of training is specificity, the second rule of training is specificity...

    If budget, time or other restrictions cant stretch to a trip to Spain the the closest you can come to replicating conditions here is a 25-30 mile time trial, ideally done on the one hot day we get in summer. This doesnt need to be on a TT bike and not a formally organised one. (That said entering a local clubs 25 or 30 TT would be especially good as this will get the adrenaline going a bit more than a solo ride. Again this will simulate the real thing where being in the company of others will naturally make you push yourself harder (which may be a good or bad thing..))

    This will come closer to replicating the demands the etape climbs will put on your system than a UK sportive though I would still definitely recommend the latter as very good training as well.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
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