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etape caledonia

acebobbyacebobby Posts: 95
edited October 2010 in Road beginners
As the title says I fancy entering this race next may and have a few questions for the more experienced cyclists, I have only been cycling for a few weeks but am really enjoying it and always find myself looking at well pretty much any websites to do with cycling!
So anyway as I am not really fit yet and this event is about 30 weeks away is it realistic that I could train for this and have a decent level of fitness and ability to enter it? keeping in mind that I am not an athlete I just really dont want to be last!
secondly, will my road bike (Giant Defy 3.5) be good enough to go in for an event like this? I cant really afford a top of the range bike and am really comfortable with mine!
Also should I just pay for entry into this event now to commit myself to training for it?

Probably a bunch of silly questions, but hopefully I can get some decent answers, my main concern is being fit enough to do the 81 miles at a reasonable pace!

Thanks
Bobby
getting faster, fitter, and skinnier by the day!

Posts

  • edhornbyedhornby Posts: 1,780
    first off - your giant will be fine to do sportives on, just make sure it's well maintained

    however you say you've only been riding a few weeks - how far do you currently do on your longer rides and how long does it take you? I would try and get on a shorter end of season sportive now-ish to get used to them, so you'll have a good idea as to whether you want to do the Etape now or if it's worth waiting another year

    81 miles with some climbing isn't for absolute beginners but nothings impossible if you're determined enough and only you know how good you are, good luck either way
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  • unixnerdunixnerd Posts: 2,864
    Bike will be fine.

    I think a lot depends on where you live. If you're in Scotland you'll struggle to get in a lot of training if we have a winter like the last one. It takes determination and the right kit to do any worthwhile training in a Scottish winter.

    I'd say you need to do 20 milers a few times a week and a longer ride at the weekends to build stamina, increasing the distance of the weekend ride as you get fitter. You'll want to include some hill climbing on all your runs if possible.

    Nutrition is very important too on longer runs. You need to have some carbs in your system a few hours before a big run and a bannana an hour when you're out.
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  • davieseedaviesee Posts: 6,473
    Along with the training, I will fully recommend finding a club who's pace matches yours.
    The Etape is a large event and it could be scary if you are not used to riding in a bunch.
    None of the above should be taken seriously, and certainly not personally.
  • Thanks for the replies guys,
    I do live in Scotland so most of the training in the extremes of winter will have to be done indoors.
    I also have only ever riden solo so joining a club and riding with others will be a priority but due to the shifts I work Sunday runs are out of the question except very occasionally.
    I will continue to train this year and look for a club and shorter events to enter in the new year.
    What sort of hill climbs should I expect from the etape?
    i.e. blairgowrie - braemar road or steeper?
    cairnie mount or steeper?
    over the lecht or again steeper?
    Does anyone know roughly the route of the etape caledonia so then maybe I could do some of it just to get an idea of how tough it might be.

    thanks
    Bobby
    getting faster, fitter, and skinnier by the day!
  • Mr DogMr Dog Posts: 643
    Lots of good advice there.
    Your Giant is a fantastic bike and more than up to the task.
    It sounds like your based in the Aberdeen area so you have some graet routes.
    Wouln't get too hung up about comparing hills just try and put in the miles if you can. Deeside Thistle is your local club and the reports I've heard are glowing. Indoor training is secound best but as a local I know only too well about the horizontal sleet.
    You could spin at Aberdeen Sports Village who also have stationary bikes too. However a turbo trainer is best. Try to borrow one if you can. The forum has a great thread on the basics (Nap D) which I will follow myself once I've recovered.
    My winter training is MTB but you need to keep spinning out the miles.

    Good luck... will keep an eye out for you on the Defy 8)
    Why tidy the house when you can clean your bike?
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,281
    The climbs in the Etape are really not a problem, the only significant climb is Schiehallion which actually climbs about 250m in total over 11km, it starts off quite steep with about 150m over 2km then it just undulates for the rest, it's nothing like the big passes you mention, although it does have a couple of steep pitches near the start. Of course it adds something to the climb if you've been pushing it for the 50 miles or so to leading up to it.

    If you've actually been over any of the passes you mention then the Etape will hold no terrors for you.

    Find the route on the event website, mapmyride or Cycle Highland Perthshire, of course it's well worth doing bits (or even all) of it for a recce, but actually it's mostly really nice roads to ride on anyway. If you ride it solo, don't forget that riding in a big bunch on closed roads will improve your time hugely!

    All in all it's a major undertaking but well doable - whatever your level of fitness, you can choose to take it steady and you can be more or less guaranteed to finish quite fresh, or you can take it as a challenge and push yourself. If the latter, it's a good idea to do a few training runs of at least 50 miles so you know what it's like; if the former - well, I know quite a few people who probably don't ride 81 miles in total the rest of the year and have still managed.
  • Apart from Schiehallion the ride is pretty flat really and even that isn't a particularly hard climb. As bompington sais it has a steep start but get over that and you're fine (I managed it on a standard double with a 12-23 cassette, yes a couple more gears would have been nice...).

    This year the ride was very well organised and supported (once you managed to get through the start gate!), better than any other sportive I've done.

    Build yourself up so that you can ride 60 miles and you'll be fine doing the full 81 on the day and really don't worry about the bike, I saw everything from £5k carbon racers to £250 town bikes this year.
  • As mentioned above if you are around Aberdeen there are a few clubs you could join,

    Deeside Thistle are the largest (but we all know size isn't everything)
    Aberdeen Wheelers are a friendly bunch
    or Ythan CC :P are quite good if you are to the North of Aberdeen. If you do get a Sunday you are more than welcolm to come out to Ellon for our club run.

    Club website plug - www.ythancc.org.uk

    I did the EC for the first time this year and I had saved myself for the hill but when I got to the top I thought "is that it". the Cairn o mount is probably a wee bit harder than Shiehallion.

    As they said if you can get in the miles you won't have any boher with it. It's great day and good fun buzzing along roads with no cars.
  • Travelled up from Norfolk this year to do this and it was a execllent. Can't recommend it enough. Great scenery/atmosphere/organisation. Pity it's so far away from me.

    I don't think you need to worry about having a bash as logn as you do some modest prep. So go for it.

    This year the weather was great - Inevitably though one year it's going to be 81miles of wind/ rain / sleet. (Ever the optimist I am). That migth make a difference.

    >but get over that and you're fine

    There's another small bumpy bit right near the end at Logierait. This seemed unworthy of note (climb wise) when we rode back and forth to register the day before. But nearly finished me off on the day.
    Cylon cats - have no plan
  • Not sure if this is of interest (or it might come too soon), Deeside Thistle are running a charity ride this Sunday out of Banchory. Three distances to chose from 50K, 100K, 100M the route looks awesome (the 100M takes you over the Lecht!). I think you need to be registered to do it, so if you are interested contact Sandy Lindsay [email protected] for details.
  • OK thanks guys, I have decided I am going to enter the etape and commit to a traing plan, it is a long way away so I think I should be able to get myself into good shape for it over the winter!
    I actually live in Arbroath so not as far north as Aberdeen, due to the shifts I work I would struggle to make Sunday runs, as most of my time off is through the week! I also like to ride solo at the moment as I would be worried about holding people up, I can average just under 15 mph over 40 - 50 mile rides so I think I need to get a few miles into my legs just to get my speed up a bit!
    Thanks for all the feedback guys!

    Bobby
    getting faster, fitter, and skinnier by the day!
  • AndyD2574AndyD2574 Posts: 1,034
    Just take it nice and steady and build up over a period of time so that you enjoy what you are doing!

    Push yourself but not to the point of sickening yourself.

    Like the other lads say, try to get in with other riders to practice riding in a bunch!

    Set yourself little goals over the winter so that when spring comes you feel liek a different rider which wil really boost your confidence on the bike

    :D
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  • acebobby, from what you've been saying, I think you'll have no problem with the event. I think your fitness will be fine. Just do what you can over the winter then up it a little if, or when, the good (or less bad!) weather arrives. Your bike is definitely OK.
    Some group cycling skills might be useful, but not absolutely necessary. Whereas some people like to do the ride flat out in a peleton, there are hundreds of people doing their own thing without cycling wheel to wheel. The ride tends to thin out a little when you turn round at the top of Loch Rannoch. A recce is a good idea since you aren't too far away - if you wanted to make a weekend of it then there is a great ride up over the Moulin Moor on the other side of Pitlochry. You won't need accommodation on the weekend of the EC, which will make life a lot easier for you.
    So, IMHO, the one thing you'll need to sort out is food and fuelling. The organisers will supply you with lots of water, in addition to gels and energy bars. Trouble is, the bars and gels tend to be in short supply if you get there a little late. If you are training using a particular gel or bar product, take some with you on the ride - otherwise you might end up very hungry!
  • davieseedaviesee Posts: 6,473
    BlueScot wrote:
    acebobby, from what you've been saying, I think you'll have no problem with the event. I think your fitness will be fine. Just do what you can over the winter then up it a little if, or when, the good (or less bad!) weather arrives. Your bike is definitely OK.
    Some group cycling skills might be useful, but not absolutely necessary. Whereas some people like to do the ride flat out in a peloton, there are hundreds of people doing their own thing without cycling wheel to wheel. The ride tends to thin out a little when you turn round at the top of Loch Rannoch. A recce is a good idea since you aren't too far away - if you wanted to make a weekend of it then there is a great ride up over the Moulin Moor on the other side of Pitlochry. You won't need accommodation on the weekend of the EC, which will make life a lot easier for you.
    So, IMHO, the one thing you'll need to sort out is food and fuelling. The organisers will supply you with lots of water, in addition to gels and energy bars. Trouble is, the bars and gels tend to be in short supply if you get there a little late. If you are training using a particular gel or bar product, take some with you on the ride - otherwise you might end up very hungry!

    All good advice but I take issue with the peleton part.

    While you are correct about the choice, I saw many instances this year of people taking the attitude that as it is a closed road, it is my road. I saw a few instances of people wandering all over the road without checking over their shoulders. Dangerous when somebody behind you may be doing 30mph. Throw in that there were a few accidents as well.
    A little care and common sense goes a long way. Riding in a group will teach you what to look out for and prepare you so the bunch for the first third of the run is not overwhelming.
    Sorry, rant over but I am used to riding in a group and it still took me a while to relax this year.
    None of the above should be taken seriously, and certainly not personally.
  • Sorry, didn't mean to get your blood pressure up :evil:
    Of course, you are right, there were some people weaving all over the place - some of them with club jerseys on. To me, it seems these people are simply lacking in courtesy for others and common sense. Group skills will help, especially at the start and if you form a small group, but self awareness and a little consideration for others are equally as vital. I don't like the idea of saying you must have group skills to ride the EC. It sounds a little elitist.
    Maybe next year I need to finish the event in first place so that there is no one weaving about in front of me :D
  • Steve_FSteve_F Posts: 682
    daviesee wrote:
    All good advice but I take issue with the peloton part.

    While you are correct about the choice, I saw many instances this year of people taking the attitude that as it is a closed road, it is my road. I saw a few instances of people wandering all over the road without checking over their shoulders. Dangerous when somebody behind you may be doing 30mph. Throw in that there were a few accidents as well.
    A little care and common sense goes a long way. Riding in a group will teach you what to look out for and prepare you so the bunch for the first third of the run is not overwhelming.
    Sorry, rant over but I am used to riding in a group and it still took me a while to relax this year.

    I have to agree with this one completely. I ride in a group on a regular basis and had done two other sportives the two weekends before this one. It was the first time I'd ridden the Etape and the first third was downright scary. If it wasn't for how awesome the rest of it was I don't think I'd be back.

    Don't let this put you off. Just make sure you predict a sensible completion time. Mine was way off, did more training than expected and blitzed expected time by 1.5 hours which meant I started with a lot of slower riders.

    From what you've said anyway I'm sure you'll be fine.
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  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,281
    The group riding topic comes up regularly with the Etape C - obviously enough, with 1000s of inexperienced riders in a fairly tight bunch. I would still count myself as one of them, I've never been in a club or done group rides of any sort other than the etape.
    I've always had a fairly early (before 7:15) start and it's not often seemed that crowded to me, I know it does get more so further back, and with the (crude) seeding, on average you are a bit more likely to be among more experienced riders nearer the front.

    But it doesn't seem like rocket science to stay safe and polite in the pack, it only took me about 20 minutes the first year to get the hang of it; and I should point out I didn't do anything daft before that either, just remember to hold your line & don't change it without looking.
  • suzybsuzyb Posts: 3,449
    daviesee wrote:
    All good advice but I take issue with the peloton part.

    While you are correct about the choice, I saw many instances this year of people taking the attitude that as it is a closed road, it is my road. I saw a few instances of people wandering all over the road without checking over their shoulders. Dangerous when somebody behind you may be doing 30mph. Throw in that there were a few accidents as well.
    A little care and common sense goes a long way. Riding in a group will teach you what to look out for and prepare you so the bunch for the first third of the run is not overwhelming.
    Sorry, rant over but I am used to riding in a group and it still took me a while to relax this year.
    I noticed that whilst doing pedal for scotland. Even though that wasn't on closed roads people were still riding three/four abreast or pulling out from their line without checking (have to admit to doing that myself a few times).

    If it bugged me then I can't imagine how frustrated the better/faster riders must have got.
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