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From London to the french Alps

FraggleFrogFraggleFrog Posts: 2
Hi all,
Just registered today to bikeradar as we will need some support and advise from you experts out there. My colleague and I have decided to do a bike challenge next spring (2013) and we'll need to get training right now to accomplish the fitness level to finish our challenge we just set today: London to les Arc 1950 in 8 days!
Now a little about ourselves: Why are we doing this? Well, we are working in London, he's english, I'm french, and we have another office in the Alps.
We're in our 30s (late 30's... closer to 40's...!) and are both commuting to work on our bikes, actually, nearly everyone in our office is! We are also very generous people (yes we are!) and would like to do it for Charity! We are both working for a travel agency that is nearly 80 years old, we are specialised in ski tourism in the Alps, and have great contacts for a great PR for our company in the UK... useful for my point 3 below...
Where do I need your help?
1) Well, first of all, we need help and advise for training (we have a 9 to 5.30 job) for the next few months - as the weather is getting better, good time to start!
2) equipment: We will probably have a car to follow us both, but what type of bike, equipment, also budget for all these do you reckon we will need?
3) We are looking for corporate sponsors - do you have any tips and/or names you would like to suggest to get the most out of this? We will use all our journalist contacts to look into getting us in the papers, with pictures etc... and we will have a blog and various other ways to raise cash for the charity that will give exposure to the sponsors...
4) Anyone out there that could recommend routes they have personally experienced? We are starting to look at various routes, but obviously your advises would be worth gold as a google map doesn't prepare us to the worst!
5) Anything else we have missed? Any comments would be appreciated!

Thanks a lot all of you who will take the time to respond, give us advices, or simply took the time to read this!


  • schweizschweiz Posts: 1,644
    Firstly Good Luck!

    A few thoughts...

    I'm basing my 'advice' on training camps which I do with my club. They are usually 7-10 days long and we take everything we need with us although there is a workshop at the hotel if we need to do any fettling. We do 80-140 km a day and all but a couple of those days will have 2000+ metres of climbing.

    A quick google shows that a direct 'walking' route between London and Bourg-Saint-Maurice is about 800 km. It'll probably be closer to 900-950 depending on which way you go so if you're not already used to doing 100 km + rides then doing 8 of them back to back will be the biggest challenge. So basically you just need to get out and ride as much as you can. Like any preparation for an endurance event, start off with something manageable and increase distances slowly but surely. Do a few 3 day back to back rides so that you know how your body copes.

    Think about food. How many hours a day do you want to ride for? Assuming you keep an average of 20 km/h that's 5-6 hours a day in the saddle but a hilly day or a strong headwind could mean more. You'll be burning 6000 calories a day so eating proper meals (good breakfast and dinner and possibly lunch) will give you the energy you need. Don't just rely on sugary sport drinks and gels. You need to make sure you rest properly at night too.

    On to bikes, if you have a support car then you don't need a touring bike and panniers but mudguards may still be advantage if you hit some bad weather. Reliability is a key factor so strong, easily repairable wheels (i.e. not with odd OEM spokes or low spoke counts) would be a good idea. A drop handle road bike would be my choice. However, you're not aiming to break any records either so you don't need the lightest, sportiest bike. I reckon that a budget of £700-1000 will be enough for a decent enough bike. The major thing is that it is comfortable. If it isn't then one day is doable, two days is a push, the third day hurts and after that it just gets worse!

    Take some spares for jobs that you can do yourself (spokes, chains, cables) and chain lube, grease cleaning products and a 'proper' tool kit in the car. If you can't do basic maintenance then learn some before you set off. You're going through France, not the middle of Africa, so finding a bike shop with parts for 'bigger' repairs won't be a problem.

    Then there's cycling clothing. Padded shorts (don't forget the chamois cream), jerseys, jackets, helmet, leg warmers, arm warmers, hats, mitts, gloves, socks, shoes and enough of all that for the 8 days depending on possibilities for doing laundry.

    And suncream!

    Hope that helps for a start and gives you something to think about!
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