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Training for the Etape

KulaBenKulaBen Posts: 220
Hello,
I've signed up to do the Etape du Tour in July, and would appreciate any training advice people have. I know i've got the miles in me having done century rides before, and I can go uphill ok as I live near the Peaks, so i'm used to sharp steep climbs. What I need help on is training for the longer climbs, particularly as the final climb up the Semnoz is 11km. I'm planning to get on the turbo two or three times per week and try to get out for a long ride at least once a week but this is very much dependent on work and family. I'm also trying to lose some weight to improve my PtW ratio and have a bike fit booked.
Are there any other recommendations? Books? Worth getting a heart rate monitor?
Much obliged and merry christmas,
Ben
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Posts

  • Hill repeats nearer the time? Longer rides similar to the time you hope to take for the Etape - use to test out nutrition /drinking? 2 x 20 efforts on the turbo - use to try out various cadences. Personally I would get a HR monitor and a test to measure your output/training zones - I know it won't be the same as a power meter but it will give you a better idea of where you are, what to do and where you need to be to do eth Etape in a good time.
    And merry christmas to you too!
  • ck99ck99 Posts: 44
    At 49, having only been cycling for 18 months, I did my 1st Etape in 2012. I trained for 6+ months, doing 10-12 hours per week on a bike, either at the gym or the road. I went from 90KGs to under 80KGs, lost 4 inches off my waist line and did multiple 100m rides pre etape with the Dragon and White Rose being the hardest. I did the etape in 9h 57 mins and was exhausted. However, all the training paid off and I had a great day. Sad to admit, but there is a sense of achievement as you pass people pushing their bikes or standing on the hill side staring into the distance, but is that just me? I think you will be fine given your training. Just frighten yourself and you will put in the extra effort to a) finish b) enjoy it c) have fun. See you next year!
  • With the little info about you given it is difficult to answer but on the basis of what you have wrote...

    Don't assume because you have done centuries in the UK it means you will complete the Etape. You are in a great position to start training with some reasonable experience to build on. Looking at this years route there is hardly a flat section with roughly 1/3rd of the time spent climbing. Don't assume the downhill is all rest time, with fast technical descents it can be tiring and demand concentration on the way down.

    When doing the two long climbs at the end this will be a tougher mental battle than physical if you have never ridden a big mountain before (until you have done one your brain can't quite comprehend a hill can keep going this long when you are from the UK) so be prepared. If you can find a long climb then go and ride it even if it means travelling to do it.

    Yes get a HR monitor and then most importantly find out how to use it. It will stop you wasting time in your training.

    Finally train, train and then do a bit more. You always see people at the Etape who are struggling so early on you wonder why they entered and what their expectation was. I would assume you are doing it for fun not to win it so your goal is just to finish and enjoy the day. Make sure you have trained properly to be able to do this.
  • phreakphreak Posts: 2,573
    From doing sportives in France and Italy, the key for me has to do constant efforts for an hour. That's roughly how long it will take you to climb most mountains in these kind of events. So most of my training has been 1 hour constant efforts on the turbo. Then use longer rides at the weekend as much for time in the saddle and getting the feed strategies right.

    I don't think hill reps in this country are much use as they don't really replicate what you'll be faced with. Those kind of turbo sessions should do the trick though, and if you can get out there a bit before the event and practice some longer climbs then it'll do your confidence good.

    Aside from the physical stuff, knowing how to descend will be an obvious benefit, plus getting your eating sorted. It's not easy to eat when climbing, and of course not all that easy when going down fast either, so give some thought as to when and how you can get food in.
  • ck99ck99 Posts: 44
    Having never been to the Alps before, I was surprised at just how LONG the climbs were. I thought the hills would be tough, but they were worse than I had expected. In my total of 9h 57m, I spent 6h 40m climbing over 3 long hills and 1 shorter one. Col de Madeline (2h); Col du Glanddon/Croix de la Fer (2h 20m); Col du Mollard (30m) and La Toussuire (1h 50m). To train for the hills, I did 2 sessions a week at the gym on a LSD (Long Steady Distance) ride of 90 mins climbing a hill at a strong resistance and this really paid off. It was interesting to see the old boys grinding their way up the hills at a constant pace. As somebody else said, you need to be confident that you can physically and mentally cycle non stop for a long time. You also need to allow for bad weather ie wet/cold/windy or very hot. Look at the route, calculate a realistic time for yourself for each of the hills and then put in the hard hours before then, so that you are confident you can do it. This year's route looks easier, but then the weather could be bad. Most of all enjoy yourself.
  • KulaBenKulaBen Posts: 220
    Thanks for the encouragement and replies! I think the plan is to try to do hour long sessions on the turbo to try to recreate the hills, and I've spotted some HRMs in the sale which will allow me to work more efficiently. My plan is to factor in a few hilly sportives along the way, and I've spotted some that should be good. I realise that nothing we have in the UK will approach the challenge, but I as I live near the peaks and the lakes it must be worth trying some of the hills there as training.
    Lochindaal apologies for the paucity of info- I wasn't sure anyone would reply to the post so wanted to keep it brief! What did you have in mind?
  • chill123chill123 Posts: 210
    i would advise you to get a heart rate monitor. Sure any people will tell you it is not as good as a power meter (it isn't but it is a lot cheaper) and so on however i believe a heart rate monitor can bring the following benefits which are of value:

    1. It's a useful tool for gauging your efforts, particularly so when doing interval training. It's also great on a big ride (race/sportive situation) so you can easily see if you're getting carried away and riding too hard too early. If you know how hard you can work for a certain period a HRM can take away a lot of the fear on a big ride day.

    2. HRMs can be great motivational tools, helping you to plan a specific workout (be it in the gym or out on the road) and stick to it rather than just riding around at the same old pace all the time.

    3. A HRM lets you track your progress. As your fitness improves you should find your resting heart rate fall and you'll be able to do particular workouts at a lower average heart rate over time (all other things being equal).
  • Also, make sure you choose the right gearing, as this will be crucial when you arrive tired at the final climb.
  • KulaBenKulaBen Posts: 220
    With HRMs which zone should I be mostly training in?
  • KulaBenKulaBen Posts: 220
    PS Berni those houses in Brittany look amazing! A wee bit out of my budget mind.....
  • Tom ButcherTom Butcher Posts: 3,830
    You don't say exactly where near the Peaks but there are some decent long climbs there - maybe not as long as the big Alpine climbs but you can still get used to climbing for extended periods. Perhaps out of step with some of the others I didn't find riding in the Alps that much of a shock - sure the climbs go on longer but a hard day out in the Peak can be just as hard as an Alpine sportive. Besides even climbs like the Via Gellia are a good 30 minutes - Snake Pass, Cat and Fiddle are a bit further from me but they offer extended climbing, Holme Moss is steep and long - there are others too whichever part of the Peak you live in. No they aren't Alpine but they are long enough that if you string a few of those into a hard ride you get used to extended climbing on tired legs - I don't think the Alpine climbs are going to come as a shock.

    More important than a HRM is to train with some fast training groups. Get used to riding with others - get used to descending at the pace others descend at with people around you. Be comfortable holding a wheel, sharing the work a bit etc - these things will help you get round faster - if you already do all that then great.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • KulaBen wrote:
    With HRMs which zone should I be mostly training in?


    The intensity at which you train; is a dependent on a variety of issues, these include
    1) how much time you have to train (less time = more intensity)
    2) your goals (maybe you have supplemental goals such as weight loss)
    3) your current fitness level (no point telling you to go for 5 hr rides if your current fitness only supports you for 90-mins),
    etc.

    There's a variety of coaches that can help you with your goals (whether this is our company http://www.rstsport.com or others that are on here). give me a shout if you want any help

    cheers
    ric
    Coach to Michael Freiberg - Track World Champion (Omnium) 2011
    Coach to James Hayden - Transcontinental Race winner 2017, and 2018
    Coach to Jeff Jones - 2011 BBAR winner and 12-hour record
    Check out our new website https://www.cyclecoach.com
  • With HRMs which zone should I be mostly training in?

    Always be careful when asking this question as different people use different methods for zones. Mine are based upon a lab test for Anaerobic Threshold so won't help give you a value for HR but the principal will be the same.

    I use
    Zone 0 - This is a recovery zone only
    Zone 1 - This is for base mileage and requires long rides 3-5hrs to be of benefit (done at this time of year)
    Zone 2 - This is steady state and will be the zone to ride the flat sections of the etape in (training rides will be done at this level developing from 1hr - 5hr+ over time)
    Zone 3 - The top of this is my AT. (training rides just below AT for hill climb practice up to 1hr - will build up over time)
    Zone 4+ - Short interval sessions for VO2 max sessions.

    Find a method for yourself that is based upon a test you can do and repeat-1) to monitor progress and 2)so you can adjust your levels if they change. Make sure you understand which ever method you chose that you undertand the levels you get out of it and what they mean to you in terms of training.

    As said already a coach could help you if you really don 't understand and need help.
  • ToksToks Posts: 1,143
    KulaBen wrote:
    Hello,
    I've signed up to do the Etape du Tour in July, and would appreciate any training advice people have. I know i've got the miles in me having done century rides before, and I can go uphill ok as I live near the Peaks, so i'm used to sharp steep climbs. What I need help on is training for the longer climbs, particularly as the final climb up the Semnoz is 11km. I'm planning to get on the turbo two or three times per week and try to get out for a long ride at least once a week but this is very much dependent on work and family. I'm also trying to lose some weight to improve my PtW ratio and have a bike fit booked.
    Are there any other recommendations? Books? Worth getting a heart rate monitor?
    Much obliged and merry christmas,
    Ben
    There are lots of different ways to train for the Etape. I've known a couple of really fit guys who've done really well in Etape's but never did any rides longer than 2-3 hours. Then I knew one guy who did more than twenty 100 mile sportives but still took 4 attempts to complete an Etape in the time limit. So...
    1. Get yourself as light as possible. The more weight you carry the harder it will be!
    2. Be really comfortable riding for 5+ hours
    3. Learn to ride at a moderately hard but sustainable pace for 30mins to 60mins. the sort of effort you have to concentrate on to maintain, your breathing will be syncopated with pedalling and there may be mild soreness in your thighs) Turbo trainers are good for this; so are time trials; so are timed loops (RP 3 Lap Challenge)
    Additionally, in no particular order, the following will also help...

    -Being comfortable riding in large groups - great way to save energy
    -A training plan that leads peaking at the Etape
    -Getting your food and hydration levels right
    -Being able to sit on wheels
    -Being good at descending skills (Big fat guys would always come right back past me on descents despite me dropping them on the climbs some 10-15mins earlier. I was rubbish at descending and I hated the way those chubby dudes could do that)
    Good Luck
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    I'm a top 200 overall Etape finisher, having started cycling 3 years earlier as a fat middle aged unfit bloke. With the right approach you should certainly be able to complete the event and have a good time.

    Most of advice here is pretty good, especially the one immediately above from Lochindaal. His number 1 is definitely right, every pound lost will make the day a lot easier.

    The only bullet I would add to that is that its absolutely vital to get your gearing right. This year's etape has 4 climbs and you need to be 100% sure that on the final climb of the day you have a gear that will allow you to keep the pedals turning at 70rpm+. Use a compact and put the largest possible cassette on the back.

    Training: I would avoid trying to use hills in the UK for practice, they tend to be short and sharp and encourage the wrong approach to doing long mountain climbs. The single best form of training would be to find a local club and ride their time trial events, 10 mile and 25 mile.

    Don't worry about your finishing place in these or getting as aerodynamic as possible. Just ride in a comfortable position, the motivation of being in a race should help you produce a good effort and see your times improve the more you do. The effort/HR you should be aiming for on the climbs is just below that you will see on a 25 mile TT, doing 10TTs is great training for helping improve this fitness level. Key thing about TTs is they reproduce the effort needed for a long climb, steady consistent NON-STOP power from start to finish.

    If you get used to doing TTs you can do a reasonable simulation of the effort needed for the event itself by doing a long ride consisting of a 10 mile TT, riding easy for 20 mins or so then doing a 25TT, riding easy for 30 mins then doing another 25TT aiming to do all 3 TTs at roughly the same pace. This should help you get your pacing/feeding right, provided your gears let you turn the same revs when climbing as on the flat you should be sorted in terms of physical preparation (though I would emphasise the point made above about practising descending too.)

    (FWIW based on my experiences I put together some advice for riding for the Marmotte,http://www.mammothlifestyle.co.uk/Downloads/marmotte_guide.pdf It includes a section on training for and doing long climbs which is also relevant for the Etape or similar)
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • Tom DeanTom Dean Posts: 1,723
    I would question whether a 10 mile TT makes a good training session. Training for TTs may transfer well to Etape etc. but the races themselves are difficult to fit into the schedule IMO.
  • phreakphreak Posts: 2,573
    Maybe they're useful to break up your training and introduce something to freshen things up?
  • Trev The RevTrev The Rev Posts: 1,040
    edited January 2013
    Tom Dean wrote:
    I would question whether a 10 mile TT makes a good training session. Training for TTs may transfer well to Etape etc. but the races themselves are difficult to fit into the schedule IMO.

    Why?

    A 10 mile TT would be a good opportunity to discover FTP if using a power meter, or for finding threshold heart rate. You would learn a lot about pacing too if you were riding entirely by feel. Granted a flat 10 mile TT is a bit different to long continental climbs, but done on your road bike once every 2 weeks?

    Ride to club and start, warm up etc. 20 to 30 race, some intervals on the way back to the club and home (if you are fit enough to recover from a 10 mile race, you could always do another 20 minutes at threshold on the way home and you have done pretty much a classic 2 x 20 min at threshold) or if the 10 mile TT has totally knackered you, easy ride home and a recovery ride or rest the following day. Not sure what your thoughts are here?


    Edited as Bahzob was posting.... honest.
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    Tom Dean wrote:
    I would question whether a 10 mile TT makes a good training session. Training for TTs may transfer well to Etape etc. but the races themselves are difficult to fit into the schedule IMO.

    Why?

    Ride to club and start, warm up etc. 20 to 30 race, some intervals on the way back to the club and home (if you are fit enough to recover from a 10 mile race, you could always do another 20 minutes at threshold on the way home and you have done pretty much a classic 2 x 20 min at threshold) or if the 10 mile TT has totally knackered you, easy ride home and a recovery ride or rest the following day. Not sure what your thoughts are here?

    Yes. The point is the 10TT is not the end objective it's a means to the end. So ideally you would ride to the event warming up on the way, ride it then ride back, perhaps with some more work if you are feeling good. Doing a 10TT race beats just riding 10 miles because the mere fact that you are taking part in an event means you push yourself harder. Its especially useful if you are new to training or using a HR monitor.

    If you look at the course this year this approach is especially relevant. There is a short flat section followed by a couple of short back to back climbs. So beginning of the ride will be pretty much a warm up followed by a couple of efforts done at/just under 10TT pace i.e just like above. Get this bit right and you should be in a good group and get an easy ride to the bottom of the first of the two big climbs.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • twotyredtwotyred Posts: 822
    I can second everything that Bahzob posted especially about not getting macho about your gearing. You'll see a lot of the continentals using triples and they do a lot more big climbs than we do. No one has ever failed to get up Alpe-d'Huez because their gears were too low but plenty have failed because their gears were too high. For Alpine climbs I use a compact chainset and an Apex cassette with a 32 on the back.

    Only place I disagree is about not bothering with short steep hills. When you are climbing for >1hr its good to be able to stand on the pedals for a couple of hundred metres or so from time to time to give your bum a rest and to stretch out your back. Short, hard overgeared efforts on hills where you have to stand on the pedals or sprint intervals are good for giving you the strength to do this.
  • ToksToks Posts: 1,143
    Tom Dean wrote:
    I would question whether a 10 mile TT makes a good training session. Training for TTs may transfer well to Etape etc. but the races themselves are difficult to fit into the schedule IMO.
    Hmm you've clearly never hear pros say their 'using the following races for training'. One of the chief determinants when it comes to success at both sportives and TT's is - Functional Threshold power. Riding TT's or timed loops (moderately hard) is great training to increase your FT. I got golds in two Etape sportives a few years ago and most of my training was riding fast 40-60min rides at Regents Park which is pan flat.
  • Tom DeanTom Dean Posts: 1,723
    Why?

    A 10 mile TT would be a good opportunity to discover FTP if using a power meter, or for finding threshold heart rate. You would learn a lot about pacing too if you were riding entirely by feel. Granted a flat 10 mile TT is a bit different to long continental climbs, but done on your road bike once every 2 weeks?
    Sure, it may be useful for tracking fitness if you are not otherwise testing. As for pacing, I'm not sure you would ever go that hard in a sportive, except on a final climb when you are knackered, does the 'feel' really translate?
    Ride to club and start, warm up etc. 20 to 30 race, some intervals on the way back to the club and home (if you are fit enough to recover from a 10 mile race, you could always do another 20 minutes at threshold on the way home and you have done pretty much a classic 2 x 20 min at threshold) or if the 10 mile TT has totally knackered you, easy ride home and a recovery ride or rest the following day. Not sure what your thoughts are here?
    Some can do it, for most I think the race is so hard that the quality of any extra work you try to do is compromised. What are you left with? ~25mins L4. A bit of a nothing session.
    bahzob wrote:
    Yes. The point is the 10TT is not the end objective it's a means to the end. So ideally you would ride to the event warming up on the way, ride it then ride back, perhaps with some more work if you are feeling good. Doing a 10TT race beats just riding 10 miles because the mere fact that you are taking part in an event means you push yourself harder. Its especially useful if you are new to training or using a HR monitor.
    As above. Is the alternative 'just riding 10 miles' though? Personally, I love club 10s. I do them because I enjoy racing. Any training adaptations I would hope for could be better achieved in other ways.
  • I'd agree with Bahzob on this one.

    If you don't have decent hills to train on in the UK, then these TT efforts are the next best thing.

    And I constantly push the mantra 'use lower gearing' (see Cadence/Cadence/Cadence thread in General).

    For this type of event, it's almost impossible to go too low, unless you're very good.
  • Tom DeanTom Dean Posts: 1,723
    Toks wrote:
    Tom Dean wrote:
    I would question whether a 10 mile TT makes a good training session. Training for TTs may transfer well to Etape etc. but the races themselves are difficult to fit into the schedule IMO.
    Hmm you've clearly never hear pros say their 'using the following races for training'. One of the chief determinants when it comes to success at both sportives and TT's is - Functional Threshold power. Riding TT's or timed loops (moderately hard) is great training to increase your FT. I got golds in two Etape sportives a few years ago and most of my training was riding fast 40-60min rides at Regents Park which is pan flat.
    Not that we should necessarily be taking training cues from the pros, I should like to know who is recommending club 10s! There is a big difference between 40-60 mins around FTP and a 10. My point is, racing a 10 for training doesn't give a good balance of intensity vs duration.
  • Trev The RevTrev The Rev Posts: 1,040
    Tom Dean wrote:
    Toks wrote:
    Tom Dean wrote:
    I would question whether a 10 mile TT makes a good training session. Training for TTs may transfer well to Etape etc. but the races themselves are difficult to fit into the schedule IMO.
    Hmm you've clearly never hear pros say their 'using the following races for training'. One of the chief determinants when it comes to success at both sportives and TT's is - Functional Threshold power. Riding TT's or timed loops (moderately hard) is great training to increase your FT. I got golds in two Etape sportives a few years ago and most of my training was riding fast 40-60min rides at Regents Park which is pan flat.
    Not that we should necessarily be taking training cues from the pros, I should like to know who is recommending club 10s! There is a big difference between 40-60 mins around FTP and a 10. My point is, racing a 10 for training doesn't give a good balance of intensity vs duration.

    I thought 10 to 60 minutes at threshold was an accepted training zone.

    A well trained fast rider mat want to do another block after the 10 but a less well trained rider would find 25 to 30 minutes at threshold very taxing. I can't see what is wrong with a decent warm up = ride to start, a 10 at or just under or just over threshold with an all out finish at close to Vo2max followed by whatever depending on the fitness level of the rider not being beneficial.
  • Tom ButcherTom Butcher Posts: 3,830
    I don't know how hard you are pushing in a club 10 Trev but I wouldn't be wanting to do 20 minutes at threshold on the way home !

    Apart from that I agree - riding club 10s with a ride out and back could easily be part of a good training mix. You want to be doing some relatively high intensity stuff and for many a club 10 is an easier way to do that than sat on a turbo trainer or trying to motivate yourself for a solo ride. On our 12.5m Long Lane course I could always go at least a minute faster with a number on my back than if I went round during the day for training.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • shazzzshazzz Posts: 1,073
    bahzob wrote:
    (FWIW based on my experiences I put together some advice for riding for the Marmotte,http://www.mammothlifestyle.co.uk/Downloads/marmotte_guide.pdf It includes a section on training for and doing long climbs which is also relevant for the Etape or similar)

    Hi Bahzob
    Thanks for posting this again - I have read it before but am finally doing the Marmotte this year and find it to be a really useful guide.
    Out of interest, are you able to say what the weight (and therefore FTP W/kg) of "riders 1 and 2" was?
    Cheers
  • Trev The RevTrev The Rev Posts: 1,040
    I don't know how hard you are pushing in a club 10 Trev but I wouldn't be wanting to do 20 minutes at threshold on the way home !

    Apart from that I agree - riding club 10s with a ride out and back could easily be part of a good training mix. You want to be doing some relatively high intensity stuff and for many a club 10 is an easier way to do that than sat on a turbo trainer or trying to motivate yourself for a solo ride. On our 12.5m Long Lane course I could always go at least a minute faster with a number on my back than if I went round during the day for training.

    You should try going round Long Lane on fixed!

    I think a lot of riders underestimate FTP because they set it based on solo rides or on a turbo rather than in a race and end up training less intensely than they think they are. Then they do recovery rides way too hard. Then they wonder why they fail to improve.
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    shazzz wrote:
    Out of interest, are you able to say what the weight (and therefore FTP W/kg) of "riders 1 and 2" was?
    Cheers

    Rider 2 was me 70.5kg at the time. I think the other one was 68kg but that's from memory.

    There is some more data from another rider who finished in top 10 here if interested. It pretty clearly shows that in events like this power/weight is what counts along with the ability to sustain power at close to max for long periods of time.

    http://mr-miff-on-tour.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/marmotte-compared-to-best_17.html
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    Tom Dean wrote:
    .. Is the alternative 'just riding 10 miles' though? Personally, I love club 10s. I do them because I enjoy racing. Any training adaptations I would hope for could be better achieved in other ways.

    ?? For an event like this where the focus is on sustained power just below threshold you definitely should be incorporating 12-30 minute workouts at just above threshold. They are an excellent way to build the power you need in the event and also represent a zone you may well be riding in (as is the case in this year's tour, the first climbs should be done around 10TT pace).

    Further, if you are new to training as the OP is, then they are an excellent way to calibrate your sense of RPE, HR and how the two fit together (since you will go all the way from cold through to just above threshold).

    Given this riding a 10TT is one of the best ways to do these workouts since you will be motivated to go harder than you would just riding solo by the nature of the event. Further the times, while not important by themselves, will form a trend over time that should give you a pretty good sense of whether you are getting fitter.

    Scheduling them shouldn't be too difficult. Our club runs mid week 10s on Wed evenings. So perfect for including in a schedule leaving weekends free for longer rides.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
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