the French alps - what level of fitness do i need

denzzz28
denzzz28 Posts: 315
edited March 2013 in Road general
Im planning to to do a bike tour in the French Alps, particularly the Mont Ventoux and Alpe de'Huez. however, im not sure about my level of fitness to do this tour.

I cycle to work everyday and i do long distance cycling every other week with and average distance of 50-60miles. I cycle mostly in Dorking, Surrey hills area. if i compare my level of fitness from other weekend warriors im probably average to above average. I cycle London to Brighton normally around 2.5 -3 hours (starting from Streatham, London) and London, Richmond park to Windsor around 2 hours. I also do plenty of sportive rides. I have never done any long distance high altitude ride in my life so I was if I need more training to be able to ride such mountains.

so what do you guys think??

Comments

  • denzzz28
    denzzz28 Posts: 315
    oh I also run 8k-10k's once a week with an average time of 50mins
  • dodgy
    dodgy Posts: 2,890
    Ventoux isn't in the alps, but I know where you're coming from. I go to the alps every July, climbing is definitely my weak spot but I have no bother getting up every col I've tried. The thing with Alpine climbs is that generally, they are a constant grade all the way up, usually around 6 or 7%. Contrast with North Wales, Lakes etc!

    I think you'll be fine.
  • bernithebiker
    bernithebiker Posts: 4,148
    Although I think you'll be shocked at the intensity and duration of the big climbs, I think you'll be fine.

    1. Just settle into a comfortable rhythm that you can hold for an hour plus, don't worry about the speed.

    2. And make sure your gearing is low enough to enable 1. above. I would recommend 34-28 at least.

    3. Relax and enjoy the views.
  • mercia_man
    mercia_man Posts: 1,431
    Although I think you'll be shocked at the intensity and duration of the big climbs, I think you'll be fine.

    1. Just settle into a comfortable rhythm that you can hold for an hour plus, don't worry about the speed.

    2. And make sure your gearing is low enough to enable 1. above. I would recommend 34-28 at least.

    3. Relax and enjoy the views.

    That's summed it up perfectly. You sound plenty fit enough to me. Your 50-mile rides and 10k runs will give you the stamina you need for those long climbs.

    Pace yourself, spin comfortably in low gears and enjoy the glorious scenery. You'll get to the top of a pass more quickly that way than starting off flat out and blowing up. Exercise caution on the descents as it's easy to hit dangerous speeds in seconds. And get your braking done before you lean your bike over round the hairpins. Watch out for gravel and melted tarmac.
  • jouxplan
    jouxplan Posts: 147
    Although I think you'll be shocked at the intensity and duration of the big climbs, I think you'll be fine.

    1. Just settle into a comfortable rhythm that you can hold for an hour plus, don't worry about the speed.

    2. And make sure your gearing is low enough to enable 1. above. I would recommend 34-28 at least.

    3. Relax and enjoy the views.

    Absolutely agree with bernithebiker

    From what you say, I think you will be fine in terms of fitness. But gearing is important if you actually want to enjoy the climbs. Get a compact, as berni says.

    I go to the Alps every year, and love them. They are a wholly different experience to anything you'll ever have climbed in the UK. Reckon on an hour at least of climbing, sometimes 90 mins depending on the climb and how you are going.

    Ventoux - is a fair way from the Alps - about 5 hours from the northern Alps and around 3 from the southern Alps. If you can get there, AFTER you have been getting used to the Alps in the preceding days / week, then you'll enjoy it at least slightly :-) It is brutal, and unless you are way stronger than you are letting on, reckon on 2 hours plus of climbing.

    I'm playing on the Col du Joux Plane and Morzine - Avoriaz in the northern Alps for 10 days in July, and then heading to Ventoux for a week. Can't wait :D
    Trek Project One Series 6 Madone 2010
    Trek Madone 5.9 2006
    Trek Madone 5.2 2004
    Cougar Custom 1995
    Viscount Aerospace 1982
    Some mountain bikes gathering dust
  • dodgy
    dodgy Posts: 2,890
    jouxplan wrote:
    I'm playing on the Col du Joux Plane and Morzine - Avoriaz in the northern Alps for 10 days in July, and then heading to Ventoux for a week. Can't wait :D

    That's where we're going to again (3rd time), we stay in Verchaix and I often try and go up the Joux Plane before breakfast and have it up there at the restaurant by the lake. We'll be there for 2 weeks near the start of July, might see you there :)
  • bernithebiker
    bernithebiker Posts: 4,148
    dodgy wrote:
    jouxplan wrote:
    I'm playing on the Col du Joux Plane and Morzine - Avoriaz in the northern Alps for 10 days in July, and then heading to Ventoux for a week. Can't wait :D

    That's where we're going to again (3rd time), we stay in Verchaix and I often try and go up the Joux Plane before breakfast and have it up there at the restaurant by the lake. We'll be there for 2 weeks near the start of July, might see you there :)

    Used to own a chalet in Verchaix, Samoens and did the Joux Plane col quite often (famous for being the one that almost defeated Lance Armstrong!).

    Our chalet is 100 yards beyond the old bubble skilift, and down a track on your right. Called 'L'Hermine'. Has great views of the Criou. We sold it to friends. Lovely spot, wish we still had it.
  • jouxplan
    jouxplan Posts: 147
    dodgy wrote:
    jouxplan wrote:
    I'm playing on the Col du Joux Plane and Morzine - Avoriaz in the northern Alps for 10 days in July, and then heading to Ventoux for a week. Can't wait :D

    That's where we're going to again (3rd time), we stay in Verchaix and I often try and go up the Joux Plane before breakfast and have it up there at the restaurant by the lake. We'll be there for 2 weeks near the start of July, might see you there :)

    You climb the Joux Plane BEFORE breakfast :?: What kind of a monster are you?!! I need to eat four breakfast's and then digest them before I even think about climbing the Joux Plane :D

    It is indeed a beautiful spot (for a fifth breakfast) up there. I'll be on a wildly good looking light blue and white custom Trek, but if you look for someone slumped over their bars, that'll be the quickest way of spotting me :D
    Trek Project One Series 6 Madone 2010
    Trek Madone 5.9 2006
    Trek Madone 5.2 2004
    Cougar Custom 1995
    Viscount Aerospace 1982
    Some mountain bikes gathering dust
  • denzzz28
    denzzz28 Posts: 315
    Although I think you'll be shocked at the intensity and duration of the big climbs, I think you'll be fine.

    1. Just settle into a comfortable rhythm that you can hold for an hour plus, don't worry about the speed.

    2. And make sure your gearing is low enough to enable 1. above. I would recommend 34-28 at least.

    3. Relax and enjoy the views.


    Thanks for the advice chaps!

    I have a 50-34 chainset and I will be paying with 12-26 or 13-29 during my training and see what im comfortable with.
  • term1te
    term1te Posts: 1,462
    It depends on what your objectives are. I cycled up Alpe de'Huez with my (then 14 year old) son a few years back. It took us just under 2 hours and I enjoyed the view and waved at every other cyclist. A couple of days later I rode it again with a friend, and nearly killed myself to get to the TdF finish in just under an hour . I can't remember much about the second ascent, other than it hurt. So if you want to enjoy the view and the occasion, take it easy, you'll have no problems. If you are after a good time, get training.

    If you stay near Bourg there are a number of other excellent less well known rides in the area, Col de la Morte, or the ride up to Lac Luitel from Séchilienne
  • dodgy
    dodgy Posts: 2,890
    Our chalet is 100 yards beyond the old bubble skilift, and down a track on your right. Called 'L'Hermine'. Has great views of the Criou. We sold it to friends. Lovely spot, wish we still had it.

    It's our friend's place in Verchaix, a large wooden chalet, beautiful place. I understand totally how someone might regret selling a place in the area.
  • dodgy
    dodgy Posts: 2,890
    jouxplan wrote:
    You climb the Joux Plane BEFORE breakfast :?: What kind of a monster are you?!! I need to eat four breakfast's and then digest them before I even think about climbing the Joux Plane :D

    It is indeed a beautiful spot (for a fifth breakfast) up there. I'll be on a wildly good looking light blue and white custom Trek, but if you look for someone slumped over their bars, that'll be the quickest way of spotting me :D

    If I see you up there, coffee/beer is on me! I'm not a climber by any stretch, and the Joux Plane is one of the monsters of the Alps, but I find it doable. I'd much rather climb up the JP than tackle Hardknot and Wrynose in succession.
  • jouxplan
    jouxplan Posts: 147
    dodgy wrote:
    If I see you up there, coffee/beer is on me! I'm not a climber by any stretch, and the Joux Plane is one of the monsters of the Alps, but I find it doable. I'd much rather climb up the JP than tackle Hardknot and Wrynose in succession.

    Done! :D
    Trek Project One Series 6 Madone 2010
    Trek Madone 5.9 2006
    Trek Madone 5.2 2004
    Cougar Custom 1995
    Viscount Aerospace 1982
    Some mountain bikes gathering dust
  • prhymeate
    prhymeate Posts: 795
    jouxplan wrote:
    I'm playing on the Col du Joux Plane and Morzine - Avoriaz in the northern Alps for 10 days in July, and then heading to Ventoux for a week. Can't wait :D

    Nice! I'm heading to Morzine for the first week in July. I've been before but only ever for downhill. It'll be my first time taking my road bike so I'm really looking forward to it.
  • dodgy
    dodgy Posts: 2,890
    Sounds like there's going to be a few of us in the same area for a while. Maybe get together for some Mutzig in Bar Robinson? hic...
  • jouxplan
    jouxplan Posts: 147
    Prhymeate wrote:
    jouxplan wrote:
    I'm playing on the Col du Joux Plane and Morzine - Avoriaz in the northern Alps for 10 days in July, and then heading to Ventoux for a week. Can't wait :D

    Nice! I'm heading to Morzine for the first week in July. I've been before but only ever for downhill. It'll be my first time taking my road bike so I'm really looking forward to it.

    I've been going to Les Gets just up the road from Morzine for a few years now. Les Gets seems to be a Mecca for the downhillers - can't move for 'em!

    I always start off my holiday easy and do the climb up from Tanninges to Les Gets (about 10K at 5%), before I move on to tackling the Morzine-Avoriaz climb (a bit steep for the first 6K). There is a lovely alternative climb up the back way to Avoriaz from Morzine - called the Joux Verte. At the point where you are dying a bit, it gets real steep and you are in a village called 'Village of Goats'. Pretty as it is here, the goats have a tendency to not give a sh*t about your suffering, and will remain asleep in the road, or will wander into your path. And if they don't get you, the tourists feeding them certainly will :D

    Don't do the Joux Plane until you are fully acclimatised and ready! It is easier from the Morzine side however. A great circuit is to go Morzine, Les Gets, Tanninges, Sameons and then up the horrible side of Joux Plane, back down to Morzine and then if you are completely nuts, you could then go up to Avoriaz. Perhaps before breakfast :D
    Trek Project One Series 6 Madone 2010
    Trek Madone 5.9 2006
    Trek Madone 5.2 2004
    Cougar Custom 1995
    Viscount Aerospace 1982
    Some mountain bikes gathering dust
  • jouxplan
    jouxplan Posts: 147
    dodgy wrote:
    Sounds like there's going to be a few of us in the same area for a while. Maybe get together for some Mutzig in Bar Robinson? hic...

    It does, doesn't it? All those Alps to choose from, and we are all going to the same bit!

    I don't think I am there until about 17th July (and I'm up in Les Gets, not the Samoens valley) :(
    Trek Project One Series 6 Madone 2010
    Trek Madone 5.9 2006
    Trek Madone 5.2 2004
    Cougar Custom 1995
    Viscount Aerospace 1982
    Some mountain bikes gathering dust
  • prhymeate
    prhymeate Posts: 795
    ^ Cheers for the route suggestions. The only road I'm familiar with riding is Avoriaz > Morzine and that was going downhill, after the lifts have stopped running. I haven't been cycling road for long at all and nor do I have many long rides under my belt, so I'm probably in way over my head but it'll be fun all the same. I will make it from Morzine > Avoriaz even if takes me a whole day, hah.

    I'm sure quite a few pints of Mutzig will be had too. In the past we've stayed just round the corner from Bar Robinson but this time we're slightly nearer the lifts in a chalet. I can't wait, just really hope the weather will be good.
  • nunowoolmez
    nunowoolmez Posts: 865
    I am also taking a trip to the Alps in July, will be staying near St Michel de Maurienne in a chalet for 2 weeks so will be ideally located for lots of nice climbs. I have been fretting over fitness levels too but reading the above has chilled me out to a large extent. I will be suing the 34 - 28 gearing & am quite happy just to spin up the climbs, steady away & all that. I have a good base fitness just don't get a lot of time to train as much as i'd like too. Our shoddy weather doesn't help much either! I will be hoping to get in lots of the famous Cols as a first timer out there & also see stages 18 & 19 of the Tour. I can't wait!

    I am really looking forward to the descents but melted tarmac will be a new experience!!!
  • jouxplan
    jouxplan Posts: 147
    Prhymeate wrote:
    I can't wait, just really hope the weather will be good.

    That whole area is called the 'Portes du Soleil' (Gates of the Sun) for good reason! It basically has the best and most consistently good weather of the whole Alps. Often, 10Km to the south in the Tanninges / Somoens valley, it can be absolutely hammering it down, but up at Les Gets and Morzine and Avoriaz, it is positively hot :D This is why I keep going back to the same area - which happens to be perfect for my wife and kids too. I'm not saying it never rains, but it is rare for it to be bad for more than a single day in a week.
    I am also taking a trip to the Alps in July, will be staying near St Michel de Maurienne in a chalet for 2 weeks so will be ideally located for lots of nice climbs. I will be hoping to get in lots of the famous Cols as a first timer out there & also see stages 18 & 19 of the Tour. I can't wait!

    I am really looking forward to the descents but melted tarmac will be a new experience!!!

    Nice one! The Telegraph and Galibier will blow your mind - enjoy! It's a hell of a lot of climbing :shock: Be prepared for the temperature to be at least 10 degrees cooler at the top of the Galibier. Take a gilet for the descent and don't go up it if it looks like bad weather up there. It can be beautiful in the valley, and blinking freezing at the summit :lol:

    The descents - every year people get seriously hurt coming down the French mountains. A lot of 'em are from UK - because we have no experience of such descents. Take it steady to start and don't go mad. It is all too easy to become over-confident. You'll gradually get into the flow and should really enjoy it. Melted tarmac is relatively rare - gravel, cars and simply going too fast are the bigger dangers.

    I'm sure you will be overtaking cars by the end of your holiday, just keep a cool head :wink:
    Trek Project One Series 6 Madone 2010
    Trek Madone 5.9 2006
    Trek Madone 5.2 2004
    Cougar Custom 1995
    Viscount Aerospace 1982
    Some mountain bikes gathering dust
  • nunowoolmez
    nunowoolmez Posts: 865
    Thanks dude, good advice! I did a 2 week training camp in Majorca in Feb which included the descent & ascent of Sa Colobra which is a Cat 1 I think. Lovely road but very twisty & plenty of sheer drops if you got a corner wrong! After 15 minutes of decending I kinda felt like I was riding a motorbike & was almost manoevring the bike like one. When descending for such a while I think you become so focussed & 'in the zone', you feel like you can take anything on. This is when accidents occur I think, not complacency as such but a feeling of empowerment over the road which means greater risks are taken. I love descending but I want to return home alive & not in a box so I will be extra cautious!!