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Haute Route Pyrenees - gearing

pedalbasherpedalbasher Posts: 215
edited April 2016 in Amateur race
I'm doing the Haute Route Pyrenees in August.

7 timed mountain stages in 7 days. Technically a sportive, but I'll be treating it as a race and the competition is very tough.

I'm a decent 3rd Cat, 63kg, 5 years of road riding experience, occasional racer but do a fair mileage, particularly in training for this event (c. 200 - 250 miles a week).

Currently ride a Canyon Ultimate CF SLX with a compact chainset and 11-25 on the back. I've never needed anything more than the 25, but I've never raced 7 days in the mountains.

Any recommendations for an event like the Haute Route? I'm reluctant to switch the chainset so it's 50-34 at the front with either 11-25 or 11-28 at the back (or possibly 12-28). Has anyone else who is relatively strong at climbing done an event like this and do you think it's worth taking a bail-out option at the expense of closer gear gaps?

Thanks

Posts

  • HerzogHerzog Posts: 197
    I'm doing the Haute Route Pyrenees in August.

    7 timed mountain stages in 7 days. Technically a sportive, but I'll be treating it as a race and the competition is very tough.

    I'm a decent 3rd Cat, 63kg, 5 years of road riding experience, occasional racer but do a fair mileage, particularly in training for this event (c. 200 - 250 miles a week).

    Currently ride a Canyon Ultimate CF SLX with a compact chainset and 11-25 on the back. I've never needed anything more than the 25, but I've never raced 7 days in the mountains.

    Any recommendations for an event like the Haute Route? I'm reluctant to switch the chainset so it's 50-34 at the front with either 11-25 or 11-28 at the back (or possibly 12-28). Has anyone else who is relatively strong at climbing done an event like this and do you think it's worth taking a bail-out option at the expense of closer gear gaps?

    Thanks

    Never done the HR, but living in Switzerland I've experience of back to back days in the mountains. I would suggest compact & 11-28 to be the minimum as accumulated fatigue should not be underestimated.

    I'm around 74-76 kg with a decent FTP (racing background) and always go with a compact and 11-30 in the mountains.
  • Lose the 11, you probably aren't getting any benefit from it. If you're 'racing' a 12-25 will be fine. I suspect however that you will probably need a 28 if you haven't done anything like this previously.
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Can you sit down on a 10% climb and comfortably turn your lowest gear for 30 minutes?
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • GrifterukGrifteruk Posts: 244
    I did Haute Route Alps in 2015 (top 65) and am doing the HR Pyrenees in 2016 so see you there!! I consider myself a strong climber but Emma Pooley finished about 32nd place last year and the top 40 were a different league.

    We have a number of similarities in weekly mileage (200+), weight (61.5kgs) and type of riding (Cat 3 if I bothered racing regularly) so here's my 2p for you:

    - I reckon you will want a 28. Everyone in the Alps last year had a bad day or bad spell (for me it was the last climb on Day 6). If you ain't got it you will miss it whereas if you have it you don't have to use it. Its a mental as well as a physical thing at times. The Pyrenees is going to have tougher gradients and will be possibly hotter than the Alps IME;

    - I doubt you will need the 11, so a 12-28 would work OK. I kept my 11-28 as I was used to it but doubt I used it more than a couple of times in seriously fast descents. The 11-28 (on an 11 speed cassette) served me well without any real issue over gaps in gearing;

    - Recovery is critical across the 7 days so another reason for me to have a suitable gear. If you find yourself churning its gonna be that much harder to keep that up hour after hour. There was a guy on a single speed in the Alps churning at 50rpm hour after hour; I have no idea how his knees didn't explode. However as the week went on he dropped down the leaderboard as the effort took its toll;

    - Get some climbing in over here in advance, over multiple consecutive days if you can.

    - Be ready to chaingang in the valley sections but manage your energy reserves for the cols. We had passengers on a few occasions in the valleys and they were generally hated by everyone!!

    Enjoy
  • Get a something big for sure. I rode it back in 2013 and came in the top 25 but I rode a compact and 12/29. I was climbing at about 4 watts per kg on the multiple climb days but parts of the Pyrenees are very steep so it is worth having a lower gear. When I did it we went east to west so had two flatter days at the end but even there I never really struggled for gears.

    If you want to do well make sure you start in the front group on day one, I didn't and lost loads of time early.

    Also always remember you can make lots of time up on the last climb/ last few days if you have saved a bit and recovered properly. You will need to eat mountains of food and drink lots.

    Also pack clothing for 30 degrees through to 5 degrees and rain. The weather can be extreme and it is best to be prepared.
  • I did the HR Pyrenees last year (20th overall) and used a 36-28 but i'm more of a grinder than a spinner, but i'll be honest that some climbs i spent times thinking a 34 front or 30 rear would have been nice!
    I think its basically the same route this year... the run ins to the first climbs of the day were fast and hard (also fun).
    Dave
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