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Advice for 7 day Central Alps Tour

JacksyeeJacksyee Posts: 48
edited May 2019 in Road general
Hi all,

In mid June I’ll be riding over 7 days from Geneva to Nice. Will be doing it with an 8 person tour with guides etc since it is my first time.

I am a relatively new cyclist (2 years or so) but train a lot as a triathlete for Ironman.

I have been pounding out climbs for the last 6 weeks or so but this is still a bit intimidating.

I have a Cannondale Supersix Evo Disc, I have changed my gears to compact/32. The bike is really nice.

Tour is Tour is Geneva, Annecy, Glandon, Alp Du Huez, Lautaret, Galibier, D'Izoard, De Vars, De La Bonnette, Nice.

Max distance per day 104, max vertical 3300m (day 2 Glandon, Alp Du Huez)

Honestly just asking for any advice or hacks, things to bring, things to think about. I was coming with a mate, who just got injured so won’t know anyone on the tour.
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Posts

  • JacksyeeJacksyee Posts: 48
    Ugh double post. SOrry
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 12,706
    Pack a full clothing kit, full on winter to full on summer.
    You could encounter any extreme in the mountains, even in July or August, more so in May....

    You have quite easy gearing so the climbs won't be as bad as you think, as long as you pace yourself.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • JacksyeeJacksyee Posts: 48
    Thanks I have all my clothes except overshoes? I think I may just buy them there if need be

    Do you modify what you eat during the week or eat as normal
  • thegreatdividethegreatdivide Posts: 5,084
    104 miles or km a day?

    Geneva to Annecy via where?
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 12,706
    Jacksyee wrote:
    Thanks I have all my clothes except overshoes? I think I may just buy them there if need be

    Do you modify what you eat during the week or eat as normal
    I’d get the overshoes before you go, time and access to availability will probably be limited. As for food, a huge breakfast and maybe a slightly larger dinner but not too heavy before going to sleep.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • FatTedFatTed Posts: 1,214
    Take a spare derailleur hanger, rear drive and non drive and front spokes, spare brake pads, get bike serviced 2 weeks before you go, with new tyres, preferably wide ones. Usually drying your bibs overnight is difficult so bring a few. The actual riding is fun not too hard, you have all day, pace yourself on the climbs about 5 mins per Kilometre. Always have a rain jacket with you. Sunscreen.
  • molteni_manmolteni_man Posts: 234
    Gilet for thé descents and if cold v useful. Have a look at the Castelli Toe Thingys as a way of keeping feet warm if needed. V lightweight and easy to pack.
    The ride you are doing is awesome- there are some great views so think about keeping your mobile charged to be able to take photos. Do pack it in something waterproof when cycling as downpours in the Alps can be biblical!
    Pack decent chamois cream as riding day on day.
    2 x bottles
    You will be fit enough - you are doing some steep climbing, but have sorted your gears well.
    As noted before, get bike serviced a good time beforehand so you can check everything is working ok. New tyres fitted for grip and to hopefully save any punctures. And as also noted spares including inner tubes and a spare tyre.
    You will be passing through Bourg d’ Oisans where there are a couple of decent bike shops and where repairs can be made, but you may not get time on a guided tour to stop.
    The weather can still be very variable at this time so expect all conditions! A decent sports sun cream can be useful & warm gear for the Cols
    Enjoy it- a fantastic trip!
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    We've had great weather in June in the Alps. So hot the tarmac melted. Also we've had snowstorms. Be prepared.
    Don't over inflate your tyres - you don't want blow outs.

    Pacing will be key. No point being first up the first mountain if you're grovelling the rest of the day.

    Have fun
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 12,706
    Lots of useful info here, especially in the links-
    https://marmot-tours.co.uk/holidays/raid-alpine-n-s/
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • kingstongrahamkingstongraham Posts: 11,413
    I did this a few years ago with a group, and first thing to say is you will love it. Once you've been riding like that every day for about three days, it becomes your new normality.

    Check what the arrangements are for using the launderette during the tour, when I did it there was a day when we had two nights in same hotel and the group organisers did a load of washing. Meant that you don't need to take 7 pairs of bibs.

    34x32 will see you over anything.

    Get your bike serviced before you go, hopefully if anything happens when you are there, your tour organisers will be able to help out.

    Take P20 sun cream. Take a hat, packable waterproof, arm warmers, buff, leg warmers etc. As you're on a supported tour, you'll be able to have stuff in the van to put on when you reach a summit - particularly at the Bonnette, it was really cold even though it was high 20s lower down. Then you descend at 70kmh.

    I've also done a tour where I didn't know anyone else on the tour, and enjoyed that just as much. You'll love it.
  • davep1davep1 Posts: 753
    Definitely get the bike serviced plenty of time before the tour to get at least a couple of fairly hard rides in; any new parts need to have settled down and not shaken loose. Same for any clothing, wear your bibs especially a couple of times before you go on the tour. A week of riding all day will show you what is comfy and what isn't!
    A lot of the climbs are not as steep as you expect, the roads are engineered for traffic to be able to get up them in reasonable conditions. They are long climbs though and some can be very exposed, you could be in your granny gear for 2 hours at a stretch, in anything from zero degrees to over 30, with anything in the weather locker thrown at you.
    I found the descents a bit less wonderful than I expected. They are also very long, and if you are on the drops tucked down low, with your neck bent up, hauling on the brakes frequently, it gets very tiring. You are aware that an accident can have very bad consequences, quite often the corners are wet from run off, which can mean gravel and potholes, some people on bikes and cars don't have a clue. It's easy to go faster down a mountain on a bike than a car, you then have to decide if you are going to overtake or sit behind them...you can't relax on these descents.
  • JacksyeeJacksyee Posts: 48
    104 miles or km a day?

    Geneva to Annecy via where?

    Km

    First day is Geneva to annecy to col du frene
  • JacksyeeJacksyee Posts: 48
    pblakeney wrote:
    Jacksyee wrote:
    Thanks I have all my clothes except overshoes? I think I may just buy them there if need be

    Do you modify what you eat during the week or eat as normal
    I’d get the overshoes before you go, time and access to availability will probably be limited. As for food, a huge breakfast and maybe a slightly larger dinner but not too heavy before going to sleep.

    Thanks. I was watching a team sky YouTube about grand tours and evidently they eat no vegetables or anything hard to digest so they don’t have a lot of fermentation in the gut or fecal mass. It’s porridge rice fish and chicken

    If vegetables then juiced
  • JacksyeeJacksyee Posts: 48
    FatTed wrote:
    Take a spare derailleur hanger, rear drive and non drive and front spokes, spare brake pads, get bike serviced 2 weeks before you go, with new tyres, preferably wide ones. Usually drying your bibs overnight is difficult so bring a few. The actual riding is fun not too hard, you have all day, pace yourself on the climbs about 5 mins per Kilometre. Always have a rain jacket with you. Sunscreen.

    Ok. I had t considers the derailleur hanger good idea

    Your has a mechanic and spare wheels just in case and a chase van.

    Thanks for the pep talk on the ride. I figured since you age. All day it can be fine. I’m worried I’ll be the slowest and struggle to keep up
  • JacksyeeJacksyee Posts: 48
    I did this a few years ago with a group, and first thing to say is you will love it. Once you've been riding like that every day for about three days, it becomes your new normality.

    Check what the arrangements are for using the launderette during the tour, when I did it there was a day when we had two nights in same hotel and the group organisers did a load of washing. Meant that you don't need to take 7 pairs of bibs.

    34x32 will see you over anything.

    Get your bike serviced before you go, hopefully if anything happens when you are there, your tour organisers will be able to help out.

    Take P20 sun cream. Take a hat, packable waterproof, arm warmers, buff, leg warmers etc. As you're on a supported tour, you'll be able to have stuff in the van to put on when you reach a summit - particularly at the Bonnette, it was really cold even though it was high 20s lower down. Then you descend at 70kmh.

    I've also done a tour where I didn't know anyone else on the tour, and enjoyed that just as much. You'll love it.

    Thanks Super excited now after reading that
  • JacksyeeJacksyee Posts: 48
    davep1 wrote:
    Definitely get the bike serviced plenty of time before the tour to get at least a couple of fairly hard rides in; any new parts need to have settled down and not shaken loose. Same for any clothing, wear your bibs especially a couple of times before you go on the tour. A week of riding all day will show you what is comfy and what isn't!
    A lot of the climbs are not as steep as you expect, the roads are engineered for traffic to be able to get up them in reasonable conditions. They are long climbs though and some can be very exposed, you could be in your granny gear for 2 hours at a stretch, in anything from zero degrees to over 30, with anything in the weather locker thrown at you.
    I found the descents a bit less wonderful than I expected. They are also very long, and if you are on the drops tucked down low, with your neck bent up, hauling on the brakes frequently, it gets very tiring. You are aware that an accident can have very bad consequences, quite often the corners are wet from run off, which can mean gravel and potholes, some people on bikes and cars don't have a clue. It's easy to go faster down a mountain on a bike than a car, you then have to decide if you are going to overtake or sit behind them...you can't relax on these descents.

    A bit stressed about the descents. Have disc brakes thank thankfully. It will be harder than Zwift :)
  • timothywtimothyw Posts: 2,482
    Have you done any group riding before?

    Might be worth finding a local bike club and trying to get along to a couple of rides with them before setting out.

    You probably won't be riding together that much with all the climbing but it's still worth polishing up your skills.
  • kingstongrahamkingstongraham Posts: 11,413
    It's not only the climbs that are spectacular - do you know if your route after Bonette goes through the Gorges du Cian?

    Also, there's plenty of riding between the climbs, so it is worth knowing how to ride in a small group.
  • navrig2navrig2 Posts: 1,558
    Sounds brilliant - enjoy.

    Stay hydrated and think about a bit of (gentle) stretching after each ride. It may just reduce the chance of cramp.
  • FatTedFatTed Posts: 1,214
    Descending is quite fun, I aim not to brake (much) and not to pedal. I'm not trying to go down fast, just let the bike run rather like skiing down a mountain. here is a link to descending. Useful to have good sunglasses (I have prizim road) so you can se the terrain. Remember the bike goes where you look, so stop if you want to check out the scenery.
    http://www.flammerouge.je/factsheets/doidescend.htm
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 12,706
    Not that I want to argue, but I'd advocate glass pedalling on the straights during a descent to flush out the lactic acid following a climb.

    I'm sure there is a more technical way of describing it.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • JacksyeeJacksyee Posts: 48
    timothyw wrote:
    Have you done any group riding before?

    Might be worth finding a local bike club and trying to get along to a couple of rides with them before setting out.

    You probably won't be riding together that much with all the climbing but it's still worth polishing up your skills.

    Yes. Not a huge amount but a decent amount
  • FatTedFatTed Posts: 1,214
    pblakeney wrote:
    Not that I want to argue, but I'd advocate glass pedalling on the straights during a descent to flush out the lactic acid following a climb.

    I'm sure there is a more technical way of describing it.

    Sure I just meant don't pedal to increase your speed
  • alex222alex222 Posts: 588
    I am doing Nice to Geneva over 6 days at the start of July. Can't wait.
  • g00seg00se Posts: 2,220
    An alcohol sunscreen like P20 is perfect for riding the alps. Just apply it once a day and it survives the sweat. But a money saving tip: Dont' buy P20 or the new Pelotan sunscreen - buy the Calypso "Once a Day" stuff. Exactly the same but about a fiver a large bottle, rather than £20!
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 12,706
    g00se wrote:
    An alcohol sunscreen like P20 is perfect for riding the alps. Just apply it once a day and it survives the sweat. But a money saving tip: Dont' buy P20 or the new Pelotan sunscreen - buy the Calypso "Once a Day" stuff. Exactly the same but about a fiver a large bottle, rather than £20!
    Cheers!
    Will be giving this a trial before I go to the Alps for a week. P20 was my go to.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • JacksyeeJacksyee Posts: 48
    g00se wrote:
    An alcohol sunscreen like P20 is perfect for riding the alps. Just apply it once a day and it survives the sweat. But a money saving tip: Dont' buy P20 or the new Pelotan sunscreen - buy the Calypso "Once a Day" stuff. Exactly the same but about a fiver a large bottle, rather than £20!

    Thanks!
  • JacksyeeJacksyee Posts: 48
    One other thing, it happens to be time for new tyres and currently have mavics that came with the wheels

    Any recommendations for the alps?
  • g00seg00se Posts: 2,220
    There's always a risk of a flash storm in the alps at that time of year - so be prepared for the roads being wet. Same with snow melt if the conditions are right (wrong). But likewise you don't want a heavy slow tyre too. So get a decent tyre with a good reputation of grip - especially in the wet. Assuming it's a regular clincher, something like a Continental GP 4000/5000.

    In the past, I've also used Veloflex Corsas and IRC Formula Pros (the latter are tubeless but could be run with tubes). Both are really sticky in the corners but fast rolling enough.

    What wheels do you have?
  • g00seg00se Posts: 2,220
    Schwalbe Pro Ones are popular at the moment but have a reputation of being a bit skittish in the wet - so I would avoid those. I've got a set but I'm not taking them to the alps next month - around Annecy and Alpe d'Huez in June, so we'll probably hit the same conditions.
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