JUNE TRAINING HINTS
June has arrived, and, to translate the French literally, hopefully you have plenty of milestones in your legs!
The lighter evenings are a real help as the Etape draws near. Those extra miles are certainly useful as we get closer to July.
You will probably be fairly fit by now, and will probably have completed at least one100 mile ride.
Now is a good time to look at your objectives, as there is still time to train to meet them.
This year’s Etape is 175 km or 110 miles long. Audaxes or Sportives of a similar length make good training – there is probably a 200km Audax near you in the next few weeks! The training objectives on such a ride are to gain fitness and endurance, and to discover your optimum pace over long distances.
In the evenings, rides of around 35 miles on consecutive days are a good substitute (if you have the time available.) Don’t forget to take days off riding to recover though!
As I write the speed requirements for this year’s Etape have not been announced, but it is usually 18 kph average. This does not sound very much until you realise that a lot of the riding is up hill! Training in the 15mph to 25mph range on the flat is applicable. During the Etape itself you may want to choose a sustainable speed slower than your training speed as the distance are longer, though slip-streaming other riders during the Etape boosts the sustainable speed appreciably.
This year we are attempting 3 major mountains – Marie Blanque, Soulor and
Although Marie Blanque is only 6 miles long, it increases in gradient as you climb. Starting at 10% for the first km, it drops to 3%, rising to 5% then 7%, then 11% reaching 12% or 14% in places on the last km or two!
There is therefore something to be gained in training on climbs of 10% or more!
Souler is a long and spectacular climb, just over 8 miles long. Its average gradient is quite predictable at around 8%, though there are a few steeper sections, for example after Arbeost at km 3 it rises to 9% for a km. It should be taken as a long, steady climb – sprinting is not much help here!
Tourmalet is the longest of the three climbs, being nearly 12 miles long. Mostly, the gradient is around 7.5% to 8%. The steepest section of all is right at the top, the last km averaging over 10%, and the very last two bend having a gradient of 15%! Phew!
If you have not done so already, trying some really long climbs therefore is a very useful exercise. If you live in Switzerland, this will not be a problem, though even in the UK, Wales and Scotland have some good long climbs.
Hill repeats are good for improving breathing and leg strength, but they give you rather too many rests! You do not want to train to get of and rest on every other hairpin bend, but rather to persist, and train at a sustained effort level which will help you persist.
If you do not have any suitable mountains available, riding on the flat at 18 to 22 mph requires the same power and endurance as a mountain climb at around 7mph, which though it sounds slow, is a reasonable etape du Tour climbing rate, and should enable you to finish in the time limit.
Make the most of your June training opportunities – this is the time when your training will have the most useful effect in honing your fitness for the Etape!
Take care, and enjoy your training!