JULY TRAINING HINTS
Not long to go now!!!!
I’m sure you are checking your bike over carefully before you travel to France.
I expect your mind is on those climbs – but remember the descents! As I found out while trying the route out, the secret of confident descending is well adjusted brakes!
One hidden area worthy of attention is the inner tubes. As a friend found out in a previous etape, while braking continuously on downhill sections, the rims get hot while dissipating all that energy. The glue on patches may then get soft, causing the patch to lift. So- splash out on some new inner tunes if you have patched ones! You are of course required to carry a couple of spare inner tubes during the Etape just in case.
Having the correct tyre pressure also effects efficiency considerably of course.
If you do run into last minute problems, the folk on the Mavic stand at the host village are amazing.
However – be prepared!
FOOD TO CARRY
There are plenty of food stops, but you may wish to carry a little food you enjoy, and are used to.
Energy jells are amazing for topping up your energy levels if you run out of energy. However if you are not used to using them, too many may unsettle the digestive system. A mixture of slow release and fast release carbohydrates, i.e. bars containing cereals and sugars, is probably a good strategy for most people on a long event such as the Etape.
Plenty of water is essential, especially if the temperatures are high.
The most predictable thing about the weather is that it is unpredictable!
Who would have thought that it would be snowing on Semnoz early in June – but it was!
Having said that, in the last 15 Etapes it has been hot more often than cold, and is often in the low 30s. It is difficult to predict the weather even a couple of days in advance in mountainous regions, though the weather around Annecy is likely to be more moderate than in the high Alps. It is wise to have waterproofs and extra layers in reserve, though you may wish to discard them on the last climb if the temperature is high!
You will often read formulae for tapering off before an event.
However it is really very much an individual matter – you know how your body reacts better than anybody! I suppose the best ground rule is not to exhaust yourself or strain anything before the day.
It is certainly worth trying your bike out when you arrive to make sure everything is OK. An easy climb will help you get the feel of the area, but anything exhausting may be counterproductive.
Plenty of carbohydrate in the days before the Etape is a common recommendation – but there is probably a balance here between being well fuelled and overeating uncomfortably! It is certainly good to feel free to eat plenty of the local Almond croissants and Pan au chocolate as you like! Leave some for me though!
Anyway, whether you are first or last or even if you sadly try out the broom waggon – have fun and enjoy this beautiful and dramatic part of France!