APRIL TRAINING HINTS
Now the evenings are getting lighter and the weather warmer it is ideal for getting out for a quick blast on the bike in the early evening! If you use a known route near home – say 5, 10 or 20 miles – you will be able to plot your achievements by recording your average speed over the route as the weeks go by.
We are now approaching the three months before the Etape, when planned training is important.
The length of this year’s Etape du Tour is 142km – over 88 miles. Rides of 80 to 100 miles are therefore now appropriate targets for your April feature rides.
The hills around you are probably measured in hundreds of metres, whereas the mountains in the Etape are measured in thousands of metres. So how do we make that jump?
If you measure your metres climbed on a typical ride in a hilly ride using a Garmin or similar, it is surprising just how many metres you climb. On a ride in the Chilterns or Berkshire Downs for example it is not unusual to average 20 metres climbing per mile on a route not especially designed for maximum climbing. This may not sound much, but on a 50 mile ride amounts to 1000 metres of climbing! If you plan your route, it should be possible to increase the amount of climbing further, and start to approach the level of climbing needed for the Etape.
As we are training for a mountain event, training in the mountains is ideal. There may not be mountains near you, so a visit to a mountainous area is a great advantage. We are again running our training weekend in Snowdonia on the early May bank holiday, which this year this year on 2nd and 3rd of May. I have accommodation available at cost price in the Swallow Falls leisure complex. Matt and Richard are again leading the rides. Please email Ron@etape.org.uk if you would like to join us.
Personally I will also be training in Mallorca and hopefully other mountainous areas to get some real mountain practice.
If you get a chance to get a way for a couple of days, areas such as Exmoor, the Lake District and Wales offer some inspiring scenery to compliment some great long climbs.
There is nothing quite like an event to spur you on! Do join an Audax or sportive or two before the Etape!
Training in the gym is not quite the same as riding on the open road. However it does give you an opportunity to simulate long climbs, if you ride at a particular wattage level for long periods. A level just below your maximum continuous level is probably ideal.
Training in the gym is also an opportunity to calibrate your fitness level. If you draw a graph of your heart rate vs your power output you will probably see an increase in your power output at a particular heart rate as the weeks go by, which means that your maximum continuous power output, and climbing speed, is increasing. This will also provide you with useful information as to the heart rate to ride at during the Etape, if you are using a heart rate monitor.
I am not an expert in nutrition, but clearly a good supply of protein helps build muscle after exercise. Carbohydrates provide energy – you will notice this if you become exhausted after a long ride and then take in some energy gel! For a steady intake, cereal bars are probably better, with gels reserved for extreme situations! Adequate hydration is also obviously important, especially in high ambient temperatures.
Do find some beautiful places to train in, and some exciting events to join. April could be the time when you see your fitness flourish!
Enjoy your training!