MAY TRAINING HINTS
In less than two months time we will be setting out to ride 92 miles within a time limit. It will involve four mountains with a total of over 3000 metres of climbing. To achieve this will require lots of appropriate training. It will also be important to have a suitable bike, and to ride fast yet economically.
You will need to train for the distance. If you have not yet done a 90 or 100 mile training ride, now is a suitable time to do one, as daylight increases. If you are used to doing 30 mile rides, then you jump to a ride twice or three times as long, it is probably worth allowing a week to recover before doing another 100 miler! Fitness is built up during your recovery time, so sufficient recovery time is needed.
Most training manuals recommend two or three training sessions per week, though it does depend on their intensity and the time you have available. Evening rides after work are valuable, and may be possible more frequently. Logging average speeds over a the same route give a good incentive for improvement.
It is difficult to train for the mountains in the UK. However parts of Scotland and Wales are suitable. Contact me if you would like to join our Snowdonia training trip at the end of May.
It is difficult to beat a trip to the mountains of France, Mallorca, Spain or Italy of course! You will find some reasonable hills in the UK in the book “100 Greatest Cycling Climbs” by Simon Warren and its sequel if there are no decent hills near you.
You will need to ride consistently at a good sustainable speed during the Etape.
However, during training, there is an important place for training at higher speeds for shorter periods. Interval training, when you ride hard for short periods then recover, is very useful for improving both your aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels. A variation on training rides is to sprint up to the top of hills, which is quite fun, though may not always be a good strategy during the Etape!
During the Etape a rider will burn 6000 to 9000 calories – against the recommended adult calorie intake of 2500 Calories! A good way to prove this is to weigh yourself before and after a long ride. I’ve found I lose a surprising amount of weight, even if I’m not dehydrated. Adequate amounts of food, not just carbo but a balanced diet, are essential for improving your performance.
Hydration is an even more immediate requirement than food – especially if air temperatures are high and you are cycling up mountains. If the temperature is above 37 degrees the only heat loss method left is sweating. Fortunately, due to the latent heat of vaporisation, it is very effective, but it does require plenty of water to be consumed
The excitement of the day may help in the Etape, but it is important to ride at a rate which is sustainable for you. A heart rate Monitor is a fairly objective way of doing this. It is worth looking at the literature on the subject to determine your optimum heart rate to ride at. A heart rate monitor is useful during training when you ae trying to optimise your riding speed.
May is a good time to consider your bike. It needs to be light in weight with an adequate range of gears (and good brakes!). If you are buying a new bike, it is best not to leave it until the last minute, as this will give you time to optimise its adjustments, and sort out any minor problems.
You will need to adjust the bike you intend to use on the Etape for efficiency and comfort. You will be riding for many hours! It is worth adjusting saddle height and saddle angle early on. A saddle which is too low will cause your knees to be at too acute an angle as the pedals reach the highest point. It may be shown by jointed rod theory that the smaller the angle between your thigh and lower leg, the greater the forces on your knee during pedalling.
Your leg should be fairly straight when your foot is at its lowest point (though you need to be able to reach the ground to get off without falling off!)
The angle of the saddle is also important, as if it is sloping too far back it puts more strain on your back.
On your long rides why not choose a route with plenty of cafes along the way! There are feed stations in the Etape du Tour after all! Choose somewhere scenic too. On my first hundred miler I like to head off westwards, to arrange a following wind on the way home! Maybe I should aim at some tougher ones later!