Mountains in View!


So you are planning to scale Marie Blanque, then climb nearly 4000 feet to the top of Col d’Aubisque, then complete a 110 mile ride?


This may take a bit of training!


What type of training?


- Endurance

- Hill climbing

- Group Riding

- Speed


But where do we start?

Probably in a rather unfit state – it is February after all!


Get those miles in!


So you want to ride 110 miles? What is your longest ride this year? 30 miles? 50 miles? Do not despair! There are five months between now and the Etape! That is plenty of time to build up your mileage.

Set yourself some intermediate targets, gradually building up the length of your rides. It does not matter if you use a touring bike or a top notch racing machine at this stage.

If your maximum mileage so far this year is 30 miles, aim to do a 50 mile ride in February. If you have already done a 50 mile ride, aim for a 70 miler. Taking coffee stops, tea breaks and pub lunches along the way are all allowed!

By July you will be fit enough to reach the top of Marie Blanque with a smile!





Indoor training

You want to get the miles in – but it is dark. It is cold. It is raining.


There are plenty of indoor training options, including the trusty turbo trainer and the local gym.


If you prefer riding in company, most gyms hold spinning classes.


Another option the use of a floodlit cycle track like the one in Reading.


If you are using an exercise bike in a gym, it will probably have a means of measuring your output power. You will then be able to calibrate your fitness.


Fitness test

If you use a gym, it is possible measure your fitness quite scientifically. This involves measuring your heart rate at various power levels. As you get fitter, you will deliver more power at a given heart rate, and your maximum heart power level will improve. For more information see Monitor your fitness


Cycling Holidays 

A cycling holiday is an excellent way to get fit for the Etape. It may give you the opportunity to visit mountainous areas and get some practice on those climbs and descents. You may need to take the family with you – not as difficult as it sounds – most good cycling areas have other attractions to keep the family happy!  


A cycle touring holiday with friends is a pleasant way to build up your fitness.


If you are looking for suitable day rides and holidays see events on the web site. If you come along to one of these events there should be a few Etappers to chat to!


Specially recommended are the training camp in Spain   at the end of February, the training week in France in April, and the long weekend in Snowdonia on the bank holiday at the end of May.






How often should you train? Not so often that your family life suffer!


-          Once a week will keep you fit

-          Twice a week will get you fitter

-          Three times a week is even better

-          More than that may be over training!


If you are working a regular week, a good plan might be a weekend ride plus an indoor training session during the week. It is worth doing an occasional long ride, but a fast short session is a reasonable substitute when time is short.




If you are thinking of buying a new bike, February is not a bad time to do so. You may be able to pick up last year’s model at a discount price, or be one of the first with this year’s model, and it gives you plenty of time to get used to the machine before the Etape. If you have the luxury of two machines, you may want to keep your best bike in reserve at this time of year, to avoid unnecessary wear to the bearings, chain etc due to mud, water, grit and salt. However for many people, one bike is enough!


If you are buying a new bike for this year’s Etape, I don’t think you will regret buying a bike with a triple changer. It is certainly possible to complete the Etape on higher gears, but for an efficient cadence, and for fine tuning your cadence, the wide range of gears which a triple offers is a real advantage. If you are an ex professional, please ignore this advice – we are looking forwards to overtaking you on Aubisque!  



Enjoy your training! Let those miles roll!