Here! From your present fitness level.


Beyond Col de Ichere, to climb through the pine forests of Marie Blanque then scale the 1000 m, 18 Km climb up to Col d'Aubisque with its magnificent views, finally descending to the Arivee at Pau. If you are planning to do the 2005 Etape du Tour, by July you will need to be fit enough to cycle 110 miles over the mountains and ascend 2500 meters! And you probably wont want to be last!

So do you need to train?

I know I do! most of us are just waking from hibernation and inspecting our new winter layers of fat....

While some riders have only recently taken to a racing bike,others are already doing 100 miles a week, or even doing 100 mile day rides! Training will be essential, even if you are Miguel Indurain or Greg Lemond though!

So here are some training hints

January Training

How often do you need to train? As a rule of thumb, riding once a week will maintain your fitness and riding two or three times a week will improve it. If the sessions are fairly evenly spaced, this allows for the optimum recovery time.

If you are working, a mid week training session in the dark is not a lot of fun, but there are alternatives: sessions in the gym or on a turbo trainer, or on a floodlit cycle track if there is one near you. Even a weekly ride is a good start though!

In any event you will need to fit in training with your family and work activities, so there is something to be said for not doing more than is necessary to acheive your goals!

If you are just emerging from hibernation, and ride with friends who are cycle tourists, a 30 mile ride with a pub lunch makes a pleasant day out at this time of year, and has substantial training value. If you are training alone you might want to build up a 35 mile, fairly non-stop ride over flat terrain for starters.

While the emphasis at this time of year should generally be on building up your distance, you are likely to find that a few steep hills attempted at speeds which push your breathing rate will improve the efficiency of your lungs. If the air temperature is low though (near freezing) excessive fast breathing will cool your body core temperature excessively which is not recommended!

Later in the year I will be covering topics such as:

  • Riding in a bunch
  • Descending skills
  • Climbing skills
  • Going the distance

    The target will be to get fit enough to make a good showing in the 2005 etape du Tour with its 110 mile route with 2500 m of climbing.

    Training Diary
    In order to develop your fitness, it is useful to have a training diary. I have put one on the web site for you to print off (though I'm still trying to get it to print properly!) and record your daily and weekly mileages. It is useful for keeping your training program on track, and is a source of encouragement as you see your mileages increase.

    As well as being a good time of year to start training, January is an excellent time of year to plan. I have listed a good range of training events on the web site, ranging from day rides to cycling weeks, taking place in England, Wales, France, Spain and Italy! Maybe you will find one you like - just click on EVENTS in the menu, or click here!

    I have received a number of emails from cyclist who think they are over weight. It is comforting to know that great racing cyclists tend to be on the heavy side of normal. If you plot their weights on a standard weight chart, they are all above the average weight for their height but below the overweight line. The average BMI for a champion racing cyclist is around 22.7. Click "Weight" on the menu of this web site for a BMI calculator to see how you compare with the cycling greats! There is certainly no need to be anorexic!

    If your BMI is way above 22.7 and you want to loose weight, short fast rides do not help much. For the first 1.5 hours or so of a ride, you are fuelled mainly by sugars stored in the muscles and liver in the form of glycogen (a long chain molecule or polymer). After around 1.5 hours you will start to burn mainly fat. Endurance riding also has the effect of evetually improving the bodies fat burning metabolism, meaning that you tend to burn a higher proportion of fat from the outset.

    If you are unfit (like most of us at this time of year) you may suffer glycogen depletion after a couple of hours (typical symptoms being poor co-ordination etc). If this happens it is wise to eat something quite high in sugar. Complete glycogen depletion carries the added danger of hypothermia, particularly in winter, as the body runs out of sufficient fuel to make heat. Although this is an extreme situation, it is wise when winter training to have sufficient clothes and a few sweet snacks to hand! Adequate food and clothing will avoid this problem.

    This year's Etape du Tour is a classic course, with spectacular scenery and some excellent climbs. Over the coming months I plan to give you a training program which should help you to complete one of the greatest events on the cycling calender! The rest is up to you! Enjoy your training - it is great to be out on a bike!