The Road to Ventoux


What are we planning to achieve

This year’s Etape du Tour involves cycling 108 miles over undulating terrain. If that were not enough, the grand finale is a climb of around 1500 metres up Mont Ventoux, with gradients approaching 10% on the steepest two kilometres!

 Including all the minor climbs along the way, the total amount of climbing amounts to 3600 metres overall – and this is to be achieved within a time limit! The fittest and most ambitious amongst us will be aiming to complete it in the fastest possible time, achieving a gold or silver medal!


Some training may be advisable.


How will we do it!

Like all big problems, it is best solved by reducing it to several smaller ones!

To do well in the Etape you will need good endurance, good hill climbing ability, and to be able to pace yourself effectively. You will also need to have experience in riding with groups of riders.


In these month by month training notes I plan to give some ideas on


Improving endurance

Building up distance

Increasing climbing power

Group riding


I am also offering training events which will enable you to share experience with other Etappers, and build up from riding in pleasant moderate hills to more challenging hilly routes, then the mountains of North Wales, leading to riding in the Alps. A trip to try out the route may also be a possibility. You are welcome to join any of these events if you wish.



It is a new year! Let the training begin! But the evenings are dark. There is ice about!

I was amused to hear about a group of etappers in the doctor’s waiting room hoping to get their forms signed … sporting walking sticks, having slid off their bikes on the ice. Last year a local group of riders unexpectedly encountered some road works in the dark, resulting in a considerable training setback.

So take care! The objective is to get fitter!

On the other hand there is nothing better than one of those bright sunny winter days, trees white with frost, the air fresh and clear … so enjoy your cycling! Then there is the warm café to warm up in half way round the ride …


Traditional advice is to do plenty of miles at moderate intensity at this time of year (given suitably warm clothes including overshoes!). In fact it is far too early in the year to aim for peak fitness, but it is good to start getting some miles in. This may range from 20 miles upwards – One rider I know is already heading for 50 mile rides, though given recent weather conditions, this is fairly ambitious!


An indoor turbo trainer is a good option. As a rule of thumb, a power output of 200 watts will take you to the top of a 1000 metre climb in around an hour (though this depends on the weight of the cyclist and bike) so training at around 150 or 200 Watts is useful.


Later in the year we will concentrate on increasing hill climbing power, practicing group riding and building up distance, but endurance riding starts here – with a pleasant 20 mile ride at the beginning of January! No doubt your rides will be a bit longer by the end of January! Do inspire me by letting me know how you are getting on!


Enjoy your training!