The long light evenings are really here at last – plenty of opportunity for evening training rides (when the rest of life is not getting in the way!)

A 5 mile, 10 mile even 15 mile ride in the evening will raise your fitness level.


If you live a reasonable distance from work, those commuting rides will certainly boost your fitness!


How Often

So how often should you train? Riding once a week will maintain your fitness level, and two or three rides a week will improve it. More than 4 may not give your body time to recover, though it all depends on you, and on the length and intensity of your training.


Long Rides

Hopefully you will now have done a ride equal to or approaching 100 miles long. If not – give it a go! If you tried it at a relatively slow speed, why not try a long ride at higher speed?


Many of us will be taking part in Sportives – excellent training for the Etape.


High Intensity Training

Last month we talked about cycling at endurance speeds, riding at sustainable speeds. It may be time for you to look at something more intense, though it is not essential if your aim is just to complete the Etape.


High intensity training should only take place after you have already reached a good level of fitness, and are in good health.


Riding at your lactate threshold is more painful, but it will help to actually raise your lactate threshold and improve muscle function and your VO2 max . Typically this might be at around 95% or more of your maximum heart rate. This level of effort would not be recommended on a daily basis – maybe once a week – and the session would last between 10 and 30 minutes. This is of course purely a training exercise, and not a recommended riding level for the duration of the Etape!


For a maximum heart rate of 170 for example, this would amount to a heart rate in excess of 160 beats per minute.


Pushing yourself even harder than this will have benefits in increasing your VO2 max. This would typically take place in interval training, with 5 minute efforts followed by a resting period before the next effort .



Strengths and Weaknesses

Now is a good time to assess your strengths and weaknesses, and to adjust your efforts accordingly. Typical; areas to consider are:





Group riding




Probably the only way to improve endurance is by doing long rides!



Starting with fast 5 mile rides then extending them to fast 30 mile rides and beyond is a good workable approach



The best way of improving climbing is to find a mountain with a reasonable gradient (not 20%!) and to climb it!

If there is not a mountain near you hill repeats help – though they do lead your body expect to rest rather frequently!

If there is not even a hill near you – try riding into a strong wind.

If there is no wind – just ride fast!


Group Riding

The best lesson to be learned from group riding (apart from avoiding hitting other riders!) is slipstreaming. Riding behind another rider will save you 25% of your energy. Riding behind a large bunch may save as much as 40%! You may have to take your turn at the front of course…!

Even if you train alone, there are plenty of opportunities to practice group riding – Audaxes, Sportives and club rides. In a large event you will probably find people going at the right speed for you.



Finding your optimum pace on long rides is essential. With a bit of luck, your optimum speed will increase as you train.


Above all – take care – avoid accidents and train at a rate that you are comfortable with and that suits you! Please adjust the suggestions on this page to suit your level of fitness!


Do find some beautiful training routes!

Enjoy your training!