How’s your training going?

The evenings are light at last – ideal for training. Daylight lasts until after 8:30pm in the UK even at the beginning of May.

Most of us would like to make the most of that odd hour when the sun breaks through, or when we want a ride in the fresh air after work! Good use of this time is speed training – maybe a fast 10, 15 or 20 mile ride, or perhaps some interval training! Record your times round your route, and encourage yourself with your improvements!

So how often should you train? Riding once a week at a good intensity 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. Certainly recovery times are important, especially after large increments in your ride intensity or duration.

Focus your training

With 2 months to go before the Etape it is worth assessing your training so far, and comparing your levels with those required for the Etape. The main requirements are Distance, Climbing, Descending, Speed and Group Riding. If you have access to a Turbo Trainer, or a stationary bike in the gym which will measure watts and heart rate, you will be able to measure your progress. This may be done with the fitness level calculator which gives you a comparative figure.


The only way to train for distance is to do long rides!

You may already have ridden 80 or 100 miles in a day this year. If not - it is not too late!

Depending on the time you have available for training, the length of your typical training ride will probably have gradually increased, maybe to 30 miles, 50 miles or 70 miles. Rides in the 80 mile or 100 mile range require a bit more planning! Why not impress your friends and relatives who live 100 miles away by cycling to visit them? Why not ride 40 or 50 miles to a nice hilly area, then back in the same day?


Climbing and descending are key in the Etape. The best way to practice climbing is to do it. A trip out to a nearby hilly region will pay dividends – undulating terrain is useful – long hills are better! Seek out hills higher than 100 metres if possible – the 250 metres of Cheddar Gorge for example, or the 400 metres of the New Toll Road at Porlock in Devon. If you are able to visit Wales there should be plenty of choice – Beaufort Mountain near the Brecon Beacon for example (400 metres on the North facing slope) or the road climbs up to Pen-y-Pass on Snowdon in North Wales. The Highlands of Scotland give you even more choice!

Even better, if you get a chance of a holiday in Mallorca, Spain, Italy or even the Alps and Annecy, you will be able to climb 1000 metres or more! Steepness is not as important as the ability to maintain a good speed when climbing for an extended period of time.


Descending is also key, though descending speed is less important than climbing speed, as you spend more time climbing than descending. A good stable bike is reassuring of course!

Descending is largely a matter of practice. On this Etape there is only one long descent, but plenty of shorter ones!


As already mentioned, speed training is a good way to make good use of short training sessions. Record your times round your route, and encourage yourself with your improvements! On longer rides you will get a feel for good pacing.

Group Riding

When preparing for the Etape it pays to practice group riding. Sportives, audaxes, club runs and rides with friends will prepare you for riding with a group. You will quickly discover the joys of slipstreaming, and the advantages of riding at a safe distance from other cyclists!

Given reasonable weather and beautiful views, training is a pleasure.