June Training Notes

Photo from the 2002 Etape in the same area as this year’s Etape

The challenge is not far away!

 146km over the mountains with over 3000 metres of climbing!


I’ve done a careful analysis of the gradients involved in this year’s Etape, and the good news is that the predominant gradient is 7%. The steepest kilometre has a gradient of less than 12%, and the next steepest is 11.2%. Apart from those, there are only two kilometre sections over 10% !

There is therefore very little point in training on 20% slopes! Training for longer distances on hills with typical gradients of 7% is far more useful – the range 5% to 10% represents the Etape fairly well, with plenty of emphasis on 7%

If you would like more details of the analysis, click on “Route Analysis” on the Menu. This also gives details of the planned locations of the feed stations.


Long training rides at a sustainable speed are valuable. It is certainly worth knowing what speed you are able to sustain for long distances – this is an important part of Etape preparation.

 Sufficient time to recover between rides is important, though this will vary with the individual. Exercise stimulates the body to become stronger, but rest time is also required for this strengthening process to take place, and for the body to repair things such as micro tares in the muscle fibres. This is not such a problem with lower gradients, and when cycle touring, when there is time to adjust your pace from day to day.


There is still time to improve your speed. Short bursts of high speed, such as in interval training, are valuable as they improve your anaerobic fitness, and give you a chance to get out of the usual ride routine. Rides of say 5 miles, maybe after work, at higher speeds are useful for improving your high speed riding without exhaustion. Comparing your average speed over the same distance from day to day provides a useful incentive for improvement.


If you wish to ride in company there are now numerous audaxes and sportives to choose from, often with a choice of distances. It is wise to ride with something in reserve, as you will need to in the Etape, as one long climb follows another!


If you keep a special bike for events such as the Etape, now is the time to start using it – and sort out any minor problems such as flat speedometer batteries, worn components and cables out of adjustment.


As always, do find some spectacular routes with not too much traffic, and some good cafes along the way! Choose hilly areas for some of your training – mountainous ones if possible!


Cheddar Gorge


Enjoy your training!