This year’s Etape involves a lot of climbing – around 4500 metres, and is quite long: 169km, or 106 miles.


Riding with a club or friends of similar fitness levels is a good start, building up your speed, distance and climbing ability as the months go by.

The longest journey starts with the first step, as they say. Your initial training will start at whatever fitness level you are at! Even a 10, 20 or 25 mile ride, maybe a club ride is a good start, building up to longer, faster rides as the weeks go by.

Ending your rides with a short sprint or two is very beneficial. It has been shown that short spells of high intensity riding make you fitter and healthier, benefiting the heart, lungs and circulation. For the etape, there will also need to be endurance training over long distances in due course!


It is difficult to get out on the bike in cold weather, but is sometimes quite rewarding, particularly on those rare sunny days!

The way to beat low temperatures is of course wearing lots of layers. Rainy weather is another matter, even with good waterproofs, as not only do the cold rain drops cool you considerably, but water requires lots of heat energy to evaporate due to its very high latent heat of vaporisation.  Clothing which sheds water rather than retaining it is there for helpful.

Weather when there is ice on the road is obviously best avoided for cycling, though fortunately temperatures have been above 0 degrees Centigrade at night most of the time over most of Britain this year so far.

In bad weather the gym or turbo trainer is a good substitute for road riding, though maybe a bit less enjoyable. A good way to monitor fitness is by looking at your average and peak power in watts on the machine.


January is a good time to plan cycling holidays in the mountains. If family considerations come into play, why not choose a location which suits everyone – maybe combining the mountains and the beaches and places of interest?

January also a good time to book yourself on suitable sportive events.