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Training for the Etape Du Tour(4 posts)

Training for the Etape Du TourGileyD
Oct 15, 2002 4:19 AM
Myself and a couple of others are planning to do the Etape next year. I'm looking for advice on what training I'll need to do to be fit enough to enjoy it rather than suffer like a dog.

I'm 37, 150lbs, been riding 9 years (MTB & road). Big problem I have is lack of time to ride (due to work and 2 small kids). I'm currently doing nearly all road work, 2 hours on a Thursday night, at least half at >85% MHR (use HR monitor) and 3 hours on a Sunday, 50-odd miles fairly hard pace with lots of climbing. Also swim 3 times a week (1k in aprox 21mins).

I would struggle to get more riding time in but could maybe get an hour or two on a Saturday. I have a turbo trainer and I guess that's my best option to ramp my training up as can work out on that while wife is at work and kids are in bed.

What do you think I need to do to get fit for the Etape? Not looking to break any records but want a decent time and not too much suffering! Any advice greatfully received.
re: Training for the Etape Du Tourphilippec
Oct 17, 2002 5:49 AM
I have done the Etape the past few years and have done reasonably well -- well last year's climb up the Tourmalet was pretty tough!!

I race the equivalent of US Cat. 3. and train about 550-600 hours a year -- all of it on the road/cyclocross and most of it in a relatively flat area. That last point is important and I will come back to that!

I used Joe Friel's book and my old coach's training notes as the basis for my training programme which is geared to two peaks -- one in July and the other in September. Most races around here are approx. 90 km so I train for that level of effort -- the cyclosportive-type races (like the Etape) tend to be longer (over 140 km) and are often in the mountains, so I factor that into my training. Like you, I have a demanding job and two young children that I do not want my cycling to take away time from. This calls for some pretty draconian training discipline -- way more than when I used to race tons more!

I ramp up the volume during the winter w/ lots of trainer riding before the children and wife are awake or after they are asleep (1 hr. sessions) and at lunch, I have the option of a 1 r cyclocross or road ride. Saturday, I get up before dawn and ride for 2 -3 hrs as soon as there is light out and on Sundays I do the same for 3-5hrs. Saturdays I am usually coming in the door (w/ croissants!) when everyone is waking and on sundays, I am always in before lunch! I move from aerobic base training to more specific strength, power and anaerobic training as the year goes on -- lowering my overall volume.

Racing and riding the Etape are not the same -- for racing, you need to be able to put out spurts of max. effort and quickly recover before your rivals figure out you are toasted and attack you. The Etape is all about high-power output endurance. You need to be able to sustain long periods of leg-burning output as you go up the cols and recover on the downhills. The climbs are often long and brutal (15-20kms at over 6-7% grades). So work on your climbing!!! Finally, I have had many Americans tell me 2 things about the mountains here -- the climbing is more brutally steep and hard than they imagined and that they lost incredible amounts of times b/c of rusty descending skills -- so practice twisty descents at 70-80 kms/hr and you will feel fine on that front!

Anyway, if you have any other questions re: the Etape, lodging, logistics, etc, feel free to ask and bon courage!


re: Philippe, thanksGileyD
Oct 22, 2002 4:30 AM
Philippe, thanks for your reply.

I live in Bristol, South West England, and one thing we have plenty of is hills. I actually enjoy climbing (though may well eat my words after a day spent in the mountains!!)and always put in plenty of climbs when planning a route. There are loads of steep (10-15%, some more, i.e. one of my favourites, Brassknocker out the south side of Bath) climbs in this area- the problem is they are not too long, i.e 10-15 mins at most. Speaking to guys from this area who have done the Etape they say the hardest thing is climbing for an hour + at a time, there is just nowhere round here you can train for that.

With the nights drawing in now and the weather getting worse (not that it's ever that good for long in Britain!)I am resigned to doing a lot on the turbo trainer during the week for the winter months, and getting out early mornings as often as possible, as you suggest, come Spring.

One query you may be able to help with - plan is to keep cost as low as possible so we are thinking of hiring a van, chucking bikes & kit in the back and driving down. Then camp a few nights, with hotel / B&B for night before & after the Etape itself. Does this sound feasible to you?

re: Philippe, thanksphilippec
Oct 23, 2002 4:12 AM
sounds feasible but to get space in a B&B or hotel, you will need to act fast! Oh, and it rains a lot in the Pyrénées -- so bring a good tent.