Riding Stage 15 of the TdF. Givors - Mount Ventoux

by GTDan   February 20, 2013  

First post, so hi all!

I have been given the chance to ride Stage 15 of the TdF. Givors - Mount Ventoux.

I deal with company at work and they have invited one person from my company to partake in this.

All accommodation/flights etc is paid for just need to bring my road bike and kit. Will be for charity too and my company will support in this.

Get there Friday 12th ride the 150miles Saturday 13th and then watch the TdF on the Sunday come back Monday. Seems like a great thing to tick off the list but......I've never ridden a roadie and unsure of fitness required.

Question is do you think 5 months is enough for me to train for this. Not much gradient around here so I suppose riding longer distances on the roadie and then hill climbs in the gym may help?!

Will be in a team of 40 potiental riders.

Canyon Roadlite 2013 is the bike I'm ordering.

I'm a keen MTB'er but never owned a roadie. So have some questions regarding roadie kit.

I now need to get myself in gear to train for this. This will be my First roadie so I need to know what kit I need to buy and what to not waste money on.

Bib shorts
Jerseys
Shoes
Pedals
Bottle cages and bottles
Saddle/frame bag - and what to take on my rides. (Normally have a camelbak octane on my mtb with everything I need.)

Garmin or equivalent GPS tool capable of recording for 10 hours. Do I really need HR monitor/cadence sensor?

Do I need to shave my legs Wink

Thanks!

24 user comments

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Jumping in at the deep end then Smile

The good news is that it's *reasonably* flat until the big hill at the end. If you're up for doing some miles then no reason why you can't be fit enough in 5 months.

The one skill I'd suggest you go out of your way to acquire is the skill of sitting on someone's wheel. If there's 40 people riding and you can ride well in a group you'll be able to keep your powder dry for the climb. If you've no experience of riding in close formation then you'll waste loads of energy and you'll be battered by the time you get to Bedoin.

Hook up with a local club, do some group rides. If you want to work on the kind of fitness you need for a long climb and it's not hilly round your way, enter some time trials. Don't bother with tri bars or anything, just show up on your road bike and give it everything you've got. It's not really about your time, more your ability to go at full gas for as long as possible.

I'm sure there'll be lots of kit recommendations. My only one: the Ventoux is a really hard climb. It's really steep, for a really long time. Make sure you have enough gears. If you're on a compact, get the widest cassette that'll fit. Looks like you get an 11-32 on most Roadlites anyway, that'll be fine. Most of the people I saw walking up the Ventoux when I did it were walking because they didn't have enough gears, not because they weren't fit enough to climb it.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7742 posts]
20th February 2013 - 13:37

5 Likes

Dave Atkinson wrote:
Jumping in at the deep end then Smile

The good news is that it's *reasonably* flat until the big hill at the end. If you're up for doing some miles then no reason why you can't be fit enough in 5 months.

The one skill I'd suggest you go out of your way to acquire is the skill of sitting on someone's wheel. If there's 40 people riding and you can ride well in a group you'll be able to keep your powder dry for the climb. If you've no experience of riding in close formation then you'll waste loads of energy and you'll be battered by the time you get to Bedoin.

Hook up with a local club, do some group rides. If you want to work on the kind of fitness you need for a long climb and it's not hilly round your way, enter some time trials. Don't bother with tri bars or anything, just show up on your road bike and give it everything you've got. It's not really about your time, more your ability to go at full gas for as long as possible.

I'm sure there'll be lots of kit recommendations. My only one: the Ventoux is a really hard climb. It's really steep, for a really long time. Make sure you have enough gears. If you're on a compact, get the widest cassette that'll fit. Looks like you get an 11-32 on most Roadlites anyway, that'll be fine. Most of the people I saw walking up the Ventoux when I did it were walking because they didn't have enough gears, not because they weren't fit enough to climb it.

Diving in head first haha! Thanks for the reply Dave. The company is organising rides of 60miles or so bi-weekly leading upto the event so we can get used to riding together and working with different abilities. The Canyon has a compact crankset and the cassette is 11-32like you mention linked to 105 groupset it should be adequate. I'm used to climbing foreroads on my Trek which prob weighs 15kg+ with my camelbak etc. I'm interested to see how far I can cycle now and at what pace before training. Bike should be here next week.

Also the London to Brighton in June worth doing? At only 53 miles I'm unsure if its worth the experience.

Thanks

posted by GTDan [8 posts]
20th February 2013 - 13:48

4 Likes

GTDan wrote:

Also the London to Brighton in June worth doing? At only 53 miles I'm unsure if its worth the experience.

I wouldn't bother. you'll end up walking up the only big hill, probably. It's a good laugh but it's too crowded to get much of a head of steam up.

Look for some long audaxes or sportives if you want a challenge. If you have a GPS with mapping then you can pretty much ride an audax as a sportive, and they only cost about six quid a pop. Sportives are better for honing your group riding skills, provided you can find some people capable of riding in a group Thinking

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7742 posts]
20th February 2013 - 14:01

6 Likes

I agree that you've got plenty of time but aim to be comfortable doing 2/3rds of the eventual distance i.e. 100 miles by about a month before hand. In the final week, it's best to taper down and do less mileage.

For what it's worth, spend more on contact points such as shoes, gloves and shorts. Temperatures can change quickly on the Ventoux so I would recommend a short sleeve jersey (full length zip), gillet and arm warmers and packable waterproof.

Finally, if your ride is 'supported' you can get away without carrying much. Some people prefer keeping everything in the 3 back pockets. Others a small saddle bag. Don't let others tell you what you should wear or carry on the bike though. Use whatever you can get on with. Good luck with the training - the speed is addictive when you are used to an MTB!

arrieredupeleton

posted by arrieredupeleton [585 posts]
20th February 2013 - 14:21

4 Likes

Do I need to shave my legs
yes.

posted by andyp [1331 posts]
20th February 2013 - 15:17

3 Likes

arrieredupeleton wrote:
I agree that you've got plenty of time but aim to be comfortable doing 2/3rds of the eventual distance i.e. 100 miles by about a month before hand. In the final week, it's best to taper down and do less mileage.

For what it's worth, spend more on contact points such as shoes, gloves and shorts. Temperatures can change quickly on the Ventoux so I would recommend a short sleeve jersey (full length zip), gillet and arm warmers and packable waterproof.

Finally, if your ride is 'supported' you can get away without carrying much. Some people prefer keeping everything in the 3 back pockets. Others a small saddle bag. Don't let others tell you what you should wear or carry on the bike though. Use whatever you can get on with. Good luck with the training - the speed is addictive when you are used to an MTB!

Thanks for the reply, the ride is supported to an extent so I can leave some spares on the van. What items do people normally take in their saddle bag? Tube, energy source, phone, multi tool.

Regarding shoes and pedals. I was going to buy the PD5700 Shimano and then the R087 shoes. I'm size 13 49/50 so no LBS have my size in to try. Will have to order online and trial and error. Thoughts on these?

posted by GTDan [8 posts]
20th February 2013 - 16:14

6 Likes

andyp wrote:
Do I need to shave my legs
yes.

I will crack on with this later then..... Wink

posted by GTDan [8 posts]
20th February 2013 - 16:15

4 Likes

andyp wrote:
Do I need to shave my legs
yes.

I shaved my legs once, it was 'interesting.' The smoothness felt great and it was good in my shorts; BUT when I was sitting in the office or watching TV at home wearing trousers, every time I moved my legs I felt the material swishing against my legs. The hyper-sensitivity was distracting most of the time and just kept reminding me that I have shaved legs.

When it grew out a bit the feeling stopped. So now I just use the clippers and have No.1 trim a couple of times in the summer; it very nearly the same but not distracting and saves me having to shave every week as the ladies must have to do.

Try it, you might like it if you have the patience to get used to the feeling; if not just trim if all you want to do is not look like a hairy monster in the peleton.


I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer, I spat out Plath and Pinter.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1637 posts]
20th February 2013 - 16:25

5 Likes

In Jersey pocket: Food, ID, phone, waterproof, money (nothing that can puncture your kidneys if you fall off)
In saddle pack: 1 or 2 tubes (depending on size of pack), multi-tool, CO2 canister and chuck, puncture kit, tyre levers, Ladyshave

I also have a pump on the frame most of the time but you might get away without one if you're riding with people you know well enough and/or have support at hand.

Pedals and shoes will be fine.

Seriously consider a bike fit if you have any issues with knee, neck or back pain. You'll have to get used to a more aero position than you are used to but if problems persist, consider it - particularly for cleat placement and foot alignment. Varus wedges are cheap and can help with this.

arrieredupeleton

posted by arrieredupeleton [585 posts]
20th February 2013 - 16:41

4 Likes

Get the best shorts you can afford - I absolutely swear by Assos having gone through several pairs of cheaper but less worthy bibs. Also make sure you have a saddle that fits your bum nicely, and I'm sure as some have already suggested, a bike fit will do you good too.

Nutrition is vital for 150 miles - I'm gonna optimistically put that at 7-8 hours in the saddle? You'll have to get your body used to eating a lot of high carb, high sugar stuff, and you'll need to keep hydration up too. Although it seems obvious, you'd be surprised at how difficult it is to keep eating and drinking when your legs are burning and your lungs are hanging out.

You don't mention where you live - might be worth spending a few weekends in B&Bs somewhere really hilly though. Peak District? Scottish Highlands? There's awesome scenery and hills in this little country.

posted by bashthebox [762 posts]
20th February 2013 - 17:18

6 Likes

GTDan wrote:
Regarding shoes and pedals. I was going to buy the PD5700 Shimano and then the R087 shoes. I'm size 13 49/50 so no LBS have my size in to try. Will have to order online and trial and error. Thoughts on these?

shimano shoes size up on the small size, so go bigger rather than smaller

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7742 posts]
20th February 2013 - 17:44

6 Likes

I'm a little jealous, rode Ventoux three times last summer over three days, it's addictive.

Nothing to add to that's been posted above. Don't try new kit on the day, make sure you're happy with it all before you go, everything from shoes and socks, shorts and chammy cream (Rapha is lovely), jersey, gloves, helmet etc.

Ventoux kicks up soon after the start and there's a huge temptation to rush at it from the off forgetting it's 2 hours to the top, if you're fresh. Keeping an eye on your HR will help you pace yourself.

And try to get your head around climbing for a lot longer in one go than you can anywhere in the UK before you get there, I'm no climber but loved it and cannot wait to go back.

Shave your legs before you go. Remember to pack suncream. Cool

posted by Bagpuss [104 posts]
20th February 2013 - 22:12

4 Likes

Bagpuss wrote:
I'm a little jealous, rode Ventoux three times last summer over three days, it's addictive.

If you love the Ventoux should try joining the Club des Cingles then!! http://www.clubcinglesventoux.org/en.html 3 times up and down in a day using all the routes from the surrounding towns of Bedoin, Malaucene and Sault!! Demanding but really rewarding day of cycling- I did it last summer when temperatures were up to high 30s so remember to drink plenty of fluids regularly!!
As already pointed out- you'll be climbing constantly for at least a couple of hours so get into the mindset of just grinding away up and up.

The Polar Bear

posted by tpb1 [7 posts]
21st February 2013 - 0:11

5 Likes

Cheers for all the replies so far, really helpful! I'm just waiting confirmation that I've made it into the team and then the bike will be ordered!

bashthebox wrote:
Get the best shorts you can afford - I absolutely swear by Assos having gone through several pairs of cheaper but less worthy bibs. Also make sure you have a saddle that fits your bum nicely, and I'm sure as some have already suggested, a bike fit will do you good too.

Nutrition is vital for 150 miles - I'm gonna optimistically put that at 7-8 hours in the saddle? You'll have to get your body used to eating a lot of high carb, high sugar stuff, and you'll need to keep hydration up too. Although it seems obvious, you'd be surprised at how difficult it is to keep eating and drinking when your legs are burning and your lungs are hanging out.

You don't mention where you live - might be worth spending a few weekends in B&Bs somewhere really hilly though. Peak District? Scottish Highlands? There's awesome scenery and hills in this little country.

Cheers, I've seen good reviews on the dhb race bib shorts, I'm going to want to try a couple of them out for training so will see how I go. I live in flat Northamptonshire!!!

posted by GTDan [8 posts]
21st February 2013 - 11:14

4 Likes

As a fellow recent convert from MTB, I only just invested in proper road shoes and pedals. They make a world of difference in comfort over longer distances; I was amazed how much more I could feel in my feet. I went for Specialized shoes (they just fit me really well) and Look Keo pedals.

I carry my phone, ID/£10, keys, snack and a lightweight jacket in my back pockets, tube and tools in a small saddlebag and pump/c02 on the bike.

Buy a road specific pump because standing on the roadside in the rain trying to inflate skinny tyres to 100+psi with an MTB pump is not an experience I'd recommend.

It's also worth finding a local bike shop with a decent bike fitting service to make the most of your steed. If you're in the south west, I can recommend BW Cycling in Bristol.

Good luck, I'm very jealous.

posted by egb [43 posts]
21st February 2013 - 11:37

4 Likes

'Ventoux kicks up soon after the start and there's a huge temptation to rush at it from the off forgetting it's 2 hours to the top, if you're fresh.'

Actually, one of the problems is that it *doesn't* kick up for quite a while. Don't get lulled into a false sense of security and blast away thinking 'doddle, this'. Once you get to St Esteve and hit the steep bit, you'll be cursing yourself.

posted by andyp [1331 posts]
21st February 2013 - 12:13

4 Likes

'If you love the Ventoux should try joining the Club des Cingles then!! http://www.clubcinglesventoux.org/en.html 3 times up and down in a day using all the routes from the surrounding towns of Bedoin, Malaucene and Sault!! Demanding but really rewarding day of cycling- I did it last summer when temperatures were up to high 30s so remember to drink plenty of fluids regularly!!'

Word. Chapeau, fellow Cingle Wink
#4029

posted by andyp [1331 posts]
21st February 2013 - 12:13

6 Likes

Not going to disagree with andyp, St Esteve is about 5.5km from Bedoin, to me that's 'soon after the start' and exactly where it kicks up. But I started in Bedoin and if the OP is riding 150 miles that day then he may disagree that even getting there is a doddle Wink.

As for three times in one day, hats off to you both, I'd read about that club before I drove down, I think in Cycling Plus a few years ago. Very, very impressive. I'm pretty sure I could do two in a day but the third would probably finish me off.

My third ride was with a Dutch rider who's ridden the mountain 35 times, probably more now as he spends as much time there as possible, addicted. He was telling me about riders who push that even further and use various combinations of routes up to get 5 or more ascents in a day. If true then that's truly daft.

posted by Bagpuss [104 posts]
21st February 2013 - 16:36

5 Likes

I guess St Esteve is within the first 25%, so yeah, semantics Wink

5 times? I think the record is 12 in a day. Mentalist.

posted by andyp [1331 posts]
21st February 2013 - 17:09

1 Like

Thanks for all your help so far!

Go the go ahead yesterday and ordered the Canyon. Should be here in a week then I can get my Lycra on!

My LBS have ordered a pair of shoes I'm my size so going to try them today. Need to do some shopping!

posted by GTDan [8 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 8:59

4 Likes

Mont Ventoux wouldn't be my choice for my aim in the first six months of road cycling. But then maybe you are one of those people with such innate strength and endurance that they can hop on a road bike and get a pro contract within a couple of years. If so it will be a breeze for you. Or maybe you are in your fifties and have a heart condition. You haven't told us much about you.

Even if you gave us your complete life history, the only thing I'd say you definitely shouldn't do is blindly follow the pronouncements of random people on forums such as this, whose advice, while probably well-intentioned, is based on their own specific physiques, personalities, training locales and past experiences of Mont Ventoux and its weather on one or two specific days.

All we really know are the ways of approaching it that definitely aren't advisable, for anyone, such as doing it with a blood stream full of brandy, amphetamine and not enough water on a boiling hot July day. And, IIRC, someone did die up there during an edition of the Etape du Tour in the early 2000s, from exposure to sub-zero temperatures he hadn't prepared for, which can also happen, even in the middle of summer. That's not to put you off, it's not that dangerous if you take advice but also think about the challenge it presents, to you personally, on both good days and bad.

Alternatively, there is a Classifieds section on this web site if you decide to back out and sell your place (see, we are not all well-intentioned.)

posted by ubercurmudgeon [168 posts]
3rd March 2013 - 11:38

1 Like

When you say you dont have much gradient in your area...do you live in Norfolk?

Theres bound to be a local bike club who can take you out on social/club runs to get to grips with riding in groups and keeping the group speed up. That bits important to experience prior so you can cover the initial 70 odd miles.

Its really easy to learn to sit in at 16mph average, which, if youve been a regular mtb rider, shoudl be achievable, however the increase to 18/19mph in a group requires much more effort/skills knowing when to rest and when to push to keep up.

Seek out the Sky Go-Rides as a great start as are Go-Race races especially if they are on closed-circuits. Really safe way to learn in a group and learn to hold a wheel safely whilst working together. Go-Rides have differing levels of events so you can choose the higher ones for more miles and there will be a ride leader controlling peoples ambition Vs ability.

Dont be put off by the enormity of the challenge...thats why its a challenge - fair play to you for investing into it in the first place, your not exactly getting a free ride are you!?

posted by Farky [186 posts]
5th March 2013 - 17:05

1 Like

Hi Farky, I live in Northamptonshire and I'm going to join the local club "treads" next week. My Canyon is in transit and expected this Thursday!

Riding as a group is the thing that I need to experience. The company I'm doing this with is arranging regional rides as there are 45 of us taking part. Yeh I'm not getting a completely free ride as I'm having to shell out for the kit but like you say it's a challenge!!

posted by GTDan [8 posts]
5th March 2013 - 17:20

2 Likes

remember, you don't need to have even seen a hill before in order to ride something like Ventoux. You just need to be able to put in a decent effort for a decent amount of time....

posted by andyp [1331 posts]
5th March 2013 - 19:08

1 Like