Etape....?

by gandberg   October 25, 2008  

Evening All.

It seems that after recent discussion of going to watch le tour next year, a couple of us are considering entering the Etape. Anyone here got any experience of competing in this event? We would be riding just for fun (?!) and using the event to focus on building fitness.

Current riding regime is based on a weekly nightly night ride of 15-20miles and a weekend ride of 40-60 miles (I know the rolling Worcestershire countryside doesnt offer the same kind of challenge as the Ventoux!).

It would be a bloody marvellous achievement to complete the stage, and I've already got the go ahead from the missus and the family, so whats stopping me?

Has jovial banter suddenly become all to much? Most importantly, would I need to fit a granny ring onto the 'Zing Deluxe?!

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but I have ridden the Ventoux. And you can too! Go on! It's a beast of a climb though, unrelenting and steep on the bottom section and either baking hot or jetstream windy or freezing cold at the top, depending on the day. It's a vertical mile bottom to top, and don't forget that those six 'blips' in the graph before the Ventoux are bigger climbs in themselves than anything you're likely to find on your doorstep.

Be honest with your gearing. I saw lots of sporty types pushing flash bikes up the steep bits because they hadn't been. If you think you need a triple, buy one. You won't win, so there's not much point posturing, is there?

You've got lots of great climbs not too far away... why not drive down to Abergavenny for your next weekend jaunt and start with the Gospel Pass?

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7379 posts]
25th October 2008 - 12:21

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I rode la Marmotte this year without doing any particular training and got round. I rode a few sportives - Forest of Dean, Gran Fondo Cymru, Archer, Dragon Ride and also Sunday rides of about 80-90 miles fairly regularly also London to Brighton and back (out over Ditchling, back over Devil's Dyke - thanks Jo!) and then Bristol 12hr solo.
I cracked on Alpe d'Huez but was still walking and talking afterwards.
You'll need to get used to riding in a group, and also 2 hour climbs ;o)
The real problem with riding the etape is that as a Brit you set off last so you'll always be chasing the time cut off.

posted by aP [7 posts]
25th October 2008 - 13:54

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The Etape going up Ventoux will be a great ride. earlier this year I rode pretty much that course, and also a circuit round the mountain, then up to the summit and back.

Ventoux is an amazing ride, the view of the mountain from the col de Fontanube is awe inspiring. It will be a great ride; I always think Ventoux has a special place in the hearts of the British cyclist, what with our greatest cyclist having given his all on it.

I've already signed up for a 6 day tour, coast to coast across the Pyreneas for next summer, so will miss the Etape. Still, I should see more than my fair share of cols, one of the days climbs Peyresourde, Aspin and the Tourmalet!

Complicating matters since 1965

DaSy's picture

posted by DaSy [649 posts]
26th October 2008 - 17:02

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I'm in next year's Étape. And I rode the 2007 edition (well, to the top of the Bales before I packed.

I had my bike built with a triple and, sure enough, it's not cool in the world of cycling, but it does have its benefits. Like today in the Peaks, where the wind meant some climbs were extra hard.

Do not underestimate the amount of riding you need to do between now and then, but most of consider the good advice given above: climbs up European mountains just aren't like anywhere in the UK (even Cragg Vale is short compared with them. Thinking "oh well, the average gradient is only 6%" doesn't account for te fact that you'll have to do that for an hour or two. Without let up.

Also, beware gearing being too low - if you have MTB gearing you may well get up the climbs, but it will take you so long the Gendaremes folled by the balai will snaffle you. That said, don't stress too much about the balai or the elimination. Everyone focusses on that, and forgets to enjoy the ride. Which is what you're there to do!

So, take lots of advice, and train lots in the meanmtime. This means turbo and, at this time of year, long steqady rides on Sundays. Also, consider joining a club - they aren't as cluquey as you might imagine, and its a great way (a) to learn of those who have been riding well for years and (b) you get the camaraderie of riding with a group for 80 miles, rather than slogging away yourself.

Good luck!

posted by ourmaninthenorth [93 posts]
26th October 2008 - 18:20

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we've signed up, so all we have to do is play GTA until July, go to the shops a couple of times on our BMX's wearing our hoods up, then turn up on the day.....if only.

I actually don't think I can wear my bibbed shorts on the bike anymore for fear of not being able to remove them quick enough thus soiling myself, just at the thought of what were going to try and do.

But without challenges, what would any of us do?!

Thanks for the great advice, it is all appreciated.

The Man In Black.

posted by gandberg [215 posts]
27th October 2008 - 1:21

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You've only got 'til next July

On a bike somewhere…

thebikeboy's picture

posted by thebikeboy [138 posts]
27th October 2008 - 1:31

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