I'm planning to climb one of the major mountains in France next year, Alpe D'huez, Galibier, Ventoux etc. Although I ride quite often I have no experience climbing mountains (as there are none in the Netherlands). Does anyone have suggestions on a training schedule that would help me prepare for next years trip?
Hey Lauwy, Not to worry, you have plenty of time. And you're gonna love riding the big cols of the TdF. I've done it in the Alpes last summer, and in the Pyrennes this past June. Both top five life experiences, no doubt. I live in New York City, not exactly mountainous, but I made them all, except Galibier from Valloire, which I just ran out of gas on, understandably I would think. Honestly best training tip I ever read is the following:
The thing you most need to practice is pedalling at an even constant pressure on the pedals and never freewheeling during an hour period. Ironically the best way to practice this is by riding on your own on the flat or on the turbo-trainer. This will enable you to get used to riding without ever freewheeling and resting. Also, if you get the opportunity, go riding in hot weather to get used to the heat and learn how much you need to drink.
It's done me well recently, and I presume will do me well again. Once you do it once, it's tough to stop. I hope you find it that way as well. Enjoy.
The training tips supplied by Jack are spot on. I have been out to the Pyrenees over the past 4 years to do some of the cols and the one thing that struck me most was that there is no place to rest on most of these climbs if you want to do it 'no foot down'. On the Aubisque, Tourmalet, Marie Blanque and most of the Portalet there literally is no place to freewheel - it just keeps going up. So, the training tip to make yourself keep on pedalling is just the thing that you need to do.
One thing to add is - take a jacket cos although it's hot at the bottom it can be very cold at the top. I made the mistake of climbing the Tourmalet when it was 35 degrees at the bottom, but by the top it was snowing! I stopped for a quick breather and soon got cold I can tell you.
Climbing cols is definitely the best feeling anyone can have, especially with all the history of the tdf sptrayed on the road in front of you. And 'no foot down' is the only way to go. Jim
I climbed my first mountain this year and It was Ventoux. I do live in a hilly area in the UK and although the hills may be steep at 10 to 12% with the odd 15% thrown in, they are not long at 1 mile max. I started training by taking in as many of the hills as I could in a ride. When I got to 4- I got bored so then went out to the 15%er and did repeats on it, started with three and then 4 and when I got to 5- I got bored.
That tip about constant pressure does work on Ventoux by the way- But When I got to France, I got a couple of rides in a couple of days before I attempted it. I did them in the heat of the afternoon and took in about 8 kms at a consistent 8 to 10%. That made me realise that I would need plenty of water so I used a Camelback, and this enabled me to do the ride non-stop.
If you don't live near any mountains then plenty of kilometres on the flat will prepare you well for major climbs. I live in Berlin, which is surrounded by a flat, low-lying region, and did about 2,000km in the 5 months up to climbing Mont Ventoux last year. Fitness was not a problem. Just make sure you have gears for the mountains (my 30 front / 27 rear was fine).
This constant pedaling advice is good. I need to get a Turbo trainer for the coming winter.
For me, there is an area in my city (Guildford) called the Mount, which is built on very steep terrain. There are 3 street/roads going up this. They are short but very steep. I simply do hill training sessions on these hills. Go up and down each climb 3 times at least, giving you a good hour of climbing. Up one, up another, up another etc... This works pretty well for me.
I recon if I combined this with time on the Turbo trainer this would stand me in good steed for any Col.