Gareth’s April training advice

This month is less about training and more about what to expect on Tour…but they are related, I promise.

So here it is. The Tour. The Good, the bad and the ugly…

The Good

200km sounds like a long way to cycle, and it is. You might be worrying about whether you can manage such distances day after day and that’s that main reason I strongly recommend adding long back to back rides in to your training (see my March post).

But here’s the good news: Whilst there’s no substitute for time in the saddle it’s worth remembering that, on the Tour de Force, we’ll being providing feed stops approximately every 40-50km. These offer an opportunity to get off your bike for a little while, have a chat, a stretch, a coffee and some food.

In practice, this means that a 200km ride doesn’t mean riding that far non-stop. It means that you have the chance to break the day up into two or more “shorter rides” both mentally and physically and gives you a chance to recover a little bit between efforts. It is for this reason that I said last month not to worry about making a café stop during your long training rides in order to break them up a bit.

You’ll also be pleasantly surprised by the feel of cycling on French roads. I often joke that riding in France makes you feel like a cycling hero but there is some truth in it. Many of the roads in France, especially the south, are made from a smoother tarmac. Pro’s often refer to it as less “heavy” or “grippy” which really just means that your bike rolls a little more easily. That combined with less severe gradients than we often have in the UK adds up to a slightly higher average speed than you’re probably used to riding in Britain.

The Bad

The Tour is tough. Whether you’re doing only a few days or the whole parcours the chances are it’ll be the most riding you’ve ever done and almost certainly the most back to back long cycling days.

A Tour day might be anything from 7 to 12 hours long. That means that it’ll be important to take care of yourself in a time efficient manner. Being able to quickly organise your gear for the following day in half an hour or so just before or after dinner will mean you can maximise your relaxation and recovery time. If you’re joining us for any more than a few days then this likely means getting some cycling kit washed as well.

I’ll do my best to get an up-to-date weather forecast for the following day to tell you at dinner in order to help you plan what to put in your day bags for the following stage.

There are also a few non-cycling related things that you may find tough: Lack of sleep for example or the often pastry/baguette-based French hotel breakfasts. These things, however, are also easily managed when you’re prepared for them.

For example, I sometimes make myself a cheese sandwich from the breakfast buffet to eat in the first hour of cycling (before the first feed stop) or on the transfer coach. It’s simple time/personal management things like this that can make the early mornings much more pleasant.

Know yourself and figure out what you need to do to make the long days easier on yourself.

The Ugly

Kidding. There’s no ugly, only lovely sunny smooth roads.

And Finally…

As always, these posts are designed for a very wide audience so if you have a way of doing things that you know works for you or have had other coaching advise then you should stick with that.

Alternatively, if you have training related questions, would like to suggest topics for future posts or are unsure which parts of these articles might apply to you, then feel free to get in touch: gareth@tourdeforce.org.uk.