Wednesday, April 3, 2013

This is getting serious - April training for the 2013 Etape du Tour

This defeated me
I've not exactly been training as well as I might for the 2013 Etape du Tour.

Pez has been hitting the gym five times (at least) a week, Paul's bought a turbo trainer and heart-rate monitor and has been off on 3-hour "zone2" work outs. Bobby's been off on the hills on 90-mile rides.

Me? I've been riding to work a bit more often.

Over Easter I tried to get out more, notching a couple of 40-milers and a 20 mile recovery ride. But on Sunday I was defeated, twice, by hills in the South Downs.

That has to end now. So, I've found a training programme for April from the people organising our Etape trip.
Here it is:


Two types of weekend to build a tolerance to the mileage (A) and a tolerance to intensity (B).

‘Weekend A’ is one long ride (preferably on the Saturday), followed by an easy hour or rest day the following day. Crank it up a notch on what is your normal or comfortable pace. ie increase the intensity you ride hills, try and go 1 tooth further down the cogs, work hard on intensifying pace to maintain cadence, try and add some 20 min harder sets into the ride. ie 2×20 min sets going up the biggest hills of the ride of increased exercise effort.

‘Weekend B’: Two × 2-3 hour rides over the weekend with an increase in intensity. ie Saturday is three hours at a pace noticeably more difficult than your stock long ride pace. Not a long interval, it can include 2 × 20 min intervals if you like, but really just upping the intensity a perceivable notch. Go out again on Sunday and doing another two hour ride at that same intensity. Increasing the cadence on this weekend just to give those legs a little more ‘zap’!

If you are doing a Sportive, add that as your ‘Weekend A’.


90 minute to 2 hours (Tuesday), done at an easy pace because you will still be recovering from the weekend.

1 hour (Thursday) on the turbo. Try some 5-3-1’s. These are a 10 min warm up, 5 minutes hard, 3 minutes really hard and 1 minute flat out. 10 minutes easy recovery and repeat that 2-3 times.  If on the road, do 2 sets of 7 minutes, 5 minutes, 3 minutes at the same intensity zones.

Life gets in the way

We've got two sportives planned for April, so that's Weekend A sorted, and spinning round Regents Park a few times on my ride home should let me get the mid-week rides in.

The 'Weekend B' is more of a challenge, as it falls on days where I have weddings and a cricket tour I've said I'm going to. But I'll try and get as much as possible in. Or even a bit more than that if I can find a way.

Wish me luck!


  1. Good luck!

    My brother and I will also be doing our first etape this year, having only started cycling in January I feel I can relate quite well to your pain!

    Very jealous of your hot weather training, I'm still waiting for my first double digit degrees outing.

    Anyway if you fancy a trip to the south coast we can always show you some of the Sussex hills when you get bored of the Surrey versions.

    Great work on the blog and keep riding upwards


    1. Thanks Simon!

      Hopefully it's all going well in Sussex - I think living in London is the worst part about the training, it's 7 miles through the town or a train ride to get anywhere interesting.

      Hot weather training was brilliant, although not cheap, but if you can spare the time and money then getting away and trying out some continental-style hills is really worthwhile.


  2. I would suggest more days in the saddle, based on what I did for the Etape the last two years. 5 or 6 days a week is not impossible and you will find that your body will recover just fine after one day (unless you do something extraordinarily punishing). I do 3 short (60-120 min) but hard days of intervals Tue, Wed, Thu, then a recovery ride on Fri, followed by two long ones on the weekend.

    It might be hard to jump into a schedule like that right now, but you'll be glad you did when you climbing those cols near Annecy, I can guarantee you that! Good luck with the training.