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We are delighted to have local Swiss cycling legend Valentin Baillifard writing exclusively for Kudos Cycling. A fascinating insight into life on the road as a professional cyclist.
Being a pro rider is not only trying to ride fast, but it is also a lifestyle. I will describe to you what a typical week is like, if the race takes place on a Sunday. The end of every week is different because you adapt each day with your tiredness, goals, the time of the year and when you start the next race.
Monday is recovery day but a key day. I sleep longer than normal. My sleep time is usually 10pm to 8am but if we come back directly after the race I often arrive home really late if the races are in other countries. During the travel home it is impossible to sleep because my body has suffered so much during the day and I can’t just fall asleep easily. When I wake up later, I usually don’t need breakfast and I just have to go for an easy one hour ride and will just have lunch. As it’s a recovery day, the menu is only meat and vegetables. Monday is a key day with the type of food I eat. It is the hardest day because on a recovery day you shouldn’t eat a lot but your body is telling you to eat as much as possible. During the race, your body has burnt huge amounts of calories. On the Tour de France, riders will typically burn about 4,000 kcal on an "easy" stage. Average stages require between 4,000 and 6,000 kcal. Gruelling mountain stages demand calorie burns of 7,000 kcal or more so it’s a lot! To help me recover, I drink a lot of water during the day for hydration, as well as for recovering as fast as possible. During a race you can never drink enough so it’s important to recover over the next few days after a race. During the afternoon I have a siesta, the duration depends on my tiredness. After that I take time to analyse the last race but I also prepare looking at the stats, the course and all the details for the next race so I know exactly which wheels or tactics I will use. I plan my training week and go to the physio for a recovery massage.
Tuesday is the first training day. It will be an explosive day with power or sprints. After a core training session in the morning, I have a healthy breakfast. My meals for the day will be more protein. Often the training is only for 2 hours but when you finish, your muscles will be destroyed because the goals for these type of training exercises is to improve your fast muscle fibres. Like after every training session, the right food is important for recovery and so lots of protein. If I have meeting with sponsors or media, I will always try to plan it on the Tuesday after training.
Wednesday is a big day. First is core training and after a good breakfast. The riding duration will be about 4h/4h30 with a lot of climbing and PMA exercises. After training it is really important to take care of the recovery. I stick to my schedule and I never change; 5 minutes after training I have some sugar, 10 minutes shower, apply the compression socks, 20 minutes after training a high protein shake, 45 minutes after training some easy stretching, 1 hour after training a full meal. I take some time to download the training on the computer, do the analysis and write feedback for the trainer. Then it’s time for a well deserved siesta.
Thursday is the last good training day. Using the same schedule as Wednesday but training will be longer, 5 hours, with lots of threshold training on climbs. After completing the training plan, I finish like the day before.
Friday is again a recovery day with one or two hours of endurance/easy training. I take care to eat less. After training I take time to plan my travel day. First I take a look at the team travel schedule and check my flight. I plan when I have to wake up and set off from home. I look at the weather forecast and prepare my bag. I wash my training bike (leaving it at home) and prepare it for my come back on Monday. I have a Skype discussion with my psychology coach. Finally, it is time for relaxing.
Saturday is a travel day. I have to be careful to eat healthily and not to get too tired. We are taken to our team hotel and I will go for a short ride with sprints. After travelling my legs are heavy so I have to make sure they feel fresh ready for race day. After a light spin I have a massage followed by a team dinner and an early night.
Sunday is race day. After we wake up, I have a healthy breakfast, have a quick team briefing, final bike prep and then it’s time to fight! I will explain to you in more detail about the race day in my next blog.
After the race it’s a shower in the bus and it’s all about recovering well until we go again.
Blog written by Valentin Baillifard ex BMC Development Team
Fancy cycling 1,800km with 30,000m of climb from France to Croatia, via Switzerland, Italy and Slovenia? Yup, us too, so we sent Kudos Cycling's correspondent Catie Friend to find out from the horse’s mouth what it’s like. She interviewed Lawrence Dallaglio, Andrew Ridgeley and Warren Smith in Verbier during the 2018 Dallaglio Cycle Slam and caught up with Warren again once it was all over.
On a sunny May evening in Verbier, I sat opposite three smiling, chatty men, who had just cycled in from Chamonix, over the imposing Col des Montets, Col de la Forclaz and up the 8km climb into the famous Swiss ski resort we call home.
It was only day two of 15, so despite some fairly punishing climbing in the heat, they were full of beans and happy to chit chat about the day, the charity and their shared love of cycling.
All three of them spoke warmly about their cycling life. Ridgeley recalled seeing the Alps in the summer for the first time two years ago; how majestic they were and how astonishing he found the scale of it all. Smith pointed out that due to the fantastic winter we had they were cycling over cols, marvelling at the contrast between the bright greens of summer and the lingering snow patches.
They were enthusiastic about the impending three five-day stages (a stage in Slam vocabulary is five days long, not one as per the Tour de France) that would eventually see them all arrive safe and sound in Split, Croatia, and looking forward to various elements along the way. Andrew Ridgeley, formerly of pop duo Wham!, was looking forward to some friends joining him and Lawrence Dallaglio, former England rugby captain, was excited to be cycling past the stunning Italian lakes of Como and Garda. Warren Smith, owner of the Warren Smith Ski Academy and ski coach on The Jump, was just happy to be back on his bike exactly one year to the day since a horrific cycling accident almost kept him off games for life. Friends, scenery and a working body; is there anything else you need for a good bike ride?
Well, as it turns out, an amazing support crew is also vital - as all three found out along the ride. I caught up with Warren again after the ride was over to get a view of how a three-week ride across five countries changes you.
Inevitably, as with any multi-day ride, there were highs and lows. Cycling over the Simplon pass into Italy in torrential rain, where the second climb of the day was akin to riding upstream in a river, was a definite low. As was the climb from Slovenia into Croatia in 41 degrees, where the ever-present support ambulance had its work cut out helping wobbly, dehydrated cyclists.
They all found Croatia tougher than anticipated. The expectation that once over the Alps it would all smooth sailing down the coast and into Split was rudely smashed with some climbs of 24%!!!
Physios and support crew kept them all on the road, especially Ridgeley, who came off downhill and was on crutches for a couple of days and Smith, as his recent injuries niggled on and off throughout. Following his 2017 crash (at 70km/h downhill when a tyre blew out), he was keen to look after himself as much as possible. Surprisingly, the broken hip he sustained gave him the least trouble. To protect his badly injured knee he was careful to spin when he could and to pull up on his pedals as much as possible to avoid putting too much power through the joint. Daily post-ride ice baths and visits to the physio in week one meant that by week two he was feeling fit and by week three there was no further fluid build up at the end of each day.
The tendon replacement in his shoulder seemed to prove the biggest niggle, causing quite a lot of pain, but with physio and acupuncture throughout he says it feels stronger than it did and will just take time to heal properly.
I asked how three weeks on the road changes you, physically and mentally and Smith gave a typically thoughtful response. He claims to have grown in confidence as a cyclist, although having witnessed him cycling downhill like a bat out of hell on my day out with the Slam, I’m not sure how one becomes more confident than that… However, he had the great privilege of riding stage two with a fast, experienced group that included Austin Healey, former England rugby player and none other than Chris McCormack, two-time Ironman World Champion.
He says they took the time to teach him about proper peloton riding (not something McCormack learned in Kona, one assumes, as long distance triathletes are forbidden from drafting). Smith likened his five days with the “fast boys” to being a child riding with its parents. Constant encouragement, lots of pointers and no doubt a few moments of frustration on both sides! He seemed so grateful to them for building his confidence as a cyclist and despite being on the edge of his comfort zone all week, was thrilled to be able to pass on his new-found knowledge to the group he rode with for the final stage.
Physically, he is delighted to report post-ride, he feels ski fit and ready for a summer on the glacier with his coaches, but I sense that the mental boost that these three weeks on the road gave him has been the biggest gift. Following the crash that could have had very much more serious consequences, he went through months of operations, rehab and some very dark days. Bad dreams and fears that his career may be over have been replaced by a confidence that he says came from riding with positive people. On top of the skills learned on the ride, being able to talk about the accident with cyclists who have also had crashes (although, he admits, his seems to have been gold medal standard compared to most) appears to have been as therapeutic as the physio and the ice baths.
A mixed group of people, from many walks of life, including “celebs” from the worlds of sport, music and film, could be a difficult one to unite. However, with all of them reduced to the simple task of turning their pedals every day, cycling has a levelling effect. Regardless of status, ability or fitness, the shared experience on the road as well as the encouragement afforded to each person, fast or otherwise, there appears to have been no personality clashes. No mean feat with some of the characters I met on my fantastic day out with the Slam!!
I finish the interview with three impressions of Warren’s ride:
1. He LOVES cycling downhill. I mean he really, really loves it! He described riding some of the corners like being on skis, having to get your weight shifted to the sweet spot and flying round them.
2. He had some favourite new rides, such as round the lakes in Italy, but what he took away from this was how much he really wanted to explore more routes in our adopted home canton of Valais and take advantage of our doorstep.
3. He said that three weeks of cycling can make every day a little like groundhog day but that without fail, two hours into the day, once the wheels are turning and the rhythm has been established it becomes like a moving meditation. Switch off, let your mind wander and just pedal. Sounds magical. Sign me up.
Warren, Andrew, Lawrence and many, many others raised over £1,000,000 for Dallaglio RugbyWorks during this ride. The charity supports young people in the UK excluded from mainstream schools by teaching them life skills such as respect, punctuality and discipline through the medium of rugby.
It is not too late to donate to Warren’s page by clicking here and if you are inspired to take part in 2020 (it happens every two years) then you check out the ride on www.dallagliocycleslam.com
For top tips and advice on how to train for such an event and how to be prepared as possible, please contact us for some great riding and coaching in the Swiss Alps.
- Physically prepared - ride fit including core strength exercises
- Technically confident - riding in a group at speed (peloton), descending techniques, braking points, how to climb confidently and how to ride in wet conditions
- Mentally strong - dig deep and tips for getting up that final climb
- Nutritionally - what your body wants and needs. Eating correctly and keeping hydrated
- Preparing your body and muscles for multiday efforts - get in the habit of doing yoga before and after a long day in the saddle. The beers can wait!
- What to wear - don't leave it to chance!
- Bike fit - probably the most overlooked aspect. Bike position is vital and will help stop painful knees, back, neck, wrists and other sensitive areas!
Please contact us for some great riding and coaching in the Swiss Alps with our expert team. email@example.com
Some cycling facts
Lawrence Dallaglio: Custom built, handmade Legend by Bertoletti, Bergamo, Italy
Warren Smith: Scott Foil Premium, 6.2kg
Andrew Ridgeley: Trek Emonda Project One
Lawrence Dallaglio: BMX
Warren Smith: Tomahawk
Andrew Ridgeley: Metallic green single speed
If you only had one last ride in you…
Lawrence Dallaglio: The Stelvio
Warren Smith: RAAM (Race Across America)
Andrew Ridgeley: The Lands End Loop
Andrew Ridgeley: Mark Cavendish, Sir Chris Hoy (for their Olympic success)
Lawrence Dallaglio: David Millar (who took newly the retired rugby player for his first bike ride)
Warren Smith: Sir Bradley Wiggins (who learned to ski with Warren in 2017)
Day one and placed 51st so pretty pleased. Went too hard to start so had a terrible middle climb - I just hope I have not done too much damage to my legs - steady day tomorrow with the aim of finishing each climb strongly and to be strongest on the last climb
Day 2 and the 3 weeks of the Tour De Force meant I recovered well overnight. I decided to ride well within myself to ensure I could ride well all week. I was worried backing off would see me plummet down the rankings and that my 51st yesterday was an aberration. But I placed 51st again which is encouraging when I did not go too hard and suffered a short mechanical. I have been riding with a head cold which was worse this morning - I hope I will get over that as it is holding me back a bit but no excuses. My gold medal target is top 50 so I need to hope that the TDF gives me an edge as the week progresses. Weather is increasingly a challenge - it's getting hotter every day.
Sock Porn - coming from a tri background where we typically don't wear socks on the bike to "proper" cycling I had no idea how much I would have to up my sock game. It's a good job I did as there is a daily competition for the best socks and €100 to be won! So today I am sporting these which I am teaming with my lime green Rapha aero jersey. However my expectations are low, like all things in this race I am outclassed in every front, including the socks. However, as always, I am giving it my best shot! The head cold is back with a vengeance and I do not hold out high expectations for today. I have also comfort eaten and am feeling bloated and crap - back to careful eating for today and breakfast at 5:00am and not 6:00 as today which has left too little time for the food to clear. Feeling a bit sorry for myself this AM.
Day 3 and it's all gone horribly wrong apart from my sock game which I am sure you agree is worthy of the €100 prize and note coordination with the jersey. So my head cold has descended onto my chest and despite ventolin I was wheezing like a bloke on 60 fags a day. I was operating on half a lung and basically in survival mode all day and could not generate any power. I am so hacked off as I will not get a chance to see what I could have been capable of. 75th on the Laurent and Sarenne but despite resting for 30 mins by the side of the road in the neutralised zone I was 105th up the "other" side of Alpe d'Huez and about that for the day dropping from 51st to 57th in the overall general classification. Tomorrow is a single time trial up the iconic Alpe d'Huez with the 21? hairpins. It is the first time I will have ridden it and it's such a shame it's likely to be in survival mode! Just been to the chemist for more drugs - just hoping for a miracle recovery now!
Sock porn challenge and Alpe D'Huez - today's programme. I went to see the race Doctor yesterday as I am feeling so bad. They gave me steroids which I took last night but this morning I feel no better and walking up the stairs from breakfast left me gasping for breath. My plan today is to ride as hard as I can without putting too much stress on my lungs and enjoy my first ride up this iconic climb!
Stage 4 Alpe D'Huez time trial - drugged up to the eyeballs on paracetamol, ibuprofen, ventolin and steroids and I rode better than survival mode and relatively hard but without killing myself. I was able to enjoy the iconic climb and all 21 of the named and numbered hairpins. The drugs helped and it was an ok time 1:01:59 placing me 95th and I moved up one in the GC to 56th which is better than I expected. To put this in context the fastest time was 47 minutes and the fastest pro ever was around 10 minutes faster still but 47 mins shows the company I am not keeping. I thought I might slip back further. The gap between 56th and top 50 is about 16 minutes which now feels like a lot of time to make up. Tomorrow is the queen stage - which means it's a bitch! 4,500m of vertical lies ahead so I have to hope for some great recovery today - I am eating well, drinking shed loads and about to try and get some more drugs out of the race doctor!
Sock Porn Day 5 and the Col du Glandon (1,924m), Col de la Madeleine (2,000m) and Col des Saisies (1,650m) await with 4,500 m of vertical. I got onto the sock shortlist yesterday but still no cigar - not sure what tactic to adopt today, with temperatures predicted to be high I am leaning to the subtle, light blue "climbers socks" with the strategy of playing some of my stronger socks later in the week when hopefully others will have exhausted their reserves. More steroids, more paracetamol, more decongestant and I am feeling a little better but it's hard to tell with all the drugs. Usually everyone riders harder after the rest day so I will need to push harder today if I can. I am though backing off my planned watts to allow for the cold - will be interesting to see what happens - I am at least looking forward to the ride a little.
The first day I have actually started to feel better - hooray! 4,500m and 183 km is a big day but as I had dialled back my watts it was all really quite pleasant. I never really felt too uncomfortable and am getting back towards my normal levels of performance. I was 75th for the day (better than 95th yesterday) on a comfortable ride so relatively pleased although not so happy to have slipped 10 places to 61st. But everyone goes hard after the rest day but the good news is that is a matter of a couple of minutes back to my mid 50's ranking. So currently waiting confirmation from my coach as to the plan but I think tomorrow needs to be a day of do or die although the course is not ideal with a lot of flat sections so if you are lucky or unlucky with the group you are riding in this can make a big difference. Hopefully going to wake up tomorrow feeling even better!
Sock porn challenge day 6 - do or die and so it is with my socks. Not surprisingly I did not make the sock shortlist yesterday. Woke to a cough on my chest that does not bode well and feeling pretty rough again and a poor nights sleep. Anyway, will ride as hard as my body will allow - not feeling too hopeful though. Today did not start well and it seemed my body had chosen the die of the Do or Die plan - after a short descent from the resort we went straight into a steep climb with no warm-up. I was unable to breath despite a low heart rate and had to back right off as I feared some form of coronary. At this point I basically wrote the race off but surprisingly did not feel too bad as It was my health that was stopping me - not weakness of my mind.
I got over the climb eventually as best I could but was then able to deploy my skills developed overtaking lorries on the Verbier hill to pull back quite a few positions. In the valley, I found myself in a well organised Group that was not pushing too hard and causing me to red line so I made good fast progress to the foot of Epine.
Having warmed up I felt a lot better and decided the "Do" option was still open and decided to attack the hill and delivered reasonable watts and felt good. I kept with the same group on the next valley floor before the start of the famous Colombiere - this also went well and I was able to drop and put time into a few riders who I knew were ahead of me in the GC. It was kinda cool thinking about who to attack and putting time into them - very Tour de France!
The descent from Colombiere was neutralised so I took my time to recover and eat and again the same group worked well together to the foot of the Joux Plane. I attacked this the best I can and put in a pretty good effort - again putting time into key rivals and arriving not too long after chaps who I knew to be stronger than me - I had a sense it had been a good day after all.
I was placed 55th overall for the day and moved back up in the GC from 61st to 58th and there are 12 minutes between me and 50th place which is my gold medal target. It will be a big ask to close that tomorrow but the profile of the course might suit me and I am definitely recovering. The plan is full gas, empty the tank and gain positions on the descent whilst hopefully avoiding dying. We will see!
Sock Porn Day 7 final stage - woke this morning feeling the best I have all week. Alarm set for 4.00am and attempted to make porridge, trail mix and blueberry combo but something was very, very off and I still have a metallic, poisoned taste in my mouth - probably the unwashed blueberries or the bowl the kitchen lent me - I'm now worried I will come down with food poisoning! So I binned the lot and had the hotel breakfast at 5.00 and could have had an hour extra in bed!
Not even on the sock shortlist again so going for a more classy little black and white classic combo - hopefully they may move away from preferring the equivalent of the Christmas sweater variety of socks today.
Final stage and the plan is to try and get something of a warm-up in before the start to avoid breathlessness on the first climb - at least now I know it passes.
I have written a list of all the bib numbers of those between me and top 50 so I am going to try and really push as hard as I can today and see what happens - lots of ups and downs so it should suit me!
Do or die once more!
It's done - sorry about the sandals! I managed to finish 58th overall which was my silver medal goal range of 50 to 75. All things considered, I am pretty happy with my final position. Had I not been unwell I think I would probably have made it inside the top 50 but not much more than that. There is a lot more to learn about cycle racing at this level compared to previous haute routes where I was middle ranked. There is a lot more tactics, psychology and mental strength required to race well. So my progression has been 2015 217th, 2016 117th and 2017 58th so I am developing as a cyclist. 2018 I think I will target Haute Route Pyrenees and just do a recce before going for it seriously in 2019. So now I am putting the bike away to focus on ultramarathon running - 3 days of racing in The Canaries and the Oman desert marathon later this year as a prelude to the Marathon Des Sables 2018. But right now I'm going to have an ice-cream!
If you want to get yourself physically and psychologically prepared so you can tackle the Haute Route or any other cycling event to the best of your ability you can enquire about one of our Performance Improvements Packages please contact us.
For someone who cycles in Essex, where there really aren't any hills to talk of, heading to the Swiss Alps for a “cycling break” might not seem like the most obvious choice. If you're in a similar boat, fear not, in Anthony at Kudos Cycling you really don't need to worry. First of all, Anthony is careful to find out exactly what sort of cycling you've done before so that he can choose a route that will challenge you without breaking you. Add to that the wonderful Swiss Valais region and you are onto a winner.
Sure, there are mountain passes that would keep Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali happy, but the valley floor between Martigny and Sion alongside the River Rhone is flat, beautiful, filled with delightful medieval Roman villages and towns and bedecked with vineyards, orchards and apricot orchards on either side.
Now although the valley was a pleasure to be pedaling along, I actually wanted to test myself. Each day started with a chat with Anthony seeing how the legs were and working out what would be a good route for me and my fellow riders. Each of the four days out with Kudos Cycling were different. A steady, but not too tough ascent to the ski resort of La Fouly was rewarded with a coffee and lunch in a delightful alpine restaurant where I sampled the local cuisine. Day two was tougher with a ride along the valley before a testing climb up through a nature reserve to a stunning beautiful lake at Deborance. The route takes you up some tough steep ramps but eases off to take you through the most extraordinary section of road literally blasted out of the side of a mountain. The tunnels are extraordinary and great fun to blast down giving a yodel as you go, hearing it echo as you go from light to dark and back again.
With the legs feeling it a bit, day three was something completely different: e-biking! This must surely be the way forward, particularly for families and a great way to explore the valley. Anthony had organised mountain bikes from Mountain Air in Verbier that come with a battery unit attached that is good for 40-50km depending on how you use it. On the downhills you use the bike exactly as normal, but on the way up, you can get a helping hand. I chose to test myself using the lowest setting 'eco mode' though others chose one step up: tour. If you go up to Turbo mode, although the battery wouldn't last very long, you would keep up with the aforementioned Mr Froome!
Although the group had cyclists of different standards, these bikes evened it all out. What strikes me is that with the multitude of trails in the area, you could easily have a whole family outing that simply wouldn't have been possible otherwise for the real hardy characters, you could go out on a normal mountain bike with your loved one heading out on an E-bike. They are brilliant fun. We climbed over 5,000 feet on ours and ended up on the lower slopes under the Glacier de Corbassière. Just below this stunning viewpoint was the Cabine Brunet mountain restaurant. It was almost a throwback in time. Clearly a family run concern, father was busying himself restocking the cellars while Mother produced good wholesome alpine food. Among our group we had a delicious macaroni dish while other had goulash soup served with great hunks of still warm home cooked bread and a slab of local cheese on the side. Delicious.
All good things must come to an end so there was only time for a short foray back into the hills on my trusty steed - a Specialized Roubaix S4 - and Anthony had kept the best (and hardest) for last. A challenging climb up numerous switchbacks saw us rise rapidly up the valley sides over a couple of 'cols' before a brief descent back down to the village of Vollege for a well-earned coffee and cake. This was me getting close to the limit but with words of encouragement from Anthony ringing in my ears I cannot tell you the elation I felt making it over the top.
For me, Anthony was able to work out exactly what I was capable of doing and then gently teasing that little bit more out of my legs so that I was left feeling hugely proud of my achievements. Pushing me onwards without ever really getting to that red line; looking back as I write this, it is a rare talent indeed that can choose just the right route for the occasion.
Travel to Le Chable couldn't be easier. You can fly into Geneva from pretty much anywhere in the world and take the ever-efficient Swiss railway to Martigny and then on up the valley. From this winter on, a new operator Powdair will start flights into Sion flying from London City, London Luton, London Southend, Southampton, Bristol and Manchester as well as Antwerp. You can then train right up to Le Chable. Swiss efficiency was more than in evidence on my return. The train departed Martigny bang on time and arrived on time at Geneva Airport. It was then a whole eight minutes from stepping off the train until I was through security at the airport. Admittedly a quiet time, but still, you'd be hard pressed to do it anywhere else!
It would be wrong of me not to finish by mentioning the region of Valais again. The views are simply stunning, the cycle routes (on and off road) numerous, varied and just plain awesome. Restaurants are varied in price, type and style and don't forget the small coffee shops - after all you need to treat yourself after all that effort. If you fancy trying something a bit different from the norm and want to challenge yourself, just enough, then you could do a lot worse than get in touch with Anthony at Kudos Cycling. I for one, will be heading back just as soon as I can.
Power metres have very much come to forefront of the training tool to have in recent years and understanding the information you can gather is crucial. They provide a measurement of the force pushed through the pedal and crank and the velocity with which you do it, to give you your power output.Read More
The Tour de France and La Course by the Tour de France (womens version) is over for another year. The incredible exploits of Chris Froome winning his fourth successive TDF and Lizzie Deignan flying the flag for womens cycling hopefully inspiring even more people to challenge themselves psychologically and physically to give cycling up big mountains a crack!
It’s possibly one of the most fulfilling aspects of cycling to reach the summit of a mountain and experience those breath-taking views and the freedom of being removed from civilisation.
Here are a few quick tips to help you on your way.
The Parcours (the route)
Know your route! Make sure that if you are expecting a 15km ride with 7% average grade halfway through the ride, and when on the climb where are the areas where you can recover and where does it really ramp up i.e. where are you going to suffer!? Knowledge of the climb allows you to pace yourself.
Weather in the mountains can change rapidly and can be glorious over one side of the valley and in the other; you think you may need Noahs Arc. Living in the mountains year round there is only one website I trust and that’s YR.no . It's Norwegian so it must be good!
On the climb you will more than likely hot, sweaty regardless of the ambient temperature, but once you stop you may fell the chill at the top. A rule of thumb is as you climb every 100m you will lose a degree in temperature. It could be a scorcher in the valley bottom but up at 1700m for example it could be significantly colder and on the descent you will pleased that you brought those gloves and that coat, if anything just to keep the wind off.
When packing to leave, pack for the worst; overshoes, thermal top, coat, cap, gloves, leg warmers. At least you have it should you need it.
Fuel for the legs
Avoid that bonk (a condition of sudden fatigue and loss of energy which is caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles).
The thing to do is keep topping up on your energy stores and staying hydrated little and often!
Another rule of thumb is to try and consume ~60g of carbohydrate per hour either from food or fluid, and 750ml of fluid per hour but this varies on conditions. Heat equals more fluid due to an increase in water loss through sweat.
Okay so you’re on the ride and approaching that first climb. It doesn’t matter the size of the climb, big or small, go at your own speed. Don't try hang with people that go flying off, you’ll probably catch them later. Climbs in the mountains are inherently long, and starting at a comfortable pace where you can still chat is a good thing it’s all about good pacing. Let the effort come to you.
Cyclists have different techniques, are you a Contador; out of the saddle or a Froome; spinning a minute gear very fast, or maybe somewhere in between? Do whatever feels comfortable to you but also worth having the right bike set-up. More on that later.
As the climb goes on you will feel the effort but this is where knowing the route and the profile comes in handy, a steep bit here where it’s going to hurt a little and flat bit there where I can recover! Keep taking on water on the way up and a bit of solids, the climb could be long and hot.
You've reached the top, breath in the fresh air and enjoy that view you've earned! Time for a coffee!
Now the descent
The key is take it steady, get on the drops (gives more control of the brakes), and there’s a lot to take in, make sure you enjoy that view, you’ve earned it. Stay on your side of the road; the right, remember it’s the right had side if you’re in mainland Europe! We’ll cover the more technical aspects of descending in another blog soon. More than likely it’ll be a bit cold on the way down so put a coat on and maybe some gloves, you could be descending for a while. Onto the next one!
Written by Jack & Tess Lawson
It took a serious ski accident and major knee surgery to push Tess Lawson into her decision to try bike mechanics. She has not looked back.
A ski instructor and coach in the popular Swiss resort of Verbier, Tess found herself in hospital and out of action in November last year. It was the beginning of the ski season and there was no chance of her continuing her winter job.
“It gave me time to sit back and think about what I really want to do,” she said. “I utterly love cycling and wanted to be involved in the sport, but not necessarily coaching or working with athletes as I have done in skiing. I wanted to try something different and work with my hands.”
The former British national cross-country runner and competitive cyclist did not take long to decide to apply for the course at the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle, Switzerland. After passing the Level 1 qualification the first week, she has gone on to complete the Level 2 course.
Although she had no experience in the profession before starting the course, Tess had learned about bike maintenance from her four brothers, all of whom cycle. She realises that most women do not have that chance.
“My brothers taught me a lot, so I have always been able to maintain my own bike. But I know lots of girls who won’t go out riding alone because they need to be with someone who can help if they have a problem or even just a flat tyre.”
Improving the bike shop experience for women
She adds that bike shops can be intimidating places for women, with some old-school mechanics unable to take female customers seriously.
“I’ve had some bad experiences dealing with mechanics who don’t even look at me then just give my bike back saying, ‘yeah it’s fine.’ One shop even damaged my bike and tried to cover it up.”
Tess firmly believes that all customers - whether men, women, competitive cyclists or leisure riders – should get the same consideration and service.
“I utterly love cycling and would like to make it more approachable and accessible to other women,” she declares.
On graduating from the UCI WCC, she already has some workshop experience lined up in a shop where she will put into practice what she has learned during her five weeks in Aigle.
“It has been an awesome course,” she says. “I’ve been able to work on road bikes, mountain bikes and track bikes, and I’ve built lots of wheels."
"It’s been incredibly intense and an inspiring experience. And what an amazing environment to work in!”
She has many projects in mind which will be easier with her new mechanical know-how, not least to undertake a self-supported long-distance bike trip abroad. She is also involved in a new alpine cycling training venture.
“I would like to pursue a career as a race mechanic but at the moment I need to get more experience. I want to continue learning and come back to the UCI World Cycling Centre and do my level 3 qualification.”
Twenty-two mechanics have graduated from the UCI WCC’s course since it was launched in 2013. Tess Lawson is the second woman to follow the course after South Korean Audrey Ji Yeong in 2016.
For more information on a mechanics course contact us here