Category Archives: Tour de France

Tour de France training just for wimps? – My not-so-secret (now) training regime

Me as a Yeti in our local Pantomime

Me as a Yeti in our local Pantomime

I promised myself that when I got to 20+ followers I would publish my training regime. So here goes.

Why the title -well a Tour rider maybe rides for 20-25 years if they are lucky and only a relative few have ever made the history books. But in 2012 a hundred year old guy from France, Robert Marchand, got the world record for his age group for cycling 24 kilometres and 251 metres in 1 hour (just over 15 mph). It was then taken by an American rider. This year, at 102, Robert has beat his own record going 10% faster – cycling 26 kilometers and 927 metres in the hour (about 16.3 mph).

So this is my long term training plan. He only took up cycling again at the age of 67, so maybe there’s hope for me?

So what’s involved?

I have to:

  • train for at least 34 years
  • somehow stay alive till I’m 100. My granddad lived to a good age, my dad lived longer, so it looks like I may have a reasonable set of genes inside me. I’m also a non-meat eater & in a recent programme by the BBC it suggested research indicates that we may live longer than the average, especially avoiding processed meats
  • stay healthy – try to get enough sleep & avoid aids/ ebola & other pestilences coming our way if possible
  • Try no keep out of harm’s way with the traffic & wildlife around, plus my own riding style
  • keep enthused & going with activity. I already go cycling (about 5,000 miles per year +), canoeing, cross country & ski mountaineering and walking – just need to keep enjoying being out. Plus indulge in life outwith exercise and activity
  • maybe continue “don’t upgrade, ride up grades”?
  • keep going out with selections of cycling pals of different ages and abilities – I have several social groups I join over the weeks and enjoy the company so much, as well as my own solo rides
  • not get down if others keep putting that record higher & higher – we’re getting to be fit older generations
  • remember living to a hundred was once rare
  • deal with the aches and pains

So maybe there’s a chance, if I manage this blog for the next 34 years I’ll let you all know.

So is all this harder than the Tour de France training, I’ll maybe find out if luck is on my side?

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Le Tour de Farce – 1st Edition

Brilliant!!

Brilliant!! Hope you like the not-a-go-pro hanging round my neck!

Last year was the 100th edition of Le Tour de France, so a group of localish riders decided to head out to Alpes d’Huez for this historic event + 5ish days cycling, especially as the Tour was coming up the hill twice. We named our group Le Tour de Farce, and Tour de Farce it was in some ways.

Edinburgh airport, we were all assembled for our flight, bikes at the ready, the queue kept building up, nothing was moving. Finally they came to tell us all the ticketing computers had gone down. Aghghgh, slight panic – cars to collect at the other end. After 2 1/2 hours things were sorted (manually) and we left the ground.

Arrived at Geneva, got bike off the carousel, wandered through customs & passport checks to wait for the others. No-one at first, then some came out – 2 bikes had gone astray and 1 set of luggage, complete with biking gear. Aghghghgh – more slight panic. Decision time, some of us were sent off in one car, while the rest stayed in to see if things could be retrieved.

A few hours later in Alpes d’Huez, we went for a bite, a pizza – darkness coming, so too late for that first evening cycle. Apparently after midnight the rest of the gang arrived having achieved not much.

Next day the bikes were loaned out, but I was left with mine. The gang decided to go down the hill & then pootle back up (if that’s the right word for a 3,00 foot, 21 hairpin climb averaging too many %)

So I got on my bike & climbed up to the twin lakes a mere 1,100 feet above. I had had a break in my riding as my granddaughter had come over from S Africa for a month and we spent so much time together, so I knew this trip would be a struggle – but slowly, slowly . . . . . .

Possibly the best descent of the trip.

Possibly the best descent of the trip from Le Col de Sarenne

The after noon arrived and the 2nd group set off with me in tow to climb over the Col de Sarenne & then Alpes d’Huez. Fabulous weather but hot, hot, hot. On the way up to the Col we had to take to grass riding/ pushing to bypass the folk laying down fresh tarmac for the Tour coming through in 2 days time. We paused at the top and I stayed behind to take photos & videos of the team tentatively going down, then wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!! A fantastic descent for the fools like me and with the temperature at 90 degrees + (32+C) a lovely cooling off period. I managed to overtake everyone on the descent so not bad for an old fool.

The it was into Le Bourg d’Oisans at the foot of the big one for a well earned drink & pâtisserie. Then off to climb ‘The Hill’. I set off a tiny bit before the others, but most had passed me by about the 7th bend. Masses and masses of cyclist were toiling upwards. I then suddenly realised I was totally out of it, I was meandering all over the road & with not much between me and the drop beside me I decide recuperation was the order of the day. I later realised the temperature had reached 102 degrees (39C). So I hid under a bush for 20 mins, with a butterfly to keep me company. Once I continued I drank even more & doused myself with water under the roadside waterfalls. I’m from Scotland – we don’t do this sort of heat! But eventually made it back.

Then off for a pizza, now when in France I love to eat nice French food, in a lovely restaurant, but ‘the gang’ had other ideas. Not sure about the general Europop around the village either, but hey?

Breakfast at Boirg d'Oisans, French style

Breakfast at Boirg d’Oisans, French style

Next day the delayed bikes had arrived & it was the big one. The Col de Galibier beckoned. This time a mere 7,000 ft of ascent. At least the start was a a blast down from Huez and a lovely French breakfast in the village below.

At 13% a real sting in the tail

The team arrive up the final slope, at 13% a real sting in the tail

Several hours, 26.7 miles and 6144 feet later we were at the top, feeling fabulous.

La Meije, my acquaintance from 30+ years ago.

La Meije, my acquaintance from 30+ years ago.

Descending from La Meije Oriental summit 1985, maybe looking ovet to Galibier?

Descending from La Meije Oriental summit, 1985, maybe looking over to Galibier on the left?

On the way up we had views of the Meije Oriental, which I had climbed nearly 30 years ago. Then it was wooshing away back down. We stopped at La Grave for a late lunch and as we finished a huge downpour started. But, it was warm, so we set off anyway splashing our way down. I wimped out of the Huez climb again having already 70 miles and a car being available, but the others were braver than I. That night pizzas (though I opted for Lasagne), beer and Europop – no comment.

Next day, the great day arrived. Whizz, down to the bottom, breakfast at the cafe then the ascent before the Tour arrived. There were probably 20,000 or so of us peddling up those hairpins and 250,00 of spectators on the slopes. With my white beard & Scottish flag flying from the back of the bike I was greeted with cries of Ah, Le Diablo Ecosse (after an eccentric Italian who follows the Tour every year nicknamed Le Diablo). Loads of bravos, cheers, europop blaring out, manic Dutch corner, wee pushes and a wee diversion near the top away from the final finish. A really great but bizarre experience.

Alpes d'Huez - the leaders arrive first time round

Alpes d’Huez – the leaders arrive first time round

Alpes d'Huez, arrival of le peleton

Alpes d’Huez, arrival of le peleton

A quick sandwich & the down to the village to see Le Tour come through, accompanied by Europop, cheers that drowned out the music(?) and a fantastic atmosphere.

Le Pelton coming through Alpes d'Huez 2nd time round

Le Pelton coming through Alpes d’Huez 2nd time round

Then up to our apartments to watch progress on the TV & Le Tour coming through a second time beneath out balcony.

Then later, back down to the village for more beer and? (I’m sure you can guess by now)

Next day, up too late for a final ride, bikes dismantled the night before, then smooth progress back to Scotland.

An amazing if strange experience, would I do it again? Well this year it was the Giro d’Italia starting off in Dublin & I declined, But I’m glad I experience Le Farce & I’d try to be fitter next time.

Tour de France Training Short Term & just for Wimps, part 1?

With my granddaughter and her cousin, ready for the 12 zip wires of the canopy tour

With my granddaughter and her cousin, ready for the 12 zip wires of the canopy tour

5am in Dubai with free wifi.

I thought I would wait till I had 20 followers before I publish this one. So I’m halfway there. No publicity or promotion and the blog audience slowly grows, so must be doing something right that you like reading.

At last getting back to my own bike soon after several weeks in the Southern Hemisphere. Rain awaits, but hey it’s Scotland we’re talking about, though I do live just up the road from the sunniest place in Scotland, Dunbar, known locally as Sunny Dunny.

My last South African ride ended with a whimper though. After having a tyre replaced after it had done under 30 km and the wire bead parted from the main tyre – something I & the shop owner had never seen before, I took the new tyre with bike attached out for a spin. 0.5 km later I was walking back as the tyre had slipped off the rim, so not too much kilometre-age on that ride then!

So it’ll be good to get back to my trusty steed & ride around in the sunset again.

As for the training programme to demonstrate my point – you’ll just have to wait – 10 more sign-ups to go, surprised I’ve got this far already!

Your Inner Grandad

Near the top of the 2000 ft climb up Bealach na Ba, Scotland

Near the top of the 2000 ft climb up Bealach na Ba, Scotland

Abbey Dore & Mill Lane, England

Abbey Dore & Mill Lane, England

 

Hills is hard, there’s no denying.

Just outside the village is a 9 percenter, go the other way and it’s 15.7%, a third road out is 8.5% and just a wee bit further out the hills get steep – I think you get the message. A couple of days ago I was down in England and borrowed my nephew’s touring bike. On the ride was a hill which ramped up to just under 20% – aghghghgh it was hard.

I see all my friends & bike acquaintances (young & old) puffing & panting, grinding their way up the hills. I just think – crazy!!! Get some lower gears and start enjoying the climbs. My bike came with a Shimano 105 cassette, but I’ve modified it to with a mountain bike one which has a 34 tooth rear (for the non techies – a big yin!!). What bliss it is to potter up all but the steepest climbs with my wee feet whizzing away. I don’t really understand all this macho stuff, this suffer for your ride business. I much prefer to be able to just let the legs do the stuff and I seem to get up the hills as fast as most and certainly less puffed.

I’ve even noticed that on the steep climbing days the professionals in the Tour de France, Vuelta, Giro etc are using bigger cogs.

So – embrace your inner grandad and make life a wee bit easier, cycling up grades is bad enough sometimes for us mere mortals, so maybe look at making it a tiny bit easier for yourself. You can always aim for harder climbs if you like the suffering!