If you haven’t prepared properly for these events, you may find you spend time having to mentally drive yourself through to the end. While this may be “character building”, the better your preparation leading up to L’Étape and the fitter you are on the day, the more enjoyable the ride will be for you.
Both The Race and The Ride involve climbing some of the major alpine “Cols” in NSW so I would certainly recommend that you establish a reasonable amount of base and hill strength first.
Your preparation will greatly depend on how seasoned a rider you are.
For both distances, I recommend that you follow a structured training plan to ensure that come event day you are in good form. If you haven’t been riding for very long, then this becomes even more important, especially if you are considering riding The Race (170km). There are unfortunately no shortcuts or crash courses that can speed up the process. Consistency and starting early is the key.
Regardless of your form, there is no need to build speed at this point. You don’t want to peak before the event. Spend time on your bike with most of your riding below 75% of your max heart rate to build a good aerobic base. This can be punctuated with three or four short five to ten-minute intervals at a higher intensity once or twice a week. Make sure that you include hilly rides on the weekends to help build your hill climbing strength.
As for skills, I recommend that you practice building confidence either riding in or getting used to riding with large bunches on the road. This is important as you will encounter quite a few on the day.
If you are planning on riding The Race, I also recommend that you get involved in some local club racing in your area to practice some race craft and build up the necessary, efficient bunch skills.
New to Cycling
If you have been riding for only a year and are contemplating L’Étape Australia, I strongly urge you to start your training now and slowly build up your riding distance and vertical meters. Increase your weekly ride time by 10% every week for three weeks at a time then have a recovery week every fourth week where you reduce your volume of training by 25% and repeat.
If you have regularly been riding for two or more years, then a minimum of 8-12 weeks of structured training for L’Étape will be sufficient
Over the coming months I’ll be covering off riding safety and etiquette, nutrition, bike and equipment preparation, clothing and of course training tips that will help you get prepared for and have the best time when riding this edition of L’Étape Australia.
You can download a complimentary training plan for L’Étape Australia on Cycling-Inform website
David Heatley is the founder of Cycling-Inform and an international cycling coach that helps the busy cyclist quickly get awesome results with their cycling through a unique time saving cycle training system with coaching support. For more information please visit his website.