First Sunday ride in a little while due to ice, illness and being away from home, so what does the weather do… tip it down all day long. Still got out early for 40 km over to Hainault and back via Epping Forest before team swim. Not many others out on the road and don’t blame them, but a hilly route kept the body temp up despite the downpour.
Aiming to get in close to a 1,000 km this month so got to get out in all weather. And the clocks changing will help.
The Col du Glandon is the first climb of La Marmotte, kicking in early after just 20KM. Being the first climb of the day it tends to get overlooked (if that is possible for a mountain…) by a lot of riders who are more concerned about the Galibier and Alp d’Huez. Many go out fast from the gun and take this climb too hard, which is a big mistake.
The Glandon is no push over. The climb is just over 24 KM long and tops out at 1920 metres. Offering a fairly tame gradient early on (5%), the Glandon rears up to an average of 10% for the last couple of KMs and features a couple of 12% spikes. Anyone who takes one too fast is going will suffer later on.
The sneaky thing about climbs like this is that they count later on rather than at the time. It’s early in the day, the legs feel fresh and you push it. Probably even forget to eat and drink; everything is fine. The golden rule of La Marmotte is that the Glandon doesn’t hurt on the Glandon. The Glandon hurts later on. It hurts when you’re climbing the Galibier. It lulls you into a false sense of security, softens the legs for what’s in store. The aim is to eat, drink and pace it; the aim is not to get carried away.
And what goes up must down… which for most climbs is a good thing, but not the Glandon as the drop down the other side technical to say the least, especially with so many riders of mixed ability on the road. At the top the ascent is very steep and features a number of sharp switch-backs. Add to that a poor road surface (in places) and things get tricky. Riders have died on this stretch of road, pushing it too hard. Not many but enough to persuade the organisers to neutralise times to encourage riders to ease back. A mate of mine pushed over 100 KM per hour on the lower part of the descent; that’s how fast this drop can be. Tactic – take it easy at the top, wind it up and then get in group for the stretch along the valley floor to the foot of the Telegraph.
The Col du Glandon is situated in the Daphine Alps in the Savoie region of France and links Bourg d’Oisans with La Chambre. It sits between the Belledonne, Grand Rousses and Arvan-Villards mountain ranges, west of the Col de la Croix de Fer. The road over the Glandon was first opened in 1898, although it was not linked to the Croix de la Fer until 1912.
My blog audience has doubled, increased by 100%, gone through the roof. Yes that’s right, I am now read by TWO whole people. One of those is an old mate who I went to college with a long, long time ago (hello James) the other, I don’t know from adam and/or eve. Maybe they have just signed up but don’t read it, which technically means that I’m writing a good old fashioned diary - kept under lock and key in my knicker drawer.
Why write for two? A good question…
I might be more than two - the blog is linked to Facebook
It’s also linked to my Virgin Giving page so it provides people who have parted with hard earned cash with updates
I like writing… it’s a big part of my job. So I’m writing for 3… me and 2 others
The best thing about cycling is getting lost; the second best is finding a new hill to climb. My current commute takes me up and over Crouch Hill (8%) and Queen’s Wood Road (10%), two short and fairly stiff climbs for a morning on a single speed. The ride takes about 40 minutes at a fair lick.
This week the commute got extended to include a Highgate loop. This takes in Spaniard’s Road, left and a drop down East Heath Road around to Gospel Oak station and then up Highgate Road. And that is where Highgate West Hill begins - a 3KM climb at an average of around 8.5%, which spikes 11% at the top. It’s tough on a single speed (46 x 16) but doable if treated with care.
It’s not the Alps but this part of London is still great for finding your climbing legs with plenty of stiff and relatively long (for London) climbs including the legendary Swains Lane.
With the Highgate loop included the daily commute has increased to 35KM or 50Km for a round trip.
Why start training in December, it’s not exactly the easiest month to stay motivated and the miles/hours in. Office parties start in November these days along with the TV ads that try and tempt you to buy stuff you don’t actually need. Add the odd hangover, too much turkey and good/shit TV to the equation and the festive period can soon stack up to not a lot of time on the bike.
Okay, so there are the lucky ones who rack up the miles for Rapha’s Festive 500 but they exist in a parallel universe that doesn’t involve kids or driving half way across the country to see assorted relatives. Needless to say, they deserve their embroidered badge – they really do.
All of the above sounds like an excuse rather than context but I still managed to rack up a few miles despite the festive conspiring against me. Not 500 km despite having a whole month but a start.
December looked a bit like this…
Distance - 422 km (mostly commuting but also the odd 40-50 km hilly run at pace in Essex
Weight - 63 kg
Body fat - 12%
Sleep - not enough
The severity of any bike ride, sportive or otherwise, can be measured by how many times you ask yourself ‘why do I do this?’ Some call it the ‘daddy’ of sportives, others the ‘queen mother’. Whatever you call it, The Marmotte will hurt enough to force even the strongest riders to ask the ‘why do I’ question.
174 km, 5,000 metres of climbing; the Glandon, Telegraph, Galibier and Alp d’Huez – the figures and facts do the talking. It’s not a ride to be taken lightly. But I’ve done my fair share of these rides – etapes, fondos and raids so I know what to expect. Tough… yes but doable and in a good time with the right training and tactics on the day. The target has to be gold standard despite being just turned 39 and now being at the very top of the 18-39 age bracket!
This year I’m starting from a relatively good base having time trialed and commuted throughout last year (the last 10 in fact), averaging about 200 km a week. A bit weak on long rides due to childcare - long gone are the regular 4-5 hour club rides and racing – but rode London to Paris in 24 hours – 280 miles through the night. Apart from Mallorca in 2010 and Raid Pyreneen the year before that, I’ve not done any real climbing for a while. So not perfect but definitely something to build on.
The (rough) weekly training plan for the 2012 is follows:
Daily commute – 150 km a week
Weekend ride – a fast 30 km rising to 40-50 km when the clocks change
Time Trial – Hog Hill 10 km
Also one long ride per month – 160-170 km
I’ve read a lot of training blogs for events, some better than others. Miles covered, times set, heart beats counted and pounds lost. We’ve all seen them. I might do a bit of that for those that can be bothered to read. Stay tuned for updates.
Not put pen to screen for a while now. Not beacuse I’ve not been riding; more to do with having nothing much to say (why blog in the first place?). Also - chuck two young kids into the mix and you don’t really get a great deal of time.
But there is nothing like a new challenge the mind and for 2012 that challenge in La Marmotte - the daddy of sportives. I’ve done my fair share of Etapes and Fondos across Europe so I know what to expect. Yes it’s going to be tough… about as tough as the old Gran Fondo Campagnolo by the looks of it. Entry has been sorted; flights, accommodation and car booked - just the small matter of traning to be considered. Speaking of which, at the moment training amounts to about five hours a week commuting from E17 to Muswell Hill (200KM) on the single speed and a short ride at the weekend (40KM). Taking the day off on Jan 16 to get the first 100 mile ride under the belt. Pan flat into the Essex countryside and slow pace. This will be the first 100 mile monthly ride leading up to the event, which will be fitted around Hog Hill 10s, commuting and a bit of racing.