Monthly Archives: August 2014

Time for Tapering

There’s only 3 weeks to go until the start of the challenge and I’m relieved that I’ve now finished my training programme.

The programme ended at lunchtime on Wednesday (13 August 2014) following 2 back to back 160km and 170km rides, unfortunately on both days I’ve had to go into the office afterwards, so trying to recover properly isn’t easy, at least in France I’ll get the chance to recover after rides. I also had the misfortune, to forget to take a pair of socks in on Wednesday, so I spent the afternoon hoping not to many would notice the suit and no socks look.

I actually designed myself a training programme over Xmas, which commenced in March, it detailed on a daily basis the length of rides to be completed. With the exception of the odd cold, or family event, I’ve pretty much kept to the schedule which is really satisfying.


The Tour Challenge Training Programme

On a weekly basis, I’d update the spreadsheet and total the distance tally.  At times I thought I never get there, but it’s frightening to realise that since March, I’ve covered 10,000 kilometres and I reckon somewhere in the region of the equivalent of 20 ascents of Mount Everest – let’s hope it pays dividends.

Basically I’m now tapering, this in effect means that I’ve reached my peak level and the objective is to just sustain the level of fitness, whilst keeping the legs fresh for the challenge ahead. I still have a couple of 100km rides and five 50km rides plus a few turbo trainer sessions to keep the legs spinning over the next fortnight, but at least there’s no more big rides – well for 3 weeks at least!



The Route – Mont Ventoux, Alpe-D’Huez, Col du Tourmalet et al

The training is really tough at the moment, as my schedule ramps up to a peak over the next 2-3 weeks – I’m about to hit 10,000 kms (since March). All the hotels have been booked, the van has been hired and we’ve had some great fundraising events, so before I go into the Tour Route here’s few pics from the JuJam event…

The JuJam live music event turned out to be a cracking event, thank you to all the bands, cake makers, Brian, Spencer and Phil from the Royal Standard for making the event a success.


The Crowd at JuJam

Bi proxy

Biproxy at JuJam

We also now have a name for the Tour Challenge Mascot – meet Alessandro the Bear:

Bear 1 shrunk

Alessandro the Bear

In determining the Tour Challenge route, it took months of planning through assessing previous tours and their stages. Personally the highlight of any tour are the mountains stages, so this is where I started. I listed all the mountains I’ve always wanted to ride:

  • Mont Ventoux
  • Alpe D-Huez
  • Col du Tourmalet
  • Col de la Madeleine
  • Col du Galibier

There were also a few locations I wanted to visit:  Mont Saint-Michel, a simply stunning place and France’s second most popular landmark; and Montpellier – I don’t know why, it’s probably football related,  but it’s a place I’ve always want to travel to.

From there I researched the tour route from recent years and selected a number of stages which contained these mountains and locations, that gave me a framework of a route upon which to build. The hard part was to find stages which logistically were feasible, as I didn’t want to spend hours being driven between stages on the evening or morning before a stage.

Route Map

The Tour Challenge Route Map

All in all I think I’ve come up with an exciting and challenging route, which gives a realistic blend of mountain, time trial and flat stages – if anything the route I’ve chosen is harder than recent Tour de France routes – I’m riding 8 high category mountains, this years tour contained 6; whilst as I’m riding on my own, there will be no drafting meaning I’ll take the full brunt of the weather.

On paper, there are some really hard stages at 242.5 kilometres, stage 11 from Givors to Mont Ventoux is extremely tough and is likely to contain some real extremes in the weather, whilst stage 17 from  Pau to Bagnere’s du Luchon is a very long and challenging 197km mountain stage including 2 HC climbs (Col du Tourmalet, Col d’Aubisque). Although these look the toughest on paper, I’m not taking anything for granted, often the easiest looking stage can be the hardest  – you might have a head wind, feel unwell or simply not have the legs on that day. There’s nothing worse on a ride when you’re struggling and check the drive train, brake pads etc and realise the problem is you and not the bike!

I just hope that amongst all the hours of riding, I’ll still get the opportunity to savour the sites, smells and wildlife. Ultimately alongside the adrenaline rush of cycling, that’s the main reason I like to ride around Dorset, you just never know what you’re going to come across round the next bend.

Anyway, I hope you like the route and can appreciate that I’m not making this easy for myself, thanks for reading.