Wednesday 20 December 2023

Operation Etape du Tour: December update

To stay motivated in my Etape du Tour preparation its important to ride often over short distances rather than seldom over long distances 

As soon as I got my place in the Etape du Tour I set about training and establishing a rhythm of getting out on my bike regularly. 

I regularly cycle, provided I am not ill or injured. Thankfully that doesn't happen very often - or at least sports injuries don't often affect my cycling.

The last twelve months have been a little different though. Last summer, after spending a lot of time training and taking part in cyclosportives (Fred Whitton/Lion and Lamb, and Ride London-Essex 100) plus trips to Lombardy and the Côte d'Azur I experienced a bit of burn-out and didn't ride my bike much, apart from for short commutes. I got into motorbike riding too, which required a bit of time and dedication in order to prepare for my tests. That was quite the antidote to sweating it out up hills for kilometres on end.

In the first part of this year I was able to ride a little, but without any real objective. In some ways it was refreshing to not feel under pressure to ride to a particular mileage or speed. Coincidentally, I found I couldn't ride far as I had a prolonged bout of patella syndrome, which kept me from doing cycling or running. Even swimming had become difficult for me.

So after various trips to podiatrists and physiotherapists and following a rehabilitation programme I began to feel an improvement and gradually got back into cycling regularly. 

In terms of my preparation for the Etape du Tour, the key is to get out and ride regularly, even if it is just to do modest mileages in this initial phase. Continuity is key. It is better to do four 20-mile rides in a week, than to do one 80-mile ride and not riding for several days.

Not quite Promenade des Anglais, but the Parc du Vinaigrier, in Nice

It's important that I feel a "pull" towards cycling rather than feeling like I am being pushed into doing it. My rides need to be doable in terms of ability and time management, and it shouldn't feel like a slog.

There's nothing worse than that moment when you've been riding for four hours, it's a Sunday afternoon and you pass country pub after country pub where people are enjoying a slap up lunch and you have another three hours' cycling to do! You then have to will yourself along, working hard to stay motivated and keep the pedals at a reasonable cadence - all while trying to convince yourself that this is good for me.

So this month has been about doing short regular rides a few times a week, with one ride being at a faster pace, and another ride including hills. For November I was riding 125km per week and then in December the aim is 150km per week. These are low mileages, but that will make the rides feel more accessible, fun, and quality training miles rather than junk "pootling around to a café" miles.

My faster miles have been around Regents Park, generally latching onto a group that's riding at a training pace I can sustain. I also want to restart regular trips to the Velodrome. That should definitely help.

In the meantime I aim to keep my eye on the target - the start pen at the Promenade des Anglais, in Nice, and happy to be there.

Related posts 

Another cycling mission for 2024 - Fred Whitton Challenge 

Operation Etape du Tour - Understanding the challenge 

Rides on the Côte d'Azur - Col de Turini 

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