l’Etape du Tour 2017

To try and gain some altitude acclimatisation in preparation for the l’Étape du Tour, I’d cycled up to the Col du Galibier (2642m) from La Grave, did a high level ridge walk from the Col de Granon, climbed a ten pitch rock climb that started at 2189m, and finished by sleeping the night at the 2413m high Col de Granon. Could I have done more? Maybe. But that was it now, after starting my training at the end of April the morning of the race had arrived… More “l’Etape du Tour 2017”

Last long training ride … the Fred Whitton Challenge de Staveley

The Etape du Tour is just around the corner. So with tapering of training efforts in mind to give legs every chance to fully recover the weekend saw the last big training effort, the Fred Whitton Challenge. The Fred Whitton is a circuit of the Lakes that takes in all of the major mountain passes – over 180km of riding with around 3700m of climbing. Tough! Perhaps a little tougher than the Etape in some ways due to the extreme nature of some of the climbing. Hardknott Pass in particular is epic, and being near the end of the ride ones legs are already knackered. So again a little like the Etape which, in 2017, finishes with a 32km (albeit less severely steep) climb to the Col d’Izoard.

Steve arrives at Kirkstone Pass
Rachel and Steve passing Castlerigg Stone Circle
Rachel arrives at Honister Pass
Selfie of the gang at the summit of the Newlands Pass
Rachel at Whinlatter Pass
A great cafe stop at Stanton Bridge to top up on energy before tackling Hardknott and Wrynose Passes
Steve and Rachel at the start of the Hardknott Pass
Pete, Rachel, and Steve super happy having finished the final climb to Wrynose Pass

l’Etape du Tour Route

It’s the ultimate amateur cycling challenge – riding a stage of the Tour de France during the Tour de France and under race conditions. Yep, it’s the one and only l’Étape du Tour.

The official route map and time schedule have been published for the 2017 l’Etape do Tour. It’s a very long ride with an awful lot of climbing! Only 15 days to go…

So, I’ve just fitted new tyres to my bike. Plan is to scrub them in this weekend hopefully. Then the bike is as ready as it’s ever gonna be for the Etape. I just hope I’m ready now? Too late if I’m not!

Scorchio through the Trough of Bowland and on up Kingsdale and down Dentdale

Yesterday was super scorchio (hot). Apparently it’s some kind of record (since 1976) for the number of days where temperatures have reached 30°C in England! So maybe it wasn’t the best day to go for a massive cycle ride? But training for l’Etape du Tour continues, and it may well be super hot in the Alps during the race too, so maybe it was good conditions. Anyhow, it was a great ride… More “Scorchio through the Trough of Bowland and on up Kingsdale and down Dentdale”

l’Etape du Tour Training Progress

l'Etape du TourClimbing ChallengeGan FondoMy training for the l’Etape du Tour is progressing. It started just four weeks ago with a tough hilly ride of just 37k. Yesterday I managed a 104k ride and I’ve completed two of Strava’s challenges for the month, the Gran-Fondo (100k in a single ride) and the April climbing challenge (7,500m of climbing).

Here are a couple of selfies from recent rides…

Steve and Pete at the top of the Barbondale Road

Pete & Rachel near Sedbergh

There’s still a long way to go though! l’Etape du Tour in 2017 is 178k long with over 3,500m of climbing. Plus there’s the added difficulty of the race finishing with a wicked climb up to the Col d’Izoard, the highest point of the day at 2360m. That climb is gonna be really tough with over 130k already in my legs!

The profile of the Étape du Tour route – 178km with 3,529m of climbing

l’Etape du Tour Training Finally Starts…

Well, the l’Etape du Tour training started in earnest today…

I’m too not sure how to feel about my performance, but I guess it was the first time out on my bike for over a year so I shouldn’t feel too bad. I managed just over 37k, but was I totally knackered on the climbs! The route I took kicked off almost immediately by heading straight up the old Sedbergh Road out of Kendal. From there on every single little rise was an absolute killer. Nearing the end of the ride I didn’t think I was gonna get back up to Crook at all!!!

When I watch this video I’m left with two competing and equally massive feelings:

  • What the hell have I done entering such a mind numbingly massive event?
  • Riding a mountain stage of the Tour de France a few days before the Tour itself will be awesome!