The route to victory starts here

The detailed route for this year’s Etape is now on the official site:

Pretty darned detailed I’d say. It’s interesting to note that it seems there’s far more allowance for the climbs than last year. There’s two more climbs and two more hours in the schedule for a grand total of 7km more.

OK now the hard bit: the climbing starts pretty much as soon as you’ve got your legs warm and there’s nowhere to hide your weaknesses. If it’s not the climbing then you’ll need to think about descending while feeding and trying to recover without seizing up, so you’ll need to keep the pedals turning over.

You’ll need to be mentally tough to work your way through the traffic on the first climb and not get dragged into chasing wheels you can hold as well as making sure you don’t drift backwards. Tough to keep focused on everything from hydration to heartrate and to not start carrying too much kit you don’t need.

Last year I spent ages worrying about beating the broom wagons. I now know that’s entirely the wrong thing to be concerned with in training. If you train to scrape through, you could faile to scrape through, as happened to me last year. Instead I’m concentrating on being fit enough to enjoy it.

I’m still doing a diet of a long ride at the weekend and a crit race on Tuesday night plus a bit of commuting and 15-30km blasts across town/to visit friends. I’m going to start trying to put a third session in on Thursday to help build up the distance/threshold mix. At the moment I’m totalling in the region of over 200km a week on average which some people would say isn’t enough. I’d say it adds up to about 10 hours at least and it’s 10 quality hours of riding hard and pushing myself. I’m very conscious that I’m prone to overdoing it and that I recover relatively slowly so while it it less than some might do it feels about right for me.

Next weekend is my first big challenge distance-wise, the SWRC Sportive, 144km or so around Surrey and Hampshire. I’ll hopefully be riding with a few clubmates so that should make it more bearable. I’m aiming to push myself and get round in around 6 hours, hopefully under.

One thing I need to avoid doing is changing my setup before the weekend – I’m switching pedal setup to Speedplay, when they arrive, in an attempt to deal with my hip flexor and hot foot trouble. After that I’ll switch and see how it goes. I’m looking forward to it. I may even get some new shoes in pimp white in time for summer.

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