Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby fionahills » Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:25 pm

Hi M
good advice thank you - it was only a 60 kms and really the hills are very short - but steep for me - you are right - I was feeling good and probably trying to show off a bit by not getting off the bike before the hillier part (i used to have to turn around before the last 10 kms into Noosa as I really was awful on hills before and seriously had problems getting up an off ramp....

I will be more tempered in my approach...but the books do say to push yourself sometimes - I was wondering how I know when and what to do to push without being stupid - thankfully not sore...


It's hard sometimes to know the balance - my hubby is a long term rider with good endurance - he thinks I am a bit of a woos.. and keeps being very 'encouraging' to go harder.....his view is once I have done it I will only get better, and subscribes to the what does not kill you makes you stronger.....

anyway I will take your advice (its great to be able to say that on the forum they say........) But would love to know how hard to push it a bit and when -

thanks so much Fiona
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by BNA » Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:36 pm

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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby ldrcycles » Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:36 pm

I'm not an expert but my opinion at least is that you will soon get an understanding of what your body is ok with doing, and how hard is hard enough. To get stronger you do have to hurt, but as meditator said, not too much. And recovering properly is critical. Getting plenty of protein (whether through diet or protein shakes) will also help.

From your description of your ride today i think you could probably do alpe d'huez now (with appropriate gearing), but the question is how much you would enjoy it. There's a difference between challenging and just painful. I reckon getting plenty of miles in, both easy and hard, would get you pretty well up there to being able to do the climb AND enjoy it. If all else fails you could always take your mind off things by looking at the beautiful alpine scenery :) .
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby singlespeedscott » Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:25 pm

If you happy to ride to down to Peachester to ride up Baldknob Rd. how about heading over to Wamuran and hit up Cambells pocket Rd. up to mt. Mee. In my opinion it's one of the harder climbs in the area. Strava reckons its a Cat 2 climb. Its 8.7 km of narrow course chip bitumen with an average gradient of 4.9%. There are pinches of 19%. Do that twice and you should be all good.
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby RonK » Thu Oct 04, 2012 10:24 pm

fionahills wrote:I will be more tempered in my approach...but the books do say to push yourself sometimes - I was wondering how I know when and what to do to push without being stupid - thankfully not sore...


The best way to find out if you are pushing hard enough (or too hard) is to get a heart rate monitor and learn how to use it as a training aid...

When my wife started cycling I found her a copy of this little book - it is a little dated now but still relevant and full of practical advice from cover to cover.

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I already had a copy of the Heart Rate Monitor Book by Sally Edwards. It's also dated now but still very relevant.

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Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby roller » Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:28 am

RonK wrote:There is no need for Fiona to train on any killer climbs. Alpe d'Huez is not steep, just long,


LIES!!

It's not long, it's only 14kms, a tiddler in length.

But it's steep! The first 3kms or so are insane.

Lots of fun though, we did it following the Galibier, that was a really good day's ride.
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby Meditator » Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:52 pm

I think typically you don't know you've pushed yourself too hard until its too late. You often don't feel enough pain until you feel too much, ie you've got the injury. That's been my experience.

So in order not to do that, i would say don't all of a sudden do a lot more than you've done before. And even then don't rush your incremental change. So i would say if you are riding up hill, don't ride long hard stretches without a break. Get off and push sometimes rather than really straining yourself on the pedals.

Here's about my two injuries:
One from the bike. It was about the 7th day of my ride and i wasn't very fit when i started. I'd been riding between 35km (for the first day up hill but with a lot of pushing the bike) and easy riding. Then i because i had an accident on my bike a few days previously, the gears got jammed and i had to ride in 2nd gear and couldn't get lower. This 7th day, i had a range to get over. Not terribly big but i should have been in low gear. Anyway that caused a knee strain. Eventually i got it better by taking regular breaks. And i had got the gears cleaned out in town so i was back on low gear again.

The other time i was years ago when training for triathlon. I was pretty fit already but training for a half marathon run. I had been pushing my distances a bit too. But the clincher was increasing the strain on my knees with new shoes that were heavier than the other one. I stretched my ligaments and had to quit all my sport. That was quite a serious injury. I didn't realise i even had an injury at first becuase it didn't hurt. But one day i got home and just was unable to take another step.
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby fionahills » Sat Oct 06, 2012 8:53 pm

Thanks for the info - I have nursed a bulging disc problem for the last 10 years (due to falling off horses). am careful to manage that but have not really been focussed on sneaky type injuries as with the horses you are either broken or not. Will bear it in mind now and try to get some coaching over next few months so I know the difference between good hard work and being a prat - any recommendations for anyone willing to coach a beginner on sunny coast (within 50 kms or so) would be helpful.


Have been a very needy little poster since I joined-so will try and not ask so many questions for a while !!!

But I went into one of the bike shops today for spare tubes and mentioned I wanted to get some advice later on about gearing for alpes trip.....the guy (usually my friend!!) said lose 10 kilos and toughen up!!!

I was aiming to lose 5 kilos (BMI 22.5) but now really feel fat!! and the appetite is pretty strong with all this riding - no more coffee & cakes at my fav coffee shop and icecream off the menu !!!
Oh well - the lycra is a little lumpy -

thanks again Fiona
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby toolonglegs » Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:16 pm

Cut the cakes... keep the coffee :D .
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby newie » Wed Oct 10, 2012 5:15 pm

Hi Fiona,

Sorry I didn't spot this earlier to reply. Anyway. You will have no problems getting ready for and riding Alpe d'Huez. I did it a couple of years ago as a 40ish woman of average fitness. At the time I had only been riding with any seriousness for about 6 months and had only got a road bike a couple of months prior to that. I managed just fine with a compact, there is no need for a triple IMO. The beauty of Alpe d'Huez is that there are 22 switchbacks which are perfect places for you to stop and "take a photo". They kindly have signs counting down the switchbacks, which gives you a sense of accomplishment and progress along the way. I can't remember how long it took me but it was on the order of 2 to 2.5 hours. I actually think the switchbacks make it pretty manageable ride for just about anyone. All you have to concentrate on is getting to the next switchback, then you can have a rest, and then focus on getting to the next switchback. I stopped on 18 of the 22. The thing to know is that it is at it's steepest up until about switchback 5 or 6. It is important to know that in advance, because if you set off thinking it is going to be that hard all the way up, you might give up. But once you make it through those first few switchbacks, it is pretty manageable. Making it to the top is an awesome feeling of accomplishment. Even today, every now and then, I will say to myself, "I climbed Alpe d'Huez, I can do anything". I would love to go back again. I am heaps fitter now and would like to try making it to the top without stopping.

Good luck and have a wonderful time.
Vicki
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby newie » Wed Oct 10, 2012 5:25 pm

And a couple of other things.
I only had a 26 on the back on my bike at the time. I would have been nicer to have the 28 I have now, but I still made it.
Tell your "friend" at the bike shop to get stuffed. At the time my BMI would have been around 24, but I still made it. And there were a couple of people on my trip who were considerably bigger than me who made it too.
Cakes are good, cakes are a nice reward for efforts on the bike....
Surprisingly, French chocolate eclairs are not as nice as ours.
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby fionahills » Wed Oct 10, 2012 8:52 pm

Thanks everyone, Vicki am so glad to hear from you and you made it - it must be such a thrill to be able to say you did it.

I am still trying to ride the hill at Noosa and getting up a bit quicker and in a slightly bigger gear, and can do 2 and 1/2 reps now without stopping so that is a little progress.. as soon as I get this one conquered will move to the steeper ones in the hinterland - but in the meantime am just practising as much as I can.

managed to finish my 1st 100 km and doing another this weekend, and then a 50km at Gold Coast in November - i find the small goals are really helpful in keeping me on the bike -

while i love icecream, chocolate and cakes since passing the big 50, they don't like me at all - so now eating very well and being careful but its soooo boring - must admit that the knicks and jersey are a bit too lumpy...was in denial until the B2GC - I mean who decided that it was a good idea to have photographers at the finish line???? Who can suck it all in after their first 100 k ride- really.... :oops:

anyway I am very grateful for your advice and encouragement - training tips have been so helpful - keep them coming.

hubby got me a garmin so no excuse not to get everything right now except the rotten thing beeped at me constantly today so I had better learn to use it!!

thanks again Fiona
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby marinmomma » Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:47 am

Now that you have a Garmin get yourself onto Strava....that will help you with motivation!

I reckon that being on Strava this year has helped with my improvement on the bike this year...
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby fionahills » Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:01 am

Strava - that could be worse than finish line photos!!!!

maybe when my results are a little less embarrassing !!!

at the moment I only have to confess to nice supportive people -

what if someone tells me to hang it up and give the bike to someone who can actually do it !!!!

LBS mechanic asked me my time for B2GC - I said slow - he said oh well 3 plus is ok for the first one - I had to confess to 4 plus - could tell he was a bit disgusted..

Ok for these long lanky fit 20 somethings... wait til they are 50!!!!

will think about strava......for a long time probably.. :D
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby ldrcycles » Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:37 pm

fionahills wrote:LBS mechanic asked me my time for B2GC - I said slow - he said oh well 3 plus is ok for the first one - I had to confess to 4 plus - could tell he was a bit disgusted..


Which shop are you going to? That and the comment above about losing 10kgs seem pretty out of line to me. None of the staff at the shops i frequent would say stuff like that, we all had to start somewhere, i can still remember when a 10km ride was HUUGE!
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby fionahills » Tue Nov 06, 2012 4:19 pm

I think that the bike shop guys were probably being a bit cute and teasing me - they have invited me to come on the wednesday morning rides (not sure I am up to it yet)and do make me a coffee when I go in - so I suspect its more about trying to 'toughen' me up a bit...

I really cannot complain about the service I get or the advice and help - maybe handing out a challenge is the way some people provide encouragement. I really didn't take it too much to heart -just as well cos the weight loss is going no where fast -

thanks for being in touch again -its really nice to hear postitive comments and support and I do get plenty from this forum.. thanks again fiona
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby ldrcycles » Tue Nov 06, 2012 4:53 pm

Ah ok, that's why i didn't use any stronger language, we all know things can come across very differently in person compared to on a screen. IMO the important thing about a bike shop is that you feel comfortable and welcome there, and it sounds like that's what you've got, so all good.
I can't speak for anyone else but i am really enjoying reading about how you're finding your way into the crazy world of cycling, and i'm still green with envy about the big trip :) .

Just out of interest, a good ride to test your fitness would be Canungra to O'Reilly's down behind the Gold Coast, i rode it a few weeks ago and no joke i got a dry mouth from my jaw hanging open at the scenery, the ride up is mind blowing and then O'Reilly's itself is another world, a world where wild parrots fly over and land on your shoulder while you are just walking around. 35km or thereabouts to go from 90m altitude in Canungra to well over 1000m at the top. The grade is quite reasonable for the majority until a 12% slope a couple of k from the end.
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby fionahills » Tue Nov 06, 2012 5:21 pm

I might try that one after doing some sessions with a coach - first one tomorrow morning! very excited -

did a group ride with 3 short steep (for me) hills last weekend - on sat had to walk up the last half of the third one - so embarrased -and all in front of a new group - but sunday went back and cracked it - mind you thought I would expode - head pounding, heart beating out my chest and ready to die - .... it was so hard but I was so pleased with myself for going back and having another go -

I have a long way to go before being ready for the big trip but determined to get there - and ride up without stopping - I may be there for a while :D

fiona
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby fionahills » Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:38 pm

Update on the planning for the big trip

Still riding lots - tackling more hills - a couple of times I have been beaten the first time but have gone back and tried again - so that's a plus

still really slow - maybe endurance is my strength!!! :D cos its not speed -

went to a coach, had a great time, learnt lots especially about how to train properly - I was being a bit slack so now have upped it a bit and have a 4 week plan - he knows what my goals are -

got a garmin so know I know how I am going - still too heavy - so off to a nutritionalist -

anyway point of the post is that we have been investigating self touring versus organised tours (as first time riders in Europe) - My husband has come up with one trip with a company called BikeDreams BV - from the Netherlands -
they offer a trip from Como to Nice that includes 11 (!!!!!!) climbs over a fortnight - I am not hung up on getting over all of them and will happily grab a ride in the SAG wagon if its all too much on some days - BUt will definitely do the l'Alpe d'Huez -
Its just a camping trip so price seems OK - just wondering if anyone has done a similar trip or knows anything about the company - or can recommend another good company that would be OK.

This one seems OK because they are happy to let you travel at your own speed and its no big deal if you cannot make every climb- don't get me wrong I'd love to but pretty sure it would be beyond me to back it up every day for 12 days. This way Hubby gets mega dose of the mtns - I can do the one I really want to and we can do two weeks self guided in the Loire Valley of somewhere similiarly flattish for the final two weeks of the trip.

any way any thoughts advice etc would be welcome -

another thing is timing - its starts on 3 june so weather should be OK (bit sooner than I planned though - have to train harder!!!) - and we'll be home in time to watch the tour on TV and say "I've been there - I've ridden that" -obviously I will not be mentioning my times...

Thanks so much
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby toolonglegs » Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:41 pm

Prices of hotels etc are pretty good in those areas until the holidays start in France ( start of July )...hiring a car, basing yourself in a couple of places and just going out and enjoying yourself might be an option as well.
The dix alpes tour you are talking about is over big climbs... getting up Galibier etc is very different to getting up Alpe D'huez for example... honestly you have to think how much of that time you will be spending in the van.
Col du Galibier, Col d'Izoard, Alpe D'huez, Madeline, Col de porte, Col de Croix de Fer, Col du Telégraphe, Col du Glandon etc etc are all possible day trips from Bourg D'oisans ( or grenoble ).
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby fionahills » Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:57 pm

Toolonglegs - thanks - I think your suggestion of hotels and riding out from a couple of locations sounds better - the more I looked at profiles etc the more worried I got....
do you think the may/june time is better or should we wait til August/Sept?

I can book reasonably cheap fares now so might be worth while locking the dates in - was also think of putting a mtn bike cluster on the bike and leave the compact thingy of the front -do you thinnk that will give me enough options? Happy to spin (very slowly...) and apart from AdH not bothered about having to stop and take others slowly with whatever breaks needed.

thanks heaps for your help -been reading your cyclocross posts - sounds like a lot of hard work but loads of fun - good luck with it

fiona
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby toolonglegs » Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:46 pm

About to drive through pouring rain to cyclocross now :-) .
August is absolute peak holiday period in France... Everybody goes away in August. Come the first week of September hotels etc will be cheap again... The weather?. Who knows... Last year we were caught in snow in col d'izoard and galibier mid July!... It was freezing.
June and September can be good and can be wet. Remember a rough rule is every 100 meters you climb you lose 1C in temp. June will definitely be a bit quieter... Plus you could catch the Criterium Dauphine in the area in June ( a lot of the big tour riders will be there, but the crowds won't ).
Bucketing down!!!
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby scirocco » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:18 pm

fionahills wrote:was also think of putting a mtn bike cluster on the bike and leave the compact thingy of the front -do you think that will give me enough options? Happy to spin (very slowly...)


Absolutely, do it, or at the very least get a road cassette with a 30T (Shimano 105). Ignore any snobbery that says you shouldn't put MTB gear on a road bike. You don't have to use that lowest gear if you don't want to! But you'll be happily spinning slowly up the 10% slopes while everyone else is weaving all over the road with their hands frantically clutching at the levers looking for one gear lower. :)
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby fionahills » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:22 pm

Thanks heaps - more determined than ever to put the MTB on -

have put my stuff on strava - OMGosh - so embarrassing - with my power I think I will need a motor :oops:

If its on strava its not automatically public is it???? - oh the shame....... so much for motivation.... oh well the only way is up I suppose!!! :D

fiona
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby Sprocket » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:51 pm

Hey Fiona! Don't be so hard on yourself. You have to start somewhere. Less than 2 years ago I somehow convinced some non-running friends to come out for a run with me. The first outing was a fiasco - they walked most of the 3km and you could barely call the running they did running. Yet they stuck at it, and now run regularly, going further and faster than I do - thinking nothing of knocking off a casual 12km on a Sunday. If you had asked me if this was possible on the day of the 3km run I would have laughed - and we all do if someone brings that day up. Keep at it and you will be surprised at your progress.

And do keep us posted - your contributions are amongst my favourite to read.
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Re: Possible for newbie to train for and ride Alpe d'Huez

Postby ldrcycles » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:56 pm

Sprocket wrote:And do keep us posted - your contributions are amongst my favourite to read.


Same, i'm looking forward to bumping into you somewhere on the coast one of these days.

+1 on the MTB cluster, for a while i was running a Deore MTB derailleur with an 11-32 cassette and standard 53-39 cranks, i almost never had to change out of the big ring, even the main road up tinbeerwah was doable (just!). A very easy thing to do with a 9 speed setup, 10 speed i'm not so sure about, i think they may be incompatible, but your shop should know if there's a way.
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