Etape Training – Early Days Recap (1)

So last year in a fit of madness and bike related hubris I signed up for the Etape du Tour on 10 July 2016 and this is first of a series of blog posts where I attempt to chronicle the experience and shamelessly solicit for sponsorship money!

Setting the Scene

The Etape is where rank amateurs up to semi-pros tackle a stage of Tour de France a few weeks before the professionals ride over it. Closed roads, feed stations, broom wagons for the dying, the whole caboodle. Indeed, the Etape is generally acknowledged as the pinnacle of the cycling Sportive calendar, due it the participation numbers, route toughness and its draw on the mythos surrounding the Tour itself.


Pic 1 – The Peloton sweeps through the south of France  [official tour media]

They generally set the Etape on one of the Tour’s more challenging mountain stages and this year is no exception as we will be riding the Queen Stage – 20: Megève to Morzine. I’ll look at the stage in more depth in a later post, but suffice to say its 89 miles – which is fairly middling in Sportive terms – but it is around 8000 metres of climbing that is the real foe.

Allez, allez, allez!

About Me

I’m a reasonable fit person, pretty competitive and have completed one  Sportive before – the not inconsiderable Dragon. However, I’m not even a club cyclist and let my cycling slip for various reasons post-Dragon back to a resounding zero. To be honest, I’m much more of an explore interesting places and country lanes on a mountain bike type rather than a tapping out a high tempo ride on a carbon beast, bedecked in lycra and all the gadgets. So this will be a challenge to up my cycling game without losing the sense of fun.

Small Beginnings

I started off the year doing a lot more running than cycling due to the weather and often being in different locations to my bikes, so was in the strange position of starting my Etape training being a lot better runner than cyclist. Up to early April (the magic 3 months to go panic point) the plan was simply to slowly increase the length and speed of cycling trips, roughly alternating between faster short trips and longer expeditions. Principal aim:  try not to break myself with too bad an injury in the early days of the season as I get some miles in my legs.


Pic 2 – Ashton Court’s Giant Head near the beginning of a jaunt along the Strawberry Line

To this effect the start of year saw me heading off to Severnside, cycling round sections Avonmouth still under construction with heavy duty roads, industrial backdrop and nothing else bar yet to be developed, blasted levels. A weird experience akin to the feeling of seeing old power stations on abandoned coasts.

Other more normal places included the Strawberry line; Radstock / Frome, the Kennet & Avon Canal and the ever reliable quick dash to Bath and back, all the while offering a quick prayer of thanks to that most giving of Gods, Sustrans, and its many glorious cycle paths around Bristol. No killer distances, but a nice steady increase when looking back on the training log.

Oh, and I saw a couple rowing a sinking bath tub down the canal at Avoncliffe and didn’t get a photo. Such is Avonlife.

Get Involved Blurb!

If you would like to support my effort and a great cancer charity in Mesothelioma UK you  can sponsor me here. All donations greatly received! You can see my progress on the rather wonderful Strave app here if you’re feeling curious.

Next time out – picking up the pace(ish) and the Lionheart Sportive.

~ by Jack on May 5, 2016.

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