Etape 2010 generally and bike rental possibility?

Oct 18, 2009
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Hi all, first post here, and very happy to be here.

I am about to register for this year's Etape, if I am still able to. I will be spending the month of July in France (2 weeks in Bedoin (base of Ventoux), 1 week in Biarritz (probably), and the last week in Paris.

I will be renting a bicycle in Bedoin for the 2 weeks (which shouldn't be difficult), but will have to rent another for the Etape. I have been search the web for bike rental possibilities in Pau and surrounding areas but have come up with pretty much nothing (unless I want to do it on a mountain bike). Does anyone know of a road bike rental possibility in that area?

The other option, of course, is to bring my bike to France. I have done this twice -- first time it worked out fine, second time my bike was damaged. As well, since we will be moving around a bit (before we stayed in one place for the entire 4 weeks), taking my bike around would be unwieldy. And I don't want to risk damaging my carbon Cervelo (had an aluminum bike before).

Any ideas would be appreciated.

And for my general question about the Etape: I am 43 years old, generally fit, have done the Seattle-to-Portland ride for the last 2 years (200 miles over two days). I do triathlons as part of a relay team (yes, I am the biker of the group). I have no problem averaging 32 km/h over 40+ km time trial (I know it is not fast compared to you fast guys). I seek out climbs when I am riding. I do not race. I will do some training for the Etape too.

Is being swept up by the broom wagon a real and likely outcome for me?

Thanks.
 
Apr 1, 2009
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Personally, I would not rent a bike as they are hard to find and a good bike is almost impossible to find. Buy a hard case and bring your bike or use a cardboard box. I brought my bike to France last year and just put it in a cardboard box with no issues (carbon) and in fact have only used cardboard boxes and travel quite often with a bike (carbon road and aluminum MTB) You may want to look into one of these company's that offer support for you and guarantee entry and they might rent bikes as well. They are a bit expensive but it's nice to have water bottles at certain points and jackets and what not at the top of "hills". This years race is going to be quite hard with lots of climbing so I would think you would want to have your hot bike to try to do the race with. I was in that area last summer and I didn't see one shop that rents any thing I would want to ride, especially for etape!

Re fitness

First of all distance means nothing in the mountains, nearly 5000m of climbing is a bunch. I have done similar events and in the end the elevation was what I have learned to watch. I'm sure you can do it, I think anyone can if they are reasonably fit. But you may want to step up your training so that you are not completely destroyed at the end of the race, those HC climbs are pretty tough. you haven't mention your weight but that is another area that you may want to think about. Buy some training books and start looking at your training a little more seriously, it not something you want to do on a whim that is for sure. I have been using Dr. Rosses book "performance cycling" and training with power books with great effect but you need a Powe rmeter to really get the most out of these books.
 
Jul 27, 2009
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Yeah, you haven't mentioned your weight. If you're 190lb, even if you're fit, physics suggests you're going to find it tougher than a lighter rider.

And, yes, a systematic approach to training in preparation would be very helpful. Reading some books or better still hiring a coach would be best, but in a nutshell go find the biggest, steepest hill in your area and ride up it. Repeatedly. And vigorously. Not only will you get faster at it, you'll be able to estimate your sustained power output, and get some idea of how you'll go.

Another thing that's worth considering is descending technique. I haven't done any of those specific descents, but Pyrenean roads are generally narrow, steep, and feature plenty of tight bends (though it should be in excellent condition for the Etape - the local roads people re-construct everything for the Tour). So if you're not used to high-speed descents, that's something you can work on; not only to gain time on the sag wagon, but as a safety and enjoyment issue.
 
Aug 13, 2009
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Training for the Etape is simple, find the longest climb you can fin in your area and ride up and down it until you feel like you are going to puke.

Bring your bike. Provence is fairly easy to find a rental, the Pyrenees is a bit more of challenge.

Weight is important, you will climb faster with every pound you lose.....But it is possible to do a fast time and not be a beanpole. I have done a gold time the La Marmotte by 45 minutes, at 195.
 
Jul 27, 2009
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Training for the Etape is simple, find the longest climb you can fin in your area and ride up and down it until you feel like you are going to puke.

+1.

That pretty much sums up what doing the Etape will feel like, by the way :)
 
Apr 1, 2009
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The decedents off of these hills are not that narrow and also not a place you make up a lot of time, I saw a lot of crashes at the Marmotte last year so I would say keep it comfortable.

I think the big thing will be that the hills are a lot steeper in the Pyrenees then in NA, when is the last time you saw a hill that was 10 % or steeper.
 
Mar 11, 2009
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St. Elia said:
The decedents off of these hills are not that narrow and also not a place you make up a lot of time, I saw a lot of crashes at the Marmotte last year so I would say keep it comfortable.

I think the big thing will be that the hills are a lot steeper in the Pyrenees then in NA, when is the last time you saw a hill that was 10 % or steeper.

Sections of Col de Marie Blanque are 16%.

http://www.velopeloton.com/Cols/2010tour/stage182010.htm

If you don't have mountains to train on just ride long and hard on the flat, it is just as good to build general fitness. If you average 6mph on the climbs then Marie Blanque is an hour, Soulor is 1:10 and Tourmalet is nearly 2 hours of hard slog. Do a 4 or 5 hour ride and do 2 hours in 1 gear higher than you feel comfortable in. The real difference is descending and you will see the European riders who are used to these descents going much faster than you think possible.
 
May 8, 2009
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Re: bike rental

You have probably tried this already, but I'd suggest you contact the hotel you stay in. The hotel should be able to make an arrangement for you or at least provide you with useful contact information. That's what I have done before and it worked out fine. You should allow an extra day though, in case you don't like the bike they get you and you need to switch.
 
Oct 18, 2009
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Thanks for your replies. They have been helpful and encouraging. I think I can do it. Been up Ventoux a couple of times (not fast though). The trick is to be able to do a Ventoux-like climb after doing 160 km and 2 categorized climbs before that!:)