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Help & advise required to climb Alp D'Huez

Apr 1, 2009
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Hey folks hope alls well,
Basically im heading to Alp D,Huez in a month with some friends for a "spin". Ive been there before although only as a spectator. I cycle around 150 k a week & my weight is currently at just under 15 stone (stop giggling at the back!). Anyway im going to try drop a stone or even a stone & a half in the next month before I go & I would like some advice on a training program that would assist me this way. I cycle for fun & never raced seriously but keep myself in general good shape. Also as I know Alp D'Huez is extremely steep whats the best way to attack it or cycle up it without dying on my backside? My mail goal is to make it to the first hairpin without collapsing off the bike (again no giggling at the back). Id love to make it to the top without getting off the bike but i dont think this will be a reality.
Also as I have only a month could anyone here recommend a decent sort of diet for this timeframe as its obvious i will have to look at this also?
All help greatly appreciated & thanks in advance.:)
Mar 10, 2009
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It all depends on how aerobically fit you are.

I would largely forget about the weight loss, you might lose 6 lbs but any more will cost you in performance.

As preparation it depends where you are now. 150k now per week means you will be able to do it even if pretty slow. If your pretty slow as I am and aerobically not strong you could take 1.5 - 2hrs but still train for much less - the top half is a bit easier and when you get that far it will all happen anyway. If you can do make sure you have a suitable bottom gear for an average of 8kph.

The keys now are pushing your aerobic capacity and being able to climb. Climbing will entail a different position and long alpine climbs a different mind set. Mind the Alp is only a medium size climb:D

If you have not done any aerobic work the fastest way to improve is simply do 6x 30 secs hard efforts with full recovery in between - say 5 minutes. Maximum is two times per week.

Second is find a climb locally, suggest perhaps taking 5 minutes or so with grade 5-9%. The focus is on building to work at the max you can maintain, sorting your position and your mental state. Say 5 pushy reps with 5 minutes rest and once per week. While anyone can do 30 second efforts hill reps need to be learnt, so take your time to learn. You only have time for three sessions. You could use two for strength so steady efforts at say 70 rpm but not aerobically to hard. The third session would aim for the most you can maintain over the climb. Remember with all this effort improvement takes place during recovery so with only a month you cannot afford to overdo it. If you are already aerobically pretty fit then change the 30 sec efforts and focus on two hill sessions one strength and one aerobic. If you have no hills locally take a couple of weekends and go find some hills. Back to back hill days with rest the following week can be excellent but still focus on position, climbing style, mental state and aerobic level.

Your position should be relaxed, sitting back to extend your legs, comfortable, pelvis forward, never going anaerobic, breathing deeply from the stomach then lungs, focus on exhaling fully - the inhale will follow. Sitting upright helps the breathing. Learn mentally to keep a steady pace, monitor your effort so you never go into debt for the pay back is always huge. Being able to hold a steady effort, not pace, over varying gradients will be useful. It will hurt but alpine climbing requires a steady effort which is very rewarding. Take a camera - its a good excuse for a very short stop and well worth it even for just a couple of shots.

I have seen very overweight guys doing good rides up the Alp. Weight is an issue but more important is to make the most of what you have.

If you have a chance then do a few shorter climbs in the Alps first. Then on the Alp look at continuing over the col on the D25a down to Clavans en Haut Oisans then the back road from near the dam D211a to the Alp road. I missed out on that due to a monster thunder storm which I just avoided by bombing down. Have a restful couple of days before the event then enjoy it, its a good ride. Is 1.5 hours and 660 metres per hour a reasonable goal.