Decreased Gravity

I finally weighted my “city” bike which I’ve been training on. It’s a shade over 14kg. The road bike I’ve hired in France will probably weight between 8 and 9kg. So that’s a good 5kg lighter than what I’m used to – win!

Last 5x

Tonight was my last big training ride before Alpe d’Huez. Five laps of Arthurs Seat, aiming for an hour. At the end of lap 4, the stopwatch was at 50mins so I knew I wouldn’t make it. But I pegged it around the last lap for a 1h2m time, which I’m pretty pleased with – about 8% faster than I was doing a month ago. I used to think of the course as the climb plus the rest. Now my effort feels much more constant the whole way around – the climb adds variety, but I’m pegging it the whole way around.

Onto Alpe d’Huez itself. I found this amazing photo today. That’s the village of Bourg d’Oisans at the foot of the hill (click the image to make it bigger) with the road switch-back’ing up through the trees up to the village of Alpe d’Huez itself at the top.

Alpe d'Huez

Just keep pedalling, just keep pedalling …

Getting dark out there

Quick blast to Kaimes Road this evening, getting back at 9.30pm by which time it was dark, eek! The seasons are changing …

This time, I climbed, descended then climbed again with no rests (apart from the time spent descending). First two climbs were seated in 2nd gear. Next climb I did entirely out of the saddle. It felt weird because it was so much easier to turn the pedals – but at the cost of increased heartrate. I finished up with one final climb in my lowest gear, sprinting up the last bit. All in all, four climbs for a total of nearly 300m ascent. It takes me about 5 minutes to go up, and 1:30 to descend.

My plan was to try to find a ‘sustainable’ heart-rate that I felt I could keep up for a long time. However, my Nexus-hubbed city bike is geared such that, on Kaimes Rd, it’s hard to keep at a reasonable pedalling cadence without being over 160bpm. Hopefully the bike I’m hiring in France will have a few more low gears …

To put this all into perspective, watch the Tour de France on Alpe d’Huez. At 3:00 the peloton hits the start of the climb, a gradient of 10%. It takes them until 5:20 to reach the first corner. That’s roughly one Kaimes Rd right there – just over 700m on the road, 70m ascent. Cadel Evans, who’s been riding the Tour for weeks and has just done two huge climbs already that day, does it in 2m20s. I do the same climb in just under 5 minutes.

Back of envelope calculation time. If I sustained my 4x Kaimes Rd pace all the way up Alpe d’Huez (unrealistic) then it would take me 1h 15mins. The web makes it sounds like “serious” amateurs treat an hour as the target for glory. Lance Armstrong did it in ~40 minutes during a time trial. But this is all useful info. I know that for rides over an hour, I need to take on extra liquid/energy otherwise my energy levels collapse. Psychologically, I’d rather expect to be climbing for two hours and then be pleasantly surprised, rather than plan for shorter and get a nasty surprise.


A brief lull in the rain-that-never-stops allowed me out on the bike this evening. The target was 5 laps of Arthurs Seat in an hour. In the end, I was some way off – 67:16. But, given that it was windy, I was on my city bike and I was cycling through rivers of water part of the time, I think it was a pretty good effort. I averaged 13.5 mins per lap. I know I can do 12min laps on better days, and my best ever single lap was 10.5 minutes. So, 5 laps in an hour seems on.


Today, Glentress. Sprinty-sprint up the uphills, slightly circumspect on the downhills. Managed to get the bike sideways for a big slide on the first SpookyWood switchback, but held it. The slide lasted long enough for me to think “hey, glad I put kneepads on today in case this gets away from me”. Loved the resurfaced right-hander which used to be a braking-rut disaster – rather more like an autobahn now. Rode “Berm Baby Berm” for the first time – nice, but I’d skitter out a bit wide, and then get wider and wider. Possibly I had my tyres pumped up too much. I meant to let up bit of air out of them at the top of the climb, but after Geoff’s four (I think) punctures I left them well alone.

Alpe d’Huez is a month away.