Transition to Winter Training – the (dreaded?) turbo

I fully plan to write some ‘retrospective’ entries (races I’ve done this year, training effectively, etc., etc.) however right now, looking out the window at the not particularly inviting weather, my mind turns to – “how am I going to keep fit this winter without getting painfully cold hands / feet or soaking wet through?”…..

Continue reading

Back to Blogging

Well apologies for neglecting the blog for so long…a lot has happened in the last few years! This is just a very short post to say that as it’s now our off season (it’s been a long and busy summer!) I’ll get back to writing. Expect to see some more of the usual (riding, racing and just living in the French Alps!) along with posts about training – as I’ve started a level 3 coaching course.  Bye for now!

Coping with Time off the Bike

Normally, if I spend more than a few days without riding, I get restless, irritable, and eventually I just have to get out there (I’m typically sent away by my wife, who’s had enough by this stage!)

This year, I was just getting to the end of my recovery period after this year’s Marmotte (soon to be written up as a blog entry – only 3 1/2 months late!) when it was full steam ahead with DIY.  The construction company handed over our mostly completed house mid July – not finished, but as they were on the brink of liquidation we were forced to get out of the contract with them as quickly as possible (we made it just in time). As our first customers were due to arrive at the end of August, there was a lot of work left to be done, and – it hurts just to write this – no time for cycling.

The first week was the worst – but it was made easier by the fact that I was really busy, plus actually quite tired at the end of each day (I’m not used to manual labour if it involves more than just moving your legs up and down!).  I still had a few twitchy moments, but the nagging voice at the back of my head, which usually says, “you’re losing fitness – everyone else will be out there training”,  was now telling me, “you’ll never get the house ready for the end of August…..”.

I did manage to spend a little time on the bike – but this was just riding from our rental house to the B&B and back a few times a day.  Only 2 km, but I made sure that each one was a VO2 max interval!  I’m sure the locals wondered why the hell the strange guy with paint / dust / dirt all over his clothes was rushing forwards and backwards 4 times a day on his bike.

Eventually, we moved into the new house, and I didn’t have any chance at all to get out.  The need to ride my bike slowly faded and (I’m ashamed to say) that 3 1/2 months on I’ve got the opposite problem – a lack of motivation.  The weather doesn’t help (it’s cold and wet out there), but soon it will be winter – and this is what will hopefully save me.  The threat of an enforced 2 – 3 months of turbo trainer when there is snow on the ground is more than enough to remind me that I should get out as soon as I can and make the most of the great outdoors again!

Getting off the beaten track

Most of the groups whom I provide accommodation for and ride with that come over to Bourg d’Oisans are very much focussed on getting up the ‘big name’ cols – Galibier, Glandon and Croix de Fer (as well as of course Alpe d’Huez).  While this is entirely understandable – as it’s why they’ve chosen to come here rather than somewhere like Provence, for example, there are many other ‘unknown’ rides very close by that offer up some impressive scenery, quiet roads, and often a sleepy village at the end of the climb. Continue reading

Pretending to be a Pro Cyclist….

I’ve written a blog entry on my website about the Dutch charity event ‘Alpe d’Huzes’ already – where 8000 Dutch ride up Alpe d’Huez up to 6 times to raise money to fight cancer.  This year I managed to get a few photos during the ride up, and due to the enthusiasm and noise from the Dutch supporters it really is easy to believe that you are a pro about to win a mountain stage….. Continue reading

My First Ascent of Mont Ventoux…comparisons to the Galibier and Alpe d’Huez

Cycling AscentsI was lucky enough to get an invite for a space in my current guest’s van for their trip down to Mont Ventoux.  It was a toss up between that and possibly getting on TV – as TF1, one of the main TV channels in France was doing a piece on the upcoming Tour de France stage, and our club had been contacted to provide local cyclists to film!  However as I’m not interested in fame and fortune :) I decided that Mont Ventoux was the way to go, especially as I’ve never ridden there before. Continue reading

Alpe d’Huez in the Snow

Cycling AscentsI’ve ridden up Alpe d’Huez a few times whilst snow was on the ground – but never when snow was actually falling.  The weather is a little crazy here at the moment, but it’s safe to say that I wasn’t expecting snow when we set off this morning! Continue reading

A New Winter Biking Experience

Cycling AscentsIt’s not snowed here for a while, but as there was so much (90 cm) and we’re up at 720 metres above sea level, there’s still a decent amount of snow & ice around on the more shaded trails.  Which means that riding my recently acquired mountain bike is a bit of a risky proposition right now. Continue reading

Turbo or Torture?

Cycling Ascents

Level of snow on our balcony

The amount of snow on our balcony...and it's still coming down hard

With about 25 cm of snow on the ground here in Bourg D’Oisans, my outdoor cycling options are pretty much nil (that is until I get a pair of studded tyres for my mountain bike!).  In the meantime, the basement beckons….. Continue reading

Mountain Biking for dummies….

Cycling AscentsI guess that I always used to look at mountain biking as not for ‘serious’ cyclists – just for people who like to muck about on a bike.  Having now been out for a couple of rides on my first ever mountain bike – bought second hand from the local bike hire shop – I can see that ‘just mucking about’ is actually a lot of fun (I guess that’s not too surprising if I’d really thought about it).  Perhaps more surprisingly (well for me anyway) is that it’s also quite hard work! Continue reading