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Training for Alpe D’Huez

So what’s the best training for Alpe D’Huez?....well the first thing to consider is how long it might take you to get up there.  Most club cyclists will be in the range of 50 - 75 minutes (this is assuming you are going for the best time i.e. flat out).  50 minutes or less would be a Cat A or Cat 1 cyclist who excels on the hills, and 75 minutes for a recreational  but fit club cyclist who rides regularly but is not that keen on the uphill stuff!  If you are not a club cyclist or a regular rider, and you just want to get up the mountain (not worried about the time), then my best advice to you is to get as many hours in the saddle as possible before you arrive here.

If you know your threshold power (see definition below) you can guess a time using the power calculator at the bottom of the Alpe D’Huez page and adjust the time until you get to your threshold power.  

Once you have an idea of the time it might take you (and a rough estimate is fine for this), you need to work on maximising your effort or other words power output for that duration.  For most people this will be the same as trying to increase their threshold power, as threshold power is defined as ‘the power you can maintain for one hour’. There is a lot of information available on this (try searching for ‘improve threshold power’ or ‘increase threshold power’ etc), however as with any tricky question, you’ll probably find a number of different answers!   I’m not a cycling coach, but what has worked best for me is interval training (this is assuming that you already have a good level of fitness and you are not a newcomer to cycling!).  As anyone riding up Alpe D’Huez will be putting in a long steady effort, shorter intervals will not really help that much.  I tend to find that I can maintain a relatively high effort level without feeling like I’m killing myself when I do 6 minute intervals.  If you have not done interval training before, then I’d again suggest you do a little internet research, but the principle is that you work as hard as you can for the defined interval, then rest and repeat.  By resting you allow yourself to maintain the high effort levels during the intervals.  If you find that you are not able to maintain the effort (and it should get harder each time) then it’s time to stop.  

In addition to the interval training, every now and again (perhaps once a week if you can fit that in to your training) you should do a maximum effort ride over the time you expect to take to ride up Alpe D’Huez.  As well as the fitness aspect of this, it will be great for you to be able to judge your effort when it comes to the real thing.  Get your pacing right and it will make a big difference on your time. For most people, the tendency will be to go off too hard, so make sure you relax at the start and keep some in reserve, as it’s a long climb!  In addition to this, to in order to maintain the same power output as your body gets tired, you need to put in a greater perceived effort (and your heart rate will rise for the same effort over time too).  All this points towards a gradual increase of effort all the way up.  So the intervals should help you gain strength and the longer efforts get your body ready for the test up Alpe D’Huez.  Good luck!

Ride Alpe D'Huez with Cycling Ascents