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  1. #1
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    Sept - I have to climb L'Alpe D'Huez.

    I've had my road bike for about a month and I'm now averaging around 16mph for a max of 30 miles. I'm hoping to visit Alpe D'Huez in a couple of months and would really like to be able to drag myself up it if possible; speed being of no importance. I'm not living anywhere near any big mountains so would anyone be able to give me some advice regarding some sort of training regime? Thanks.

  2. #2
    rider of small bicycles geneman's Avatar
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    Get a mountain bike cassette (i.e. 29) to go along with your 30 front chainring. That way, you can spin up it with ease. It might take the whole day, but you'll make it.

    -mark

  3. #3
    crackhead
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    Hills, hills, hills. If you want to get good climbing hills, you've got to climb hills. I used to dread them, but then my wife added a few to some of our weekly rides. Now I have embraced the power of the mountain. Oh, and congratulations on the opportunity. I wish you the best.

  4. #4
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    There's nothing you can do. Give up.



    Just kidding. Seriously, I'm from Chicago, and we're flat as a pancake. I thought by going to spinning classes and practicing the hills, and riding in the big gears all the time, I would have enough practice to tackle hills in Italy and Switzerland. Then when I finally got to Europe, I found that even the smallest hills kicked my butt. The lesson I learned is what bmph8ter said- to get good at climbing hills, you have to actually go out and climb hills. You can do what I did and do the big gears and ride into the wind and all, but until you get out there and start riding the hills in the Alps, you're not really going to have a lot of expertise in that area. So just do the best you can to get fit in general, then when you get out there, just take your time with it, and be consistent. Go out there and do your climbing in Europe and just be patient. Every day that I went out with Jerry and Marianne, I felt like I was getting a bit more used to climbing. I was still sucking wind, but I was at least pacing myself and I could keep climbing instead of stopping to push the bike, which is a great testimony to staying persistent with climbing the mountains.

    Do the best you can to get fit, and if you can find one place with hills in a hundred mile radius of your home you can go to every so often on the weekends, I would highly suggest you drive to that location and tackle those hills.

    Good luck.

    Koffee

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the advice everyone. I have the odd hill round where I live, but I think the idea of driving to somewhere with some real gradients is probably my best bet. I'm just worried that when I get to France I'm going to get an awful shock when I see these peaks for real.
    I expect being as light as possible might be a good idea too, so I think a bit of dieting might be a good idea.
    Cheers.

  6. #6
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    Having been in the same position as yourself last year all I can say is good luck it's worth the pain just to say you've done it and the downhill is something else.

    I agree with the other posts in that you need to get some hills in before you tackle Alpe D'Huez. I had the advantage of a couple of months riding in the mountains around Grenoble but it was still tough.

    Some general adivce on the climb. The first 3rd is the most difficult so take it easy and don't give up, if I can make it anyone can. The 2nd third is easier and allows for a bit of recovery and the final 3rd gets tough again. Remember to simle for the photographer at hairpin 2 and when you round hairpin 1 be prepared for a nasty little section going to the village. Once there fill up the water bottels, buy the cycling top and look forward to views and a descent you will never forget.

    And once again don't give up, I got passed by a guy who was running up

  7. #7
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    I feel you.... I about peed my pants when I was arriving in Gstaad, Switzerland... and we were just LOOKING at the mountains. And that last day, when we drove up the mountain we were meant to climb because it had rained, I was almost shaking in my shoes. Just do the best you can and don't give up when you're doing the climb. Stick to the bike and grit your teeth and climb. The more you climb, the more at ease you'll feel.

    Descending scares the crap out of me still, though.

    Koffee

  8. #8
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    I have this idea that I would like to make the climb in one go without stopping at all, so I suppose a low gear and stamina are going to help. Looking at the pictures of the region the views are amazing and quite intimidating to say the least.

  9. #9
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    a small tip: keep upright on the bike as much as possible. most riders do this on an ascent anyway, but being upright will allow you to breath more deeply. if you're slouched over the handlebars that will restrict the amount of air you get.

    also, what bike are you going to be riding? hopefully it has a triple chainring.

  10. #10
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    The bike only has a double chainring with a 39.

  11. #11
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    Bleah. I have a triple chainring, and when I first started doing the climbs in Switzerland, I was trying to use the triple, but it just really slowed me down and I lost my rhythym. Once I moved up to the middle chainring, I was able to climb a lot more efficiently.

    Next time I come back to Switzerland for the climbing, I'm bringing my good bike with the double chainring. I don't need that triple at all.

    Koffee

  12. #12
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    If you don't have any hills, I suggest you go out for your regular ride, whether is 20 or 30 miles. When you get home and you are tired and worn out.... go out and do it again striving for a faster speed. When you do long hill climbs, you have to push yourself beyond what you ever believed you could accomplish. There are times, when you don't lookup the mountain and you measure your progress by the weeds that are five feet ahead. When your leggs ache and just want to quit, you usually have at least 5 miles to go. If a day is windy, go train in it, if you ride at 14 mph, push to ride in the wind at 13-14 not 12 where you are comfortable.

  13. #13
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    Thats very true; I suppose getting used to hard painful effort is going to make things easier when I hit the hill (hill!) for real.
    My current bike has a 42 for its smallest ring, so I suppose I'm going to feel some difference when I pick up the new (to me) bike when I get to D'Huez.

  14. #14
    Bananaed Brillig's Avatar
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    What's your biggest cog in the back? (On the Apple Whiz bike)
    If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination.
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  15. #15
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    28 on the rear with 39 on the front.

  16. #16
    Ready to go anywhere Csson's Avatar
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    That should be doable. When it comes to climbing the big climbs it is mostly mental strength that is needed, unless you plan on breaking records .

    If you have time, don't miss some of the other great climbs in that area like Les Deux-Alpes, la Bérarde, Col de la Croix de Fer/Col du Glandon and Col du Galibier. They are all very close to Bourg d'Oisans.

    /Csson
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    I took the one less travelled by,
    And that has made all the difference.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Csson
    That should be doable. When it comes to climbing the big climbs it is mostly mental strength that is needed, unless you plan on breaking records .

    If you have time, don't miss some of the other great climbs in that area like Les Deux-Alpes, la Bérarde, Col de la Croix de Fer/Col du Glandon and Col du Galibier. They are all very close to Bourg d'Oisans.

    /Csson
    I'm going to try some of the other climbs too; Alpe D'Huez has always been the big thing for me though.
    Your website is excellent by the way.

  18. #18
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    Here's what bmph8ter and I do: We have a gnarly, but relatively short(3/4 mile) hill that hurts close to our house. 1-2 times per week we do repeats. We climb up, come immediately down, and immediately climb, again, using the descent as recovery. We repeat this until our legs refuse, and then we do one more. Each session we strive to get at least one more repeat in before we croak. In 2-3 weeks you'll see a noticeable difference. In a month you'll be a different rider, but you gotta push yourself.

    It works, but you gotta be willing to hurt. Really, you gotta love the pain. Now, climbing is my favorite part of riding.

    Once a week I also lift heavy weights in the gym: squats, lunges, leg presses, extentions, etc. For some people, hill work coupled with gym workouts are too much, but I find my body really responds quickly and efficiently to this program. Just some thoughts.

    Oh yeah, ice baths work miracles after tough workouts; I like to stop by the store and get a bag of ice, fill the tub with cold water and dump the ice in. Spend 15 minutes in there (you can use a towel to warm the upper body,) and when you wake from your nap, you'll be as good as new. Eat enough protein to help muscles repair, and sleep as often as possible. Remember: don't stand when you can sit. Don't sit when you can lay down.
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  19. #19
    Wind Breaker Bruco's Avatar
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    * You have 37 minutes and 34 seconds (to beat the late Marco Pantani's time in the ascent of the Alpe d'Huez).

    * Ignore the speed and cadence signals that your cyclo'puter is transmitting to your brain. (They are bad for your Morale, unless you're in the above-mentioned MP category.) Instead, focus on your rhythm and put in enough effort to ... (well, I cannot contradict my above diregard computer statement), but which doesn't make you 'blow up'.
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  20. #20
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    [QUOTE=sm266]Here's what bmph8ter and I do: We have a gnarly, but relatively short(3/4 mile) hill that hurts close to our house. 1-2 times per week we do repeats. We climb up, come immediately down, and immediately climb, again, using the descent as recovery. We repeat this until our legs refuse, and then we do one more. Each session we strive to get at least one more repeat in before we croak. In 2-3 weeks you'll see a noticeable difference. In a month you'll be a different rider, but you gotta push yourself.

    Well I just tried this by cycling up a hill until I really didn't want to any more; unfortunately it is about 15 miles from where I live and I'm not sure how I managed to cycle home! Still it was definately worth the effort. And not in a million years would I sit in a bath of ice it must be agony?

  21. #21
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    A bath of ice may be a bit drastic, and has traditionally been questioned as a sufficient recovery aid. But you may want to try alternating cold and heat. Also, try the power of massage- watch the Tour de France preshow, and you'll often see the riders getting massages after the stages end, and they get back to the hotel. You never see them chiming in about the power of ice- but they do say every single time that if they didn't have the massage to clear out the lactic acid buildup from their legs, their legs would feel like bricks.

    Also, just keep up the good work! You continue to climb that hill and you'll find that it gets easier. Then you'll have to find a bigger and badder hill to conquer, and before long, you'll be much fitter and ready for the Alps.

    Koffee

  22. #22
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    Also, just keep up the good work! You continue to climb that hill and you'll find that it gets easier. Then you'll have to find a bigger and badder hill to conquer, and before long, you'll be much fitter and ready for the Alps.

    Can you do some sort of massage yourself or do you need to get it done professionally? I'm just wondering if I can get the girlfriend to help effectively (no comments please!)
    I felt a bit rough when I got back, but I'm raring to go again now.
    Does anyone fancy coming along? Sometime in September I think. And I'm bound to make any of you look good...

  23. #23
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    Ice baths work for me, and it's a trick that I've used after long adventure races and training sessions including hill sessions and heavy lift days; basically anytime I think there's the potential of being sore the next day. It's also been touted in Runners World and Bicycling as effective (not that they're the best sources,) but they prompted me to try it. It works. I'm not discounting massage, as I usually have one before and after races.
    Last edited by sm266; 07-16-04 at 05:49 PM.
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  24. #24
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    You can do massage yourself, but definitely, if you can get to a professional, that would work well for you also.

    I found out that the massage schools people go to for their licenses often have massage sessions, and they are cheap- much cheaper than going to a professional. Often, they are just as good as the professionals. I've only had 2 bad massages, but I have had many many many more great massages. And where I go, they also have 10 pack specials, so if you buy 9 sessions, you get the 10th one free. It's a big chunk of change, but I've been using this pass for almost a year, plus they raised the fees, and I am still under the old prices, while everyone is paying $5 more under the new price fees. I go once a week now.

    Try to see if you can find a massage school in your area, then ask if they have student massage and find out what the fee is, and also find out if they have combination pay packages or discount pay packages or coupons or anything along those lines.

    Koffee

  25. #25
    Pat
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    I live in Central Florida. We do have some hills out by Clermont. They are not really exciting, the longest is .5 mile averaging 7% with a max of 12%. But I don't get out there that much. I have gone out west and cycled in places like Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Alberta and British Columbia. Riding mountain passes is fun although you can spend 2 hours climbing just one. I have gone over passes that are over 12,000' in elevation.

    If you are going to try the Alpe D'Heuz, that is a pretty heft climb. With your conditioning, I would strongly suggest you get a triple chain ring. If not, get the cassette with the very lowest gears you can find. You need to be able to sit and spin comfortably on say a 10% grade because you are going to be doing quite a bit of it. I prefer a triple because, I prefer climbing whilst sitting and spinning. If you can sit and spin, well it is just a matter of time and you will reach the top. Who cares if it takes a couple of hours? Your point is getting there not setting records (as if you could anyway).

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