Pacing strategy for La Marmotte (cyclo with 4 mountains)

Discussion in 'Power Training' started by PaulMD, May 8, 2008.

  1. PaulMD

    PaulMD New Member

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    This summer I want to ride "La Marmotte", a cyclosportive in the French alps (the first and most popular cyclosportive in Europe). It's 170km long and starts in Bourg d'Oisans and taking in the Col du Glandon, Col du Telegraphe, Col du Galibier and finishes on the Alpe d'Huez.

    Last year I rode it without a powermeter and rode it as a rookie. I was cooked after the first climb and during the climb of the Col du telegraphe I felt of my bike multiple times with cramps...

    This year I want to pace myself with a powermeter. So I don't ride to fast on the first climb. But how should I pace during this 7-8 hour event? Here, in the North of the Netherlands, we don't have hills or mountains. It's completely flat. And I have no idea how long I can ride at an IF of 90% in the mountains.

    Who has experience in pacing during a long event with 4 mountains?
     
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  2. robkit

    robkit New Member

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    Based upon my experience in the etape du tour I would say you should aim to ride all but the last climb at an output comfortably within your FTP simply because with the distance, and the heat stress (which increases dramatically as the event progresses from early mornign to mid-day), and likely some element of dehydration you probably cant expect to ride at your usual threshold for much of the day.

    Couple that with taking it easy on the descents and in the valleys, especially the run in to the first climb. The people who do well in sportives are the ones who start steady and finish strong.

    Remember that riding above threshold uses exponentially more resources than riding within, so make sure you've got low enough gears to just spin even on the steepest gradients. I did my first etape with gearing so high that just keeping the bike moving on 13% pitches required more power than I could sustain … so don’t make that mistake!


    Pacing is important but there is no substitute for arriving at the event as light as you can be.
     
  3. PaulMD

    PaulMD New Member

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    Thanks for your answer. But what do you mean by "comfortably within your FTP"?

    My plan so far:
    1.) Never go above FTP (only at the second half of the last climb, but that won't happen;)) At the steep sections use my triple (30x27 :D)
    2.) Pacing like:
    Glandon: IF 89% (71 minutes)
    Telegraphe: IF 87% (50 minutes)
    Galibier: IF 83% (80 minutes)
    Alp d'Huez: IF 80% (70 minutes, second half: ride the tank empty: all out)

    I hope to have a FTP of 300 watt before La Marmotte and weight 68kg. So I want to try to ride: Glandon:267w Telegraphe:261w Galibier:250w Huez:240w. With that power I hope to ride it in 7h30m.

    At the moment my FTP is 290 watt and I can ride my 2 hour rides with 250 watt average power without going really hard at the end. I hope to increase my long hard endurance ride to 3 hours and 250 watts at the end of this month.
     
  4. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Here's a book that I found useful when doing a similar ride in the US. There's some free sections - you may find the info about gearing and riding at altitude useful.

    http://www.arniebakercycling.com/books/b_ace.htm

    There's quite a difference between riding two hours on the flat and 8 hours in the mountains in a small gear. I believe that the back of the Galibier is much tougher than Alpe D'Huez - it's steeper, higher altitude and has a rougher road surface...
     
  5. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

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    I suspect that pacing strategy will be challenging and that you might be better off looking at an IF of closer to 0.80 on the earlier slopes and have some in the tank for the latter stages.
     
  6. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Maybe something else you may want to consider is how you may be effected by altitude - especially on the Galibier at 8600ft. I know from experience that I find it harder to ride at 8,600ft at a given pace than it is at 5,000ft. I doubt I could keep the same power all the way up a climb unless I started pretty easy at the bottom.

    At altitude it's easier to become dehydrated. Depending on the location of the feed/water zones then be prepared to carry two large bottles. Likewise, if it's going to be a sunny day be prepared with plenty on sunblock. The combined effects of sunburn and dehydration aint pretty....

    30x27 should be enough - but not knowing exactly how fit you are it really wouldn't be too much of a big deal to even consider dropping that to something even smaller. Most 74bcd triples will take down to a 24. Because you can't guarentee that you'll get sunny and cool weather on the last two climbs erring way on the side of caution for an 'touring' event that you travel quite some distance for is sometimes worth it. If 26x27 never gets used, no big deal - you always have the 24 and 21 sprockets for the tougher parts - but if you only have 30x27 and you're doing 50rpm for those steep 8km towards the top of the Galibier and it turns out to be windy, wet and close to freezing then you might be wishing for that extra gear or two lower...

    On last years DeathRide, near the top of Ebbetts Pass at about 8500ft when you get that nice long section of 12%, I think my legs took a quick vacation and did a bit of sightseeing rather than pushing down on the pedals. That said, my chicken gear was 30x27 and I ended up using it too....
     
  7. LT Intolerant

    LT Intolerant New Member

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    I just finished a similar event here in California that was 112 miles w 12k ft of climbing. I went VERY easy the first hour (Coggan L2 or around 75% of FTP), drafting anyone and everyone I could.

    When we hit the first big climb I definitely overcooked it and was working up near my FTP. Bad move. After that climb I had to keep reminding myself to go easy. I took the next 3 big climbs MUCH easier. Good move.

    Unfortunately I was a disaster by mile 90, not because of the distance and climbing, but because the temps were over 100 degrees F. I just wasn't prepared for the heat, as the area where I train and live is fairly temperate.

    In retrospect I should have ridden even easier than I did, nothing > than Coggan L3 or 90% of FTP, especially on the 1st and 2cnd climb. Having the right gearing can definitely help, and I was running a compact w a 34/27 to allow me to spin up the climbs as much as possible.

    BTW I'm envious because the climbs you are going to do a re some of my favorites. That said doing them w 3,000 maniacs is not my idea of a good time. Too many people on the road IMO.

    Enjoy and good luck!
     
  8. PaulMD

    PaulMD New Member

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    Thanks for the input. The pacing strategy for La Marmotte is my main question because I don't want to go to hard in the beginning but I also don't want to lose valuable time in the beginning.

    I am an experienced rider in the french alps, but have less experience in riding a cyclosportive.

    I have never ridden in the mountains with a powermeter and I don't have a clue about how much power I can sustain for a long period uphill, I can only estimate. The points about 1.) start steady and finish strong 2.) dehydration, 3.) gearing, 4.) altitude, 5.) sunburn and 6.) heat are taken. Last year I rode La Marmotte and started to fast due all those fast riders around me which I could follow easily (for the first climb). I am not going to make that fault again. I think that I will set my maximum pace for the first climb at 0.85 and do all the flat sections <0.80. I also was dehydrated and will start this year with 3 bottlecages. Last year I rode with an 34x27 but found it too heavy on the steep sections on the galibier. So the triple will be my friend.
     
  9. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

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    good luck:)
    I'm sure we would be interested in seeing the power file of your ride and any interesting stories you pick up along the way
     
  10. Steve_B

    Steve_B New Member

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    You may find this useful for familiarization.
     
  11. pledac

    pledac New Member

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    I did something very similar last year (Croix de Fer (=Glandon+3 kilometers)-Mollard-Télégraphe-Galibier-Balcon de l'Armentier, so a total of 16500ft-5100m of elevation, as La Marmotte race). My main goal was to ride at IF=0.8 at each climb.

    The result was (my datas were FTP=300W, Weight=70kg, CTL~80 and had a very useful 34*28 on the bike to ride at an averaged 75rpm):
    -Croix de Fer (0.78)
    -Mollard (0.78)
    -Télégraphe (0.81)
    -Galibier (0.77)
    -Balcon de l'Armentier (0.82)

    So I agree with Alex, 0.9 is quite high for the first climb. I can only ride at IF=0.9 on several climbs only if the total elevation is lower than ~9700ft (3000m) and with good weather conditions (temperature less than 18°C for example) and besides I used to ride in mountains for several years.

    I also agree with swampy1970, Galibier looks strange for me: power loss without other explanation than altitude and less oxygen.

    I join the .wko file:

    Good luck :)
     
  12. john979

    john979 New Member

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    Paul;

    You talk abut hydration but not about nutrition. While there will be stops along the way, I suggest brings along some sort of gel, preferably in a flask. After the first 90 minutes or so, start consuming at a constant rate targeting at least 1 gram of carbohydrate per kilogram per hour.

    Moreover, gearing is crucial -- you have a triple which is very wise. Ideally, you need a gear low enough so that you don't activate Type II fibers except when the grade is very steep, then a low cadence makes sense. Don't be afraid to use a low gear early, even on the first climb -- try to average the same power on every climb from the start, not declining.
     
  13. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Going from 34x27 to a 30x27 really is NOT a significant difference. It'd take a drop down to at least a 26 for it too be worthwhile. There are some online gear/speed calculators out there that will calculate speed for a given gear/rpm. If you can remember the speed you were riding at up the Galibier - subtract 1kph and then work out what gearing is required for approximately 70rpm.
     
  14. sergen

    sergen New Member

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    Out of interest which power meter are you actually going to use? I presume it's not SRM as they don't make a triple crankset for the road.
     
  15. john979

    john979 New Member

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    I just stumbled across something very intersting I never saw before:

    "We frequently hear figures regarding how many watts the best riders can maintain for a 30 or 60 minute period. But how much power do they actually generate on Category 1 and HC climbs, especially those that come late in the race after about 4 hours or more of riding? And how much of a difference is there between the power level of a top rider going up the climbs that occur before the last climb of the day and a summit finish? For example, this Sunday, how much more power will the top GC riders put out on the climb to Tignes than on the preceding climb up the Montee D'Hautville?"

    Jim

    "To answer your question, let's take a look at the 6 mountain stages from last year's Tour and see what Floyd did as a reference. I've attached a table that shows each categorized climb on stage 10,11,14,15,16, and 17. Since he was a team leader, who primarily rode with other team leaders, we'll just assume that we can generalize to other team leaders from his single data set.

    Long story short, for the big climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees the average length is 12.3 ± 8.1 km at 6.2 ± 1.3% grade. For these climbs the average length is 32:36 ± 20:31 min:sec, completed at an average power output of 359 ± 38 watts or 5.2 ± 0.6 watts per kg.

    Over each of these 6 stages, all had at least 3 climbs, 4 stages had 4 climbs, and 2 stages had a total of 5 climbs. So if we compare the metrics across these sequential climbs, here's what we get:

    Average for First Climbs (n=6)
    16.9 ± 13.7 km at 5.8 ± 1.4% grade, for 42:34 ± 32:02 min:sec, at 364 ± 40 watts or 5.3 ± 0.06 watts per kg.

    Average for Second Climbs (n=6)
    12.2 ± 6.3 km at 5.9 ± 1.3%, for 32:54 ± 20:06 min:sec, at 341 ± 41 watts or 4.9 ± 0.6 watts per kg.

    Average for Third Climbs (n=6)
    9.9 ± 2.7 km at 6.7 ± 1.1%, for 27:09 ± 7:12 min:sec, at 359 ± 40 watts or 5.2 ± 0.6 watts per kg.

    Average for Fourth Climbs (n=4)
    9.3 ± 6.4 km at 5.9 ± 1.4%, for 25:12 ± 20:19 min:sec, at 369 ± 42 watts or 5.4 ± 0.6 watts per kg.

    Average for Firth Climbs (n=2)
    12.4 ± 0.8 km at 6.9 ± 2.0%, for 32:56 ± 6:33 min:sec, at 377 ± 6 watts or 5.5 ± 0.0 watts per kg.

    Though I haven't run the statistics to see if there is any significant difference (likely very little), the general tendency that I see is that higher power outputs were put out on the final climbs. This makes sense, as the riders are all trying to conserve on the initial climbs and wait for the final climbs to unleash. When I talk to the guys about the big mountain days and the multiple climbs, they always tell me that everyone in the pack has the power to make it over or chase back after the first climb, only about 60% can get over the second climb, 30% can get over the third climb, and only about 10 to 15 riders have the strength to get over the fourth or fifth climb.

    Of real interest, take a look at the profiles from stage 15, 16, and 17. You can see a nice steady progression on Stage 15, with a strong finish of 5.9 watts per kg on L'Alpe d'Huez. In contrast, you can see consistent climbing on stage 16, with a detonation on the final climb up La Toussuire. What's interesting about that day was the leaders finished that climb at an average of about 5.5 watts per kg. Finally, on Stage 17 we see very consistent climbing, with a fall towards the end compared to the first climb of the day at the same length.

    So if things go well for the team leaders in the upcoming stages, they'll be putting out more power on the final climbs or hill top finishes compared to the initial climbs, while the domestiques will likely have reversed profiles.

    Hope this answers your question."

    Allen Lim
     
  16. PaulMD

    PaulMD New Member

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    @pledac: Thanks for the file and numbers. At the moment I can't read your WKO file because I have version 2.0. But I will try to get 2.2 somehow next week.

    That's a nice you ride you made. Very similair to La Marmotte. From where did you the last climb to Armentiere? From Le Freney d'Oisans or from Bourg d'Oisans?

    You had a very stable pacing during all those climbs. How did the last climb felt? All out?

    Your power numbers are very similar to mine. I have an FTP of 290 watts at 69 kg. And I hope to add an extra 10 watt to my FTP and to lose 1kg of bodyweight before La Marmotte. And I am aiming for a CTL of 80tss/day at the end of june. Unfortunately I can't see what time you needed for every climb. Do you know it?

    @John: I definitely have a nutrition plan :D But I am getting sick when I have to think about it ;) Last year my nutrition plan was one of the reasons I dehydrated. I was riding all year with isostar in my bottles because that was an easy route for some extra carbs. During La Marmotte I used the same concentration but due to the heat my isostar was to sweet. Drinking it made me feel more thirsty but also nauseous. This year I will ride with 3 bottles and one with 750ml of water. During La Marmotte I am going to eat/drink some maxim gels and when possible some cookies.

    @John and Swampy: For the gearing I have made several calculations. First one was for buying my new bike. Triple or not. With the 30x27 I have a gearing that is 12% lighter than my old 34x27. That's 9.8km/hour at 70rpm and 8.4km/hour at 60rpm. Last year I had to ride 11.1km/hour to ride with 70rpms. I hope this is enough.
    The math for 11% sections and 270 watt and 80kg (total package) is that I will go 9.4km/hour. Fortunately sections steeper than 11% for longer than 100m are rare in the French Alps. But I know it's not enough for steep sections of 14%. Then I have to do 300 watts and I will ride at a lousy 60rpms.
    Hmmm, maybe I am going to look for a 28 ;)

    @sergen: I will ride with a powertap sl 2.4. One of the big advantages of the powertap is that you can use a (road) triple.

    @Alex: I will post my WKO file and stats here when I get back from my vacation that follows after La Mamotte.
     
  17. Porkyboy

    Porkyboy New Member

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    Hi

    All interesting stuff, if anyone's interested I'll post my stuff here too when I get back from La Marmotte, I'll also be posting a brief summary of the day here if anyone fancies a laugh. Success for me will be finishing!

    Cheers to all.

    PBUK
     
  18. pledac

    pledac New Member

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    -Armentiere from Le Freney d'Oisans
    -Different times for the climbs of interest for you:
    Croix de Fer: 1h43
    Télégraphe: 53mn30
    Galibier: 1h22mn
     
  19. Watoni

    Watoni New Member

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    It really depends on your fitness, for one, but I have found that riding tempo/SST for the climbs works if you have sufficient condition and are going for a PR.

    The one time I really did not follow that advice was on a cyclo over Mt. Ventoux and I hit it from Bedoin to the top since I had never climbed the Ventoux before, was in very good condition and had a very long descent to recover.

    I have never ridden a European cyclo with a PM and am debating whether to ride my events with one this year. As useful as a PM is for training rides and the ride post mortem, I found it distracting during my last event. I focused on numbers rather than just riding by feel. When you get tired, maintaining the watts will be much more difficult, but you need to keep riding within yourself and then give it everything on the final climb.

    You may not be able to test the climbs where you are, but you can do long intervals in your target watt range and also test your nutrition in the heat. That, as much as anything, will be key. Also get there early to acclimate to the altitude. I did not do that in one ride in the Dolomites and spent almost four hours of a 6.5 hours ride at or above 90% of my maximum heart rate, although my watts would have been far below an IF of 0.9. I set a PR but ended up in the oxygen tent right after the finish ...
     
  20. PaulMD

    PaulMD New Member

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    I have a shimano dura ace triple. I found out that the dura ace has a 92 BCD instead of the regular 74BCD for ultegra, 105, sora and bora. I can't find a chainring with less than 30 teeth and 92 BCD.
     
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