Runner in need of cycling training advice (I want to ride the Mont-Ventoux)

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by skifozoa, May 17, 2012.

  1. skifozoa

    skifozoa New Member

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    Hi all

    I'm a runner in need of cycling training advice.

    In exactly 2 months I will be on a trip to the south of France with a befriended couple and me and my friend (the guys) want to climb the Mont-Ventoux (childhood dream). The girls will tag along by car with supplies.

    I'm a 25 year old in OK (not yet good) aerobic shape, BMI of 21. I have been running a little over a year and I'm currently at 40 miles / 65km weekly. My cycling specific muscles however are underdeveloped since I litterally never use my bike. It has been more than a year ago that I did a recreational cycling tour and I also don't commute to work.

    I will be climbing it using an old trek 6500 ZX mountainbike that I have since high school.

    I'm willing to put in 3 hours per week of cycling for the next two months but not more since I don't want to jeopardize my running, the marathon I'm training for is an even bigger childhood dream.

    - Is it feasible?
    - How should I train? (given my constrained timespan) Purely aerobical, or also LT and higher intensity stuff? What are the corresponding HR zones as % of HRmax ? High cadence / low resistance (low gear) or low cadence / high resistance (high gear) ?
    - Any tips for D-day?

    Any help/information is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!
     
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  2. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    A couple of quick points: You'll need a couple of 2 to 3 hour rides per week. Ventoux will take you a few hours - it will be hot and more than likely very windy at the top. Learn to become comfortable with rising in the heat as well as feeding/drinking. Riding the bike won't kill your running muscles - intact the lack of impact stress from running may allow you to train longer. Tires - if you're riding a mountain bike get the best "road" tires you can. Likely these will be 26x1. Smooth tread and replace the tubes with something that's not as bombproof as a true off road mtb inner tube. Gearing - you'll have all the gears you need on your MTB - just pedal at a rate that feels comfortable. Not too fast that you're almost "treading water" but not mashing a monster gear. Pacing on the climb - start slow and don't kill it at the start. If you're not used to them, 20 mile climbs that gain 6,000ft are more than twice as hard as climbs that are 10 miles long and gain 3,000ft. If its hot - dress as cool as possible. A jersey, preferably a light color with a full length zip. If necessary wear no undershirt. Heat = stress. Climbbybike.com has detailed profiles.
     
  3. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    Swampy's advice is very good.

    Just a couple of additional thoughts : make sure on the day to eat well before you head out for your cycle. You need to bring some food and liquid with you for the cycle itself.

    Check your brakes : if you decide to descend the climb make sure that your brakes are in good working order before you do your cycle.

    Finally, try to enjoy the spin! Cycling ought to be enjoyable and having climbed one of the great climbs in cycling the sense of satisfaction will be worth it.
     
  4. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Good point on the brakes Lim - especially if the winds are 40+mph which isn't uncommon up on that hill... If you can eat about 90 minutes to 2 hours before the ride all the better.

    As with most long events, don't bother with a massive spaghetti feed in the hopes of carbo loading the night before. That isn't how you carbo load and all you end up with really is a couple of pounds worth of food that needs to be processed and will likely be adding a bit of weight and possibly add a little discomfort. Eat well but not to the point of being overly stuffed.

    I want to do Ventoux. I've done most of the big ones in the Alps and Pyrenees but the Giant of Provence and the Stelvio are two in Europe that I really want to do.
     
  5. jupassos

    jupassos New Member

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    hi there,

    I also joined the cycling world recently (less than 1 year) and I am trainning to do the first time at Mont Ventoux this Sep/2012.
    I'm trainning around 5/6 times per week, a lot of speed to lose some extra pounds but the idea is to develop the muscles for the hard climbing.
    How hard is riding uphills there? How many hours do you think it will take from Bedoin until the top? I'm cycling at an avg pace of 14mph and I can handle around 50 miles/day, that's around 80km-90km.
    any kind of advice, trainning, tricks, etc, pls let me know.
    I still have 2 months and a week to get there!

    Super tks,

    Juliana
     
  6. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Juliana, Unfortunately there are no tricks but following a basic training plan will help immensely. Strength isn't a factor - aerobic power and the ability to ride well for a few hours, is. I don't know what your weight is or your ability to ride your bike for a few hours. Climbs like the Ventoux bring several challenges: - extreme amounts of unrelenting climbing - heat, made worse by riding at a slow speed (less wind to cool you) - wind. It gets very windy at the top. What you should be aiming for is to be able to ride your bike at a moderate effort for about 3.5 hours and make sure that your bike has gearing that will allow you to ride up hills with an 10% gradient at a moderate effort after 3.5 hours on the bike. For a road bike you might consider getting a Moutain bike rear dérailleur and a rear cassette with 32 or 34 teeth. If Tour winner Alberto Contador can use gears like that in the tour of Italy we mere mortals can use such gears on the Ventoux. In addition to fairly hard rides of a couple of hours in length, you need to learn how to eat/drink on the bike as the last thing you need to do on your big day on Mont Ventoux is dehydrate or bonk. Prior to the ride, read lots of reports from other cyclists about climbing the hill to get some info about where to refill bottles etc and look of websites like climbbybike.com to get details about the gradients you'll encounter on the hill. Other things to make the ride a little easier are using good tires and tubes and having a good pump to inflate your tires to the correct pressure. Good luck.
     
  7. jupassos

    jupassos New Member

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    Dear Swampy! Tks for your nice advice. I'm from Brazil, and currently live in Nassau, Bahamas. So trust me... The heat and strong winds are a constant in my road trainnings!! Im a Road biker since 2011. I've participated 3 times in a 50 mile race so, I'm getting used to the hydration, proper eating and controlling the energy for 5 hours. I'm currently 118 lbs, I was 109 a year ago. And I'm looking forward to get in shape before France! We invest a lot on those carbon fiber babies and now its my time to get rid of the extra pounds. What worries me are 2 things: 1) climbing up hills for a long period. I exhausted my muscles on climbing it last race and I know what happens after the leg is fully burnt. plus!! Since I bought the bike, I didnt learn how to switch the left side gears, which leaves me with about 5 different gears only. I'm usually between the extra strong and strong for flat terrain. 2) I learned the clipping/unclipping of shoes not so long ago. So I do my best to avoid unclipping it. Plus... I had some back pain, which made me move my seat higher and now I can't easily touch the ground. I can't fall basically, hahaha. I remember last race the amount of hills that I had to walk and carry the bike :) I'm a lady... Very fine with endurance, but this whole power/muscles needed are not there yet! I started Pilates to gain some force. Goal now: mont ventoux-nice in 6 days :) will be in Bedoin on Sep 10th. Super thanks again for all the advice! Was really helpful.
     
  8. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    You need to learn how to change the gears into the smallest chainring at the bottom of the climb... Don't worry about changing back into the big ring, it won't be needed on the climb.

    Full details of the climb can be found here:

    http://www.climbbybike.com/climb.asp?qryMountainID=4

    [​IMG]

    Click on the pic to make it bigger and reveal the nightmare that awaits... :p

    What gears do you have on the bike? What is the size of the small chainring and how big is the largest of the sprockets on the rear wheel - the one next to the spokes?

    You shouldn't need to force the pedals on a 8% gradient. You need to change the gears down into something that will allow you to pedal fairly easily for a climb of that length. When you leave the tree lined area at the bottom you can see the TV antenna building at the top that'll tempt you to keep going...

    From Wikipedia:
    As the name might suggest (venteux means windy in French), it can get windy at the summit, especially with the mistral; wind speeds as high as 320 km/h (200 mph) have been recorded. The wind blows at 90+ km/h (56+ mph) 240 days a year. The road over the mountain is often closed due to high winds. Especially the "col de tempêtes" ("storm pass") just before the summit, which is known for its strong winds.
     
  9. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    I suspect 6000' of climbing is 3+ hours for either of you. Make sure you have a gear where you can do a comfortable cadence at 4-7mph.
     
  10. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    Is there a cycling club there in Nassau that you could train with? You'd find this very helpful.

    Reading your post adjusting your saddle height too much could be leading to other problems. You should never experience back pain after cycling - so you need to check your position on the bike. After a spin your muscles should feel exercise but not sore (if you understand what I mean).
     
  11. bing181

    bing181 New Member

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    Well, I'll chip in, having done Ventoux 4 or 5 times (can't quite remember ...). Best time was around 1 hour 50, though I'm usually just under 2 hours. I wouldn't class myself as a strong rider at all, and with a bit of fairly serious training and preparation, I'd say that anything in the 2 hours - 2 hour 30 mins is probably what most of us would manage.

    The climb from Bedouin, after you turn at Saint Esteve, is by far the hardest climb I've ever come across. For the simple reason that it's just unrelenting. Once you get into the forest, you have 10 km or so that just go up, before a slight reprieve when you come out at Chalet Reynard. There's not a single flat spot anywhere to catch your breath or whatever - you can't even "cheat" by cutting across corners or whatever, it's just unrelenting. The first time I did it, I was ready to give up after about 500 meters ... but somehow kept pushing on.

    So, hard, very hard! Though hardest part I feel is mental - you just need to get into the 'zone' and hang there. Also be careful of the end. When you first see the top you start thinking "nearly there", but the "nearly there" part is the hardest of all. There'll be other riders on the day you go up, and at the end, plenty of them will be walking.

    As above, it can be very hot - and very (very) windy.

    On the other hand, after all that, you'll feel like a million bucks standing up the top.

    PS Spare a thought for Tom Simpson when you pass his memorial.
     
  12. bartjoosen

    bartjoosen New Member

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    Also a few thoughts from a Ventoux Cinglé (each side on one day, making 3 climbs in 24 hours).

    It all depends from which side you start.
    It looks like you will start in Bedoin, the hardest side. Maloucene is almost equal, but from Sault, it's easier ( the so called pussy side ;-)).

    I think you should be prepared to put in an effort of about 3 hours of constant pushing the pedals.
    Not a flat out effort, but constantly climbing.

    The only part to recover is a few moments at chalet Renard, 6 km from the top.
    Don't get euforic when you see the top, it will probably take you an hour to get there!

    Make sure you have low gears enough (I had 38x28, but could use a lower gear if I had).

    For training, make sure you can make steady 4-5 hours ride at a steady pace. See which heartrate you can maintain for this rides and use a few beats lower to start your climb.
    If things are going well, you can always shift a gear up, but if you start out to fast, you will get in trouble.


    Good luck!!!

    Bart
     
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