The Sportif Season Starts

Now I know a lot of road racers give sportifs a bad press… They paint them as being full of unfit wannabes without the balls to race properly and without the wherewithal to ride in a straight line. I, on the other hand love them. The mistake those guys are making is judging the events by the same standard. To me, a cyclosportif is as competetive as you want to make it, it allows you to ride with other people over always spectacular courses and it serves, for the guys at the front, as a race on roads they’d never be allowed to race on. I’ve ridden La Marmotte four times now, staying in the same hotel as Bert Dekker (who “won” it twice), you tell him it’s not competitive.

This year i’m taking a break from La Marmotte and so my main aim for this section of my season is La Pyreneenne, which is run in the Pyrenees (duh!) taking in the Aspin and the Tourmalet with a hill climb to Hautacam the next day (oooh leg breaking!). Bitter experience has taught me that you need to prepare for such events properly so I’m putting racing on the back burner for a couple of months and training specifically, as well as riding 3 uk Sportifs to get ready in the shape of my local ride, The Fred Whitton challenge, the Etape du Dales and the Polka Dot Challenge.

Now I’ve usually just gone about Sportif training as part of the “just ride yer bike” school of thought. Racking up monster miles with no more thought behind them than proving to myself I could ride the distances without dying. The structured winter I’ve had and the benefits it wrought have convinced my however, that it’s worth preparing a little more specifically. Below is the plan I’ll be following for the next 3 weeks with some brief notes on WHY i’m riding it.

Monday– Rest Day
Tuesday– Power Workout
This will either be the Hour of Power described here or it will be the ride described here or else it will be the local Time Trials run by Velo Club Cumbria. This both keeps my arm in for racing intensity and develops that high end you need for either grinding up a steep hill or seting a hard tempo up the Tourmalet!)
Wednesday– Force Climbs
This takes the form of riding out to Newlands Pass (Buttermere Side) and going over it in the saddle, then onto Whinlatter and doing the same. I use a 25 sprocket as my lowest gear so, Newlands especially, provides quite a challenge. This is designed so that Honister, Hardknott etc are within my abilities on that kind of gearing and I don’t have to splatter myself to get over them.
Thursday– Free Ride for 90 minutes.
Theres no point doing it if you can’t enjoy the benefits. I can work on anything i feel i’m lacking and I can also, hopefully assess how I’m coming along.
Friday Rest Day
Saturday-Five hours at tempo, all major climbs at aerobic threshold.
Essentially a simulated Sportif effort
Sunday As Saturday.

Any questions comments, feel free to E-Mail or put them in the replies, i’ve removed the pre-moderation now, so they should be a bit easier and smoother to use!

A view back down the Buttermere side of Newlands Pass

A view back down the Buttermere side of Newlands Pass

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