On the 3rd March we held a very well received evening at Bespoke Cycling dedicated entirely to the 2016 Etape du Tour. For those of you that missed out here is a compilation of some of the key insights gained from the evening.
Ben Hallam started the evenings presentations off with a talk on bike fit. Drawing on his wealth of experience as a cyclist where he represented Great Britain on the track and road as a junior, and providing an educated perspective from his studies in sports rehabilitation and injury prevention he educated the lot of us on the essentials of bike fit before a big event like the Etape.
“A good bike fit will increase comfort, increase performance and reduce the likelihood of injury,” he states, before showing an example ‘before’ and ‘after’ of a client of his. To paraphrase the Ben you should not try to emulate the pros, they don’t just go to work on their bicycles, but WORK on their bicycles, whereas we sit at a desk all day. A super aggressive or ‘aerodynamic’ position requires strength and flexibility to match. Slamming your stem may do little more than give you a bad back and reduce your power output.
One thing to take away from Ben’s talk is to get a bike fit before you buy a bike!
Some common mistakes and consequences:
- Saddle too low: Anterior (front) knee pain
- Bars too low: Lower back pain
- Bars too wide: Sore shoulders
- Saddle too narrow: Numbness and pain
- Shoes too narrow: Foot numbness and pain
Robert Wakefield, head coach and owner of Propello then outlined how best to train, prepare and manage the body before and during an event such as the Etape du Tour. Training is fundamentally about getting your body used to the specific demands of the event you have in store. The Etape features 4 significant climbs over the course of a 5+ hour day and whilst we don’t have the time the professionals do to prepare for such long efforts, we can tailor the training time we do have available to best prepare us for these long efforts.
If nothing else, remember that “Fit and Tired Wins Nothing!. Whatever you do, go into your event fresh and raring to go. Beyond this simple piece of advice give yourself the edge with a few of these techniques:
- Mental simulation: Do your research, familiarise yourself with the route, watch videos of the climbs, be able to visualise the challenge ahead.
- Focus on balanced nutrition: A balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats is essential to recovery well and retaining high energy levels whilst training and competing.
- Improve your energy levels: Get enough sleep, keep your body supple by stretching and give your muscles the best chance to recover by including massage wherever time and budget allows.
Finally, managing your body on the event itself. To perform at your best:
- Plan ahead and pace yourself.
- Listen to what your body is telling you throughout the event.
- Do not to give everything you’ve got to the first climb of the day.
- Find your rhythm and pace and ride the day as smoothly as possible.
The key is to target relevant adaptations and allow the body time to recover in between training sessions. Staying healthy is essential! Feel free to get in contact with email@example.com to request the full presentation, including sample training sessions.
We were then well informed of the importance of nutrition by the experts at Etixx Sports Nutrition. Understanding that once our body is put through strenuous exercise lasting more than ~90 minutes it desperately needs carbohydrates to continue performing is integral to performing at your best throughout a long day such as the Etape du Tour. The chart below outlines roughly how many grams of carbohydrate your body will need per hour to continue performing at it’s best. Bear in mind, however, that the 90g top end is really a recommendation for professional athletes that will be pushing an extremely high intensity throughout a long day in the saddle, ~60g is sufficient for most amateur athletes and will avoid overloading your digestive system.
The key to performing well at a long event such as the Etape du Tour is to plan your nutrition, know roughly when and where you will be taking fuel on board. It is very easy during a big event to get distracted by the excitement and adrenaline and fail to look after yourself properly. Having a nutrition timetable prepared before the event can reduce the likelihood of this ruining your day. Below is a rough timetable indicating when and where you might want to take different food types on board. Bear in mind that it is recommended by Etixx themselves to take on a mix of sports nutrition and real food. Real food can be a welcome alternative to sweet energy products, but are also harder to digest and can cause GI issues, whilst energy products are very convenient to carry and consume but can be sickly.
Get in contact with firstname.lastname@example.org for the full slide deck from the evening.
Check back here next week for a full analysis of the route.
Ride safe, see you on the Etape!