Alp D’Huez vs. Alp de Watlington

29 07 2008

So we’ve been training hard on the bikes in our spare time.  Although we only manage two or three days sailing each week, we supliment this with 4 or 5 rides and gym session days to keep the fitness high.

I live in Oxford and Jus lives in Southampton, so we have to have pretty high motivation to train on our own.  Flat rides are ok when you have someone to talk to and draft behind when you’re pushing the pace, but it gets very boring on your own.  However, I’m lucky enough to live 20 minutes of cycling away from the edge of the Thames Valley which means I’m spoilt for choice when it comes to hill climbing.  Unfortunately, I’m completely the wrong size for cycling up hills.  for my height, a professional hill climber would aim to weigh in at 66kg, a full 16kg lighter than me.  couple that with having a 5kg bike rather than my alloy one, and I have to carry almost an extra 24kg up the hills.  However, I still love hill climbing, and use it in my rides to push my VO2 max levels for those windy days.

Yesterday i finished work and jumped on the bike, looking for a new route.  i have a rough idea of where i was going, so headed off towards the hills.  After 30 minutes, I found the sweetest hill climb around here, the A40 that runs alongside the M40 near the Stokenchurch cutting.  Where as the M40 cuts straight through the hill, the A40 winds up the back of it, through thick forest.  It turned out to be 15 minutes of steep , out of saddle climbing which really got me thinking.  Now, I’m pretty fit.  for example, on the way back we have a long straight road through open fields, which I always flat out sprint, at around 190 bpm, which lasts for around 5 minutes.  This is fine, no problem, but at the top of that hill I was spent.  Sure, I had raced up it as fast as I could push myself, but compared to real cyclists I have nothing.  in 2004, Lance Armstrong time trialled up the Alp D’Huez, an epic mountain climb in France in a record time of 37 minutes and 36 seconds.

How anyone can race up such a huge steep hill for 37 minutes is beyond me, and truly puts the Alp de Watlington into perspective.

Right, time to get back to training.  I have a LONG way to go…

the 21 bends of the Alp d'Huez

the 21 bends of the Alp d'Huez

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2 responses

17 09 2008
Tejvan Pettinger

There are some great hill climbs around that area. The alpe d’watlington A40 is my favourite hill climb. I cycle from Oxford just to race up it for training. My record is 5.25 from near bottom to top. 🙂

The other side there are some even longer climbs. There is one 11 mile climb from direction of Henley
http://cyclinginfo.co.uk/blog/cycling/cycling-in-chilterns-and-2-races/

17 09 2008
visser49erracing

I’ll have to find that 11 miler. Sounds great to me. I’m averaging about 5.30ish on the A40 now (it’s amazing how you improve so quickly if you just put the time in.)

When do you ride this way? I live in Chalgrove so let me know next time you’re passing through.

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