Hi Brormand, I’d always start by trying to build an adequate base fitness with longer endurance type rides. This is really the foundation from which you’ll be able to then build upon further with higher intensity sessions. If you don’t have the base to work from then you may find that you can ride quickly for a shorter period of time but may not have the engine to go the distance comfortably. With a busy and hectic lifestyle it’s going to all be about trying to prioritise your time. As I say I’d try to work on your base fitness for as much as time would allow and then replace some of these hours with lower volume and higher intensity work. You’ll be spending several hours around threshold on the Croix de Fer, Telegraph, Galibier and Alpe d’Huez so sustained efforts around this level will help. Above all don’t forget that cycling should be fun, your work and family are important so keep perspective, do your best and enjoy the experience as best you can. Good luck!
Thanks for the question. It sounds like you are on for a MONSTER trip to the Alps, that’s what we love to hear!
In terms of preparation, the most important thing will be to try and build a solid base fitness through consistent time on the bike. Riding 4-6 times per week will be perfect of for this especially since you live in North Devon where you have some steep pitches to play with to help to build strength. One very important point in your preparation, and also when you are out in the Alps, is to listen to your body. If you’re feeling tired then back off a little to give your body a chance to recover. Try to build up to the same duration per ride that you hope to do when in the Alps. Use this build up time to practice pacing and experiment with nutrition so hopefully there will be no surprises when you’re out there. Try not to get carried away, it’s easy to get super focused and end up doing too much so once again take note of how you are feeling week in week out. You want to get to the Alps fresh both mentally and physically. The accumulative fatigue from all the climbing that you’ll do out there will mean you’ll definitely want to take some easy days, so good job on factoring those in. I’ve always found that keeping my training simple and as close to the intensity and duration of my end goals has worked well in the past. And finally, you’ve got a lot of time to prepare slowly, slowly, building up your fitness in a controlled way. Make sure you enjoy your cycling, it should always be fun. The moment it feels like a chore it’s likely you’re doing too much.
Ride safe and good luck!