The Col Collective

Haute Route

Hi there, I'm doing Haute Route Alps this August and have a couple of questions: I have done a lot of mountains up to 1500 or 1600m, will the summits in the Alps pose a massively different challenge in terms of oxygen debt? Also, what training do you recommend in the 1-2 weeks leading up to the start? Thanks! - Chris

Hi Chris. We supported a group of riders through Haute Route Alps last summer. It really is an amazing event and a great way to take your riding to the next level. In my experience of riding in the high mountains, some riders will be affected by the altitude more than others, and there seems to be no way of telling who will feel the effects more. Of all the many tours we’ve led through the mountains, I’ve never known riders to suffer as a direct result of being above, say, 2000m.The high climbs are, generally, longer, so a good idea to prepare for that by getting really used to longer efforts.To answer your second question, I reckon that your performance on a stage event such as the Haute Route really depends on the training you’re doing at this point in your season. Definitely keep the riding going in those last few weeks leading up to the event, but think about easing back on the distance. It’s a good idea to keep the intensity up, but with shorter sessions. Hope this helps. It’s a great ride!

Chris - Sorry, any chance I can ask one more? I’m trying to do around 250km at the moment on very flat roads. Does this sound like enough to you? I have 2 separate weeks booked in Apennines as well before the event.

La Fuga - Sounds like you’re getting the mileage in! Don’t worry too much about how that will transition to a hilly stage-event - the engine should be good. You can prepare for climbing by overgearing and riding intervals in a bigger gear than you normally would. The apennines are a great range of mountains - lots of the climbs there are shorter than in the Alps, so this is really a time to use a bigger gear for shorter efforts to build those climbing legs. Good luck for the rest of your training and we’ll see you in Geneva!

How do you advice to prepare for haute route Pyrenees? Eugeina

Hi Eugenia, when you’re riding for many hours and continual days back-to-back like at the Haute Route it’s super important to focus on your endurance. Going the distance (and enjoying the journey) should be the highest priorities. Start by looking at how much time you have available to ride each week after work and family commitments. Make a plan that slowly builds your weekly kilometres until you’re comfortable with what you are doing and you can still fit in life around it. Once you have that balance and you feel that your endurance is at a good level then you may be able to replace some of the kilometres with some higher intensity rides, but overall on these super cool longer events endurance is the key. Wattbike partners of the Haute Route have also put a training guide together at the following. You may be able to get some extra tips from there as well. Hope that helps. Good luck, the Pyrenees are such a beautiful mountain range I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time!

Hi I am riding the Haute route Alps this year. I have just come back from Tenerife where I was riding a compact 28x11. I found that this was too high a gear for me. My threshold power is around 3.6 watts. I was hoping that you would be able to recommend a better gear. My feeling is that I should go to a 32x11 but I don't want to have the jump from 32 to 28 that most cassettes have.  Any advice would be most welcome, Niall

Hi Niall,

Great to hear from you. It may be that through the spring and summer your fitness will improve meaning that the 28t could be ok.

Obviously you don’t want to be under geared come the Haute Route. If you’re on a 34t front chainring then depending on what make groups you have (Campag, Shimano or SRAM) the options would be to go 29 (might mot be enough) 30, 32 or even 36 on the rear (note that you’ll need to have a long cage rear derailleur and extend your chain if you go above 30t). If you really need it then I’d go for it, having a low enough gear really will help save your legs.

I hope that helps. Best of luck!!


Hi, I am participating in Haute Route Pyrenees this year. What sort of watts/kg does a rider in middle of the pack have? Would really help me to know where I fit in. Kazim

Hi Kazim,

Thanks for getting in touch and great choice of events, the Haute Route Pyrenees is an absolute all time favourite of mine! Stunning, peaceful and just how bike riding in the mountains should be.

I’ve often referred to this table to get an idea of watts/kg from professional to non-trained cyclists, look at the figure in the FT column. Do you know your functional threshold power? A mid-pack Haute Route rider would be in the Moderate to Good section.

The beauty of the Haute Route is that they cater for all abilities, it’s much more of a life experience than anything else and this is what they want you to have. Of course, training and being in as good physical shape as possible is important so shouldn’t be overlooked but maybe it’s easier to gauge your level by asking a few simple questions, for example….

1) What sort of level are you at as a cyclist at the moment (e.g. just started / regular / experienced)

2) What’s the longest training ride or event you’ve done in the past?

3) Have you ridden any sportives in the past (single day or multi-day events) and where did you finish in these?

4) How many hours per week on average are you able to ride?

With these questions it should be possible to get a good understanding of your level and if you do know your own functional threshold power that’s even better.

I hope that helps. Roll on summer and the mountains!

All the best,


Hi Mike,

Thanks for a detailed reply. My current FTP is around 225 with 75kg weight (carrying winter weight. Will be 70 or below by August). I am aiming for 3.5w/kg which should be good to start with.

I am currently doing various drills 3 days a week on turbo with 2 long rides (100km+) on weekends.Haven’t done any multi day event as such. Done many 100-120 races where I finish in the middle. Longest ride I have done is about 165km. my aim is to finish haute route within the cut off time every day. Not trying to be over ambitious.

Wow, sounds like you’re really doing great! I honestly think that you will be far ahead of the time cut each day. Just pace yourself well, try not to stress (what will be will be) believe in yourself and the golden rule for any bike ride - ENJOY!

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