Friend of Le Cure, grizzled Alpine climber Jon Brombley offers his tips on surviving Le Cure…
Last Minute Training Tips
- Make sure you’ve done 2 days back to back before you go. Ideally, 2 medium-hard days, but at least a hard day followed by a light spin. It helps get your body used to it
- BUT don’t just pack your schedule with lots of days. Strength comes through recovery – taking a day or 2 off (or only light spinning) to let your legs recover will mean you can go harder on the next ride
The Trip Itself: Preparation
- Make sure you’ve checked the weather and laid out kit etc. the night before – know where your wet weather gear is. It makes everything less stressful in the morning, when what you should be concentrating on is riding
- Check your bike the night before – the last time you want to realise there’s a tear in your tyre is as everyone’s waiting to leave in the morning
- Know your route. No point caning the first half of the day if it’s uphill for the rest, or realising you should probably have eaten something half an hour before starting the 14km climb
- Get a good breakfast down you. Not too much, but plenty of long burn energy, and some protein too.
- Warm up before you set off. No need for lots of static stretches, but make sure everyone rolls out slowly to let the blood flow before it gets too serious
- Chamois cream – use it
- Go to the loo – try before you go. Coffee helps. Sorry, but, you know. Deal with it.
On the road
- Eat and drink regularly. You don’t need loads of supplements – just regular, good quality food. Drink plenty of water (I use electrolyte tablets in mine to help if it’s hot). Aim to eat something every hour or so. “Eat before you’re hungry, drink before you’re thirsty.” – by the time you need it, it’ll be too late
- Don’t eat anything you’re not used to. Trying a new energy gel may seem like a great idea – but finding it does funny things to your bowels is not something you want to find out in the middle of the French countryside
- Don’t burn out – get used to always having something more to give. If in doubt, spin the legs (lower gear, spinning them quicker, but going slower).
- Pick your efforts – let stronger riders shield you from the wind on the flats (don’t let pride force you into doing more work than you need to). You are however, allowed to feel like you’re about to throw up at the top of an Alpine climb, though (I nearly cried my eyes out at the top of Alpe d’Huez – I was completely empty)
- Listen to your body – you’ll soon get used to over/under eating, and when you need a break etc.
- Then ignore your body (or “shut up, legs,” as Jens Voight famously said) – going up a climb is NEVER when to stop. Just drop down to an easier gear and keep going as slowly as you need to to stay upright.
- Distract yourself. We once did a horrible climb telling each other out life stories. It kept our minds off it. Scenery helps. As does smiling (I’m not joking). Or just thinking about anything else.
Once you’re done
- Eat protein and carbs, drink loads (of water). Good, healthy food is good. But frankly, eat what you need to get you through. In all seriousness, don’t be tempted by alcohol – it will hurt the next day more than you can imagine
- Warm down. Everyone has their own routine, but I like to stretch a bit, and walk around plenty to keep the blood flowing and muscles moving. Ice bath if you want, and treat any injuries. A tennis ball is a good massage aid
- Eat some more. Drink some more
- Prep for the next day. You will thank yourself in the morning
- SLEEP. This is nature’s best recovery aid
- The first 3 days get progressively harder (at which point your body starts to repair itself on the go) – it’s perfectly normal
- We all go to the dark place from time to time. You’ll get through it.
- Morning’s can be tough with accumulated fatigue – warm showers and movement will help loosen you off. Taking care of your recovery will also all help. It may feel like you can’t face getting on a bike again, but once you do, your body will find a way to manage.
- Most of the battle is in your head. Once you get that in place, the rest will follow.