Ever wonder if you could ride with the pros?
For the last few years I have been doing a Tour de France ride along. The idea is to ride a set percentage of the Tour mileage every day for the whole Tour. When the Tour does mountains, you do a mountain stage - when the Tour TT's, you TT, etc... Last year I did 1/3rd of the mileage of the Tour, the year before I did 1/2 the mileage.
These have been some of the most incredible days I have spent on the bike. After three weeks of riding "Tour stages" you really begin to feel a greater appreciation of what it means to be a pro cyclist. It makes watching the Tour a completely different experience as well - as if you were almost there.
While this is certainly not for everyone (some of you might think it a little goofy), I have a lot of fun with it, and it gives me really good fitness for the late summer and fall season (which includes the 1000 Warriors for some of us). So, I am inviting all who would like to give this a go - to do it!
The plan is simple -
1. Decide how much time you have to ride (make a bargain with the wife, ride to work or school, get up earlier or buy a bike light and go at night).
2. Based upon step one choose your mileage: 1/5th, 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 3/4, or do the whole thing. I would choose whichever one you think you can do and then go up one step (you can always go back to the original plan if things go bad, but the challenge to get through is part of the fun).
3. Use the Tour stages to calculate your mileage (divide by 1.6 to get miles from KM), and ride terrain that mimics the stage (mountains, rolling, flats, TT).
4. Watch the Tour, and repeat the next day.
You rest on rest days - or if you are not riding on Sundays, shift your rest day to the closest Sunday. On days with a TT you can ride the TT in the morning and a stage in the evening to give yourself a day off on the following day (or a Sunday). Days that you are actually racing you count as your stage for the day etc... Basically set yourself some rules and follow them, but try to set them to be a challenge.
This can be a lot of fun, and a good way to get into form, or to push your fitness to the next level. Hopefully we get a few team guys doing it and we can do some stages together. Here is the tour stage list so you can formulate your plans!
2009 Tour de France Stages:
1 Sat. July 4 Monaco 15.5 km TT
2 Sun. July 5 Monaco to Brignoles 187 km Rolling
3 Mon July 6 Marseille to La Grande-Motte 196 km Flat
4 Tues. July 7 montpilier 39 km TTT
5 Wed. July 8 Le Cap d’Agde to Perpignan 196 km Flat
6 Thur. July 91 Girona to Barcelona 181 km Rolling
7 Fri. July 10 Barcelona to Arcalis 224 km Mountains-HC
8 Sat. July 11 Andorra-la Vella to Saint Girons 176 km Mountains-Cat 1 (x2)
9 Sun. July 12 Saint Gaudens to Tarbes 160 km Mountains-HC
R Mon. July 13 Rest day in Limoges
10 Tues. July 14 Limonges to Issoudun 194 km Flat
11 Wed. July 15 Vatan to Saint-Frageau 192 km Flat
12 Thur. July 16 Tonnerre to Vittel 211 km Flat
13 Fri. July 17 Vittel to Colmar 200 km Mountains-Cat 1
14 Sat. July 18 Colmar to Besancon 199 Rolling
15 Sun. July 19 Pontarlier to Verbier 207 km Mountains-Cat 1
R Mon. July 20 Rest day in Verbier
16 Tues. July 21 Martigny to Bourg-Saint-Maurice 159 km Mountains-HC
17 Wed. July 22 Bourg-St-Maurice to Le Grand Bornand 169 km Mountains-Cat 1 (x4)
18 Thur. July 23 Annecy 40.5 km TT
19 Fri. July 24 Bourgoin-Jallieu to Aubenas 178 km Rolling (one Cat 2)
20 Sat. July 25 Montelimar to Mont-Ventoux 167 km Mountains-HC
21 Sun. July 26 Montereau-Fault-Yonne to Paris 164 Flat
Total Distance 3455 km