Haute Route 2021 participants thread

Hey there everyone,
I was browsing the forum for threads regarding HR, and while there are few very specific posts, I wanted to create this as a thread for everyone who participates in an (or several) Hautre Route events in 2021. Of course, everyone is welcome in this thread, whether you have experience with Haute Route, or whether you have never heard of it.
If the latter is the case, it is a series of events, that includes several multi-day (3, 5 or 7) stage races (no rest days, one mountainous TT per event). The events have taken place in several countries over the years. Baring Corona, next year‘s events include 3-day races (Brazil, Crans-Montana(Switzerland), Ventoux (France), Oman, Mexico), 5 day races (Pyrenees and Dolomites), and a 7 Day event in the Alps.
The 3 day events also have a compact version, that have shortened routes, and are starting in one and the same spot every day.
The 5 day and 7 day events are end-to-end, so you sleep in a different location after every stage. No matter which event you choose, bring your climbing shoes, there is a lot of ascending (which I love).

All of it can be ridden in a non-competitive way, or can be raced all out. The field of participants ranges from newbies and „weekend warriors“ to former WT pros and current elite national champions. Two things I particularly like about it are:

  1. it is all VERY PROFESSIONAL. There are neutral support/ mechanic‘s cars, feeding stations, daily briefings, daily post-ride massages, a luggage service etc.
    It is probably the closest a normal rider can feel to a WT pro.
  2. There are parts of the stages are to be raced (flats and especially climbs), and neutralized parts (tops of climbs and descends). I am not a pro and not willing to risk my health to perform well, so not racing downhill is something I highly appreciate. Also, you also have time to catch a breathe and enjoy the scenery (you are in some of the greatest locations on earth after all).

I am a fan of these events without ever having participated. A friend of mine has, and he got me hooked. I will participate in Crans-Montana and then the brutal Dolomites event next year.
I would love to talk to people who are interested in HR, have similar plans or have made experience with HR. Topics like preparing for something like this, and what ever else to bare in mind, might benefit several people here. So keep it coming!

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I’m seriously considering Ventoux next year, along with a friend who has done it before. I’m actively training for it, though I suspect we’re in the hands of Covid as to whether or not it happens…

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It should give us a good boost, that Ventoux took place this year. No one knows what will happen next year, but I am a positive thinker :slight_smile:
What „active training“ are you doing?

I hope you’re right!

Currently doing sweet spot base MV.

My rationale is that the climbs are essentially going to be SS intervals, and are likely to be the limiting factor, as I’m naturally a punchy rider, but sustained efforts are less a forte (especially living in a part of the UK with plenty of short, steep climbs but very little over 10 minutes in duraction).

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I live in an area of Germany (north Western costal area), that basically has nothing you could call a climb. Yet, climbing is rather my strength. :joy:
Sweetspot sounds like a good plan. I think my greatest weakness wouldn’t be ripping up a climb, but ripping up a climb, after having ridden 80km with 2500m of climbing. After having done that for 3 days beforehand…
Probably really need to up my volume. I am currently training in the 9 to 11h a week range.

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Hmm… I’m currently at about 7-8, which is about my current limit with work, the weather, recovery etc. My hope is as the weather improves in the spring, and my fitness also improves, to get into the 12-14h range. I think more than that is probably unfeasible (for me).

One thing I am noticing as a relative newbie to indoor training is how much harder 90 minutes on the trainer is than 90 minutes outside, even when you think you’re going fairly hard!

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Haute Route is a dream of mine. Don’t think I have nearly the fitness yet. I don’t want to attempt one until I know I’m fit enough to actually enjoy it. The thought of not finishing is terrifying. Probably will do Mexico as I’m in the US and I’ve always wanted to visit Mexico.

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Most riders experience, that they can put down lower power numbers indoors than outdoors. The problem with that is, that if you power out fewer watts, the training effect is also lower (against the rumor of indoor hours counting double or something).
Also, it can get very boring…

Have you had a look into the compact versions? Mexico classic is: 170 miles, 18k ft of climbing, with the compact version being 108miles, 10k ft of climbing (both over 3 days). Should be a lot easier to achieve…

It’s a double-edged sword (at least IMO). Yes, you can put down less power, and thus get less benefit, but indoor work makes you sustain efforts without any breaks in a way that outdoor work rarely does - think about easing off to corner, just coming off the pressure on a downslope, needing to slow for traffic etc etc.

Tbf in any case it would be very hard for me to get in decent volume in the winter without indoor riding. The alternative would be a lot of riding in the dark, which I’m always wary of. It’s also cold and wet :rofl:

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Indoor riding is integral to staying/ becoming fit for the ones of us who don‘t live in Tenerife, UAE, Mexico, Thailand …
I am just saying it „appears harder, yet the training effect might be lower“…

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I’ve done the HR Pyrenees 3 day (the first time the organization did this) in 2016, the Dolomites 7 day in 2017 and the Stelvio 3 day in 2019. These were fantastic events in some of the best cycling locations in the world.

As background, I’m not a racer but more of an enthusiast rider, where I usually put 10- 12 hours of training a week. Luckily in my area, I have a world class climbing hill/mountain, Gibraltar road, so I can train properly for the events…somewhat, as the HR mountains are giants. They are so long and very difficult.

One of the things you have to decide is how you want to approach this race, as it is a race. Do you want to podium? Do you want to be in a good standing, say in the top 100 for your age group? Do you just want to complete and fulfill a self- challenge? That’s really step 1, as you’re going to have to train for it.

Personally, for me it was just to fulfill the self-challenge. For the 2016 event, I had only been cycling seriously for a year. During the year leading up, I participated in centuries and trained really hard with the local groups, also getting my descending skills down, etc. For one thing, I’m not built as a climber. I’m about 85kg and back then I was probably 90+, but still wanted to do this as I was excited about cycling.

For the Dolomites, I really trained hard and putting in the hours, etc. Being a seven day event, well that could break the rider quite easily. Thank God we had one cancelled stage due to weather, because that was a killer, and I’m not sure I could have continued. Nevertheless I stayed ahead of the lantern rouge and the broom wagon…that’s the challenge for a back of the pack rider. In fact, I made good friends with the lantern rouge and had a great rapport with him.

The Stelvio ride was…magical. We were in cycling Disneyland. I still was towards the back of the pack…quite a bit back, but this time I took my time and enjoyed the ride. I knew I would make the cutoffs, and just felt more confident. Unfortunately I didn’t go with mates as in the previous two times, so I was solo a bit, but made friends with people whom had the same ability and we could work together either in support of each other, or using drafting techniques, and staying on the wheel on climbs.

In preperation for Stelvio, I’d been doing TR workouts, mostly base training and specialty build. I have only been doing structured workouts since 2018. Endurance is key to all these events. Long hill climbs are usually done at 70%FTP, but of course depending on your ability, you can up the power. One other key training tip, eat a lot while riding. Fueling is important.

I believe HR organization has made things a bit easier, especially with logistics, as on the three day, and maybe five day events (haven’t checked it out) you’re not moving from city to city as much. That was tough as you’d fly in (I’m coming in from the US) a few days before to get rid of the jet lag, have the 7 AM start, finish at 3 - 4PM, eat, massage, go back to your room, go to a briefing, eat again, pack your bags ready for 5AM breakfast, next day drop your bags off at the special pickup area, then get ready for the next day and do this three to four times at least for the seven day events. That was tough.
Sorry this was a bit long winded, but I think anyone can do this. You just have to persevere on the ride and mentally not be overwhelmed by the climb and ride smartly.

As a final thought, I’m not participating in 2021 as I think travel is still going to be problematic and economically difficult. At least from the US…I could be wrong though. Also, I’m more in line to do Stelvio or other part of the Italian Alps again, but with a group of friends, and stopping to grab coffee, or cake…relax riding as opposed to a race.

But I certainly wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from doing this. The Haute Route organization is fantastic. They know how to hold events and they will test your ability as a cyclist. It’s well worth trying out.

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I just watched Icarus where the bloke talks about doing this race and training for it. Looks intense! Kudos to you guys doing it. What does it take to make top 10 in an event like that? You’d almost have to be considered world tour level wouldn’t you?

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I’ve been considering Ventoux as well for next year but I’m gun shy to register. I did Alpe Dhuez in 2019 and managed a top 50 overall and top 20 in my age, doing quite a bit of TR in my training. I live in a part of Germany with climbs of 10-30min, nothing huge but nothing small either.

I dunno about 2021 quite yet…

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I have never ridden a HR event but most of my team mates have and they rave about them. The organisation, support and challenge is, I’m told, like nothing else at an amateur level.

For 2021, my team mate Andrew Foster is targeting a couple of the HR events. He’s usually a top 20 finisher overall. For 2021 he’s training to break into the top 10.

Sure you’ll be able to find him on Strava and see his training progress :wink:

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Hey there,
Thanks for your very insightful post

I think this is a very good point. Winning is out of the question for me and likely even going top 10 is something I can dream of, but it‘s just super likely that there are 10 guys better than me.
However, I don‘t just want to treat it as a Fondo. How often do you get the chance to ride these amazing mountains? So if I am there anyway, why not go as fast as possible…
The very tight schedule you are describing is an important topic also. I think that is why the 3-day event is so appealing. No moving hotels etc. so you don‘t need to worry about packing up and settling in every day.

For 2021, traveling will likely be restricted, and as an American, I completely understand not planning to go to Europe.
I myself live in Germany and have citizenship of Switzerland, so I feel confident they‘ll at least let me in for Crans-Montana :sweat_smile:

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To win, you‘d probably need to be a pro level cyclist. The guy who won the Haute Route Alps in the year Icarus was shot, is a former pro, who was also caught doping earlier in his career.
Top 10 however, probably just really good amateur. The maker of Icarus, Bryan Fogel, had placed eleventh BEFORE doping, and is clearly not WT level, and also well over 40 years of age at the time of participating.
Ollie Bridgewood from GCN/ Cycling Weekly competed in several editions, and always placed pretty high up. While he is clearly super fit and experienced, he is „not even“ in the 5W/kg category, and WT level is quite a bit beyond that…

Would love to have climbs like that. I live in Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) and to go see a climb, I drive 3 hours to the Harz… :tired_face:

That’s interesting. Can you link his Strava or dm it or something? I could only find a guy with that name from Switzerland, is that him?

Sure thing, here you go Andrew F :+1:

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