Training for the Etape

Hey all -

First post here. I’ve got back into cycling properly during lockdown after a c.10 year layoff from anything resembling serious training or riding more than 50km a week. Previously I was a competitive CX rider, though I never used a power meter in my training (too expensive at the time),.

I’ve set myself a target of riding the Etape (or similar) next year, subject to CV19 restrictions etc.

I currently sit at an FTP of 259 at 80kg; I’m 38. I’ve arrived here over about 4-5 months, and no structured training has taken place until very recently; I’ve just got out and ridden my bike.

Currently, I commute to work and back 3-4 days a week (13km, undulating, each way), and get in 1-2 decent length rides at the weekend. For reference, I average about 28-30kph over 60-90km over ‘punchy’ terrain on the edge of the Chilterns in England; there are very few climbs over 2-3km, but slopes of 15%+ are common.

I’ve noticed that I can keep up with (and push) some ‘better’ cyclists over these punchy routes but I struggle on long drags (a false flat into the wind, for example) and I struggle a bit with aches and pains after 2-3 hours (back, neck mainly).

My plan was to select a low volume plan based on building FTP and hit 3 turbo/trainer sessions a week, keep the commute very much Z2, and add a long (3-5hr) Z2 ride one day at the weekend. From searching on here, this seems like a pretty common setup.

Any advice on this plan, or suggestions in general, would be welcomed! Thanks in advance.

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If you are planning 3 TR sessions a week, that would be the LV plan, You may want to pick the Variations and add longer sessions Still only 3 indoor sessions per week. The longer rides at weekend good for the long endurance of an event like etap.
The Riding too and from work would allow you to get a good warm up before doing your indoor session. Or you could extend the ride home to do more Z2 work.
As to the neck and back, this could be your position, a bit of over reaching, riding on the drops. The alternative as you state you are just returning to cycling so your body is not used to the riding vibration beating your body up. You could look to add some strength training. I have added this to my post workout cooldown, (10 min) and my Wife as got me doing Yoga once a week to help with mobility.
Do the Sweetspot work and when you get into the Build Phase 120% VO2 efforts + Threshold work will get you stronger for those long drags and head wind situations.

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Reminds me of where I was many years ago. Your plan sounds very sensible. Try to keep the outdoor rides easy enough that they don’t interfere with the Low Vol plan and consistency on the plan will make the biggest difference at the end of the day.

EdTs are mountainous so typically losing a few kgs helps unless you’re already stick thin. Lots of Sweet Spot on the day and you need to learn to eat on the bike as you go.

Neck pain could be as a result of you just not used to riding that distance, or maybe your position on the bike. If it doesn’t resolve after a few weeks of progressively increasing duration then would probably look at the fit.

Good luck!

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Just a small variation if time is not the most limiting factor:
You could also choose the mid volume plans and kick day 2 and 5 out / replace it with outdoor rides.
This is not as convenient as the LV plans, but you get a little bit more time in the saddle due to the 90min instead of 60min workout.

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Thanks dude. Come Spring next year, that’s exactly the plan, but the nights will draw in here in the Uk quite soon and now-Feb is my busiest time of the year work-wise. But looking forward, :+1: