Fartleking to Montpellier

I have been agonizing over what sort of article to do since I heard what kind of training regimen I’d be on from now on since, as you can imagine, with a name like ‘fartlek’, the options for toilet humor are endless. So endless, in fact, that I just had to go straight with this one. The name is funny enough without any elaboration.

Fartlek, probably not humorous at all in Sweden, where it originates,  is a simple enough concept to understand. The name, according to Wiki, means ‘speed play’, and the essential concept is that, the rider will choose when to up the tempo and for how long, mixing up high endurance (in my case), near anaerobic threshold, and even over AT (sprints).

Coach Rob has prescribed this type of ride to me for my long rides (100 km+) up till l’Etape du Tour, 7 weeks away. These long rides, by the way, are going to be back-to-back, starting from 2 the first week, moving up to 3 in a couple more. The idea is to get the body used to longer efforts at higher (and varied) intensity and with less rest, i.e. like l’Etape will surely be.

So yesterday I fartleked my way to my old stomping grounds of Montpellier. Here are some pics from the road.

Aqueduct near Castries

Old mill on the Vidourle River

While in MTP I caught up with old friend, Ed Ward for a kebab. If you don’t know Ed from earlier posts, he is NPR’s (National Public Radio) ‘rock-and-roll historian’, and has been doing regular spots on Fresh Air for many years. Check him out. Always interesting stuff. Why is living in France, you ask? His never-dull blog will answer that.

And even though it looks like a shot of my bike with Ed just happening to be in the background, I assure you I meant it as a photo of him.

Before meeting Ed I had a chance to go to my favorite square in town and have a petit café, which unfortunately ended all too quickly. I hate to say this, but France needs more Starbucks!

And that was that. I fartleked back to Nîmes after lunch for a total of 130 km. Today we have a visitor coming in from Japan, so no back-to-back possibilities this weekend. I’ll report back once I accomplish two days in a row of fartleking next week.

10 thoughts on “Fartleking to Montpellier

  1. Are you doing both Actes of the Etape, Gerry? Sounds like you’ll be very well prepared. I might give fartlek training a go – but I shan’t mention the word to the kids for obvious reasons!
    If you need an ‘ah’ moment, there are pics of our very new baby llama on my latest blog post!

    • Don’t tempt me, Stephanie! Does Acte 2 go by your place, by any chance? I see from your blog that the Tour is coming through. Anyway, no just the one in the ?Alps this year.

      Great blog about the baby. Shoko wants to move to your farm, especially since you have those 4 cute cats now…

  2. You know you’re a cyclist when you can say the word “Fartlek” at a dinner party full of non-athletes and not feel embarrassed. From the other 49 characteristics of what it means to be a cyclist, check out the Coach Rob page and see if you can add a few of your own to this list. By the way Gerry, I could Fartlek all day if we had beautiful scenery and complementary weather like that in Calgary.

    • I agree, the day was made for fartleking. I’ll report back on the back-to-back results mid week – I’ve had to re-arrange the schedule a bit since I’m heading up north to ride the Ardennes this weekend.

  3. I was introduced to Fartleking by my college Phys Ed teacher in 1983. My thought at the time was “this is idiotic.” The concept has grown on me over the years and I suppose I have been doing informal fartleks on many of my rides, where I go fast until I see something of interest, then slow down or stop.

    By the way, Virginia has a town with a similar name to Montpellier. It’s called Montpelier, but don’t attempt a French pronounciation or you will be informed by the locals it is properly pronounced Mount Pee-lee-ur. Thomas Jefferson’s home is there.

    • I think there are lots of Montpeliers in the U.S. The capital of Vermont comes to mind…and I think they pronounce it the ‘wrong’ way, too! The one in Iowa had a Butch Cassidy heist even. The question I have is how that name got all over the U.S. I don’t think the city (in France) was anything special in the 18th century. However, I think Jefferson visited Nimes (he designed the capitol building in Richmond on the Roman temple here), so maybe he got over to Montpellier as well and brought back the name. Something to look into..

      I thought the same thing about fartleks, i.e. I’d been doing them unknowingly for years. However, now that I know what I’m actually doing I put more effort into the change-up in effort and it hurts much more than when I had no idea.

  4. Ah ha! A new word to describe what I do here in the Berkshires. Back to back was lost this weekend to Memorial Day company, but now there is an official excuse for photo stops, and bird stops. Montpelier in VT (the smallest state capital in the US) is great terrain for fartleking with good coffee shops and a culinary school downtown. I think it was named soon after the Revolution, because of French help against the English. Also there is (and so probably was then) still some French-speaking population in the northern end of VT, at least I met some when I cycled Lake Champlain.

    Please please no more starbucks in France, their coffee isn’t even particularly good here!

    • In principal I’m against Starbucks anyplace in Europe, but jeez, why can’t coffee shops have nice, comfy couches here!?

      I think you’re right about the Revolution being the impetus for all your Montpeliers, but I’m still wondering why that city. You don’t see 20 or so Nimes throughout the country, for example, and Nimes was larger and more prosperous than Montpellier in the late 1700s (I think). Are the French speakers in northern Vermont Acadians (where the word ‘Cajun’ comes from, if my trivia is right) or just refugees from Montreal?

      • Wikipedia claims the Montpellier/Montpelier names were originally common in places that claimed to have a spa or some other therapeutic value. The VT (and several other American towns) picked the name out of appreciation for the French contributions to the American Revolution. No explanation as to why Montpellier won out over Nimes ,etc… but perhaps the name was still associated with bucolic environs!

  5. Here’s all I could find, directly quoted and stolen from another internet site. Maybe they’re onto something: “It is not known why a town notable for an unusually large number of whiskey distilleries chose the name of a French town notable for wine and brandy.”

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