To continue my in-depth study of Haute Route’s advice on race preparation, I have carefully copied and pasted most of the words you see below. The tips come from a former pro who rode for AG2R (ahh jzey due air) -a guy who probably knows what he’s talking about – something novel for this blog.
As the Haute Route start approaches, you might wish to make some changes to the set up of your bike in order to switch it into “mountain mode”. You shouldn’t need to change your riding position specifically because the geometry of your frame should be set up for your body. If you want to refine your position for the Haute Route, choose a compromise between comfort and performance.
You should also consider the choice of your gear ratios: depending on your level and on your preference, you could choose a compact gear (50/34 or 36) or triple (52/39/30). The classic gear (53/39) is generally restricted to top performers. This choice has implications on the choice of your cassette. It is necessary to have regular gears and to always be able to find the right gear for the slope.
If you want to improve the weight of your bike, a good place to start is to consider changing your wheels. Good wheels could significantly improve the performance of your bike. For mountain riding, go for light wheels, with a low inertia: these will give you the best performance up the cols.
You can also improve your bike by reducing the weight of your accessories (crankset, stem, handlebar, seatpost…). Weight is the biggest enemy of your ascent!
Choose tyres or tubes for your wheels according to your preference! If you opt for the tubes, pay particular attention to the bonding process because your downhill safety depends on it. Make sure your brake pads are in exceptional condition (and make sure you have special pads for carbon rims).
It is also important to choose a saddle that feels comfortable for riding all day long, and for riding for several consecutive days without causing problems. Try several saddles to find the one that suits you best.
We also advise that you have your bike checked by a professional mechanic before the start. He will look over all the safety points and refine your settings, giving you extra peace of mind that your bike is in good condition and up to the task.
Don’t forget to bring your repair kit (tire levers, tubes, pump, chain drift…).
You should make any changes to your bike a while before the Haute Route starts, in order to give yourself plenty of time to test, run in and adapt to the new settings and modify further if necessary. Avoid getting to the Haute Route start line with new equipment, shoes or bib-shorts for example which may be uncomfortable or injure you.
- I’m new to thinking about gearing, but I do know it’s important. I’ve got a 50/34, which I think will be just enough for the climbing. I’ve got one friend here who rides a 53/39 (he, of course, kicked my ass in this year’s Etape), which I can’t imagine trying to use on even one long, steep climb, let alone 20 or so of them. My teammates on Team Vicious Cycle have various combinations of the compact, with ranges from 11 to 32 for the cassette. Then (there’s always one in every crowd) there’s one guy who will go with a normal set-up, but possibly look for a hybrid, like a 52/36.
- I’m glad M. Oriol concurs with the rest of the world on the issue of weight and climbing. It makes me feel better…but a small part of me wants to believe otherwise (it’s the same part of me that likes beer, I think).
- The saddle comment is good, too. Maybe I should think about sacrificing weight for comfort a little. There aren’t many things worse than a bruised bum, especially when you know you have to use it for a week straight.
- Another good (but obvious) point about wearing in any new gear/kit you buy before the event. I think I just found one more justification to upgrade now!
If anyone has any comments that our pro has left out, let us know. Thanks.