Getting off the Pot

Now that I’m good and fully registered for Haute Route Pyrenees next year I thought I’d start frightening myself into shape. The first thing I did was step onto the scales for the first time in months:

73.3 kg. This is not my top weight of 77 kg before starting this cycling journey in 2010, but also not my lowest in HRA2013 – 65 kg. Those in the know say it gets harder and harder to lose weight as you age. I’ll let you if that’s true or if it just becomes easier and easier to drink a pint a day as you age.

The next inevitable step was to dust off the fat calipers and pinch myself:


A reasonable facsimile

24% fat. This one was not really a surprise either, as I’ve been noticing it getting more and more of a challenge to hide the Molson Muscle (Abdos Kronenbourg here in France), even with the aide of the girdle effect of bibs. This one could very well be age related – I haven’t seen this type of ‘roll’ there before – but it could also be the hours I spend behind the computer these days. Whatever it is, I have to get this shocking percentage down to 10%-12% by next August.


I then looked in the mirror and found that my hair is thinning. This doesn’t bother me since Alejandro Valverde just won the Worlds and he’s far more gone than I am.

But I can’t just rely on being bald to make me go faster; I need ‘a plan’. Luckily I’ve already got two Haute Routes under my (tight, oh so tight..) belt, but I also know I could have been better prepared for those two. I thought I’d start with the fundamentals – MILES (or as we call them in Europe – kilometers):

In 2013 I rode 10,000 km in the run-up to Haute Route.

In 2015 I rode 8400 km in the run-up to Haute Route.

I know a few guys who have finished HR in the top 30 and I’ve just taken a look at their Strava stats to get an idea of what to shoot for. They are surprisingly evenly matched and yearly mileage tends to be between 15,000 km and 18,000 km. A pro who does nothing but ride all year for a living will do 25,000 km or more, so this is no small undertaking for someone who needs to work, keep a marriage together, etc.

From a quick calculation on Strava it seems like the above friends do around 13,000 km ‘in training’, i.e. from December till Haute Route. In reality I can’t see much of an ‘off season’ for any of them, but I’ve got to start somewhere.

In 2013 I placed top 23% in my age category and in 2015 it was top 34%. I’m sure there were a few factors involved in this difference (I started late in 2015 because I was given a place in the race in early spring), but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that there could be a correlation between miles and results.

Where does this leave me and my overhanging gut? I’d like to keep some semblance of respect and stay in the upper end of my age category, so I suppose I should at least start with a program that has me on the bike for a minimum of 10,000 km (about 400 hrs) before the end of August.

Next up, what to do with those 10,000 km and where to put them in the program. This one could take some time…

If you are an Haute Route finisher, don’t hesitate to give me your tips. If you are not an Haute Finisher, finish one then give me your tips.