Yes, I did it! The well-known race L’etape du Tour de France is finally completed! Why do we need challenges and how to achieve them Elena Gromova will tell us.
16,000 racers, out of which 95% men and 5% women, 142 km distance, made of 3 mountains 15 – 25 km long, 12 hours of pedalling under the hot sun with an average energy consumption: 8000kkal
It was a priceless experience and quite an ambitious challenge for me. Magic views, picturesque landscapes, incredible physical and emotional work, lots of pain and still unforgettable moments of happiness from the achievement of each stage. I was very nervous before the start. It was my first race in the hills with such a number of people. I didn’t know what to expect, how the racers will behave, I didn’t know how I will feel and whether will be able to complete the route… But, I was ready to make my best try.
The best part of the Tour de France race was the first mountain. Early morning, raising sun, fresh air and lots of energy. The scariest bit was the first descent. Average speed 60km/h, narrow serpentine and pinching pain in the arms from excessive long-lasting pressing the brake levers. The second peak was the hardest. 22km up the hill under the burning sun lasting for three hours, with the slowest pace on the very peak. The sign showing “1km” till the end of this stage was the happiest but still the scariest one. That was the point where many racers decided to finish their race, some of them were taken by the emergency, some of them were walking with a hope to continue after reaching the peak of the mountain. Was I thinking of stopping? Yes, every second. However, thanks to supporters, who were refreshing us with the water and cheering up a lot, I continued, simply counting every push. The thought of my friends and close people currently thinking of me and waiting back was the strongest motivation not to give up!
And, I didn’t! After reaching the second peak, I didn’t feel anything. No pain, no tiredness, no thirst. I had to make myself to stop and drink. Energy gels were not acceptable any more. I believe, that the body switched to its superpower. Those racers who stayed around following the same pace become the closest friends who share smiles and those eyesights saying: “yes, we are there! We are almost there, almost finished, almost heroes!”.
Why do you need to cross your own boundaries?
- For the feeling, you get when crossing the finish line! This is the moment that proves every minute of effort.
- For sharing this feeling with the same likeminded finishers!
- For absolute confidence that you can do much more than you think! To prove that you if set your goals, work hard, believe in the result, you achieve them. Not only in sports, but in any area of your life.
- For becoming more organized, more strong, more goal-oriented. To train your willpower, your stamina, your body and mind!
For me personally, this Tour de France race became a real push towards my dream. I have finally decided to change my finance career to my passion and dream – to launch a high performance yet trendy sportswear brand focusing on female cycling gear. I made it happen in 6 months since completing the race. By today it is a pure sustainable sportswear brand made of recycled ocean waste with a range of products in cycling, running, fitness and tennis. I really believe that people need to come out of comfort zone to make something happen. Not everyone is brave enough to quite a well-paid job and start his own business, especially if it is just a hobby. But, you need to try! It is better to try to make your dream true than not to try at all. And, getting self-confidence through sports is one of the best ways to success.
How to get ready and not to fail?
This is the core for successful completion of the race. You can use a training plan provided by the official website of Tour de France, as well as well-known apps like Strava or Zwift. The most critical period of training for the Etape is the specific work you do in the 8-12 weeks immediately prior to the event. However, in order to make the most of that crucial final window, it is essential to have a comprehensive build-up that prepares you to complete the hardest sessions and highest training load in those last weeks. The main points of the preparation are the following: 1. Build your long ride endurance ready to complete an event as long as the Etape. 2. Increase work capacity and sustainable climbing power. 3. Include some high-intensity training.
No need to say that a carbon race bike is the best option. It is very important that you use the same bike as for all your trainings. Get your bike serviced a week before the event, book it in early and test it a few times after the service.
- If you are driving to the start, do a pre-event bike check before setting off, including checking: wheel alignment, tyre pressure, brakes, gear changing,
- Carry some spare tubes, a hand pump and tyre levers, and know how to use them
- Carry a decent multi-tool with you, just in case
- Clean your bike as often as possible, especially after riding in the wet!
It is important to know the course to control your pace and know where and when you can stop and get water and food.
Weather conditions can vary from 0C up to 40C in the mountains on that day. Be prepared! Layers can always be taken off, but you can’t put on gloves that you don’t have with you. Check the weather forecast and dress up accordingly!
Must have: Helmet, cap, bib shorts, race jersey, sunglasses.
In case of bad weather conditions: knee warmers, arm warmers, toe covers, buffs, wind vest or a rain jacket. Don’t forget sunscreen if it is a sunny day!
Eat and drink!
Remember to drink before you are thirsty, practice your hydration in training rides. Drink to the conditions, if it is hot you may need to drink more if it’s cold and wet you might not need to drink as much. Include some electrolytes in one of your bottles to replace lost salts and carry 2 bottles for water on your bike with you to top up!
It’s important to stay fueled all the way to the finish, so, don’t forget to carry you power bars or gels with you! 1 gram of Carbohydrates per Kilogram of your body weight per hour of cycling is a good place to start. Remember to train with what you plan to eat on event day, don’t use Powerbars in training and then switch to gels for race day! Replacing salt lost is also important, so ensure that either your food or drink has some sodium and potassium. Practice eating during training rides.
How to get to the finish line?
Preparation. The theory of small steps – move constantly, better slowly but without stopping. Drink. Avoid dehydration. Control the time.
Where to register?
You can get your number by registering at the official website of L’Etape usually before the end of December. Meaning that for July 2020 there are no more spaces available now. Price is 119 EUR. However, there is still a chance to join one of the sponsorships, where the minimum pledge is around 650 EUR. So, better do it on time so that you also have enough time for preparation.
Where to go after and how to treat yourself? Please, read in the next article where I will share some interesting tips.
Owner and Founder in Nakeid Sportswear