This week The awesome ladies from Heels on Wheels hosted their launch event for Tour Du Mont Blanc Feminine at the Athlete Lab. Heels on Wheels – in case you have not come across them already – is a women’s ‘pro-am’ cycling series. They arrange events where you get close to the ‘pro’ cycling experience. Do think track racing in velodromes, cycling sportives, or long distance supported rides through beautiful countryside in the UK and Europe.
The Tour itself looks spectacular – stage 1 takes you from France through Switzerland and then to Italy and stage 2 takes you back, giving you the epic bragging rights of being able to say on your return that you rode through 3 countries in one go. But given some of the sweeping hills, woodland scenes and mountain climbs, you may well decide that you don’t want to return to the UK at all 😉
Tour de Mont Blanc Feminine starts in Chamonix, and the first stage route goes into Switzerland over the col d’Forclaz and after an amazing descent on a quiet back road you set off for a climb towards Champex le’lac.
Take a peek at stage 1 on Strava here – as you’ll notice it’s all about the big thrills of big hills!
If you’re not already morning person – prepare to become one for this ride – stage 2 in particular involves getting up super early (at the bottom of a mountain, which you will be climbing) to get out of the hotel onto the col d’Petit St Bernard. It’s a stunning climb that takes you up and out of Italy back into France.
Check out the return route on Strava
The fact that it’s a fully supported ride is great – so that means no carrying your own food or repair kits, and there’s a sweeper car at the end to make sure no one gets left behind. The ride package includes the hotel and food – you’ll just have to arrange your own travel to the start point in Chamonix, and ideally bring your own bike (but they can hire one for you if you need it).
The inspiring and accomplished Nicole Cook – Olympic & World Road Race cycling champion – came to pay us a visit and share a few of the cycle training and nutritional tips that got her where she is today.
To get the most out of these rides it’s best to maintain a certain level of fitness too – cranking out over 300 miles in 2 days isn’t a walk in the park – hence the training session ride at Athlete Lab – a dedicated training centre for people that want to reach their full potential as road cyclists.
The first thing that you realise very quickly when you arrive the the Ahtlete Lab (where I was invited to meet the ladies from Heels on Wheels) is that it is NOT a spin class. You can access more data on your performance than you can possibly imagine, from your ride efficiency (power to RPM ratio), your heart rate and more are all monitored on a dashboard for you too see. If you join the centre they also carry out a more detailed measure of your fitness called your FTP (for info on what an FTP even is, see here). Intimidatingly, there is also a leaderboard so you can see who’s trouncing you! They have a trainer who checks each rider and pushes you until he’s sure you have nothing ‘left in the tank’ – it’s surprising what he can get out of you in that 45 minute session.
They offer you a water bottle on entry (you’ll need it) and a fan in front of your bike to cool you down ( you’ll need that too).
If you’ve ever fancied the idea of taking your road biking up a notch (or ten) this is definitely the place to do it. And given that Tour de Mont Blanc Feminine is in September you’d have a bit of time to train if you want to be ready for the big ride.