Training session for etape


I was wondering if anyone can suggest training sessions I should use to improve my fitness?

I have signed up to Loch Ness etape in April next year. It is 66 miles in length and has a nasty hill climb in the middle.


Disclaimer: I am not a coach, but have worked with a coach to prepare for a long (120mi) mountain route and reused the advice many times.

Since you have plenty of time, start by making sure you have base fitness to ride easy for several hours without feeling destroyed. Depending on what you’ve been doing on the bike recently and how much weekly training time you have, it may take 6-8 weeks to reach that point. There’s no need to do intervals during this period, just long easy rides and whatever you need to do to keep it fun. Resolve any bike fit or saddle problems during this period.

After that I would continue longer easy rides once or twice a week (gradually increasing in duration), plus a couple above-threshold interval sessions per week, and add an occasional ride with a long climb to simulate the hill. Back off if still tired after rest days. Prioritize sleep.

Depending on your experience with long hard rides, I’d suggest at least a couple times you should do a ride that approaches the time on bike and difficulty of the event so you can understand how to achieve the nutrition you’ll need during the event. For many people that’s the difference between getting through it in relative comfort and having a meltdown. Event simulation rides should include the feed station breaks you expect during the event. Put them on the calendar and reduce other rides to make room for them. Routes to consider might include The Pretzel, Mega Pretzel, PRL Half.

Sketch out the workouts on a calendar so you can plan to have a light training week periodically, perhaps every 6 weeks. Fit them in weeks with other planned commitments. Every week should include 1-2 light days where you either ride very easy or take the day off. A couple weeks before the event, eliminate long hard training rides and reduce the hours.

During the event, you may want to eat the exact food that you have tested already. If the event serves cycling nutrition products at feed stations, buy what they’re offering and try it on long training rides. Bring some well-tested food to the event.

And if you can afford to work with a coach or buy a training plan that comes with some support, I recommend it. Adjustments to the plan are often necessary based on how your body reacts.

Some good advice in the previous post. I agree about building up the distance and thinking about your nutrition.

The route is very nice. I’ve ridden the Etape Loch Ness twice (2015 and 2022) and know the area well. The hill out for Fort Augustus is the only serious one of the route and “goes” in three stages. If you can’t pre-ride that section it’s certainly worth trying to ride it virtually, either using a Garmin to control your trainer or by setting up a custom workout in Zwift - using a gpx file of the actual route.

One other piece of advice - you’ll be hanging around the start area for quite a while before your wave starts. Consider how you’ll stay warm during that time, especially if it’s raining.

The event is pretty chilled, with riders of all abilities. The theory is that faster riders set off first, but don’t be surprised to be overtaking a few folk who have opted to start early in order to give themselves a better chance of getting round before the lantern rouge.

A very quick google brought up Etape Loch Ness - The Route

Decent practice for that big climb that springs to mind within the Zwift app is the Epic KOM segment on Mountain route, which is ~1200 feet over ~5.8 miles Strava | Run and Cycling Tracking on the Social Network for Athletes

Thanks for the advice Paul. I had planned on focusing on improving my fitness for the hill. Instead I will initially try some longer rides.

Excellent advice Colin. I hadn’t even realise I could ride the etape virtually. Where do I get hold of a gpx file, and how do I import into Zwift?

Thanks Steve, I will look into that route.

Try here for the GPX route from Strava. Etape Loch Ness | Strava Club Event
Use the file to make a w/out profile:- Convert GPX file to Zwift workout | What's on Zwift?