The 2006 Tour de France stage winner on Alpe d’Huez, reveals the secrets of surviving multiple days in the mountains
- How to have a big mountain adventure in just one weekend in the UK
- How to flatten even the steepest of hills
1. Take it easy
Don’t push it in the last week before your event — you need to enter it fresh.
Ride, but not lots and not hard. Get good sleep. Most of all, embrace what you’re about to do. You’re taking a week off work away from your family to ride your bike. Never lose sight of that.
2. Enjoy the scenery
I never got a chance to take in the views during my career, there is always a bunch of other problems to deal with. I'd be riding and think, “Did I pass this before?” Now I get to know the scenery, rather than just the contours of the climb.
3. Ride your race
How you ride depends on your goals. If it's a personal challenge, find your rhythm. You’ll probably end up riding alone on climbs, but that’s normal.
If you’re young and have big dreams, don’t be afraid to go for it. Otherwise you'll never know what you’re capable of.
4. Mind over matter
The mind is a funny thing. Let’s take the example of the Tour. You start fresh, but you’re tired by stage 3 and ruined by stage 5 – and you stay that way for three weeks. You just have to get used to it.
Every time I finished a stage I'd think, “I’m not going to do this again.” I’d be on climbs thinking, if I broke my collarbone it wouldn’t be so bad. Things like this will come to mind, but it's a case of overcoming it.
5. Know your limits… and your goals
Know that the body can take so much. Even when your mind might convince you otherwise, your body is ready to go deeper. If you start to think you might never reach the finish, always have in mind that nothing bad will happen to you as long as you eat and drink enough.
In the summer in the Alps, it’s only getting dark at 10pm, so even if you have to walk the final 10km, you’ve got time. You just have to want to finish.