Epic Preparation for Tour de France Challenge

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10/13/2005| 0 comments
by Josh Powers

Epic Preparation for Tour de France Challenge

Nothing worth having comes easy.

When our small band of exhausted cyclists rolled into <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
on the last day of the grueling 21 stage Tour de France Challenge, everybody couldn?t help but feel a sense of accomplishment.   We had finished what we set out to do and for the last few kilometers of the ride, the aches of the Alps and the pain of the
Pyrenees seemed to be distant memories and in a slightly twisted and masochistic way, necessary.   <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>


Nothing worth having comes easy. At least that?s what we kept telling ourselves along this journey, which started almost two years ago.   Kevin Mahaney, whom I have had the distinct pleasure of coaching since June of 2003, wanted to take on a significant cycling challenge after watching the Tour on TV with his kids. He thought, ?What could be more challenging than the TDF. This is when he called me to ask if we could get him prepared to ride the Tour course. I came back with the typical response, ?Of course we can. Which stages are you planning on riding??   To which he replied, ?All of them.?  


Not only was it all of the stages, but it was to be every kilometer of each stage, including the neutral kilometers at the start, in the same order and number of days as the as the pro peloton. It didn?t take long for this to sink in and for me to realize things were going to have to change quite a bit in order for us to get him ready for such a monumental undertaking.   My job was to get his body and mind prepared to withstand 2,241 miles of saddle time over the course of three weeks. When training for anything as specific as this challenge, you first need to sit down and identify the demands that are going to be placed on the body, and even the progression of those demands, over the course of the ride.


Equally as important are baseline measures of fitness which help identify weaknesses as well as provide a benchmark to use to assess progress along the way. We had a year and a half to get him in proper shape and these measures provided us with smaller, more manageable goals to focus on and accomplish on the long grueling road to the first stage in


The competitors of the Tour de France spend years and years racing and training as preparation for such an event.   We unfortunately didn?t have that time, but fortunately, we weren?t going to race the distance, but rather conserve our energy and ride at a pace that would allow us to complete the distance. This made our training strategy slightly easier to deal with.


Kevin and I spent the largest amount of time working on his aerobic fitness. In fact, we spent over a year on that alone before we even touched any of the systems that come into play when working at intensity above lactate threshold.   This developed his


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