Tarantaise Valley Workout

Les Arcs (1600 on the left, 1800 middle and Peisey Vallandry on the right.)

First “race class” workout of the year. 80km. 2400m climbing. This workout was meant to hurt and it did. Despite looking forward to the workout my energy levels were strangely low and in the 4hrs 10mins of cycling my heart rate didn’t get above 165bpm. During all 4 previous climbs up to Notre Dame du Pré my legs have felt good despite it being a steep, relentless and hard climb, but today there was pain even there – which did not bode well being only half way around the day’s planned route. I was using nasal breathing but unusually there was no adaptation during the workout and my nose remained slightly blocked the whole time. (Even worse, when I tried to clear the nose at the end of the workout it was bleeding and blood flew everywhere. Nasal breathing sometimes leads to nose bleeds but I don’t know why.) On the final climb after 3hrs 25mins of nasal breathing I dropped it and started breathing through the mouth. Dealing with constricted breathing on top of tiredness and significant leg pain was just too much. With the breathing increased I felt better and even managed to climb at 18kph for the final few kilometres. The breathing itself was not the problem but seems to indicate an underlying issue such as a mild virus.  One advantage though of  constricted nasal breathing under such conditions is that it probably gives extra protection for the heart when it might be vulnerable during a viral attack and when training might normally be risky. In the evening after the workout I felt cold but the legs recovered quickly. The only real pain in the legs was in fact d.o.m.s. from a 20 minute “barefoot” run yesterday when I had gone over the planned time limit. The pain from this type of workout is more like a dull overall pain though the whole leg. The body feels “shocked” and sleep is a bit uncomfortable – but nothing more. Toothache is much worse than this!

The route covered both sides of this section of the Tarantaise valley – ending up at the cross overlooking Peisey above Aime. At the start of the clip we are looking towards Moutiers and the route climbs over and out of view on the right of the valley, down into Moutiers and then climbs back up to Notre Dame du Pré on the far side of the valley – then sweeping up the valley (and briefly panning back again) we see Macot below la Plagne and then right opposite we have Monchavin Les Coches and the north face of the Bellecotte. Across the ravine panning left we have Peisey Vallandry and then the full “Les Arcs” range ending up with a the top of the valley with Bourg St Maurice and a distant “La Rossiere” and the Col du Petite St Bernard over to Italy. The route climbs back up from Bourg and then along to where I had stopped to film.  On the valley floor I’d crossed Chris going for a ride in the opposite direction and we successfully managed to meet up for a chat at the cross despite going in opposite directions.
Tired and worn out at the end of the workout!

The bike feels really good now. All last season it was a struggle due to being extremely light and reactive. Now it feels like part of my body – perhaps the best part! Gusts of wind used to grab the front wheel in an alarming manner – but all of that has stopped. I think that I didn’t have enough pressure on the handlebars before. Steep mountain bike descending and cornering teaches you to keep your weight really far back and to reduce handlebar pressure to a minimum, but those bikes are heavy and very stable. My Trek mountain bike has heavy 2.5inch Downhill tyres and weighs 17.5kg as opposed to 6.5kg for the Canyon racing bike. The Canyon just feels great in all situations – really responsive and smooth. It took a while getting there though!
The Bellecotte (North)

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