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We ask pro-cyclist Steve Cunningham for some last minute tips on tackling the Boileau Velo Coast to Coast ride on Sunday 22 March. 

Some people will be tackling the Boileau Velo Coast to Coast for the first time – what’s your strategy for tackling the hills (i.e. Lofty)?

The first thing you have to do is take the word ‘tackle’ out of your mind. If you try to fight a climb, it will fight back at you! The harder or longer the climb is, the more you have to respect it. Do this by starting a climb really slow and in a nice easy gear, don’t push hard and try to relax your upper body and focus on controlling your breathing. 

Any advice for last minute preparation for a ride? What do you eat? Do you train hard the week before the ride?

It does depend a little on how fit you are leading up to this ride. I know a lot of people use Boileau Velo Coast to Coast as a means to help end their summer riding season, so if you’re a little light on the training leading up to this, don’t head out for too many big rides beforehand. Try to gain some consistency now, by stringing together 3 to 4 rides each week, of low to medium intensity and nothing over 80km.

If you are currently quite fit, and are looking to test yourself on the day, then it’s a good idea to try and replicate the distance the weekend before (i.e this weekend :). Then consider doing a couple of rides mid-week, with a long climb involved with each one, high cadence and good coffee! A few days recovery will then see you in great shape.  What I eat leading up to an event like this would involve lots of vitamins / minerals, high protein, iron, zinc among other things and then closer to the event, further increasing my carbohydrate intake. Good hydration before the event is also critical, so the day before the ride, be sure you are completely hydrated. Waiting for the day itself is too late!

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 Any other tips from a pro like yourself for people aiming for the 120?

If you’re raring to go, try not to get too excited at the beginning.  By all means, have a great time and enjoy being swept along, but if you’re looking to do the long distance, try to keep your heart rate in check and in control. If you think you are spending a few biscuits in the first hour just to hang on, you may not make the finish, or certainly not make it the way you had hoped! So keep your heart rate under 80% of your maximum for the first hour, then only let it lift to 90% on the climbs. A good breakfast before the ride is also really important and start grazing away within 30 minutes from the ride starting. Chew on something every 30 minutes, it doesn’t need to be much, but throwing coals into the burning fire is what will keep the engine nice and bright! Drink a large bidon an hour, especially if it’s a hot day. Most importantly enjoy the ride, stay safe and always avoid riding too close to the rider in front of you (overlapping wheels etc). If you do find yourself in a little peloton, I always like to remind riders not to just look at the person in front, but try to look ahead of the peloton itself and that way you will never have a bingle with others.

Steve Cunningham is the Boileau Velo Coast to Coast ambassador and runs  international tours with procycling tours. You can join him for a Classic France / Italy Tour where you can actually conquer Alpe d’Huez! Classic France / Italy 

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