David Bott, Senior Partner of Bott and Co is this year taking part in La Marmotte – an annual, one-day cyclosportive event in France. The ride, which is considered as one of the hardest in Europe, covers 109 miles and 5,180m of ascent over four of the Tour de France’s notorious passes.
David has bought a new bike and has been training hard in the run up to the event. Many train for years in preparation for the Marmotte but David already seems on top of his game judging by his profile on Strava – a website and mobile app used to track athletic activity and performance via GPS.
We catch up with David to see how his training is going and how he feels about taking on the event itself.
1. Tell us a little bit about how you have been preparing for the big ride.
Last year I cycled up Mont Ventoux and I have never really stopped cycling since. Obviously the amount of rides and distance per week went down over winter, but last winter was the first one that I cycled all the way through the season. The lowest mileage per week was about 50 miles a week in January and since then the mileage has steadily increased to 165 miles a week in April – that will go up to over 200 as training continues. I’m also putting in plenty of feet climbed on the bike and again that will increase as the event gets closer.
2. What charities are you raising money for and why?
MND (motor neuron disease) Association as my mother died from the illness and Queenscourt Hospice in Southport as they looked after my father in his last days of cancer.
3. What inspired you to take part in the event?
As I get older I realise that I have no speed, but I do have doggedness and endurance. The plan is to do half the event on day one, the second half on day two and then do the official event on day three. So effectively twice in three days. Bearing in mind that the event is 108 miles and 17,000 feet of climbing, it’s going to be an intense three days. The inspiration is simple; to do something that will take me to the edges of my abilities and endurance. I’m pretty sure that the “enjoyment” will be in telling people that I have done it and comparing notes with others who have done the same, as actually doing it is going to be a lot of internal dialogue while I hurt and suffer.
4. You’ve taken part in a number of cycle events in recent years, how do you nutritionally prepare yourself the day before the event and on the day itself?
Drink lots of water in the lead up and during the event. I have two bottles on my bike. One with pure isotonic and one with isotonic and carbohydrate. One bottle per hour is meant to avoid cramps but sometimes you get them anyway. As for food, lots of carbohydrates and protein before, during and after. I recommend a whey drink and a diaralyte afterwards to help the muscles and avoid headaches. The “pro” cyclists drink tonic water afterwards as they say the quinine helps avoid cramp.
5. Is there any food you would absolutely avoid, or that you would particularly recommend when training for a cycle event?
Porridge is king on the morning of a ride and flapjacks and bananas or equivalent during a ride. Don’t have anything too heavy and for God’s sake nothing spicy that could come back at you during a long day in the saddle.
6. Have you changed your equipment with the changing of seasons and, if so, have you seen an improvement?
I now have a winter bike and a summer bike. The English winter is very hard on the bike, the grit; the dirt the rain etc. can all really break a bike in half. So rather than watch my pride and joy collapse in front of me I saved it for summer, well spring actually. I was never going to set any personal bests in winter so I just concentrated on churning out the miles and feet climbed on my winter bike. Also when you do go back on the summer bike, it’s like meeting a long lost friend and yes the times are better on it.
7. What advice would you give to riders who are looking to transition from winter into spring/summer?
I’m still waiting for spring to start. The weather has been pretty awful so far in 2015, but I have seen the odd person out in shorts. My advice is layer up; the wind is still cold, and don’t forget to keep your lights on as cars just don’t seem to see us.
8. What has been the hardest training day so far?
It has to be January 4th 2015 as I fell off while trying to go up a climb called “the brickworks”. It was minus six at the top, and I came off on ice. I shouldn’t have been up that high, that day, it was stupid, but I was with a group and group hysteria/bravado seemed to make us attempt the climb. After two of us came off the climb, the ride was abandoned. New shorts, new gloves and a bike service were all needed. I cut my right thigh quite badly and I’m left with a reasonably sized scar. I didn’t stop training, but it did smart for over a month.
9. Your training seems to be successful by the looks of your Strava account! How have you been finding Strava?
I have tried to not become a Strava-bore but it is so granular and so absorbing it is quite overwhelming. To put it into context to non-Strava people, it records your ride and tells you how far, how fast and how high you went. It also segments off the entire ride into Strava Segments; for each segment it will tell you how fast you went. Most importantly it tells you how fast you did against everyone else who rode that section and how you rank against your Strava followers. Once you upload your ride, all of your followers can see how you have done. The statistics that it throws off are addictive; the phrase is “if it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen.” I’ve seen people going nutty bananas when they accidentally pressed pause and 40 miles went unrecorded.
10. How has training for the event changed certain aspects of your life?
My aims were to get stronger and to lose weight, as the physics of getting up a hill or mountain on a bike centre around those two variables. What seems to be happening is that I am slowly getting browner in the face, currently it is more wind burnt than tanned. Also I’m getting much thinner round the waist and in my face but the overall weight is staying the same. I’m drinking less and I’m eating more healthily. I’m trying to not totally alienate my wife and children; I get out as early as possible on the bike so that the training is as “family neutral” as possible and still allows time for me to be a husband and father.
11. Do you have any fears or concerns about the ride?
The main ones are about not finishing for whatever reason or getting hurt. There is a time limit and if you don’t beat it, they literally sweep you up in the “broom wagon.” It is going to be a long and painful day, and that is if things go well.
Thanks for taking 5 minutes to talk to us about your upcoming cycle challenge today David, we wish you the very best of luck.
Click here if you’d like to sponsor David.