Building the form of your life in cycling's ultimate playground
A few years ago I was riding a gran fondo event on the Tweed Coast when a guy wearing a striking blue jersey rode strongly to the front on a steep climb. A call came from just over my right shoulder, "damn you Steve and your French legs". At the time I had no idea what was meant by the term "French Legs", now I do. You see "Steve" had just returned from three months of cycling in the mountains of France and brought home with him the form of his life.
I am lucky enough to have ridden the high mountains of Europe a few time since that year on the Tweed and even luckier to have experienced some golden patches of "French (and Italian) legs". You see, just one of the great advantages of spending a few weeks in the high mountains, is that you return with climbing legs like Quintana and a purple riding patch that can last up to 2 months.
So in additional to the amazing scenery, culinary delights, bonding with new friends and exposure to new cultures, a cycling tour in the mountains will also bring a cycling level you have never experienced before.
In all likelihood it is a combination of spending time at altitude (many of the climbs take you well over 2000m), quality of recovery (no work commitments, shopping, driving etc etc) and the physical stimulus of climbing mountains day after day. There is really no way to replicate having a high level of muscle load for up to 2 hours at a time (climbs of 26km at 8% will do that) and the benefits are like nothing you have ever experienced before.
Not a bad way to build form I guess.
Stay safe and enjoy the ride
Brian "Bubba" Cooke
Lifelong (almost) cyclist, exercise physiologist and above-all-else just love riding my bike. Been lucky enough to ride some of the world's most epic roads and now live on the beautiful Gold Coast, hidden gem of Australian cycling.