Any winter advice? I plan on doing the Fred Whitton in 2020.


Active Member
Hi all!

Hopefully this post isn't too long and drawn out. The devil is in the detail as they say, so just want to give all the info.
I am entering the ballot to the Fred Whitton (fingers crossed I make it), but I want to start training now as I'm aware of how tough it will be. So I'm hoping for advice on how to approach the winter!

I'm not terribly concerned about finish time, but I am desperate not to walk any of it!

My current fitness level is:
  • Weight 94kg - I'm fairly muscular, so 78kg would be a theoretical lean minimum, but realistically I hope to get to 86kg by the date of 2020 Fred.
  • FTP 278 measured using a ramp test - I think it's lower than that in reality, as my build lends itself well to the shorter challenge of ramp. I would estimate 250-260.
  • I did a couple of 100milers with friends this year, and they didn't feel challenging (although partly because we went at the pace of the slower riders)
  • I did a 75mile ride with 2700m of climbing in just under 7 hours. It blew my doors off, but that doesn't tell the whole story. I had been told it would be sunny, so didn't bring extra clothing and it ended up being cold and rainy... I also trained quite hard the week before and was still feeling it a bit on the day (not a lot, but the legs weren't perfect)... I also mispaced myself awfully, riding way too hard at the start. If I did that same ride again today, I think it would feel comfortable

I've just bought a dumb trainer for indoor training through winter (currently using Zwift). An Elite Turbomuin with the crappy sensor. I plan on getting proper power meter in a couple of months, but the sensor is adequate to train with for now.
Zwifting is great as it allows me to ride many hours late at night (I did my first 100miler on it yesterday, starting at 7pm and finishing at 12.30am!!)

A big issue... I live in Norfolk!!! We don't have hills. I can't realistically get out to find a proper hilly ride more than twice between now and the Fred (and even that may be pushing it).
There are a couple of very short steep hills near me. 300m at 13% ... 500m at 5.4% ..... (both on my doorstep) and 200m at 15% ..... 600m at 7% (both 10 miles away). I don't mind doing reps of them.

Any advice on what I really need to do would be great!


Eh up
I have never ridden the Fred Whitton so can't comment on that particular ride, but living in Yorkshire I am used to a few hills, get plenty of time on any hills and make sure you have the right gearing with one lower gear than you think you will be happy with, spin up the hills seated rather than honking for a long distance, change your trainer for a smart trainer and you could ride the route from GPS files, I have just ridden Hard Knott and Whinlatter in the garage !


Legendary Member
In Lancashire we ride a lot of climbs but I still know plenty of people who have to train hard to achieve the Fred Whitton.

My advice would be repeats, lots of them, on your local climbs. Also try to find a cycle specific spin class. To be honest though you've got nothing locally to match the climbs, not hills, you're going to encounter.

The alternative is a smart trainer.

Good luck.
Last edited:


The Monch
Inside my skull
Hill repeats in a higher gear. Try an hours worth if you can. Gradually try and increase the number of repeats in the hour. On the turbo intervals to increase your threshold. Most of the hills of Fred Whitton are no more than 20 mins but are steep. So practice holding a high power output for 20-30 mins or so on the turbo. FTP a perfect measure of what you want to increase, as working at your FTP uphill works fine for the length of climbs. Took me about 8 hours back in 2012. Enjoy.

P.S. The 13% is the better choice else the Lakeland passes may be a shock.
Last edited:


You dont need hills to train for hills. You need the correct gearing to be able to spin up all the hills. Then hills become slopes. I use a triple setup which if I needed, a small gearing of 28t crank and 40t cassette cog. I use this to ride up mountain climbs. I weigh about the same as you, so know about being slow up hills. But I do get up them in relative comfort because of my gearing.

Training, ride lots of long distances at a high cadence, 85+rpm in zone2 heart rate. This will build a big endurance base. The high cadence is to preserve your legs for longer on big rides.

Use Zwift to train for power, using lower cadences 60-70rpm, like riding up Alpe du Zwift. Sign up to Zwift training program to lift your FTP to supplement your long base rides

Dedicate about 80% to endurance and 20% power training

Diet, cut out virtually all fast sugars and use fats as fuel. Drink water not carb drinks whilst training. Over several months your body will adapt and be less reliant on fast carbs to fuel over several hours of riding. Come event day use fast carbs and sugars to keep your body topped up later into the ride. The re introduction of fast sugars will be like a turbo boost when feeling tired. But it requires you remove the sugars whilst training.

PS I live in Lincolnshire, I use Zwift and Trainer Road to train and then go to Tenerife in winter for some mountain climbing

Good luck Ive failed twice to get onto the event.
Last edited:


Senior Member
One thing that improved my fitness and bike strength was cutting out leg weight training in the gym over winter for torque interval sessions, really noticed a difference in my strength and endurance, especially on steeper grinds. Especially when used in combination with more core strength exercises.


An Peanut
My first Fred was a real eye opener to say the least. I went into it what I though was very prepared and had it been 200 miles on the flat I would have been fine. It was the hills that got me, especially towards the end. Although I had done plenty of climbs individually and done lots of long alpine climbs and those in the Canaries; I got destroyed by the steepness and relentless nature of climb after climb. Hardknott nearly killed me, I made it up without a putting a foot down, but it meant I was total broken for Wrynose and walked a fair section :surrender:. My classic mistake was not preparing well enough for the climbing, going off too quickly at the start and also being over-geared. My second and last time, was still very tough, but no walking and no tears.
Top Bottom