How hard is a Lanterne Rouge Tour ride?
An honest answer to this question must begin with, “It depends…”. A reasonable degree of fitness is required to experience a Lanterne Rouge Tour but beyond that the challenge of a ride can depend very much on one’s own goals and the goals of the ride group. (Whilst Lanterne Rouge Tours does have its preferred courses, ride routes can be tailored to some extent to better match a particular group’s abilities).
Lanterne Rouge Tours’ riding is designed around touring, not racing. Riders will want to keep an eye on the wheel ahead but there will always be views one won’t want to ignore. We do stop en route to take in some of these vistas, to smell the roses and even to sip a coffee.
That said, the pace of a ride can depend very much on the average level of fitness of the bunch. As is the nature of most bunches, some riders will be stronger, while some not so, but the workload is always eased when the riders work together as a bunch. If there are enough riders there may be the option of splitting bunches to take the pressure off those feeling a little uncomfortable with a tempo that seems too high. However, the undulation of the terrain and the wait and regroup at the top of climbs means that the pace of the ride is less likely to be of concern.
Whilst bunch riding can ease the workload for individual riders, there is no ‘freewheeling’ when it comes to hills. Elevation gain on Lanterne Rouge Tours typically ranges between 500m and 1500m (-for comparison think return ride from Sydney’s CBD to Botany Bay or the CBD to Akuna Bay), so you can expect some hills. If you are a reasonably regular rider that is not beyond the experience you may already be familiar with. Riders can choose their own tempo when climbing hills and the group will always wait at the top of climbs for the last rider. Your reward for effort will be realised immediately thereafter.
So the real question is: how is your stamina?
Have you got the legs?
Lanterne Rouge Tours’ ride routes are intended to present some measure of challenge for the participant (- although they are supported, no-drop rides that can be customised for the group to a certain extent). It would be recommended that, as a minimum, a rider be confident of being able to ride about 30 or 40 km without having to stop (ie. 1½ to 2 hours in the saddle). If a rider is only just able to achieve this level of fitness then a bit of training in the weeks pre-tour would be encouraged to help extend the rider’s range. Lanterne Rouge Tours can offer prospective guests some advice in this regard if necessary.