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Article: How do you prepare for a Granfondo? Experience expert Judith explains it to you!

Judith Janssen doet mee aan Gran Fondo La Planche des Belles Filles. In juni jongstleden nam ze deel aan de Granfondo Les 3 Ballons in de Franse Vogezen.

How do you prepare for a Granfondo? Experience expert Judith explains it to you!

After having cycled more than 170 kilometres, we had to ascend La Planche des Belles Filles: you should be able to do it. Someone who has accomplished this is 49-year-old Judith Janssen. Last June, she took part in the Granfondo Les 3 Ballons in the French Vosges, a 178 kilometer long classification tour with about four thousand meters of altitude. She eventually finished second in her age group and is very proud of that achievement.

Such a tough ride naturally requires good preparation, for which Judith used a training schedule. “The program was varied, with intervals and endurance workouts,” she explains. ‘I also used strength training once a week. I really need that in order to ultimately be able to deliver such endurance.'

Together with a group of other cyclists, she went to the Vosges for training, but in the end she rode the trip alone. “It was busy on the course. Along the way you find a group that is just at the right speed for you. Especially on the flat and open parts, it is nice that you have the advantage of a peloton. Then you can also recover for the next climb, so that is definitely recommended. Just make sure they don't let you take the lead for too long!'

‘La Planche des Belles Filles is a tough climb…’

How did Judith ultimately experience the journey? “I found it really hard, especially the climb to the Col du Grand Ballon. The same applies to La Planche des Belles Filles, which recently also participated in the Tour de France. That's such a rocky climb... it's almost seven kilometers. The first six are largely ten or more percent, after which it goes to twenty and more in the last five hundred meters. He just kept going. You also saw people falling off bicycles, standing next to them or lying on the ground. There wasn't much activity there anymore.' In addition, the weather conditions made it very tough. “I started in the rain, but it quickly got very hot.”

No matter how tough it was, Judith never thought about getting off. She was therefore as happy as a child when she finally crossed the finish line. ‘The fact that you finally make such an effort… The picture was completely in line with the time I had - more or less - in mind. All the puzzle pieces fell into place, which I thought was the best thing.'

Nutrition coach helped Judith with her preparation

To come back to that preparation: she was also well prepared in terms of nutrition. “Last year I followed a program with a nutrition coach. Together we looked: what suits me best and what do you actually need for such a trip? I calculate that completely in advance, so that I know exactly how much food I need to take with me and what I need to eat.'

In her search for the right food, she ended up at Kalkman, she brought their products with her to France. 'In the end I rode on Kalkman nutrition about 70% of the time, in addition to some gluten-free bars. That worked really well for me. Everything is good for the first four hours, but after that you normally struggle to eat. However, I could continue to happily eat the Kalkman products until the end, which I think is a huge plus.' 

'The Kalkman products are conveniently packaged'

"It also keeps your intestines much calmer," Judith continues. 'The amount of sugars is much more balanced, making it less stressful for your intestines. The last thing you want during such a performance is to get stomach cramps. Normally I have a lot of trouble with that, but this worked out very well for me. In addition, Kalkman products are conveniently packaged and are easy to open. They are nice small portions, so you don't end up with half-eaten portions in your shirt. It really works a lot easier.'

According to Judith, it is crucial to take in the right nutrition right from the start. “If you take too little, it is impossible to eat more. You have to test that too, practice. Go do a four-hour workout and make sure you get the right amount of carbohydrates in the first half hour. I think that is still secretly underestimated. What is the right diet for you? Many people just grab what is available, which works fine for some. However, if you really want to do it well, it really has to be tailored to you. I think you will run into trouble with many standard sports bars, given the composition and ingredients.

"If you take the right amounts, nothing can go wrong with Kalkman products"

So Judith is very enthusiastic about the Kalkman products. "It's a super product. You are ultimately responsible, but if you take the right amounts, nothing can go wrong with it. That apart from the fact that they are also just tasty and you can still eat them after five hours of cycling. They are tasty and you have an appetite for them, of course you don't taste that very often. When you are really tired, your appetite is completely different. You have to be prepared for that. In my opinion, dosing is very important. Don't shoot your herb in the first half.”

Judith has no plans for a new trip yet, although she already has some tentative ideas for the future. “I might want to do a trip from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean in August or September next year, from Biarritz to Gerona. It goes through the Pyrenees for about five or seven days. In addition, I also want to ride a nice cyclosportive with a classification attached to it. It seems like a challenge to do a trip of more than two hundred kilometers. I would like to become even stronger in climbing, so that I can achieve an even better result. We wish you good luck, Judith!