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Rest days don't make the Tour any easier
Jul 12th, 11. "I never enjoyed the rest days, I'd rather just keep going," Kiwi Tour de France rider Eric Mackenzie told RoadCycling.co.nz
The bikes have changed, the route always changes, as do the names of the riders, but the Tour de France is today, as it was back in the early 80s, three weeks of hard slog.
For Mackenzie, who rode the Tour four times, the rest days did not make the race any easier.
"What happens is your body gets immune to a certain workload and a certain heart rate etc. and then all of a sudden you give it a rest.
"Suddenly it thinks everything can relax now, the body can kick back and relax, but then you've got to try and charge it up again one day later.
"You'll always see a bunch of guys go backwards after a rest day, especially if it's in the mountains," he shared.
That's why on a rest day Mackenzie and other riders used to head out for a 2-3 hour ride, and not just an easy one. He said they put the heat on and had a solid workout to get the heart rate back up to where it had been the days before.
"With all the injuries in the peloton this year though, there are some riders who need the day off to heal a few wounds," he suggested.
From the moment the stage before the rest day ends, the mind and body start to relax and there is more flexibility around food and schedules, said Mackenzie who first raced the Tour de France in 1982.
"You knew in your own mind you didn't have to get up the next morning at that same set time. You'd probably wake up at the same time, but you were able to just lie on your bed a little bit longer and kick back a bit. There was no pressure to get to breakfast, to get changed, get to the bus or the bike by a set time."
The rest day itself was not always organised, which allowed people to have different schedules. Different riders have different ways to relax, and in a team of nine there were always variations, he shared.
"One guy just wanted to lie on his bed until 9am as that's what really suited him, if that worked for him then he could do that. There were other guys in the team that were early risers and were quite methodical. They would be up, having had breakfast, and on the bike by 9am.
"We'd go out riding as a team, but there was often two or three bunches. At times there were a couple of guys who just wanted to go out by themselves and test out the time trial bike or something. You could do what you needed to do."
Which was Mackenzie?
"I was an early riser."
Tour de France
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