Saturday, 6 July 2013

T7: Galibier & Alpe D'Huez

OMFrG!!! Freakin insane...As I write I'm sitting in Bar Indiana at the top of Alpe d'Huez and there's 46k left to go in today's TdF100 stage. 

It will be as unbelievable on 18 July to watch the double ascent by the pros as it is surreal that I'm sitting here now. I swear that the view and the gorgeous pain of being at 4k to go on the climb was nearly enough to bring on the tears - simply blessed to be here. More of that in a bit. 

In 24 hours I will not have time to enjoy this view - I'll be suffering on this most famous Alpe at the end of the 175km and 5,000m Marmotte - the biggest thing I've ever done. About 7,000 other mad humans will be with me because they all know in their hearts and in their bones that this sport is the sweetest agony - and they love it. 

I digress. 

The day started out with the ascent of Col du Galibier. My breakfast is a routine affair for me. The first bit, a small bowl of muesli with plain yoghurt and some prunes, is standard - it's what I have every morning before I ride. The French bonus is a yummy croissant, and some deliciously smelly cheese / Nutella / or both - take your pick. I don't know how the other guys smash down 2 eggs and bacon and other assorted small goods but they do! 

It was another beautiful crisp morning - cool but not cold - perfect climbing weather. 


Galibier was EXACTLY like I've always seen it on was magnifique. And the Raptor took me there in style. No probs with KOM - just a nice 140bpm tempo (for it's a big day tomorrow) - and a little push at the last kilometre as she tilted up over 10% into the snow. Riding this thing just shows how amazingly strong the pros are - and I can see now why Andy Schleck pumped the air so hard when he won here. 

The shot above is the descent - smooth black top at times, sketchy old road at others. Fast, long and lovely never-the-less. It's quite amazing going 75kmh+ next to a sheer drop with no guard rail on the "wrong" side of the road - best not to think about it as the hairpin approaches! 

Quick stop for coffee and lunch on Col du Lautaret before the 45k mostly down hill blast to the base of Alpe d'Huez. Here's Marty catching some rays...

Now you know you are about to start the most famous climb on the planet when you see this...and there she is on the right. I'm told George Bunt usually doesn't wait and attacks from here - some 2k from the start of the climb!


We just tapped up really easy - heart rate around 130-140. Paul has had atrial fibrillation and he wants to race tomorrow so it was just a recon roll. Yes, he is a hard man! It's straight into 10%+ for the first 2.5k and then "levels" out at about 8%. It's a tough climb in the sun and it was about 30 degrees. Knowing the route well, Antony took us into Huez at the 10k mark and we had an opportunity to tip a bidon of fresh mountain water over our heads. The French do water very well.

Then for the last 4k of climbing, through the beautiful ski resort village at the top and roll across the official TdF100 finish line which will also be our finish line for the Marmotte tomorrow. Wish me luck - by the time you read this, I'll be in hurt locker, chewing the stem, peddling squares & generally grovelling around looking for wheels to suck. I will suck them with furious vengeance!

See the ride here.

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