Wednesday, August 17, 2011

ECFR11 – Day 4 – Alpe D’Huez

For those of you who have been looking for Scott’s blogs I’ve now updated the link so you can read them.

BIG day today
Bike 160km (varying reports of altitude from 3400-4000m elevation gain – it was big). Including the Col Du Lautaret both ways and Alpe D’Huez)
Run 11km at Alpe D’Huez (altitude) including a 5.5km race
Swim 2.2km (was supposed to be 3km but got booted out of the pool)

Brief report today as it’s 10pm and I’m pooped.

We started with the Lautaret which was a fairly gentle climb from Briancon then a very very long decent to the base of Alpe D’Huez. It’s fair to say we were all a bit concerned about getting back over the Lautaret on the return journey but in the meantime we had the infamous Alpe to tackle. All the hairpins are marked out with signs and they come thick and fast early in the climb. The things that stuck out for me on this climb
  1. It was an amazing sight when you started climbing and could look down on all the switch backs
  2. The grade was much easier than I expected
  3. There were literally hundreds and hundreds (if not thousands) of riders on the climb. It was a wonderful thing to see.

I was really pleased with the way I climbed. I just got into my zone and tapped away on the pedals. I didn’t go into the red zone but just paced my way up the climb for a good placing and cracked the 1hr barrier for the climb.  

At the top we set out on a run course I mapped out. I thought is was 4km but it ended up being 5.5km so we did one lap warm up then raced the 2nd lap. The race was not a burn fest for the legs but certainly for the lungs it was. The uphills were a real gasp for air. I had Rob P and Steven run up to my shoulder for a period but decided I didn’t want any company that was sure to lead to a difficult last 1-2km so put in a hard burst to run solo for 3rd. It was no surprise that Clas won and I wasn’t prepared to get into a battle royal with Zac for 2nd – my attitude might change at the next run event.

The ride back to Briancon was basically 14km downhill – 38km uphill – 28km downhill and it was hot hot hot again.
Up the Lauteret I had Molina on my wheel for about 15km. I was just waiting for him to come around me in the last 500m but I was determined to put up and almighty fight if he wanted to pop me this time. When I put in my final surge he did not respond but I’m sure we’ll have more to come.

We got to the pool and were told we only had 45mins before closing time. Zac and I did 200m warm up then set out on 20x100 on 1:40 for an easy bonus point. I knew it would be tight to fit them in and during #19 there was an announcement to get out of the pool. I went on for #20 anyway and 50m in popped my head up and saw a lifeguard on the end ready to stop me. I did a really deep tumble turn so he could grab my feet and got in the last 50m – whistles started blowing and Zac was stopped but I got the last 50m done!

A couple of tips for riding in the alps
  1. Always have a camera on hand. The scenery is just breathtaking
  2. Bring lights for your bike. We went through some very very scary tunnels today. Even a bambina coming up behind you sounds like a 10T truck!
  3. Have appropriate gearing – I have a 39/27 which simply is not enough for the steep climbs. Compact cranks or a triple is the way to go
  4. Wear a headband to keep sweat out of your eyes
  5. Always carry a gillet (sleeveless jacket) for descents

Bed time now. Tomorrow is, of course, another big day


  1. Loving this John keep up the good work mate 

  2. Mate, you're out of shape. 39-27 is plenty for the French alps. It's even enough in the Dolomites.