Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dans les Alpes

Bonjour from Alpe d’Huez!

We arrived up to Alpe d’Huez yesterday morning and are preparing to take on the long distance triathlon tomorrow.  
Just what I thought it would look like

We finished up in the Loire Valley on Friday after seeing a few chateaus and eating a few too many pain au chocolats, and drove up to Chartres.  There we met up with Nicky and Davo who have been cycling through Europe encountering car doors, Italian hospitals, insurance companies and a few too many train rides for their liking.  We also met up with Darren the Ninja who had arrived in Paris the day before.  We were staying a lovely bed and breakfast which I unwittingly booked as it seemed to be the only accommodation left in Chartres but turned out to be about 400m from the 1km mark of the Tour course – parfait!
Training + sightseeing = winning
We rode some of the TT course in the morning and then spent the day spectating.  This was my first real live Tour de France encounter and it was fantastic.  It didn’t trump Roth spectating but my interests do lie more in triathlon than cycling, although I think that the atmosphere on a Tour mountain stage would be hard to beat.
Scored a free hat

The man of the hour
The next day we rode out of Chartres with the Poo Paraders as they made their merry way to Compiegne north of Paris, followed by a quick run then we packed up our Clio and headed to Paris.  Getting to Paris was fine, it was the 800m from the motorway to the hotel which was fraught with difficulty compounded by my inability to distinguish left from right and making poor decisions under pressure.  We finally made it there to drop off a bag then headed to the Gare de Lyon with some fantastic instructions from the hotel staff.  Jared did a great job driving in Paris and navigating the multi-lane (but with no lane markings) roundabouts and crazy French drivers.
Our steed

We made it to the train with about half an hour to spare so were able to relax for 3 hours.  The train took us to Grenoble where we stayed for the night then caught the bus to Alpe d’Huez the next morning.  Lugging our bike boxes and luggage was starting to wear thin and despite my efforts Jared would end up carrying most of my stuff, luckily in Grenoble we stayed close enough to the train station so that I was able to sneak a trolley to the hotel in the morning to make getting all our stuff to the bus station a lot easier.
Ascending Alpe d’Huez in the bus gave me a glimpse into what I was in for, we passed many cyclists suffering and bobbing their way up the hill which didn’t give me confidence.
After checking into the hotel and getting some lunch I mounted the Serottica and headed down the hill.  Jared has climbed the mountain before so didn’t feel the need to do the whole thing two days before the race so turned around a bit above half way and headed back up.  I started a lap at the official TDF signpost at the bottom of the hill.  As I had been warned the first couple of km’s were pretty gnarly and I was out of my saddle most of the way.  It was quite far until just the first bend and I began to wonder how this would feel after 100km… Once at the first village it eases up but is still pretty tough although I was able to stay in the saddle most of the way from there.
It took me 68 minutes to the official TDF finish which is about 1.8km from the finish banner in the town which most people stop at and is about 8 minutes from the actual finish (just saying…).  The leggies didn’t feel too bad at the end but it is certainly going to be a tough ride especially with the heat at the bottom half of the mountain and then the wind at the top. 

Going down

Neilio and Darren arrived later on – Neilio having driven 7 hours+ from Munich – so we had a happy reunion and a nice dinner then drove down the mountain to Bourg d’Oisans for café/chocolat chaud.
A J-Rad, a Ninja and a Neilio

Today we have had some items to take care of and will do a little run and maybe a paddle in the pool and just generally chill out and store some glycogen for the big day tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment