Saturday, 2 July 2011

Alpe d'Huez

A well pleased Marie on the Alpe!
Alpe d’Huez, short and not so sweet!

Nearly there!
Really chilly last night, but a lovely day in store, as we set of at about 8am. On the 1000m climb up to the ski station of Alpe d’Huez, with its 21 virages/hairpins, each dedicated to famous cyclists of the past and present.  All the way up there is graffiti all over the road, mainly in Dutch, spurring on their heroes of the Tour de France.  Even at 8am, there are cyclists coming back down the mountain.  It’s hard going the first few kms, with some sections of 12% gradient, and then it steadies off to 8%. You smile for the cameras, waiting on the last virage to catch the first bit of business of the day!!  The experienced young studs don’t smile, or say allez, cos they’re far too cool for school!!  They push past on the bends, having changed gear, and get off the saddle to show you what the youngsters can do!  I plugged away in the same gear, and was really excited to find that I was able to keep going all the way to the top, about 14km.  But my backside was in agony, aching and sore, but I did it.  Ian was already at the top, having a good rest and a coffee, finishing in 1hr 07mins, faster than last time.  At 1hr 53mins, I think I was about the same as last time, but the biggest difference was managing to keep going.  As we shot down the hill, it was satisfying to see how steep it had been, and how many had felt the need to stop.  The views over the mountains were magnificent, and there was time to pause, get circulation back to the fingers, and enjoy the experience.  The road was full of cyclists and traffic, and it had been much nicer setting off earlier.

A short ride, but time for Ian to recuperate ready for the Vaujany cycle event tomorrow.

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