We may not be fast, but we are determined. The biggest ride of our lives by far! Wow!
Yesterday, Martin and I rode La Marmotte. Along with “L’Etape du Tour” – it is probably the most famous – and one of the the most challenging – Cyclosportive in France. 174 kilometres (108 miles) and 5,000 metres vertical ascent (16,400 feet)!
8,000 riders (!!) and a route that included three legendary hors category climbs – Col de la Croix Fer/Glandon, Col du Galibier via Télégraphe, and Alpe d’Huez. See here for a review and map of the route.
I think we are both pretty pleased with ourselves! I have decided that today is a rest day.
I honestly never thought I could finish this event but my plan was simple:
- Pace myself
- Enjoy the rest stops (we had over an hour of non-moving time)
- Eat and drink like a pig all day (I gained weight)
- Only allow myself to buy a Marmotte Jersey if I finished (motivation!)
Here’s a brief video of our adventures and then a slide show.
We started near the back, and delays and 8,000 riders meant we shivered at the start for almost an hour after the 7am start time. Perfect weather to start the ride and it clouded over for some shade later in the day.
This is a truly international event and I met far more Dutch (everywhere!), Belgium, Italian and UK riders than French.
Climbing the beautiful Col de la Croix de Fer was a crowded affair. Cyclists everywhere – but superb! The top of Glandon (the route skipped the last 2 kms of Croix de Fer) was a zoo. Getting food and water was hard work but everyone was in great spirits.
After a hair-raising 20 kilometre decsent and 25 slightly uphill kilometres in the Maurienne valley, we attacked (?!) Galibier.
It is such a beautiful and epic climb. From Plan Lachat, the last 9 kilometres literally go over the Alps. It was cold up top but the last 45 minutes was just an amazing ride.
While climbing Galibier we heard a Marmotte giving it’s distinct warning screech. A propos!
The worst part of the day for me was definitely the 45 kilometre descent to Bourg d’Oisans. It was cold, long, 10 tunnels, some cars, etc. Like down Glandon, several hundred people passed me on the descent and Martin was very nice to wait for me.
But after 2,000 metres of vertical descent, the weather changed from freezing with snow beside the road to a heat-wave.
Climbing Alps d’Huez I felt (surprisingly) great. And I was really excited that I would actually finish. We passed maybe a couple of hundred riders up the hill, some walking, many slouched at one of the hairpins (the strong riders had finished hours ahead of us). But most determined to finish.
Overall, I had far more fun than I expected and it hurt a little less than feared. Epic!