19 August 2011

Epic Camp France 2011 Day 4 - Briancon - Alp D'Huez and f...n back!

Epic Camp France 2011 - Day 4  Cold de Lauretet (both ways) & Alp D'Huez
August 17

8am roll-out for a big day in the Alps.
The gruppetto wisely got a head start today as there was 3 big climbs on the route with a run up around the top of the Alp D'Huez village before lunch and then the ride back to Briancon.
We rode friendly but firm out of the city and it was warm and not a cloud in the sky.  Lots of people out on bikes in both directions on this climb. As we were near the top we could see the road up the Galibier which is on the route to Annecy tomorrow.
  Fun descent down the other side to the base of the Alp.  Looks to be about 35km back up that sucker on the return.  That's gonna be a damn long one.
 We re-gathered for a fuel stop to start up the Alp together and time it as there is an official, marked start and finish on that climb.
There must've been a thousand people or more on that mountain today and its only a Wednesday,  Typical August day on the Alp?? You'd have to say that cycling is a massive tourist injection to this region just as it is in the Dolomites.  Every shape, size and age of cyclist on the mountain today and kids (mostly) on downhill bikes on the trails at the top using the chairlift to get up to the incredibly high trails.
  Zach set the tempo on the climb right from the start and I wanted to get into a hard rythm from the start in hopes of getting under an hour so went with him for the first 10 minutes or so.  At that point I was already drenched and reality was impacting!!! so settled into a more realistic rythm as Clas bridged up and those 2 sped out of sight.  At the 30-minute mark I was through one bottle as it was certainly over 30C.
Rob Palmer came past about then and gradually pulled away and Russell Cox and super crew Ian Wright were slowly gaining on me.  Once I hit the 4km to go point I came back to life as it gets a little less steep and there was some breeze.  Felt really great to be able to hammer up that mountain.
Zach led the way in a very respectable 51+, Clas 2nd in 52+, Palmer in 55, me in 56:34, Russell in 57+, Ian in 58+, can't recall the rest but know Newsom was happy to get under an hour (just......).
Beer, shirt off, and a lounge chair and I could have called it a day right there!  :-)
   Really happy to ride so well up this mountain today.  The last time I did it with my buddies with whom we do cycling holiday trips with it took me about an hour and 9 minutes and it was sleeting and 3C at the top and I was a miserably hung-over (there's a trend here..... ).  If I can get over here fit and 10lbs lighter I'd like to take a shot at going closer to 50 minutes when its not 30C.

The group did a tough 10+ km run with the first loop as a w/up! an the second loop as a race.  Very tough route at over 6,000ft.  I would have loved to run but had to settle for some retail therapy instead!   Needed some new bib shorts anyway.......
The ride back was a pretty quiet affair.  Not much discussion going on and I rode with John (pulling of course) and Christine.  Our crew gave us a water stop along the way thank goodness and then John made an executive decision to pull into a shop in Le Grave for a cold drink and I must say my choice of  Hogarrden never tasted better.
The last 10km up the Lauretet was OK.  Of all the really long climbs leading up to over 2,000m elevation this one seems to be the most friendly with grades of 3-5%.
For most it was a quick snack and off to the pool and with my leadership already in tatters I opted to stay put (guess where........)
Great day out!