Sunday, 20 July 2014

Training in the Alps

506 miles cycling, 27 miles running, a track session and 68,000 ft of climb was what it took to break me (not quite literally, as I'm not actually injured), but just physically exhausted. 

View from the Sarenne
Having spent a reasonable amount of time over the years in the Alps during the winter, a trip to the Alps in the summer is something that I've always wanted to do in order to see the mountains in a different light. Fortunately I have 4 other friends who also have an affinity for cycling up hills, and hence a trip to the town of Bourg d'Oisans at the foot of Alpe d'Huez was an obvious place for a holiday. Yes, Bourg is a mecca for cyclists, but you don't get the feeling that the place is overrun with a huge number of cyclists, and there are so many cycle routes radiating from the town,
that quite often you'll find yourself climbing
the routes alone.

Cycling off the Galibier

In the first 2 weekends of August, I have my first elite triathlon, a fell race, and then the British Age Group Triathlon Champs to follow, so a trip dedicated to cycling and running 2 weeks out  was ideal. I won't go into the detail of every climb we did, (most of the rides are here) but the aim was to try to complete most of the major climbs starting out of Bourg d'Oisans.

Top of Galibier (Chris, Bellew, Me, Freddie, Steve)

One notable ride we did was The Marmotte - a 174km, 17,000ft cycle taking in Col du Glandon, Col du Telegraph, Col du Galibier and finishing with an ascent of Alpe d'Huez. This was possibly one of the toughest things I've ever done, and I tried to attack every ascent which wasn't the wisest thing, but having Chris to 'race' up Galibier against certainly made that 17km climb a little more interesting! The photos here show just how stunning the scenery was, and that has largely been our view for the past 7 days. 
View on the way up to Col du Croix de Fer

Those Tour riders who get a view like that every day for 3 weeks are certainly a lucky bunch! To put some context in this ride, I managed it in 7:50 (which excludes lunch/ice cream/beer stops), compared to Laurens ten Dam (currently sitting 8th in the Tour) who managed it in 6:08!

Hopefully I won't have lost too much running speed this week and, once the legs recover, I'll be able to benefit from all the climbing and my biggest training week. If anyone thinks going cycling in the Alps is something they'd like, then drop me a note and I'd be happy to suggest somewhere to stay in Bourg d'Oisans and a few other useful bits of information.