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Day 2: Alpe d’Huez+

June 22, 2010

Blimey, what a day.

The total distance was 143km, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The 50km from Grenoble to Bourg d’Oisan – gently uphill all the way – acted as a handy warm-up before the legendary 13km climb up the 21 hairpins of Alpe’d’Huez, which was everything we were expecting.

Then came something of a surprise (and shock to many of us). We’d planned a route down from Alpe d’Huez out the back of the resort which took us over the Col de Sarenne. The route and profile (which you can see as part of the overall route here – the first big bump is Alpe d’Huez, the additional peak behind it is the Col de Sarenne) looked reasonable enough. At 1,999m high, the Col de Sarenne is a couple of hundred metres higher than Alpe d’Huez, but what we didn’t realise was that the road to it (and down from it the other side, pictured here) is in terrible condition, so much so that it was impossible for the support van to follow us.

We struggled through the potholes and gravel, wheels spinning quite frequently on the steeper and rougher parts, and arrived at the top in windy and cold weather. Dropping over the other side we were greeted by the views shown here – quite stunning.

Rejoining the main road we then started another climb – 25km to the Col du Lautaret. It seemed to go on forever. Our group had split into three due to some essential bike maintenance required in Bourg d’Oisan after a crash earlier in the morning and given how time was getting on and how cold it was, we took sad but sensible decision to skip the additional detour up the Col du Galibier and head straight into Briancon. And what a descent that is! the 28km downhill from the Lautaret to Briancon almost made the massive drag up there worth it.

During the day we’d managed more than 3,200m of climbing and were all shattered when we got to the hotel. But what an incredible day.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 22, 2010 8:09 am

    Inspiring stuff. Shame about Galibier but guess doing that and the Alpe on the same day was always going to be a tough ask. Sounds epic all the same. Is it a particularly bad year for weather or is it always that chilly up there in June?

  2. Mark permalink*
    June 22, 2010 10:27 pm

    I think it was unseasonably cold to be honest. Today was much better – barely a cloud in the sky.

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