I’ve spent most of the past two weeks climbing mountains in France and guess what…I’ve loved it!
I took part in the Grimpee de l’Alpe, a mass start time trial up the (in)famous Alpe d’Huez the day after the Marmotte. Cleverly, unlike most of the others doing the Grimpee, I did *not* do the Marmotte so was going into the TT ‘fresh’! I had set myself the target of doing the Alpe in less than an hour…most told me this was, at the very least, “ambitious”. But I soon learned that I am actually pretty good at this climbing malarkey!
The TT starts from a car park a few hundred meters from the bottom of the Alpe behind a pink and green jeep pumping out awesome EuroPop (Helen and Jo…you’d be in your element!). I’d been warned that the first few bends were the worst of the climb so I tried not to go out too fast but totally failed at this…there were so many people to try get past so I just had to keep going and get into a nice rhythm. I got into a little group of men, one by one some of the guys dropped back. I managed to last until around bend 13, I remember looking down at my garmin and it read something like 25min. I thought, damn that’s fast…you can do the hour…come on! But after that I was on my own until the top with only a handful of men passing me. I just had to keep going…keep on pedalling!!! But damn, it was hard! It just keeps going up! I got to Huez…just 6 bends to go. My time was still good, I knew I could do it! Bend 1, 50-something minutes, but it’s still so steep…dig deep! And then two last bends to the finish, the gradient came down a little…down the gears and on the drops, I was going as fast as I could, around the little roundabout and through the finish (doing ‘no hands’ obviously!!!). I looked at my Garmin…57min!! I DID IT!!!!! (My official time was 58:27.) And then I looked around and could only see two other girls!! I made the podium!!! Woop!!