Alpe d’Huez is to cycling what Monaco is to Formula 1, or the FA Cup is to football… It’s not the biggest climb, it’s not the steepest climb but over the years it has developed a history through the Tour de France and is now “iconic”. It’s definitely one for the bucket-list!
As we only had the morning to play with, we set off fairly early and made our way along the Balcon road to pick up the climb. Bruce wanted to get some pictures, so he was in the car whilst the 3 of us set off. I somehow dropped the others on the Balcon, so set off on my own up the first few corners trying to match pace with a bunch of youngsters.
As it was the last day, I felt like I had caught the rhythm of it at last and felt pretty comfortable all the way up. Being able to count down the corners definitely helps and having been reading the profile over breakfast I knew where all the steep bits would be. Bruce in the team car jumped ahead to take pics, and then as he caught up with me a bit later did the pro bit of handing water bottles direct from the car whilst we were moving, the novelty of doing that made me giggle out loud (although I don’t think the truck driver behind us was quite so impressed).
As you round the “final” bend you know there’s still a couple of km to go to the official finish line – you ride through the town of Huez and up a wide clear road to the finish line. Of course on a race day, the place is wall-to-wall and bedlam. I got there and it was abandoned! Still it was nice to get some pics at the finish and I had a chat with a Dutch group who arrived a little after me.
Malcolm arrived and then Will – job done! We all headed to the podium for a victory photo!
The words “it’s all downhill from here” were never truer as we then made the descent all the way into Bourg. I decided to try and go for it, but got held up by a truck that wouldn’t let me past. Grrrr…. Somewhere on Bruce’s video camera (which I borrowed) there’s footage of the descent and if I ever get hold of it, I’ll post it. It might not be thrilling to you, but as I hit 80kph coming down I can tell you it was pretty exciting from where I was sat!
We meet at the foot of the hill – it has been a fun few days, but now it’s time to head back, pack up and make our way to the airport. EasyJet decide to stiff me for excess baggage, but overall a great few days, and an experience I would love to repeat.
Cheers to Bruce, Will and Malcolm for making it so much fun.