Sunday, August 1, 2010

La Marmotte, July 3rd, 2010

Dan and Peter enjoying some post-Marmotte Tour de France.

Getting ready for a quick spin, down and up Alpe d' Huez.

La Marmotte is a great challenge for cyclotourists, with its 16.000 feet of climbing in 110 miles, in some of the most beautiful scenery in the French alps. 9000 people toed the starting line at 7.00 am and we were blessed with perfect conditions, sunny skies and 75 F. I found my own rhythm up Glandon, staring at the SRM and trying not to exceed 250 watts and were of course passed by lots of people. Seemingly the morning coffee was still rambling my intestines, so after filling up my bottles at the top I was scouting for a suitable place to pull over and relieve myself. The descent was fast and tricky, and caused a lot of crashes, despite the fact that the organizers had flagmen on every hot corner and neutralized the descent in terms of time. Eventually they produced two result sheets, with and without the Glandon descent, which will probably encourage people to descent full throttle next year... The transition to the bottom of Telegraph/Galibier and the slight uphill saw me in the back of a pack and would have been pretty hard by yourself. My buddy, Thomas Bonne, led the race at this point, but was lead the wrong way and was a little disheartened by the time he got redirected back on course, with no chance to reach the front again... He ended up in 17th place in 6.31, 22 minutes after the winner Michel Snel. Telegraph/Galibier is a +20 miles climb that'll take up to 2645 m/8677 feet. A lot of people were affected by the thin air, but I seem to thrive and passed a lot of people, keeping a good steady rhythm and aiming at 260-280 watts on the Telegraph and a little less on the upper slopes of Galibier, which kept my breathing pattern the same. The descent from Galibier to Lauteret is quite treacherous and caused my back wheel to skid a few times, despite my carefulness. I found a good group on the 30 mile downhill cruise down to Bourg d' Oisans, where the grand finale waited: the ascent of Alpe d'Huez. It was now just past noon and the temperature had risen to 90 F. I peeled off as much clothes as possible and hung my helmet over the handlebars to get as much ventilation as possible, but was on the edge of cooking/exploding the whole way up. I averaged 280 watts on the 8 miles/13 km ascent, with its famous 21 hairpins, and did it in 1.03, which isn't too bad considering the 6 previous hours warm up, but it tells me that I could probably have gone a little harder on the first climb and settled in to a group that would've suited my pace/fitness better, but who knows. My brother Peter blew up big time on Alpe d'Huez, succumbing to the heat, loss of electrolytes and caloric deficit. Not only did he lose a lot of time, but it took him a great deal of time to recover from the effort and we spoke a lot about the arduous efforts of the Tour de France riders, day in and day out for three weeks!!! None of us could apprehend the thought of doing a Marmotte effort continuously for just a few days. Well, Rune Larsen and his brother Bruno Petersen grabbed some quick post race food, showered, packed the bikes in the car and drove on to Italy to partake in another "Grand Fondo" (Great Challenge): 200 km in the mountains, starting at 8.00 am the following day and what looked logistically possible back home now seemed a bit crazy...
Anyway, the official times and placing was something like this (including the Glandon descent):
01. Michel Snel: 6.09.39
17. Thomas Bonne: 6.31.30
68. Henrik Thingaard: 6.59.08
81. Rune Larsen: 7.03.21
89. Bruno Petersen: 7.05.56
92. Peter Bech: 7.06.19
161. Claus Bech: 7.19.39
749. Dan Olesen: 8.10.31

Henrik Thingaard is a fellow Dane and a friend of mine, who overtook me twice and I did the same to him! Henrik started in a group later than me and went straight by me on the middle of Galibier climb, going at pace much faster than me. Big was my surprise when he overtook me again on the long descent at La Grave, som 45 minutes later!?! Henrik had bonked a little on the top of Galibier and had to take a break at the aid station. We rode together to the bottom at the Alpe d' Huez climb and history repeated itself: Henrik took off like a man on a mission and I just took care of myself and my own pace... But with a mile or so to the finish, I suddenly saw him snailing along up the road! So, I ended up ovartaking him for the second time that day, which lead to a lot of explaining at the post race buffet...
My SRM Powermeter showed a netto time of 7.10, but toilet breaks, police enforced traffic stops, aid station stops and redressing on the final climb, apparently added another 10 minutes.

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