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La Marmotte - Whats That Then

The worlds toughest cyclo-sportive, so “they” say. Its 175km long, and has 5000m of ascent. That’s about 109 miles along the ground, with just over 3 miles of vertical ascent. It’s reported that of the 109 miles, half of it goes up. That’s 55 miles of climbing. 

The route is the same every year, unlike the more well known “etape de tour”, and rides a loop around some of the most famous cycling climbs in the Alps. Climbs full of history and legend. The Col de Galibier, Télégraphe and (with obvious intentional cruelty), a mountain finish up the Alpe d’Huez. Reading the reports of official cyclo-journalists and vox pop “joe bloggers” about their experiences, most report that it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever done. From seasoned professionals to cycling journeymen to event junkies, “La Marmotte” seems to have a bold underline on their palmares. Tall tales are told of epic adventures, broken spirits, and shattered bones; of tortuous climbs and treacherously fast descents. Battling the elements as well as your own body. The sweltering heat, the numbing cold, all the while cycling through the awesome majesty of the mountains. Whats not to like??

As if the Marmotte wasn’t enough, Harbs has us booked in for the "La Grimpee de l Alpe" the morning after. The Grimpee is another ascent of the Alpe d’Huez on the Sunday morning. After a beasting on the Marmotte, he wants us to do the Alpe...again. That’s 13k and 1100m of ascent, 21 hairpin bends and loads of mad orange-clad Dutchmen. This event is a time-trial (aren’t they all?). Harbs wants to beat the hour, I’m going for under 2! I’m old, and the day before has just got to take it out of your legs.

After a rest day, we’re doing a social ride up the equally infamous Mont Ventoux. Lance describes the Ventoux better than I: “1,900m up there is completely different from 1,900m any place else. There's no air, there's no oxygen. There's no vegetation, there's no life. There is no life. Rocks. Any other climb there's vegetation, grass and trees. Not there on the Ventoux. It's more like the moon than a mountain” . So that’s the Marmotte 2010. Two great sporting events , followed by a mountain of death. Great...

Harby and I will be heading for Bourg d’Oisans for the 2010 event. Staying in some converted St.Bernards dog kennel that Harby found.  I'll be putting the new IF Corvid through its paces over the last few weekends, and trying desperately to lose those last few pounds.  Support to be ably provided by Lucas in the Land Rover (again) and moral support by Madison, no doubt ogling French boys. Updates to be posted and maybe tweets during the event, but the iPhone is heavy!

KEYWORD TAGS: corvid huez if marmotte
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Great cycling holidays, on road or off

Journey through Spains greatest natural park.