We’re staying in a brilliant chalet about 5 miles out of Bourg d’Oisans. Today was our first ride and of course we decided to dive right in and attempt Alpe d’Huez.
Setting off after breakfast we’d struggled to decide on the right clothing. It was warm, yet we were going up almost 2000m, and rain was forecast for the afternoon. We rode down to Bourg and out towards Huez and before I knew it Giles mentioned that we were about to start. A glance at the clock – it was 9-57am – and then we went around the corner and we were off and up.
The road was pretty clear and Giles paced it well. The hairpin numbers were counting down – 21, 20, 19, 18 – but the sun was really warm and I was overheating. I thought the first few ramps were steep, and then it got shallower, but the reality was that it didn’t.
We climbed ever higher and higher, and I dropped a bit behind Giles as I took some video footage. The other guys were further back. As we got higher the views were spectacular. And I was feeling better and better, closing the gap on Giles until we were level as we approached Huez.
We passed through upwards to Alpe d’Huez and I left Giles at turn 1 and pushed on ahead. As you enter the village, the end of the TdF route is another 2k onwards through deserted ski lodge streets. The actual finish is a bit of an anti-climax but we all gathered and took some photos and then rode back to a coffee bar.
As the weather was closing in we decided to ride partway down and then follow the balcony road down to the valley. The descent was very cool and then the climb back to the balcony road was superb. The single track road had a sheer cliff on one side and a sheer drop on the other, offering stunning views.
A bit of a struggle for Martin, a busted chain for Phil and my Garmin losing all my data aside we made it back to the chalet knackered. We’d only done 39 miles but over 1800 metres climbing.
A good first day!