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2007 La Marmotte
This year, 3 i-Teamers completed the test - here are their accounts:
Mark Sterling - Botley, Hampshire:
My target for this was Gold, which meant 9 hrs 15 mins, 1 hour faster than last year. I set myself pacing notes based on where I needed to be and by what time, and with them taped to my stem I rode to my own pace rather than hang on to faster groups and risk blowing. Was on schedule at the bottom of Telegraphe, 8 mins down at the top of Galibier, 15 mins ahead at the bottom of the Alpe and ended up missing Gold by 7 minutes with a finish time of 9 hrs 22 mins (53 mins better than last year). In fact I got to to the 1km to go sign just as my clock ticked over the target time ../../i-team/forums/style_emoticons/default/sad.gif
As ever the organisation, feed stations, marshalling and event atmosphere were excellent. After last year's crash on Glandon there were almost more marshals than riders on the descent this year, which I'd disagree with Paul on, and say I thought was almost the best descent of the day before the link section to Telegraphe, which was boring but provided a chance to rest the legs a bit.
Having struggled (understatement!) up the alpe on the day I went back 4 days later (legs still aching - in fact I have never ached for so long after an event) and kicked it's butt in 59 minutes.
So it looks like the elusive Gold is going to take a 3rd attempt next year.
I'll be back!
Paul Morris - Southampton, HampshireI'm back! - A brief description of the Marmotte> TOUGH!
The ride itself was manic and very much in keeping with an Etape style ride except no closed roads which quite a few riders seemed to forget. The ride can be broken into 3 main climbs
Col du Glandon
Having climbed this before I found this climb very comfortable. I set a heart rate target and stuck to it with the occasional lapse. One of these being a big chain ring moment which I had to see through! However knowledge of the climb really helps and I found myself doing the overtaking rather then being overtaken. I spent the majority of the climb following two Assos clad ladies who were carving their way through the riders much to the disgust of the surrounding male cyclists clad in team replica kit / works bike etc. The reaction of these guys being passed by the girls brought a tear to my eye on a few occasions.
The descent of the Glandon and run down the valley was very boring. Packs formed after the descent and I found myself in a group of around a 100 riders. I decided to grab a ride but found it frustrating after a while. They started single file but ended up 3 or 4 abreast and I ended up being blocked in. I made my escape on one of the small rises and moved to the outside when gaps opened up. The pace slowed again so I went to the front offered my wheel which wasn't taken so I rode away.
Col du Télégraphe /Col du Galibier
I really loved the Telegraphe section of the climb. The Galibier is another matter! I struggled on the lower slopes of this monster until the the food I had eaten at the food stop prior to the climb kicked in. I stopped at the summit to take on more food and then I noticed I had a problem with my rear wheel.
I have to admit I was hoping for a mechanical on the rear wheel but only when I was closer to my car. I took the descent very gingerly off the Galibier and was praying for a smooth road surface down to Bourg only to be greeted by the roughest French road I've come across in a long time.
I stopped at the foot of the Alpe to take on water prior to starting the climb and calculated that If I could climb the Alpe in 1hr 20mins I could still nick a gold but only just. However hitting the lower slopes I knew I was in trouble and after hairpin 18 I pulled over convinced I would not be able to climb this mountain. Sitting in the shade for a few minutes I decided to consume my last power bar before pressing on.
Again I struggled and all chance of achieving a reasonable time went out of the window. I therefore decided to award myself a stop after hairpin 16 but pressed on by kidding myself that there would be a better spot around the corner. There was and I took it. I had a nice kip in the shade under a tree. After a few minutes of watching cyclists go by with triples I decided I better get on with it and set off and was shortly passed by Sean. Sean's words and seeing the I-team jersey raised my spirits and I started to climb better. The 200 calories provided by the bar however expired on hairpin 2 with a great mushroom cloud and I just about summed up enough energy to tell Sean to keep going. As you can imagine the last 1.5km were the hardest I ever done and whilst I stopped at 3 hairpins on the Alpe I decided I wasn't going to walk until after the finish line.
A big thank you to Mark and his Wife who I bumped into at the Finish who saved me, literally. I've been in a bad way before but this was really bad and I was so depleted of almost everything required for my mind and body to operate that I was concerned that I might black out. Please excuse my mumblings. When I left I tried to cycle but couldn't and found a shady piece of grass to collapse in (again) to consume the apple juice and fruit bar you gave me. (I really struggled with the bar and had to eat it in very VERY small pieces).
Sean Williams - Alderley Edge, Cheshire:
That was the hardest thing I've ever done!
I set off really steady as i had no idea what to expect, i followed no ones wheels up the climbs and just set my own pace. The galibier was a right evil. It seemed to go on forever. Along the main road before the telegraph i got in a group of about 150 riders!!! we were doing about 16mph and i wondered if i should have rode on incase they were going to slow. but i was glad i didn't as the Telegraph and Galibier which was after that road was like a 2 and a half hours of climbing.
on the Telegraph i was caught by Paul Morris and had a chat then told him to push on. Then On Alpe du Huez i caught him up again and passed him, think he had blown. unfortunately i had no gels left to give him. sorry paul ! Felt great on alpe du heuz and was catching a fair amount of people.
I didn't blow all day which was good considering the heat. If anything i think i set off maybe a bit slow as i wasn't sure what to expect.
Next time am going to train for it. previous to this i had only done a maximum of 70 miles this year, around cheshire- ooops. When i hit the bottom of alpe du heuz and had 100 miles on the clock i couldn't believe i still felt good.
Tip for anyone is just keep eating if your doing this. i ate loads, i took a musett so i didn't have to stop as the food stations were crazy, only stopped for water.
Oh and to 34/27 gear combination was perfect. Its has to be compact over here.