Friday, 10 July 2009

La Marmotte 2009

La Marmotte Sportive On 4th July Michael Pumphrey and I took part in this year's edition of the mighty Marmotte. The course is 108 miles long and crosses 4 massive passes: Le Glandon, Le Telegraph, Le Galibier and L'alpe d'huez. Luckily conditions were warm and dry as we set off from Bourg d'oisans along with 7000+ others. After 12km we started our first climb, Le Glandon - a 20km climb up to 2000 metres. Michael rode off ahead of me as the road turned upwards and was sure I wouldn't see him again until I finished. Halfway up it began to dawn on me that I was going to pay the price for a serious lack of training miles in the last couple of months. However I plodded on to the summit and had immense fun on the fast, technical descent. I really struggled up La Telegraph (it seemed a lot steeper than when I last rode it with Sticky a couple of years ago). I eventually arrived at the feed station at the base of the mighty Galibier and after refulling I was just about to set off again when, to my great surprise, Michael turned up. It turned out that I'd passed him at the feed station up Le Glandon. We set off again up Le galibier and as before Michael went of into the distance, this time not to be seen again. Le Galibier (2648m) was a tough struggle as always but I eventually made it to the top before enjoying the 30km sweep down into the valley and on to the final climb of the day - L'alpe d'huez (1848m). Those of you who have ridden this alpe before can testify just how steep the first 4 hairpins are. Add 35 degree heat and 100 miles into the equation and it makes things extremely 'character building'! In the end I got to the top and crossed the line in 9 hrs 49, thus beating the 10hr target I'd set myself. I saw Michael while queuing for my post-ride meal. He'd got round in 9hr 12. He found it a bit more of a struggle than last year but his efforts were rewarded with a Gold Standard classification. This was my third Marmotte and although it's a really tough event with long periods of suffering involved, the rewards are high. I'll definitely be back for more! Colin Tuckwell