My final blog entry is, rather appropriately, reserved for possibly one of the best known mountain climbs on the Tour de France – Alpe d’Huez. My mate Mike suggested that we should try to cycle the climb non-stop. That’s 13km uphill with an average gradient in excess of 8% and an altitude gain of over 1000 meters! At the outset I was not confident that we could achieve this.
We set off from the town of Bourg d’Oisans in sweltering heat so I made sure that I had taken plenty of liquids beforehand. The first 3km were extremely difficult with the gradient exceeding 10%. Even though I was going slowly I was right on my limit and thought I would have to take a break to let my heart rate return to a sensible level. Fortunately, I managed to ride through this rough patch as the gradient eased off a bit i.e. around 8%.
As we slowly ticked of the kilometers other riders would pass us offering words of encouragement. What pleased me was that many of these riders weren’t going that much faster than us.
Eventually we reached “Dutch Corner”, about two-thirds of the way up the climb. During the Tour de France this area is just a sea of orange: orange shirts, orange hats, as the whole area is taken over by Dutch cycling enthusiasts. At “Dutch Corner” I was feeling more confident about my prospects of doing the climb non-stop.
The kilometres ticked away slowly until we finally reached the last hairpin – Turn One. From here it was a long, drawn out final ascent to the town of Alpe d’Huez. The last 400 meters seemed to go on forever but we finally passed under the “Arrivee” banner about 2 hours after we had started the climb. We had done the ride non-stop – I never thought in a million years that I would be able to do it!
Now my Alpine Cycle Challenge has completed I would like to thank again everyone that sponsored me. I only need a few more pounds to take me over the £1000 mark so if anyone out there would still like to donate some money this can be done via my Just Giving web page.