Mutterings from the Mountains: Part II

I’m writing this on the day before the marmotte, and will just be brief one without snazzy pics and whatnot as it’s not so easy to ‘work’ in the hotel that I’m staying at, which is perched atop of Alpe D’Huez.


Restless cannot even begin to describe how I feel.

The registration has been completed and timing chip and assorted goodies collected. Included in the goody bag was a marmotte branded towel!? Pretty random, but I like it. I forsee that becoming the turbo towel of choice (I apologise in advance to the towel).

The bike has been built and very briefly ridden about as a test. I basically coasted down to about hairpin two of the Alpe and rode back up the two bends. It was probably about 10 minutes of effort, and that was more than enough. I wanted to stretch the legs but didn’t see the point in spending ages aimlessly riding about. I thhen scampered straight back to my hotel to concoct a sandwich cobbled together from bits that I’ve gathered during the last few days.

The bike has been readied, with timing chip fixed, Di2 battery charged, tyres checked and pumped.

The weather forecast has been checked, rechecked, and triple checked. And will have been at least octuple checked before bed. It’s looking iffy at the moment – thundershowers. Of course, it’s a lovely day today. I really hope it improves.

The clothes for the day have been laid out. The relevant jackets have been considered, reconsidered and considered again  Where’s Deenzy when I need him? Sorry, shit in joke to test if he reads this.

A bit more food has been eaten.

Another surveying of the route to get into my head where the feedstations are has been undertaken.

A bit of stretching has been done.

Another check of the weather. Maybe change around some clothing.

A bit more stretching.

Another look at the route.

Probably eat something else.

And onwards til my very early bedtime.

As with all big European events, Marmotte starts at silly oclock. I’m doing the trip through Sports Tours International, who thus far have been doing a great job of the logistics and admin, from picking us up at the airport to giving us a briefing on the route, and providing mechanical help after bikes have been built. In the lead up to the Marmotte, I’d asked that I get assigned an early pen time. As the event is 7,500 riders, i knew that if I started in a late pen, I would have to spend a lot of time ducking around slower people on climbs, slowing me up and disrupting my rhythm (this happened a fair bit on the Pailheres at Ariegeoise).. As the early pens are assigned to riders with a history of strong performances in Gran Fondos and whatnot, I thought an early pen would mitigate this, as I would probably be the one getting dropped. In fact, I’m a little nervy at starting high up the field, as the peloton to the base of the glandon is going to be insane. Well, it’s not too far til the climb from the start (about 15k) so, touch wood I can just hang on in there. Once the climb starts it will be more or less every man for himself.

Anyway, back to my point, as I’m in an early pen, I start at 7am, and will need to be in my pen by around 6.30. Add to that around 45 minutes to an hour to get from the hotel down the Alpe, and it’s looking like a hotel departure at around 5.30-5.45. I won’t tell you what time my alarm is set for.


To wind the clock back a bit a reflect on the week just gone…

I obviously took a day off after Arigeoise. It may mean nothing to you, but the Training Stress Score for the day per Training Peaks was around 550, and that means a BIG day. That means tiredness.

I was back on the bike by the second day however, and decided to get a proper climb into my legs. I was still in the Ariege at this point, and so took on the Col D’Agnes, a 10km and over 8% average climb. It’s a fucker. I chose it in an attempt to replicate something like the Alpe D’Huez, which is 14k at around 8%. I also went over there as over the top of the col is a little descent into a basin with a stunning lake – the Etang de Lers – in the middle of it. It’s a truly beautiful place, and at the time of day I was up there was slightly enshrouded in a slowly burning off morning mist. I don’t like stopping a lot on rides, but there was a lot of photo stops on that one. Possibly one of my favourite places  to be on a bike. I can’t get the pics onto the blog right now, but the images are here, take a look:

The second and third day were both short days, but kept the legs moving, kept the intensity up, and kept the climbing and descending practice going. Short bu sharp was the order of the day to taper correctly – i.e., balancing rest and recovery whilst keeping the muscles firing and the brain bike-focussed.

The fourth day after ariegeoise was yesterday, and the flight from Toulouse to Geneva.

Which takes me to now.

So, I’m off now. Better have a look at the weather again. And possibly fiddle with my bike. And maybe eat something.

Marmotte debrief in a few days. Wish me luck.

Ta ta.



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