Race Report – Garristown/Ardcath [2010-07-28]

Another week, another Swords CC race. And with all my SRAM failures of late, I was lucky to be able to start. But start I did and I was looking forward to it given that the profile looked hill and all the descriptions talked about the nice hills, and I like hills.

It was a group 2 start again this week, however right from the start the group started stringing out. As it turned out, this was due to the descent and we all bunched up after the first corner. Things generally stayed together too with most people taking turns. A few however only took turns on the descents which did start to get some of the guys shouting to work properly.

And we needed to work as the time gaps were not coming down quick enough. By the second lap, we got a time gap of 2:40. The next time gap being 3 minutes, it was clear that we weren’t doing enough. It was on this lap when I had gone to the front to take my turn, held the pace steady then looked behind to see why no one was coming through, only to see a 30+metre gap back to the bunch. Only one other rider has stuck onto my wheel. But we talked it over and since there was a long straight around the corner, it’d be best to wait for the bunch, so we sat up.

Best laid plans and what not

Well I was bound to make a mistake at some point and this may have been it. I was still near the front when we were getting to the pub to turn left and I didn’t brake. I took the racing line, stayed tucked in, and sprinted out of the corner. Once I hit the straight I kept the hammer down to see how much of a gap I’d pull out, test myself. After 45 or so seconds, I looked back and only the one guy from earlier was there, the bunch were gone. We’d broken away, on the mostly flat, straight section of the course. Honestly, what had I done!

We did up and overs along the road, keeping the pace high. But it became quickly apparent that the other guy was stronger than I. I was suffering. Really suffering. And just to hang onto this wheel. But we held it together and got around the next corner. I don’t remember the time gap but it didn’t seem to be coming down fast enough causing us to slow up. And since there was someone bridging up to us, we let him catch our wheel.

After passing the next corner, the marshall said 2 minutes when we shouted for a time gap. It didn’t seem right as she just looked like she made it up, but then we saw part of group 1 ahead. As you might expect, this egged us on and we kept going to catch them. But before we caught them, we knew that it must have split and this was confirmed when we got them. 2 guys up ahead in a break.

We powered through and around the corner leaving 4 of us ahead of that group. After a few minutes I instructed the guy from the original group 2 break to slow and let the other two take some turns. Guy who bridged up came through for a turn but the 4th guy (who must have jumped from group 1) was gone.

The next part is a bit of a blur. I remember asking where we were meant to go. For all three of us, it was a first time on the circuit and best we could figure was that at the turn we weren’t turning, but going straight towards Garristown. Marshalls confirmed this and a motorbike rider shouted that we were 30 seconds. Down or up, I don’t know. But another group of 4 or so riders caught up around this stage and the pace went up. With the flats and descents on this part, well I was dying. My heart rate was high 180s, pushing over 190 at times – well beyond my threshold. It was bound to happen. It did happen.

On what I think was the last hill, one of the guys jumped. He jumped at a speed that made me look like I was standing still. Trying to hold his wheel was futile. First guy from group 2 that broke away confirmed my original assumption that he was stronger and he held the wheel and went with him. But when the next guy went I had nothing left. I cracked. In a feeling that I haven’t had in a long time, my legs struggled to turn the cranks and felt like jelly. I clicked to an easier gear and tried to recover.

But when the next guy went I had nothing left. I cracked.

Somehow, and I really don’t know how, but I managed to recover somewhat and my speed went back up. Enough to let me catch the wheel ahead and the last 3 of us from this group sort of bunched up. Me straight behind someone and another maybe 5m ahead. But my problem lay in the fact that I had no idea where the line was or how long I could go. Given the mistake I made last week, I decided to wait until the guy ahead started sprinting so I could jump him and beat him to the line. It didn’t happen. Yes I beat him to the line, no he didn’t jump. When I went, I went too late. I missed the rider ahead by a few inches at the line, passing him as we crossed the line. It was close enough that I was asked after if I knew who was ahead, the marshal’s weren’t sure.

In the end I place sixth. And with scratch catching us it was a good result. But I’m not all too happy with it. I should of had 5th, I was able to get it too. But since the race started with my stomach threatening to cramp, finishing is a result to be happy with. Next week I’ll start in group 3 and see if I really can hold the pace. We have long straight slightly downhill, so who is to know.

The Stats:

Distance: 44.05km
Time: 1:14:38
Avg Speed: 35.4km/h
Calories: 1183
Avg Power: 266watts
Normalised Power: 312watts

SRAM and week of nightmares

So I have 2010 SRAM Force on my lovely Cervelo for the last 6 months and I have loved every second of it. Ok well every second except for the loud clunk noise it makes. This last week has changed all that.

Part 1 – The Shifter

Photo of said wheel

Last Saturday while out, my shifter suddenly started making noises when I attempted to shift up and just plainly refused to shift up. This quickly turned into a stiff shifter and it jumping down gears everytime I tried to go to an easier gear. Not good. I limped home and took off the shifter cover to look for the problem. It became quickly visible.

Part 02, the little wheel

The little wheel inside the shifter was the problem, a tiny bit of carbon. Oh and it isn’t one of the spare parts. Luckily it should be covered under the warranty so I contacted the shop where I bought it to find out.

And since I wanted to get back on the road, I order more shifters on Monday to ensure I could race on Wednesday. (Aside: if you want something quick have a look at Slane. Ordered at 11:47, dispatch confirmation at 16:36, delivered the following morning before 10am. Similar happened with last few orders too)

Part 2 – The chain

The Force groupset I had ordered back when I built the bike came with a PC-1030 chain. Since I already had 3 spare PC-1070 chains from a bulk order, I left it in a box to keep for my other bike. Well since Sunday was a day without real training, I decided to do some maintenance which also involved swapping the chain.

Well wouldn’t you know it, but the chain was one of those funny ones with the weak powerlinks. One SRAM also covered under a recall. Nice. If only it hadn’t broken on the damn chain.

Something is missing


Part 3 – The brake callipers

Lets set the scene. My new shifters had arrived. I had got them on the bike, threaded the cables, even adjusted the rear dérailleur. Now it was just do the brakes and the bike is ready to go.

Brake cable goes inside the clamp, I adjust the brakes to where I want them. Put my torque wrench up and start twisting when pong, something goes flying. Immediately I start scanning my torque wrench thinking, crap I’ve broken my torque wrench. But no, the brake quick release housing has decided to give up.

Firstly, the manual says tighten to 6-8nm. My torque wrench was set to 5nm. Yes I know it was light but I’d rather be safe on the initial setup of things, so I usually do a lower torque first then go back. Well in this case it didn’t matter.

Thinking I was cursed I did a google and came across another blog which seems to reference the exact same issue, just without pictures. Well below are mine. I’ll update this when I talk to SRAM tomorrow. One problem I could understand. Getting really unlucky with the chain too, yeh ok these things happen. But three faulty parts, at least 2 of which SRAM know of, and the 3rd which I know of at least one other person who had the exact same fault, well I’m slightly peeved now.

SRAM Brake Housing Problem

Edit 1: I’ve tried calling SRAM who directed me to the UK distributor, Fisher Outdoor. I have mailed the SRAM rep through them to try get some answers. Cosy Beehive has another post with more pictures of the brakes failing in the same way. Oh and a quote from an SRAM rep saying the brakes still work. Well yes the brakes do work, but what happens when the brakes fail because the rest of the plastic snaps off and the cable comes loose? More will follow.

Edit 2: I spoke to someone in Fisher Outdoor who was very helpful. For problem 1, he confirmed he had seen this on a handful of shifters and that yes, it’ll be replaced under warranty. For problem 3, he confirmed that there is a batch of about 1000 units worldwide that has this problem. Given that I got mine in December 2009 and there are people who bought in the last month who are having this problem, I’d say the number is probably higher. However once again this is a warranty replacement. However I really don’t fancy buying another set of brake callipers while these go off to be replaced. I wish they’d just send out a replacement plastic piece. Oh well.

Edit 3: My new shifter arrived last Friday from Fisher. They also included a full 1091 chain as a replacement for the broken power link. Honestly a lot more than I expected in that respect.

Edit 4: It took some time, all due to me, but I got a new brake calliper from Fisher. The Quick Release plastic section is noticeably thicker than the previous model.

I did also suffer another SRAM Shifter failure, this time the four pillar posts holding the gear shifter came apart. I knew this was already a known problem so the shifter went back and was also replaced. The new one is from a different batch so hopefully that is the end of the problems. It also shifts much smoother too.

Even though I’ve had troubles, my dealings with Fisher have been one of the best RMA experiences I’ve had without anything really. I do like SRAM and bar building a long distance touring bike, I’ll be stick with SRAM. Knowing that if there is ever a problem, the fix is quick, simple, and painless, well that is something.

Race Report – Bog of the Ring [2010-07-21]

Race 2, starting in group two from the result from last week. And not being a fan of the flats I thoroughly expected to get shot out the back on the first lap. Luckily for me the corners were taken slow due to the rain allowing everyone to bunch up again. And the is two slightly uphill sections which I could recover on. Yes I recover on uphills!

Right from the off the group worked well with almost everyone taking their turn. The few occasions where I looked back to see if the last guy was going through, the person a head of me went through. The guys not taking turns started burning off too. Overall though it held together nicely and we kept a steady pace of near 40km/h on the flats. I did think I was in trouble during the second lap when my heart rate spike up above 180bpm but looking at the garmin, it was at the top of the fly-over that I went too far over.

By the last lap guys were shouting at we were 2 minutes down on group 1. By the last corner however it has somehow grown to 2:40? That was enough to slow things down a bit, at least in perceived effort, the speed was higher for that lap, although possibly due to the sprint at the end.

The final sprint wasn’t as fast or well what I expected. Along the straight to the sports clubs, about 5 guys moved to the front to take positions. I moved my way up and ended on the front as we passed the first corner. Things slowly starting winding up around this and I kept it calm waiting for the jump, a jump that didn’t come? About 100-150m from the line, I clicked up and just went for it. No point in dragging everyone to the line. The speed went up and people beside and behind me starting falling off, all the time I was looking out for someone else to start sprinting and come around. It wasn’t until the last 20m that someone did and he came by much to far to my right for me to grab his wheel, ending the group sprint with him crossing first followed by myself.

The Stats:

Distance: 40.89km
Time: 1:06:50
Avg Speed: 36.7km/h
Calories: 1010
Avg Power: 253watts
Normalised Power: 303watts

The final sprint

Race Report – Springhill – 3 Sisters [2010-07-14]

Today marked my first start in a race. I’d planned to start last week after finishing La Marmotte. But alas, some licencing issues meant I didn’t start and got to enjoy marshalling.

For today, being new, I started in group1 and was first off. As much as people tried, only half the group were willing to take any turns. It made for a very organised pace line with people mostly spread out. It was interesting to watch people suffer on the small up-hills and it became quickly apartent that I won’t be in group 1 next week.

On the second lap near the finish line, a young guy in red (Paul I think) took off. The group mainly held together after letting him hang out in front. He did start making a little group as the pace stayed relaxed. However on the next lap, something happened near finish line causing people to speed up. I’m not sure what but the group spaced out quickly. One of the Swords CC guys ended up out front with two others ahead. Remembering back to some advise about not going hard enough, I through caution to the wind and jumped onto the wheel of the two ahead. If I went too fast it’d be a good learning experience.

After passing the finish line, I confirmed that we only one lap remaining and it was finishing here. (We started half way around the course). With that sorted, I went to the front to take a turn and up the pace slightly to try catch the Swords CC rider ahead. Strangely the two behind didn’t follow and dropped off. Instead of waiting, I clicked and upped to force myself to catch the wheel ahead. It took about 2km, 2km on flats and I hate flats, but I got there. As I rolled up beside him, he looked like someone out on a leisure ride, just taking in the scenery while I’m sure I looking more worse for wear.

He suggested we do some up and overs until we are caught which I agreed to.  Just before the turn at Baldwinstown, I looked back and am nearly sure I saw the scratch group rolling up. We both sat up and slowed up waiting for the group to power through so we could do our best to catch the wheels. But 30 seconds passed and nothing. Then 60 seconds and still nothing. Looking back on the straight, still nothing. Yes the scratch car was ahead of us, but the group weren’t visible behind. It became now or never so we went for it upping the pace to catch the last man out front. And we did just before the hill a Mallahow.

From here, we kept the pace up but low enough to recover properly, just in case we were actually caught. It took some effort to force the guy in red to the front for some turns. And with it looking like things were going to break down, the Swords guy agreed not to sprint if we pulled him to the line ahead of the other group. This somehow got us all working together again for another while, each taking our turns.

On the hill at Forde De Foyne, I decide to do a little sprinting up the first part to see if I could break away. Low and behold, the red guy stuck to my wheel like glue, so I sat up and recovered and again tried to force him through to take some turns. Obviously he wasn’t as tired as he was making out.

For the last hill, straight to the finish, I moved to the front. It was slightly up hill and we could see the end. Soon my first race would be over and it was looking like I’d actually get a good result, little did I know what was about to happen.

The red guy came to left side and started accelerating, all I could do was try hard to stay with him, and strangely I did. It was pretty much neck and neck until about 25m before the line. A gear shift didn’t go properly for him causing his chain to jump or catch, thus letting me pull ahead and get a decent gap before the finish line to cross in first. I had won my first race.

A few more from group 1 stayed away but most were caught by scratch earlier. I also found out that scratch had, for some unknown reason, slowed down before the long straight. But either way, luck or not, I had crossed line first. A win is a win is a win. Lets see if we can repeat this because it was fun.

The Stats:

Distance: 42.45km
Time: 1:18:54
Avg Speed: 32.3km/h
Calories: 1076
Avg Power: 231.7watts
Normalised Power: 287watts

La Marmotte 2010 – Race Day Review

1 day

174km of cycling

5000m of climbing

An event like no other

Finally, after over 9 months of directed training, 11 months of waiting, the Marmotte has been completed. It is done. We got around. Completed.

From start to finish, it really is an epic event. Everything from the scale of the mountains to number of cyclists to the amount of water I had to drink (somewhere about 10 bottles I think excluding what was dunked over my head).  But even with the massive numbers, things were well organised. Everything moved pretty quickly and didn’t leave us waiting in the sun too much – which was pretty hot for a lot of the day. Reports of 39C on the Alpe d’Huez yesterday!

Bourg d’Oisans to base of the Glandon

The day begins by hoarding everyone into different gated sections for the start. I had heard that is was like cattle pens, but these expanded out pretty far for our group. For the front group (1-200), they were in a small area like a cattle pen but then it is a smaller group.

It begins by people ahead moving slowly forward and everyone around you slowly shuffling ahead. As you get closer to the start line, you hear the band, pass by it about the time you get to cycling, then across the timing mats and the day begins. Immediately groups begin forming, some fast, some slow. Then there are those that seem to cycle like they have rocket packs.

I did manage to stay with a group and bridge up at different times all the way to the Glandon. Even on the Glandon, right up through the first climb section, groups and pace lines stayed together. Actually it was my first time hitting a roundabout in a large group at high speed, and it is amazing how it strings out around the roundabout, then bunches back up straight afterwards.

Col du Glandon – Alt. 1924m

We had been warned that this would be 3-4 cyclists deep the whole way up the climb when we hit this, and it was for the most part. Coming past the EDF electricity station, I was on the front of a group for a bit but obviously I hammered it a bit too hard and they dropped off my wheel for a while. I hadn’t fully gotten everything together on the subsequent descent when I locked up my rear wheel momentarily. Not a fun thing to do. It actually happen again at the first descending bit of the Glandon climb. I once again locked the rear after overtaking a Tandem and ended up a foot into the grass. Quite a few others did similar things around the course.

Other than that, the climb was pretty much a case of just keep pedalling and watch the heart rate so as not to over cook it, which is surprisingly easy to do if you stay on the wrong wheel for a while.

The Glandon descent was meant to be removed from the timing so just after rounding the hotel before the summit was the timing mat. It took a few minutes to figure out how the water works. At one section there is cups of water, and another taps for bottles. I spent a few minutes trying to get a bottle to fill my bottles before someone said this. The stop had some food, soft jellies which were amazing, but not as amazing as the cut orange pieces. They really are super to much on and get juice from at a time like that. Very refreshing.

Col du Glandon Descent

Being neutralised, a lot of people were taking it slow. Very slow. Some weren’t and we ripping by like we were standing still. After a bit, I jumped in line with a group and picked up the pace with them and even though we were doing 40-50km/h, guys were still flying by occasionally.

The downside to the slow people was that the rims heated up. And for those that have never seen this, rims on long descents can heat up quite a bit. Enough to cause a blowout. And blowouts there were a lot of. Yet another reason I didn’t take it all too fast as the smell of brake pads was pretty strong.

Col du Glandon to Col du Télégraphe

The not so flat bit. Advise for this section was take it easier than you think you need to. And if you are on your own, sit up, wait for a group. One will come.

Luckily I had been in a group from the descent and they were going at a descent enough pace. It allowed me to sit in for the first 5 or so minutes and get some much needed food into me. It immediately became apparent the differences in ability on the first little uphill. No more than 25m of climbing but the rate at some people went backwards was insane. Almost like someone had pulled their brakes.

The most interesting part of the descent would have to the speed bumps on a long straight road where it flatten out. While on any other day these would have been up and over, at the speed we rolled onto them, well I got airborn coming off them.

For about half of this section, the group held together. I think I lost contact or the group split a bit mid way through. But for whatever the reason, I was in a smaller group for a while, then behind only one person, then bridging gaps and watching people fall from my wheel.

The Télégraphe did come all too soon in some respects.

Col du Télégraphe – Alt. 1570m

If you were to stand all four climbs on their own in similar situations, the Télégraphe is probably the easiest of the lot. Not so in the Marmotte. We hit the bottom sometime before 11 meaning things were starting to heat up, and heat up they did. I later heard that the village below the Télégraphe was 35C at 11am. A sign of things to come.

About half way up there was a water truck at the side of the road with some jellies. A quick stop and another bottle fill and back on the road. By this stage things felt hot but I was still managing pretty well. The worst part was the road works near the top. Yes the organisers had people there directing traffic, but we a solid stream of cyclists for however many hours, things did bunch up for a while. This gave me a chance to walk by bike for a little bit while waiting for traffic.

Another fill of the bottles at the top and it was on to Valloire.

Col du Galibier – Alt. 2645m

When we climbed the Galibier on Tuesday, it became overcast and cooler when we passed through Valloire. Not so today. Yes there was some drizzle for a short period while climbing, but it was a very strange cast of ah cold rain drops, but everything else is still burning hot. Even upon reaching the top, I was standing around for a few minutes with the jersey unzipped before I even started to cool down.

Unfortunately there isn’t much else to this climb. It was an hour and half of slogging away and keeping the pace. The most memorable point was passing one of the corners were a few dutch cyclists were sitting on deck cars outside of a camper van that was there to support them. They all looked very refreshed and were enjoying their ice cold cans of coke. Really, the only way to live.

Col du Galibier – Descent to Bourg d’Oisans – Alt. 719m

A 40km descent may sound great, but when that 40km descent has some rolling roads and a few smaller climbs, it becomes a bit harder than you set yourself up for, as I found out on Tuesday. Luckily, doing these in a group is a fair bit easier and once again allowed me to relax some for the first section.

The relaxing stopped about 12km when some not so good riders caught up. Descents are not fun when guys pull in front of you, pull the brakes, and then start weaving. This made me hunker down and up the speed a little leaving them behind. An aside, passing cars at 50km/h isn’t always as scary as it seems. A group of faster riders then began forming leaving us about 20 strong by the first uphill section. Unfortunately for me, almost all of them had started 20 minutes after I did and were a fair bit faster on the hills. This resulted in some of my highest heart rates for the day while fighting up the hills after them, usually having to catch them again on the descent after the climb when everyone started bunching up again.

It held together until the flat section rolling to the bottom of the Alpe, the pace drifting off somewhat. But onward, and upward to hell!

Alpe d’Huez – Alt. 1880m

I’ll start by echoing the advise given to me by others.

The Alpe will be hot. It will be hard. You will suffer. And you will NOT go as fast as you have on other ascents up the Alpe.

Little did I know how much I’d suffer or how hot it would be. My initial plan for the day was the leave my timer on and not stop it. That way when I got to the Alpe with less than an hour to go before the 8:27 Gold cut off time, I’d take it easy and enjoy the finish. Not so. I rolled to the bottom with 7:10ish on the clock. This made me push through the food stop and along the short flatish part, exactly like I said I wouldn’t.

Immediately on the climb something became very apparently. People everywhere were suffering, and suffering badly. My fast pace made me look like I was going well as I past a load of people during the first 30 seconds, presumably as they were smart and had just come out of the food stop. I stopped passing people as we hit the steep section and I settle down somewhat. I do say somewhat as I still was pushing a little hard as I knew this was where I’d make up the most time due to my climbing style. So push I did.

The heat really became apparent when I took a drink somewhere along the road, a drink of warm water! And I do mean properly warm water. It was at this point I realised that if I kept my current pace, I’d burn off all the water I had well before I hit the first tap I knew off on the flat section near where the road forks at the top. This is where you should ALWAYS read the race book properly before hand. As we got to Huez, there was a water stop on the side of the road. For the first time of the day, a water bottle was emptied, filled, then thrown over my head. One of the ladies at the stop also poured a few glasses over my head before I filled the bottle back up and went on. Onward and upward with some lovely ice cold water. Or so I thought…

Within a few hundred meters, the water had heated back up in the bottles again, and I was almost bone dry. A litre of water over my head and I was dry within 5 minutes. I later found out that it was 39C at the bottom of the Alpe when we rolled on to it. Something that explains why everything was heating up so much.

The rest of the ascent, including another water stop at a waterfall at the side of the road, was just a case of push hard, but not too hard as too burn up. So two water stops, one pee stop. Not too bad.

The Last 2km

This will probably remain the hardest few minutes of my life for quite a while to come. And all because I didn’t read the race book properly. As any cyclist knows, there comes a point when you start doing some mental maths and realise you are tired because simple things are taking way way too long. For me, the mental maths started early in the day on the Glandon when I realised I was well up on the pace I was expecting. On the Alpe however, it became nearly constant. Always trying to multiply or divide something, seeing if I’d get that magically cut of time of 8:27. Rolling up at the bottom, I really felt confident. 75 minutes to do the ascent, one that had taken 61 previously. One I now knew I could push harder in certain sections.  Yes, I was quietly confident.

As the water stops rolled through it did begin to change, and I remember getting along the faux flat near the top, the section where the road forks. I was trying to work out how fast I needed to go compared to what I was doing. It was taking minutes to do the maths. More so, the ascent was to finish at 175.3km, not the 174.4km I had been planning. This could only mean that the ascent was longer, something that was confirmed at some corner with a nice sign telling me the summit was Xkm up.

The graph above is that of my speed along the Alpe d’Huez. I had realised it would be close. A matter of seconds to reach the time cut off for Gold. My HR was rising so I decided to click up and push harder. And harder and faster I went. Luckily the top started flattening out letting me continuing upping the pace.

I rounded the last corner and entered the gated area. All the time watching the precious seconds tick away. Then finally I crossed the line – hitting stop as I did. La Marmotte was done. I’d finished.

They say a picture says a thousand words. This says it all

4 Seconds

4 Seconds was what it came down to. The training, the suffering. All for 4 seconds. Yes I’d get my gold due to the Glandon descent being removed, but it wouldn’t be a real gold. All for 4 seconds. A quicker pee stop. A quicker water stop. Pushing through the roadwords on the Telegraphe quicker. Not breaking as hard during the Gliber descent. Pushing just that tiny bit harder on the ascent. Anything.

I was too sore to be annoyed. My back was stiff and I needed something to drink. Luckily there was a stand with more recovery drinks just over the line which helped.

After putting the bike in one of the stands, I lay down for a while. Resting. Trying to take in everything that had happened. Trying to understand how 4 seconds could influence everything. I think I was up the Alpe for around an hour and a half. Ate the food they gave us, got my cert and returned the timing chip. My friend Peter hadn’t arrived up so I decided to head on back to the house.

Success comes in strange things

Upon returning back, one of the first things I did was pull out the page with the time cut offs. Mainly I was trying to figure out if the cert said Gold or Silver. I honestly couldn’t remember which was which. But once I opened the page, I saw it. Cat C, 8:29. I had actually made it and not known it. I did what I had hoped for and earlier in the week doubted I could. I had made the real gold time.

The Aftermath

Right now it is just over a week after the event. On the day of the event I had publicly said that I didn’t think La Marmotte was as hard as everyone made it out to be. I still stand by this. My point being that the heat pays a monumental part how hard the day is going to be. Now for someone who doesn’t handle the heat well (i.e. me) to say this, something has to be up. Calorie wise, the Marmotte wasn’t much beyond the Wicklow 200 I had completed a few weeks before. And while it was definitely harder, much harder, La Marmotte wasn’t as truelly hard as I expected. Yes the heat made me suffer, but not as much as I did during an ascent of 3 Rock the week previously while training.

Maybe the event and its magical powers helped me feel it was easier, who knows. On the Sunday after it I went out for a training spin. For the first time in as long as I could remember, my muscles were still a bit sore and stiff. Cycling was also hard. The kind of hard I get when I don’t train for 3/4 days, except this time my heart rate was not going up. No matter how I pushed, my legs were giving out before it went up. Sprinting on a hill raised it to 158 but then my legs gave out and said no more. It was surreal. Honestly something I had never experienced before.

The following week I remained tired. But more just the kind of tired you get from lack of sleep than anything else. We hadn’t been sleeping properly during the week in France and it was starting to catch up with me. It finally hit home on the Saturday after when I didn’t get out of bed until 12:30. Part of this may also have been due to one of our neighbours having a party during the night and waking us up multiple times, but I still felt tired so I’m putting it down as a bit of both.

Would I do it again? Simple answer is it depends. I don’t think I’d just do La Marmotte by itself. If I was to go back, it’d be for La Grande Trophie, a series of events over the week. I know I’m strong enough for a Marmotte Gold so I’ve nothing left to prove in it.

Would I recommend it? Yes. Yes. Yes. It is an epic event on a scale like nothing I’ve seen. Make sure you can climb before you go. And bring a compact and a large rear cog (I had a 34×28 on my Cervelo) or else you will suffer. Apparently lots of people go over every year to do the event, see the hills then realise the event is insane, and then go home. One of the guys staying near us did this. He arrived over on a standard crankset with a 25 on the back and he did suffer some.  But once you have some real hill climbing experience, you’ll know what to expect and you’ll love it. Even if you are one of the people who spends 3 hours walking up the Alpe at the end of the day, you’ll still love it. Getting around is an achievement no matter how you do it.

My Stats

Distance: 175.25km
Time: 8:27:04
Stopped Time: 24:05
Avg Speed: 20.7km/h
Fastest Speed: 65.2km/h
Climb: +4557.4/-3565.1
Calories (PowerTap): 5889
Avg HR: 149