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L’Etape de Légende

term1teterm1te Posts: 1,462
Anyone else cycle through the Vosges on Sunday? Excellent day :D the weather couldn’t have been better, neither could the organisation. I was 5 minutes short of a medal, but very pleased with my time, 9 hours and 46 seconds. By the look of it only about half the starting field got to the Ballon d’Alsace before the cut off time.

Posts

  • skinseyskinsey Posts: 105
    Yep, just got home from it. I'll do a fuller post later, but I thought it was a superb day - everything was right; the organisation, the weather, the course (difficult but not ridiculous), the crowds of people watching, just everything. I was a bit disappointed with my time at just over 10 hours, but that was despite crashing (nothing too dramatic though), puncturing and fighting to stave off cramp from mile 80 onwards. Just a word on when I punctured - was amazed when a Frenchman and his 2 sons descended on me and insisted I did nothing. They had the wheel off, changed the tube, replaced the tyre and flagged down a passing Mavic van to supply a track pump before I could hardly blink. In my gratitude and exhaustion (this was just before the ascent of the Ballon d'Alsace I told the father he was "tres jolie" which as my wife reminded me afterwards is "very pretty", but hopefully he got the idea I was grateful. Just a great day all round, but don't tell anyone, or it'll be overrun with Brits next year!
  • Well, as you know, Term1te, I did it too, although I was some 30 minutes slower than you. I thought it was fantastic, although I wish that I'd spent more time enjoying the scenery - I was either head down clawing at the gears on the uphills, or concentrating on staying on the road during the descents.
    By the look of it only about half the starting field got to the Ballon d’Alsace before the cut off time.
    That's surprising - I really feel for all those people who had got that far but weren't allowed to continue. In a funny kind of way, it makes me feel even better for having completed

    Skinsey, I too had cramp - terrible cramp at the top of Col de Breitfirst. Involved a good 10 to 15 minutes of rolling around in agony on the ground before I could pluck up the courage to get back on the bike. Didn't spoil the day one little bit, though, although I was a bit cautious over the next few km.

    It was the penultimate climb that got me, from about 140k to 160k, which just seemed to go on and on. Must have taken at least an hour and a half to climb it, I reckon.

    Favourite parts were the first 35k of bowling along at over 40kph in a massive group; the descent along Rue des Cretes from the penultimate hill; and the flatt(er) bit after the third feed stop when I hooked up again with another big group.

    Least favourite part was seeing that poor guy who had wiped out early on one of the first corners on the first big descent. He looked in a bad way and I hope he was ok.

    Organisation was superb, really well signed, very well marshalled and supervised (a motorcycle marshal stopped within a few moments of me cramping to ask "Avez vous la crampe? Vous voulez un docteur?" Perhaps I should have followed skinsey's precedent and told her she was very jolie, but I didn't.

    A fantastic day, a hard day, but no harder than I was expecting and no easier than I would have wanted. Loads of people along the route, really good to be encouraged along like that.

    I know they were hoping for closer to 8000 than the 3000 they got, but I really hope it goes down as a success and that there's something similar next year...
  • term1teterm1te Posts: 1,462
    Topcattim,

    I see you use the same photographer as me. :lol:
  • knedlickyknedlicky Posts: 3,097
    topcattim wrote:
    term1te wrote:
    By the look of it only about half the starting field got to the Ballon d’Alsace before the cut off time.
    That's surprising - I really feel for all those people who had got that far but weren't allowed to continue. In a funny kind of way, it makes me feel even better for having completed

    Loads of people along the route, really good to be encouraged along like that.

    I know they were hoping for closer to 8000 than the 3000 they got, but I really hope it goes down as a success and that there's something similar next year...
    I’ll write more of my actual ride tomorrow, but for the record, the local papers reported on Monday that 2130 riders started at Strasbourg while the official website lists 1517 as finishing within the time limit.

    One of the papers bemoaned the lack of spectators while the other was more jubilant, estimating there to have been over 6000 along the route. (I’d actually guess a couple of thousand more than that, or maybe that’s because I found the 6000 as encouraging as 10,000 might be!)

    As for another event next year, one local newspaper today reported that ASO weren’t really happy with the event as a financial success but would likely try it again next year at a different location, i.e. a different legendary Tour day (though the local organisers said they would be happy to have a repeat next year).
    I feel certain that next year ASO will arrange an Etape de Legende elsewhere, hoping it eventually takes off - the Etape du Tour wasn’t as big an event in its early years as it is now. (I look forward to the year they do Chiappucci's breakaway ride through the Alps!)

    Some French riders I spoke to afterwards said they felt the ride was too long, saying neither the Etape du Tour nor the actual mountain stages in the ‘real’ Tour are nowadays as long and with as much climbing as this was. And I think they are correct – this had 215 km with about 3700 m climbing whereas the 2006 Etape du Tour ‘only’ had 190 km with 3500 m climbing, and the 2007 version ‘only’ had 195 km with 3000 m climbing.

    ASO seem to have, with hindsight, also quickly realised that it was really too difficult for too many riders, because they’ve already said the next Etape de Legende will be shorter and easier. They themselves also misjudged the difficulty when they announced the winner would probably arrive about 13.00, whereas he only rolled over the line at about 13.45.

    I had a look at the results from the legendary 1967 stage and was surprised to see the winner, Lucien Aimar, took about the same time (6 hrs 45 mins) as this Sunday’s winner, despite a heavier, old-fashioned bike, and less idea of training and nutrition. In fact, in 1967, all the peloton finished within 7 hrs 15 mins, whereas on Sunday only the first 15 riders were within this time.
    The riders of 1967 obviously come from a time when ‘men were men’ or were on better amphetamines than are available nowadays!
  • knedlickyknedlicky Posts: 3,097
    topcattim wrote:
    Least favourite part was seeing that poor guy who had wiped out early on one of the first corners on the first big descent. He looked in a bad way and I hope he was ok.
    I believe the helicopter was only used once, later on in the day, so not for the guy who crashed on the first descent (since that was maybe 9 am), whom I also quickly saw as I went by, a few people gathered around him.

    I also saw a bloke 200 yards in front of me crash at the bottom of the descent from the Route des Cretes, at the junction to turn left towards La Bresse. Fortunately a bunch of firemen seemed to having their annual picnic just nearby so ran to help him. Later the ambulance taking him away passed me.

    One rider I did feel sorry for crashed very early on, maybe only 20 km out of Strasbourg, probably a wheel-touching incident. I saw him being helped into an ambulance.

    I saw the ambulance one other time in action, and as it was on a steep climb, I guess the guy just went so slow he eventually toppled over to the side, but you can still break your arm like that.
  • knedlickyknedlicky Posts: 3,097
    I'm glad Term1te, skinsey and topcattim (and statts, from the Etape de Legende thread in the road race forum) all enjoyed the Etape and made it through.
    And I agree that it was very well put together - organisation (very efficient but still very very friendly), route, scenery (I already know the Vosges well and love the area), closed roads, food (I liked the spice cake at the feeding stations a lot) - while the weather played along wonderfully too.
    Unfortunately, however, I was one of those who never made it to the end this time.

    I was hoping to arrive at the top of the Ballon D'Alsace by about 17.45 pm, and the beginning of the Etape went well enough. At 11.15 am, after 4 hours riding plus 10 mins at the first feeding station, I was at the top of the 4th col (Col de Freland) at the 102 km mark, so I comfortably ahead of my own schedule, :D ... but then things started to go wrong.

    For reasons into which I won't go (and unfortunately not pleasurable ones either), I'd only had 2-2½ hours sleep the night before in Strasbourg, and as we went through Orbey (115 km) I started to feel drowsy as my sleep deficit kicked in. On the pretty-easy Col de Wettstein I lost touch with the group I'd been riding with and then, on the equally-easy Collet du Linge, immediately after the Wettstein, things got worse - my eyelids kept dropping and my eyes closing involuntarily.
    It was the same micro-sleep experience that many people probably know from driving when overtired. For a second or three, your eyes close and you are asleep at the wheel (and a great danger). On Sunday I was falling asleep on the bike!

    I managed to make it to the next feeding station, where I discovered 'my' group had already been and gone, meaning I'd fallen back near enough 15 mins compared to them. But I realised I couldn't go on like that, so after the feeding station, I pulled over and went and lay in a field, hoping a 10 mins catnap might help. I came round about 30 mins later! This meant within about 25 km, I'd lost over 45 mins, or practically an hour if you add on my time at the feeding station.

    The shut-eye helped a bit, because going up the Col du Platzerwasel, I found myself passing many riders, though I was also pretty slow. On the Route des Cretes and the subsequent descent, I still wasn't feeling that good nor riding with the speed I usually do, but I still believed I might just make it to the finish within the time limit.

    However, when I reached the next feeding station at the 174 km mark, the broom wagon suddenly appeared as I was eating an orange. Well, to me it was 'sudden', and a surprise.
    Although I never thought of it at the time, I can now see from the route table we were given that when I started riding again at the foot of the Platzerwasel, I was then probably only 5 mins ahead of the broom wagon. That 5 mins was 'eaten up' at the feeding station.

    As the broom wagon (organisation car, buses for riders and vans for bikes) appeared, about 7-8 guys fled on their bikes at the first sight of it, but I didn't try to as I was uncertain whether the heavy drowsiness would return and didn't want to feel the pressure of the broom wagon right behind me for the rest of the way when I wasn't feeling good. Though later, I wondered if I was right to let myself get hauled in so easily. :(

    There were riders already in some buses, and a couple more were picked up on the way to the foot of the Ballon climb. From thereon riders were allowed to complete the ride if they wished, but their transponders were removed from them if it looked like they wouldn't make the top within the time limit. The last guy to get in my bus was only about 4 km short of the finish but he said he'd had enough.

    I later learnt most of the group with whom I'd been riding with as far as Orbey (115 km), so when my droopy eyes problem set in, arrived at the finish between 17.35-17.55 pm. So I think had I not been suffering sleep deprivation, I would have done the same and met my aim.

    Obviously I'm disappointed but at least I know it wasn't my cycling ability which failed me. And I have ridden the Ballon D'Alsace twice before (once in a cyclosportive - Les Trois Ballons), so it's not like I've never ever climbed it and will never have chance again.
    Oh well!


    I passed about 8 other Brits during the ride, 5 on the first col (Kreuzweg), and 2-3 of them a second time plus 3 others on the Platzerwasel (I imagine all those I passed on the Platzerwasel got in front of me while I was asleep in the field). I knew they were Brits from bits of conversation they were having between themselves. And I doubt most of them finished either; three in particular looked already well whacked by the 140 km mark.

    I did see and also hear one Brit with a Swiss flag on his jersey, so would that be you, Term1te? If so, you passed me on one of the first couple of cols, I forget which.
    And are you sure you've got your time right? About 9 hours would have just put you in the top 500 and certain of a medal. My wife, who watched everyone come in from about 4 pm onwards, said that all who finished within the time limit (11 hrs 35 mins) were given a medal.
  • RadsmanRadsman Posts: 122
    I beg to differ the 2007 Etape had well over 4000 meters climbing and officially was 200k long. so those Frenchies are just cry babies.
  • knedlickyknedlicky Posts: 3,097
    knedlicky wrote:
    Some French riders I spoke to afterwards said they felt the ride was too long, saying neither the Etape du Tour nor the actual mountain stages in the ‘real’ Tour are nowadays as long and with as much climbing as this was. And I think they are correct – this had 215 km with about 3700 m climbing whereas the 2006 Etape du Tour ‘only’ had 190 km with 3500 m climbing, and the 2007 version ‘only’ had 195 km with 3000 m climbing.
    Radsman wrote:
    I beg to differ the 2007 Etape had well over 4000 meters climbing and officially was 200k long.
    I quoted the official distances, including for the Etape du Tour 2007.
    People always find variations; one guy I know who did the Etape du Tour this year said he measured 199 km, not 196 km, for instance.

    The official sites don’t give total climbing, I suppose because it varies depending on how sensitively one measures. So I quoted conservative figures based on a summation of the main climbs.
    But again people always find variations. At the finish of the Etape de Legende, one guy told me he’d registered just over 4020 m climbing on his altimeter, so markedly higher than the figure I gave. But I felt I couldn’t use his figure when I knew no one who’d measured by altimeter during the Etape du Tour.
  • RadsmanRadsman Posts: 122
    fair enough, friend with altimeter measured over 5,000 meters on the 2007 Etape. Plus it was 35 degrees.

    Winning time was 6 hours 21 munites for the 2007 Etape and cutoff time was 12 hours. Compared to 6 hours 43 minitues winning time for the Legend.

    Based on these, I believe they were both brutally hard. Though it the 2007 etape was arguably probably on the hardest stage of the 2007 TDF. So maybe you have point about length, but don't discount the how brutal the combination of heat and the steepness of the Pyrenses are (having cycled there and the Balloons).

    by the way, congratulations.
  • skinseyskinsey Posts: 105
    On the ride's difficulty - it caught me out. I've done 4 hilly 100+ mile sportives this year (including the Spud Riley as my final proper practice ride), plus 5 other centuries, a 130 miler from here (Macclesfield) to Pwllheli through the Welsh hills, and loads of climbing on the local hills. You look at the average gradients on a ride like the Legende and think "that'll be manageable", but very little in the UK can prepare you for those long, grinding ascents, and 1 after the other really drains you. After 90 minutes on Sunday I'd done 40 miles and was thinking I was on for a really good time. Then we hit the hills. They weren't any more difficult than the 2004 Etape or the Gran Fondo Campagnolo - the other foreign rides I've done - but the average UK rider (me) just isn't well-enough prepared for them, and in the end I was pleased to finish in 10 hours, though with puntures and feed stops my actual riding time was 9h 10m. But, as I said earlier, it was a fantastic event, and I hope the ASO put it on again next year.
  • skinseyskinsey Posts: 105
    I filled in a post-ride questionnaire yesterday on the Legende. One of the questions in there asked if I would be interested in next year's Legende if it was a 215k flat stage from Dinan to Lannion in Brittany. It's interesting if they are thinking of doing that - i.e. running a flat rather than a hilly stage. Personally, I love that part of the world so would still go and do it, but I suspect others would be disappointed.
  • term1teterm1te Posts: 1,462
    I saw that as well. I'm not sure it would have the appeal of a mountain stage, but there are other mountain runs if thats what you want. I'd still be tempted though. I did a very flat 180 km sportif earlier this year and found it tougher than the Legende. Full on 30 to 40 Kmh for five hours without a single break was mentally as well as physically more draining than some of those hills last Sunday. Riding in a fast pack for that length of time also gives you much more of a big race feel. But the wrong side of France for me, so I'll see.
  • term1te wrote:
    But the wrong side of France for me, so I'll see.

    Right side for me :D
    As you say, not as appealing as riding a mountain stage, but the ease of access would be in its favour as far as I am concerned.
  • andyrrandyrr Posts: 1,521
    I managed to haul myself round the Legende in a sniff under 9hrs 15mins (or add another 5 mins to actually get across the start line)
    Gave me a posision of 650th I think, 266th in category which, considering I have not ridden over 90miles in a oner this year I was pretty pleased with.
    A tough route : the numerous climbs taken in 39 x 23, 25 and 27 were wearing and the Platzerwasel and the subsequent 3 rises were really, really tough and I just ground up that one, content to pace myself sensibly which I just managed, and then the last climb, as I think I never really overextended myself, I felt relatively good on - nice to have a countdown of hairpins and the encouraging signs indicating that the end was near.
    The crowds of locals were fantastic, very encouraging shouting 'Courage' and 'Champions !'. Very satisfying but I'm not sure if enjoyable is the right word to describe it - the memory of the Platzerwasel will remain with me for a while yet !

    I normally do road races up to around 80 miles or so and TTs of 10 - 50 miles and, apart from 1 UK sportive of 90 miles and a 75 mile Fondo a couple of years ago, I've not riden anything like this : I'd personally do another but a long, flat ride would not interest me, a testing, but not ridiculous, parcour might see me do it again. I might try to do something a little different liek the Fladers sportive or another Fondo.
  • term1teterm1te Posts: 1,462
    Welcome to the forum andyrr. I'm glad you had a good race, I completely got the pacing wrong at the end and nearly died halfway up the Ballon, to the extent that I've no idea how I ended up standing at the side of the road with my head on the handle bars. I think I was probably there for 3 or 4 minutes which seemed to do the trick and I dragged myself to the top. Bizarrely I felt fine after about 10 minutes at the top, although the photos may tell a different story.
  • pedylanpedylan Posts: 775
    Sorry for the belated addition to this thread but I scuttled off to Crete for a couple of weeks straight after the Legende.

    If it makes knedlicky feel better he wasn't the only non finisher. I had just passed the 2km to summit sign on Platzerwasel when the pace car passed me some 7 hours in and around 150km on my computer. This climb was just too much on a 39 x 26 and my schedule was blown.

    I enjoyed the day immensely, the weather, the crowds, everything others have said. I got up too early though and woud also have welcomed another hour's kip the night before.

    I had the ride divided up into 3 x 3hour stints, 3 to first feed, 3 to second and 3 or a bit more to the finish.

    Stage 1 and Stage 2 went fine and I arrived at second feed stop at just over 6 hours. Felt Ok leaving but was quite isolated at this stage - lots of riders still at feed stop when i left but after that I could look back and forward a long way and see no -one. the lack of any group made what was to come on platzerwasel worse. My gearing was all wrong and as the gradient went skyward so did my chances of finishing. I really need a compact or triple to get round any kind of mountain stage ( I know now).

    I've only done one sportive and changed my fairly worn rear cog before it to give me a 26 instead of 23. Nowhere near enough for these continental hills which just go on and on.

    I hired a trusty (and heavy) Scott mountain bike on Crete and with its triples sailed up some hairpin bend roads and tracks where only goats looked comfortable. So that helped my pride and I am determined to complete a mountain stage Etape next year.

    Congratulations to everyone who took part.
    Where the neon madmen climb
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