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Marmotte 2012

Hi All,
A group of us Glaswegian cyclists are planning on La Marmotte next year using an established company rather than organising it ourselves and would be grateful for any helpful tips that those that have done the event previously have to offer, including training, transport, nutrition, equipment in fact anything at all.



  • Far easier and cheaper to do it yourself. Pay someone and you'll get censored accomodation and lousy service.

    Book a chalet, buy your entries and fly / drive there and you'll have a great time.

    Training available in TrainingPeaks or find a coach / read some books / ask here.

    The Marmotte is great, make a week of it and have a blast in the Alpes.
  • I did the Etape in the Alps this year and organised it myself which was pretty easy

    I spoke to a fair number of people who had booked with one in particular of the established companies and found them rubbish:
    rooms not ready till 10pm the night before the gig
    bikes not shipped on time as promised
    single rooms charged for but put up in twins
    etc etc
  • APIIIAPIII Posts: 2,010
    I did it solo a few years ago, so chose to go with a company. Used Alpcycles. Chalet was decent, food good, no complaints really. However, if I were going as a big group I'd book everything myself as it'll be loads cheaper
  • richaricha Posts: 1,631
    IME Marmotte is very easy to self organise. Particularly if there is a few of you.

    Flights to Lyon/Grenoble. Hire car. Accomm in Bourg/AdH. Pleanty of choices for all of these.

    Marmotte 2008 Blog
    Marmotte 2009 Blog
  • maddog 2maddog 2 Posts: 8,114
    RichA wrote:
    IME Marmotte is very easy to self organise.


    Last time we stayed in Venosc - lovely village.
    Facts are meaningless, you can use facts to prove anything that's remotely true! - Homer
  • twotyredtwotyred Posts: 822
    There's a group of you so I'd go along with the other suggestions here and organise it yourselves. If you are just going for the Marmotte then book a chalet in Alpe d'Huez. That gives you extra motivation to finish as you will know you have to get up the Alpe to a beer, a meal and your bed. If you are going for a week then probably doing the same at Bourg d'Oisans would be better as then you are not finishing every ride with an ascent of the Alpe.

    As for training I'd recommend getting a coach or at least some structured training programme that will enable you to pedal close to threshold for a couple of hours at a time. Take your training seriously. If you don't then rest assured La Marmotte will find you out.

    Just as important as getting fit is being light. If you have any weight to lose make sure you lose it. Losing 1 kg will save you 5 mins on the Marmotte. Losing 10 like I did will save you 50 mins which could be the difference between making the time limit at the bottom of the Alpe or not.

    As far as equipment is concerned don't use carbon rims. You need well modulated braking on alpine descents plus carbon rims build up heat faster than alloy rims making blow outs due to air in the tubes expanding more common. Plus deep section rims are no advantage on the Marmotte. At this year's Marmotte people were having blow outs going down the Alpe to the start and most of them seemed to be using carbon rims.

    For nutrition you need to work out what works for you so experiment with gels, energy bars and energy drink during your training to find out what works for you and check this by doing 3-4 century rides or Sportives as part of your training. Maybe try a savoury option as it makes a nice change from carbs. If its a hot day for the Marmotte then keep drinking and make use of all the water stations.

    Most of all, on the day, when you get to the start line try to relax and enjoy it. You're in France, on a bike, riding the roads where legends were made. You've chosen well, La Marmotte is a fantastic event
  • Thanks Guys, as there aren't any 2 hr climbs locally is there any benefit in doing hill repeats on 40 min climbs as opposed to turbo :evil: sessions at threshold for 2 hrs.
    Also friends that have done it have suggested lights for the tunnels> Are knogg's okay or would i need something heavier duty
  • lochindaallochindaal Posts: 475
    Thanks Guys, as there aren't any 2 hr climbs locally is there any benefit in doing hill repeats on 40 min climbs as opposed to turbo sessions at threshold for 2 hrs.

    You will get whole new threads on this topic with both opinions saying it will work. From personal experience of doing the event I would always say the hill climb option. If you haven't done any European climbing before it is a mental battle to beat a hill as much as a physical one. Going up Galibier will take you up to 3 hours. You are sitting on your bike in a completely different position from normal. If you have a good 40 min climb near you then use it.

    Lights were provided at the Marmotte when you signed on this year. Only the first tunnel is really dark (if you take your shades off!!). There were no problems in the tunnels. The Etape didn't provide lights and people were braking and causing chaos.

    Check my sig for event reports from this year for some more info. it's a great event
  • twotyredtwotyred Posts: 822
    Agreed if you have decent hills then use them. The Crow Road in the Campsies done from Lennoxtown is like a mini Alpine climb so a few repeats of that would do you some good. Doing hill repeats on short steep stuff greater than 10%, like a lot of UK hills, is of limited value as the technique is different to what you'll need for the Alps however it will help with leg strength. Failing the hill option then 2 x 20 min or 1 x40 min threshold sessions on the Turbo and putting in threshold efforts of around 1 hr at the end of a 3-4 hour ride.

    I also agree that a lot of climbing performance is mental. Your body is capable of suffering for a lot longer than your mind thinks it is. That's where experience of these long climbs is valuable in helping you pace yourself. I started out being too conservative on these long climbs and now having done a few of them I know I can probably push myself a bit harder on them now. However for your first Marmotte being condervative with your effort to ensure a finish would be sensible.

    Don't worry about the tunnels. Just push your sunnies down your nose before you enter them and you'll see fine. I used the free red led given out in the goody pack as well.
  • Thanks , had the Crow in mind for hill reps which is always a cheery thought> My other thought was to use the radar ride route from Glasgow which has a similar distance and a fair bit of climbing too.

    With regard to wheels was going to use my Ultegra's but may switch to a Mavic Open Pro at the back with my powertap to make sure don't get caught up in the excitement and bomb of too fast making the Alpe more miserable than I assume it will be anyway.

    Hey ho, my mate did it in 7:30 so no pressure :cry:
  • mayan42mayan42 Posts: 9
    A group of us were thinking about this as well, and I'm thinking arranging it all early is probably the only way i'll get the motivation to train properly.

    Anyone know what date it will be next year, rough cost for entry, and how you actually get an entry (without going through a package operator) ?

  • twotyredtwotyred Posts: 822
    Its usually run on the first Saturday in July.

    You can enter direct on the Sport Comunication Website. I think ientry opens around the start of December.
  • narbsnarbs Posts: 593
    The date's not set for next year yet. Will probably be 7 July but could be 30 June.

    I had an email from Sport Communication earlier this week saying the date will be announced before Christmas.
  • I also have the Marmotte on my radar for 2012.(40th Birthday present to me!!)
    Probably will organise myself to keep costs down as well.

    Would be happy to join a party going over from the UK if you need to make numbers up and want some extra company.
    Looking for a challenge ?
    Try Red Man Road Tours
  • You've made a great choice of event :)

    We did this as a club event this year, with 20 of us going over - some for a full week with others coming out for a few days. Throughly recommend organising it yourselves as there are plenty of accommodation options and driving there is a doddle on the empty French autoroutes. All of the guys who came out earlier had a better ride on the day, so if you can go early, I reckon this is a good call to get acclimatised and ride some of the other epic routes in the area.

    Some good pointers for training have already been made. The main thing is getting yourself prepared for many hours in the saddle by doing some long long rides of >100 miles; this will help you sort out your nutrition to keep you going on the big day. Try and be as light as you can and use any long hills (or a strong wind) to get used to pedalling steady in a low gear for a couple of hours at sub-maximal effort.

    Entries were opened in early December and were sold out very quickly so don't leave it until after Christmas to enter. I think it was about 50 Euros, but you get 10 back on returning your timing chip.

    There was only one tunnel where lighting was a bit of an issue but you can prepare for this by taking off your shades and covering one eye before entering, so no need to worry about taking unecessary weight with extra lights.

    Oh and your mate's time of 7:30 is a pretty good time!

    Good luck and enjoy! :D
  • mrushtonmrushton Posts: 5,182
    I'd always recommend as they have VIP entry and Mark the owner of the co. runs a tight ship. He does a lot of bespoke work for well heeled clients eg Banks, US Senators etc so he has a high reputation to maintain. Not cheap but his clients always ride well on the route. Twotyred above has some excellent advice btw. You can do it yourself of course but a good firm take a lot of the hassle out of it. GPM10 use a hotel on the Alpe (about turn 5) but you could book accom. at the top or even use the campsite at the bottom
  • Thanks OHL for that. I guess I'm keen to go through a company so I don"t end up as the tour guide for a few good friends and a few club members. Out of interest there seems to be a polarised view about whether to stay at the top of the Alpe or at Bourg and I'd be interested in your thoughts. Hadn't thought about using wind as resistance training but it makes sense. Two hours into a significant headwind and then a blowback will simulate things I suppose. My mate is talking about going out again this year and targeting the marmotte as his A race next year but given he's targeting sub 7 I think I'll revel in my own glory :D

    What do folk think about about low cadence high resistance sets ?

  • Out of interest there seems to be a polarised view about whether to stay at the top of the Alpe or at Bourg and I'd be interested in your thoughts.

    We stayed at the bottom of the Alpe, which was just great. I think it depends on how long you are going out there for and how many rides you will do.
    Lots of rides = lots of finishes up the Alpe if you stay at the top!

    On the day, some of our guys came back into the site to ditch any unwanted stuff and stock up with fluids before riding up to the top. You also get to see everyone still riding up when you are finished and enjoying the descent :)
  • Tom ButcherTom Butcher Posts: 3,830
    Agree that unless you are super strong you don't want to be doing rides in the week finishing up the Alpe - you might choose to ride up it once in the week but you really don't want to have to ride up it every day. Personally I wouldn't fancy descending the Alpe to the start if it's cold and wet first thing in the morning too so my choice would be stay in Bourg.

    A few of our lot did the event on carbon wheels and had no problems - and it was reasonably hot if not as hot as it can be. That said personally I wouldn't use carbon braking surface wheels for it myself but if you are a confident descender I don't think it'd be a problem. If you wouldn't normally use carbon rims for hilly rides in the UK then you probably wont use them for this either.

    As far as training goes I wouldn't worry too much about training specifically for long climbs. So long as you get bike fit and do plenty of hilly rides then imo doing 2 hour sets in a big gear or specific hill repeats etc are unnecessary. It's a hard day out on the bike but I don't think it was particularly harder than some of the more difficult UK sportives until you hit the Alpe and then you just have to suffer for an hour or more.

    If money is not too tight then booking through a company might make sense but as others have said it is really easy to do it yourself as you'll get lots of recommendations of where to stay etc from others.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • staggerstagger Posts: 116
    Only done it once-last year- but it did seem pretty straightforward to do it without a tour company- I cant really think of a good reason to use one.

    Someone said that the clients of a particular tour company all did well on the ride. Surely its your fitness and prep that will determine how well you do?

    we stayed in the campsite (cascade) at the bottom of the alpe which was great, the site accross the road from that looked ok as well- they both have tent pitches and chalets, we booked early ie after getting entry, I think things fill up quickly for the week up to the race.

    I wouldnt have wanted to stay at the top for the week, much easier to potter about from bourg - i didn't even go up the alpe until I needed to on the day.

    I did stop in the campsite and put my head under the tap for 5 minutes before heading up.

    The descent from the alpe at dusk after a couple of beers was lovely..
  • gsk82gsk82 Posts: 3,397
    and the descent down the alpe at 6:30 in the morning was one of the least enjoyable things ive ever done on a bike.
    "Unfortunately these days a lot of people don’t understand the real quality of a bike" Ernesto Colnago
  • twotyredtwotyred Posts: 822
    and the descent down the alpe at 6:30 in the morning was one of the least enjoyable things ive ever done on a bike

    Why? I thought it was great descending with so many other riders- a bit chilly but a great build up to the start.
  • gsk82gsk82 Posts: 3,397
    twotyred wrote:
    and the descent down the alpe at 6:30 in the morning was one of the least enjoyable things ive ever done on a bike

    Why? I thought it was great descending with so many other riders- a bit chilly but a great build up to the start.

    it was my first time cycling in mountains this year, the only other descents i'd done were short other than ventoux down to malaucene which was crazy fast, so i had little experience of the sharp cornering and was worried about blowing an innertube under braking. i'd also been training for the marmotte all year so was pretty nervous... and it was bloody freezing, all i had on over my shorts, jersey and thin gilet was a bin bag
    "Unfortunately these days a lot of people don’t understand the real quality of a bike" Ernesto Colnago
  • alanp23alanp23 Posts: 696
    My plans for next year are to see if I can win a place in the draw for the Maratona. If that doesnt work then it is another Marmotte for me. (That means watching the website from mid November)

    My biggest issue is that this year, I went in a group. Next year it is just me. That means a completely different set of travel plans.

    I have looked into the tours but they are more than I want to pay and they seem to involve a weeks preparation. If anyone knew of a trip that did a Thursday-Monday or Wednesday-Sunday duration, I would be very interested in details.
    Top Ten finisher - PTP Tour of Britain 2016
  • airwiseairwise Posts: 234
    Try Phil at Gastrobiking.

    He has a chalet really close to the finish and has a lot of people out just for the weekend.

    But good luck with the Maratona - it's organisation and sheer beauty is in a different league to La Marmotte IME.
  • For training I'd recommend

    a. plenty of 115 mile + rides. You need to be used to being on the bike for 7 hours plus. your body also needs to get used to taking on board a lot of food on the bike.
    b. hill repeats. Grinding away at a low cadence for a long time
    c. If you have a very flat route near you this would be good practice for riding at a high bpm for a long time assuming you go solo so you can't draft. Much easier then rolling or hilly terrain as your heart rate will keep dropping when you go downhill unless you are very disciplined
  • It is pretty easy to organise for yourself as others have said - flight + car rental + rent flat= job done.

    However, the major benefit of going with a large tour company seems to be the separate feed stations so you don't have to get stuck in the huge queues for not a lot at the feed stations. I ended up not getting any food from any of the feed stations as they were simply too busy. Fortunately I'd taken enough food with me. Water wasn't a problem - plenty of fountains as well as the water stations.

    I'm also told that some (eg La Fuga) guarantee you a spot near the front so you don't get stuck in the crowds.

    I was sticking to a tighter budget so went with the DIY option.
  • Anyone can get near the front if you get there early enough, that aint a la fuga thing and dont expect great extra feed stations from them either, they only had one 3km from the summit of the galibier, worst place possible to put the damn thing!
    There was plenty of food and water and the free feed stations of which there are plenty. you cant rely on la fuga to keep you going all day with just one feed station, total rubbish.
  • Brian BBrian B Posts: 2,071
    I done it this year and with and the organisation was great if you want to go with a company. They usually have 50 spaces.

    The crow road would be good for training but agree with the above replies that you need to be able to be bable to go the distance and mentally prepare for hours climbing just one hill.

    I have been doing sportives and hundred mile plus runs for years now and have had done many trips abroad to tackle the big climbs in that feature in the Giro and the Tour and still found the marmotte the hardest day out on my bike to date. Also the best day ever though!!

    I had done all the climbs before but still found it really tough.

    You have picked a great event to do. Good luck.
    Brian B.
  • Try Phil at Gastrobiking.

    He has a chalet really close to the finish and has a lot of people out just for the weekend.

    +1 I did La Marmotte with Gastrobiking this year but went for the full week.
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