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Cycling up Alpe d'Huez in 6 months time....

snowgirl_69snowgirl_69 Posts: 8
edited February 2015 in Road beginners
Hi there, I am a pretty much out of shape, new to cycling, Mummy of 2 little boys....have a goal with my husband (who is a proficient cyclist) to cycle up the mountain in July...anybody else completed this? Any hints, tips or just words of wisdom would be great....things have got VERY out of shape since having the kids so at the mo I'm concentrating my efforts on weight loss and putting time into 'just cycling' on the Watt bike....I'm exciting but this is all new to me :D

Thanks in advance
x
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Posts

  • rc856rc856 Posts: 1,139
    Hello and welcome.

    Lucky you!! Yes, I think a few on here have ridden the Alpe :)
    You could give the search function a go and will no doubt find a few posts.

    Personally, I just made sure I had sufficient gearing and enjoyed it.
    The first 4kms are the hardest....I remember getting a shock turning into the first ramp!..but after that you can spin your way up.

    I went up it in May so doing it in July, you might have hot weather to contend with.

    How long are you in the area? A fair few other climbs round there as well.
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,550
    What a great challenge!

    Yes - cycle as much as you can and lose as much weight as possible. Also make sure your bike has some nice low gearing.

    I did it 6 times in a day last summer in a charity event. That's more about pacing yourself. Depending upon how fit you get, you will need to pace yourself a bit as the first part is the steepest and you don't want to be knackered in the first couple of km. Ignore the speed of the riders around you and go at your own pace! Good luck and train hard!
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • Thank you :-)

    Yes, I do feel lucky to have the opportunity but also pretty fearful!! I've never done anything like this before but am well up for the challenge and actually having a goal is helping with sticking to the plan!

    We are in the area for 3 nights, heading over to see the tour pass through so looking forward to that too....thank you for the tips, will make sure to put the time in and hopefully I will make it!

    Bit wary of the heat but I think we are going to go for an early start, especially as it will be so busy on that particular weekend.

    Thanks a lot and here it goes....... :-)

    P.s 6 times? WOW
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,550
    I started very early in the day (it was early June) at it had been -4C at the top over night! By early afternoon it was 33C. Good idea to pick a time of day to miss the worst of either of those!
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • markyonemarkyone Posts: 1,051
    I have gone up the alp a few times and it is amazing,pick a easy gear you can spin up and enjoy.
    Depending on the weather when you come back down you will need gloves and light jacket as it can get cold even in the summer.
    Good luck.
    Colnago c60 Eps super record 11
    Pinarello F8 with sram etap
  • thefdthefd Posts: 1,021
    I've been up the Alpe 5 or 6 times. As others have said the heat will be the worst thing. The steepest part is at the start - but it isn't anything too steep 14% at the steepest point. The main thing about it is the length. Just pick a gear and spin, don't try to follow others - just go at your pace. There will be some folks who race past you, and others you will overtake.

    Have fun!
    2017 - Caadx
    2016 - Cervelo R3
    2013 - R872
    2010 - Spesh Tarmac
  • ademortademort Posts: 1,924
    I,m cycling 6 times up the Alp on the 4Th June for charity. If i can help with tips or advice then i will let you know immediately afterwards. Good luck anyway hope you get to the top and achieve your goal.
    ademort
    Chinarello, record and Mavic Cosmic Sl
    Gazelle Vuelta , veloce
    Giant Defy 4
    Mirage Columbus SL
    Batavus Ventura
  • whoofwhoof Posts: 756
    As others have said it's steepest at the bottom. It's not steep compared to many UK climbs just a long way. Take things easy at first (if you can) a low gear that you can comfortably turn for probably well over an hour uphill is useful. If you need to stop at any point then do so, there are some great views across the valley you may as well make the most of them. Look at the weather forecast the day before and time your ride accordingly, some people actually like riding in 35 c but most don't. If it is hot when you arrive try and do a few rides to acclimatize in the days before doing the Alpe d'Huez.
    Make sure you enjoy yourself
  • Only trouble is that that sort of climb is not easy to replicate in the UK, most of ours are shorter or steeper, usually both.

    As said upthread I think the biggest problem in July will just be the heat, it's very uncomfortable riding in that kind of heat and climbing means you aren't going to get any sort of breeze.
  • durhamwaspdurhamwasp Posts: 1,238
    A few of us did it in 2012, see our website below.

    My best advice is to have an easy gear on your bike - maybes 34 x 30 and spin your way up, while enjoying the views, the legendary road and counting down every famous riders name at each hairpin!
    http://www.snookcycling.wordpress.com - Reports on Cingles du Mont Ventoux, Alpe D'Huez, Galibier, Izoard, Tourmalet, Paris-Roubaix Sportive & Tour of Flanders Sportive, Amstel Gold Xperience, Vosges, C2C, WOTR routes....
  • Thank you everyone - the heat does sounds it def needs to be considered, think we will probably start earlyish before it has a chance to get too hot.....who knows how long it's going to take me!!?? I'm just going to take my time and enjoy the views and the experience....in no hurry to get up the top! Training wise I've just been plugging away in the garage on the bike, hope to start to get out on the road soon but at the moment cycling at home fits in with the kids routine etc, they are 1 and 3! We live on Dartmoor so plenty of great ground to cover and plenty of hills!

    Not looking forward to the first couple of ramps..guess if they are the hardest that has to have some benefit psychologically??
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 6,016
    Training wise I've just been plugging away in the garage on the bike, hope to start to get out on the road soon but at the moment cycling at home fits in with the kids routine etc, they are 1 and 3! We live on Dartmoor so plenty of great ground to cover and plenty of hills!
    Dartmoor's great for general training in many ways (you're effectively forced into interval training), but not such great preparation for Alpine-type hills (long and steady). If you're near Moretonhampstead you could do worse than spend a couple of hours riding between Moreton and Steps Bridge, as they are mostly more of Alpine gradient (if you ignore the sharp rise after Doccombe). Though I'd probably avoid Dartmoor entirely for the next day or two....
  • Thank you - will def give that a go, I think I know where you mean!

    It's an absolute howler out there tonight...no risk of me stepping out in this :-)
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 6,016
    Thank you - will def give that a go, I think I know where you mean!

    It's an absolute howler out there tonight...no risk of me stepping out in this :-)
    Here you are: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/6800039 - 700ft ascent from Steps Bridge to the top - so do it about five times, and you're close to what Alpe d'Huez is ... though it might not be quite as warm...
  • g00seg00se Posts: 2,221
    Hi,

    As you've got a Watt-bike, I assume you know about threshold power and heart rates etc....?

    With living in Norfolk and having gone to the alps last year, I would recommend using TT-style training for the climb. They may be useful for out of the saddle efforts and short, steep climbs but UK hill-climbs are a different beast.

    Generally, alpine climbs tend to stay at a similar gradient for miles - if you can ride at, or just below, your threshold for an hour, then you should be fine. Get low gears, get the feel for threshold and sweet-spot work, get an HRM and it should be manageable. The wattbike will be really useful for this.

    For the alps, try and go up at a constant sweet-spot heart rate, knowing you can sustain a threshold level if you have to for a steeper bit. Avoid going into the red unless it's for a very short spurt. That way, you'll get up there as fast as possible for your fitness - and within your limits (which you will familiar with at that point).
  • snowgirl_69snowgirl_69 Posts: 8
    edited January 2015
    Probably going to hire a bike, had been thinking of a triple but can see plenty of hire bikes available with Ultegra 11 speed, 50/34 up front and up to 32 at the back....
  • I know a bit about threshold power (hubby is a time trialist) but I'm not concerned about how quick I can get up there (hubby might be but he can come back for me, haha) so will probably be operating below threshold anyway I guess!!
  • Hinzy9Hinzy9 Posts: 72
    I did it in 2013, 2 days before the tour did the double accent. Starting at midday the heat was the major issue- to give you an idea just how hot it was afterwards I had melted tarmac on my tyres! As it was just before the tour was due, there was a great atmosphere on the climb (caravans, music, dutch corner, people handing out water ete etc) also 1000's of other cyclists slogging their way up at massively varying speeds.

    As others have said the first section up to about the 4th hairpin is the worst at which point the gradient definitely eases. After that it's all about getting in to a rhythm and staying hydrated.

    Good luck and don't forget to smile for the photographer, unfortunately I only managed a very sweaty grimace!
    Cube Attempt 2011
  • Probably going to hire a bike, had been thinking of a triple but can see plenty of hire bikes available with Ultegra 11 speed, 50/30 up front and up to 32 at the back....

    It's probably 50/34 at the front and 32 at the back. For most people 34/32 will be fine for climbing an Alp. It's not going to be 'easy' whatever gear ratios you have.
  • Kieran_BurnsKieran_Burns Posts: 10,052
    Don't do it.

    Your knees will explode, your lungs will collapse shortly before your heart hits terminal fibrillation and you will die of oxygen starvation.

    Don't listen to those people who say they've done it, they wait until they're out of sight on one of the bends and jump on a mini-bus to the top, throw a bucket of water over themselves and punch eat other in the face to make it look convincing.

    It's all true, I heard it on the internet thing,

    If you want a great day out and try out the longest climb in the UK, Bealach na Ba is yer man. It's in Wester Ross of Scotland so playing the Proclaimers is de rigueur for the ride. There's a 50 odd mile loop you can do and it's a bucket list ride in itself.
    Chunky Cyclists need your love too! :-)
    2009 Specialized Tricross Sport
    2011 Trek Madone 4.5
    2012 Felt F65X
    Proud CX Pervert and quiet roadie. 12 mile commuter
  • dabberdabber Posts: 1,646
    A nice little new video from the Col Collective just released.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSjzaWKC_LU
    “You may think that; I couldn’t possibly comment!”

    Wilier Cento Uno SR/Wilier Mortirolo/Specialized Roubaix Comp/Calibre Bossnut
  • 1. Smile at the guy who runs a business taking photos if every rider as they approach the top
    2. Grab the ticket he will hand you
    3. An hour or so later present the ticket at his shop in the village
    4. Buy as many prints as you wish of you in all your glory cresting the summit
    5. Secure the said prints down your jersey for the descent
    6. When back home after proudly showing the photos to your admiring family, frame them (the photos, not your family)
    and place in a prominent position on your mantelpiece.
    ___________________________________________
    Titanium Bertoletti
  • g00seg00se Posts: 2,221
    'Smile'? Race-face please...
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,686 Lives Here
    I know a bit about threshold power (hubby is a time trialist)

    Bahahaha.

    Classic.

    ----


    Get some low gears, prepare yourself mentally for telling voices in your brain to shuttup, and you'll be fine.

    If you want to do any specific training - it'll probably take 90 mins or so to get up if you're fairly new, so practice 90 minute efforts - no breaks, no free wheeling - constant tension in the chain.

    But anyone who's fit with the right gears can get up there.
  • g00se wrote:
    'Smile'? Race-face please...

    I've tried doing that on sportives. I just ended up looking like I was having a tricky censored . Smiling is the way to go.
  • g00seg00se Posts: 2,221
    g00se wrote:
    'Smile'? Race-face please...

    I've tried doing that on sportives. I just ended up looking like I was having a tricky shoot. Smiling is the way to go.

    Careful though, don't take it too far http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/lat ... ion-123863
  • Hi - exciting! I stayed in a campsite with my family near Bourg d'Oisans a couple of years ago, so climbed the mountain on my bike 3 times. I'm not bragging - it wasnt pretty! I wasnt in great shape at the time - needing to lose a bit of weight and I hadnt been doing much training either, apart from a 15 mile commute 3 times a week.

    A few things struck me - it is a long climb. I had read about it (mainly on here) and knew it was a long way up - but when you are only used to our short (although, at times, often steep) climbs in the UK, you cant really appreciate what an Alpine climb is like until you do it. Dont let that put you off, or intimate you - just know that you are going to be climbing for about 90 mins. Try and simulate that kind of riding on your watt bike to help your body accustom to it. Because of that, I found that my back stiffened up about half way up. Again - this was not a show stopper, but I had to adapt my riding style and got out of the saddle a bit to stretch. As others have said, the first 4 km of the climb are the steepest - dont let that put you off (like I did on my first attempt - I got off for a rest on one of the hairpins as I thought I was going to blow up!). Pace yourself and tell yourself that the gradient will ease up. Dont ride outside of your comfort zone - on a climb like that you will blow up. Use sensible gearing (I had a compact with a 28 cassette which was ample) and keep a cadence of ideally above 85rpm to stop your muscles overtiring. A lot of climbing like that is psychological - maybe consider a drive up in a car (if practical) before you cycling up it, to get a 'mental map' of the climb?

    Above all - enjoy it. It is a wonderful experience; you'll love it!
    Never mistake motion for action
    [email protected]
    Trainerroad - GMan69
  • The first ramp up is the steepest and after that it's ok. The hairpins are large and flat enough for a bit of a breather before it goes up again. Compared to a few climbs out there this is pretty sheltered. I would have thought most hire bikes have compact chainsets on like they do in Mallorca.

    Do as much riding as you can before hand and you will have a great time as its an amazing climb. Be sure to check out the names on each bend as you go up. Enjoy
  • The first ramp up is the steepest and after that it's ok. The hairpins are large and flat enough for a bit of a breather before it goes up again. Compared to a few climbs out there this is pretty sheltered. I would have thought most hire bikes have compact chainsets on like they do in Mallorca.

    Do as much riding as you can before hand and you will have a great time as its an amazing climb. Be sure to check out the names on each bend as you go up. Enjoy
  • rphertsrpherts Posts: 207
    thefd wrote:
    There will be some folks who race past you, and others you will overtake.

    Quite often the same person.
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