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Tour du Mont Blanc 2018 – 21 July 2018

manxshredmanxshred Posts: 287
I signed up to this in November 2017, so had plenty of time to train. I did as much training as I could and spent a lot of time getting ready, so felt I was as ready as I could be. Two weeks before the event I did a 200km ride, which included the Isle of Man Lighthouses challenge where I had a very good ride and felt strong throughout.
The trip
I travelled via Liverpool to Geneva where I rented a car and made my way via the Mont Blanc tunnel to Italy. I rode the Colle del Nivolet on the Wednesday before to stretch my legs and to get some practice descending big mountains. This was a very hot ride, a very big mountain, but a beautiful ride in a beautiful area. After this, I spent some time sightseeing.

Friday 20th
I made my way to Les Saisies where the start is. I got into my accommodation, prepared all my equipment and went to the briefing. I dropped off 2 bags of food for some of the rest stops, and grabbed a pizza and then bed.

Saturay 21st
A 4am alarm got the day going, with breakfast, getting dressed and pump up tyres. I was running a bit late and made it to the start 5 minutes before 5am, where I luckily found a gap about half way in the pack. The day was a lot cooler than the previous week with rain overnight and much lower max temperatures.
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At 5am we rolled out for the neutralized descent towards Chamonix. The road was wet, and it was dark so it was an interesting experience. Some people had no lights, some had massive ones. There were all sorts of speeds, the some people bombing down, others on the brakes the whole way. There were dropped bottles and lights and it was all a bit chaotic. I’m not sure how fast the lead car was going but we were not bunched up in the mid-pack. I saw one crash down here were one person slid out on a corner, but thankfully no major damage.
We climbed up out of Servoz, which was a bit packed with lots of the support cars vying for the same space on a small road, and then I got into a good group along the valley to the next climb, which was the Col des Montets, then a short descent into Switzerland and another climb to Col de la Forclaz. The descent off the Forclaz was a lot of fun, wide open and very fast.
The next climb was then from Valettes – Champex, and this was a pretty difficult climb, one of the more consistent steep climbs we did, with another good descent.

Col de Grand Saint Bernard
Up next was the Saint Bernard. The first part of the climb was on the very busy main road up to the tunnel through the mountain, so this section was not that much fun. Just before the tunnel we turned off to head on up over the Col. The sun came out for a while causing the temperature to jump by 10 degrees, before it dropped again. The upper sections of the climb were quite difficult and slow going, and this was the highest point of the climb at 2,473m. At the top, I put on all the cold weather kit and headed over. Unfortunately it was raining on the way down meaning I got pretty cold and uncomfortable on the way down the 34km descent to Aosta, Italy.
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Col de Petit Saint Bernard
We then headed up the valley where we were still climbing, before starting the Petit Saint Bernard itself. I found this climb quite long, but overall not too bad. There were many switchbacks and the climbing was pretty steady so no major issues. The big problem I had was on the descent, where the road surface was in very bad condition and my hands were really suffering. By the bottom I was really struggling going over any bumps or cracks in the road and was actually looking forward to the next climb.

Cormet de Roselend
Next we headed up the Roselend. This was a tough climb, with some steep sections, but overall not too bad. There were some beautiful views heading up, but it was getting quite late in the day. Over the top it was quite cold and gloomy due to the cloud cover, but thankfully for my hands the descent was pretty smooth and trouble free.
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Les Saisies
Once I got to the bottom I was a sign that said 15km to go, which was a bit demoralizing. We then had to climb back up to Les Saisies and the finish line. I just got into a rhythm and tried not to think too much. It was dark heading up here with no reference around which did mark it a bit easier

After 17:14:48, 330km and 8000m climbing, I had made it to the finish to collect my medal and finishers shirt with 386 finishers.
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Plus points
The weather for being a bit cooler. I’m not sure I would have made it if it was a hot, sunny day.
A very well organised event, good signposting with good food stops.

Negatives
Wheelsuckers who refuse to do any work.
Support cars, especially in the early stages. As this is not a competitive event, you are allowed outside support, but there were too many cars around keeping up with people especially in the early stages which got annoying.
Road - Volagi Liscio
MTB - Santa Cruz TallBoy

Posts

  • Chapeau sir!
  • mamil314mamil314 Posts: 1,103
    Good job!
    330km is good going, was that saddle kind to your bottom? Is that Power?
  • mrfpbmrfpb Posts: 4,406
    Well done. It sounds like a fantastic ride. I'm glad you got good weather.

    Perhaps when you've got time you could post a few more positive and negative points about the event organisation. It looks like a very hard but rewarding day out.
  • manxshredmanxshred Posts: 287
    I would say the event was very well run.

    There were motorbikes around keeping who had stopped by the one crash I saw.
    The sign posts were clear and easy to follow. I had worried about this before but it was easy to follow. There wasn't a huge amount of signs, just at major changes in route or roundabouts. There is only one real route around Mont Blanc, so you just tried to keep the mountain on your right.
    The food stops were well stocked and everyone was friendly and helpful. I had sugary jelly sweets and small cakes at each stop. There was also bread, cheese and ham or salami, dried fruits and bars. The later stops or high up stops had soup or pasta. There was water and energy drink and some coke available.

    Negatives
    To me was the too many support cars around, especially during the early stages. I know there are no real alternative routes, but it was pretty busy at times, plus some people following their rides in the middle of the rides was annoying, or waiting what feels like every km. This is not a competitive event, so outside support is allowed, but some type of registration for the cars with a code of conduct would be helpful.
    Road surfaces, although there is nothing they can do about that :).

    Not much else negative to say. I do just go into internal mode during these events, and just get on with what I am doing.
    To me, this is an individual event, with support in the form of food stops and a bit of a safety net if you need to abandon.
    Road - Volagi Liscio
    MTB - Santa Cruz TallBoy
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 24,368
    Well done... :-)

    I don't know how you manage to look so fresh and rested in all the photos!
  • manxshredmanxshred Posts: 287
    I definitely wasn't feeling it, especially at the end, but I think the temperature being quite a bit cooler on the day helped a huge amount.
    Road - Volagi Liscio
    MTB - Santa Cruz TallBoy
  • steadyuksteadyuk Posts: 295
    Great detailed write up. I have just paid my entry for 2019 edition and will now start my research in detail. If I researched it first I would probably have convinced myself not to enter.

    I have started looking for accommodation in Les Saises and am drawing a blank. Where did you stay and how did you book it?

    Thanks
  • manxshredmanxshred Posts: 287
    I stayed at the Lagrange right next to the start line:
    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Lag ... d6.5327132

    Had a whole apartment to myself, and they aren't great over all, but it was the only place I could find when looking.
    Road - Volagi Liscio
    MTB - Santa Cruz TallBoy
  • Nice write up.

    Our friends and I did it over 2 days a few weeks back from Megeve, and were discussing if we could do it in a day.... Still not sure, I think the worst hill was the Col de Grand Saint Bernard which was our last of the first day.

    It's a great route worth doing even at 'all day pace' with lots of stops.
  • steadyuksteadyuk Posts: 295
    Thanks for the link to the accommodation. I managed to find a hotel 300m from the start.

    I'll probably be back on here to pester you in the new year for further advice as the event start to loom large in the calendar!
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 8,544
    What a phenomenally inspiring achievement and write up, I'm going to look into this now!

    Is this the link you chaps have used? http://www.letourdumontblanc.fr/index.php

    Am I reading it correctly as €145 for a solo ride? I am thinking not.
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • Daniel B wrote:
    What a phenomenally inspiring achievement and write up, I'm going to look into this now!

    Is this the link you chaps have used? http://www.letourdumontblanc.fr/index.php

    Am I reading it correctly as €145 for a solo ride? I am thinking not.

    There is a lot of support and it's an 18 hours ride... compare with Ride London 100 where you pay half of that for 5 hours and a few bars
  • which hotel did you book 300m from the start, as I can't find anything available for that weekend?
  • steadyuksteadyuk Posts: 295
    It’s called Le Calgary. I booked it via Lessaises.com site. I think there is very limited accommodation in the resort. €330 for 3 nights half board single occupancy.
  • Thanks for that.
    I'd better book quick.
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