The day we arrived (Thursday) I clumsely put the rear derailleur on crooked when rebuilding my bike (rather easily done especially wiht a multitool with too short an allen key). Do learn from my mistake and exercise extreme care to screw your rear derailleur on straight. When I got to a slope (never far away in Alpe d'Huez) and selected the largest sprocket, my rear mech flew into my rear wheel causing a mangled wreckage of derailleur, chain and wheel spokes. Fortunately there was time on Friday for a jouney down the mountain to Bourg d'Oisans to find a new rear hanger and derailleur and then to the amazingly helpful Mavic van in Alpe d'Huez who replaced three spokes, trued the wheel and then fit a new chain all for the price of the chain only.
With all this kerfuffle I only had time for a short ride on Friday evening when I checked the bike out by taking a scenic route to Reculas
Gran Fondo Sportful two years ago. I was very unsure of my staying power, which has not been tested a lot recently, and also my standard chainring (39/53 for the technically minded) was a definite departure from my triple (30/42/53) which I have used on all previous mountain adventures, though I did take the precaution of a 29 rear sprocket.. I set off at a steady pace nailing my heartrate at 130 bpm and not worrying about the time. The strategy worked as, apart from some annoying right foot pain, I had a fairly comfortable ride. Also I need not have worried about the gearing; all 4 passes averaged under 10% and did not exceed around 14% at any one point so the gearing was fine; although I would on occasion have rather spun a lower gear than grind on. Lots of British riders there, including familiar faces from London Dynamo and Kingston Wheelers and I was even recognised half way up the Galibier as 'the cycling lawyer'.
Snow on the Galibier. Photo from http://www.photobreton.com/
My certificate shows my times (minus the neutralised descent off the Glandon - an attempt to reduce accidents). The "Brevet d'Or" cannot be right and conflicts with the "Brevet d'Argent" on the certificate handed to me at the finish. I would never expect to get a Gold on a route that includes mountain descents as I lack the nerve to hurtle off a mountain at 50 mph.
Fancy a race?The following day I went back to Bourg for the Grimpee. This is described in many places as time trial up Alpe d'Huez but it is not. Thankfully it is a mass start roadrace up Alpe d'Huez which is much more fun. Full race speed with a multi vehicle escort from the roundabout to the foot of the slope then inevitably the bunch split into a thousand pieces as we hit the slope. People turned out on a Sunday morning to cheer us on and this time the certificate I got at the finsih was a 'Brevert d'Or' with my time of 1h:04. I may just have to return and do a sub-hour.
The Grimpee de l'Alpe, the morning after the day before.
Photo from http://www.photobreton.com/