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Anyone here ridden L'alpe D'huez?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Anyone here ridden L'alpe D'huez?

Old 12-18-05, 08:27 PM
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Surferbruce
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Anyone here ridden L'alpe D'huez?

i'm going to the south of france in april, with bikes, and i wanna ride it. curious if anyone's done it and what your time was? from what i can tell, anything under 60 minutes is decent. did you ride it? how was it?
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Old 12-18-05, 09:20 PM
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I rode it in 2004, the day before the Tour had the time trial up the mountain. I don't recall what my exact time was, but if less than 60 minutes is a decent time, then I'm sure my time was most indecent. Granted, I didn't have the best preparation. I had driven 12 hours the day before, due to underestimating how long it would take to cover some of the mountainous backroad highways that I had taken. I arrived around midnight, and slept in my car just as a migraine was starting to settle in. After a poor night's sleep, I walked to the Casino market in Bourg d'Oissans to buy groceries and breakfast. I actually freaked myself out a bit, by walking up the first two hairpins on the mountain: they're the steepest part, and I thought that was going to be typical of the rest of the climb. Fortunately it's not.

I usually ride with a 39 X 23 low in the the part of Pennsylvania where I live. The climbs can be steep, but are almost always less than 3/4 of a mile. For Alpe d'Huez, I used a 39 X 26 low. That's the same gearing I used for the Assault on Mt. Mitchell in 1997. Unfortunately I'm in the Clydesdale category (for now), and I would have liked to use lower gears, but I couldn't find any Campy 8 speed cassettes. By the top I was wishing I had put the 26 tooth cog on the crankset rather than the back wheel! However, due to perseverance more than athletic ability, I did make it to the top. There was no freakin' way I was going to come back to the US and tell my friends that I quit on Alpe d'Huez! I may not be the most fit cyclist around, but I may be one of the most stubborn.

I had taken a vest with me, and I was glad that I did. I got to the top as it was cooling off and dark gray storm clouds were rolling in. Fortunately the rain held off. Riding back down was a challenge too. My hands and upper body were getting tired from braking and bracing myself. It was hard to get much speed, as there were people riding up the mountain, people painting all over the road, and people just partying in general. If you get to go up on Alpe d'Huez at night, the view is fantastic. There's not much light pollution, so the stars really stand out. Prior to leaving for my trip, I was in the midst of changing careers and making some major life changes. I am so glad that I went. Being there at that time felt so right, like it was just something I needed to do. It's hard to explain, but it is one of my most cherished memories.
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Old 12-18-05, 09:29 PM
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If you do it and complete it, Your alright in my book.
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Old 12-18-05, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Surferbruce
i'm going to the south of france in april, with bikes, and i wanna ride it. curious if anyone's done it and what your time was? from what i can tell, anything under 60 minutes is decent. did you ride it? how was it?
lucky dude. you are going to enjoy yourself.
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Old 12-18-05, 10:32 PM
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I rode it last summer (yay!). I rode it in ~55 Minutes and the locals said that anyone who can ride it in under 90 minutes is doing just dandy (FYI). It's very steep and a difficult climb but I personally think Mont Ventoux is harder. The town on top is absolutely beautiful, you'll love it! If you have anymore questions, ask away!
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Old 12-18-05, 11:16 PM
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Ben Cousins has ridden it, but he's disappeared from the forum
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Old 12-18-05, 11:17 PM
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Lol^^
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Old 12-18-05, 11:19 PM
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Ben Cousins is a highly rated aussie rules footballer.
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Old 12-19-05, 12:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Warblade
Lol^^
oh, I didn't know.
I just saw that other thread
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Old 12-19-05, 12:45 AM
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Haha!^^ you are one smart puppy!
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Old 12-19-05, 01:31 AM
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http://perso.wanadoo.fr/masong4/imagesalpedhuez.htm
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Old 12-19-05, 04:58 AM
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I rode it last year in just over an hour. I'm doing the Marmotte this year, and the day before I plan to just ride the alp, and get under the hour. I will most likely be pretty much throwing up at the top.

It's steep, quite boring (did I say that? ) and only really hard because everyone rides up it like they are in a race.

There are more enjoyable and more pretty climbs in the region.
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Old 12-19-05, 07:20 AM
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Rode up it with a handful of serious cycling friends, but when we got to the top, they thought I was crazy for buying a l'Alpe d'Huez polo shirt at one of the gift shops.

OK, if it were a Hard Rock Cafe, I could agree with them.
If it was Universal Studios, I'd pass.
If it was a "I heart NY" shirt on 7th Ave, I'd skip it.
But this one is truly unique as cycling souvenirs go.
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Old 12-19-05, 07:25 AM
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I did it last year in 56 mins having ridden from Grenoble! That was going some... I think the under 90 mins might be a better time to shoot for,I'm a pretty good climber.Its a classic climb . Go for it..!
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Old 12-19-05, 07:33 AM
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Dear Surferbruce: Dude, you are going on one awesome trip. Two friends and I went to the Tour and hiked up Alpe d'Huez because we couldn't get any bikes. It probably took us 4 hours of hiking because we stopped a few times. We were carrying backpacks with wine, food, tents, sleeping bags etc. We camped overnight in a meadow near the top and waited for the time trial the next day. I think I can die now as it was extraordinary. My buddy stopped about halfway up to get some water out of his backpack and noticied the 5 pound rock I hid in his backpack and I'm still waiting for the payback! Enjoy the ride and let us know how it went.
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Old 12-19-05, 09:03 AM
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you should do L'alpe D'huez just because everybody knows it and you can say you did it. however, there are better climbs in the area, both bigger climbs and better scenary.
L'alpe D'huez. The Col de Galibier has much better views, is the highest spot in the TDf, and the first alpine pass in the TDF. If you have time in that area , you have not only the Galibier, but also the Col d' Tepelgraph, and the Col d' Izoard.
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Old 12-19-05, 09:13 AM
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i know it's still like 4 months away but i'm starting to get psyched. we're actually staying very near mt. ventoux on that leg of the trip, but i really think it would be cool to do l'alpe d'huez.
my wife and i would seriously like to try living over there, somewhere at some point, so it's a bit of a recon trip. the second half we'll be over in the bordeaux region.
thanks fir the info-keep it coming!
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Old 12-19-05, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Surferbruce
we're actually staying very near mt. ventoux on that leg of the trip, but i really think it would be cool to do l'alpe d'huez.
I live about 35 Km North of lMV, and it is about a two hour drive from here to l'Alpe d'Huez. Better factor that into your plans.
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Old 12-19-05, 10:13 AM
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Mt Ventoux, is actually harder IMHO, and it has a certain cache that L'alpe D'huez doesn't (only people more into cycling know about Ventoux). For what it's worth, If you're going to be in Provence, I'd ride Ventoux, enjoy the countryside in Provence, and maybe go to the Côte d' Azur, rather than spend the time to go to the Alps just to ride L'Alpe d Huez. As pointed out above, its a bit of a trip from Provence to the Alps. If you have the time to spend some time in the Alps it would be worth it. But just to say I rode L'Alpe de Huez, I'd spend my time in Provence. Also the weather in Provence in April will be nicer than in the Alps, where it's likely to still be cold.
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Old 12-19-05, 10:30 AM
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+1, expect some snow closer to the top as well if you're riding in April, but it'll still be ridable. Rode it in 2001, day beofre the tour. Can't remember my time because I was too busy enjoying the crowd (i.e. stopping for a dutch then german then belgian beer). If you're in provence, again Ventoux is closer, harder, warmer and more prestigious. That being said, any ride up a mountain is a good ride.
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Old 12-19-05, 11:11 AM
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i don't mind a little drive but of course it all depends on how things unfold when we get there. i'm thinking of trying to hit l'alpe d'huez at the end of our provence stint, maybe allowing for a night somewhere in between to accomodate it. sounds like weather will be a determining factor too.
gmason-does lMV = mt ventoux? btw we're staying in the village of louramarin our first week.
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Old 12-19-05, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Surferbruce
does lMV = mt ventoux?
le Mont Ventoux, exactly.

Lourmarin is a very pretty village. It is in the Luberon, so perhaps you will bump into Peter Mayle.
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Old 12-19-05, 01:44 PM
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I camped there for 2004 TT. Didn't ride (backpackng trip, not biking trip). I'd like to go back to ride one day. Any reasonably fit person with enough gears on the bike should be able to ride it. We talked to a German flight attendant (a guy, BTW) who hadn't ridden a bike in ages and made it up with his MTB. Sure it took him like two hours but he did it. If you go immediately before / after the Tour, there will be pro photographers on the hairpins taking your picture and handing you a card so you can buy the pic later so try to look good on those hairpins.
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Old 12-19-05, 02:48 PM
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For what it's worth my buddy skiied there last winter and told me the skiing kind of sucked. Oh well.
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Old 12-19-05, 03:18 PM
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Ventoux is a b*tch of a climb.
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