This will be my third attempt at the Marmotte and I have a feeling it’s beginning to get under my skin. Despite the purgatory involved, there is something I love about riding the high mountains, and for us mere mortals an event such as the Marmotte is the closest we are likely to get to riding those climbs in a semi-competitive state. By the way, Sportives aren’t races! In a race everyone starts together and the first one over the line wins, simple (glad to have got that out of the way, don’t get me started on time trials!)
The first attempt for me was back in 2008. I was riding with a couple of mates and alongside regular racing we put in a few longish rides in the Surrey Hills which seemed to help as I was pleased with a reasonably respectable time of 7hrs 45mins. I managed to stay with my riding companion till the bottom of the Alpe where we said our farewells, I trailed in 15mins after him.
The second attempt was last year and wasn’t such a good story. Having put my entry in around Christmas time I promptly forgot about it, I well remember driving down through France and being struck by the realisation that the longest I had ridden a bike in the past 6 months was three hours and this was unlikely to be sufficient preparation for what I was about to attempt. So it proved, the Glandon and Telegraphe passed reasonably well but the Galibier was an awful experience and the descent down to Bourg proved little respite with every muscle in my body aching. As for Alpe D’Huez, well the worst hour I’ve ever had on a bike by someway, I trailled in with a time of 8 1/2 hours completely wasted. My riding buddy Don came in a bit after me with a look of complete horror on his face and asking who he could sell his bike to (luckily he didn’t and will be riding again this year).
Plans for this year?. Well, more longer rides might help I guess so getting out to ride the Surrey Hills Audax route (110km with 2300m climbing) will be a good start. Veteran races and Crystal Palace crits form the basis of my summer riding and if I can ride to some events that will help. I’ve even got the dreaded turbo trainer out of the cupboard and started regular sessions. I’ve introduced myself to the pleasures of training DVD’s. I tried Sufferfest ‘The Hunted’ today, it’s amazing how much you can hurt yourself sitting on a turbo trainer, pretending your riding up an Alpine col in the Tour de Suisse trying to drop Andy Schleck!
On the basis that making it public will be an added incentive I’ve set myself a target time of 7hrs. As I near 50 I’m guessing it’s going to become a more difficult time to achieve but every year I look at those skinny tanned old French guys skipping up the climbs and want to join them, maybe this year…