The ‘Marmotte’ route must be the most famous ride around this area of the French Alpes and probably the most famous sportive in Europe. 174km with 4800m climbing over the Col du Glandon, Telegraph, Galibier and finishing up Alpe d’Huez.
Guests often come out here with the specific aim of riding the route during their holiday, the majority not doing the Alpe at the end, not because they can’t but why would you ride past our front door to do something that you have already during your stay. By the time they get back to Le Velo Jaune they will have completed 155km and 3800m of climbing and been out for about 10 hours, riding for 8.5 hours of those – enough for one day.
We normally ride the route each season 4 or 5 times, this year Alan completed the full route about a month ago but I hadn’t until yesterday. I had to do it before the season finished.
September is one of the nicest months of the year, temperatures not too hot (it can be a little cold descending) and clear blue skies. I set off at 7.30am, I would much rather start early with no time pressures. Temperature 10 degrees forecast 24 max.
Col du Glandon starts hard and finishes ok, one of the things I have learnt about cycling is pace yourself – do not rush there is a long way to go. I chose an average power to aim for based on my numbers, it feels slow to start but I knew it wouldn’t at the end.
The Glandon opens up once you are passed the EDF barrage and what a beautiful morning it was, it was probably one of the most sureal biking experiences I have had, me, some cows, sheep and Marmottes!! nothing else, it was so beautiful and peaceful.
Once over the Glandon a lovely descent and onto the valley road, 25km of pretty boring road if i’m honest, it soon passes and all of a sudden you’re at the base of the Telegraph. The Telegraph is a 12km climb through the woods, it starts a little steep but soon steadies itself and you can get a nice rhythm to the top. Then 5km descent and it’s Valloire the start of the Gallibier 100km done but still 2400m of climbing to go!
The Galibier 17km, starts steep, grinds up at about 5% finishing with 8km of tough climbing. The last few times I have done this I have really enjoyed the Galibier, I had always saved myself for it and actually enjoyed the climb. Not today! I don’t know why but I certainly went to some dark places, had I chosen a too high average power or was it the thought of doing the Alpe at the end whatever it was painful. It was as much a mental trial as physical. I knew it was bad as everything anoyed me, other cyclists, motorbikes, cars you name it I was grumpy!
Once at the top, warm gear on for the great descent, it wasn’t that cold but I froze showing I was at my weakest. As I dropped down I got warmer and Alan text to say he was going to climb the Alpe with me. A quick stop at home can of ‘coke’ sorted out my gear and we were off the final 12km & 1000m of climbing. Would I have done it if Alan hadn’t said he was coming – who knows?
Surprisingly I enjoyed the Alpe, my spirits lifted, it was a beautiful temperature, a few cyclists around, I even overtook some! We made sure we finished at the tour d’France finish so I had done it all.
Marmotte route 174km, 3800m, 10: 18 ride time, 11 hours out & by the time I got home and including the ride to the start 199.99km
A brilliant day, I am glad I did it, I asked ‘why’ more than once but you can certainly understand why so many cyclists want to do it a ‘beautiful’ challenge where you experience every emotion.