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Marmotte by Moonlight

Sometimes people have ideas of things to do that you think are great then nearer the time you start questioning your sanity and then when you do them they are one of the best things you have ever done. This sums up our Marmotte by moonlight cycle ride. I could write for hours about the experience as it certainly sits in the top 3 things I have ever done.

There were 8 of us, 6 riders and 2 support and a van full of food. About 6 weeks ago a friend of ours who also runs some cycling accommodation came up with the idea to ride the Marmotte by moonlight, we thought it sounded great so all was set for the full moon in August, August 24th. As the day approached I got more nervous – lets do one of the hardest cycle rides with the added dimension of it’s overnight. We set off from Bourg d’Oisans about 8.30pm just as the sun was setting and this is where the stunning views started and never stopped. The night unfolded as we rode, the colours on the mountains as we rode up the Croix d’Fer were immense. As we approached the barrage the moon was stunning so bright it cast shawdows and the reflections were amazing. It was so bright we did not need lights, in fact we could have ridden all the up hill and flat by moonlight alone. On reaching the top of the Glandon we put some more kit on as it had got colder, we were in shorts and short sleeves to this point.

Alan loved the descent in the dark, I can’t say I was overly keen it was different. We stuck together on the valley rode which really helped and for once no wind. Then it was the Col d’ Telegraph (one of my favourite climbs) as we went up we rode through the cloud and out into the moonlight again. Down to Valloire and then the big ascent Col d’Galibier, I have to confess I was support over the Galibier as I wanted to be able to finish up the Alpe. I can’t describe how amazing the mountains looked the profiles unbelievable. The guy’s pedalled on into the morning – it was getting cold but all our moods were positive.

We timed it perfectly, summit of the Galibier to watch the sunrise over the mountains with the moon over the Meje Glacier, one of the best sights I have ever seen and I have been fortunate to see many sunsets, sunrises and great landscapes around the world. It was then the descent to the base of the Alpe, we stopped for coffee and croissants on the way, to warm up and get rid of some of the hunger pangs. Everyone was unsurprisingly tired but spirits were high, there was no doubt we were going up the Alpe. We all felt it in different ways, I was close to breaking but Alpe d’Huez wasn’t going to beat me, our driver said we looked so grey climbing compared to the other cyclists looking very red faced and hot. Amazingly we even over took some other cyclists. I even managed a sprint finish.

We cracked open a bottle of champagne, staggered on to the podium for the cheesy photograph, we had done it, the Marmotte by Moonlight. What an experience. Classic climbs overnight could catch on. We are already talking about doing Ventoux next year!!