Thu 26 Mar 2009 19:11 GMT
Popped into Bourg d'Oisans today to the supermarket. Just a few things needed and nothing too heavy so I decided to ride in.
(Top tip for anyone wanting to ride Alpe d'Huez but needs to lighten their load of kit/rucksack, etc. before they climb: In the entrance to the large Casino supermarket [just before roundabout at foot of climb], there are 20 or so lockers where you can leave your stuff. These lockers take a 2 Euro coin which, on returning to collect your kit, can then be used to buy Coke and cakes!)
It was nice to get outside as the last couple of days have been snowy with gale force winds. Today could not have been more different; the new snowfall had already melted and it was sunny and warm.
I had it in the back of my mind to ride some or all of the Alpe d'Huez climb. It would be the first time this year, in fact, the first time since around October '08.
I am by no means complacent about the climb or about having it on our doorstep, however, over this winter the road snaking up the mountain has just become an impressive backdrop to my trips to Bourg d'Oisans for shopping, etc. Now, approaching on the bike again, I felt a little apprehensive, so much so that at the last moment I swung hard left and did a further few kilometres in the valley kidding myself that it was all good 'warm up'. On my second approach I went for it! Well, sort of.
By hairpin 21 I was painfully (and I mean painfully) aware of the chasm of fitness that needs to be bridged to get me back to last season's form. By hairpin 20 I had already checked 2 or 3 times that I wasn't still in the big ring, it certainly felt like I was. By hairpin 19 I was starting to enjoy myself - but not that much as at hairpin 18 I did a U-turn and enjoyed the descent back to Bourg. Well, it will still be there tomorrow...