Thursday, September 30, 2010

Alpe d'Huez - Random Fun

Aside from the race and climbing up the mountain on very skinny tires, my holiday/vacation was so much more fun. Here are just a few of the random photos that will make me return again next year.
John shows off how you get the ladies. Just show them your big laptop.....

Blue skies and stickers all around at the top of the climb to La Madeleine.

Mount Blanc in the distance!

The circus was in town too. I loved saying hello to the camel, llama and donkey every morning.

After all our exertions and climbing, climbing, climbing - we end up in the valley for happy hour. Ah... I love the reward. Chris, Beth, Gervase, Louise and John relax in the sun. Well earned...

Some of the landscape - Louise and I are entertained by the stream on the side of the road.

Did you know that the majority of France is powered by nuclear energy? The second largest provider of electricity is hydro electric power. A lovely mountain lake created by the dam.

Working on my tan besides the lake. Well, not really. Who wants a cyclist's tan??

A long way down on the other side of the dam. No pretty water on this end.

Chris fights off traffic as he leads the group up the mountain. Yep, can't get a wheel in edgewise among all the cars here.

I had to stop and take a picture of this view.

Louise and I pose at the top of the Col du Lautarent.

How great is this place at the Col du Laurent? Lounge chairs outside for all our hard earned cycling!

Instead of beer this time, the reward was a chocolate banana crepe and a large cup of coffee. Seriously, it often doesn't get better than that.

Action shot?

Finally, the group fuels up for all the activities. Ahh... eating, drinking, cycling, friends. All good stuff.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Alpe d'Huez - the Race

One of the main reasons to head to Alp d'Huez was for the Alpe d'Huez long distance triathlon. It was essentially a half Ironman with some vicious climbs on both the ride and the run. Wisely, I decided to play spectator while John and Chris raced.
John cooks up a delicious pre-race pasta meal. The gang is all smiles as we all fuel up. Spectators need their energy too!

The swim - you can just make out the entrants as they do a lap around the lake.

It was a mass start for the entire race so LOTS of people in the water at the same time.

Unfortunately we missed Chris coming out of the water but John looks good as he starts stripping off the wetsuit.

Both arms are out and the watch is still on. A good sign.

With a quick transition, he's off to the bike leg.

We catch Chris at the top of the second feed station. From here it is a fantastic long descent and then the hour long climb up Alpe d'Huez to the run.
Either Chris needs a new drink bottle or we have said something to upset him and he is throwing things at us.

Beth, Gervase, Ken and Rachel are fantastic spectators. (Big kudos to Ken and Rachel for being such good sports to cheer for people they just met on their European vacation)

Mr. Booker shows off for the camera. It's better to look good than to feel good......

And he's off ... on a 25 minute descent. We couldn't keep up in the car. The bikes were going faster than we were.

On the run, another thumbs up from John. I think he's actually having fun.

Looking good.....

Okay, maybe it did hurt after all. Congrats to John for finishing!

He's alive! And doing his best reaching for the stars impersonation.

Chris coming through the finisher's shoot. Don't let the order of the photos imply that Chris finished after John. No, I wouldn't want you to think that. I also don't think Chris is smiling in this photo. Again, this race looks like it hurts in my opinion.
Chris looking for a little sustenance to re-fuel after racing for 7+ hours.

Instead he gets a big hug from Gervase. Well done!
John is also all smiles. I think he is delirious.

A finishing hug from Beth as well. Congrats to both for finishing the tough race. I am very glad I was on the sidelines for this one. I thoroughly enjoyed my spectator role at this event!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Alpe d'Huez - the Climb

As part of the trip to France, we headed down to Alp d'huez, just outside of Grenoble. It is famous for skiing as well as its vicious climbs for cyclists during the Tour de France.
We stayed in the village at the base of the climb called Borg d'Oisans. It was perfect for our stay with many restaurants, good roads for cycling and beautiful scenery. Here is the road leading up to the house we rented.

This is the street where our house was located. Just a bit narrow, eh? It made for difficult unloading of the cars but easy access to the town center which was great.

Before tackling the fabled climb, we got our cycling legs ready by exploring the area. Good friend John Booker was kind enough to lead us out to the start of the Alpe d'Huez triathlon race. It had beautiful views and wonderfully clear air (more on the race in another post)

The swim start in the mountain lake. Although it was plenty warm outside, I had a feeling the water temp was going to be quite 'fresh'.

Ken tries out his rental bike making sure it is nice and comfy on the flats before we hit the big climb.

I can't even describe how beautiful it was. Lovely scenery all around.

At the bottom of the fabled climb, they give you the zero mark so that you can start your watches and see how fast you can climb to the top. Needless to say, it wasn't pretty. Here is the sign marking turn number 2.

The yellow swiggly lines represent the road. There are 21 hair pin turns associated with this climb. They actually aren't too bad on the way up but require some serious braking on the way down!

Views as we climb. If you could take your eyes off the road in front of you, well, if you could lift your head up, it was really rather beautiful.

Houses in the distance. I can't imagine trying to drive here with snow.

Not to the top yet! You are entering Alpe d'Huez but I think it was still a good 30 minutes from here to the top. Climbing, climbing, climbing.......
Ken rides into the village at the finish. He made it!!!!
Time for a well deserved rest. It was very warm which made the climb that much harder.
A fun thing at the top of the climb, they put up a podium just in case you were racing your friends. I wasn't racing, but got to stand on the top spot with my brother anyway.
Now for the fun bit, the way down. No pedaling required on most of this. Ken took a great picture of one of the hairpin bends. If you look carefully enough, you can actually see me on that corner.
I had to put the jacket and arm warmers on to ward off the chill. Although it was hot and sunny on the way up, 40 miles an hour on the way down with sweaty clothing is not warm at all.
Here is Ken in action on one of the turns. Wheehhheeeeee!!!

Lastly, Ken gives me a smile. I dragged him all the way to France for one day on the bicycle so I'm glad he enjoyed it.