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.

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