CS Grupetto

We are a little bit different to most clubs in that we\'re primarily a group of friends who socialise off the bike, but we happen to share a common interest in cycling and cyclesport. We are based in Putney and have regular weekend rides out to Windsor and the Surrey Hills, as well as occasional trips elsewhere.

We have a wide variety of cycling interests amongst club members, from track riding to road racing, and sportives to bike polo. Several of our members have their race licences, and we\'re represented in every category including Elite

We regularly travel further afield to enjoy some of the classic races – this year quite a few of us have ridden the Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix sportives, and then watched the pros follow our tyre tracks. We also try and get to see the Ghent and Berlin six day track events.

At the core of the club ethos is a desire to enjoy good rides with good friends.

CLUB NEWS

Desi’s Marmote ride report

Not quite the outcome I wanted but I guess it’s still an ok result.

Finish La Marmotte…done.

Ride all of the climbs…done (sort of).

Finish under 10hrs…long way off. . .

Arrival.
Got to Alpe d’Huez about midday on Thursday. Met some of the guys from the same tour group on the day. They’re from diff parts of the UK. No heavy weights from that bunch. Checked in the hotel, unpacked and started putting the bikes together. Bike survived…good (thanks for the box Wayne!). No riding today as it’s been a long day, been up since 0415. Got to see the climb on the way up…it looked steep and long! The afternoon was spent at the registration area checking our reg details, souvenir shopping and generally soaking up the festive atmosphere. . .

Recce – Friday.
Bikes are ready. Time to ride. About five of us rode to Villard Reculas, a little resort further down the mountain. It was a nice gentle ride. Little bit of climbing (+500m), and a short 17.5km up (or down) and back. So got to ride from turn 6 up, the easier bit of the climb. I felt alright and comfortable. It was fairly easy, I thought. Felt the heat though….and it was only 23C and around midday. Chat with the group over lunch and dinner focused on what to wear on the day.

It’ll be freezing cold to start with (about 4C) but forecast is for high 20s with no cloud cover at all. Decided to go for shorts, thermal base, jersey and armwarmers. Will stuff some newspapers for the descent in the morning…hopefully that’ll be enough against wind chill. Conversation also turned to gearing…apparently my 25t block is a bit heavy. This coming from a speedy vet lightweight racer who’s done Marmotte four times :S . Met up with Simon in the evening at the registration area to hand over his Summer ‘Continental’ Grupetto Jersey. He’s quietly confident having conquered Ventoux only a few days earlier.   desi Jul 5th 2011 .

Start
My hotel is 200m from the finish, on top of Alpe d’Huez, which meant i had to ride down the mountain to Bourg d’Oisans, the start. Been slotted into 0750 start so left the hotel around 0700. Freezing ride (freewheeling) down! Those who knew better rode down with crappy/old/poundland long socks, trackies and jumpers and just dumped them at the start. Start wasn’t too bad. Gentle bit of spinning to warm up…but had to warm up fast…Col du Glandon is only around 35km away.  . .

Climb 1 of 4 – Col du Glandon.
Long climb. Over 20kms. Actually liked this climb. It was mostly under cover and gradient was not steep at all and pretty much constant throughout so it was easy to get into a rhythm. Still a bit crowded at this point.

Cyclists pretty much cover the whole width of the road, but there is ample room to ride around if you’re keen…I wasn’t. I think I climbed this at about 70-75% effort. Got to the top. First feedstation. NO ENERGY DRINKS! What do they have? Foul tasting water and Lipton Iced Tea. Grabbed some ham baguette, sweet brioche like rolls and a banana. Then off I went. I think at this stage I was on target for a 10.5-11hr finish. They have neutralised the descent. This to discourage people from bombing down the dodgy first few kms. The road was very narrow, bumpy, no lines, barriers and turns were very tight. It was fun further down though when the road surface got better and the turns got wider where you can sweet at 40-50kph. Best descent of the route. . .

Climb 2 of 4 – Col du Telegraphe.
This climb had some 11% sections, had a lot of exposed sections and the heat is definitely on. Was climbing at a fairly comfortable pace (again about 70-75% effort…easy 50-60rpm on biggest cog) when I felt a sharp tug behind my knee. I was cramping up. Had to get off and stretch. Actually struggled to get off the bike cos as soon as I unclipped both legs cramped up…and from all directions, behind the knee, quads and the inside of the leg. From this point I knew going for a semi-respectable time is not possible. Took me a while to figure out how to stretch so that I don’t cramp up the other muscles whilst stretching the opposite one. Must’ve stopped for about 5mins. Surprisingly, I arrived on top of Telegraphe at about 1100…still on target for a 10.5-11hr finish. Feedstation. Again, no energy drinks! To make matters worse, I couldn’t stomach the iced tea drinks…and the water was horrible. Grabbed some bread and more of the cake and some more bananas. Got a handful of salami and ham slices, hoping that the salts in that would help. Had a bit of an extended break. Sat down and did some stretches.   desi Jul 5th 2011 .

Climb 3 of 4 – Col du Galibier.
This one’s a monster. Started off gently. But at this stage the roads are exposed with hardly any shade and temp was hitting high 20s. Not what you need if you’re cramping up. Cant remember how many times I stopped here. I know one of the longer stops I made was just before the climb jumped from about 4-5% to about 8-10%. This is about 15km from the top. There’s a café at that point, ideal for an extended rest/stretch. Some dude came up to me and offered me a can of coke. ‘Here, have this…I know Wayne Peach’….wtf!?!? The guy’s name is Martin in a blue CCA(?) jersey. Needed that coke. Thanks! One of my longer breaks. Legs were getting progressively worse so rest/stretch periods are getting longer and longer. Nearly fell off the bike on one of the steeper, 13% sections when my legs (both!) cramped at an awkward position.

Galibier is brutal. There were about 4-5 areas where you could see how much you’d have to climb…it just sucks the morale out of you. In the last 4km you see the road zigzags up to what looks like 500+m of elevation. Must have stopped about three times on the final 15kms…at one stage I thought it looked like I can get to the top at about 1530 but in the end I got there about 1600. Not too bad I thought considering I’ve got a quarter of a leg pushing me up. . .

Descent from Galibier was scary. Very steep and very tight. This does not allow for event he tiniest bit of error in judgement and handling. Was talking and reminding myself to concentrate all the way down. The ride towards Bourg d’Oisans passed through a number of tunnels. A couple of them were about 1km long. TAKE YOUR SUNGLASSES OFF before you enter! By the time I wanted(needed) to take them off, I was speeding down through the tunnel at some speed (my guess…about 50kph) so was gripping the bars for dear life. . .

Climb 4 of 4 – l’Alpe d’Huez.
1730hrs and 30C. Looks alright. Somewhat recovered from the easy ride down (your reckon!?!?). The climb by my wild guess would take about 1.5hrs…would take me to about 11hrs…not too bad. Anyway, another long stay at the final feedstation. Dunno why I bothered. Here they had Irnbru(?) but it’s so watered down, it was disgusting. After a couple more mins of stretching, I set off. . .

The first 3-4kms were the hardest. Constant 10-12%. Long stretches of it. The hairpin turns couldn’t come any sooner (hairpins is where you can get a bit of a rest as they’re pretty flat). After the tough sections, I had to get off. Cramps were excruciating at this stage, teeth grindingly painful. Tried to continue but at turn 9, about 6kms from the finish, I couldn’t do anymore. Sat for a long time. Standing up was a painful. Decided to walk to see if it’ll ease up. Walked for about 3-4kms. I knew my ride was over when the tandem couple pass me .

As soon as the road levelled, I tried to ride. Legs were fine. Couple more ramps and I’m there. Storming finish! There was an error on my timing chip so my certificate says 12:32….that’s after waiting around and looking for the right people to fix the fault on the chip. Could be less than that ;p . . Garmin shows my time to be 11:46 but I turned that off few kms from the finish cos it was going flat. Anyhoo…time didn’t matter at that stage. Sod it, considering the very little prep I had and how tired I was in the leadup (crappy bed in the hotel meant only had 4hrs sleep for each of the two nights before marmotte), it’s almost unbelievable I managed to complete the route. .

The Grimp – Sunday
Unfinished business. I want to climb Alpe d’Huez in its entirety. I didn’t enter the proper event cos that starts too early in the day and wanted to give my legs some more time to recover. Legs felt like they were stabbed with the end of a baseball bat but I think they were functioning ok. And I slept well! Just before midday as soon as the last few Le Grimpeur riders streamed in, I went onto to do my own timed ride. Still a bit of chill so rode down slowly. Spun around at the bottom and took the first few kms ‘gently’. With a third of the 13kms gone, I pushed a bit harder. Powered through the final few kms. 1hr 14mins! Pleased with that.

I can probably take another 2-5mins off that but breaking the hr mark (one lots aim for) would be a tough ask (should it be a HC if the likes of me can do it in a little over an hr!?!). The winner in the morning’s event did it in 42mins.

Despite a tough time on Saturday, I enjoyed my long weekend there. It’s one of those great iconic climbs but the novelty does fade after you’ve seen or ridden it. . . Some of the guys there have done the Marmotte a few times and they said they keep coming back to better their times but no, I wont be doing this again. . .

Thanks for the garmin loaner, dave! And thanks everyone for tweets of encouragement/support.

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