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.


Simon does the Marmotte

Flew out on Saturday eve, but didn’t get to my dingy hotel on the motorway in (what Google images tells me is beautiful) Aux-en-Provence until about midnight due to flight delays.

Wasn’t going to see it in the morning either as i had designs on being halfway up Ventoux early doors. An excellent night’s sleep put paid to that and i didn’t set off from Vaison-La-Romaine till about 3pm. The heat was in the 30s already and wearing all black might have been a bit daft, but thought better represent the CSG (in the absence of Summer Jersey till caught up with Desi).

Was reading the Tom Simpson book and discovered (at least i think i did…) why their TDF hats have 49 on the side – because it was his number in the TDF. Have i made this up? Well, a photo either way..


Also met a bloke at the top who had done all the Marmotte rides over the course of a few days and he said they were all easier than Ventoux. While doing them one at a time isn’t much of a comparison, it did mean another Ventoux wasn’t part of the route.
Next up was the Col d’Izoard. Essentially i don’t know many famous climbs and a bloke i was staying with for the Marmotte said this was a good one to do, and sure enough, a pretty beautiful climb. Starts fairly easy, then ramps up quickly on some hairpins. Kept passing signs that said ‘PAIN’, and it did take me a while to realise that this was just for bread… Pretty quickly you pop out into another exposed landscape a bit like Ventoux and it levels off, even a bit of downhill. There’s a memorial to Fausto Coppi and Louison Bobet and a pretty decent view.


A great descent off this one into Briancon. Sadly the ride back to the start along an A road was awful and into the wind. While i felt great on the climb, pushing at about 12mph through the wind did knock my confidence a bit for the big day.

The next few days were spent doing as little as possible in Bourg. I was pretty keen to have a spin up the Alpe, but thought my legs really needed a rest, so after a flat ride to the base of Glandon and back i did the first hairpin (the worst bit) just so i would know what to expect at the end.

The day before the Marmotte the guys i was staying with went through unbelievable amounts of pasta. Just bowls all day. That certainly wasn’t my plan, but decided to go along with it and i think it paid off despite feeling so full it was a bit uncomfortable. Pasta and egg was also on the menu for breakfast the next day, eurgh.

Cyclists were streaming through the town ahead of the start time and there was little chance of finding Desi so i just stuck with the guys i was staying with. Once we were off, despite all i’d read, it was a pretty conservative pace along the valley to Glandon and we certainly weren’t going to push it. As soon as we hit the base of Glandon, the spread quickly bunched again and we were a good few cyclists wide across the road. I’m still not great in a bunch, so sat on the edge for a bit of space and just slowly crept passed people all the way up.Still even enough energy for showboating at the top. Big ring, check. On the drops, check. Race face, check.

The descent off Glandon was awful. Everyone knew it was neutralised and i guess as such just sat on the brakes all the way down. I didn’t want to go fast, but was pretty worried about all the horror stories i’d heard about exploding tyres due to heating rims, so was just bricking it all the way. Were a handful of crashes i saw the aftermath of en route to the bottom.

The ride along the valley was good. I’m really not great on the flats and find it hard to keep up with Grupetto sometimes so was worried about wasting a lot of energy on this bit. But a fairly big group of about 30+ riders slowly formed so i was happily dragged along to the base of Telegraphe.

I’d kind of written off Telegraph as a little warm up. Sadly, it was no joke and you really had to settle into the hairpins, which just remained constant. Quick feed stop then it was on to what i’d set as the big challenge of the day, Galibier (just assumed / hoped that if i got to the Alpe i’d get up somehow). It’s not hugely steep, but it opens right up and you can see cyclists snaking miles into the distance ahead of you and behind just slowly grinding their way up. You keep thinking you’ve spotted the top, but then you see another glint off someone’s wheels a bit higher and a bit further off and you realise there’s still a good bit to go. I did manage to attempt a bit of showboating for the camera man again, but if you look close, this one never got out the small chain ring..

Now for the descent off Galibier. Awesome!!!! Again, from Grupetto rides i know i take downhills pretty gingerly and don’t really enjoy them, but this was just amazing. Wide enough roads, sweeping turns and i was putting in a bit of effort to catch Rich who i was staying with. I quickly discovered that if you get into a real tight tuck (occasionally doing that potentially stupid hands in the middle on top of bars thing), you fly past everyone with no effort at all. Also means to get less buffeted by the wind. I was worried i was using up too much energy doing it, but it was just brilliant. If this was the only real ‘fun’ bit of the ride, i was going to enjoy it. It was brilliant and i caught Rich up taking his jacket off on the flat at the bottom. I’d do Galibier again just for that descent.

Cycled with Rich and a bunch of others to the base of the Alpe. Stuffed my face with their bizarre mix of food and drink for fear of bonking on the way up. Also stuffed in some caffeine sweets and gels and headed off. Rich quickly pulled away as his pace is about .5mph faster than me and it was time to dig in. The profile shows a good few bits where the gradient slackens off, but with all the miles in my legs i didn’t really feel them, it just hurt for a long time. My girlfriend was near one of the top turns and started cheering me as i got closer. She then cut the switchback to see me again at the next one. She was walking along next to me shouting encouragement. That’s right – walking. Which really put the speed into perspective. As much as i wanted to, i was just too nervous about blowing up to get out the saddle too early, so was fantastic to give a little dig at the end to ‘speed’ to the finish line.

Really was a great ride. Perfect weather and delighted with my time of 10 hours 7 minutes all in which placed me just on the slower side of the halfway point of finishers.

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