Haute Route Alps 2022

Questions about bike hire abroad and everything light bike related. No off-topic chat please

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jlok
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by jlok

Excellent report. Appreciate your effort. Pretty sure not going to do it but it's great just to read your write up.
Rikulau V9 DB Custom < BMC TM02 < Litespeed T1sl Disc < Giant Propel Advanced SL Disc 1 < Propel Adv < TCR Adv SL Disc < KTM Revelator Sky < CAAD 12 Disc < Domane S Disc < Alize < CAAD 10

by Weenie


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claus
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by claus

Was the honking in Italy "angry" (the italian version of the american "Get off my road") or "encouraging"?
The latter seems to be common in (parts of) Italy and Spain.

eins4eins
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Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:49 am

by eins4eins

RyanH wrote:
Mon Sep 05, 2022 8:48 pm
I am curious if AirBnB is a better option for some of these areas if you're going with a small group and have a tour operator handle transfer. Hotel package was not cheap at 2600 euro so I think it wouldn't take many people to favor that option.
Our team rode the Tour Transalp this year. Little different format to HR, but still a stage race with different places each night were participants could either book a hotel package, sleep in the camp (sports halls) or organize it theirselve.
We were 6 riders, two members as staff, two vans for transportation and travelling. Booked all the hotels/apartments in advance and the helpers handled everything, so that the riders could focus on the race like pros. I was there as staff, but i wouldn't do the race as a rider in any other way. Having someone with you makes everything so much easier and less stressful. No hurry to meet fixed schedules. Free choice of hotels. Shopping and eating whenever whatever we needed. No limitation in packaging. Lot more freedom in general.
Two vans also gave us big flexibilty. We could set up two feed and service stations per stage, but then also have one van at the finish line while the other was already at the hotel with all the luggage and rooms checked in.

To help convincing cycling buddies to join as support: I was there as staff but spend the same amount of time on the bike as the riders. After stage finish and taking care of everything, there was more then enough time to go out for a beatiful ride. Win-Win.

Obviously more expensive, but not really that much and overall a great experience.

basilic
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Location: Geneva, Switzerland

by basilic

Ryan, thanks for an interesting account from within.
Also, you seem to produce a lot of watts for someone who went in undertrained. Kudos anyway!

Attermann
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by Attermann

every cyclist is allways undertrained, has a bad day, and all the other excuses :D

RyanH
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by RyanH

Attermann wrote:every cyclist is allways undertrained, has a bad day, and all the other excuses :D
Accurate but I don't think many had a mileage chart looking like this:

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I was working on a startup so April through June, my monthly ride hours were down to 20 to 25 hours, almost all of that at Z1 leisure pace.

July I started getting back to around 10 hours a week and then my friend called last week of July to ask if I wanted to go. That week I ramped up to 20 hours and was perpetually in a hole until I flew to Nice.

tonytourist
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by tonytourist

You're welcome.

iamraymond
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by iamraymond

This is a great read! Thank you for taking the time to share your experience and photos.

RyanH
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by RyanH

Yeah, I need to finish my writeup for the remaining stages 5-7 and a summary of my thoughts on the event overall but it's been busy with work so I haven't had a chance. One thing that I will add now is that I think my body is still trying to recover from the event (or event plus what I did the following weekend). I can't recall the last time I've had so many bad days on the bike. Any little effort just feels unpleasant on those days. It seems I've had one good day per week and that is it.

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JKolmo
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by JKolmo

Thanks for your detailed, very well written and honest reporting! Very interesting read to say the least! Keep it up

RyanH
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by RyanH

Day 5: Col de la Loze (Time Trial
Distance: 10k
Elevation: 850m
Calories: 798

Strava

Elevation profile

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I have no words to describe how dumb this climb is. Someone in the beginning of this thread said it was hard (and may have said something more pointed, I don't know) but when I read it, I was like yeah, yeah, I ride in Hollywood Hills where our typical climbs are double digit and the gradient profile doesn't look that bad. Wow...was I wrong. Whoever designed this road hated cyclist and his neighbors and his family and his children. So, the profile is misleading....by a lot. When you do the climb, the first half is a fairly constant gradient that isn't too bad. Then, you get onto the "bike path" and things change immediately for the worse. You're greeted with a high teens percentage pitch when you get through the trees and it levels off around 8% to lull you into a false sense of security before it punches you again with something in the 20% range. You learn quickly that any km marker that is displaying single digit percentages, you should fear because that means there's some easy part and some insane part(s).

Again, I can't think of any climb that I've ridden in the US that is even close to this sadistic. The best way to describe it is: 5k of steep climb and the 5k of tabata intervals.


There's a bit of discrepancy between my friend who was much faster than me and me in terms of breakfast philosophy (this was only part of my breakfast...lol):

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I made it to the top and this was the best I could do for a photo:

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The fast people:

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RyanH
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by RyanH

Some additional photos from the La Loze climb:

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RyanH
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by RyanH

Day 6: Meribel to Megeve
Distance: 138km
Elevation: 3600m
Calories: 4052

Strava

Elevation profile
Image

So, my friend started experiencing GI issues the prior day. The same type of GI issues the pros deal with where you spend the entire night going back and forth to the bathroom because your gut is basically like: "no mas." Apparently it's very common with endurance athletes and professional cyclists. It's a result of riding too hard or not getting sufficient hydration (and riding too hard) so your body diverts blood away from the intestines. It's a very unpleasant thing to deal with. Talking to others, it seems like this was a common issue affecting quite a few people at the event.

Anyway, the reason I bring that up is cause he looked like death at the start line of day 6. He was in 5th place at that point. Being a bigger guy, being 5th at this event is just mind blowing. I was finally riding into somewhat acceptable form so I wanted to make sure I could help if possible.

We started the day with another neutral descent. I lined up two rows back behind the car...well...I was in the second group cause I'm slow so I had to filter through the group in the first few minutes to get to two rows up (like first 10 riders). Directly behind the car was tolerable and I was able to snap some photos and chit chat with my friend. Behind...I'm sure it was chaos.

Start of timed section
The first climb (Notre Dame du Pre) was a "small climb" at just under 10km long. I was feeling pretty good and ended up averaging 290w for 41 minutes. Heart rate was pretty supressed and only averaged 144 bpm. I was able to see my friend up the road before I crested the top so I ripped down the descent as quickly as I could to catch up to him. As I was going down, I had to be a little assertive and tell people to GTFO of my way since they were going fast enough that it would be dangerous to pass them but slowing me down at the same time. About a third of the way down I managed to catch up to my friend and then had him draft me on the way down. At this point, I was on domestique duty to minimize time loss.

We had about 15k of false flat to deal with after the descent. We ended up having two other guys with us, one of them being a fellow American. Through this section, I tried to do most of the work on the front. The other American helped out as much as he could but the other guy was mostly dead weight and we eventually dropped him. I dug pretty deep on the false flat section since I knew it'd be the most benefit for my friend to not lose time here and I was pretty sure I was going to pop before the climb. Despite that, I ended up getting a top 10 on Strava for the false flat section, so my efforts weren't futile.

Avg power through the false flat section was 260w for 25 minutes.

The climb, the Bourg, was a longer one at 20k. I was able to ride the climb for a bit with my friend but he was able to hold a higher power at this point and I settled back into my old target of 245w for long climbs. That was uncomfortable at this point given the work I had done. Somewhere in the middle of the climb I was thinking of my friend's situation and an overwhelming sense of sadness took me over. I know what it feels like to dedicate your free time to be quick for an event but I've never managed to do something quite like what he did and for it all to go to shit because of a GI issue...it just sucked. At the rest stop, we exchanged some words, hugged and then forged on.

End of first timed section

Another descent and then another climb that was approximately 12k (next timed section to the finish). This one we rode together at slightly faster pace than the last but for Joe, it was fully cracked pace. We spent 52 minutes on the climb and I tried my best to cheer him up. All he wanted to do was for the day to be over. On the descent, we had to deal with some nut job that was kinda descending faster than us but only because he was riding in the opposite lane and chopping wheels. Plus, it began to slightly rain so we wanted him out of our hair as quickly as possible. Easier said than done when the descent is timed.

After the descent, we had a 10K false flat TT to deal with. This section was probably the hardest I've ever dug on a bike to try to minimize time losses. I was pretty much on empty at this point and Joe had nothing left. Despite it being just the two of us and one sketchy freeloader, I recall being in the top 10 for the day on Strava for this segment. Normalized power was around 290 for close to 20 minutes. It was brutal, but also for the first time during the event, I felt like I had purpose and not just meandering around as a weakling. I was able to do something that day that helped a friend, and that was a great feeling.

Post ride, I immediately checked into the hotel since it was next to the village and showered. This was the best hotel of the trip. It had air conditioning and was modernly decored. The room was spacious as well. I messaged my newly acquired friends from Finland/Belgium and met up for beers in the hotel bar. We headed to the briefing as per usual then got dinner together. I remember the French lady giving my friend shit for not speaking French and his response was "I could order in Finnish if you'd like but it's not going to get us very far...will it?"

RyanH
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by RyanH

Pictures for Stage 6:

Trying to catch up to my friend after the first climb:
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Shepherding him down the descent:
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You can see the look of death on his face, not a happy camper:

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On my own cause I'm still slow AF:

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Descending again, one of the more enjoyable activities at HR cause despite being out of shape, I was still faster than most downhill:

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Impressive scenery:

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Cows at the top of the climb

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Another stunning lake:

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And not too shabby of a valley:

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The following are Megeve which was supposedly built by the Rothschild's since they wanted a "nice" area to ski. It didn't miss that mark.

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by Weenie


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RyanH
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by RyanH

Day 7: Megeve to Megeve
Distance: 99km
Elevation: 2400m
Calories: 2674

Strava

Elevation profile

Image

This day was different than the rest because the entire thing was timed. So, basically a 100k road race. My friend once again looked like death at the start so today was domestique duty again. It was the final day. He lost an hour the prior day and went from 5th to 8th. At this point he just wanted to finish the event and wrote off finishing in the top 10.

We started the day with a short climb. I thought it was going to be a 10 minute climb and I somehow naively thought I'd be able to do something close to Nichols (our Sunday ride) power, or at least like 350w or something. Well...turns out after turning yourself inside out the day prior, that isn't going to happen. I managed my efforts pretty well this entire trip until day 6 and today was the day I had to pay for it.

We rode the climb together and let most of the group ahead. At this point we were midpacking it. On the descent, we caught quite a few people but ended up dialing it back because rain was falling at one point and the roads were damp. This meant we ended up with one of the female rivals in our group. On the transfer section, neither Joe nor I did much work since we had the rival team in the group. On the climb, I felt pretty good so I set tempo. I was curious if I could crack Luise. Turns out I couldn't despite doing about 4wpk up Col d'Epine and slimming our group down from 20ish to about 4.

After the descent, we had Croix Fry which was a twin peak climb. This was a longer climb and I knew shortly into it that I made a mistake pacing the previous climb like I did. I wasn't feeling great but my friend was paying for it even more. So, whenever I saw spectators on the side of the road, I'd ask them to cheer my friend on and say something encouraging. We finally made it to the top and stopped briefly for food at the last rest stop. After that we descended fairly gingerly since there was traffic and we were both zonked at this point. I remember a tiny hill feeling like an insurmountable challenge near the end and then we had to do the false flat section again. And, at last, we were done.

In the end, my friend managed to hold onto 10th place overall. As a mixed team, we finished 1st. The odd thing was that you don't get anything different at the end as you do from day to day for leading a particular competition. In fact, I think they made a mistake because on the third or 4th day we got a Haute Route winner hat but didn't get one on the last day. For me? I finished 70th, 80th or 90th place. I can't remember and obviously not very noteworthy.

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