The week consists of a duathlon, triathlon L and triathlon M which all include the famous Alpe D’huez climb. We decided to take on the triathlon M, the shorter of the two triathlons.
(1.2km swim, 28.9km bike, 6.7km run)
With a 2pm start time, we had a relaxing breakfast and headed up to Alpe D’huez to set up our T2 kit. The drive up there itself is mesmerising. We returned to the valley and took a short spin round to the swim start and transition. Once we set our kit out in T1, our support crew headed up to the top as the climb is closed to traffic during the race. The lake is home to an EDF hydroelectric power station, which stops running during the race (swimming is forbidden here the rest of the year). The water is a beautiful blue and the temperature was around 18 degrees. It was a tough swim with 1641 competitors in total. We were split into 3 waves with women off first. Over this distance, there was no spreading out. The entire swim was a battle, particularly around the two buoys.
Once out of the swim, we put our swim kit in a transition bag (which is then taken up to the finish) and headed out on our bikes.
The cycle route is split into two parts. First of all there is a short 15km section along the stunning valley between Lac du Verney and Bourg d’Oisans. Followed by the famous Alpe d’Huez climb. The 21 bends are the biggest challenge of the day, winding their way up 13.9km of 8% gradient. Under the July sun the climb can feel even longer and more impressive, living up to its reputation. Many say the hardest part of the climb are the first 4 bends. With my training consisting of towing Harriet in the bike trailer to nursery/work and back each day including an effort up Grapes Hill, I didn’t feel very prepared. I’d given Alp Du Zwift a go a few weeks before for a bit of confidence but it isn’t quite the same! It was a tough ride but the support at every bend is incredible and the riders around keep each other going. A fellow Brit rode alongside me and had a chuckle at the Norfolk girl tackling the Alpe! At the end of the bike section through the streets of Alpe d’Huez the transition zone comes quickly – no rest for the wicked!
Sitting at 1800m altitude and taking in 100m of ascent, the running section of the Alpe d’Huez Triathlon is worth every second. The 6.7km loop pushes the athletes on both road and trial and offers in exchange some of the most stunning vistas one can get from the resort. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the run and was joined by my very excited little girl for the finishing straight.
With only 1394 of the competitors finishing (15% DNF), this race is as demanding as it is exciting! Add it to your bucket list!!