The legendary LAlpe dHuez has to be one of the most recognizable climbs included in the Tour de France. One source has the climb at 13.8 kilometers with an average grade of 7.9 percent. There are 21 hairpin corners on the climb, named after winners of the stages there. In 2001 when the 22nd race was held on the mountain, naming restarted at the bottom with Lance Armstrongs added to Coppis.
A second source, Climbbybike.com, has the climb at 13.2 kilometers, an average grade of 8.1 percent with a maximum grade of 10.6 percent, when approached from Bourg dOisans. This is the approach we used on Day 2 of our trip, requesting that the legendary mountain be included in our bike tour package; even though it was not part of the actual Tour de France this year.
The first photo I have for you is a glance at some of the switchback corners. I cant tell you what number corners are in the photo and I do apologize for some of the washed out colors in todays photos as some of the shots were taken with my cell phone.
The second shot is a cool church that sits at the inside of one of the swithbacks.
The third shot is another overview with switchbacks visible.
The forth shot took a bit of a hike to get to the sign and I felt like I would slide off the slope, but it was too cool of a location to resist. This too came from my phone, so the color isn't great.
The final shot is somewhere along the Balcony Road of Auris-en-Oisans, the side route we took part way down from Alpe dHuez. Left to right are Peter Stackhouse, Ed Shaw, Scott Ellis, me, Todd Singiser, Ron Kennedy and Bruce Runnels.
The Balcony Road had stunning overlooks, three(?) dark tunnels and a fair amount of climbing. Ride Strong Bike Tours notes, If you have vertigo or nothing left in your legs, its best to return directly to Bourg. Noted.
Todays stats: 41.59 miles, ride time 3:09, out-time (enjoying the scenery and photos) 4:31, 7,462 ft of ascending this day.
I still do not have my luggage on this day, find out about that here.
Look forward to Day 3 of our tour, Col de Romme and Col de la Colombiere where we get to see the riders, the caravan and experience the Tour up close and personal. It was the toughest day of our bike tour for several reasons. Ill fill you in on the next blog.
In a previous post I alluded to a bike race I am doing this year. That race is the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race. This will be my third year battling the course. I wrote a couple of columns about the event in 05. At some point I will disclose how it is someone manages to cross the finish line with only five seconds to spare; but not today.
Today's story really began late in 2006. The story line has all the ingredients of a good western movie, set in an old mining town with a history of heros, power disputes and clandestine plans. Leadville is the perfect setting for a showdown between Lance Armstrong, Floyd Landis and the lesser-publicized Dave Weins.
Late in 2006, the Leadville Chronicle released a story that confirmed Lance planned to race in the 2007 event. His interest in the event was sparked by his long-time coach Chris Charmichael's participation in the 2006 event. Chris apparently lost a bet that he would complete the event under nine hours, the special time cut for "La Plata Grande" the BIG belt buckle.
Race Director Ken Chlouber invited Floyd to do the race after Lance decided to do the event. To have two strong horses race though the middle of town is a good opportunity for the race and the city. For many, these guys remain heros of the American cycling movement. Yep, a grand opportunity for a good showdown, horse race or both.
After press, stories and the ususal hype expected from this kind of a race, Lance announced that he had a "scheduling conflict" and would not be able to do the race after all.
Last week Chris Charmichael reported he rode the Leadville course with Lance and hinted to the possibility that Lance may still race at Leadville. Ah, clandestine plans.
Also last week, Ken Chlouber made it very clear he wants Floyd on the start line and is willing to find an independent insurance company to insure the event. The race is sanctioned by NORBA for insurance purposes. NORBA is the National Off-Road Bicycling Association and a division of USA Cycling. USA Cycling falls under UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) rules. Floyd is currently under investigation for doping charges and if found guilty will be ineligble to compete in any UCI events for two years. Chlouber will do whatever it takes to have Floyd on the start line at Leadville.
Floyd said in a press story last week that he still plans on doing the event and has been busy whipping that new hip into shape.
Meanwhile, quietly preparing for the event is Dave Wiens - I'm guessing. There has been some press about the four-time Leadville winner, but not much. He is a Colorado native, former World Cup racer and a 2000 inductee into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. Leadville racers love him. He is approachable, friendly and shouts encouraging words to racers as he passes them when he is returning on the out-and-back course.
Now that you have the basic story, belly up to the bar and place your bets.
Will Lance do the race?
Will Floyd's new hip work as well or better than his old one?
Does living in Colorado and knowing the course give Wiens an advantage?
Which horse will charge across the finishline first?
On Wednesday I go to Leadville for my pre-ride of the year. If I see any secret training going on, I'll let you know. You may want to change your bet...