My last race of Euro trip was here .
Swim - 2.2 km Total lakeCold 2 laps
Bike - 120 km Total 3600 m elevation Hilly
Run - 22 km Total 660 m elavation gain + at 1800m elevation 3 laps hilly off road / Road
It was a different feeling turning up to the start line at the famous Alp D Huez long course Triathlon. It felt like it was going to be a long training day more than a race. Don't get me wrong I was there to lay down my best performance, but it just felt different. As we were cattle shunted into the water I tried to get as close to the start of the line as possible to try and get a good place on the other side of the channel close to the rocks. I entered the water and to my surprise 15.c felt actually OK. I found my spot as close to the front as possible; with a mass start of 1500 athletes in quite a narrow start line. It was going to be crucial to get as far up as possible. I was about 20m back from the Pros and that was as close as I could get. The gun went off with the chopper just over head making the water choppier than the usual 1500 people washing machine creates. I found clean water off too the right and found my rhythm quickly, I exited the water 33rd. Into T1 I took my time putting my socks on and opting for proper road cycling shoes for more comfort. I also chucked on a cycling shirt which had my nutrition and cold weather gear jammed in the back as the weather can change so quickly in the high mountains.
Onto my road bike (too many hills for a TT) the first 25 km is flat with a slight head wind and I hit the first climb around 27th/28th. I had kept my effort at my chosen HR so far and had to maintain discipline as the euro mountain goats came flying past. I just kept saying to myself "be patient". The first climb goes for 18 km at a ave of 7% not terribly hard but not easy either. Over the top and it was a quick and fast descent until we hit the small 5 km climb of col de molisol. Again not a difficult climb but it was starting to heat up and I could already see some of the guys that had passed me starting to pay for their efforts.
After the climb, which is around the 50 km mark, it was an uneventful next 30 km of just rolling up and downs with the some sketchy parts as the roads are open to the public the whole race. I hit the second last climb of the day Col D O'rnon which is 22 km in length open to the sun and wind. Again not too difficult alone but I was starting to see more carnage on the roads as people were cracking. I felt strong and in control besides busting for a piss. Over the top and straight into a long very fast and technical descent. I was a little anxious about this one after my track record of descents, but I managed to get in a groove quickly. I made a handful of positions up by the time we hit the base. I jump off course for a slash that felt like eternity as I could hear other competitors zipping by. Back on the horse and I tried to spin my legs as much as possible because in 5 km we were hitting the big one Alp D Huez. 14 km with some heavy percentages at the start and end.
Straight into the final climb and it was hot 34c and nowhere to hide. I was still feeling strong and controlled with the famous 21 Hairpins to keep you motivated. I grew hungrier as I passed more and more athletes either zig ragging across the roads or totally stopped and hanging over their bars. By the time I hit the half way mark my lower back was starting to get tight but overall I was good. About 3km to go, I jammed my last 2 salt tabs in and some powerade. Within the next couple of minute I started to get some gut problems. I pushed a bit harder to get to the summit and T2 which was at 1800m elevation. A quick T2 and I was off. My legs felt good but my guts were killing me. By Km 2 I was keeled over spewing my guts up with a bloated stomach. My motto was no walking, just run, keel, spew, move. Quite a frustrating next 10km or so with this on repeat with some added gastro thrown in there. I took only coke from the aids stations to try and settle my guts. The uphills were actual easier than the downhills which felt like I had a bowling ball in there. By km 12 all discomfort was gone! Not the ideal first 10km but heck let's get to the finish as quick as possible. I ran the final 10 km strong and fast. Finishing in just over 7 hours and 64th overall.
Not quite the result I wanted but I was more proud that I had stuck to the game plan and persevered when things didn't go my way as I could have quite easily pulled the pin or just shuffled my way to the end and not finish strong.
It was a great experience and I am glad to tick this one off the bucket list.