Today the penultimate stage of le Tour de France heads up the most famous climb in the Tour; Alpe d’Huez.
21 hairpin bends snaking impossibly up a relentless and stunning mountainside.
4 years ago Jo and I were working for a cycling tour operator. On a rare morning off we got a lift down to Bourg d’Oisans and readied ourselves.
We had decided that we’d run up the Alpe and show those cyclists we were made of tougher stuff.
The legendary Marco Pantani holds the record for going up on a bike in 00:35:37. Well, I ran clean and finished in 01:59:48. A glorious 12 seconds inside 2 hrs!
I rarely run wearing a watch/Garmin etc. as I like to listen to my body and go with what it is telling me. I never set out with a time in mind that morning, but as I approached the roundabout just before the final 300m stretch up to the finish post, I got my phone out my pocket (I was using it to track my run) to be sure of hitting stop as soon as I crossed the finish line.
When I saw I was really close to being inside 2hrs I sprinted with everything I had up those final 300m. It was awful and I felt like my lungs would cross the line before me, but I somehow managed it!
I was amazed I had anything left for an uphill sprint, given how relentless the climb was!
Jo finished just shortly after, me feeling equally done for.
I’m proud of our achievement that day and one I look back on fondly.
We treated ourselves to ‘polka dot beers’ later that day and the cyclists back in the chalet couldn’t believe their ears as we told of our feat while serving up supper!