I’ve entered the Marmotte 2018!

The 2017 Etape du Tour was an utterly incredible day! And the build up and training that got me to the finish line was fantastic too. So for 2018 I decided I should do something similar… More “I’ve entered the Marmotte 2018!”

BMC Lundy Festival 2017

Lundy is undoubtedly one of Britain’s most lovely destinations. It has so much to offer everyone in so many different ways! And not just climbers – ornithologists, marine life lovers, ecologists, people with interests in historic places, those who just want to escape to somewhere quiet with no traffic, etc., etc! More “BMC Lundy Festival 2017”

Champagne & the Great War – weird extremes, Luxury & Suffering

On the way home from the Briançon we broke the journey down by calling in on the Champagne region to find out if any deals were to be had. They were! We grabbed a box of six bottles of Canard – Duchêne for much much less than we pay back in the UK. 🙂

Pete and Zac trying to decide if life would be better if we drank champagne every day?
Grape vines destined to become Canard-Duchene champagne!

We stayed the night for free in one of those amazing French municipal aire camping sites, then our plan was to go on to explore a few of the Great War memorial sites the next day. With the centenary of the end of the Great War getting so close it seemed pertinent that we finally gave some time to explore this area having passed it by so many times…

I think everyone should be made to spend a short while in this area. It is incredibly sobering to get just the merest of feelings of what it was like, how many people died, and what we have today in part thanks to these sacrifices.

The only tree, a hornbeam, to survive the devastation at Devil’s Wood

Now they are almost tranquil amongst the replanted trees, imagine fighting in these trenches – a couple of feet deeper, reinforced with wood, steel, sandbags, etc. and with bullets flying overhead, shells exploding all around and with the mud etc. then raining down – what a life, or death.

It makes me mad that one of the biggest peace projects of all time – the European Union – is being threatened by shallow minded and bitter baby-boomers who will throw this all away, at any cost, to service their misguided (and lied to) impressions.

l’Etape du Tour 2017

To try and gain some altitude acclimatisation in preparation for the l’Étape du Tour, I’d cycled up to the Col du Galibier (2642m) from La Grave, did a high level ridge walk from the Col de Granon, climbed a ten pitch rock climb that started at 2189m, and finished by sleeping the night at the 2413m high Col de Granon. Could I have done more? Maybe. But that was it now, after starting my training at the end of April the morning of the race had arrived… More “l’Etape du Tour 2017”

Tour Germaine

Steve, Laetitia, Zac, and I set off for what looked like an easily accessible and long (10 pitches) relatively easy (max grade 5+) rock climb. The guidebook said it was a short easy approach. It turned out to be super sunny, hot, very uphill, and well over an hour long. It was tough work for the unacclimatised, but the aim was to get acclimatised ready for the Etape du Tour

Unfortunately Laetitia and Zac turned back and didn’t climb as it was clearly not a dog-friendly spot to leave Zac alone for several hours. He would have roasted to death in the direct sun and crippling heat. 🙁

A view down the lovely Nevache valley
Steve on the approach hike up to Tour Germaine

Col du Granon Walk

As part of the efforts to get acclimatised ready for the Etape du Tour – we had a great medium length walk with Steve, Sandra, Laetitia, and Zac from the 2413m high Col du Granon.

Pete and Steve contemplating the route to take from the Col du Ganon
Steve and Laetitia checking out the panorama with help from the “Table de Orientation”

Last long training ride … the Fred Whitton Challenge de Staveley

The Etape du Tour is just around the corner. So with tapering of training efforts in mind to give legs every chance to fully recover the weekend saw the last big training effort, the Fred Whitton Challenge. The Fred Whitton is a circuit of the Lakes that takes in all of the major mountain passes – over 180km of riding with around 3700m of climbing. Tough! Perhaps a little tougher than the Etape in some ways due to the extreme nature of some of the climbing. Hardknott Pass in particular is epic, and being near the end of the ride ones legs are already knackered. So again a little like the Etape which, in 2017, finishes with a 32km (albeit less severely steep) climb to the Col d’Izoard.

Steve arrives at Kirkstone Pass
Rachel and Steve passing Castlerigg Stone Circle
Rachel arrives at Honister Pass
Selfie of the gang at the summit of the Newlands Pass
Rachel at Whinlatter Pass
A great cafe stop at Stanton Bridge to top up on energy before tackling Hardknott and Wrynose Passes
Steve and Rachel at the start of the Hardknott Pass
Pete, Rachel, and Steve super happy having finished the final climb to Wrynose Pass