Col du Galibier

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Alpe D’Huzes - an experience!

Riding Alpe D’Huez during the Alpe D’Huzes event

10 June, 2012

I had the opportunity on Thursday to ride up Alpe D’Huez during the yearly Dutch cancer charity event, Alpe D’Huzes.  My local cycling club get an ‘invite’ each year to ride up the Alpe in support of the riders, which is normally closed off for anyone other than the participants of Alpe D’Huzes.

The Alpe D’Huzes event is organised in order to raise money for cancer charities - this year 8000 riders tackled Alpe D’Huez, either individually or in teams, with the aim of riding up the Alpe 6 times.  They start at 4 a.m in the morning, and go on all day, and this year the organisers hoped to raise 40 million euros!

So I met up with other members of the ‘Velo Club Bourg D’Oisans’ and considering it was a lunchtime on a Thursday, we had a great turn out of nearly 30 members.  We set off with the plan of riding together as a club for the first part of the ride, then letting everyone ‘do their thing’ later on in the climb if the adrenaline and urge to race took over (which no surprises, it did!).

The atmosphere on the mountain was amazing - supporters were encouraging riders all the way up, there were motorbike outriders and music, and people offering refreshments and wet sponges to the competitors.  And the riders were by no means all skinny, tanned cyclists - there were all shapes and sizes.  It was clear how much of an effort some people were having to make to just keep going, to complete their part of this massive fundraising event.

When we got nearer the top of the climb, the numbers of spectators dramatically increased.  It was like experiencing the view from the eyes of a Tour de France rider at the top of a mountain finish - single file, cheering and clapping, with spectators making a solid wall on both sides. And then after no time at all we were at the top - for us that was the end but some of the Dutch riders would have another 5 ascents to look forward to......